Chapter 1: Left Behind
There was no danger now; this nightmare would soon come to a close. Now that this world’s Commander Spock lay still and harmless on the table, Dr. McCoy, the intruder, had a chance to get a better look at him, while monitoring his vital signs.
In fact McCoy’s medical intervention was finished, but he indulged himself in just a few moments longer, just to get a good, long look, as this would be the last time he’d see Spock like this. The goatee was an obvious difference, almost mystifying to McCoy, who’d think that Vulcans would eschew something as potentially unruly as facial hair. The few hairs that skewed out of their neatly pressed place gave Spock a raw kind of appeal that gave the doctor a vague, dark thrill. Or perhaps that was just the adrenaline beginning to wear off.
One last look as he turned to leave, fully planning to heckle the “real” Spock affectionately when he returned, when the life signs monitor awoke with sudden activity. He turned, face to face with the Spock of this barbaric world. McCoy’s breath caught in his throat, and his body felt weak from the sudden rush of fight or flight stress. He knew he didn’t stand a chance physically, and there didn’t seem to be much chance for flight, either. He was buzzing with a painful energy with nowhere to go.
For an intense moment they stared at each other, all familiarity and past affections absent, even though the dark eyes were physically the same as those McCoy was used to. He didn’t even breathe as this moment seemed to stretch, wondering with a sick dread what this Spock was about to do.
Spock took hold of his wrist in a cold, efficient manner. McCoy didn’t even bother trying to pull free as Spock slid his legs off the table and started backing the doctor towards the wall. McCoy could not bring words or even a sound to his lips as Spock’s other hand touched his face, just as he could not pry his gaze from Spock’s.
The hand on his wrist tightened as the other brushed fingertips across his cheek. They were almost tender as they settled at McCoy’s temple, cheekbone, and forehead. For a second, McCoy felt suddenly lighter; he relaxed, but it was enforced relaxation, like from the pull of a string. He tried to take advantage of this shift by attempting to call out, but the mood shifted once again before he could open his mouth.
His vision was blinded and he gasped what felt to be his last breath. He could no longer see with his eyes, but his mind was filled with images of no shape or texture or design he could possibly understand. He lost sense of his body and feeling, his physical sense blurred, meaningless compared to the storm inside his head.
It took effort to piece together enough power to realize this was a mind meld, but he couldn’t believe it could be like this. He started trying to fight it as he felt the edges of his consciousness begin to fade. Soon the only thoughts that were clear were the ones of himself and the rest transporting to this world. The memories of what had happened were forced on him, suffered through, discarded, brought up again for cold comparison, all while a low, nagging dread clouded in the background. He realized Spock was searching his mind for his reason for being here, and in his probing, Spock let a part of himself fade into McCoy’s mind.
Disconnected feelings of urgency, of a strange anger, and even a moment or two of triumph skittered across his consciousness, and they were getting stronger. Soon it was hard to tell from whose mind these random feelings and thoughts originated, and McCoy felt little more than a shell to hold memories to be used and discarded.
The severance of this link was more of a ripping, searing sensation than any sort of relief. Vague, wordless thoughts lingered in McCoy’s mind even as he felt the other man’s presence jerk itself out, and for a while he was too stunned to make any move. He would have slid to the floor had Spock not grabbed his arm and held him up.
Spock gripped McCoy by the back of the head, fingers clawing his scalp, and forced him to face him. McCoy reached for Spock’s shirt, shakingly trying to keep himself steady. Waves of relaxing, soothing feelings passed through him, but since he could already tell they were fake, they did little more than paralyze.
“Go back to your crew,” Spock said. It was the exact same voice as the one he knew, but with a coldness McCoy had never before heard from the Vulcan. “You don’t belong here.” He shoved the doctor off him and stayed behind, watching him stumble out the door to the safety of his own captain.
The lingering effects of the forced meld remained in McCoy’s mind, as staggering as many screaming voices, but he willed himself to ignore it at least until they were safely back home. He had to be strong enough to remain standing on that transporter pad long without help, or risk having someone left behind accidentally. A fierce longing to be back home gave him that strength, and he almost had the will to look this universe’s Spock in the eye when he told his unwanted visitors he was helping them leave.
It took everything he had to remain silent as his captain launched into a speech about morality. Although it wasn’t quite physical pain, Spock had left him with a maddening agony that would overtake him if he didn’t get help soon.
On any other occasion the doctor would grumble about the potential, if rare, risks of teleportation and maybe even cross his fingers belligerently as he waited to be beamed, but this time, he felt nothing but gratitude when he heard the controls and felt his mind drift into oblivion. Home, sweet home…
He let out a soft sigh as his eyes opened slowly. Already he was feeling worlds better, now that he was back in his own world. Already the air tasted sweeter. As his eyes cleared, he took notice of the ensign at the controls, and the bold, golden insignia pin on his shirt…
McCoy’s stomach turned and his lips parted with a fierce gasp. He looked around frantically. Everyone, including himself, was dressed the same way. And to fatally confirm his fears, there was Spock, coming closer to the party at the transporter pads, complete with Imperial pins and finely groomed beard.
“No, no!” he blurted, stepping backwards, eyes fixed on Spock. He looked to the operator desperately, screaming at him, “No, there’s a mistake, send me back!” He kept yelling as Spock got closer and the others eyed him, confused. “You didn’t be-“
McCoy collapsed against Spock’s body before he could finish his desperate plea, with Spock’s fingers tight at the base of his neck.
“What was he talking about?” Kirk asked with narrowed eyes. He began to approach Spock, who was lifting McCoy’s limp body into his arms as easily as if he were picking up a rag doll.
Spock emitted a slight grimace as he answered, “Nothing more than the doctor’s typical foolishness. You know how irrational he can become after a simple teleportation.”
“But he said something about a mistake,” Kirk pressed, his eyes growing even thinner, even colder. By now the others had drifted out of the transporter room. Even the ensign at the controls had taken off. “Was there a mistake, Spock?”
“If there were, you’d still be at the other universe,” Spock answered with ease, although he looked impatient to dispose of the load in his arms. The heaviness of Kirk’s expression lessened, so Spock headed down the hall, adding as he left, “Our McCoy has had a taste of a different world, and it would appear he would wish to return. A shame for him that is simply no longer possible.” And without further harassment from Kirk or anyone else, Spock took McCoy to Sick Bay, leaving Kirk to spend no more than a half-hearted thought on the matter before directing his mind to the more important issue of reclaiming his ship.
In another universe, another version of Captain Kirk, Scott, Uhura, and McCoy re-materialized without a hitch. The Leonard McCoy that opened his eyes also felt his stomach lurch and his breath catch in his throat when he noticed the details of his surroundings. For a moment he stood still on the pad, gazing at the others, watching them laugh with each other, watching their obvious relief, and yet unable to feel it for himself.
There had been a mistake, he realized, searching for the Imperial insignia and not finding it. And if that weren’t a dead give away, Spock’s clean-shaven visage certainly was. He could easily tell that the teleportation had worked for the others, but somehow, and for some reason, he was left behind, perhaps with this world’s McCoy taking his place. It was fear that kept his mouth shut, however. During his brief stay in this universe, McCoy didn’t have the chance to observe these people well enough to be able to predict them.
But as he began to step off the pad, he started to wonder if he should say something, and risk exposing himself as an enemy in their midst. Before he could muster the courage, the Spock of this universe approached him. McCoy drew back slightly, his eyes locked on the other’s, but this Spock did not touch him. He didn’t even attempt to touch him; he kept his hands behind his back and made no threatening move whatsoever.
“Are you alright, Doctor?” he asked, and McCoy would have been deaf not to hear that trace of concern in his voice.
McCoy stared for a moment, amazed. Soon the others were looking at him too, but not with any trace of malice or suspicion. They looked…concerned. The captain even came up to him and lay a few fingers gently on his arm, just barely touching him, but the look on his face was intensely worried.
“Bones?” he asked, and McCoy felt faint. He had no such nickname where he was from, unless insults could be considered nicknames, but the soft affection in his voice as he said it was more than enough. “Everything alright?”
McCoy broke into a grin. “Yes,” he said dreamily, taking them all in. “Yes, it is.”
Chapter 2: Misplaced
M!McCoy is happy to be lost
His mouth was parched, head swimming. For a moment he thought he’d been blinded while he was out, although the strange, formless images left over from the mind meld raged behind closed eye lids. When his vision finally began to return, he could make out his surroundings. They looked like ones he was familiar with, but he knew exactly where he was. As much as McCoy would love to take his grogginess as a sign that he’d been through a night of liquor dreams, with Scotty perhaps, he just couldn’t delude himself.
He could see Spock at the doorway speaking to his nurse—the nurse of this universe, he had to remind himself- and he started to get up. The binds at his wrists, however, prevented him from leaving the bed. He felt a nauseating panic as the bearded Vulcan of this world approached him, although he did not appear to come with any malevolent intent. Instead, he took a look at the vitals on the monitor with the coldness of any nurse, and then took a seat beside the bed.
“What the Hell is this?” McCoy burst, tugging at the binds, even though he knew they’d never yield. “Lemme outta here!” he yelled.
“Must I gag you as well?” Spock warned, a trace of impatience in an otherwise emotionless voice.
It took great effort, but McCoy calmed himself enough to keep quiet, and lay there, panting, glaring at Spock, his fists shaking at the binds. “What am I doing here?” he hissed. “You said you were letting us go!”
Out the corner of his eye, he saw the Nurse Chapel of this world pass by and cast him a harsh look. Before he could imagine what that was about, Spock said, “I did. And I have allowed the others to return.”
“Then why-” he started to yell, and Spock raised an eyebrow slightly. Taking that as a warning, McCoy lowered his voice, but there wasn’t any less passion in his voice. “What do you want with me?”
Spock treated him to a look of smug indifference, a slight pursing of the lips, a shine to the eye. It wasn’t all that different than the sort of look his Spock would have when he was feeling triumphant or smug about something. McCoy hated to see such a familiar expression on this stranger’s face. “I simply prefer your company to that of the original counterpart.” He stood, and McCoy tensed, watching him.
“He was an insufferably insolent creature,” he said, almost spitting the words. He crossed his arms and glared at the wall, almost complaining to himself. “Constantly harassing me with some kind of underhanded insult or another.”
McCoy could have laughed. In fact he couldn’t help but smirk humorlessly at this. “Then you’ve made a serious mistake-” he started to argue.
Spock turned to him, his eyes alighting as if noticing McCoy for the first time. “I know for a fact you will be nothing like him.” With that same intense look in his eye, he came closer to the bed and placed a hand on it by McCoy’s head. McCoy stared up at him, stiffening. “One glimpse into your mind was all it took, Doctor. I knew, from the moment I laid one finger on you, that I had to have you. You and no other.”
For a moment McCoy didn’t say anything, not sure exactly how to answer that. So he changed the subject, slightly. “If-if you hated him so much, you could have just killed him,” he whispered.
Spock grunted and stood up straight again, as if dismissing what McCoy said. “I have effectively done so,” he said, in an overly artificial tone. It was flat and emotionless, and it seemed forced. “By sending him to what was once your universe, he is dead to me. I have nothing left of him now, not even a memory.”
McCoy felt that nausea return in full force, wondering if he dare form a theory about this so soon. He knew he shouldn’t ask this, he knew he’d hate the answer, but he asked anyway as Spock began to undo the binds at his wrists. “But how am I not a living memory of him?”
Every time Spock’s hand passed close to his face in the act of untying the straps, McCoy flinched away. He’d never felt pain quite as what those hands had shown him. “Dammit, we’re the same man!” McCoy had almost said “Spock,” but was unable to use that name for this man.
“Exactly,” Spock agreed. The wrist straps were off, but he was holding one of McCoy’s wrists tightly in his hand. The doctor made a half-hearted attempt to pull his hand free, although he knew it was pointless. “Doctor Leonard McCoy is of valuable use to me, for his expertise in the field, for his rank and the privileges that come with it, for his myriad of connections, despite how they were gathered.”
Spock’s grip was tightening. McCoy could only wince, his captured hand tight in a fist. “Then what makes me different?”
One corner of Spock’s mouth pulled into a half grin. “I know you won’t forget your place.”
The kind faces, the jovial, sing-song voices, it was all so intoxicating to the doctor. He was nearly giddy with the strange feelings of being immersed in this, it was unsettling in a way. The way the captain and the others of this universe were behaving reminded him of the mindless, carefree ways of children too young to fully understand the way the world worked.
But even all that couldn’t compare with the sudden privacy he now had. Everyone was off to their own places, and he was left alone. Even Spock had finally left the transporter room. If Spock had suspected anything, he made no sign of it, and did not ask twice. It was exhilarating, this new feeling. He was, for the first time, trusted.
Still, he was clever enough not to let these appearances lower his defenses. Perhaps these officers and his counterpart were friends, but he still had no way of telling how far this friendship might go, or what the rest of the crew thought of him. There was still violence and force in this universe, as he had experienced first hand when he and the rest of the intruders were herded like animals to the brig.
So as he made his way to Sickbay, he kept his eyes and ears open, watching carefully anyone that passed, looking over his shoulder every so often. A few shipmates smiled at him or greeted him in a friendly manner as he passed, and while at first this was wonderful, it was beginning to bother him. There was no way to tell if this friendliness was just a ruse or if it were genuine. He had known the odd crew member who had been killed by smiling friends. It was clear that this universe was different than the one he was born in, but exactly how?
Sickbay looked freakishly different to him. Considerably less booze in the shelf on the wall, and everything so…sterile. He wondered if he was in the right place for a minute. The surgical instruments were there, indeed, but no evidence that any of it actually got used. Even the beds were empty.
He stiffened when he saw Nurse Chapel come in from the back entrance, a data disc in her hand. He knew this was not the one he was used to, but he could not relax himself even when she gave him a warm, seemingly sincere smile. He grinned weakly back, trying not to make it so obvious that he was watching her hands. His hand dropped to his hip, and his heart pounded when he found himself to be unarmed.
“Are you alright, Doctor?” she asked, frowning.
McCoy turned the smile up a notch and tried to look casual, leaning on one of the beds. He noticed she had no weapons of any kind on her person, either. “I-uh, well…”
“Was it rough over there?” she asked, honest concern on her face.
“Huh? Oh, oh yes,” he said, faking a strong acceptance of having survived difficulty. “I’d rather not talk about it, actually.”
Another first in his life, she bought his act, and even put her hand on his shoulder. He knew she meant that as a friendly, comforting gesture, but it made him shiver. It took a lot to keep from drawing back. “Of course, Leonard,” she said softly. “You know where I’ll be if you change your mind.” She patted him softly, increased her soft smile, and left.
McCoy flung his hand to where she’d touched him as soon as she turned the corner, and already felt a little silly for the paranoia. He wasn’t sure what he expected to find there, a powder she might have rubbed onto him, an injection wound. Such fears were legitimate back in the other world, but didn’t necessarily have a place here.
He laughed softly to himself. That world was nothing but a memory anymore, in fact, he had no reason to even hang on to the memory of it if he didn’t want to. As far as McCoy was concerned, that world no longer existed. It was a freak transporter accident that displaced him and the others, and a stroke of luck on whichever side that brought them all, except for him, back to where they belonged. That other world was nothing more than a parallel universe, which really did not exist outside of obscure mathematical theories.
For a moment, he thought of the other McCoy, and then realized where he must be. The very thought of it made him laugh harder and richer than he’d laughed in a very long time.
Chapter 3: Check
M!Spock lays down the law with McCoy. M!Kirk and M!Spock have a talk.
“What the Hell is that?” McCoy snapped, fear in his voice. He didn’t look at Spock as he began to fasten a heavy, thick metal cuff to his wrist. The weight of it pressed down on McCoy’s thin wrist when Spock let go. It was cold and pressed on the bruises that were already there. There was a small window showing digital lights going off randomly. That same ominous Imperial symbol had been etched right onto the metal, giving the cuff a very impersonal sort of feel, as if this were just a tag to help catalog him.
“I was going to wait to put this on you,” Spock said, focused on entering something into the pad on the cuff. “But you will need it, to help you adjust.”
McCoy was sitting on the medical bed, Spock standing close to him. When he was finished entering in the data, he clasped his hands behind his back and regarded him with a clinical interest. It unnerved McCoy to see subtle similarities, like the way he was standing. There were a few obvious differences already, but he wondered just how much would end up being the same.
But he was more concerned with the cuff. He didn’t need to ask any more questions to understand exactly what this was. Finally bringing his eyes to Spock, he growled, “I’ll find a way to take this damn thing off! I don’t know what you saw in me that makes you think I’m some kind of-some kind of wimpy dog, but I’m not the type to just roll over and-“
“That’s quite enough, Doctor,” Spock said, raising his hand in a dismissive gesture. McCoy felt a pang of shame that he could have been interrupted so easily; he had felt so brave and passionate in his protests, but fizzled out into silence as soon as Spock told him to stop. There was something in the other man’s attitude and tone of voice that was clearly a warning, but that didn’t make McCoy feel any better about surrendering. He glared at Spock hatefully.
Spock continued, “Only I can remove this, as it is under a code release. You will only injure yourself if you attempt to remove it.”
“What’s it for?” McCoy yelled. Already he was clawing at it, more out of compulsion than any hope to break it.
Spock took the cuffed hand in his, pulling McCoy off the bed and closer to himself. McCoy half expected the other to touch him, or otherwise take advantage of his obvious weakness. That’s what he wanted with him, right? But Spock made no such moves. While he was very close to him and held his hand tightly, there was no warmth in the hold. If there were lust in Spock’s eyes, McCoy was not looking at them to tell. Instead Spock kept his right hand at his hip, resting casually on his phaser, more out of habit than as a threat. “The device holds several purposes,” he said, his voice bland, as if giving a lecture. Just hearing it gave McCoy a surge of homesickness, an ache to be back with his friends. “One, it will deliver an electric shock if you remove yourself from the radius I program into it, and the shocks will increase if repeated. Two, this acts as your protection against enemies aboard the ship. Anyone who sees this will know that you are under my protection.”
McCoy tugged his hand free. Of course, he realized that he only got it free because Spock had let go, and he was now leading him out of Sickbay by the elbow. He found it hard to keep up, although Spock did not walk too fast. It was impossible to form complete thoughts, as if all he had room for in his mind were raw emotions, the violent need to wake up from this nightmare.
“That’s not all it’s for, is it?” he growled, and found he couldn’t look Spock in the eye.
“Explain,” Spock said, his voice light. He ignored a crew member that saluted him as he passed.
“This is more than what you said,” he said, energy building up in his voice, and he looked at Spock this time. It drove him near to desperation that the Vulcan seemed to not care. His blank expression only made McCoy feel even less important. “This-” he clenched his fist and glared at the blinking, bulky cuff.
“Yes?” Spock urged.
“This makes me look like I’m you’re slave!” He felt sick as he watched Spock’s lips twitch into the beginnings of a smile and his eyes glow. He felt his face pale, and by now Spock was partly holding him up by the arm as well as leading him down the passage way. “Well?” he demanded, not sure what he expected the man to say.
“The one before you nearly scratched my eye out when I tried to put that on him,” he said, and then gave McCoy a hearty, wolfish smile that was shocking in itself. As stressed as McCoy was, he still had the natural curiosity to wonder about the way this Spock had been conducting himself. But even with the random emotional flares, Spock still came off as a heartless, coldly logical being. “But all that’s in the past,” he added.
A sudden panic overtook him, and he stopped. When Spock turned, a quizzical look quickly turning to a glare on his face, McCoy hurled himself against him, shoving him against the wall. Already Spock started to grab him, but McCoy was not planning on running; he had nowhere to go anyway. Instead, he clawed at Spock’s shirt, latching onto his arm with one hand and his shoulder with the other, and closed his eyes. He focused everything he had on his thoughts, forming them into sentences repeated in his head, his lips moving slightly.
/Let me go/
/Have no right/
/Don’t belong here/
/Want to go home/
/Take me back/
/Evil, half-breed Devil/
/I WANT TO GO HOME/
He was shaking and grunting from the effort, forcing out those thoughts. Along with the words, he focused hard on his distress, and felt he could push every negative, painful, raw emotion out and into Spock. He didn’t know exactly what he was doing, nor had he ever done anything like this before, but soon the task was consuming him. It was agony, it was blinding, but it was working.
He managed to hear Spock cry out amidst the chaos of his own raging mind and felt Spock’s fingers dig deep into his arms. Although McCoy felt this ordeal to have lagged for hours, in reality it had only gone on for just under a minute. Spock pulled himself from the trance and slammed McCoy into the wall. Exhausted from the mental attack, McCoy crumpled. Spock held him still as he sagged in his arms. His shoulder was numb from the crash into the wall. Stunned, he didn’t feel Spock choking him at first.
“Doctor,” Spock hissed, pressing McCoy’s throat almost closed. He was baring his teeth, his eyes were wild. McCoy had always wondered of the strength, the ferocity of his Vulcan friend if it were unchanneled; well now he was face to face with it. “You must learn to control your emotions in my presence.” Spock was fighting to keep his voice level, McCoy could tell, even as he began to lose consciousness.
Spock let go before unconsciousness could take hold, but took a tight grip of his hair, yanking him closer by it. Spock’s free hand was closed in a tight fist, trembling at his side. “If it were your intention to hurt me, Doctor, you have succeeded,” he growled, tightening his grip and pulling the doctor’s hair roughly. Out of the corner of his eye McCoy noticed a few people walk by, but casually, as if they didn’t notice what was happening. “But purge the idea from your mind that you can possibly control me in such a way,” he said. He let go to backhand McCoy, sending him to the floor. Tasting blood in his mouth, McCoy remained on the floor and wouldn’t look up.
So Spock crouched and glared right at him. He might not have been looking at Spock, but he could feel the man’s eyes burning through him. When he spoke now, it was in a tense whisper. “I will remember to shield myself against any future attacks from you. Such a shame I can’t trust you.”
Wheezing slightly, McCoy drawled sourly, “I’m never gonna be whatever it is you want me to be, you demon. So you can either send me back, or kill me.”
Spock’s eyes narrowed. “You can’t go back-“
“You mean you won’t send me back, you pointy-eared-“
“No, I mean that you cannot return,” Spock interrupted. He pulled McCoy to his feet, ignoring his groan from the sudden movement. McCoy stared back at him with half-lidded eyes, blood trickling down his lip. “We do not have the technology to cross into a parallel universe, not even in theory. I could beam you back and forth for thousands of years before I could ever reproduce what happened by chance.”
“How the Hell did you send the others back, then?” McCoy snarled back.
“You would not understand the technical intricacies-“
“Damn you, don’t talk down to me!” McCoy yelled, and already he felt his throat grow hoarse. He knew arguing about this at all was pointless, and he hardly had the heart for it. “I know what we did. It wasn’t too ‘intricate’ for me-“
“Doctor, the fact that your crew’s haphazard plan worked at all is still a source of amazement for me. The amount of energy you channeled into the transporter is meaningless; it’s the residue of the other universe that matters…” he grunted and shook his head with barely controlled frustration. While the other Spock enjoyed passing along his knowledge to others, however condescendingly, this one seemed to be disgusted at the idea of lowering himself, as he seemed to see it.
McCoy’s eyes stung, but he just stared back at him, as if half dead, slumped. He was silent as Spock began to lead him down the passage way again. There was no point to say anything or try to fight, not now at least, not while he was still so hopelessly in the dark. Something in the way Spock spoke made him suspect he was telling the truth, it was just something he could feel.
But he was too tired and sore to attempt anything right now. “Where we going?” he finally asked as they entered the turbo lift. It was so similar to his own, he couldn’t help but torment himself with the fantasy that they’d emerge right back at his own ship on the other end.
“We are going to the bridge, to witness the destruction of the Halkans,” Spock said. He was back to his regular self, calm and collected, holding McCoy’s arm as if it were merely the handle to some machine.
McCoy swallowed, tasting blood and the dryness of his throat, wondering if he could ask what he wanted to ask. The thought of speaking one word to this man, or making any move that would call attention to himself repelled him, but he forced himself. “Please tell me you’re gonna talk him out of it.”
“You assume that your captain’s suggestion is appropriate here?” Spock said, a slight grin to his lips.
“You said you’d consider it,” McCoy pressed, but rather quietly. He could feel Spock tighten his fingers on his arm. “You know he’s right! It isn’t logical to let those people die, that’s just blind-“
“I am not a fool, nor am I a barbarian, Doctor,” Spock said. He kept them both there when the turbo-lift stopped. He would finish what he had to say before exiting. “But you must understand that your ways—the ways of your previous life—do not apply here. You are not a commanding officer, as such you have no right to question me.”
Up until the mention of the Halkans, McCoy had only been thinking of himself, and he felt ashamed for that now. There was no room for self pity when that peaceful civilization was in danger. But the finality of Spock’s words made him fear the worst. Before he could say anything, not that anything would help, the doors opened and they exited onto the bridge, McCoy stumbling after Spock.
“Mr. Spock, it’s about time,” the Kirk of this universe chided. He gave McCoy a look he didn’t quite decipher, a sort of up and down, lazy look, and then turned back to the view screen. It would have been too late for any interfering on Spock’s part; the screen was filled with the bright, beautiful colors of flames.
While this picture raged on to the entertainment of the crew, McCoy gaped. He barely heard, but he felt Spock lean closer to him and tell him quietly, “The Captain will take the medical reports now. You’ll tell him nothing’s changed, and then return to Sickbay and await the end of my watch. You have twenty minutes, Doctor, before the device is activated.” He took McCoy’s limp arm to program the cuff.
He remained standing there for a moment, short of breath, but soon recovered. So far everyone on the bridge was ignoring him, and he was grateful for that. He could see Spock at the science station, watching him without making it obvious that he was. Heart slamming in his chest, he approached the captain.
“Medical report, Sir,” he managed to say. He thought he could perhaps pretend, at least for right now, that he were still on his own Enterprise, speaking to his captain like normal.
Kirk’s brusque attitude was making that difficult. “Speak up, damn you.” He rested his face on his hand, passing his eyes over McCoy like before, slower this time.
McCoy almost stuttered, but controlled himself by not looking Kirk in the eye. “Med-just the medical report. Nothing’s changed, Sir.” He turned to leave, but Kirk grabbed his hand. His fingers even brushed the cuff, but he didn’t even seem to notice.
“Wait,” he said. “What’s going on with M’Benga? Still in critical?”
McCoy flicked his eyes to Spock frantically, who shook his head just enough for McCoy to tell his meaning. “Uh, no, Captain. He’s-he’s alright now.”
Kirk grinned, still holding McCoy tightly by the hand. McCoy knew that smile from anywhere, but this one in particular was tainted with something he’d never seen in his Jim Kirk. He laughed, “Atta boy, M’Benga! Chapel must be furious!”
“Oh, yes, Sir, fuming mad!” McCoy replied with a nervous chuckle, although he had no idea what Kirk meant.
“Alright, you get back to it,” Kirk said, finally letting him go. “And what’s with all this Sir business?” he asked, making an amused face.
McCoy didn’t know what to say, and Spock was no help, either.
Kirk’s eyes darkened, his grin growing into something different. “Keep it up. I like it.”
McCoy felt himself grow hot in the face. He mumbled, “Aye, Sir,” and left quickly, shuddering once he was safely alone in the turbo-lift. His discomfort did not lessen, but when he exited the turbo-lift, he began to think about M’Benga. Why would Nurse Chapel be angry at one of their staff getting better, McCoy thought as he walked down the passage way slowly.
She did not seem entirely happy the few seconds he saw her before, but that was hardly enough to make sense. Perhaps it was just a sick joke? He thought about the look on her face again, how…angry it looked. How cold. She looked like she hated him, but that was ridiculous, McCoy thought. He couldn’t imagine what reason she would have, but then again, he did not know what his counterpart’s relationship was with everyone on board. He’d seen enough of this universe to know nothing was too outrageous.
She’s furious because she wanted him dead.
McCoy stopped walking. He shook his head, trying to deny it, but it made sense. He then tried to convince himself that he was in no state for assumptions like this, he was tired, hurt, distressed. Everyone would seem an enemy now.
Either way, McCoy entered Sickbay with the utmost care, making sure no one was around the corner before he proceeded. It was empty, like before, and he couldn’t hear anyone nearby, so he slipped further on to his office. By now his heart was pounding in his ears, and his hands were shaking, but he found the concentration to program the door to remain locked from the inside. He let out a soft sigh as he fell into the chair at the desk, and lay his head in his hands. A soft beep sounded in his ear; it was from the cuff.
Finally alone, no distractions, he was able to think of everything at once. Of an entire civilization murdered at the whim of one man, his own futile attempts to do anything about it. Of the dull but persistent pain of his body, the desperate, useless wish to leave. He thought about everything at once, but his thoughts always returned to one central theme: Spock.
His body relaxed into a sagging heap on the desk as he cried.
While McCoy had been unconscious in Sickbay, Spock had been busy. Without revealing the parallel universe issue to the admiral, Spock was able to defend his Captain. Kirk, as far as Command was concerned, had destroyed the Halkans too late, but Spock had assured them that he had no intentions of disobedience. Spock even offered his own opinion that he felt it was wise to wait. Not for the Halkans’ sake, of course, but for the Empire’s.
In any case, they were satisfied, especially after a short meeting with the Captain himself. Kirk had been briefed of the basic facts of what had happened the past hours, but Spock did not tell him what he had told the admiral. He didn’t need to, nor was it difficult for Kirk to bullshit his way through the interrogation so successfully, that his superior officers had an even higher opinion of him than ever before.
Captain Kirk, the only man that can openly defy Imperial Command and be praised for it.
However, Kirk was not satisfied, and Spock was not surprised. After their shift, Kirk gestured for Spock to follow. By now, Spock was able to understand a variety of commands just from the most subtle facial or hand movements from his captain. Only when Kirk was feeling especially pompous did he need to give his first officer verbal orders.
If there was one thing Spock could be grateful for, it was that Kirk was a creature of habit, almost to a fault. He may dread and fear what he knew was coming, but at least he could try to plan for it.
Unfortunately it was difficult to tell just how long this session would take. Considering Kirk’s easy going mood, it might not be too involved. Or that could mean Spock would be busy for hours. He thought briefly of McCoy, who would just have to wait however long it took, and walked down the passage ways side by side with Kirk in silence.
Grinning softly, eyes half lidded, Kirk offered Spock a seat at his desk, where a game of chess was left unfinished. Spock grit his teeth and obeyed. There have been the few times in the past when Kirk seemed to merely desire his company, but he knew this would not be such a time. Spock had done something for Kirk, and Kirk would want to know why. And by starting off with a chess game, Kirk was undoubtedly planning on dragging this out.
For a moment they didn’t speak. They played slowly, thoughtfully, all the while Spock fought to control his emotions. Kirk, meanwhile, was transparent. The higher ranking man beamed with what he thought to be a cleverly held secret, while Spock could only sit and wait and pretend he didn’t suspect anything.
It was a ridiculous game that fooled neither, and yet it happened every time.
When Kirk finally spoke, it startled Spock, who had by then let his mind wander. “You could have let me die, Spock,” he said, letting his fingers linger on a piece. “Why didn’t you?”
Spock took his time answering. His captain had always demanded absolute obedience, but there were times when it was appropriate to toy with him back. Or at least pretend to. “I do not wish you to die, Sir,” he said, with a blank look in his eyes. Thanks to the Forbidden Teachings, he was fairly good at clearing his mind and emotions, as long as he had enough time to prepare himself.
“And why is that?” Kirk asked, with slight menace in his voice. He stared directly at Spock, who deliberately avoided his eyes. Spock focused hard on keeping his hand from shaking when he took another piece. He kept imagining Kirk secretly laughing at him for his attempts to hide his emotions. Any other human would find Spock unnervingly stoic, but it was different with Kirk. Or did Spock only imagine it was?
“Captain,” Spock answered a little harshly. “You continuously ask me such questions, and I give you the same answers. It’s no different this time.” He lifted his hand to a piece at the top, about to grab it, but Kirk grabbed his hand and held it still. Spock was forced to look into Kirk’s eyes, and he fought to keep from revealing anything. He tried to will his heart to slow down, as the Teachings instructed.
Kirk’s grip was tight, and Spock did not attempt to resist. He tried to relax his muscles to make it seem like he wasn’t anxious. It didn’t work.
“What is the purpose of asking me?” Spock answered in a low voice. He thought he could speed things along by trying to get to the point, but they would only do so when Kirk wanted to. “Do you want me to tell you how valuable you are to the ship, or how much I respect your experience?”
Kirk’s grip tightened, but he didn’t speak or even change his expression. He made Spock wait a grueling moment of silence before sliding his fingers off Spock’s hand. “You’ll want to reconsider that move.”
Spock’s heart sped up until he realized Kirk was talking about the chess piece. Silently cursing himself for his lack of focus, he moved it. His voice trembled when he said, “Check.”
Kirk took his time to survey the multi-layered board, watching Spock, even though his eyes were on the pieces. “I want you to tell the truth,” he said.
Spock couldn’t make a move till Kirk made his. Of course he did not try to hurry him. “I’ve never lied to you, Captain,” he answered, trying to sound more insulted than he felt.
“Well you never tell the whole story, either,” Kirk smirked, and then made a move Spock hadn’t considered. “Check,” he said humorlessly.
Spock knew he’d have to open up to Kirk enough to please him, but but not enough to give him too much power. Spock had a great many reasons, and so much depended on Kirk not realizing them. As he thought of which secret was safe to sacrifice, Spock made a show of pretending concession. He frowned and crossed his arms for a while, then finally muttered, “I’m safe as long as you’re alive, Sir,” he said, and even flicked his eyes up to Kirk’s.
There was a good chance that Kirk wouldn’t buy it, but Spock was quite a risk taker when it came to his captain.
Kirk stared him down, his eyes dark and piercing, his lips fixed in a mirthless half smirk. “What makes you think you’re safe now?” he said, and gestured to the board.
Spock suppressed a shudder, more from Kirk’s cold tone of voice than his words, and tried to look for a move. Without even bothering to touch the piece, he gave up, sitting still with his hands in his lap.
“Get some rest,” Kirk ordered. “You look terrible.”
Spock answered in the affirmative and got up to leave, feeling Kirk’s eyes on him the entire way out. Rather than feel relief that he’d escaped some ordeal, he was weighed down with dread. This conversation was far from over. In fact it had started since the day he reported on board the Enterprise, thrust beneath the legendary captain’s control. It could very well continue until one of them ended up dead.
“And Spock,” Kirk called to him just as he reached the door. Spock stopped, but didn’t turn. “Check mate.”
Chapter 4: Value
M!McCoy finds out things are a little different in this univers’s Sick Bay
A pitifully small collection, but it was large enough, McCoy mused as he surveyed the liquor cabinet by his office. He noticed a few spirits that he particularly liked; at least he shared some things in common with his trans-universal counterpart. Just as he uncorked one bottle, the Captain hailed him from the bridge. McCoy blinked for a moment, the bottle still in his hand. He felt his hackles rise as he held the button down to answer. “Yeah?” he grunted into the wall communicator.
“I’ve been waiting for the medical reports for an hour now, Bones,” Kirk said patiently, softly. In McCoy’s experience, any time someone used a kind tone like that, they were usually after something quite a bit more than what they were asking for.
“Oh, yes, uh,” he stammered a bit, and cleared his throat to add some confidence in his voice. “Everything’s right as rain down here, Kirk,” he said, addressing the captain by what he’d normally call him back in his own universe. To his face, anyway. “No changes.”
A slight pause on the other end, then Kirk said, “Very well.” McCoy took in a breath and was about to get back to studying the liquor cabinet, but Kirk added, “You’re more than welcome to come on up here, you know, Bones. That is, if you’re not too busy.”
McCoy couldn’t tell what that tone meant, but he didn’t trust it. Why would the captain ask him up there? He had no business up there. In fact, if his Kirk had specifically asked him to the bridge, it would usually be a very specific purpose, one that wasn’t hard to guess.
He realized he’d been standing there, staring off into space for a while, and still had not tasted his counterpart’s brandy. Without even bothering to look for a glass, he took a hefty swig and grunted. It tasted like shit, he thought. Must be the cheap stuff. But it burned on the way down, which meant it would do the intended job, and that’s all that mattered. He vaguely heard the captain try to tell him something over the communicator, but he ignored it. Kirk had not ordered him up there, he got his reports…what else was there to discuss?
Besides, McCoy was still not comfortable speaking to anyone if he didn’t have to, at least not until he could get a better feel for this place and his role in it. So far the few people he’d come across had been nice, but that was only his first impression. He still hadn’t had a chance to guess anyone’s motives yet.
He went over to the storage cabinets, ruffling through the items to see what else he could learn. There were mostly just clothes in there, a few data discs. Not much to give a clue as to his assumed identity. Back in his own office (McCoy realized he should stop thinking of it that way; he was here now, in this universe. As far as anyone was concerned, this was his office), anything of value was hidden in obscure places like a hole in the overhead, or a hidden compartment behind one of the medical beds.
“What are you looking for?”
McCoy jumped back from the cabinet and faced the intruder with wild eyes. It was Nurse Chapel, her hair a soft, yellow blond, cropped short around her jaw. Her eyes were soft, even her lipstick was a far softer, lighter shade than he was used to. He wasn’t sure he liked it. “Nothing,” he said, slowly backing away from the cabinet. He watched her, almost glaring, the bottle tight in his fingers.
Chapel frowned and tensed, her eyes flicking to the bottle and to his tense face. “Doctor,” she said quietly. “You’re not drinking are you?”
Why would she ask that, he wondered? Maybe she’d assume that he was in a weakened condition, his defenses blurred with drink. He was actually very good at keeping on his toes even while drunk, but the woman he faced in this universe didn’t necessarily know that. She wouldn’t ask if she did, right? “No,” he snapped, and went to replace the bottle. He didn’t take his eyes off her, didn’t even fully turn his back. “What do you want, anyway?”
She was flustered now. Good. Anything to put her off guard, shift the advantage. McCoy still felt like he was caught stealing someone else’s property, although this was his office. She had surprised him; he couldn’t let that happen again. But now she looked genuinely distressed, and even better, ready to leave. “I-I just wanted to see how you were doing,” she said. “Looks like you’re not doing very well at all!”
His harsh demeanor softened, just a little bit. It was just so unnervingly strange to see her like this. He kept his distance from her, silently cursing the fact that she was blocking the door, but he experimented with a kinder tone of voice. “No, I suppose I’m not,” he said with a crooked, half smile.
“Did he hurt you?” she asked, and took a few steps closer. She stopped, though, when McCoy visibly stiffened. “Leonard, what did he do?”
McCoy grimaced. “Who?”
“Spock!” she nearly yelled. “When you and the Captain-“
“Oh, right, right,” he interrupted, taking a seat by his desk. He did this to make the impression that he was relaxing, although he felt anything but as his mind raced. This was a risk, but he took it. “What have you heard?” he asked carefully, gazing up at her with his jaw on his knuckles.
“No one knows exactly what happened,” she said in a whisper. Now her hands were fidgeting with each other. “The captain and the others left you alone with-with that other one, and then he was taking you back to the transporter room.”
“Uh huh,” McCoy grunted, and already he began to work it out in his head. The fact that no one else knew exactly what happened was valuable.
“Well,” she began. “Spock told me that you looked distressed when you came back here, I just thought-“
“You thought the other Spock did something to me?” McCoy asked, giving her a hard look. Why does she want to know? he demanded of himself. The question tore at him. How could she use this information, or more important, how can I?
“Yes,” she said with discomfort. “You can tell me, Leonard. I’ll keep it between us.”
Part of his trembling was genuine; she was coming closer to him. But the nurse took the doctor’s discomfort the way he intended it. “I’d rather not talk about it,” he said. He let her get closer to him, his instincts screaming at him to get away at any cost. He was still far from trusting this woman, but figured it would not look good to creep away from her now. She was unarmed, but that didn’t have to mean anything. There was a pen on the desk, for example.
“If you need time off duty-” she suggested, leaning her hip against the desk. McCoy breathed easier, seeing that she did not get any closer or try to touch him. He took the pen off his desk and pretended to fidget with it, but he was merely aiming to keep it from her grasp.
“No, I should be fine,” he said, after deciding it would be best not to appear too weak in front of the nurse. “Just let me cool off in here for a while, and come get me if anything happens.” He attempted a smile. He was never very good at that.
Her smile, though, was warm and like velvet. If this really were all an act, he mused, than she was far more dangerous than the other one. He’d have to be even more vigilant. “Alright,” she said, and left.
He let out a deep breath even before she got out the door, like a weight had been lifted. His heart was still pounding, and he could feel his pulse rage between his arm and the desk he rested it on, but a few more swigs of that terrible brandy helped him calm down. He began to imagine what his story should be, if he were ever pressed to tell it. He couldn’t be sure what kinds of interrogation methods these people had, but if he could escape interrogation in his own universe, he could do it here, too. The trick was to be vague enough to have the room to add or change details of your story later, but to be specific enough to make them think you were telling the truth.
His thoughts wandered as he sipped from the bottle and crept up to sit on the desk. Let’s see, he thought, what did Spock do? He mentally put himself in his counterpart’s supposed position, although interrupted his own thoughts by chuckling with Shadenfraude. Supposedly, he had been left alone with a version of Spock that these people couldn’t imagine. From the nurse’s suggestion, they would most likely believe anything, and that was a boon. If anyone started to become suspicious of his behavior and called him on it, he could always make the excuse that he was still stressed from what happened.
The Spock he’d known for several years was easy to imagine, and soon he was lost in his thoughts. It was very easy to imagine himself alone with him, and to predict what could have happened. Spock must not have injured his counterpart, or the nurse would have mentioned it, so it must have been something else. McCoy wondered if it would be shocking enough if he told these people that he’d been raped.
He still hadn’t come to a decision, but he was rather enjoying fantasizing about what could have happened. His imaginings shifted from possible scenario to scenario without warning or pattern, just jumping around from one thing to another. His fantasies all had violence and force in common, however. Now that he was forever free from that man, he could go ahead and fantasize without having to worry about it potentially coming true the next time he turned his back.
He was just at a good part when Nurse Chapel came back, this time with blood on her dress. “Doctor, we need you,” she urged, heading back out before she finished her sentence.
One of McCoy’s eyebrows raised as he gazed at the empty doorway after her. This could definitely be a trap, as crude as it was, but he was too curious to pass it up. If there really were a medical emergency, then at least he’d have a chance to distract himself. So he grabbed the bottle from the cabinet, gulped some down, and half stumbled out of his office.
Nurse Chapel and a few other nurses surrounded a man on one of the medical beds, with the vital signs monitor giving erratic readings. There was a flurry of activity, but all in all, the staff looked rather calm. McCoy’s lips tightened when he saw the patient lying on the bed, with a pipe sticking out from his chest.
/Now that’s a novel way to do it,/ he thought to himself, watching the activity from a few safe steps away.
“Doctor,” Chapel snapped, grabbing him by the arm before he could react, and pulled him closer. “Get scrubbed up!”
They both went into a side room to wash. Chapel was scrubbing her arms furiously, while McCoy went through the motions as if in a trance. “What’s the situation?” he asked. He was watching her without making it seem like he was. If she met his eyes, he’d cast them back down to the water at the sink.
“The pipe’s missed his heart, but it’s far too close,” she said harshly while an orderly put gloves on her. “Are you fit for surgery?”
McCoy made a face and shrugged, wiping his hands dry on his pants. “There’s really no need,” he said idly, gazing out into the main space. “The man’s dead.”
Chapel stared in shock. “What?” She pushed past the orderly and McCoy watched her check the monitor and speak to some of the nurses, and then she came back, as flustered as ever. “Doctor! He’s in critical condition, but he’s not dead! He will be if you don’t-“
McCoy cut her off. “He’s not even an officer, let him die. Oughtta save us some time and resources.” While the nurse gaped, droplets of blood dribbling off her gloves, McCoy shook his head and frowned and strolled back to his own office.
He had recognized that man on the bed. He knew him as a nobody, a freshly recruited enlisted boy. There must have been a dozen of others exactly like him, all of them expendable, not a single one worth the clothes on their back. Even the slaves were worth more; they at least had their worth to prove, their dignity to try to win back. McCoy was amazed that his team were spending a second’s thought on the result of some idiotic…
McCoy paused, the lip of a different bottle brushing cold on his lip. What if that man were someone important here? But then why the ratty clothes? Where were his pins, or at least a braid, if he were worth the resources of the medical team? It was all very confusing, so he settled back in his chair and enjoyed what looked like vodka but tasted rather like that obscure Romulan lager he once had in that obscure Romulan bar not even a year ago.
The noises increased out there, with Chapel’s voice ringing out clearly above the rest. As her orders and demands for tools grew grew sharper and gruffer, she started to sound like the way he was used to.
“That’s my girl,” McCoy smirked to himself, and took another drink.
Chapter 5: Possession
We find out why M!McCoy fears Christine
It must have been hours, McCoy couldn’t tell. All he knew was that his head hurt and his mouth felt dry when he finally woke up, classic signs of dehydration. Bright, tiny green lights flashed from his wrist cuff, slicing into the darkness with an almost comforting rhythm. These lights, and the sensation of heavy metal pressing into his arm reminded him of Spock, but he thought of the one he left behind, rather than the one that would come back for him soon.
It made him feel stupid and foolish, but his thoughts wandered in a depressing way. His fingers traced the edges of the cuff idly as he tried to hang onto the last memories he had of the Spock he knew, those moments before he got on that transporter.
McCoy had harbored feelings for his superior officer almost as soon as he checked on board for the first time. True, those feelings at first centered around playful heckling, sometimes to the point of bullying, but there was always something else there.
He didn’t come to the Enterprise expecting any kind of love life, in fact he was hoping to cleanse himself of the need of that. It wouldn’t do to get his heart broken again while on an assignment he could excel at. From the beginning, he had allowed himself to look at anyone he liked, he even allowed the occasional, harmless fantasy, but never expected anything more than that.
With a soft, dry laugh, he remembered how at one time the ship was convinced he and Christine had been dating. That would have been a rather convenient hook up, wouldn’t it? He even considered it, but only for a while. She just wouldn’t be…right for him, he knew.
It was hard even now to put these vague feelings into actual thoughts, because in all this time he’d never really thought about it. He’d always relished time spent with Spock, even when the Vulcan made him genuinely furious, but as soon as he was alone, he didn’t think about it, not really. He knew there was something there, but he never really considered doing anything about it.
He wiped at his eyes now. Above his own safety or the desire to see anyone else, he missed Spock, his Spock, and there was nothing he could do about it.
With a light mental scold, McCoy started to get up. He didn’t make it all the way standing before he was yanked back, an arm pressed into his throat. A body pressed into his back, and he could feel the softness of hair across his cheek as a face leaned closer. McCoy froze and had an idea who it was, but didn’t say anything. He did manage to gasp, however, when he felt the sharp edge of a blade slowly replace the arm on his throat. The person gripped his arm at the same time.
“Christine?” he whispered. Her height was what tipped him off; he could feel edges of her face higher on his own than if it had been some other woman, and it was easy to tell it was a woman holding him, from the feel of her body against his. It did throw him off, however, that this woman was wearing such a pungent cologne that the Christine Chapel he knew would never dream of touching.
“Leonard,” she said in mock greeting, and then laughed softly. “Really, Doctor, this isn’t even a challenge anymore! You know that door doesn’t lock.” She started walking him away from the desk, pulling his arm further back. She pressed the knife harder into his throat. It didn’t cut the skin, but it was pressing painfully nonetheless.
Trying to control his breathing, McCoy fought for ideas. “Let me go, Christine,” he ventured, forcing his voice steady. She kept walking him back, so he did not have the stability to try anything yet. When he raised his free hand to touch her, she only pressed the blade harder against his throat, and would only let up when he put his hand down.
“Christine,” she purred, her lips brushing his ear. Her breath was warm, and when she inhaled, that spot on his ear went tantalizingly cold. “It’s been a while since you’ve called me that.”
McCoy’s breath came out in a quick, sharp pant as he paid attention to her steps, seeing if he could walk in time with her. He licked his lips and forced calm into his voice. “It’s a nice name.”
She slowed to a stop and traced the blade edge over his jaw, then settled it back on the side of his neck. In one quick motion, she could open his throat. Her deep, soft chuckling filled his ear and gave him hope. “This is just like you,” she cooed.
McCoy slid his free hand up from his thigh to the level of his belt. If he could grab her hand before she could detect his movements, he could disarm her. He’d have to distract her attention from his body. “Like what?”
“Just like you to turn up the charm when you’ve got a knife to your throat,” she chuckled darkly. As her chest trembled with her laughter against his back, he used that distraction to slide his hand further, almost to her hand.
But she pushed the knife harder against his throat, forcing his head back. McCoy was amazed that he hadn’t been cut yet, although if the angle were slightly off, she would have nicked his jugular by now. It was clear that she knew what she was doing, even if her movements seemed random. McCoy wondered, had she done this before?
His voice betrayed fear, as hard as he tried to hide it, when he answered, “You know how this kind of thing excites me.” His heart slammed even harder. He expected her to either be charmed by his comment, or enraged.
But she only laughed, heartier this time, and slid her hand from his arm to his hip. McCoy flung his own arm back to his side so she wouldn’t feel it creeping up to her knife. Before he realized what she was doing, she had her hand on his crotch. He hadn’t even noticed that he was hard until she closed her long fingers over it.
“I can tell.”
As she alternatively squeezed and loosened, McCoy had to fight to keep focused. The jolts she sent up his body with every squeeze were far more intense than even the fear she had him under. She was laughing at his attempts to keep quiet.
“If you ask me nicely, I’ll let you come before I kill you,” she purred, giving him an extra hard squeeze.
McCoy found the strength to throw his hand to hers and take hold. With a pained grunt he yanked her hand, and thus the knife, away and turned around to face her, her hand still in his. She yelled out, and what little light was offered in that room sparkled off her earrings. He could not see her face.
He twisted her wrist, having to use both hands. She scratched at his shirt and neck and anything she could reach while trying to keep hold of that knife. Soon he had her crashed over the desk. Random things smashed to the floor, and McCoy tripped over something bulky just as he got a grip on the knife handle. His ankle jerked in a sudden, snapping motion that took him down. Chapel reached for him as he tried to crawl away in the darkness.
She drove the heel of her hand against his mouth as they both fought over the knife. Right now it was in McCoy’s hand, but she was winning. A few more minutes of this and they both froze when the lights snapped on. The nurse was sitting on top of McCoy, who was on his back with his knees drawn up against her back. Panting heavily, sweat on her brow, Chapel turned to see Spock at the door, phaser pointed at her.
“It is not set at maximum,” he said in a low, but calm growl.
Chapel screwed her face into a sour grimace and slid herself off McCoy’s body, but not without slapping him hard across the face first.
“Hand me the weapon,” he ordered Chapel, who glared at first, then picked it up from right next to McCoy’s face. She very slowly raised herself back up, giving McCoy a sneer, and then walked slowly to Spock.
McCoy sat up and leaned against the desk as Spock holstered his phaser, took the knife, and grabbed a fistful of the woman’s hair, yanking her close. McCoy couldn’t see her face, but her body language itself was uncaring, lazy. Defiant.
His shoulders shook involuntarily at the intense expression on his face as he jerked her head and hissed at her. He could tell that he was holding so much back, even though he was revealing more emotion than his Spock would dare indulge in outside a Pon Farr. He had just saved him from Christine, but McCoy didn’t feel saved.
“You do not touch him,” Spock told her.
“I don’t need to touch him to kill him,” she said flatly, but with a twinge of amusement in her voice.
Spock let go of her hair to slap her. From her waist up she was driven to the side, but she raised herself back up as if nothing happened. “You forget that any advancement orders must pass my approval first as the Executive Officer of this-” he started to lecture.
“Then I’ll kill you too!” she yelled. “Or I’ll go to Kirk-“
Spock went to the wall communicator, pulling her along by the wrist, and snapped on a button. “Security to Sickbay. Repeat, security to Sickbay.” Now his face was expressionless as he pulled her hand to himself and turned her arm to expose the soft, hairless skin beneath. He drew a large, deep gash down her forearm with the knife. Christine whimpered and her knees buckled as she leaned forward. Spock kept hold of her wrist as she tried to pull it free, cold against her soft, barely withheld whines. As blood poured down the sides of her arm and onto the floor and down to pool in her palm, McCoy struggled to control his urge to help her.
Soon the security team was there, all of them Vulcans, McCoy noticed. At least he assumed so; the way they jeered at Christine and behaved as freely with their expressions and body language as any human baffled him.
“Escort her to her quarters,” he told them, and McCoy detected a trace of disgust in his voice. When they were gone, he turned on McCoy, who struggled to his feet. Only when he tried to step on it did he realize how hurt his ankle was; he had to grab the sides of the desk for support. He couldn’t help but cower as Spock approached him; he looked even angrier than when he was confronting Christine. His teeth baring slightly, Spock grabbed McCoy by the throat and practically lifted him effortlessly to pin him to the wall, while the human clawed at his hands. The pain in his ankle was forgotten as Spock squeezed. He got some of Christine’s blood on McCoy’s neck.
“What you did earlier was unacceptable,” he snarled.
McCoy stared back, wondering if he would apologize if he had the air to do so. He gulped greedily when Spock let go just enough to let him breathe and decided to keep quiet, more out of fear than dignity.
“By invading my mind as you did,” he said through gritted teeth. “You have betrayed my trust. I do not wish to remain shielded around you at all times, as if you are merely an enemy.”
“But you…” he wheezed. “Can force…yourself on me?” He forced out the words.
Spock squeezed harder, pushing McCoy even harder against the wall, and leaned in close. “That is different and you know it. Do not insult your own dignity by forcing me to explain it to you.”
“Let…go…” he croaked. He was tempted to try to launch another mental assault, but couldn’t bring himself to do it, not with Spock’s hand on his throat. Anyway, he could hardly focus on drawing in enough breath, let alone focus his thoughts into a weapon. “Please…”
Spock gave him some air, but placed his other hand on McCoy’s head. The doctor squirmed, terrified of what might happen, but Spock’s mere touch soon paralyzed him. “I want to trust you, Leonard,” Spock said quietly. “But stunts like that make it difficult.”
“I’m…sorry…” he grunted, but wasn’t sure if he meant it. He had the vague feeling that the words had been forced out of him. The details of the room began to fade. Soon the only sounds he became aware of were that of his own labored breathing. Every pain in his body flared up at once, all magnified, and yet he could no longer feel the wall at his back. He was able to smell Spock’s musky scent, and felt he could smell the blood itself, although that could have just been memories of the times he’d smelled Spock’s blood in his own past.
He felt he was going into a trance. He felt his chest rise and fall, and yet could no longer control his own breathing. The sudden, obtrusive thought that it was Spock controlling his breathing sent him into a panic he could not control. His body was completely paralyzed, even his lips were tightly shut, while his mind screamed.
“Sorry’s not enough, and you know that,” Spock said, soothing now. “But we will make sure you never disrespect me like that again. I will help you know your place.”
McCoy was overwhelmed with despair, and even in the midst of it, he could tell it was only partly his own. The dark, deep depression that weighed him down hurt as immediately as any physical injury, or more.
“You will learn it is unwise to challenge a Vulcan,” he said, but McCoy felt as if he heard those words inside his mind rather than out. “From now on, everything will come from me, your greatest pain-“
Suddenly the distress lifted, and while he could not describe it as happiness, he was filled with a strange sort of calm. Every trace of pain was gone from his body, and his mind was empty, save for a few vague thoughts that skittered away when he tried to focus on them. He didn’t even have the mental capacity to think until Spock released his influence. Physical and emotional feeling of all kinds came crashing back into his focus when Spock’s mind let go.
As he wheezed and gasped, he realized he could move again, and his first movement was to grab Spock’s shirt. He couldn’t lift his head to face him. Soon he was leaning against Spock’s shoulder, his mouth agape, eyes squeezed shut. He clawed at Spock and was once again paralyzed as what felt like an orgasm tore through him.
“-and your greatest pleasure.” Spock pushed McCoy’s head back against the wall and gazed at him, the corner of his lips twitching upwards. “You must learn to embrace it,” he whispered, and brought his face closer to a panting and drained McCoy. Now their lips were just barely touching. “Submit.”
McCoy leaned closer to Spock’s lips, but Spock yanked himself away with a smirk. “Good night, Doctor,” he said in an overly friendly manner, and let McCoy go. McCoy watched dumbly, powerless, as Spock left the office and entered in a command at the door’s control panel on the other side. When it closed, he was sure that it would remain locked this time.
Chapter 6: Expectations, Great or Otherwise
M!McCoy attempts to treat Kirk as he would his own. He gets a rude awakening.
It was too hot in this room. No, too cold. McCoy felt his hand moisten when he dropped his head in it; definitely too hot. Whatever the temperature, the room was swimming, and his half lidded eyes could hardly keep up.
A few hours after that boy was brought to Sickbay, Chapel had returned to McCoy’s office, blabbering something at him. The doctor was by this time too drunk to care or listen to her, although the entire time he drank he kept his back to the wall, eyes forward. Even inebriated he knew to look out for himself.
He’d laughed at her when she told him the captain wanted to see him, so eventually she was forced to take him there herself. He would not let her touch him or get too close, but he followed her all the way to the briefing room with little comment.
Even in his state, however, he was still very worried. He didn’t have a clue as to why he’d been summoned, and certainly had not expected it. He wouldn’t have drank so much if he’d known; now he would have to fight to keep himself sharp.
He tensed, his head slumped against his arm, his entire body leaned slobbishly over the table, when Kirk entered. When Spock entered close behind, McCoy’s eyes widened. The sudden panic was almost enough to sober him up right there. With some effort, he straightened himself and avoided their eyes.
“You’re drunk?” Kirk asked, and the look on his face seemed almost hurt. He sat down close to McCoy, who leaned away slightly, still not looking at him. “Bones, what the Hell is going on here?” He gently put a hand on McCoy’s shoulder, but the doctor lurched himself away, nearly stumbling as he went to stand by the wall.
McCoy was burning with both sets of eyes on him, and felt suddenly nauseous. “What did you wanna talk to me about, Kirk?” he asked with an accentuated drawl.
Kirk frowned and looked to Spock, whose lips tightened just barely, but otherwise he expressed nothing. With his arms crossed and his gaze steady at the slight figure leaned against the wall, Spock could have passed off as disapproving.
“Why did you refuse to treat Petty Officer Cass, Bones?” Kirk asked, his tone even, steady. “You said to…’let him die’?”
McCoy didn’t speak. He didn’t trust himself to, but he fought through the sluggish thoughts to try to figure this out. Kirk had said so himself, that patient was only a petty officer, so what was the problem? They were both staring at him now; he’d been groaning without even realizing it. “I can’t talk right now,” he said, and took a few deep breaths to wave off the nausea.
Kirk looked to Spock, who gave a small nod. “Alright, Bones. Go sleep it off, and we’ll talk later.” He got up and had to stop himself before going over to touch him.
“Yeah, sure,” McCoy grumbled, and he started to walk out, but he had to throw a hand to the wall to balance himself.
“I’ll help you to your quarters,” Spock said as he approached him.
“Don’t touch me!” McCoy screamed when Spock got close. All three were silent, frozen. Kirk gaped, Spock’s eyes widened, and McCoy wheezed with bared teeth.
McCoy focused every bit of energy into walking out of there without falling or throwing up. The empowerment that surged through him when he saw Spock back down was enough to get him out of that briefing room unhelped. He had to cling to the wall once out, but eventually he got himself to his own quarters.
With all his clothes still on, and droplets of blood on his shirt, the doctor passed out as soon as his head hit the mattress.
A raging headache greeted him a few hours later, and for a while he felt completely disoriented. He found he could hardly remember the past several hours. He remembered drinking terrible brandy, and a bloody mess in Sickbay. He had vague, disconnected memories of Spock, but couldn’t remember what he’d been doing. He imagined Spock to be bearded.
Still, he felt disturbed that he couldn’t remember what happened. Blacking out after throwing back a few too many was common for him, but this was more than just a case of the morning-after amnesia. There was a vague doubt clouding his mind. He kept having this nagging feeling that he didn’t belong here.
He spent nearly ten minutes looking for his golden sash and pins, tearing the place apart. The last time he reported to duty without his complete uniform, he spent the night cuffed to a pipe with a broken arm.
Just as he was about to scream, “WHERE THE FUCK IS IT?” there was a soft buzz at his door. “Who is it?” he demanded of the door, eyes wide.
“It’s Spock, Doctor.”
McCoy froze, and he both looked and felt terribly ill. But something in Spock’s voice didn’t seem right. “What-what do you want?” he snapped, that feeling of doubt increasing. He was starting to remember things.
“I wish to speak with you, on a personal matter,” Spock said, then added, a bit softer, “It’s not an order, Doctor, but I would very much like to speak with you.”
McCoy had an idea, but that would require opening the door to find out. Something in Spock’s voice assured him that he might be safe. Still, his heart slammed as he keyed the door open. He could have fallen faint, but there Spock was, clean shaven.
Key memories flooded into place at that sight, so while McCoy still had a hard time remembering exactly how he managed to get back into his quarters, he remembered enough to realize where he was. Desperately he tried to read Spock’s face and found almost nothing. When his Spock went into Vulcan-mode like this, that usually meant trouble.
Staring at him, McCoy stammered, “Come in.” When Spock stepped inside, McCoy went to stand right by the door, so he could run out if he needed to. He motioned for Spock to sit on the bed, and while he hesitated, he eventually did so. “What did you want to talk about?”
“Ever since we returned from the parallel universe, you have been terrified of me,” Spock said. “And everyone else.”
McCoy shrugged and looked away. He felt a sharp pang. He wanted to trust this Spock, desperately so. He tried to imagine what would happen if he confessed the truth to him, but he’d need to know what his counterpart’s relationship with this man was.
So he took a stab at it. “You’re my friend, right, Spock?” He felt like laughing at the absurdity of that idea.
Spock’s eyebrows furrowed slightly. “Yes, of course I am. Leonard, am I right to assume that my other self has harmed you in some way?” McCoy felt disturbed by how flat and blank Spock’s expression seemed to be. “Is that the cause of your fear?”
McCoy bit his lip and regarded him. If the Spock from his universe thought he was the paragon of Vulcan virtue, he had nothing on the living statue sitting before him. He wanted to scream at him, hit him, anything to get a reaction out of him. At least with his Spock, he could tell when it was relatively safe to say something.
“Yes, he did harm me,” he said. “But I just want to forget it.”
Spock paused before saying, “But this is influencing your work. I will have to relieve you of your duties.”
“I’ll be fine,” McCoy dismissed.
Spock got up and slowly approached him. McCoy flinched and crept towards the doorway, his grimace growing as Spock got closer.
“You are not fine,” Spock said, and this time there was a noticeable twinge to his voice. “I am not that person, Leonard. That individual is merely an alternate version of myself, but he is not me.” Spock took a step closer, and McCoy’s distress grew visibly. “He harmed you,” Spock continued. “But I will heal you, if you allow it.” He inched closer, his hand starting to raise.
“Don’t you fucking touch me,” McCoy hissed, and he felt a tear spill from his eye. He didn’t even realize it till he felt the moisture at his chin. “You are not getting in my mind.”
Spock stopped. For the first time since he arrived in this universe, McCoy saw some emotion flicker in the Vulcan’s eyes He was obviously fighting to purge it. “I would never defile the sanctity of your privacy, Leonard,” he said, his tone passionate in a robotic, controlled way. “I would not do a thing to you without your explicit consent, you must know this.”
McCoy stormed out. He was overwhelmed. It was impossible to believe, but seeing Spock like that tore him up inside and made him want to spill his guts for him. The urge to cling to him and tell him everything, to find solace in his arms was so immediate, it hurt.
But he knew Spock. He’d served under him for nearly four years. Further, he knew Vulcans and their twisted ways. They were just a small, leaderless faction of fanatics who thought all too highly of themselves for their emotionally acetic ways, who used their bloated sense of self-importance to excuse them of any selfish, forceful, uncaring act they inflicted on others, all while self-righteously touting pacifism—just another way to make themselves appear more important than they were.
And he knew Spock was the best example of this obsolete philosophy. So things were different in this universe, he could accept that. He could even learn to trust Nurse Chapel, although that would take some time due to force of habit. But as long as one of those green blooded devils resided on board, he would never know peace.
Soon after he hid away in his office, Kirk came to see him. A part of him wanted to relax and believe his very first impressions of this man, while the other part closed himself off and prepared for an attack. He just glared when Kirk walked in, and didn’t even listen as he started talking.
It was this same speech again, he realized wearily. He and Kirk were going on like they were before, like a broken record, Kirk demanding to know what was wrong, McCoy assuring that while something terrible did happen, he would get over it.
“You would have let a man die!” Kirk finally snapped impatiently, and McCoy was quiet. “Dammit, Bones, don’t you see what’s happening?”
He realized now why the captain kept bringing that up. True, that patient had been a creature of no consequence, but still, inexplicably, his life was still of value. It was a difficult concept to wrap his head around, that a life could still be important despite the person’s rank, but he realized that must be it.
“You’re right,” McCoy said softly, casting his eyes down. He didn’t really feel any remorse, but he did know how to act. “You’re-yes of course you’re right,” he said softly, tenderly, and approached him. “I am so sorry, James.” He reached for Kirk’s hand. Kirk’s expression was hard to read, but it was cold. So McCoy put extra effort into it as he stroked the captain’s hand and kept his eyes meekly downcast. “I was wrong, but I’ll do anything to make it up to you.” His hand slid up Kirk’s arm. “Forgive me, James?”
Kirk wrenched his arm free and stepped back, horror on his face. “What exactly do you think you’re doing, Doctor?” he demanded through gritted teeth.
McCoy’s face crumpled into confusion. “But…I…” he stammered, backing up slowly. He couldn’t understand it, what had gone wrong? What did he do? He thought frantically, trying to figure out what he’d done…maybe he came off too aggressive? Maybe he wasn’t submissive enough? Or were this Kirk’s tastes far more specific…maybe there was something vital he missed?
When he bumped into the desk, he shuddered and latched onto it, covering his face with the other hand. He knew he’d offended this man somehow, and had no idea how to fix it. He didn’t know how he’d offended him, he couldn’t guess Spock’s ulterior motives, he wasn’t sure if his nurse secretly planned to drive a scalpel through the base of his skull the next time he nodded off. At least in his universe he knew what to expect, as vicious as it could be.
“Bones,” Kirk kept saying to him. McCoy leaned against the desk, shoulders shuddering with fitful, stifled sobs, with his arms crossed and one hand uselessly trying to hide his face. He didn’t fight Kirk off, but hoped that the man would at least be merciful enough to take what he wanted and then leave him alone. This forced friendliness beforehand was just cruel.
Still, the captain’s body felt warm and comfortable to lean against, and for a while he could allow himself to enjoy feeling the other’s hand on his head. He knew there’d be pain later. He knew he’d pay dearly for this, but for right now, he didn’t care. He reached his arms around Kirk’s waist and pressed against him as if they’d been the best of friends.
Chapter 7: Protocol
McCoy finds out a little bit about how the politics of the mirror universe work; a confrontation with M!Kirk
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Rough, long fingers dug into his shoulders and shook. McCoy had a sour, dry taste in his mouth and a fierce swelling in his ankle when the shaking finally brought him around. Once again he’d slept in this office, only on the floor this time. Spock brought him to his feet as if lifting a load of laundry and helped him stand. When Spock stepped away, the doctor almost fell from the pain in his ankle.
Spock grit his teeth and threw a hypo at him. “Hurry up!”
Leaning on the desk, McCoy injected his ankle with a chemical that soothed his pain on contact. It worked rather better and quicker than the medicines he was used to.
Spock had left the office and returned while McCoy had tended to himself, and he had a pile of clothes in his arms. He shut the door and dumped the clothes on the desk. “Get changed, quickly.”
McCoy knew better than to argue, but he couldn’t help feeling awkward changing in front the other. It really wasn’t the fact of being exposed, but the demand for obedience that disturbed him. What other demands could Spock have for him, at this or any other time? And would it always be this easy to just obey?
Soon he was dressed, and didn’t even know what he was wearing. It didn’t matter anyway. However, a quick check showed that it was the same uniform as before, only a cleaner, less wrinkled version. “Time for work already?” he grunted sarcastically.
Next to the expansive, wall-sized liquor cabinet was a small, cracked mirror that Spock inspected himself in. He was of course immaculate, every hair in his beard and on his head in perfect place, even the wrinkles in his shirt pressed and flattened into submission. Giving his pins one last, compulsive fiddle, he said, “We are receiving Admiral Dorek within the hour. His ship is already alongside ours.”
“Believe it or not,” McCoy snarled under his breath. “We had protocol in my universe, too.”
Spock took McCoy by the shoulder and pulled him off the desk. McCoy cringed against him, and found that he was already trying to dampen his emotions. Spock grabbed the uncuffed wrist and pulled him close, but he didn’t say anything for a while. McCoy felt Spock’s other hand at the base of his neck, and he closed his eyes, waiting.
“There can be no forgiveness if you do not act appropriately amongst our passengers, Leonard,” Spock said softly, but with warning very clear in his voice.
“I damn well know that, I’m not stup-” Spock drove one of his fingers in a pressure point at McCoy’s jaw.
“You have no right to speak to me like that.”
The fierce pain of Spock’s fingers and his extremely close proximity cowed McCoy. His head down, he whined, “Sorry, ahhh…!” Spock released him, and without another word they left Sickbay and headed for the shuttle bay to receive the passengers.
Kirk was standing inside the shuttle bay, the first to greet those that the ship had received. There were faces McCoy recognized in the ranks in the row facing his. He was nearly face to face with Uhura, for example. But of course he would not expect anyone to be the way he knew them.
As much as his curiosity burned, he forced himself to stand still and look straight ahead instead of peer into the shuttle bay to get a look at this Admiral and his cohorts, fearing that anything less than perfect military behavior would mean trouble for him.
For what seemed like an hour they stood there, waiting. Just as he felt himself begin to fall asleep on his feet, the admiral passed by, and McCoy’s heart froze. The man was dressed in a similar uniform as the rest of the crew, but of course with far more elaborate pins, and a sash that went across the waist and over one shoulder. The fabric of his tunic was a deep maroon. The man had passed too quickly for him to really study, but McCoy did not miss the pointed ears. Vulcan? That would make sense.
Then a group of lower ranking officers passed, some of them dressed similarly to the admiral, but the rest, the grunts carrying the phaser rifles, sported golden, close fitting helmets that had leaf-like coverings for their ears and forehead.
Those weren’t Vulcans.
It was eerie, the similarities. They were all assembled in the very same room, with the very same (just about) presentation as when he had met Spock’s parents. It was a far less festive occasion, and the visitors were considerably more dangerous than the multi-racial collection of ambassadors he’d met, but he couldn’t help but indulge in a little nostalgia.
Only the higher ranking officers and a detail of sentries were allowed in the room, McCoy being included. He hung by Spock’s side not just because he was expected to. He tapped a finger on Spock’s arm, not letting his finger remain any longer than necessary to get his attention. “I need to talk to you, Sp-” he stopped before he could say that name.
“Go on,” Spock said.
“Commander,” he said instead.
Spock tightened his lips, but he didn’t press it. He removed himself to a quieter corner of the room and McCoy followed. “Please tell me we do not have Romulans on this ship.”
Spock raised an eyebrow and turned to gaze at the passengers, who were chatting amiably with Kirk and a selection of females. “Is this reason for concern?”
Spock’s attitude was frustrating, but he controlled himself. “What’s going on here, have they defected?” he asked as quietly as he could, gesturing to the admiral.
“The Romulans were your enemies?” Spock asked. McCoy felt Spock’s attention as a powerful, almost painful thing. A part of him relished it. “I am amazed you had survived long enough.”
/Long enough for you to find me, you mean/ McCoy thought, but pushed that thought away and refocused. “Mortal enemies, yes. Are they allies here?”
One eyebrow raised in time with a corner of Spock’s lips. McCoy knew this look, from his own past with his own Spock, to be a very mischievous one indeed. He braced himself. “A dry history lecture would hardly substitute for the real thing, would you not agree, Doctor?”
“The Hell are you talking about?”
“Come,” Spock simply said, taking hold of McCoy’s arm as he headed towards the Admiral.
McCoy slowed but didn’t stop. “Wait, you don’t expect me to talk to them-” It took effort, but McCoy controlled his anxiety as they approached the Romulan dignitaries. Spock saluted the admiral in that brusque way of that universe and nodded to Kirk, all while still holding McCoy’s arm with his left hand. McCoy wasn’t sure if he should salute or not, but the others didn’t seem to expect him to.
Thankfully the eyes of the admiral and the two officers standing by him ignored McCoy. The Romulans were far more interested in empty greetings and small talk with Spock and Kirk. However, McCoy did notice Kirk’s eyes on him. The captain was not staring, necessarily, nor did his looks linger, but each brief glance was like a stab. Suddenly Spock’s grip on him seemed almost comforting.
Dorek was a young man, or at least that’s how appeared. Oddly young to be an admiral, in any case. He spoke with a self important air, but he was also charming in his way. The others in his company seemed genuinely entertained by his presence.
“So,” he said grandly, turning his attention to Spock. “The captain tells me that we have a genuine Vulcan on board.” He smiled and took a drink from a tray someone handed him without looking back. The server was a small, thin woman in flimsy dress, and had managed to squeeze her way past McCoy to serve the admiral without him even noticing. She was gone to cater to other officers without a sound. McCoy didn’t get a chance for a good look, but she looked vaguely familiar.
“Yes, Sir,” Spock answered, and when McCoy turned his attention from the girl, he was just in time to catch Spock nearly puffing with pride.
“A follower of that old fool himself,” the admiral chuckled, and Spock’s jaw tightened.
“Be careful, Admiral,” Kirk joked. “Spock here is quite passionate about his beliefs.” He raised his drink to his lips and passed a twinkling, half lidded look to Spock. “As obscure as they might be.”
“Tell me, Spock,” Dorek cooed. “Is it true that you Vulcans purge yourselves of all emotion? I heard that was some sort of rite of passage or the like.”
“I assure you, Admiral, that we are just as subject to emotion and primal thoughts as you, only it is our discipline to master them.” Spock’s fingers tightened on McCoy’s arm. The doctor had to grit his teeth to keep from making a sound.
Dorek chuckled, but his eyes were dark, threatening in a vague way. “What a way to go through life!” he exclaimed. “Where’s the fun in that, Commander?”
Spock’s eyebrow raised. “Fun, Admiral? That is a subjective term, an abstract concept. Surak’s way is in the pursuit of logic in all things. Anything else is trivial.”
For a moment the men stared at each other. While Kirk seemed to be enjoying this immensely, McCoy tensed. The hostility was but blatantly obvious to him, as much as the two tried to hide it. Dorek cleared the tension by finally giving in to a laugh and patting Spock on the shoulder. Only then did McCoy notice the admiral was wearing gloves.
“You Vulcans are incredibly funny,” he said, while Spock took in a breath, but otherwise revealed nothing. “Such strange, contradicting ways. But, as long as it’s in the service of the Empire, right?”
“Indeed,” Spock said dryly.
Dorek’s return grunt was obscured by the drink to his lips. When he turned his gaze to McCoy, the human tensed. It was a strange feeling to suddenly be allowed back into their circle with just an acknowledging look. “In any case, it is comforting to see that the followers of Surak are still not so different from their shamelessly hedonistic brethren.” He smirked and gazed at McCoy in a way that felt like he was sizing up a piece of furniture. “At least in ways that really count.”
Another server came to collect his and Kirk’s glasses and left. “Gentlemen,” Dorek beamed. “It was a pleasure. I am looking forward to sharing this voyage with you. I expect to spend significant time catching up with you, cousin.” He patted Spock’s shoulder and let his hand linger for a moment longer, his eyes dark. His companions saluted in their general direction and left with the admiral.
Spock glared after him and muttered something under his breath that McCoy couldn’t catch. His fingers even tighter, he started to lead McCoy back to the refreshment table, with Kirk following. He looked McCoy over and said to Spock, “Hold the fort for a while, I’m off for some relaxation before things get too interesting around here.” By now Kirk had hold of McCoy’s arm.
If Spock felt anything about this, he was doing a spectacular job hiding it, even better than when he thought to impress the Romulan. Of course, McCoy considered with a sinking feeling, maybe Spock really didn’t care that the captain was about to take him away. “How long should I set the timer for, Captain?” he asked, taking McCoy’s cuffed arm.
Kirk shrugged and swept his gaze around the room with a sigh. “Let’s go with half an hour,” he said, and Spock began entering data into the cuff. “That’s about all the time I have, unfortunately.” Spock gave McCoy’s hand a squeeze as he let go, but he would not meet the doctor’s eyes.
He was pretty sure he knew what this was about, but McCoy made no sound. Panic roiled inside, but there’d be no point to ask Spock anything now. He followed the captain in a daze, not even sure how he managed to find the focus to even walk. Thankfully, Kirk did not find it necessary to hold him as they left the assembly room.
McCoy weighed his options as they headed down the passageway. Right now Kirk was not touching him, but he was still within reach. McCoy could try to take off running, but even if he could outrun Kirk, where would he go?
He had a sudden thought. He already knew it was impossible, and he cast it away as soon as it surfaced, revolted at himself for thinking it.
He actually considered killing the captain.
“I have to say your behavior’s been amazing these last few days,” Kirk said, interrupting his thoughts. His eyes were dark as they sized the other up. “You know, I really didn’t think it’d be a good idea for Spock to finally make it official, but it’s really changed you.”
They were about to reach the turbo lift when Kirk took hold of his arms. “It’s like you’re a whole new man,” he said with a toothy, mirthless grin. “I like it.” He chuckled and lead McCoy into the turbo lift by the arm, while the doctor tried to hold in a scream. With Kirk’s eyes openly on him, McCoy could only look straight ahead. When the captain traced a finger along the ridge of his ear, McCoy flinched, his entire body giving off a quick spasm.
“Well!” Kirk said with mild surprise. “I’m glad you still have a little fight left in you.”
This brought a sting to McCoy’s throat that made him nearly choke. His eyes were stinging; it was hard to keep his composure. Was he capable of fighting? he demanded of himself. Would this heavy, dejected feeling interfere?
Kirk gave him an extra large grin as he pulled him out of the turbo lift when it stopped. McCoy was wooden and silent beside him, appearing in every way a meek victim, but his mind was racing. The cuff had been programmed to go off in thirty minutes, so that basically meant he had that much time to stall Kirk. If he could only hold on that long until Spock came for him…
The captain’s state room was staggering. It took McCoy off guard for a moment to take in the vulgar decor, or so it seemed to him. A huge Imperial symbol covering one wall, gold flecks sparkling with the far too bright overhead light, silken sheets on the bed, a mirror by the cabinet bigger than he’d ever seen. Somehow his quarters were much larger than his counterpart’s, as if this Kirk had knocked down bulkheads to expand his living space.
Kirk wrapped his arms around McCoy’s waist from behind and dipped the startled man low in a dramatic move. Lowered off his feet, the doctor grabbed Kirk’s arms and grit his teeth. For a moment there was something warm in Kirk’s expression; for a moment McCoy almost felt safe in his arms. The feel of the captain’s bare arms, more muscular than he was used to, the warmth of his waist, made it hard for McCoy to breathe.
McCoy would be a liar if he’d never admit to having feelings for Kirk, but they’d always been fleeting, mindless crushes. He’d never wanted his friend in that way, and mostly never told him because he didn’t want Kirk to get a big head over it.
But those innocent, hidden feelings paled in comparison with how McCoy felt now, lying on his back on the huge bed, with Kirk over him, staring hungrily. He was petrified, and his skin crawled where Kirk touched him. The breath stopped in his throat when Kirk yanked his head back by the hair, and he clutched the bedsheets, white knuckled, when he was bitten on the neck.
As he felt Kirk’s knee slip between his legs and brush his lips up from his throat, McCoy forced himself out of that lust-filled trance. Whatever dark thrill he was getting from this was not enough for him to allow this to happen. He knew he was hard, his body was shaking with need that Kirk had inspired, but behind it all, he was repulsed. The Jim he knew was his friend, and someone who would never do anything like this. Somehow it was easier to imagine such a violation from Spock than from Kirk.
Without a second thought McCoy slammed his cuffed wrist into Kirk’s face. Kirk was shoved to his side, but quickly recovered, grabbing McCoy’s arm before he could get anywhere. For a while the two struggled. McCoy thrust his knees into Kirk’s gut, missing him nearly every time. Leaning over the top of him, his knees steady on the bed, Kirk had a significant advantage, but while Kirk easily overpowered him, McCoy dragged it out. He twisted and writhed beneath him, managing to punch Kirk in the face several times before his wrists were pinned down. Then he wrenched a leg free enough to kick Kirk’s leg.
Panting, Kirk removed one hand from McCoy’s wrist, and McCoy seized this opportunity to punch him in the nose. A broken scream ripped from Kirk as he lost his grip. While he threw his hand to his bleeding nose, McCoy scrambled off the bed, falling to his knees before he got to the door. He pounded at the control pad by the door, eventually smashing the heel of his hand against it uselessly, then resorted to screaming through the door. No one came, of course.
Kirk laughed behind him. His hand numb and sore, McCoy finally stopped, but he couldn’t turn to face the other man just yet. “Let me out,” he said, his voice coming out smaller than he intended. Another hearty laugh.
“Guess you haven’t changed much after all,” Kirk said. McCoy heard him get up from the bed, and he tensed, head pressed against the locked door. He peered behind him—Kirk was pouring himself a drink. “Or maybe you’re just playing hard to get,” he smirked.
“You might as well let me go now,” McCoy said. “I won’t let you touch me.” If Kirk did come for him again, though, he knew he wouldn’t get away a second time. There was nothing stopping Kirk but his own whimsy.
“Oh, really?” Kirk laughed. He took a long drink and smacked his lips. “Well, your antics have eaten up most of the time Spock’s allowed you, so we’ll have to postpone this for another time anyway.”
“Lemme out, then.” McCoy turned with his back against the door as Kirk sauntered over to him, the reek of some powerful liquor unfamiliar of him on the captain’s lips. Kirk put one hand to the control panel, but he didn’t press anything. Instead he leaned closer to McCoy and took another swig from his bottle. “Dammit, Jim,” he pleaded in a soft whine, crumpling against the door. His chest was heaving, he was light headed and exhausted.
Kirk made a face. “‘Jim’?” he said. “No one but my brother calls me that.” Then he smirked and ran his fingers through McCoy’s hair, scratching. “Ahh but you’re just trying to annoy me, now,” he growled. “Such a sneaky little fuck.” He ruffled McCoy’s hair, but roughly, and then grabbed his cuffed wrist. “You know, this would look so much better if it had come from me.”
McCoy shivered and his hand clenched. There were many tiny lights flashing on the display screen, and he thought he could decipher some of it. In fact, he found he could, and the screen warned he had less than two minutes left.
“C-Captain,” he struggled to speak as Kirk brushed fingers across his throat. “I have to go.”
“You’ll go when I tell you to go,” Kirk half-snarled, half-purred, and pressed himself against McCoy, who nearly passed out from the sudden, intense sensation. “How much longer?”
McCoy brought his shaking wrist into view. “One minute…twent-twenty three…” Kirk closed his mouth over McCoy’s, forcing his tongue in, then pulled off him. Shaking, McCoy clung to the doorway with one hand as Kirk stood just out of arm’s length before him, a grin on his face.
“Open the door!” McCoy hissed. Thirty seconds now.
Kirk chuckled softly and put his drink away. He leaned on the cabinet while McCoy remained glued to the door, waiting desperately.
There was a loud, screeching beep and McCoy’s arm burst with a sudden shock. He hissed and looked down at his arm. The pain was startling and unpleasant, but it wasn’t so bad, actually. He could certainly survive…
Another shock a few seconds later, harsher this time. McCoy felt his wrist practically vibrate within the cuff, his entire arm going numb for half a second. That one definitely hurt. He looked up to Kirk, who was clearly enjoying himself.
“Godammit, lemme out!” he howled when another shock lanced up his arm. He could feel it all the way to the shoulder, this time, and his head was pounding. He started pushing random buttons on the door, but it still would not open, even when he tried to transfer the electricity from the cuff to the protected panel.
By the next shock, McCoy was on his knees. His body spasmed and then sagged with exhaustion between each attack. “Jim, for God’s sake!” he yelled. “Please!”
Kirk went to stand just out of reach. “What makes you think I’d want to do a thing for you, after the trouble you gave me?” he chided with a laugh.
“Please!” McCoy called out. The shocks’ intensity had leveled off, but the constant, repetitive jolts were driving McCoy mad with pain. He started clawing at the cuff, doubled over by the door. “Captain, please! Can’t—aahhh!-can’t take it-!”
Kirk yawned loudly and stepped past McCoy, still careful not to get too close. With a hand by the controls, he gazed down at the writhing, moaning man. “You know, Doctor, I do enjoy a good tussle now and then, but I don’t expect it to last too long.”
McCoy tried to say something, but couldn’t. He could only make desperate sounds through hot tears.
Finally Kirk deactivated the door lock, and stepped back when the door opened. McCoy started to crawl out, and grabbed the doorway to help him to his feet. Every shock from the cuff almost knocked him back down, but soon he was making his way down the passageway.
His arm felt on fire, and his heart was about to explode. His own will power carried him to the turbo lift, but he was knocked to the ground before he could reach it. Somewhere through his fading vision he saw shapes approach him, and was vaguely aware of someone taking hold of his hand. Soon after the shocks stopped, and the world around him seemed so very empty. He slumped in Spock’s arms and passed out.
I am taking extreme liberties with my head!canon regarding the Mirror universe, if you would kindly indulge me. I hope that as the chapters progress, more is revealed in a way that makes sense, doesn't overly contradict Star Trek canon (I would die of shame if so, actually; I'd have to turn in my Trekkie pin), and is satisfying to the readers. You are welcome to ask me if you're confused. I won't tell you anything spoilery for the fic, but I'll gladly explain how I imagine the mirror universe works in regards to the politics and races.
And no I have not seen any m!verse episodes for other series, like the DS9 one (I want to so bad, though!!) so my head!canon may or may not contradict facts in those episodes, but if that's the case, let's just say this is one of many, however similar, parallel universes. There would be an infinite number of parallel universes if there are any, after all.
so that's my excuse, but I welcome debate if anyone has issues with it! I love you all for reading this much so far and hope you continue!
Chapter 8: Trust
Spock tries to reach out to M!McCoy; the crew pick up a startling refugee
McCoy didn’t want to leave the warmth of Kirk’s embrace. Never had he felt such tenderness from his Kirk, and he could count on one hand the times anyone else had shown him any. If Kirk hadn’t gently pulled away, McCoy would have remained like that. The physical attention felt good, but by now it was hardwired in his brain to accept whatever the captain did. A bit of fighting or struggling beforehand was fine, but in the end, the captain, the sovereign of the ship, always got his way.
For all McCoy knew, the same unspoken rule could apply in this universe, so it was best not to take any chances.
But Kirk did let him go, and made no further move for him. While McCoy wiped his eyes and leaned against his desk, Kirk ruffled his hair and sighed.
“I’m sorry, Captain,” McCoy said softly. He still didn’t know what he’d done to have caused such a reaction from Kirk, but he knew how to sound sincere enough to cover anything. The addition of a polite title couldn’t hurt, either.
“I want you to take some time off, Bones,” Kirk said, a gentle look to his face. “I’d like your senior staff to take a look at-“
McCoy waved his hand dismissively. “No, no, I can assess myself.”
A small sigh escaped the captain, and he waited a moment before saying, “I want you back, Bones.”
McCoy looked up, jaw tightening. “Just give me some time, James,” he answered. He’d understood what Kirk had meant, but something in the way he said it discomforted him. “Just…just trust me to get back on my own feet, my own way.”
Kirk gave a very small smile and nodded. “There’s no time limit,” he said. “M’Benga and Chapel will take over for you until you’re ready.” McCoy nodded and Kirk started to leave. At the door, he paused and looked back. “Oh, and, it’s a small thing, but…”
“I’d prefer it if you go back to ‘Jim.’” He grinned, a touch of color rising to his face. “You sound like a professor.”
“Of course, Jim,” McCoy laughed nervously. “I guess my brain’s really frazzled right now!”
As soon as Kirk left, McCoy collapsed onto his chair, shaking all over. He cursed himself for his stupidity, although he knew there would not have been any way to know such a detail. There was no way to know any details, small or vital, unless he took the risk of finding them out for himself.
What would happen if they realized, he wondered. Could they send him back? Did such technology even exist? Any theories that even hinted to the existence of parallel universes were rarely taken seriously where he was from; he himself could hardly believe what had happened.
If they couldn’t send him back, then McCoy couldn’t imagine what they would do. But the captain had seen the world McCoy was from; Kirk would understand the danger of it spilling into his own world.
McCoy was about to take a drink, but refrained. He decided to wait until the night cycle began, when he had a better chance of being alone and uninterrupted. Going too long without a drop was out of the question, but he could at least hold off while he still needed his wits about him.
He wrote up a brief message to send electronically to his staff, telling them he was going off duty for a while. It amused him a bit to find that it was just as easy to navigate his counterpart’s computer as if it were his own.
He thought about his other self for a moment, but not for long. The thought was vague and depressing, and made him feel guilty for some reason, and that guilt in turn made him angry. For all intents and purposes, that other McCoy was an entirely different person; he had no responsibility over a stranger. And besides, McCoy told himself as he took what he needed from the office, if that other one was not strong enough to adapt, then anything that happened to him was his own damn fault.
For the next few hours McCoy wandered the passageways. He greeted anyone who greeted him, adjusting the level of his smile to match the one he received, but he felt anything but warmth. He was still on his guard, although he’d relaxed considerably as he met more and more people that did not try to attack him. Idly he nagged himself that his carelessness could get him killed.
Even though he’d seen enough evidence that life here was quite different, he still felt the same way about the people he knew closely. If Kirk were to pull him to the side right now, McCoy would instantly expect to be taken to his quarters, and he would submit because he was simply not in the mood to fight. If he were to come across Scott, he’d expect an abusive, half drunken speech about pride and dignity and all the reasons why he didn’t have any and why he should step down from duty and resign himself as a slave right now. McCoy grimaced just thinking about it.
And if he saw Spock…McCoy decided to stop brooding and just try to observe as much he could before drinking himself to stupification in his quarters later on.
A slender blond woman came down the passageway, and McCoy froze in his tracks. There was something oddly familiar about her, although he couldn’t recognize any of the obvious details, like her hair or clothes. If perhaps her hair were down, her shoulders bare…
The realization came as a great shock. Yeoman Rand noticed this as she got closer, and she went to take hold of McCoy’s arm gently. “Doctor!” she exclaimed. “Are you ok?”
“Just heartburn,” he said with a lopsided, mirthless grin. He would have said her name as well, if he could remember it. It was probably not a good idea to call her what he would have in his own universe.
Her hand was gentle on his shoulder. “You looked like you’ve seen a ghost!” she said. “Scared me half to death!”
“Sorry about that. But, that’s why I’m off to bed!”
Her smile put him at unusual ease, and she left. Once again he launched an attack on himself for slipping up; just that simple display of emotion could have gotten him in trouble. But what she had said was true, except the in the opposite way. The Rand he was familiar with was the ghost, compared to how she appeared here.
He’d had enough adventures for one night, he decided. From the second the door closed behind him, he was drinking. His mind raced with the evidence of a new way of life arguing against the things he’d experienced for so many years. Hours passed, bottles were emptied, and the doctor was still no closer to deciding how safe he should feel before finally passing out in what was now his bed.
Another hypo smashed into the wall, with the satisfying release of aggression, however small, burning through him. He’d woken up with a splitting headache and a horrible nausea, and despite numerous injections, he didn’t feel much better. That would be another thing he’d have to get used to here, the poor quality and slowness of the drugs. That and the fact that his counterpart didn’t have the foresight to keep his quarters stocked with enough pain killers and electrolytes to kill the usual hangover.
Grumbling at the pain that remained, McCoy cooled off in the shower. It was relaxing to know that nothing was expected of him today, or the next day, if he wanted to take that much time off. Overall McCoy felt fit enough to pick off from where the stranger with the same name left off, but that wasn’t the problem. He had to become the Leonard McCoy that had been expelled from this world, and he had to immerse himself in that man’s life to do it. It was safe to sit on the sidelines and observe, but he wouldn’t learn anything that way.
He got dressed and almost forgot again that his uniform did not include a sash. Just another thing to like about this place.
The halls were alive with activity, and it nearly overwhelmed him. He felt a bit better about being around so many people, but the age old fear stuck around like a shadow he couldn’t shake. He wondered if he’d ever stop doubting himself, if he’d ever truly let go of his constant anxiety.
A bit lightheaded, McCoy slipped into the rec room to rest until he calmed down. In his carelessness, he hadn’t noticed Spock at the other end of the room, lute in his lap. When he did see him, by just happening to lift his head, he shuddered with a flash of panic, but he didn’t leave. He told himself over and over that he probably did not have any reason to fear this Spock, and that fleeing now would only increase suspicion.
He tried to hide that he was watching Spock say something quiet into Uhura’s ear, and fought to keep from jumping to his feet when she walked right past him and out into the hall. His pulse quickened as Spock came over to him.
“May I sit?”
McCoy was entirely too friendly in his nervousness. “Go ahead! I was just taking a quick rest, actually…”
“Stay for just a moment, Doctor,” Spock entreated. “Please.” His voice was soft, but his expression blank.
McCoy shook his head and smirked in an impatient way. He flicked his eyes onto Spock’s, but didn’t fully look him in the eye. “Look, I understand you’re worried about me, but I’m going to be fine.”
“I know that you will not be unless you speak to someone,” Spock pressed. He sounded slightly stern, or at least that’s how McCoy took it.
“And that someone should be you?” he sneered, testing him. He was readying himself for defense if it came to it, but his rudeness didn’t seem to affect the Vulcan. So, bolder, he tested again, “Because you’re the one to go to for any emotional help, huh?”
Spock exhaled slightly louder and paused. “If my alternate self harmed you, it is imperative we discuss it, Doctor,” he said. McCoy sniffed derisively. “I don’t want you to fear me because of what he may have done to you.”
His foot tapping with obvious impatience, McCoy cast his eyes to Spock’s. Spock folded his hands together on the table top, but otherwise showed nothing that McCoy could discern. Once again that urge to drive a response from the Vulcan ate at him. He remembered that he was sitting with his back to the door, so he could be the first out of this room if he had to escape.
McCoy had to know where he stood with this man. “You have to give me some Godamn time, Vulcan,” he hissed, almost spitting that last word. “If you wanna know so bad what he did, why don’t you just find out for yourself?”
By now McCoy could tell he was getting a rise out of Spock. The Spock of this world was doing an incredible job of hiding it, though, he had to give him that. Spock cleared his throat and shifted in his seat, and McCoy took that as a small victory. “How would you have me do that?” he asked.
McCoy scoffed and rolled his eyes. As irritated as he seemed, McCoy felt exhilarated. It was such a rush to speak like this to Spock and get away with it, and the knowledge that at any second the Vulcan could break down and throttle him only added to the thrill. This was fun.
In answer to Spock’s question, McCoy leaned over the table, heart racing at how close he was putting himself to potential danger. “Don’t be coy with me,” he sneered. He then clasped his hands together and lifted his chin, eyes closing. “You really wanna know, just go on and find out, don’t ask me stupid questions.”
Spock was leaning back in his chair when McCoy peeked one eye open. Although this Spock was far better at repressing emotions, he looked horrified in his subtle way. “I do not find that humorous, Doctor,” he said.
McCoy leaned back in his chair too, honestly confused now. If Spock were to perform the mind meld as expected, then McCoy had planned to send him violent images, drawn from his own memories, to distract him from finding out the truth, but convince him that they were the truth. He was banking on the idea that this Spock would be disturbed enough to break the meld before he dug too deep.
But there he was, once again having offended someone without knowing how. “What? I’m not trying to make a joke, Spock.”
“This is precisely why I have been encouraging you to talk about what happened,” Spock said, rather tightly. “I can understand your human need to lash out at me because of-“
“Godammit, you half-breed imbecile,” McCoy growled, grabbing Spock’s hands. Elbows and wrists banged on the table as McCoy fought to pull Spock’s hands closer. “Just get it over with and leave me the fuck alone!”
Spock finally wrenched his hands free and got up from the table so abruptly he knocked the chair down. His eyes came alive with that wildness McCoy was used to, and he said with cold calmness, “You are behaving irrationally, Doctor. Abusing me will not heal whatever damage has been done to you. I have tried to be a friend to you, but-“
A voice on the intercom interrupted him. “General quarters, general quarters. All hands to battle-stations.” The alarm sounded as the message was repeated.
Without a second glance Spock left the rec room, leaving McCoy painfully stressed. He was sure that he could have remained in there or hidden in his state room for the duration, but he chose to head up to the bridge for some welcome distraction.
As he exited the turbo lift, Uhura was trying to hail someone. A small shuttle of familiar design was on the view screen, and McCoy couldn’t help but wonder just what the problem was. From what he could gather from the ragged appearance of the shuttle, and from the snatches of conversation amongst the crew, McCoy guessed that the ship they’d encountered merely needed help. No need for an alert, he thought.
“Captain, I’ve received an answer,” Uhura said, and Kirk ordered for visual.
The view of the shuttle changed to that of the interior, and McCoy narrowed his eyes. A young looking man with skin so pale it glowed ashen green was leaning on a railing, accompanied by a few others as ragged as he. The sight of this man had always been an annoyance. McCoy checked Kirk’s face and was startled to see the captain so tense. In fact everyone looked grim.
“Captain,” the man on the screen entreated. “We mean no harm. I’m asking for your help. Our ship is badly damaged, the crew needs medical attention-“
“Enemy wessel has dropped shields, Sir,” Chekov whispered, and Kirk nodded. McCoy felt his heart race. Enemy? The two captains spoke further, but McCoy barely paid attention as he tried to figure this situation out.
“As your scanners must surely reveal, Captain, we are at your mercy,” the man said, quickly, as if he were expecting something to happen any second. “I give you my word, on the life of my crew that we mean no harm.”
“This is Federation space,” Kirk said.
“Yes, I know, Sir. We knew the risk before undertaking this journey, but for the purpose of peace, I give you my word. Our shields are down, and your scanners must show that our weapons are disabled. Please, we can discuss this on board your vessel if it pleases you.”
Kirk looked to Spock, who was hunched over his monitor. “That is correct, Captain. Ship’s battery at ten percent, not enough to cause significant damage.” Spock’s eyes met McCoy’s for a second, but his expression didn’t change. It was as if he hadn’t seen him.
McCoy, standing close to Kirk’s chair, watched as Kirk gave the orders to the transporter room and for security to report there. Something’s seriously wrong, he thought.
“We’ll beam you and your crew aboard,” Kirk said. “And I’m sorry, but I never did get your name.”
The man visibly relaxed, and even smiled. “I must have forgotten to introduce myself. It’s Dorek.”
Chapter 9: Speak
M!Spock tries to teach McCoy how to communicate with him telepathically when they are linked; M!Spock warns M!Chapel to leave McCoy alone
He came to a few minutes later, and by that time, they were in a turbo lift. Spock had hold of him by the upper arm, holding him close to himself. Spock looked down at him when he felt him rouse and asked, “Did you give him any trouble?”
McCoy stared up for a moment in shock. “Did I give him trouble?” he demanded. “You let him try to rape me, and you’re asking me if I-“
Spock’s lips tightened and he yanked McCoy in front of him to stare him down. “What do you mean ‘try’?”
The doctor’s knees weakened as he stared helplessly into that cold face. “You-you knew what he was going to do, you-you-“
Grinding his teeth, Spock dragged McCoy out of the turbo lift when it stopped and walked much faster than McCoy could handle. When he stumbled, Spock just jerked him onwards. McCoy clutched at Spock’s arm and cried out, just to be ignored.
Instead of going to Sickbay, as McCoy expected, they went to Spock’s state room. Only once had McCoy ever been in Spock’s quarters before, and that was in his own universe. It was not that much different; uncomfortably hot and sparse, only these quarters were lit unsettling, reddish lighting. Spock hit controls on the pad by the door and shoved McCoy inside.
The doctor knew he did not have the strength to defend himself against a furious Vulcan. His body ached, and his arm burned with a pulsing, sharp pain, and it was all he could do to not collapse in a heap when he backpedaled into the foot of the bed. Grabbing for a handhold, McCoy cringed and yelled, “Spock! For God’s sake, I didn’t-“
Spock grabbed him by the throat and forced him up on the bed, climbing on after him. “What happened?” he growled. He took his hand off the doctor’s throat, but took a grip of his shirt collar and pulled him up by it.
McCoy felt the tears in his eyes and couldn’t stop them. He couldn’t remember when he’d felt fear quite as immediate as this; he was fully expecting Spock to rip him apart with his bare hands any second. “I-I fought him,” he forced out. Spock kept his hands from McCoy’s bare skin. “I-h-he tried to-to force it-I fought him off!”
“Fool!” Spock snapped, slapping him. McCoy’s ears rang and his jaw ached.
“What was I supposed to do?” he shouted, wincing as Spock leaned closer. “You expect me to just blindly let whatever that devil wants to me?”
A corner of Spock’s mouth twitched, and for a frightful second he seemed close to losing control. But then he relaxed, his face draining of expression. This scared McCoy even more. The Vulcan’s voice was an icy hiss. “You will serve the captain of this ship in every way unless you are prepared to assassinate him.” Spock’s other hand slid across McCoy’s forehead, latching onto the meld spots, his fingernails digging even deeper than before. McCoy hissed at the biting pain and tensed.
“He had no right to-“
“He is the captain; his power is absolute.” Spock let go of McCoy’s shirt to press his thumb down on the human’s jugular, releasing pressure or applying it irregularly. “You could be accused of mutiny just for refusing his advances.”
As Spock’s voice droned, McCoy began to feel his presence in his mind. It started as a vague, shadow of a feeling, of feeling that Spock was aware of his immediate thoughts. When the pressure on his jugular grew too much, he felt Spock’s awareness of this, and his decision to hold on a little longer before releasing.
His own thoughts started to fade, becoming more like vague emotions or ideas that were hard to hold on to, like trying to remember a dream. Just like before, McCoy also became highly aware of his own breathing and heartbeat, with the rest of the world fading into the background.
/I will be forced to punish you/
The words were clear in his mind, but McCoy hardly noticed that Spock was not moving his lips. His voice was so much purer this way. As he became more aware of the pain in his body, McCoy latched onto that voice.
“I was just defending myself,” McCoy grunted.
/Speak to me properly/
“…can’t…” he whined, writhing on the bed. Once again he had that unsettling feeling that Spock was controlling the functions of his body. This could have just been the illusion that Spock wanted to forced into his mind, or it could have been exactly what was happening; there was no way to tell.
/You can. Speak/
He became aware of the pain in his arm, and then it was gone. McCoy gasped frantically, that sudden absence of pain in his entire body like a draining of his energy. Spock was then demanding him, with wordless, abstract suggestions as well as thought words, to communicate telepathically. McCoy’s thoughts drifted to the memory of his mental assault on Spock earlier; he realized that both minds were thinking of this as one.
“I can’t do it, Godamn you!” he whined. By now he was clutching Spock’s shirt, eyes squeezed shut. He couldn’t see or hear Spock, but he was more aware of the Vulcan and the more obvious of his feelings than ever before. He did make a half-hearted attempt to send a mental message, but just doing that exhausted him.
/Stop fighting me/
“Spock, please! I can’t do it now!” The pressure of Spock’s commands overtook his mind. For the moment his mind was ignorant to the pains of his body, but McCoy would have gladly taken it all back for some peace. He tugged Spock’s shirt with one hand, clawed his arm with the other.
“I’m not a fuckin’ Vulcan!”
/I only ask what I know you can do, Leonard/
McCoy groaned loudly. He was starting to focus his thoughts, but he knew Spock was “helping” him. He cried out as it felt that something was being torn from him, and then he sagged. His hands dropped from Spock’s arms, and he would have fallen asleep had his mind not still been alive with activity from both of them.
Spock helped drag out a rudimentary thought from McCoy’s mind. When McCoy had assaulted him, that had been voluntary and in the heat of the moment, therefore easy. It was only so difficult now simply because he didn’t want to be forced into it. He could feel Spock’s triumph as clearly as if it were his own.
/I hate you/
McCoy felt a tenseness after that, but the feelings that followed were hard to understand. As long as they were connected like this, McCoy was able, in a crude and basic way, to experience Spock’s thoughts and emotions as if through a mirror. At times it was impossible to tell from whose mind a certain feeling originated.
/That is of no consequence/
/You will never make me love you/
/I do not require your love, only obedience/
McCoy had felt flickers of something, some pain that hurt him when he tried to pursue it, but he didn’t want to let it go. It drifted away as he tried to follow it, and left McCoy trying to draw from an empty well. Suddenly he felt that he was alone; he could not even feel Spock touching him.
He could not open his eyes or make a movement as this quiet raged on. At the very edges of his consciousness, he thought he could feel Spock’s presence, but just barely.
“Spock!” he screamed as soon as he was able. He felt his eyelids open, and for a while he was blind. Very slowly he felt the presence of Spock’s mind return, although it never came back as close as it had been. McCoy realized he was trying to reach for him. He was powerless as Spock removed himself and then closed the link.
His body was leaden and sluggish; he couldn’t move away from Spock even if he wanted to. He barely had the mental energy to try. He felt a sad sort of loneliness right after the severance of the mental link, but that faded in a few seconds.
Spock took hold of McCoy’s chin, pulling him forward. McCoy leaned forward awkwardly to keep balance, and his back ached from the strain. “Your primitive emotions are no concern of mine, slave,” he said in a low voice. “You are weak, soft, malleable. I have taken you as I would any object that could provide a use to me.” He pulled McCoy even closer and put his other hand behind McCoy’s nape. They were pressed together cheek to cheek. Spock whispered as McCoy clutched his arm, “You have always belonged to me. Even before I found you, you were mine. I will settle for no less than complete devotion.”
“I hate you,” McCoy whimpered back. He was far too tired to say anything further. Spock’s words were severe and binding, as if Spock was also somehow making McCoy believe him as well.
“Once again, that is not important,” Spock said flatly. “I do not expect you to have anything less than hatred for the captain, but I still expect you to obey him.” He sighed and lifted McCoy from the bed. As he was taken to the other side of the room, McCoy stumbled against him, hardly able to walk on his own.
His head was spinning as he vaguely noticed Spock attaching something to his arm. As he fought to keep his head up, he saw that he’d been tied to a handle bar in the shower, with just enough room to lie down on the bath math.
“Don’t leave me here,” he pleaded, leaning his head against the tub when Spock let go of him. His heart thudded in his ears, and soon that was the only sound he was aware of. When he called out again, there was no answer. It took him a while to realize Spock had already left.
His guess had been correct. After an hour of wandering the passageways, Spock returned to his quarters and found McCoy to be asleep. In the bright light of the bathroom, he saw the human’s fingers stained dark green, and his face pale. Only when he noticed the blood did Spock realize that McCoy must have dug into him harder than he realized during the meld. His first concern was that he had been seen by lessers with obvious injuries. It was dangerous to show such weakness.
But he spent no more than a few seconds on that thought as he leaned against the doorway, watching McCoy sleep. His eyes were narrowed, his breath deep and deliberate. Never had one person or thing caused such an emotional turmoil for him, and bringing this other one here did not change that.
He knelt by McCoy and brought his fingertips to the man’s face, but did not touch him. Instead he slowly moved his hand down, over the chest, over his legs, and then back to himself. As much as he wanted to touch him, he feared he’d wake him, and Spock was not ready for McCoy to awaken yet.
There were many things he wanted to do, but knew he had to approach these things in logical, orderly steps. Take it all now and risk destroying it. It brought savage, hateful feelings to look at him. The anger he felt was childish and embarrassing, so he forced himself to remain, to train himself. Every one of these painful emotions could be reasoned away, he knew. They could be unlearned.
Tracing his thumb just barely on the surface of McCoy’s chin, Spock reminded himself that amything could be transformed into something else, if he could only find the patience.
Spock took one last look and left. Already the feelings were beginning to drain as he removed himself from the source. While he had tormented himself earlier by remembering certain things McCoy had said, now that he was alone in the passageways he could focus on the doubt that McCoy had felt when saying them.
He had considerable time before his next shift, and he’d already planned everything he’d do. In a while he’d awaken McCoy, but he would need a chance of distraction before then. A few crew members passed him and saluted him, and Spock walked by without even looking at them. In fact, Spock did pay very close attention to anyone that approached him, but without making it seem that he was. By now he was not a common target for assassination, and the most obvious reason for this was he had numerous allies on board the ship, most of them Vulcan. But a far more effective deterrent was that anyone who tried to attack him was left alive as a warning to others.
A few decks down, he came to Nurse Chapel’s quarters and entered without warning. He caught her arm just as she lunged from the corner at him. A hoarse scream ripped from her as Spock twisted her arm. He had her completely disarmed and unable to move with only a few fingers lodged in pressure points. Her knife dropped to the floor by her feet.
“Kill me or let me go, Spock!” she growled, shaking.
Spock held her throat and lead her back against the wall. “Lift your sleeve,” he said in a flat, even voice.
With a fierce glare, she obeyed. There was a pale scar where the wound had been, and her eyes blazed with defiance.
“As I expected,” Spock said. The nurse’s throat still in his hand, Spock retrieved the knife from the floor. For the few seconds it took, he reevaluated Chapel’s use on board. So far, her use outweighed her risk, so he maintained his decision not to kill her.
“Nurse,” he said, holding the knife point at her neck to keep her still. “Killing McCoy will not allow you to advance to Chief Medical Officer. You could slaughter the entire medical staff, and that would not change anything.”
“There are female CMOs,” she hissed. “There’s no regulation against a woman reaching that kind of position. A woman held your position before you came here.”
“Your ambition is obviously clouding your judgment,” Spock replied flatly. “As I have said, your orders for advancement must be approved, not only by me, but by the captain. Do you truly believe the captain would give you such a position?”
Her dark glower was answer enough for them both. “I will be more than a man’s servant,” she growled.
“Probable. But you will not waste your time by harming McCoy in the attempt. It will not matter then if the captain approves your promotion or not, because I will kill you if you attack him again.” He took hold of her wrist.
“What are you doing?”
Without a word he dug the knife point into her arm at exactly the edge of where the wound was. He sliced her arm as he did before, and with the calm of slicing a vegetable in two. When he was finished, he gripped the injured arm and placed the dripping blade on one of Chapel’s cabinets.
Her shoulders shook as she tried to hold back tears, but Spock did get the satisfaction of them very soon. Her savage curses under her trembling breath sounded sweet and pleasing to him. All in all, this had been most calming, as well as useful.
“You may clean and dress your wound to the extent of saving yourself from bleeding out or infection.” As he talked, the human’s moans turned to soft, muted whines. She stared at the fresh, glittering gash surrounded by Spock’s fingers. “But this will remain unhealed to remind you of our conversation today. I will periodically inspect and adjust it.”
“How do you expect me to work?” she half-sneered, half-whimpered.
“As long as your arm is properly dressed you will be fit for duty.”
“I can’t work with—”
“Then you will learn to work one-handed.”
He already felt better having gotten that chore out of the way. Having suffered the defiance of one human, it was refreshing to subjugate another. But this triumph was short lived. The blind devotion of a hundred souls would mean nothing if McCoy still refused to submit. The human was his slave in title only; Spock had claimed him, but the human would not surrender. Just as with the other one.
/It has only been two days/ he told himself firmly, already exhausted of such doubts. /He cannot last for long/
With yet another decision cemented in his mind, Spock felt calm enough to visit the library, where he planned to enjoy the rest of his time off. He felt the presence of another man heading for him, but he did not make any sign of it.
Gritting his teeth, Spock stopped and greeted the man that called him, only because he recognized the voice. “Admiral,” he greeted with strained politeness. “I trust everything is to your satisfaction so far.”
Dorek laughed as easily as he if he were with an old friend. “I’m not doing the inspections, Spock. I won’t know if this ship is up standards till next week, and until then, I don’t care!”
“Then I have nothing to report to you,” Spock retorted. He was not rude enough to walk away, however.
“Is that another one of your Vulcan ways?” Dorek asked, eyes narrowed slightly. He looked as if he could not decide on a smirk or a glare.
“Sir?” Spock knew the admiral could hold him up for as long as he wanted. As a superior officer, the Romulan had him under complete control, and his orders would even supersede the captain’s. It was almost expected that a man of such a high rank would abuse his power now and then, but Spock was not intimidated by this man. Spock had served under a great many dictators, but he had never allowed any of them rob him of his dignity. This young and overly friendly Romulan would not be any different.
“Never mind,” Dorek sighed. “Apparently humor is beyond you as well. Are there many others like you on board?”
Spock considered telling him a far greater number than what was the case, but knew that by the end of the inspections, Dorek would learn the truth. “There are eight of us, Admiral.”
“It must be difficult to be so outnumbered by your old fashioned brethren,” Dorek clucked. “Let me see, there are-“
“One hundred fifty-three Romulans, Sir. Are you not aware that at any time you may review the ship’s computer-“
Dorek clapped a gloved hand on Spock’s shoulder. The Vulcan’s jaw tightened, but he made no move to remove himself from the Romulan’s presence. “Of course I could, cousin,” he said, and once again Spock fought to control his rage at that simple title. “Just as I could sit in my office and wait for the inspection reports. But what kind of leader would I be if I were not immersed in the lives of those I command? Why have a computer tell me about the Vulcans on one of my ships when I could go straight to the source?”
“Whatever pleases you, Admiral,” Spock said coldly.
“It pleases me to have the chance to speak with a brother,” Dorek said with a smile. “And especially one of such rank. It reflects highly on our race.”
Spock allowed his face to display pride he didn’t feel. Seemingly satisfied, Dorek dismissed him. Spock gave him a sharp salute and left before he had the chance to betray his disgust.
Chapter 10: Sittin' Pretty
Spock finds out the McCoy on board isn’t his own; Spock and Scotty discuss the possibility of returning the McCoys
Sick Bay was a flurry of activity. With the amount of medical staff and security officers alone, it was difficult not to knock into someone at almost every step. Already Nurse Chapel had ordered any non-essential personnel out of Sick Bay, but unfortunately the small spaces were still crowded.
Each Romulan they had taken aboard had to be examined, and a few of them required more extensive medical attention. Further, Spock had ordered two officers to watch over each of the eight visitors, with further officers standing by just outside Sick Bay.
Although Doctor McCoy had not officially returned from his self-imposed relief of duties, he was also there, observing, just out of the way. When McCoy approached a Romulan on the bed, the one that Spock recalled as the Captain Dorek, Spock noticed that no one stopped him. Perhaps everyone was so used to McCoy’s presence, that no one thought to question him.
Not that anyone but Chapel, M’Benga, and perhaps a few others that normally worked under those two would have any reason to wonder why McCoy was spending his time off working.
By now the mood of the room had lightened. Spock still sensed fear and suspicion from his subordinates, but as time went on and the feared strangers continued their peaceful, even friendly, manner, the others began to relax.
That had been Kirk’s idea, actually, to encourage this sort of openness. While security officers watched every movement the Romulans made, these visitors were not treated as prisoners, but as refugees. They were not strapped to the medical beds, and when they were treated, they were not rounded up in a carefully controlled and watched unit, but allowed to sit and chat with the nurses. Spock could understand Kirk’s motive for this, that perhaps the situation could be easier controlled if the Romulans felt safe here.
Still, had Spock been in command, these strangers would not have even made it on his ship.
/What would you have done?/ he wondered, but cut himself off before he could formulate an answer. He was not the captain of this ship, therefore it was pointless to entertain fantasies of how things would be different under his command. Never had Spock a reason to doubt his captain, and could have easily reminded himself of every occasion where a strange, counter-intuitive solution from Kirk had worked in the end.
He noticed McCoy move away from Dorek rather quickly and instantly turned his attention to the Romulan. Dorek did not appear hostile, in fact he was still relaxing on the medical bed, while McCoy spoke to him out of arm’s reach. Spock would have asked what had happened to cause this sudden uneasiness, but doing so would have embarrassed Dorek. Whatever he may have felt about Dorek and his kind, Spock would still remember to be courteous.
However, just to set himself at ease that the doctor was not in any danger, Spock came over to them, already purging his mind of feeling to prepare himself for facing the Romulan. If McCoy had not jumped away as he did, Spock would have no reason to approach them.
The doctor moved away from him, a cold glare on his face. Now it was his own dignity to consider when Spock chose to remain quiet.
“I had not thought it possible,” said Dorek in a rather far away voice.
Spock turned his attention to the Romulan, clasping his hands behind his back, while McCoy watched them both. “And what is that, Captain?”
Dorek sat up in the bed. Spock noticed from the corner of his eye that McCoy took a small step back. “That one of our kind would be stationed aboard a Federation star ship, and with such a high rank,” he said. Spock’s eyes were expressionless, cold, while the Romulan’s were dreamy. So much emotion displayed, broadcast on his face. “Having never been outside the Neutral Zone my entire life before this journey, and having to depend on what the Senate decides to tell us, I had for so long believed that it was not possible.”
“The Federation is considerably more open-minded than your Senate,” Spock replied matter-of-factly.
“Of course,” Dorek said with a soft smile. “Politics aside, it brings me so much hope to see a brother so successful outside the Senate’s influence.”
“Captain, may I remind you that our cultures are more than two thousand years removed,” Spock stated. “We are too far apart for the term ‘brother’ to be appropriate.” He realized only too late that his tone was rather sharp; he decided he would need a short break sometime today.
Dorek’s soft smile and dancing eyes darkened, crumpled. “I am sorry to have offended you, Commander Spock,” he said.
“There is no need to apologize,” Spock said, but coldly. “I was merely correcting you, as you yourself have already explained that this is your first chance to observe the world outside the influence of your government. You did not know any better. Now I must excuse myself. I am needed elsewhere.”
Without a further look at either Dorek or McCoy, Spock left Sick Bay, and gave the orders for more security officers to take his place. It was his aim to sneak off to the library for some relaxation. An hour, no more, long enough to clear his mind. It would further cement his personal shame if he were to snap at the Romulan again. What kind of representative for his way of life would he be, if he could not refrain from such pettiness?
“Real touchy today, aren’t you?” McCoy’s voice taunted him from behind. Spock stopped only out of politeness, but even that was strained. Just looking at the same man who had insulted him so unfairly was difficult.
“Doctor, you need a psychological evaluation,” he said. The sight of his friend invited a surge of most unwelcome emotions that were hard to push back down. Anger was on the forefront, and it shamed him. “It is apparent that something traumatic has happened to you; you must seek treatment.”
“I could see it in your eyes, Spock, the hatred. What’ve you got against the Romulans, huh? Or is it him in particular?” Spock’s jaw tightened as he listened to this. “You know, for a second there, I couldn’t tell you two apart.”
Spock knew that was just a cruel jab, meaning nothing. For whatever reason, the doctor had taken to verbal abuse, possibly as a coping mechanism for whatever had happened, Spock reasoned. It would be selfish, he realized, to take offense to his words, as they were actually a subconscious cry for help.
“If you will not make the arrangements, I will do so for you,” he said with finality. “That is an order, Doctor.”
“Damn your orders!” McCoy snarled, closing in on Spock, who took a step back. By now, Spock was more than used to the doctor’s argumentativeness, and even the occasional angry outburst was to be expected. Never before had Spock considered that his friend would pose as a physical threat. “I don’t need a fuckin’ eval!”
“This is a poor way to convince me,” Spock muttered. McCoy’s stance was aggressive in itself, slightly crouched, hands closing at his sides. Their eyes locked.
“I already told you what you should do, Vulcan,” McCoy growled. “But no, you want to take the easy way out and send me to the nurses to see what’s wrong with me.”
“I have attempted to speak with you-“
“You’re a Vulcan!” McCoy snapped. When Spock took a step away, back sliding across the bulkhead, McCoy stepped around the other side. McCoy should have known he’d be no match for Spock hand-to-hand; Spock still hoped he could avoid using any force on his troubled friend. “Talking about it is beneath you! I’ve already said I don’t want to have to talk about it, didn’t I? And I don’t need to!”
“Doctor, your behavior-“
“Take what you want, that’s what you Vulcans are best at!” He grabbed Spock and forced his hands on the Vulcan’s temples, pressing his body hard against the other’s.
The shock of this sudden attack left Spock unprepared for a mental assault. He vaguely heard McCoy growl at him amidst a storm of mental energy, formless, pictureless. For 2.3 seconds Spock was immobilized against the wall until he mustered the energy to block it out. Gradually Spock was able to shield himself from the storm McCoy was trying to send him, although he was aware of the other’s mind. Vague, painful feelings emanated from the doctor, but Spock was now safe from them.
Straightening himself, Spock pinched the base of McCoy’s neck, knocking him out. He lifted the suddenly limp body effortlessly in his arms for greater ease of carrying him to his quarters. Spock’s features tensed as he felt distress threaten to overtake him.
Ever since Spock had learned of the doctor’s refusal to treat a patient a few days ago, he had entertained an unpleasant suspicion. The distance to his quarters now stretched ahead, an obstacle between himself and his chance to investigate this suspicion.
An irrational voice suggested it would be favorable if they never made it to his quarters, in case his suspicion turned out correct.
When he reached his quarters, Spock laid the doctor gently on the bed, then turned the heat down to what he assumed would be an acceptable level for the human. While McCoy slept, Spock prepared a glass of water for him, expecting him to awaken soon. This was more a way to keep himself busy as he waited, but eventually he had to just sit and wait.
It would have been far easier to perform a mind meld on the sleeping McCoy than to wait to ask questions that would most likely be dodged, but Spock knew that was out of the question. He couldn’t bring himself to violate the human’s mind with a non-consensual probe. Especially not after being tauntingly challenged to do it.
Nearly an hour later, McCoy awoke, and Spock turned his attention immediately to him. McCoy took the glass he was offered with a cold glower, and sat up on the bed. “What, no shackles?” he sneered, and gulped the water down. “I’d better watch what I say, huh? Wouldn’t want to mysteriously lose consciousness again.”
Spock felt he should apologize, but didn’t. Instead he asked, “Where are we, Doctor?”
A corner of McCoy’s lips jerked upwards in a sneer. “It’s ninety degrees in here, where else?”
“I mean what ship are we on?”
McCoy made a face. “Why?”
“I want to make sure the nerve pinch did not induce a temporary amnesia.”
The doctor rolled his eyes. “The Enterprise.”
“Full name, Doctor?”
This provoked an explosive frustration in McCoy, who snapped, “What, you want the specs, too? Ship’s company? Manufacturer’s service number?”
“Just the full name of the vessel, Doctor.”
“Ah, for…” he sighed. “We, my dear half-breed friend, are sittin’ pretty on the I.S.S. Enterprise, NCC, 170-” He stopped, that annoyed looked wiped off his face. He then looked up at Spock, waiting.
Spock’s suspicions had been confirmed in that one letter. Even he could not prevent a small twist of the corner of his mouth upon hearing that. “Were you planning on revealing this, Doctor?” Spock asked after a tense, quiet moment.
McCoy sat leaning against the headboard with his arms crossed, the fingers of one hand squeezing his arm. He had turned from hostile to sullen in less than a minute. “And get myself in trouble?” he snarled.
Spock was not sure what to say, as he was not sure what this intruder’s fate would be. “That is for the captain to decide,” he stated, more for his own benefit, and stood up. “I will return shortly,” he said. When he looked down on the man sitting on his bed, he no longer saw McCoy, but a stranger. An intruder. “You will wait for me here. Don’t bother trying to look for a weapon; I keep none in my quarters.”
McCoy called for him as he got to the door. Spock paused, but did not turn around to face him. “You don’t have to tell anyone. I won’t.” His voice was considerably smaller than when he was taunting him.
“It is my duty, as it is of any member of this ship, to report all threats to the captain,” Spock stated.
“Spock!” McCoy said, trying to laugh. “You didn’t take any of that personally, did you?” Spock bristled. While it was a relief that the McCoy he knew was not responsible for such insults, this stranger’s act was pathetic. It disgusted him. “I didn’t mean any of it, I was just riling you up! Come on, Spock…” McCoy got up and started to approach him.
“Be seated,” Spock said coldly.
McCoy stayed where he was. “I’m still the same man, Spock. Just a few differences, but it’s still me. It’s still Leonard.”
“In name only,” Spock snapped, finally turning around to fully face him. “My friend would not keep such an important secret, nor would he so viciously attack his shipmates. Now sit back down or I will force you.”
He watched the man slowly back up and sit on the bed. If Spock had been weaker, more like his “brother,” he would have…but Spock would not even allow himself to think of anything except what he must do. Purging his mind into a state of clean emptiness, he locked the door from the outside and went straight to engineering.
Spock’s mind was whirring with the beginnings of hypotheses, and fragments of the equations that would go with them. This was partly due to habit; crunching numbers for the pure sake of abstract mathematical exploration was enjoyable for Spock. It was relaxing and often helped with his duties. He would have gone the engineering route if he didn’t prefer a more theoretical course of study.
But right now, this pursuit was useless on its own. Spock needed raw data from Scotty and information about his solutions in order to properly solve this. Pure speculation was not enough, but it helped keep the panic from clouding Spock’s mind. The cold calculations offered hope that he not so secretly feared did not exist.
Relieved to find Scotty there, instructing a younger officer, Spock approached him and requested blandly to speak with him alone. The younger officer took that as a queue to leave them both alone.
Spock launched right into it. He originally had not wanted to reveal his suspicions with anyone besides the captain, but if this turned out to be true, Scotty would have to be involved anyway. He was concerned about keeping this to a few people as possible. He did not even want to consider the danger of the entire crew finding out.
“I have reason to believe that Dr. McCoy did not return with you and the rest,” he said, with just a trace of edge to his voice.
Scotty would not likely have any reason to disbelieve anything Spock would tell him, but the intent look in Spock’s eyes would have been enough to chase away any doubt. He regarded Spock with confusion as he tried to imagine what had gone wrong. “But the calculations were correct, Mr. Spock!” he said, not to defend himself, but to try to make sense of the situation. There had been many chances of errors, but he was having difficulty figuring out where he might have gone wrong. “Unless somehow, some of the energy was siphoned at the last minute, leaving only enough for three…” he speculated, shaking his head in distress.
“Can we return them?”
At this, the reality of the situation finally sunk in for Scotty, who had till then been thinking of the Dr. McCoy he knew being stuck in that other world. He stared at Spock in horror. “Ya’ mean we brought one of those…savages with us?”
“Can we return them, Mr. Scott?” Spock asked again harshly. It was the closest he’d ever come to snapping at Scotty, and the other man certainly noticed. Not that he blamed him, however.
He gazed at Spock, suddenly with sadness. Almost pity. He shook his head. “Mr. Spock, the window closed less than two minutes before we beamed back.”
“When the Enterprise passed through that ion storm, the landing party and myself were caught in a merging of field densities, just as we tried to beam onto the planet’s surface. Somehow, Mr. Spock, and I canna’ explain this, but ours and their universes passed close enough to each other to come into contact right at that moment. They must have been trying to transport themselves as well, right as we were.”
“But you simulated another ion storm by rerouting the ship’s power to the transporter room, did you not?”
“Yes, but that was only going to work within a certain time frame, that’s what I’m trying to tell ya’ Mr. Spock! Because until just before we came back, both universes were still close enough for the energies of them both to leak into each other and make contact possible at all.”
“And now we’ve drifted too far out of range?” Spock asked. By now it was becoming extremely difficult for him to maintain his usual cool demeanor. Normally, he would have already realized the futility of exploring this issue further, even as a theoretical mind puzzle, but he could not let this go.
Scotty gave Spock an irritatingly sympathetic look, as if faced with the burden of explaining a hard truth to a child. He said as gently as he could without being condescending, “Sir. Range is meaningless now. That universe is no longer within our own by any stretch of the imagination. We could no sooner make contact with it than we could any of the other infinite worlds that exist and are just as inaccessible.”
Spock’s jaw clenched, and for a brief moment, his control slipped. He approached Scotty, apparently presenting himself in a hostile manner without realizing it, because the other man drew back, startled. Spock stepped back and turned away, drawing back into himself, for both their protection.
He said in a tight, very quiet voice, “But it did happen once. The ion storm…”
“Was a freak accident, Mr. Spock. The chances of which happening again—” Scotty stopped when he saw Spock’s features tighten and his eyes close in a rare, but profound expression of distress. This was devastating for Scotty as well, but for the moment, he was more concerned with how Spock was taking it. As unbelievable as it might be, Scotty was suddenly faced with having to provide emotional support for his Vulcan superior officer.
When he put a hand on Spock’s shoulder, Spock tensed, but made no move to remove it out of politeness only. He did not wish share his distress with Scotty, if only because that meant he coudn’t just repress it himself.
But even after hearing this, Spock refused to give up. He was fiercely, stubbornly determined to explore any possibility. “Perhaps it was not the power surge itself, but rather an indirect result of it,” he said.
“The universes have to be drifting close enough…”
“But as you pointed out yourself, Mr. Scott, range doesn’t matter, at this point. Other universes do not exist in the same way as matter exists in the one we inhabit.”
Scotty nodded, frowning.
“Something forced the contact, Mr. Scott. And if we can ascertain what, we can do it again. We do not have to wait for the worlds to move themselves, do we?”
Scotty sighed and shook his head. “Now all we have to do is find out how to communicate with an external universe,” he said cynically.
“Precisely. I will devote myself to the studies of any and all relevant journals and theories…”
Scotty interrupted, “Spock, you have to be prepared for the chance of us not finding the answer.”
Spock turned cold, hard eyes on the man that was only trying to help. “It happened once, Mr. Scott. It can happen again.”
Scotty returned a compassionate, but subdued look to Spock. He refrained from bringing up the possibility that McCoy could already be dead by now, that they’d tap into some completely different parallel universe, or any other potential disaster, and just nodded. “Aye, Sir.”
Spock had asked Kirk off the bridge to speak with him privately in the briefing room. As soon as they entered, Spock said, “Not all of you returned to your respective universes after the transporter accident, Captain.”
Kirk’s face paled. “Bones…”
“The man we have on board is not our Doctor McCoy,” Spock told him tightly. “Somehow, when you and the rest were transported, McCoy was left where he was. Both of them were.”
Kirk sat down heavily, staring at the table. Then he looked up at Spock. “You’re absolutely sure?”
“Yes.” Spock did not wish to explain how he knew, but thankfully the captain accepted his word. It seemed that Kirk had suspected as much anyway.
“All this time…” Kirk whispered, turning his attention back to the table. “How could we…how could I have made such a terrible mistake?”
“Jim,” Spock assured, although in a dry voice. “He has fooled us all with his deceit. If he had not tried to attack me, unprovoked, then I may never have found out.”
“Bones is still over there,” Kirk said. “He’ll never survive, Spock. He’ll never last—we have to…” He stopped and controlled himself. This conversation, although important, was torture to Spock. He did not want to discuss this. There was no point in emotional displays and rhetorical statements. Not while he could be searching for a solution.
He reiterated the conversation he had with Scotty, but was not able to offer any potential solutions at that moment. He was still, even as he spoke with Kirk, trying to think of any leads to go on, any sort of precedent or theory for inspiration. He did promise his captain, however, that he would devote himself to finding the solution.
“And what about the other one? Where is he?”
“In my quarters. Locked in.”
Kirk nodded slowly, with a far off look in his eye. “We can’t allow anyone else to know about this. Especially with the Romulans on board.”
“Agreed. That would significantly harm morale.”
Kirk dropped his head into his hand. With a loud sigh, he stood up and looked to Spock. “He will have to report back to duty eventually, Spock, or there will be suspicion.” Kirk turned away quickly. Spock had managed to catch the captain’s eyes reddening. He turned as well to respect his friend’s privacy. Now, neither of them would look at the other, each with his own efforts to control his emotion.
“He cannot return to duty as he is, knowing nothing of this world.”
“Then teach him,” Kirk answered, letting a touch of his feelings loose with rudeness.
“Captain, I believe he would do better under your supervision,” Spock argued. “He mistrusts me.”
“I have the Romulans to ‘supervise,’” Kirk nearly shouted. Then he sighed, and finally turned to face Spock. A soft, quick pat to the shoulder was his apology, and Spock accepted silently. “Of course I’ll help you, but he would do better staying close to you for a while. You have the strength for it.”
Spock didn’t speak for a moment, and he could hardly bring himself to look Kirk in the eye. But he knew this was the most logical solution. It would not do for the impostor to spend his time in the captain’s shadow. Spock shuddered to imagine the potential trouble that would arise should that creature cause trouble in the presence of the Romulans. Yes, better to keep him under very close supervision, away from the rest of the crew, until he found a way to send him back where he belonged.
“How could I not have known, Spock?” Kirk interrupted his thoughts with his plaintive question. “All this time…how…”
“Jim, you would have found out soon after I did,” Spock assured, but he didn’t believe that. “You cannot blame yourself. As I said, he has manipulated and deceived us all.” Spock headed for the door. “I will let you know how it progresses.”
Chapter 11: Refuge
M!Spock forcibly “claims” McCoy. Warnings: non-con
McCoy awoke alone. He knew where he was; the dizziness that accompanied the disconnected feeling of waking up would not grant him the peace of even temporary amnesia. He had even dreamed of being right there, nothing changing when he woke up.
There was a long, thin cord tied around his wrist, the other end to the bar in the shower, and it was a bit longer than his body. The knots were too tight and small and numerous to pick apart, even after nearly an hour of patient, mindless picking. He tried tugging his arm to see if he could snap the cord. It only hurt his wrist. After a few modest yanks, he tightened his jaw and jerked his arm hard, letting go of the fear of hurting himself. The cord was unaffected, but now his hand was numb and he’d broken the chafed skin on his wrist. Pulling the cord with his other hand only gave him hot, red streaks in his palm.
Soon the effort of ripping himself free become a way to pass the time, as he realized that Spock must have gone on watch by now. At least he’d been left in a bath room that he could use. He drank the water from the shower when thirst overcame him.
He wondered if he’d been left there for a specific purpose; was Spock really working right now, or could he just be waiting for the right time to show up? With no sounds, even muffled through the bulkheads, and the constant, far too bright light from the ceiling blaring down, there was no way to tell how long he’d been in there.
In what could have been twenty minutes or two hours, he finally lay his head back down on the bath mat and tried to sleep.
Eventually Spock would come for him. At least that would put an end to this crushing boredom. He knew the bruises and sore spots that had started to fade would be busted anew, with plenty more to come, but at the moment he didn’t have the energy to care.
So many times in the past, when he’d found himself imprisoned, or close to death or in some other trouble, Spock had been there to help. Just having him around was a reassurance. McCoy had once felt safe around the Vulcan, but now his presence was a threat.
He’d started to drift off when he heard activity in the other room. McCoy sat up and waited, listening hard. He barely breathed so he could hear everything. The relief he thought he’d have for the waiting to be over was quickly overpowered by a sinking dread. He tried to figure out what Spock was doing just by listening, but all that rustling around and opening and closing of drawers just terrified him more.
McCoy shrank when the door opened, and regarded Spock with silent apprehension. The fact that Spock’s emotions, whatever they might have been, were well hidden behind a blank visage made him appear all the more hostile. He stood when Spock put his hand under his arm and pulled, and he offered no resistance when Spock cut the cord at the wrist and took him into the bedroom.
As they walked into the main part of Spock’s stateroom, McCoy felt his head swim from the heat. He vaguely felt Spock’s hand on his shoulder, but for a moment he lost sense of everything, focusing only on how it felt to be able to stretch his legs for the first time in hours.
So it was a shock to be shoved into the wall hard enough to make a banging sound. McCoy had figured something like that was coming, but he still tried to fight it. A brief flash of a grin on Spock’s lips, and he forced a kiss on McCoy. McCoy drove his hands against Spock’s chest and arms, clawing at him, trying to push him off, while Spock forced his mouth open to accept his tongue. The doctor soon gave up struggling, as he began to feel lightheaded.
Spock did not need to encourage any artificial feelings into McCoy. Everything he felt as he passively took Spock’s rough, invasive kiss was genuine. At the edge of his thoughts, he took pleasure on imagining this was the Spock he knew and loved. In a way, this was Spock. It was the same man, just with a different past. McCoy started to kiss back, just barely moving his lips over Spock’s, and he moaned softly as Spock bit his lip.
As Spock pushed a hand up McCoy’s shirt, McCoy wondered if his Spock’s hand felt like that, so rough and calloused, but soft in some places, fingertips warm and sharp and probing expertly along the ridges of McCoy’s ribs and the indent of his back.
The sensation of thick facial hair stroking his lips and cheek was new to him, but easy to get used to. Spock’s goatee felt silkier than McCoy had expected, and that made him wonder again about his Spock. Did either of the Vulcan’s hair feel that smooth? While he’d never had the chance to run his fingers through his Spock’s hair, he took the chance now.
Spock let out a hiss as McCoy stroked his hair, but didn’t stop him. McCoy only dared feel it for a few seconds before dropping his hands back down to Spock’s shoulders, but it was exhilarating. Softer than he could have imagined, slick without being greasy, and McCoy’s fingers smelled sweet when he pulled his hand back. He decided that his Spock’s hair would be this nice as well; it had to be.
McCoy felt his wrists pinned to the wall as an afterthought, while Spock nudged his head to the side with his cheek. While holding McCoy’s arms still with both hands, Spock dragged his lips along McCoy’s throat. McCoy shivered and turned his face even further away, pushing his arms outward uselessly against Spock’s firm hands. The brushing of cold, wet teeth gave brief warning before sinking in. McCoy groaned at first, the bite merely uncomfortable, but the Vulcan pushed his teeth in further, closing off the jugular. He felt his pulse pound through Spock’s teeth and his own body lose itself in sudden weakness.
McCoy whimpered loudly, body tensing even further. Spock’s telepathic message rang loudly in his mind, far clearer than any verbal message, as if he had access to the very essence of Spock’s voice. A part of him wanted to relax, to obey, but McCoy fought that urge, suspecting it was coming from Spock. Panic rose up in him as the pain from Spock’s bite increased. Soon Spock was holding him up by the wrists, and he was losing feeling in his body.
/You will pass out if you do not relax/
“Then let go!” McCoy hissed, trying to shrug himself away. Spock only bit down harder and then gathered McCoy’s wrists with one hand. Spock dropped his free hand to the human’s hair, where it scratched over the scalp and tugged his head back. Finally Spock released McCoy’s throat, and pressed his brow against the other’s.
“You are imaging me as the other,” Spock said in a low, barely audible voice as he brushed his fingertips down McCoy’s head, across his throat.
McCoy reddened. It was true, but he had forgotten that this Spock could pick up on that. He hadn’t realized how strongly he was forcing the memory of his Spock until this one called him on it. But he had a vague feeling that he was forcing the memory of his friend to replace reality a little too much, as if he were afraid to accept who was touching him.
/I will allow this today/ Spock told him in that wordless way, holding his chin. /To help you transition. But very soon you will not need such fantasies/
McCoy’s skin crawled as he felt Spock scratching along his torso and up his chest. He felt tears streak down his face as he was overcome with feelings of hatred for Spock, part of it directed against the Spock he left behind, although he didn’t know why. He could feel his negative, strong feelings mirrored in Spock’s mind, but he could tell they were not bothering the Vulcan.
When Spock slid his hand between McCoy’s legs, the doctor moaned and felt his body sag, and his first mental image was of his Spock. It was hard to tell, with how strong that image was, whether or not he had decided for himself to visualize the other one. But it soon didn’t matter as the one that had him pinned to the wall was rubbing him, pressing hard with the heel of his hands, pressing his body so close it was hard to breathe.
“Stop,” McCoy breathed. He was panting and his heart was pounding from the pure, desperate lust, but he was afraid of where this would most likely go. Even in his most liberated fantasies about his Spock back home, McCoy had never let his imaginings go much farther than mild groping or kissing. He’d simply never thought that Spock would be interested in something so pointlessly primal.
But McCoy knew now that Spock would forcibly take more from him if something weren’t done to stop him. In fact he heard Spock chuckle in his ear when the thought of it entered his mind, and he was “rewarded” with an extra strong spasm of pleasure from Spock’s hand. Just as Spock was able to force McCoy’s mind to focus on pain that was already there, he was now bringing the pleasure to the forefront.
He had a feeling it was pointless, but McCoy continued to try to resist. A part of him wanted to melt in Spock’s grip and give into what he’d never dared to imagine, with his eyes squeezed shut and his mind fixating on the image of the Spock of the other world. But he fought those feelings. “Stop! Spock…please stop!”
Spock stopped rubbing and squeezed hard for a moment, then let go, grinning at McCoy’s labored breathing. He then started to pull of McCoy’s shirt, easily slapping his hands away when he tried to struggle. McCoy cursed at him, his cries growing louder and more desperate as the Vulcan forcibly undressed him. With that complete, Spock gripped McCoy’s throat and shoved him on the bed, crawling up on it after him.
McCoy had felt desire for Kirk when the captain did this very same thing to him, and he’d even felt a certain a thrill from it. Whatever he’d felt for Kirk was nothing compared to what he felt now.
But as the doctor’s lust grew, so did his panic, and his desire for this to stop. His body was tired and aching, and yet he fought Spock viciously, even managing to slice his fingernails across Spock’s face. Where he may have held back with Kirk, out of fear of repercussion or perhaps even kindness, McCoy did not hold back this time. When Spock dipped his head close to McCoy’s, the doctor tried to bite him, and even thrashed to get closer to do just that. Spock backhanded him when he did manage to bite his arm, but still McCoy would not stop. He threw his knee up, intending to hit Spock in the crotch, but Spock moved and shoved McCoy’s leg back down on the bed so roughly it hurt.
McCoy was hysterical. He screamed even through Spock’s hand, and twisted and thrashed even with the much stronger man’s knees on the bed between his legs, holding them open. Spock grabbed one of McCoy’s hands and held it down on the bed, while McCoy clawed at the hand on his mouth with the other. Spock was pushing his head into the mattress, and since McCoy had been sobbing, he couldn’t breathe, as his nose was clogged with snot and the flesh of Spock’s hand was pressed hard on his teeth.
Very quickly McCoy felt his stamina drop, and was struggling now out of pure spite. He couldn’t stop crying even though doing so would only make it harder to breathe, and the spasm-like shaking of his chest was hurting. Closing his eyes, he tried to speak, but it came out as muffled moans.
/Properly, slave/ Spock let go of McCoy’s mouth and gripped his hair, while the human sputtered and spit and sucked in air like a drowning man. Now the heel of his hand anchored on McCoy’s temple. /You will not use vulgar words when we are intimate/
“Help!” McCoy howled over and over, along with nonsensical shouts. Spock didn’t even bother trying to stop him, as there’d be no one to care outside that room.
Spock leaned down very close, his fingers digging into the skin of McCoy’s face. “We’ve been living in limbo for too long, Leonard,” he said. He dragged his other hand up McCoy’s chest, tracing his thumb along the collarbone. “You were meant to be mine, you’ve always wanted it. You have no right to fight it.”
Spock’s voice made McCoy shudder violently, and he turned his face, trying to hide in the blankets. It was exactly the same voice he was used to, the same he’d bantered and confided with, the same that had given him reassurance and security for so long. The same part of his brain that used to alight at that sound was firing now, and he could not stop it. McCoy no longer visualized his Spock as he heard this one speak and as he smelled his familiar scent. Soon he could only imagine Spock as the way he was in this universe; the idea of the “other one” began to lose all meaning.
It was as if the memory of the Spock from his world had been erased, and he could not tell if this Spock had taken the memory from him, or if he had just let go.
McCoy screamed and threw his hands out in a blind, mindless violence. It knocked Spock’s hand off his head for a few seconds, and in that time, the image of his Spock came flooding back. He was so stunned that he made no effort to defend himself as his attacker reclaimed him.
/Afraid of a few mind games?/ Spock’s mind mocked.
McCoy railed off a torrent of half-hearted curses. He found he could bring up the image of his friend now, but was far too distracted to do it for more than a second, as he felt a finger enter him. He closed up immediately, body tensing, and writhed. Spock took it out and reached by the edge of the bed. Still refusing to look at Spock, McCoy did not see what he was doing, but soon he felt Spock slip his fingers back inside him, lubed up this time.
/You will be mine/
“No!” he yelled repeatedly, although with considerably less strength as Spock stretched him from within. There was a sudden, intense flash of pleasure and pain combined, and of course Spock encouraged McCoy to focus on it. When McCoy screamed out again, Spock pressed that spot hard enough to cause genuine, blinding pain.
“I fucking can’t!” he screamed, knowing that Spock wanted him to speak telepathically.
/Relax/ He pulled his fingers out and unzipped himself.
“Please, don’t,” McCoy whimpered. He was panting, pale in the face, and dehydrated from sweating. “Spock, please…”
His spoken words earned him a slap. His ears rang and he felt Spock clamp both hands on his face. /PROPERLY/
He bit his lip to prevent another word to escape, but still could not bring himself to send a mental message. It seemed too difficult, the very thought made him want to pass out from exhaustion. And the stress of having to do it only made it harder to even begin to concentrate. He felt Spock begin to enter him and just about fell apart.
Now he wished Spock would wipe his memory of his friend again, because now both Spocks were drifting together in his mind. The small details of the color of Spock’s eyes, of the length of his fingers, seemed far more than just familiar to McCoy. The Spock of this world forced inside him, pushing past McCoy’s tightening muscles, ignoring his frantic cries and meager attempts at stopping him with clawing hands. Very soon McCoy was able to remember something dark and hidden away deep in his mind; he had once fantasized about this very thing with his Spock, and he was only now remembering it.
Spock held his wrists down and thrust in faster, harder, leaning over him. His breathing was heavy and dark in McCoy’s ear, and briefly he let his lips hover over McCoy’s. Remembering the embarrassment of the first time Spock had teased him with an almost-kiss, McCoy did not try to reach for it, although it was very difficult to stop himself.
/You want to kiss me/
McCoy almost yelled out, but remembered the slap. Spock fucked him harder, holding one hand in the crook of McCoy’s knee, and the other against the side of his face. As Spock kept his face close, but just out of reach, his eyes closing, McCoy gripped the Vulcan’s shirt.
McCoy went on to make a variety of very loud, breathless sounds, but would not form words he could be punished for. Neither could he concentrate enough to send a mental message. As Spock pushed him, McCoy started to wonder what his answer mattered.
/Tell me, slave/
McCoy was shocked, but there it was. An extra rough thrust and Spock’s incessant demanding stressed McCoy to the point of panic, and all he could really focus on was the pain of the sex. All other feelings and sounds diminished with that, so he didn’t even think of what it would take to communicate mentally. It was actually very easy, as long as he didn’t think about it.
/Please/ McCoy thought, but only to satisfy Spock. He burned in shame from the very idea of begging for anything.
Spock brushed his lips against McCoy’s cheek and breathed on his neck. He slowed his pace, and it was soon far more pleasurable than McCoy had ever experienced, with anyone. He sought Spock’s lips, but the Vulcan pulled back at the last second every time, just out of reach. McCoy tried to maintain his pride, but that didn’t last five seconds. He suddenly needed to feel the warmth of Spock’s lips on his own. This need was burning stronger than his body’s need for orgasm.
Sobbing, McCoy gave in, whispering the words as he thought them. /Please, please let me kiss you, please…Spock…please/ He even begged aloud, but Spock did not punish him for it.
Spock lowered, just barely touching McCoy’s lips and growled, “Stay still.” By now Spock had stopped all movement as well, holding himself inside the human, and only when McCoy got as close to stillness as he could did Spock overtake McCoy’s lips in his own.
This time McCoy kissed back, hungrily, moaning as he did. He hated himself for it. He knew that he’d given in and had humiliated himself, and he could feel Spock absorb these thoughts. He didn’t stop kissing Spock, but he was soon overcome with a deep depression, feeling so small and weak.
Spock resumed fucking McCoy as they kissed, and then pulled his face away as he thrusted faster. McCoy felt the other’s climax building as if it were a shadow of his own feelings, and he clutched the sheets. He screamed out when Spock came, feeling a pale and corrupted version of it in himself.
But it still was not a proper orgasm for him. As Spock finished inside him and pulled out, McCoy was still painfully hard. He shivered, gasping with ragged breath when Spock took hold of him, squeezing. Spock leaned down and bared his teeth as he snarled, “You will not know pleasure unless I give it to you, slave. Only when it pleases me.”
McCoy turned his head and groaned loudly, sick at the fear that he would be expected to beg for that too. Even sicker at the knowledge that he fully intended to do so if Spock suggested it.
Spock’s face darkened with what appeared to be disgust and something else, while McCoy groaned beneath him. He was still hard and aching for release, but mentally he felt almost nothing. His lust for Spock still raged inside him, but he didn’t care. He’d never felt more pathetic.
Still kneeling over McCoy, Spock stretched, letting out a soft, relaxed sigh. He then got off the bed and pulled McCoy off by the arm. McCoy followed him into the bathroom as if half asleep, drained. Only when Spock undressed did McCoy feel a part of himself awaken, but he still felt dead inside. Spock pushed him to his knees and dropped a towel on him before stepping into the shower.
As the Vulcan relaxed beneath the steaming spray, McCoy suddenly had a strange, disconnected feeling, like he was not actually there. That Spock was actually alone in his own bathroom; McCoy felt that he were a ghost or perhaps nothing more than the humid air billowing from the shower, watching Spock run his hands along his body in silence.
But the spell was broken when Spock turned off the water and stepped back out, getting rivulets of water on McCoy, who offered the towel. Spock took it as if from a towel rack and dried himself, without any self-consciousness. It was as if Spock did not see the human kneeling at his feet, but an object.
When he finished drying himself, Spock snapped his fingers. McCoy looked up dumbly for a moment, then got up slowly. He only got up out of fear, and he despised himself for it. “Wash yourself,” he snapped, and left the bathroom. A heavy feeling of worthlessness hung over him, and his body screamed with pain, but McCoy had watched Spock walk out, taking in every detail of the Vulcan’s body long, slender body, the skin glowing greenish from the heat of the shower.
Cleaned and dressed now, McCoy sat on the edge of the bed, staring off into space. He cringed slightly when Spock passed close to him, but otherwise waited while the Vulcan went about his business. McCoy watched him grab uniform items and a few data discs as if he weren’t there. He noticed very pale green streaks along Spock’s cheek.
“I shall explain a few things to you,” Spock said mildly, as if in casual conversation. “Not long before I found you, I had legally claimed your other self as a slave.”
McCoy looked up at him with dead eyes.
“As you are essentially him, your official status is now, legally, slave. You are still, however the Chief Medical Officer of this ship, and you will retain your rank. Your pay and property are forfeit to me, however.” Spock paused a moment to inspect a pin. McCoy watched him frown over it and roughly rub his shirt over it.
“How the fuck can I be anything if I don’t have any rights?” McCoy growled weakly.
“It’s very common for officers to take other officers in such a way,” Spock explained in that easy going tone. “Essentially, Leonard, all this means is that you are under my protection, as you are my property. No one will dare touch you. This is actually a quite beneficial system, evolved for the protection of the weak.”
McCoy ignored the insult and argued, “That doesn’t keep me safe from the captain.”
Spock looked at him a second. “Well, of course not. He is the captain.”
McCoy didn’t want to hear any more of this. Spock continued explaining, though, as he put his uniform items in order on his bureau, and McCoy tuned most of it out. It was barbaric and shocking, and yet he couldn’t help but admit the system did make sense. In a world of such seemingly random violence and predation, this was a sort of refuge.
At that thought, McCoy turned his brain off completely. He closed his eyes and tried to empty his mind, otherwise he’d break down. He started to attack himself, telling himself he was too weak to fight this, that in way he deserved it. Even though he knew that was nonsense, he was still merciless with those thoughts.
“Do you understand?” Spock asked, suddenly interrupting his thoughts.
McCoy’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t care what you think I am,” he hissed. “I’ll never stop fighting you.”
A corner of Spock’s lips lifted. “I know.”
Chapter 12: Confrontation
Spock tries to talk to M!McCoy about his universe and about his McCoy’s chances there, but his own bias and hatred for the intruder makes that very hard
McCoy threw his head back and sighed. His secret was out, but he didn’t really feel much for it. In fact it was a relief. Of course it would be terrible if the higher ups decided to protect their ship by killing or imprisoning or exiling him, but at least he could still ask as many questions as he pleased without calling attention to himself. Everything was in someone else’s hands now, and that was actually comforting.
Much like home, he thought, rolling his eyes.
Pushing those worries away, he stretched out on the Vulcan’s bed, smoothing his face on the pillow, dragging his hands along the blankets. These blankets were much softer than the other Spock’s. With a soft sigh, he drank in the scent of the pillow and smiled to himself. It should have been obvious, but it still came as a comforting surprise that the bed overall smelled the same as what he was used to.
The smells brought back a flood of memories, though they were vague and formless. Only the emotions of being with his Spock, with dread and hatred being forefront. And yet he didn’t stop, and even found that he was grinding himself on the blankets. He blushed slightly, even though he was alone, and laughed at his own foolishness.
Turning on his back, McCoy relaxed. He put one arm beneath his head, bent his knees, and put one leg over the other knee. When Spock left, he had the brief idea of searching the place, but he could do that later. If there was one thing McCoy knew how to do, it was how to remain sane while locked up waiting for Spock. That demon might be able to hold his physical body prisoner, he thought, but he couldn’t force him to think in any particular way.
The Spock of this universe was…fascinating. He was like a completely different person, but McCoy knew there were some things that remained the same. He couldn’t see them yet, but he knew they were there. But soon he lost interest in the comparisons and thought back to the argument in the rec room. It gave him a shiver to think of it, the chance he’d taken. Such blatant disrespect, so obvious and out in the open, and without any backup weapons or an escape plan.
The doctor had by no means been meek and quiet before he got here. The Spock of his universe was dangerous, but for the most part, predictable. You can’t expect to survive a place like the ISS Enterprise without learning the ins and outs of everyone you encounter.
This Spock, this unshaven, softer, less sinewy Vulcan had a remarkable handle on his emotions, McCoy thought with begrudging admiration, but it wasn’t the fact that he could get a response out of Spock that intrigued him, it was when.
He would never have guessed that there was some kind of stigma against a forced mind meld until he saw the horror in the Vulcan’s eyes when he suggested it. In the rec room, McCoy had wanted to push it even further, he was obsessed with forcing Spock to do it. Of course, his primary plan was to overwhelm Spock with painful images that would conceal the truth, but convince the Vulcan, and thus the captain, that he was telling the truth.
But every motive has an ulterior shadow. McCoy let his free hand drift to the hem of his shirt, half-expecting to play with the golden sash that was no longer there, as he remembered attacking Spock in the hallway. McCoy had fought his Spock countless times, both physically and mentally. There was never a day where either of them was not banged up and bleeding at least a little bit. But it was so different in this case. Even when he was just arguing with Spock, the one of this world, he’d had the strange feeling that he was being overly cruel, that there was pain as well as anger in the Vulcan’s eyes. And when he tried to force his way into Spock’s mind, McCoy had received a flash of deep hurt, but not the kind he was trying to inflict.
If he’d been armed, McCoy thought, he could have forced Spock to relent. For just those few seconds before Spock had walled up his mind, he was completely vulnerable, exposed the way McCoy never dreamed he could be. He couldn’t tell if that was because he was not afraid to go too far with this Spock, or if this Spock simply were just far weaker than the other.
He was rubbing himself with a consistent, rough rhythm over his pants now, letting his mind take control of this fantasy. Turning his head to take in the subtle scents of the Vulcan’s body and that same peculiar shampoo left on the bed, McCoy imagined himself holding a knife to Spock’s throat and telling him to keep his mind open. His Spock’s face was usually far more expressive than the cold statue of this universe, but McCoy had never seen such naked pain on this Spock’s face when he had attacked him. So he focused on that image for his fantasy and amplified it, imagining the Vulcan grimace in pain and stand still and helpless as he touched him.
This fantasy disturbed McCoy, but he indulged anyway. It was so wildly different than what he was used to, and so powerful. By now he was molesting the Vulcan in his fantasy, biting at his neck and face, completely turning the tables. Externally, he was moaning with pleasure.
He ripped his hands off himself when he heard the door zip open. He supposed that Spock must have been surprised to see him panting and red in the face on his bed, but McCoy didn’t look at him to see. Instead he got off the bed and into Spock’s bathroom, mumbling something as he went.
Having Spock walk in on him like that made it all the more desperate he take care of himself, and by now he didn’t need any fantasies at all to get off. He had taken a brief glance of Spock’s expressionless face as he had headed to the bathroom; that and the Vulcan’s mere presence was enough. He came barely a minute later, clutching a bar on the wall white knuckled, blinded for a moment. He took much longer to calm himself down before he dared go back out there, after cleaning up.
Spock seemed not to have moved a muscle since he was waiting. There he was, hands clasped behind his back, chin up a bit, nothing on his face. Spock’s eyes tracked McCoy as he came closer, but there wasn’t anything else there, no familiarity. It made McCoy want to punch him just to see what he’d do.
But McCoy kept his distance, slowly taking a seat on the bed in front of him. He leaned his back on the bed post and peered up at Spock with a soft grin, searching for signs of weakness. His heart began to pound again; he was alone in the Vulcan’s intolerably hot room (it was far cooler than his Spock’s, however; perhaps the Vulcans of this universe didn’t need so much heat?), with Spock standing over him. The struggle for dominance with his Spock could last minutes or even hours, it could involve using pillows or data discs or the pins on their shirt as weapons, and it could even leave Spock the bloodier of the two. But it always ended the same way. As soft and vulnerable as this Spock appeared, McCoy did not for a second believe that this Spock could not eventually overpower him as well.
“So what are you gonna do with me?” he asked in a slow drawl.
Spock barely looked at him as he answered, “Until I have found a way to return you to your universe, you return to your duties as normal.” He glanced down. “I will help you adjust.”
“What? No executions? No public denouncement?” McCoy joked, but he was immensely relieved at this. If Spock had told him he was to be killed, he had already planned to try to change Spock’s mind, any way he could. That tactic hadn’t worked on the captain, but McCoy didn’t doubt it would work on Spock, eventually.
“The captain has informed me that your universe is one of barbarity and no respect for life,” Spock said with a slight tightening of the lips. “He has told me that crew members are tortured and put to death based on the captain’s whims and for minor infractions.” When Spock looked down at McCoy, the doctor felt something rush through him. For a moment their eyes locked. “That is not our way, Doctor. Our purpose is exploration and the peaceful expansion of the known galaxy, not conquest and war.”
McCoy began to grin, finding this so very amusing for some reason. “I get it. You’re all a bunch of sweethearts. So I take it the Romulans are also a bunch of peace loving, pointy eared darlings?” he joked.
Spock frowned. “No, Doctor. That is not the case. They are some of our most deadly enemies, although at the present time we are not at war.”
McCoy shook his head with a far away look in his eye. “Amazing.”
“Well, Spock, in my universe, we’ve teamed up with the fuckers.” McCoy looked up at Spock and smirked. “To put it mildly.”
Spock raised an eyebrow and seemed to relax a bit, presented with a tidbit of a different culture. “Fascinating,” he muttered. “That would explain the savage behavior, and the almost feudal caste system.”
“Only you would get off on the textbook details, Spock,” McCoy teased. “Easy to pick apart the details while you’re nice and safe here, isn’t it?”
Spock tensed. “I did not mean to be insensitive, Doctor. I was merely-“
“You were merely trying to understand my world,” McCoy interrupted, and stood up. He had a soft, hesitant grin on his face and leaned against the bed post, gazing at Spock, who avoided looking at him.
“Yes,” Spock said, but in a more forced way than before, as if he were not sure he should answer that. “It would be beneficial for us to fully understand your background, so that we may be more accommodating.”
“And so you know what to expect from me,” McCoy added with a slight snarl.
“I mean no personal insult,” Spock said, and as expressionless as he was, McCoy could easily tell his discomfort. It made him smile. “You must understand how delicate this situation is. How would your captain handle a similar problem?” Spock looked to McCoy when he asked this, his voice just barely catching in his throat.
McCoy stared at Spock, relishing the power that Spock had just given him. The aching in his eyes was plain as day, begging more for reassurance, even if it were a lie, than the truth. He gave an exaggerated expression of wonder as he shifted his body around the bed post, getting closer to Spock but still not touching him. Spock did not move away, but McCoy could tell he wanted to. Licking his teeth slightly as he gave Spock a toothy grin, he answered softly, “Well, if there were an intruder on my ship,” he stopped to correct himself, taking his time. “Or rather, the ISS Enterprise, that poor soul would be tortured until every last bit of information could be ripped from him.” Spock’s obvious distress at this made him smirk and have a little fun as he continued. “If he managed to survive the process by the time the captain was satisfied, he’d either be given to someone as a slave or put to death.”
Spock didn’t say anything for a moment, and then turned away, pretending to be distracted with tidying up his already immaculate cabinet. “Would said intruder have a chance at concealing his true identity?”
“You mean can your friend pass off as me?” McCoy grinned. He took Spock’s silence as a yes. “I don’t think you want me to answer that, Spock.”
With his back to the human, Spock almost snapped, “I would appreciate any information or even speculations, Doctor.”
McCoy walked over to Spock, who stiffened, but did not move. Leaning his elbow on the bureau, McCoy said softly, “No, really. I’m not the one you should be asking. I don’t know anything about your friend. I don’t know how strong or resistant to pressure he might be; only you would know that.”
Spock’s hands were fists on the bureau. He was staring straight ahead, teeth clenched, but fought to keep everything else down. “You are him,” he said in almost a hiss. “Not exactly, of course, but you should be able to predict his success by imagining yourself in the same situation.”
McCoy leaned against the cabinet and stared at his hands. It was a small triumph to hear Spock refer to him and his counterpart as the same man, but that didn’t necessarily mean that from now on Spock would try to get any closer to him. If anything, McCoy figured that any further discussion between the two would only be about his universe, and how the “other one” might be doing. “Well you found me out pretty quickly, didn’t you?”
Spock turned to him. “Perhaps my counterpart would be the first to suspect?”
“Perhaps,” McCoy teased, giving him a sideways smirk. “For his sake, I hope so.”
This seemed to relax the Vulcan. “The Spock of your universe is not as dangerous as the others?” he asked, and while it was very hard to guess his feelings, McCoy couldn’t help but wonder if this idea boosted Spock’s ego, that he would be the exception to the rule. That everyone else were savages, to this universe’s standards, and yet Spock, the emotionless Vulcan, was not.
“Now this really is a question for you, Spock. I know it’s the Vulcan way to try to kill your feelings, but I’m sure there have been times when you’ve been overcome by need for something. When you’ve felt violent thoughts and thought you couldn’t control them.” He stared hard into Spock’s eyes, and Spock did not look away. He could not. “I don’t know the role of the Vulcans in this world, Spock. I don’t know exactly what it means to be Vulcan or just how far your unfeeling act really goes, but in my world, your kind are all but extinct. The Spock I knew tried very hard to maintain that philosophy, but I think you can imagine very well just how hard that would be with so few supporters and so many people thinking you’re stupid for choosing to live that way.”
McCoy paused, and Spock looked away. He took a very small step back when McCoy came closer to him, and would not look at him. Spock flinched just barely when McCoy put his hand on his arm, slowly pulling the Vulcan around to face him. The desire to see pain in the the other’s eyes was still there, but in the background this time. He wasn’t sure why, but a part of him needed this Spock to better understand his.
“Put yourself in that place, Spock, where if anyone couldn’t tell you from a Romulan, that would be the truth, not an insult. Imagine that, and ask yourself what you would do if you found out someone close to you was a stranger.” His fingers tightened. “What would you do, Spock?”
The Vulcan’s breathing increased, and he pulled away from McCoy. Just before Spock turned away, McCoy was able to see that his eyes were stained green, and his jaw was clenched.
“Do you require more time to rest before reporting to duty?” Spock asked, colder now than ever.
McCoy sighed and shrugged. “Might as well get busy, I suppose.”
Spock would not turn to look at him. For all his emotional distance, Spock might as well have been talking to himself. “The captain does not expect you to return to duty until-“
“I said it was fine,” McCoy said, and he got up off the bureau, noticing Spock flinch slightly. If he felt a pang of sadness at how obvious it was that this Spock did not want to be touched, then all McCoy had to do was focus on the sadistic pleasure he could get from it. In fact, he felt himself begin to relax when he pushed those other thoughts away. Why should he care about this Spock? Who was he to him, except merely a superior officer that would not beat him senseless for doing something wrong? As far as McCoy was concerned, the Spock he once feared was dead, and this man now leading him to Sick Bay was just someone who looked a bit like him and had the same name.
Just as Spock had suspected and dreaded, Kirk had not advised either Chapel or M’Benga of the situation, leaving the job to him. However, at least he did understand why the captain had left this entire thing to him, the dealing with the impostor and making sure that key staff figures understood. Handling the Romulan situation would require every ounce of the captain’s attention and resources, Spock knew. At this very moment he could be engaged in tedious, frustrating conversations with Starfleet Command over the fate the defectors.
If they really were defecting, of course. Spock personally believed that this was a trick of some kind, and that the Romulans were playing on the predictable human emotions and taking advantage of the kindness they knew to expect. On the other hand, Spock knew that if this battered group would have come to the Vulcans for sanctuary, they would have received it, but they would also have been put under strict observation and interrogation.
Kirk was busy enough with an issue that involved galactic security. If the Romulans were less than sincere in any way, that could mean the lives of everyone on board, at the very minimum. No one should envy such a responsibility.
And yet Spock knew that was only partly the case. It was impossible not to know why Kirk had really passed this job onto him whenever Spock looked into McCoy’s eyes. They were the same pale blue, but they were the eyes of a total stranger.
Once Sick Bay was finally emptied of non-essential personnel, Spock, McCoy, M’Benga, and Chapel went to McCoy’s office. McCoy leaned on the desk beside Spock, who, while irritated that the doctor chose to stand close to him, remained where he was and put on his most professional appearance.
“Maybe I should wait outside-” McCoy mumbled.
“No, Doctor. You should stay here.”
Chapel frowned and cast a look over them both. “What’s going on?”
“What I must inform you both is to be kept strictly confidential,” Spock began. “It is vital to the security of this ship, especially with our current situation, that you keep this between us four.” McCoy rolled his eyes and crossed his arms.
“Cut the fuckin’ dramatics and tell them,” McCoy snapped, while his staff members gazed with shock.
“When the landing party returned from the parallel universe Doctor McCoy remained where he was. The McCoy of the other universe is the one that returned with us.”
The nurses gaped, Chapel in particular, throwing a panicked look to McCoy, who seemed bored. “How can that…” she stammered.
“I do not know what happened to cause this,” Spock said. “But I assure you both that I will find out, and I will return this one to his universe and bring ours back.”
“If he survives that long,” McCoy smirked. He winked at Chapel when she gasped.
Spock turned to glare at him, feeling his his blood pressure rise. “Do you wish to spend your days here alienated?” he demanded in a tone of repressed rage.
McCoy made a derisive, dismissive face and squeezed his arms tighter around his chest.
“Do you think we can get him back?” Chapel asked, giving McCoy a quick a shuddering look. “Mr. Spock, if what I’ve heard is true-“
“I will try,” Spock snapped. He did not even want to hear any words, from anyone, that would suggest any danger to the McCoy he knew. The man standing beside him had suggested that he try to imagine how he would behave had his personality been shaped by the Romulans. He was unable to continue the speculation without becoming physically sick. “You both must trust that I will devote my full attention and resources to this problem-“
“This isn’t just some exercise of logic, Spock!” M’Benga interrupted, but softened as soon as he said it. “I’m sorry-“
Spock only sighed in response, though barely loud enough for anyone to hear. “In the meantime, this one will fulfill the role of our Doctor McCoy, as if he never left.”
The other two looked at each other, and Spock could tell they hated this idea. He was sure they were holding a lot back, but he was glad for that. It would have been so unprofessional to indulge in anger in such a case where there really was no other alternative.
“He will be under very close observation while he is here, I can assure you,” Spock said, taking a guess as to their most primary concern. “I understand that you may worry that he will think to behave in a way that may have been natural for him in his place of origin.” He looked to McCoy briefly. “But our goal is not to ostracize him. We must accept the possibility that our Leonard McCoy will never return.” Spock paused, more for his own benefit than for the others’. “The only thing that makes this man different than the one we know is his past. He is merely a different version, with different memories, but he is still, in name and every other way, Leonard McCoy.” Spock did not believe a word of what he was saying, but it was a very pretty lie. “He has learned a unique way of behavior as a response to a hostile environment, but he will learn a new way. Perhaps, with your help and patience, this man will learn to become the one that we have lost.” Spock realized that he kept referring the McCoy as “this man,” or “this one.” He hoped no one else picked up on that.
“You think maybe I can have a chance to speak for myself?” McCoy butted in, sarcastically.
His hands tightening behind his back, Spock answered robotically, “You may.”
“Why thank you, Mr. Spock,” McCoy snapped, giving him a lingering glare before turning to M’Benga and Chapel. “Look, none of this is my fault, you need to understand that now. I don’t know what happened, but it’s happened, and I honestly doubt anything can be done about it. Hell, I thought this whole idea about parallel universes was the most ridiculous bunch of technobabble before all this happened.”
Spock noticed with a vague irritation that Nurse Chapel was listening eagerly, her facial features softening. And M’Benga appeared charmed by the intruder’s words as well, although he was more reserved with whatever he was feeling.
If Spock were not under orders to make sure this went smoothly, he never would have allowed the intruder to speak. In fact, if it were up to him, this other one would be rotting in the brig until he found a way to send him back. Let the ship think that their CMO had disappeared, let morale slip. It was nothing they could not handle. Far better than suffer the cruelty of being forced to act like any of this was OK.
“I might be here for a while. I might never go back,” McCoy continued, his very voice grinding in Spock’s ears. He noticed that by now the intruder had Chapel’s hands in his own, and Spock came very close to slapping them apart. “I really hope you can accept me if that’s what it comes down to.”
Chapel looked to Spock, who immediately avoided her eyes, and then squeezed McCoy’s hands. With the way both nurses were so close to McCoy, looking concerned rather than angry and suspicious, Spock could just imagine the intruder’s pride swelling. He hated this McCoy even more for this filthy trick.
“What about our Leonard?” she asked in a whisper. “Will he be alright…until we can find him?”
McCoy sighed and stroked her hand, flicking a glance to Spock. “I had many friends over there, Christine,” he said. “Spock in particular used to watch out for me.” Here he paused and caught Spock’s eye, giving him a vicious flash of a grin. “He’ll be fine. If I kept myself alive all this time, he damn well can.” He gave her a warm, charming smile, and she grinned nervously back.
Spock interrupted what he saw as a sickening, insulting display. “The doctor will be returning to duty, but he will work shortened shifts until further notice. Primarily he will be merely filling space for the crew’s benefit. It is imperative that no one should suspect that anything is amiss. Further, you must ensure that he does not spend any time in Sick Bay, or anywhere else, alone for too long.”
“Spock!” Chapel argued, shocked.
“This is only temporary, Nurse, and for his protection as well as ours.”
“How the fuck does babysitting count as ‘my protection,’ Vulcan?” McCoy snarled. “Might as well lead me around with a fuckin’ leash and tie me to the Godamn fire hose nozzles when you’re busy!”
Spock was not impressed by his graphic outburst, as the other two were, and this further increased his suspicion that this McCoy was deliberately exaggerating. Personally, he could not understand how such a martyr-like performance would make him appear any less of a threat, but he could tell that M’Benga and Chapel were buying it.
“If your identity is revealed, Doctor,” Spock retorted. “Then the captain will have no choice but to surrender you to Starfleet Command as a security breach, and I cannot imagine what would happen to you then. If you wander the passageways by yourself, you are exposing yourself to the risk of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person, or mistaking a friendly tap on the shoulder as an attack, or any number of scenarios, and action will have to be taken. You are safe as long as no one but present company knows who you truly are.”
Everyone sobered at this, including McCoy, although he was considerably more sullen about it than the other two. Spock could feel the doctor’s eyes burning into him; he could just imagine the hateful, violent feelings that this man must be shooting at him, but he didn’t care. As long as he could be controlled, then Spock had no concern over him.
Not while the McCoy that belonged here was trapped in that savage world.
“I must leave you with him now,” he said, breaking off his own thoughts. “I regret the inconvenience that-“
“Spock,” Chapel said quietly to him, but didn’t say anything more. She didn’t need to. Spock just nodded and left Sick Bay.
Only to be followed a few minutes later by McCoy, with M’Benga running after him. The two humans shouted back and forth to each other until Spock intervened. “Undoubtedly he wishes to clear up a few things with me,” he told M’Benga, who had a confused frown on his face, still unsure how to feel about this. Spock knew it was not in anyone’s self interest to turn either Chapel or M’Benga against McCoy. Except perhaps his own selfish, illogical interest. “Please give us some privacy and return in five minutes.”
“Aye, Sir,” he said quietly, and went back inside.
“You can tell those two all you want to accept me,” McCoy wasted no time. “But it doesn’t matter a mite if you can’t yourself!”
“As long as you obey my orders and respect whatever limitations the captain may have, then you will not have to suffer any further indignities,” Spock said coldly. “You could be grateful that you have any freedoms at all.”
“Freedoms! What freedoms? You’re saying I can’t go anywhere on the ship without-“
“You are more than welcome to take your chances with Starfleet Command, Doctor.”
McCoy glared while Spock merely waited for M’Benga to return. “Let me ask you something then.”
McCoy narrowed his eyes and asked, “What did I, or rather, my other self mean to you?”
“He was a colleague and a friend. I had much respect for him.” Spock realized that he was speaking of his McCoy as if he were already dead, but he knew that it was important to be ready for such a possibility.
“There was more to it than that,” McCoy snapped. “I saw it in your eyes when you asked me if he’d be alright.”
Spock clenched his teeth, disgusted that this man would think to try to use something like that against him. “Whatever my relationship to the Leonard McCoy of this universe was is none of your business.”
“Yes it is, Spock!” McCoy shouted, grabbing Spock by the arm. “You say you want me to acclimatize to this godamn place, you have no right to keep something like that from me!”
Spock’s glare was vicious, barely controlled, as he commanded, “Take your hand off me, Doctor.” He stared McCoy down until he let go. “You will refrain from making physical contact with me from now on, or I will be forced to take that as a threat.”
“You are so full of-“
“You have already proven yourself dangerous. It is your own fault that these precautions must be made.” Spock exhaled in relief when he saw M’Benga open the door and start towards them.
“Don’t fuckin’ blame me for losing your lover, Vulcan!” he snarled as M’Benga took hold of his arm.
Spock took a few rapid steps closer to McCoy, but managed to control himself before he went too far. He hoped that his display, as much as it shamed him, would only appear as mere annoyance to M’Benga. Unfortunately, Spock knew he could not hope to fool the intruder. “I know better than to fraternize with a subordinate, Doctor. I would not jeopardize the safety of this ship by going against any protocol. Not with my friend, and not with you.”
Spock watched McCoy’s face fall, with only a hint of his previous hostility left, and he felt a surge of triumph. It shamed him to derive satisfaction from watching that man’s self-assurance deflate, however, as that meant that he was allowing this man to control him.
The spiteful, challenging look returned to McCoy’s face as M’Benga took him back to Sick Bay, but Spock saw something else in his face this time, and his satisfaction increased. As Spock headed for the bridge, he chastised himself. Such feelings were inappropriate and would not at all help this situation. He should be focusing on the solution to this problem rather than wasting a moment’s thought to the intruder’s pain at his words.
Inappropriate or not, they felt very, very good.
Chapter 13: Agony and Sentiment
More of M!Spock and McCoy, adjustments, more explaining of the world’s politics
He looked good, Spock mused. He adjusted a pin on McCoy’s shirt as if fixing up a mannequin, then drove his fingers through the human’s hair to smooth it out. McCoy flinched and closed his eyes as if expecting to be burned, and Spock chuckled softly. Spock took his time dressing his slave, smoothing out wrinkles on his shirt, stroking strands of hair from the human’s brow, fluffing it in places for aesthetic purposes, while McCoy simply stood there. The other one had to be drugged and/or beaten before he’d be so still and compliant.
As he straightened the collar of McCoy’s dress uniform, Spock had the notion to inspect his neck. The flesh around the recent bites was so smooth and healthy, not at all what he was used to. Just another weakness, Spock thought to himself, running his thumb across that relatively unmarked, fresh skin; this McCoy was not used to regular injuries. It would take a lot to get him to the other’s pain threshold. The Vulcan spent a few moments gazing at McCoy, softly stroking his face with hands that could so easily shatter his skull. McCoy shivered and refused to look at him.
But there would be time for recreation later. “Admiral Dorek’s inspections officially start today, Doctor,” he said, turning back to his bureau. “Starting with Sick Bay.” When he turned, he saw McCoy glaring at him. “Is there a problem?”
A bit of the same, familiar fire was there in the human’s voice when he answered, but much of it was held back. “There’s a lot wrong with throwing me in the fire just like that.” There was something in the way he growled and especially in how he used a hand gesture for emphasis that strongly reminded Spock of the one he had left in the other universe; but Spock had no doubt he could control the attitude in this one. “I won’t have a clue what I’m doing, I won’t know how to address that…Romulan, and everyone in Sick Bay wants to kill me. Something’s gonna go wrong and you’re gonna blame me for it!”
Spock sniffed derisively and turned back to his dresser, where he took out a small perfume bottle and sprayed a little bit on his neck and wrists. “On the first issue, Doctor, the admiral won’t be ready to start for a few hours yet, giving us enough time to make sure you’re properly situated.” He then turned to spray McCoy on the neck, but the doctor jumped back.
“What is that?” he snapped, taking a few steps back. The look on the doctor’s face was hauntingly similar to the other one; not quite as animal-like, but it still encouraged a strange sensation in Spock. But he ignored it and took hold of McCoy’s wrist and pulled him back.
“Obviously it’s not anything toxic if I applied it to myself,” Spock said as he sprayed cold liquid on McCoy’s neck and then the wrist.
As soon as he let go, McCoy threw his wrist to his nose, glaring at Spock as he took a whiff. He smelled louder and frowned. “If this is supposed to be cologne-“
“Pheromones, Leonard,” Spock corrected, setting the bottle back in his drawer. “Just pheromones. They will not harm you.”
“Pheromones?” McCoy demanded. Spock noticed that McCoy’s fear decreased inversely with his anger. It would be interesting to manipulate. “What are you, a dog? You’re marking me now?”
“Technically that wrist cuff is enough of a marker, and is more than enough to show your status on board,” Spock replied, noting how generally relaxed he felt. He didn’t know it was possible to get into an argument with McCoy without knocking over furniture or breaking bones. “But with our new guests, I did not want to take the chance of anyone…missing that. If you take care to properly analyze the scent, Doctor, you will notice it to be unique. You and I will be the only ones on this ship to share it.”
“How romantic,” McCoy snarled under his breath.
Spock raised an eyebrow and turned that phrase over in his mind for a second. “If that is how you chose to see it, very well, I suppose. I am merely taking an effort to protect my property.” He took a second to relish in McCoy’s miserable expression and pushed him towards the door, fingers light on the shoulder.
But before he opened it, he pushed McCoy into the wall and watched the human’s face screw into a pained grimace and try to turn away. While one hand drove through McCoy’s hair, the other forced between his legs. “It remains,” he growled softly, hand pressing upwards against it. McCoy gasped and writhed, but made little attempt to stop him. His face, reddened, was still turned downwards as the human tried to hide his feelings; of course Spock was able to read the strong, basic emotions that bled from the man’s mind as easily as he could his expression.
Spock roughly turned McCoy’s face to force the human to look at him, and yet McCoy still tried to look away. His eyes were red, and he groaned loudly. “Christ, not now!” he sputtered through clenched teeth.
Rubbing him, Spock kissed his cheek softly, hiding a grin just out of the corner of the doctor’s eye. “You wish me to stop?”
McCoy grabbed Spock by the shirt and leaned his head on his shoulder when Spock started to squeeze much harder. “Either finish or lemme go, for God’s sake! You’re killing me!”
/Take your hands off me/ he transmitted, his free hand firm on the base of McCoy’s neck. He repeated himself when McCoy just growled an answer, clutching even harder. So he leaned closer and hissed in his ear, “Take your hands off me, slave.”
Slowly McCoy obeyed, and had to hold his hands shaking at his sides. His body was not even an inch from Spock’s. /Good/ Spock stroked him slowly as a reward, just for a moment. /You must earn the privilege to touch me/
“Godamn control freak-” McCoy found the strength to hiss back at him, and then bit his lip when Spock dug his fingers painfully in.
/Do you understand?/ He snaked his hand up McCoy’s shirt now, letting his fingernails drag along the flesh.
“Yes,” McCoy whispered, although he hesitated.
Spock offered a shadow of a grin as he slid his hands around McCoy’s throat. The man’s pulse beat into his fingers, and the smell he had put on him was heavy in his nose. /Control is part of protection, slave/
/Don’t pretend to give/ “a shit about me!” The human had spoken the second part of that sentence, but Spock could tell he was trying to focus his mind on communicating, while at the same time trying to breathe.
It amazed Spock how open, how vulnerable the human mind really was, and while this human may have had a will stronger than most on the ship, his mind was still easy to tap into. If he were even capable of blocking a mental probe, or even trying to hide his thoughts, he obviously didn’t know how. Even a Romulan was able to slow the course of a mind meld, of course if she or he focused every shred of will to the task.
/Obey me, and you will find I am very fair/ He held McCoy’s throat tightly, but he knew exactly when to let go.
He felt raw hatred emanate from McCoy. Although the human was shaking with need of air, he was not trying to claw Spock’s hands off his throat. Spock released just a bit to give him a snatch of breath, and squeezed again.
McCoy’s body shuddered as he fought for breath, those formless thoughts in his mind roiling, unfocused. It was always Spock’s greatest regret that he never got a chance to complete his training on Vulcan, not with his father denouncing his tutors as shamans and driving them off. The young Spock had been shipped off to serve the Empire before he could learn how to effectively probe another’s mind while defending his own.
Just another thing he’d have to teach himself.
“Pathetic!” McCoy sputtered, clawing at the wall behind him.
/What is?/ Spock’s eyes narrowed, but he was more curious than insulted.
“You have to-” he hissed, but Spock squeezed his throat harder to cut off the words. He would force the human to find other ways to communicate.
He could feel the human’s body screaming for breath, his blood rushing through veins beneath his fingers. But Spock also understood that that the human body, as frail as malleable as it was, could withstand so much more than what the human believed. The two became as one mind off and on as McCoy’s life drained and his struggling weakened, but Spock could not keep the link going for more than a few seconds at a time while at the same time monitoring McCoy’s vitality.
But there was still defiance there, even after Spock transmitted the wordless idea to McCoy that his life was literally in his hands. McCoy was unable to form the words, but Spock could still tell what he was thinking: he could only get McCoy to obey him out of fear, and to the human, that was pathetic. Even as McCoy’s eyelids drooped, he was still projecting disgust.
For a second Spock considered killing him. The urge was so strong it brought life into McCoy’s eyes as he stiffened with fear. But the urge passed as he reminded himself that certain things take time. It had taken Spock nearly two years to locate a follower of Surak that would come to his home, and even longer to grasp even the most basic of lessons she could impart.
So too with McCoy. Yes, he obeyed out of fear alone, but Spock was confident things would change.
Separating himself from McCoy’s mind, even with so many barriers between them, was painful on them both. Spock had tried to encourage McCoy’s mind to open itself further than it had so far, and having to remove his presence now meant leaving them both with loose ends.
Breath rushed back into McCoy’s lungs as Spock removed his fingers from his throat. The human’s erection had passed as his body fought for survival, and he was left visibly weakened, vulnerable. McCoy’s accusation bothered him, but only briefly. Of course McCoy would be easier to control with threats, of course fear was an efficient motivator. Everyone was afraid of something, just as anyone could be bought.
McCoy could judge as much as he wanted, Spock thought. It really didn’t matter as long as that fear eventually turned to respect. And then perhaps, it would transform again.
“Try to avoid speaking to the Admiral directly,” he said as McCoy leaned against the wall. “If he asks you a question, it is perfectly acceptable for me to answer for you.”
“In other words, don’t say anything,” McCoy grunted under his breath.
“That would be preferable,” Spock replied coldly, and lead him out of his room. Where he would have avoided touching McCoy out in the open, for fear of another attack, he held him tightly by the arm now all the way to Sick Bay, figuring that the human would be too weak to attempt anything. He was correct.
They met Kirk on the way, who looked considerably irritated. A smile lit up his face, but his eyes remained cold. Spock immediately stopped and saluted, and even McCoy straightened up a little.
“Everything going well, Captain?”
“Godamn admiral is a pain in my ass,” he growled, casting an evil look down the passageway. “It’s trouble enough having to watch out for those devils on my ship, but at least those are under my control!” He looked to Spock and grinned. “No offense.”
Spock shrugged. “I am not of their kind, Captain, so there is no offense to be taken.”
Kirk’s grin stretched. “Of course, Mr. Spock,” he joked. “How often I forget. In any case, the next Romulan, disciple of yours or not, that so much as looks at me for the next twenty-four hours is going to regret it.” He patted Spock’s shoulder. “Present company excluded of course! When you’re finished in Sick Bay, come see me.”
Spock cast a quick glance to McCoy.
“Leave that in Sick Bay until I’ve spoken with you,” he sneered, and then left.
The Admiral and his attendants were already in Sick Bay when Spock got there, a fact that deeply irritated him. Spock was certain that Dorek had come early to catch him off guard. Perhaps if he weren’t slowed down by McCoy…Spock pushed that out of his mind. There were much worse ways of being slowed down.
“Admiral,” he greeted, complete with a salute and a perfunctory nod to the accompanying officers. He noticed that McCoy did not salute any of them, but the Romulans didn’t. Or if they did notice this, they didn’t care.
“Greetings, Commander,” Dorek said pleasantly, and began to walk deeper into Sick Bay, compelling Spock to follow behind him. With the other Romulans hovering around, Spock had the vague sense of being led into a trap. He had to remind himself that this was just a routine inspection, just like all the others he had successfully performed.
“Well, we’ve already been shown most everything by your Doctor M’Benga, but it is still a pleasure to see you, cousin,” Dorek said.
“I trust everything is satisfactory?”
“Satisfactory?” Dorek smiled, his dark green eyes dancing for a moment. Almost every memory Spock had of this young officer was of him being constantly amused. It was unnerving. “More than satisfactory, I assure you, Spock. I am a little disappointed that we were not lucky enough to walk in on an interrogation, though.”
“Unfortunately for you, Admiral,” Spock retorted. “The crew has been performing quite well lately.”
“Just to spite me, I’m sure,” Dorek laughed, and started pawing through the overhead shelves, making a small grunt or whistle at the objects he found. With everyone in the room waiting on his next order, Dorek must have felt rather the center of attention, Spock thought with derision. How tiresomely predictable for a man of such a young age at such a high rank.
Then Dorek came across a small device that he frowned over. “Is this one of those…?”
“That is an agonizer, Sir,” Spock finished for him in a neutral tone. He knew damn well that Dorek knew what that was. Only the most backwards of outposts would not have been familiar with that technology, as relatively recent as it was. But still, if the Admiral of the Second Fleet wanted to play games, then he would have his games.
“I see,” the Romulan said, gazing at it, and then pocketed it. Spock watched Dorek in his discreet way as he gave the major facilities another look-over. Dorek enjoyed a meaningless conversation with Spock, but the Vulcan was certain that was to some other purpose.
Finally, when they had wasted enough time, Dorek leaned on a biobed and gestured to McCoy, who had this entire time followed the Spock in silence. “Is it not unusual for slaves to continue their previous duties, Spock?”
Spock stiffened, and resisted the urge to grip McCoy’s arm. He shrugged and acted as though the human were not there. “Not entirely, Admiral. The captain himself owns several whose professional lives have not changed.” This was only partly true, but he was sure that Dorek would not ask Kirk about it himself.
“You haven’t found that such an…arrangement interferes with the smooth operation of the ship?” Dorek asked, eyes narrowed slightly.
It took Spock effort to keep from sneering at the man’s insolence. Even the admiral’s attendants could not resist a small smile amongst themselves, hidden safely behind the admiral’s back. It was ludicrous for a Romulan to question the taking of slaves; the Romulans were no strangers to the practice themselves. By now Spock was suspicious to the point of rage; just what was that upstart trying to do?
“Unless relieved of duties, every member of this ship holds him or herself to the highest professional standard, slave or free,” he answered coolly, and added as an afterthought, “Sir.”
Dorek’s smile widened as his eyes narrowed into slits. “How noble,” he sneered. “Looks like we have much to learn from the Enterprise.” His companions indulged in mocking grins when he regarded them, while Spock clenched his teeth.
“Show me how this works,” he said eagerly, tossing the agonizer to Spock. With a tight smile set on his lips, the Romulan glanced slowly at McCoy and back at Spock.
Spock tried to read the look on Dorek’s face as he decided what to do. If the human at his side meant nothing to him, then he would be the obvious victim for this demonstration. Spock took hold of McCoy, and hoped the Romulans had not noticed his hesitation.
Holding McCoy by the back with one hand, Spock pressed the activated device into the doctor’s chest and kept it tightly pressed as his victim fought to hold himself still. His groans turned to screams and he would have doubled over if Spock had not been holding him straight by the back of his shirt. Spock noticed with approval that McCoy avoided touching him and clutched at his own shirt instead, clawing desperately as the device tormented him.
Spock did not let up until Dorek said, “That’s enough.” He had to say it twice, actually, to be heard over McCoy’s cries. As soon as Spock turned the device off, McCoy slumped, leaning on him. Without any hesitation this time, Spock shoved the human to the floor and stepped over him to put the agonizer away.
“Lovely little device,” Dorek clucked, heading slowly to the door, his attendants regarding McCoy as a heap of garbage. “Is it true that it causes no permanent damage?”
“Of course, Admiral,” said one of the attendants, a previously mute and sneering female. “Its inventor was a human.”
“Yes of course,” Dorek grinned. He was stared at McCoy as he struggled back to his feet, Spock could tell. But he had to pretend that he noticed nothing and waited for the group to leave. “For all their imitative tendencies, they really haven’t changed a bit.”
He and the others shared a derisive grin that only made the admiral appear even more childish to Spock. Some of the attendants even seemed to be mocking the admiral himself, but Spock didn’t expect the young admiral to realize that as he laughed with them. Dorek turned to Spock. “I hope to dine with you later tonight, cousin.”
“It would be my pleasure, Sir,” Spock replied emotionlessly.
Dorek barely contained a mocking chuckle. “If you say so, Vulcan!” The others regained their professional composure when Spock saluted them, and left. Spock waited a few minutes before going to McCoy, worrying that one of them would return for some false reason or another.
McCoy was leaning over a desk, panting. He didn’t react when Spock took hold of his shoulders and helped him into the chair by the desk. A part of him considered trying to explain his actions to McCoy, that he had acted so cruelly to protect him from the Romulans’ attention, but reminded himself that he had no obligation to explain himself to a slave. McCoy wouldn’t understand anyway, he was sure.
“Well, at least I can count on one thing,” McCoy grumbled, lazily rubbing the spot on his chest. “Never trust a Romulan.”
Spock crossed his arms and glared towards the door. “Indeed.”
McCoy looked up at him and offered a half-hearted smirk. “I didn’t think you’d be so rebellious. From the looks of it, those assholes are your bosses.”
“The Romulans control us all,” Spock answered sharply. “But that does not change our silent hatred for their kind.”
“I take it you Vulcans don’t appreciate allying with them?” McCoy asked, and while the very subject raised Spock’s ire to nearly intolerable levels, he still appreciated the discussion. There really wasn’t anyone else on board he dared voice his opinions on this matter to.
“It was never an alliance, Doctor,” he snapped. “It was a conquest. The Empire may call it whatever they wish, but that doesn’t change the facts.”
“A conquest?” McCoy asked in a whisper.
“You had Klingons in your universe, Doctor?”
McCoy’s eyes widened and he nodded. “What happened?”
“They nearly destroyed us. Ravaging system after system. The situation was getting particularly desperate when a fleet reached Vulcan. They managed to besiege the planet for decades, bringing in more than enough forces to wipe out anyone who came to help.”
“So the Federation begged the Romulans for help,” Spock sneered.
McCoy avoided Spock’s blazing eyes when he asked, “And the rest is history, huh?”
“Every historian and tutor will tell you that that the races allied peacefully, that our treaty was mutually consensual.” He snarled and tightened a fist. “You’ve seen them for yourself! Do you believe the treaty was consensual?” When McCoy flinched, Spock relaxed, realizing he must have been getting overly excited. “I don’t care if the Federation were close to destruction, they never should have sold themselves. Cowards.”
“What do the Vulcans think about it?”
Spock snorted derisively. “Vulcans? There is no room for that anymore.” McCoy looked confused, so he tried to explain, although he came off as rather condescending, “Since 2195, Vulcan has been occupied and reinvented by the Romulans, so now it is merely a colony. By legal definition, I am a Romulan. That is what my father would call me.”
“But you call yourself Vulcan.”
“The modern use of that term applies to the followers of Surak,” Spock explained emphatically. His heart quickened, but with pride rather than anger. He suspected McCoy wouldn’t care about something like this, but it felt good to talk about it anyway. “It’s nothing more than an obscure, meaningless term to anyone else.”
“The Romulans don’t see this as a rebellion?”
“As long as we’re good and obedient just like everyone else, no one cares,” Spock said with a slight baring of the teeth. “There are so few of us anyway. These days we’re nothing more than an oddity. After all, who’d want to live as we do?”
McCoy had by now lowered his head, his expression blank. Spock would have to touch him to guess what he was thinking, but chose not to risk it. He’d already taken a huge risk by exposing this part of himself to McCoy. The McCoy he’d known would have surely used this information against him, one way or another. What not this one?
So to cover himself, Spock added with an impatient shake of the head, “It’s not important anyway. The Romulans give us our space, and we are satisfied.” Another half-truth he hoped would discourage any further questions. Already he felt he may have been too frank.
Regaining his composure, Spock took McCoy’s cuffed wrist and entered data. Any closeness that may have forged between them during their conversation faded as their primary roles were once again reinforced by that simple act.
“I will return shortly,” Spock said. “You will use this time to familiarize yourself with your station.” He then handed McCoy his own knife. The human frowned, but took it. Taking a few steps back, Spock explained, “You should not have to worry about your staff. They know not to touch you. But of course there is the chance that someone will try something foolish. You know how to defend yourself?”
“Sure,” McCoy said in a hollow voice, gazing at the bare blade.
“Good.” Spock turned to leave.
“Wait,” McCoy called after him, and Spock stopped. “Just out of…morbid curiosity,” McCoy asked quietly, and almost stopped. Spock waited, watching him. “That thing up there, the…agonizer. Who was it that invented that thing?”
“A rather weak-hearted human who wanted a new way of inflicting pain without causing excessive bodily damage, back when he was a lowly orderly on some obscure outpost.” Spock gave a pale grin. “His name was Ensign Leonard McCoy.”
Chapter 14: Tit for Tat
The Romulans are declared political refugees and will be brought to the nearest Starbase; meanwhile Spock and M!McCoy interrogate each other
Spock did not have time for this. Every second wasted was painful to him, because it could be his friend’s last second alive.
He was not one to daydream, nor to have his attention compromised during important meetings like this, but while the Romulans, the captain, and several higher ups in Starfleet conversed, the officials from Starfleet Command speaking via monitors from the closest planetary base, Spock was thinking about the I.S.S. Enterprise. While the away team from that ship had been under his care in his own universe, Spock had caught a glimpse of those people. They looked the same as the people he knew, but were totally different on the inside. He’d spent very little time close enough to them to learn much about them, but what he did glean was disturbing.
And now, of course, he had a perfect example of the alternate universe under his care. The idea of being around him was detestable, but he knew better than to throw away such a valuable resource. While he expected the intruder to continue with his games, Spock could not learn anything about the other universe any other way.
In fact, he could extrapolate on the way of life on board the I.S.S. Enterprise by analyzing the intruder’s personality. It was clear that the man was manipulative and sneaky, that he appeared to trust no one. Spock surmised that that could only mean that he had been constantly in danger in his natural habitat. For a moment Spock felt a twinge of something for him. Pity would be too strong a word, but he at least could imagine someone, other than himself, feeling a trace of compassion for him and his difficult past.
Further, Kirk had told him about the intruder’s attempt to seduce him. That could either mean that man was used to sexual objectification as a normal practice on his ship, or that he would stoop to anything to get what he wanted. Either way, Spock felt disgusted, especially when he thought about when that McCoy had touched him, and then asked him about his personal relationship with his counterpart.
But that was an interesting problem; there could have been many reasons for the intruder to ask that, Spock knew, but it was in the way he was asking that interested him. Logic told him that the impostor McCoy was trying to pry personal information out of him in order to use it against him. Perhaps if he believed Spock held affections for his McCoy, the intruder would prey on that, much the way he had tried to sexually manipulate the captain.
It made sense, but it still didn’t satisfy Spock. There was something else there, something in the urgency of his voice, the way he had stared so intently, so much like his own…
“Mr. Spock,” Kirk’s harsh voice snapped him back to reality. The group was staring at him, most notably the young Captain Dorek, who was trying to hide a smile behind his hand and failing.
“I apologize, Captain,” Spock mumbled, sitting up straighter in his chair. “I had remembered a problem with my computer back up drives, and must have become lost in my thoughts.”
The admiral, or rather the image of him in a video monitor, was about to rebuke him, but Kirk interjected, “He’s—we’ve been under a lot of strain lately, Admiral. I hadn’t realized it myself.” He smiled warmly, and the dignitary relaxed.
“We’re just about done here anyway,” he said, and Spock was grateful. Of course the matter of dealing with political refugees, if he could even believe that, was vital, but Spock honestly did not care. He was sure he knew what the discussion had been about, except it had taken far longer than it should have. There was a closing discussion which he listened to, but with half-attention.
The admirals had ordered the Romulans to be brought to Star Base Titus Alpha, a planet about four days away. In the meantime, Kirk was encouraged to learn as much as he could about them and their motives, while also making them feel comfortable and safe. According to Star Fleet, these passengers could become new citizens of the Federation, valuable assets indeed to a society that knew so little about one of their most dangerous of enemies.
Only security officers were armed on board, and they were trained to handle any threat. Spock should not have worried that the Romulans would take out some guards and thus arm themselves for the purpose of hijacking the ship, but he did. The idea was absurd, and every precaution against such a thing was being taken, and yet Spock could not trust these passengers. He was beginning to feel like the intruder.
No, it wasn’t that. When he really thought about it, he was thinking of himself, his other self. McCoy had said that the Romulans had a significant influence on the Enterprise crew. While Kirk had described his counterpart as being “noble,” the impostor had given Spock a different impression. Who would he believe, someone he knew to be telling the truth, but only had a first impression, or someone who would know, but who would also lie?
If anything McCoy had said was correct, Spock finally decided, then his McCoy was in serious trouble.
“You have to stop zoning out like that,” Kirk once again interrupted his thoughts. “At least wait till you’re alone to do it.” He was only half-serious; his smile was small but warm, and he rested a hand on Spock’s shoulder.
“Forgive me, Sir,” he answered, clasping his hands behind his back. “What do you require of me, concerning the Romulans?”
“Don’t worry about them,” Kirk said, and they gazed at them, still sitting at the table, talking amongst themselves. Dorek looked up just in time to meet Spock’s eyes and smiled. Spock looked away, jaw clenched. “I’m sure they’ll want you for dinner at least once before we get to Titus, but other than that, I want you busy on getting Bones back.”
Security officers were escorting the group out of the briefing room by now, and they were waiting in the passageway, still chatting without a care. Kirk and Spock followed them out.
“And keeping the intruder out of your way?” Spock added.
Kirk made a guilty face and laughed nervously. “If he bothers you that much, I can assign-“
“No,” Spock almost snapped. “He cannot be trusted with anyone else.”
“How’s he adjusting?” Kirk asked, frowning.
“He isn’t. But I have him restricted to Sick Bay, so that should limit any trouble he could cause.”
“You think he’s ready for-“
At that moment, Kirk paused, distracted by the sight of McCoy heading down the passageway towards them, with M’Benga nearly running behind. Kirk looked to Spock, eyes narrowed slightly. “I thought you said he was restricted to Sick Bay, Mr. Spock.”
“I did give that order,” Spock answered, careful to keep any emotion hidden. He did manage to quash a feeling of rage at the sight of the intruder so blatantly going against his orders and therefore making him look foolish in front of the captain by choosing to see McCoy as a nuisance, rather than a person. Considering that the man was not his friend, this was easy to do. Doctor M’Benga was incorrect; this situation could be handled as an exercise of logic, with the intruder as just another variable.
M’Benga looked to Spock with anxiety in his eyes. “Sir, I tried to talk him into staying, but he insisted he talk to you. I figured if I came with him, it’d-“
“I understand, Doctor,” Spock dismissed. “I’ll handle it from here.”
While M’Benga headed off, McCoy was standing before Spock and Kirk with a smirk and his hands clasped behind his back in mock formality.
“Is there a problem, Captain?” Dorek came over to ask. His shipmates followed, as did the security officers, especially growing tense to see the Romulan approach the captain.
Kirk turned his attention to the young captain, who waited with a smile. “No, there’s no problem, Captain.” Kirk shot a look to Spock, who offered nothing in return. “If you would like to inspect your quarters?”
“Yes of course,” Dorek answered pleasantly, and then looked to his companions. “Must we be…’escorted’ everywhere we go, Captain?”
“I’m afraid so,” Kirk answered. “Merely a formality, I assure you. You and your crew will be free to access the designated spaces at your will, however.”
“Just with some of your men following us?” Dorek asked, a corner of his mouth lifting. Once again his sharp, green eyes flashed to Spock, even while he was talking to Kirk.
Kirk sighed, “Just until we reach the star base, Captain, but I don’t want you to think of yourselves as prisoners. It’s just a precaution…” he trailed off.
But Dorek smiled warmly. “Of course, Captain Kirk. We understand, and we are grateful for your kindness. Things would be far different if the tables were turned, and I appreciate that.”
Kirk made a slight face, but he nodded cordially. “Thank you. Now if you would please inspect your quarters, I’ll join you shortly.”
Dorek nodded and the Romulans left with their escorts. Kirk snapped at McCoy, “Just what are you trying to pull?”
While the intruder’s grin dropped at the outburst, he did not back down in any way. “I’m not trying to ‘pull’ anything,” he snapped back.
“I told you to remain in Sick Bay,” Spock said, and already knew that was pointless.
McCoy glared at him. “Dammit, Vulcan! Am I a prisoner?” Spock opened his mouth to answer, but McCoy barked, “If I were, I’d be in the brig, not going about my usual duties!”
“Is almost letting a man die under your care part of your ‘usual duties’?” Kirk asked flatly.
When McCoy turned his baleful gaze at Kirk, Spock felt a twinge of loss. He was very familiar with how the intruder looked right then, the same facial expression, the same gesture. Even the way his lips twitched as he got ready to argue back; it was like having his McCoy back in front of him, and he almost felt something for him.
“You were the one that put me back on duty status, Kirk!” McCoy snapped, and the doctor’s use of the captain’s last name was a concrete detail that brought Spock back to reality. Only those that were not familiar with the captain called him that. “You don’t want any more complications than you already have with those devils, isn’t that right? You don’t need the crew wondering why their CMO is under lock and key!”
Kirk glared for a moment. “That is completely dependent on you. If you’re going to be disobeying orders from your superior officers-“
“It’s an unfair order!” McCoy snapped, glaring at them both. “I’m not a prisoner, so why am I being treated like one? Am I one of them?” He gestured down the hall.
“You still pose as a potential security risk-” Kirk tried to explain. Spock tensed as he felt the captain’s temper rise.
“Then why am I back on duty?” McCoy yelled. “Make up your mind, Kirk. Do you want me back as CMO, or not?”
“Technically you never were the CMO of this ship,” Kirk said, eyes narrowing.
McCoy shook his head, giving Kirk a challenging, belligerent look. Spock held his hands tighter together behind his back, suppressing an urge to slap him. “And just how would you prove that? As far as anyone else is concerned, including the rest of your crew, I am the same Leonard McCoy as before. How much more me do I have to be? Same name, same age, same appearance… Why, even a DNA test would prove who I am! I’m very sorry there isn’t any sort of test to determine which universe a man belongs to!”
McCoy gave them a chance to speak, but no one did for a moment. He went on, more confidence in his voice now, “I was negligent in my duties the other day, but that’s in the past, and I’ve taken time off since then. Since I’ve been back on duty, nothing has gone wrong. You have no charges to bring against me, nothing at all that wouldn’t get you laughed right out of any court martial.”
“I’ve seen first hand how you people behave,” Kirk growled. “The rest of Starfleet can see you as whomever they like, I know exactly what I’m dealing with.”
“Captain,” McCoy said softly. “James…Jim. I’m not like them. It’s completely unfair to judge me, when you don’t even…no, you do know me. If you gave me any kind of chance, I’m sure you’ll find your friend in me. I mean, how do you think I feel about all this? You’re both trying to tell me I’m not me, as if my own past, which includes you two, by the way, doesn’t mean anything.”
Kirk shook his head in impatience after a moment of staring at McCoy. “I don’t have time for philosophical puzzles.”
“Then at least lift these insane restrictions! You can think what you want about me, I can’t very well work if I feel like a prisoner!”
When Kirk took his fingers from his eyes, he glared hard at Spock. “I’m leaving this matter to Mr. Spock.” He shot his eyes back to McCoy and took a step towards him. “You’re his problem now. If he thinks it appropriate that you spend every second off duty in your quarters, then damn well so be it. If you give him a hint of trouble, you’ll spend the rest of this trip in the brig and you’ll be disembarking with the Romulans. Do I make myself clear?”
McCoy deflated, smaller than a few minutes ago. The sight gave Spock a transient thrill. He allowed himself to indulge in it a bit longer than he normally would. “You could so easily pretend I’m the right one, Jim,” McCoy entreated. “I know you and my other self were close. In a way, you already know me, and I already know you.” He reached out to touch Kirk’s arm, but the captain stepped away, even angrier than before.
“If you know what’s good for you,” Kirk said in a low voice. “You’ll keep yourself out of my way.” He snapped to Spock, “You are relieved of your normal duties, Spock. Just keep him in and line and get our CMO back.”
“Aye, Sir.” Spock felt pride for his captain and the way he had handled this. The captain had not made his resentment a secret, but he had also not allowed himself to give in to his anger.
The doctor was gazing down the passageway, shaking slightly, though Spock could not tell what he was feeling. The human appeared distressed, but Spock was not interested as long as he did not appear a threat.
“I suppose you want to tear into me, too, huh?” McCoy grumbled, crossing his arms, avoiding looking at Spock.
“I would actually like to speak with you on a few matters,” Spock said, starting to walk the other way down the hall slowly. He looked to McCoy, wordlessly encouraging him to follow.
“I wonder what about,” McCoy growled. Spock found it curious that the man kept his head down, wondering if this were an act, a trap of some sort.
“We shall talk in my quarters,” Spock said, then as an afterthought, added, “If that is acceptable to you?”
McCoy gave him an evil, side-ways look and snorted, “Why you asking me, half-breed? Since when do I have any choice about fuckin’ anything?”
“I was merely trying to be considerate, Doctor. If there is anywhere else you’d feel comfortable-“
“Kiss my ass. As if I have a choice to even talk to you.”
Spock didn’t answer as they made their way to the upper decks. It was easier to resist arguing back with this McCoy than it was with his own, because he didn’t care about the outcome. This man could believe whatever he wished, it wouldn’t matter to Spock. He didn’t know this McCoy personally, and didn’t ever chose to.
When they got to his quarters, Spock lowered the temperature to one he felt would be comfortable for McCoy. Of course he didn’t get any kind of thank you, just the doctor making himself comfortable on his bed, as before. It felt strange that the doctor seemed so at home in his quarters. His own McCoy had rarely visited his quarters, and when he did, they were short, impersonal visits.
Standing by the bed, Spock said neutrally, “Doctor, I would like to ask you some questions about your universe, if you are comfortable with that.”
McCoy sneered and started fingering the intricate decorative whorls on the lamp on Spock’s bedside table. “The fuck do you care if I’m comfortable or not.”
“Doctor, I will not force you to answer me. This conversation is completely voluntary, completely at your own pace.” Spock would not sink to his counterpart’s level and force a mind meld on this man. He trusted he had enough experience around humans to tell, for the most part, if McCoy were lying. At least now that he had learned what to look for in this particular one.
McCoy stared at the designs on the lamp for a bit longer, then cast a sideways glance at Spock. His expression was lifeless and unreadable. “Well, I suppose a little chat is better than being locked up in Sick Bay,” he snarled.
“We can discuss the terms of your restrictions later, Doctor,” Spock assured.
“For God’s sake, drop the ‘doctor’ nonsense,” McCoy growled, sitting up now.
Spock tightened his lips and stared at the wall. “Very well, Leonard,” he forced. It seemed like a slap in the face of his memory of his friend, but he conceded in this small thing. “Were you trained on the transporter operations?”
The doctor’s grin crept sneakily on his face. “You think you can bring him back with the transporter? Oh, if only it could be that simple, Spock.”
“That is a logical starting point.”
McCoy smirked to himself, regarding the Vulcan’s sheets for a moment, fingers still tracing the whorls in the lamp. But then his face softened a bit. The two were quiet for a while, Spock waiting for any kind of answer, McCoy amusing himself with his thoughts, whatever they could have been. When he looked up, Spock felt his pulse quicken at the warmth in his gaze, how familiar it was. For a second, it was impossible to tell this one apart from his own.
“You miss him, don’t you?” he asked softly.
Spock grit his teeth slightly, but otherwise suppressed everything. “I do,” was all he could say, but even that was exposing himself. “He belongs here.”
“And I don’t,” the intruder said with a soft grin. “But that’s just the way it is, Spock. There is no way to cross into that other universe, and you know it.”
“Just because you can conceive of no way, does not mean that I cannot,” Spock said.
Drawing his knees up, McCoy made himself even more comfortable on the bed, tracking dirt on the blankets in the process. “You and Jim might hate me being here, but I tell ya, I could really get used to this place,” he said softly, gazing around Spock’s room. When Spock noticed McCoy’s eyes begin to grow red, he walled himself up even further. It was safe to assume that he was trying to trick Spock into an emotional, and thus irrational, response.
“It’s paradise here,” McCoy went on, casting his pale blue eyes to Spock. Moisture gathered at the corners and he slowly stroked one knee. “You couldn’t possibly imagine how it was for me over there. Even if you could find a way to get your friend back, it’d be pointless. I’d wake up every day wondering if it would be my last.” He chuckled dryly and looked away. “Of course I could blame my own big mouth for that, I suppose. Not that any of it mattered. I’m surprised I’ve lasted this long.”
This was angering Spock. He knew that this was just a cruel trick. This McCoy was merely exaggerating to scare him, to break down his defenses. Spock only felt more powerless as he put up with this cruel charade, hating the fact that he could not be sure what was the truth.
“I’m sure you had learned ways of adapting,” he said, almost snarling.
McCoy looked at him, eyes flashing. He stared defiantly for a moment then hopped off the bed. “Why yes, Spock!” he said. “And you can sit there and judge me, both of you convinced I’m just some plague you have to take care of, but maybe if you really understood what my life was like-“
“You may have played on the sympathies of Nurse Chapel,” Spock said with narrowed eyes. “But I know you were exaggerating.”
“Yeah?” McCoy sneered. “This look like an exaggeration?” Spock only crossed his arms tighter, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. And then McCoy lifted his shirt.
The skin of his torso was covered in scars and bruises, both old and new, and it evoked a sharp intake of breath from the Vulcan. Especially unnerving was a long, deep scar just passing the navel. He could see one end of it, but the other reached an inestimable distance beneath the doctor’s shirt.
“Who did this to you?” he asked quietly.
“You did,” McCoy hissed, shoving his shirt back down.
Spock let out a nervous sigh and tightened his grip on his hands behind his back. “Your universe’s common method of discipline, I assume?”
“This one was,” he smirked, lifting his shirt again to point at what appeared to be the scar of a puncture wound by his hip. “But the rest? Nothing more than…attitude adjustments, you could say.”
There was the chance that those wounds could have been self inflicted, of course, but Spock abandoned that idea. Some of those scars were so deep, they would have required whoever made them to have had the patience and the will to deliberately cut so deep and for so long. This unstable man staring him down was not a paragon of willpower, Spock judged.
“He has only injured you in places that could be covered by clothing?” he asked, trying to focus on the mystery of this situation. But his mind was in a quiet, barely controlled turmoil; he didn’t have to imagine his friend with such injuries, he could see it first hand, for himself.
McCoy laughed mirthlessly. “No, of course not. Both you and your captain’s other selves have battered me almost unrecognizable plenty of times. Sometimes for nothing, sometimes for very good reasons.” He smirked and looked away. Spock ached to touch him, just to get a glimpse of what his true emotions were. His face and tone of voice suggested conflicting truths, or so it seemed to Spock. “But I was usually allowed to heal any marks that would show. I’ve always wondered why.”
Spock realized he was cutting off the circulation to his wrist, he was gripping it so hard. He crossed his arms to alleviate it, and as a subconscious way to close the other out. He could not stop searching for evidence of old injuries, healed or not, on McCoy’s exposed skin. Only when he realized he was taking small steps backwards did he realize the intruder was getting closer to him. “Perhaps it would look unprofessional,” he suggested.
McCoy laughed. “Maybe. Or maybe they didn’t want anyone else to enjoy them. Only they got to see what they did to me. Why should some stranger get a free look?”
“Your world is vile,” Spock hissed, feeling the bed post against his back.
“I didn’t make the rules, Spock,” McCoy whispered, now inches from the other. “Just trying to survive in that place, just like anyone else would.” Spock tensed, chest heaving, as McCoy closed the distance between them with a hand just barely resting on his arm. McCoy kept his eyes down as he ran his hand up Spock’s shoulder.
“I told you not to touch me,” Spock growled under his breath
“I can tell you loved him, Spock,” the doctor whispered, pressing himself against him now. McCoy’s breath was warm on Spock’s neck, his fingers lightly stroking his arm. Spock could only freeze up, afraid of what he’d do if he moved. “I know now that he must have loved you. That’s not hard to imagine.”
“You cannot manipulate me as you tried with the captain, Doctor,” Spock said through gritted teeth.
He felt McCoy tense against him, tightening his fingers on his arm. For a while their chests pushed into each other as they breathed heavily. “I was trying to use him, yes. I’ll admit that. But I’m not being fake with you, Spock,” he growled. “I know you can feel it.”
Spock could feel something intense, but he was blocking it out. Anger welled up inside him, and while he longed for this man to let go of him, he could not trust himself to unclasp his hands from behind his back. He knew he would either throttle the intruder or do something else just as damaging. He had never so much as embraced his own McCoy, so the idea of doing so with this one was an insult to his friend’s memory. Or so he convinced himself.
“I have no reason to trust you, Doctor,” he said. “Not with your background, not with the way you have been behaving since you’ve arrived here. I cannot believe that you would feel anything but hatred for your abuser, therefore it is illogical you would be so overcome with feeling for me. Either you are starved for any sort of physical affection, which you can easily procure from any other source, or you are trying to control me, the way you attempted with the captain.”
Relief washed over him when McCoy finally let go, but he felt empty for a moment, as well. He had called upon his Vulcan training to effectively wall up his mind against any potential mental attacks McCoy would inflict, and protected himself against the tumultuous emotions from him. But when McCoy pulled away, Spock felt his presence fade from his mind as well. He did not realize that McCoy had influenced his mind as much as he had until he left it.
The doctor stood back by the opposite wall, arms crossed, his eyes dark and filling with moisture. Nothing spilled over, though. Spock could tell he was fighting to keep his emotions controlled. He seemed disproportionately upset that his seduction attempt had been thwarted, however.
“You make me almost miss my Spock,” he snarled. “I think I’d take a beating over a block of ice like you.”
Spock refused to allow his words to affect him. He could already feel the pull of emotions McCoy undoubtedly wanted him to succumb to, and it took effort to fight them off. It was hard enough to push his fear for his friend into a place where he could come back to when he had the chance.
However, it did seem to Spock that this man may have been offended by his blatant refusal, and that could cost him. He would miss out on a potential resource if this living artifact from the parallel universe were to close up just to spite him.
“Forgive me, Leonard,” he said coldly. It was hard enough to force out the words, much less any emotion to them. They did seem to calm McCoy down, however. “You are correct that I miss my friend, and I am very anxious to locate him. I did not intend to hurt you.” These statements were for the most part true; Spock did not care if he hurt the intruder or not, but it was true that hurting him had not been his intention. But while Spock’s words were not lies, his efforts at conciliation were less than genuine.
McCoy leaned against the wall, arms crossed, eyes dark and narrow. “I don’t give a fuck what you or anyone else thinks about me,” he snarled. “Even if you do find a way, you’re not sending me back there.”
“We may not have to, Doc—Leonard,” Spock answered, again, not entirely truthful. He had not given the matter much thought. “We have found that two versions of the same entity can exist in the same universe.”
Even with this assurance, McCoy still bristled, as if he hadn’t heard him. “There’s no law that says I have to go back. I’ll kill you before I let you throw me back to those wolves.”
Spock paused a moment. “Leonard, at this point I am only concerned about retrieving my friend. We can discuss what will happen with you later, but I’m sure you can stay here if that is what your wish.”
“We’ll see about that,” McCoy hissed and looked away. Spock noticed that he wasn’t so much crossing his arms as he was holding himself, and began to realize that perhaps not all of this was an act. It still was not enough for Spock to waste any more thoughts on the intruder’s feelings, though.
He took a few steps closer to the doctor, hoping that what he was about to ask would not be too soon. “Leonard, may I have your consent to a mind meld?”
McCoy grimaced and tightened up even further.
“I only wish to better understand your knowledge of your universe’s technology. I will not intrude into your private thoughts, nor will I hurt you in any way.” Spock held himself at a carefully calculated distance from McCoy: not too close as to intimidate him, but not too far as to appear as emotionally distant as he truly was. It sickened him how, just like the intruder, he was trying to manipulate someone, but he saw no other alternative.
“What if I say no?”
“Then I will not attempt one, nor will I ask you again.”
Another pause, much longer this time. And then McCoy sneered at him, “Only if you do something for me.”
Spock closed his eyes as his only show of frustration. He considered telling the human that he would not negotiate with him, but he could not afford such luxury. “What are your terms?”
“First of all, no mind melds,” McCoy growled. “Bullshit it won’t hurt. You’re a Godamn liar, Vulcan. I know your kind and your tricks.” He calmed down a bit after that outburst, a smirk creeping along his lips now. “No, we’re doing this my way or not at all. You meld with me, you’ll find out everything. I’ll give you one piece of information for everything you give me.”
Spock clenched his teeth and imagined how the captain would react to this. Illogically, irrational, but in a way that would preserve his dignity. “Very well,” he said.
McCoy smiled, that flash of warmth that was so familiar to Spock lighting in his eyes for a teasing moment. “I do know a thing or two about the transporter. I can tell you about what I think your other self might be doing to your buddy right now, and I can tell you about Dorek and his lackeys.”
“Why would that interest me?” Spock asked, although he was actually interested. How easy it was to fall into the habit of deception, he thought with shame.
McCoy grinned. “Let’s just say that if he’s anything like my Dorek, you’re all in deep shit.”
Spock paused. He would exchange the appropriate services for such information, but that could wait. “What are your requests?”
“Lift those damned restrictions,” McCoy snapped. “Let me be free to come and go as I please, with no one following me.”
Spock pursed his lips as he considered this, then nodded for McCoy to continue.
“You tell Kirk that you talked to me and decided I’m not so bad.”
“I will not lie to the captain,” Spock stated.
McCoy glared. “Then just tell him something good about me so he gives me a fucking chance.”
Spock nodded. “Is there anything else?”
“Yes. Your word that you won’t send me back if you find a way to get to that other universe,” McCoy said.
Spock crossed his arms and took on a rather officious air. There was a bit of comfort knowing that this man’s help could be bought, even though the idea disgusted him. “Your first request can actually be broken down into smaller ones,” he said. “I will decide how much each fact you tell me is worth.”
The doctor glared at him with indignation, and for a moment Spock felt it was deserved. “You’d make an excellent Orion trader,” he growled, then sighed. “Who starts?”
“Are you trained in transporter operations?” Spock asked immediately.
McCoy nodded with a smug look. “Question number one, answered in the affirmative. What do I get for it?”
“That does not count, Doctor, as it was a preliminary question.” He watched the intruder’s lips twitch, but he did not argue. McCoy may have despised him for that small victory, but he needed to understand that Spock was the one controlling this, not him. “However, I will compensate you for comparing our transporter room with your own. Next question. Why did you and the McCoy of this universe remain where you were when everyone else returned?”
The bafflement on McCoy’s face appeared genuine. With the hope of reward for an answer, though, Spock could at least count on speculation that could be helpful. “I…I don’t know,” he said.
“What are your suspicions?” Spock pressed, taking a seat on the bed. “Please sit down.”
McCoy eyed him, but obeyed, sitting up by the pillow, far from Spock. He looked far less comfortable than when he’d been standing. “Maybe some sort of accident that only affected me and him? It was a freak accident that switched us in the first place.”
“The captain told me that it was my counterpart who beamed my shipmates back. Would he have had the knowledge to control who does and does not return?”
Scratching his nape, McCoy looked to the side and chewed his lip. Spock could not tell if he were honestly thinking or merely deciding how much to reveal.
“I assure you, honesty will be rewarded, Doctor.”
McCoy gave him a cryptic look and then said, “If he was the one at the controls, then yes, it makes sense that he would have deliberately done something to keep me here.”
“Do you know for certain if he would have such knowledge?”
“I guess so, if he did it, right?” McCoy snapped.
“He may have taken advantage of the transporter’s altered state, if there had been one, but that does not imply he specifically knew how to access a parallel universe.”
McCoy shook his head. “Whatever you say,” he growled.
So far Spock was at the painfully tedious stage of figuring out the right questions to ask. He noticed McCoy was getting tired, or at least weary of this discussion. Good; it would take more effort to concoct a lie than to supply the truth. “Why would he have done this?”
“You got me,” McCoy replied dismissively, throwing a hand back to pick at the paint on the bulkhead.
“What do you suppose?”
“I said I don’t know! He hated my guts!”
“Then why would he kidnap the one of this universe? Judging from what I’ve learned of yours, he could simply have killed you.” Spock reminded himself to be careful not to overly excite this man, but that seemed inevitable.
For a while McCoy stared off at the door with his jaw tight, closed off from Spock. Then he turned to glare at him. “Now you really have to answer a question from me. I can’t tell you anything about his motives if I don’t know yours.” He sat up, leaning over his crossed legs. “How close were you? Don’t you keep a fuckin’ thing from me, Vulcan.”
That was a logical question, Spock realized. He also realized that he would be forced to gamble if he hoped to gain anything further from the intruder. “I acknowledge there was a mutual attraction between us, but it was never acted upon,” he said. “We remained as friends.”
For a while the doctor studied him, and Spock felt like squirming. “If you did get to the other universe, and you saw your other self hurting him, what would you do?”
Spock did not hesitate. “I’d kill him.”
A soft smile spread on his face as McCoy leaned back against the head board. “There’s your answer, then. He wanted a way to have me, without it actually being me.” McCoy dabbed his eyes in mock emotion and joked, “He does care! How touching.”
The proposition that his other self would have love for his friend did not make him feel any better for some reason. “Then he is safe?”
McCoy raised an eyebrow. “If he knows how to keep his mouth shut, then sure. Maybe. I mean, I’m only going off the assumption that you and my Spock think alike. If he loves him as much as you do, then Hell, maybe he does have a chance.”
“Would he be in any danger from other members of the crew?” Spock prodded barely a second after McCoy’s last word.
“Now wait a minute,” McCoy snarled. “You gonna pay me back for any of that, or not?”
“Yes, of course,” Spock said, sitting up straighter. “I will inform Nurse Chapel and Doctor M’Benga that you no longer need to be escorted in and out of Sick Bay during your shift. You are free to move about the ship, but for no longer than one hour at at time, no more often than twice in one shift. After your shift, you are confined to Sick Bay as normal.”
“What kind of cheat is that?” McCoy burst, face reddening. “You Godamn cheap, half-breed son of a bitch! One hour?”
“Doctor, the information you supplied me were merely speculations, not facts,” Spock said, folding his hands in his lap. “I am being very generous to give you anything at all for them.” This entire business was beneath him in every way, but Spock did enjoy a certain thrill at how it was turning out. McCoy surely did not expect to be bested at his own game.
“If you would like something of more substance, perhaps you will tell me what is so important about the Romulan Dorek,” Spock said, with just the barest trace of smugness.
“What’ll you give me for it?” McCoy sneered.
“That will depend on how valuable I find your information.”
They locked eyes for a moment, McCoy’s eyes narrowed into slits while Spock gazed emotionlessly back. “In my universe, Admiral Dorek’s a part of the Tal Shiar.”
Spock felt a muscle in his jaw twitch, but otherwise quelled any other reaction, reminding himself that this applied to the alternate Dorek, not necessarily the one on board ship right now. “And?”
“And? What else is there? He’s a sneaky, deceitful bastard who’ll slit your throat if you get too close. Politically, I mean. He’d never get his own hands dirty and do anything himself.”
“This does not mean that he is that way in this universe,” Spock stated.
“Believe it not, Spock, people aren’t that different over there. I don’t care how wonderful and safe this place supposedly is, I wouldn’t trust Dorek as far as I could throw him.” McCoy went silent then, obviously waiting on Spock.
And the Vulcan took his time to answer, standing up as he did so to signal they were finished with this topic. “I was expecting something more significant, but I will inform the captain. I will also tell him that you were helpful to me.”
McCoy reluctantly got off the bed and hung by the desk, away from Spock.
“If you are not too weary, would you care to go over the transporter details with me?” Spock offered. When McCoy nodded, they went down to the transporter room. Spock kept a close eye on McCoy the entire way, gently nudging him on the shoulder when he walked too slowly. The human looked exhausted, and avoided his eyes.
Spock relieved an officer at the transporter room and they went to the controls. McCoy sighed as he inspected the controls, asking about each button or toggle in a tired voice. Finally, after nearly ten minutes, McCoy gave him a blank expression and said, “Besides the placement of everything, it’s exactly the same.”
“Where’s the primary energizer, on yours, I mean?”
“Right here,” McCoy said with a tired, lazy point close to where it was on theirs.
“So Spock would have been standing in this spot to energize?”
McCoy’s growing impatience was obvious, as if he were really trying to remain awake enough to answer. “Yes.”
“What controls are within reach?” Spock asked, while carefully studying the placement of the controls.
“About the same as here, you know, the gain levels and intensity amplification toggles.”
“You said the placement of the controls was different,” Spock asked sharply.
McCoy just about threw up his hands and gave up at that point. “It’s not exactly the fuckin’ same, but it might as well be!” he snapped. “What does it matter? He would have had to have programmed the entire machine before he could-“
“But he would not have had the time to program the transporter if the captain and the others were already waiting at the pads.”
“I don’t fuckin’ know, Spock!” McCoy yelled, slamming a fist on the surface of the transporter, narrowly missing a switch. “I wasn’t there, was I? I didn’t see what he did! I have no idea what he did or how. You’re the Godamn scientist, you figure it out!”
Spock raised an eyebrow and turned his attention to the transporter for a while, giving McCoy enough time to cool down a bit. “You may retire to your quarters now, Doctor,” he said. “We will negotiate further tomorrow morning.”
The human relaxed. “Gonna follow me and make sure I don’t try to sneak off?” he sneered.
“You have earned the freedom to be alone for tonight, Doctor,” Spock said. “Please get some rest.”
When McCoy left, Spock was overcome with a vague dread. He worried that the intruder would betray his trust somehow, although he could not imagine any logical reason for him to sabotage anything. He wasn’t sure what he was feeling exactly, especially since he was trying to replace such pointless emotions with a careful study of the transporter’s controls, but no matter how hard he tried to concentrate, he could not get him out of his head.
Chapter 15: Torture Me for Love
M!Spock “prepares” McCoy to go and appease the captain
Warm fingers snaked up his tunic, forcing past the sash tied tightly around his waist, as even warmer lips brushed across his throat. A hot, wet tongue traced along the outlines of his ear, giving the pointed tip a sneaky flick, while a forceful hand ripped off the impeding sash and ripped open the tunic.
Once again Spock would have to exit the captain’s quarters with the buttons ripped off his tunic, hoping to disappear into his own stateroom unnoticed.
“What’s gotten into your pet lately?” Kirk hissed in Spock’s ear, holding him against he wall with his hands firm on the Vulcan’s hips. He cut off any attempt at an answer by overtaking Spock’s lips with his own, forcing his tongue deep inside, snagging his lips with his teeth. Kirk’s fingernails scratched deep at flesh that would be covered beneath a tunic, while his lips brushed harmlessly over skin that would be remain exposed.
Spock was passive, leaning against the wall with his hands lightly brushing on Kirk’s thighs, pulling on the cloth of his pants when the touch of Kirk’s lips became too intense to bear without some kind of reaction. His body was slack and open, freely inviting to the captain’s rough groping, but his mind was closed, turned off. Unlike most humans, this one did not require any sort of communication during such moments, and Spock was grateful for that. He had a strong captain with an even stronger will, who did not seek anyone’s consent for his actions. Spock was content with this.
When he was given the chance to speak, Spock whispered back, “I have been increasing my attempt to break him, Sir. He is-” His breath caught in his throat as Kirk dragged his fingernails down his spine, causing him to lean against Kirk in an intoxicating mix of pleasure and pain. “He is still adjusting…”
Kirk slammed him against the wall, the force stunning him for a few seconds. He got a glimpse of Kirk’s dark eyes before the captain pressed his lips to his ear, one hand gripping his throat. “I would have killed him for refusing me like that, Spock,” he snarled.
“If he weren’t your toy, Spock…” He turned Spock around to push him face first into the bulkhead, gripping the back of his neck in a tight, painful hold. Spock grimaced and dug his fingers into the wall and tried to hiss out an answer.
Spock accepted Kirk’s fingers driving into his mouth, not so much eagerly as merely willingly. When he felt Kirk’s other hand drive between his legs, he moved himself more into the position he assumed the captain wanted him, hips jutting outward slightly, legs apart. He tried not to appear too eager as he did this, however, just moving as expected.
But as repressed as his movements were, Spock was fighting to control himself, really fighting. It had been a long time since he’d been touched by Kirk with more than pats on the shoulder, so he had almost forgotten what this was like, the physical desire and the necessity to please. The dark chuckles in his ear humiliated him.
“He will not displease you again, Captain,” he growled deep in his throat, rubbing his face against the wall. Kirk slowly pulled his fingers out, letting them slide wetly across Spock’s face. They scratched up his neck and drove through his hair, scratching like fire across his scalp.
“He went too far, Spock,” Kirk snarled, slipping a hand down Spock’s pants. Spock pressed his lips together tightly and fought to keep any sound inside, his fingernails scratching the paint off the wall. He relaxed himself, giving no resistance whatsoever to Kirk’s fingers, and fought to keep himself still. A small groan escaped him as he wished he could push himself back, driving those fingers deeper inside. But Kirk would make him wait; he knew exactly where to touch that would be so close, and yet so far. “No one defies me like that.”
“I will punish him,” Spock hissed, feeling his face heat up, his entire body electrified from Kirk’s touches. He could feel each and every scratch that was left on his skin as his heart pounded. Kirk’s other hand pulling at Spock’s hip was the permission Spock needed to move. Biting his bottom lip now, Spock moved back as he was expected, but not a millimeter more. Despite himself, he let out a husky moan that Kirk chuckled at.
There was no way to tell how far this would go. There was never any warning with Kirk; even in all these years serving under him, Spock was still as hopeless at predicting him as anyone else on board. Submitting to him was like surrendering to chaos.
“If he gives me trouble like that again,” Kirk whispered, instructing Spock to stay still with a firm hold of his hand. “I won’t kill him.” He yanked his fingers out. “You will.” A sharp slap on the ass signaled that the games were over for the time being.
Green in the face, eyes averted, Spock turned around and adjusted his pants. The rustling of the fabric over his erection was torturous, and he knew he would not get the chance to take care of it soon. “Yes, Captain, I understand,” he said. When he did look Kirk in the eyes, he forced on his most professional of expressions: cold, almost daring.
He had to brush past Kirk, who of course would not budge an inch out of the way, to retrieve his sash from the floor. Just as Spock turned his back, Kirk slammed his fist down hard between the Vulcan’s shoulder blades, driving him to the floor. Spock knew to keep still as the captain pressed his boot into Spock’s neck, holding his head down. Spock clawed the floor but made no move of resistance even as the pressure on his nape made him feel like choking.
Kirk bent down to get a better look at his prostrate subordinate and smirked. “Don’t take too long.”
It looked so innocent. Just a small box-like device with one little switch, the only positions of which being on and off. As much as he’d love to break into it and study it more, McCoy worried he’d only get an electric shock. He was tempted to just throw the thing back in a drawer and forget about it; he was a doctor, not an engineer. Spock had to have been wrong.
But he couldn’t sake off the feeling that he was right. If he’d been born into this world, he thought, maybe he would have had this idea. The spot on his chest where Spock had pressed it didn’t hurt anymore, although he could quite easily recall that terrible feeling. It was like the flesh inside was being ripped apart, but numerous scans had shown that nothing had been damaged.
Of the things he had found here in Sick Bay already, the agonizer was the safest.
Then he began to wonder, he had he, his other self rather, been forced into designing this thing? Was it really as safe as he thought? He’d already seen scalpels much longer than necessary and other things hidden in a drawer or out in plain sight on a desk that were obviously torture devices. When he’d seen them before, he didn’t think anything of them, the idea of Sick Bay being an interrogation room not even registering his mind.
But then what kind of man would create something that seemed like he cared for human life, and yet turn his medical station into such a horrible place? McCoy wondered if his counterpart even knew.
Someone came up to him from the side while he was bent over studying the device, and he froze. That someone slid a hand up his hip, sliding up his shirt. Rough, long fingers, and that super-sweet, strong perfume.
“Here to kill me, Christine?” he asked softly, cursing himself for not hiding that knife on his person. He wondered if he could even reach it in time if he had.
“No,” she laughed, her voice low, soft, unsettling. “You’re safe, for now.” She leaned over the desk, taking the agonizer slowly. As McCoy’s gaze dropped to her hand, he caught sight of her eyes studying him, of her painted lips set in a small smile.
When she took her hand off McCoy’s back to hold the device in both hands, McCoy saw the bandages on her arm. Dark brown blood stained it in places. He watched her, not so much expecting her to attack him, but in fascination. Now that he was so close, he had the chance to better look at her, the fading bruises on her neck, the way her gaze was lost, as if she weren’t really seeing what was in front of her, but thinking about who knew what.
“Why don’t you let me take a look at that arm?” he asked, because he was genuinely concerned. Even if there were more torture than medical supplies in this place, there was no reason she should go around with primitive cloth dressings on that deep wound. If nothing else, it was unsanitary.
Her smile was soft and didn’t match her earlier behavior. “I’d have healed it by now if I could,” she said with a laugh.
“So why haven’t you?”
She leaned on the desk, the agonizer bouncing in her restless fingers. “You’ve got a guardian angel watching over you, Spock,” she cooed. She did not explain what that had to do with her arm, and McCoy didn’t ask. “You’re safe from any obvious murder. But don’t worry, darling,” she dragged her rough thumb across his cheek. “The second I figure out a natural death that won’t look too suspicious, you’ll be the first to know.”
McCoy moved away and glared, and she moved closer. “You men don’t know what you have,” she hissed. “How easy and fair life is for you. It’s taken me three years just to get this spot. Head nurse, a female? Unheard of.” She scoffed. “Makes me wish I were Romulan. They don’t care about gender, only strength. Power. Cunning.” She began to twirl her fingers through McCoy’s hair. The doctor had to grip the desk to stay balanced. As afraid of her as he was, her touch still felt good.
“But the fact that you’ve gotten this far should say something,” he whispered back, mind racing. He had to find out how this universe worked from her without making it obvious he didn’t belong. “If you just transferred-“
“I wouldn’t even if I could,” she snapped. “I’d go right back down to the bottom of the pecking order, you know that. I’ve had to fight for what little I have here; I’m not giving it up.”
McCoy went silent as she continued to stroke his hair, her gaze fixated into nothing. She had tried to kill him, he shouldn’t feel any pity or compassion for her. Even now he wouldn’t be surprised if she tried to strangle him right there. “Oh, how I miss the old days, Leonard,” she said wistfully, looking just past his head.
He resisted asking what she meant, and just made a noncommittal grunt, trying not to tense up as her fingers stroked from his hair down his neck. He didn’t know what to make of her smile. On anyone else, it would have put him at ease, as it seemed pleasant. But then, perhaps it really was.
“Back when I was just another low ranking orderly, back when my list was long and your name was so far off in the distance, we could pretend we had all the time in the world,” she cooed, wrapping both arms around his neck. He grunted quietly, but didn’t try to move her off; this wasn’t entirely uncomfortable.
With her arms still around his neck, her eyes still locked onto his, Christine jumped up to sit on the desk right behind her, pulling him downward slightly. His heartbeat began to race, and he gently put his hands on her hips, watching her face for any sign that this might be out of line. In his universe, he’d never consider treating his nurse in any but the most professional of ways.
And besides, his Nurse Chapel had always had a thing for Spock, not him.
Whatever her true feelings, there was something in her eyes that hooked him, and her touch tempted him to melt. “Things were so much simpler back then,” she sighed, tracing a finger across his lips. “I think you loved me then.” She smiled.
McCoy felt his face redden, and he tried to look away, but she maintained her soft grip on his face. “You think so, huh?” he pretended to tease.
This made her laugh and pull him even closer, leaning over to put her face close to his. He could smell her foundation now. “You loved me so much you helped me with some of my targets, even though that’d only make you that much closer to being next,” she whispered with a grin.
McCoy could barely suppress a shiver. “You think I did that for you?” he scoffed, cavalier now as he tried to piece these clues together. “And besides, now you’re too scared to finally do it,” he said, gasping when she drove fingernails across his scalp. He squeezed her hips as she brushed her lips on his throat, tongue tickling. “And you—you still have M’Benga in the way,” he whispered.
At this she laughed, a deep, low sound that spiked McCoy’s heart rate. But he would not dare to question her about this; if she had killed M’Benga, saying anything about it now would only draw attention to himself.
“I really do miss the old days, Leonard,” she said, and kissed him. Her kiss was soft, slow, delicate. Feminine in every way, opposite from the ones forced on him already in this universe. It was easy to lose himself in it, to close his eyes and kiss right back. He remained like that, with his eyes closed and his mouth open, waiting, as she pulled away, for a moment. By now she had her legs open with his body between them. “We were quite the pair, weren’t we?” she laughed, her fingers sliding beneath his jaw. She pursed her lips and made a face of mock despair. “If only we could go back to that.”
When he made a move to get away, she pressed her legs together harder, and he gave that up. “You know things are too different now,” he said, trying to act like he didn’t care. Just the right amount of disdain, yet not too much. “Hell, I’m different.”
“I’ve noticed,” she said, her voice suddenly cold, and McCoy’s heart sped up even faster. He couldn’t imagine what would happen if anyone found out he didn’t belong there, but he suspected it wouldn’t be good. Someone like this would most likely take that as a weakness to take advantage of. She held his jaw and stared into his eyes hard. “You’ve changed. That fire in your eye is gone.” For a moment her eyes seemed to hold back such sadness, McCoy was tempted to say something that would appease her. He stroked her hip instead. “I guess Spock claiming you was harder than you thought it’d be?” she suggested, and let go of his face and slipped off the desk before he could answer.
Idly she pawed through objects in the drawer, not really picking up or looking at anything. “I have to say I’m disappointed you finally broke down and let it happen,” she said.
“Why, because you’re worried that would take me away from you?” McCoy sneered.
She gave him a sparkling, toothy grin. “Oh, you’ll always be mine, Leonard. I don’t care who puts what kind of garish thing on you.” She sighed and lazily toyed with her hair. “Just promise me you don’t let anyone pressure you into retiring.”
He took a guess at what that meant. “Why not?” he asked, leaning on the desk. “Wouldn’t that be convenient for you, taking me out of the picture?”
“And have you end up like Janice?” she asked in a halted voice. For the first time since she’d sneaked up on him, her face was honest. She gazed at him with such a bleak expression, McCoy squirmed. “I’d rather you die now than let the captain destroy what little’s left of you!”
“I belong to Spock, not the captain,” he said, frowning.
She shrugged. “Does it matter? That just means you have two assholes to answer to, and Spock wouldn’t even let you give up your work, because you’re too good at what you do.” She sauntered closer, her lips stretching in a grin, and she grabbed him by the shirt. “No one can get answers like you.” With a chuckle, she pressed herself against him. “Or sew the poor bastard up when you’re done like you can.”
McCoy put his hands on her waist as she devoured his lips yet again. She took a breath long enough to hiss, “Almost as good as me,” before going at it again. McCoy gave back nearly as much as he got. His cuff rubbed up her body, banging into her elbow a few times as he ran his hands across her body. Her scent was pungent and sweet, her lips fierce and sharp on his. He had her lipstick on his teeth by now, her heavy breathing down his throat.
Suddenly Christine stopped and shoved McCoy away. Wiping her lips with the back of her hand, she turned to glare at Spock, who stood at the doorway, glaring right back at them both. She backed up when Spock came for her, the fear of him reducing her to a shaking wreck raising her bandaged arm as if in a pitiful defense.
“Spock!” McCoy shouted, running to put himself between them. He realized with chagrin that he had used that name for the bearded Vulcan, but it had been out of urgency, nothing else. “She didn’t-it was my-“
“Quiet,” Spock snapped, grabbing McCoy by the crook of the arm. Without another glance at Christine, he took McCoy from Sick Bay, and didn’t speak a word to him or slow down his pace until they reached his quarters.
The air in Spock’s room was such a sharp contrast to the air in the passageways, it felt like a slap in the face. Searing, dry heat rushed through his lungs as Spock locked the door behind them. Already he felt eager to leave this room, but he knew by now not to expect that any time soon. McCoy stood by the door, watching Spock walk over to the bed. Heavy shadows burrowed into the folds of Spock’s clothing, at the hollows of his cheeks and eyes when he turned around.
“Remove your clothing,” Spock said.
McCoy felt his jaw tighten, but made no other move. He knew it was dangerous to disobey, but he couldn’t bring himself to just obey him blindly. Nor did he have the gall to flat out tell him no, either. He tensed and took a few steps back as Spock approached him, flinching as his wrist was grabbed tightly and yanked forward.
“I could kill you for disobeying me, slave,” he growled.
McCoy was a mixture of defiance and fear, cringing from Spock’s harsh looks and squeezing fingers, but staring back with a cold glare. “If you were ever going to kill me, you would have already,” he snarled back.
“I am trying to give you a chance to learn your place, so such means are-“
“I don’t mean me!” McCoy interrupted and yanked his hand back. Spock did not let go, but was pulled forward, closer to the human. His eyes looked even darker and more hollow as the closeness kept some of the light off his face. “I mean the other me. You loved him, but you couldn’t control him, isn’t that right?”
“He was nothing like you,” Spock said through gritted teeth.
“Then why’d you kidnap me?” McCoy demanded, lurching forward a bit as he snapped at him. He was already beginning to sweat beneath clothes that were entirely too hot for this habitat. But he would die of heatstroke before he’d strip willingly for Spock. “Obviously you wanted him, you still do! And you think you can have it both ways with me, huh?”
“I will not discuss this with you now,” Spock answered flatly. “We do not have the time.”
“Fine, I’ll get to the point,” McCoy sneered. “You wouldn’t kill him, no matter what he did. Don’t waste your empty threats on me.”
“Perhaps not,” Spock said, eyes narrowing. “But I would kill you if I were ordered to.” This took McCoy off guard, giving Spock the chance to force off his shirt. He didn’t try to stop Spock from stripping him, but he didn’t make the job any easier, keeping himself still, arms crossed, leaving the work to Spock.
“Why would anyone order that?” he snapped. “I thought I’m under your protection.” The derision in his voice was obvious.
Spock slid an arm to the undersides of McCoy’s knees and put his other arm beneath his back and lifted the human in one sudden movement. McCoy reached for Spock’s shirt as a reflex. Carrying him to the bed effortlessly, Spock answered, “You are safe from everyone but the captain.” He half dropped, half lay the human down. “You are mine, and that protects you from everyone else, but anything that is mine, is also the captain’s.” Now that McCoy was off his feet, Spock pulled off his boots and then slipped his hand beneath the human’s nape, holding his head up.
Pulling McCoy closer by the back of the neck, Spock knelt by the bed and leaned close to him. “Right now you are in danger from him,” he said quietly. “You do not understand the insult you did to the captain by refusing him. Never in the past has your counterpart done such a thing, nor anyone else for that matter.”
McCoy stared back for a moment, a sinking feeling in is stomach. “And I take it an apology won’t be enough?”
“You have always been one of the captain’s favorites, Leonard,” Spock nearly whispered. The fact that Spock said “you” and not “your counterpart” jarred McCoy, but it was symbolically true. He could privately reject the past he had assumed by being here, but he could not escape from it. “He will forgive you, but only if we go about this correctly.” Spock looked down for a moment, then locked eyes with McCoy, his eyes even colder than before. “I will have to punish you before you may meet with the captain again.”
McCoy stiffened and felt his heart race. “I bet you’ll enjoy that,” he whispered, too apprehensive to add any rancor to his voice.
“I would enjoy it far more if I were doing it for my own pleasure, rather than for the captain’s sake,” Spock stated matter-of-factly.
There had been plenty of times in the past when McCoy had felt himself at the Vulcan’s mercy. When some external force or extreme provocation drove the two at each other’s throats, literally or otherwise, and even with the shock and the feeling of frailty at the Vulcan’s hands, McCoy had always known, in the back of his mind, that in the end, his friend would not hurt him. And even beyond the friendship, there had been love between them, although it had never been acknowledged. McCoy did not need to be a telepath to know that. But if there were love between himself and this version of Spock, then it was not the kind he could find safety in. McCoy knew there was no safety from his supposed protector.
There was no point to begging or attempts at escape. Not only would that prove fruitless, this Spock did not deserve that satisfaction. “Get it over with,” he hissed.
“Thank you for your permission, Doctor,” Spock sneered darkly, and pulled McCoy off the bed. He pushed him along to kneel at one of the bedposts, face towards the wooden post. “Do not move.”
McCoy remained still as he tried to listen to what Spock was doing behind him. Suddenly his skin shivered as if cold, even though the room was still as hot and stuffy as ever. Beads of sweat on his back pricked coldly. A vicious self hatred attacked him, as senseless as it was. Simply put, he was afraid. Afraid enough to want to beg for mercy. As Spock tied his wrists together around the post and then stood behind him, that urge screamed for attention in his mind, and he feared he would give into it. He hated himself for having that doubt in himself.
Gripping the bedpost, McCoy heard Spock go back to the drawer and tried to hear his every movement. He tried to guess what each object was that the Vulcan picked up or put back down. With so much drawn out, noisy activity behind him, he soon became convinced that this was part of the torment. Still, he dared not look behind him, afraid that any of his guesses would be true.
He felt Spock lather his back with what felt to be water, so easily it spilled down his skin, cooling as it covered him. A soft, sweet smell started to fill the room now, as if from that liquid. Just as he was trying to identify the scent, his body arched in a sudden spasm with the first sudden lash of a whip. His scream of pain came out delayed, as if he needed time to realize what had happened.
“Don’t move too much, Leonard,” Spock ordered in a low, dark voice. “I do not wish to miss the proper target.”
He was struck again before he could respond, and he could hardly catch his breath, let alone snark back. The water on his back made the lashes sting with a cutting, slicing quality. McCoy could understand if the captain needed to see his body marked up as evidence of the punishment, but what use could the liquid have but to increase the pain? Barely three lashes into it and McCoy was already in tears. He felt his skin break at every bite of the whip, and the dribbling liquid on his back could have been either that scented water or his own blood, or both.
He had not bothered to count, so had no idea how many had passed so far. Spock took his time, too, waiting as long as thirty seconds between each strike, and the wait varied. McCoy found himself waiting for the next lash in painful suspense, afraid to even breathe until it finally came. It caught him off guard and drove a moan or a cry from him every time.
That urge to beg was in the forefront of his mind now, and he began to rationalize with himself. Would it really make him a coward? Perhaps Spock was waiting for McCoy to say something before he stopped, and this could go on for hours if he remained stubbornly quiet. McCoy was no weakling, but he was not used to this kind of pain, and Spock should have known that. Perhaps this was a test, did McCoy care to try to pass it? Would it please Spock to resist begging, or would it anger him? Did he care?
He was sobbing freely now, after ten minutes of this. He had his head pressed against the bed post and clutched at it. There was a bruise on his face where he was knocked into the post with every spasm of his body. After a while he stopped yelling at and questioning himself and his mind went blank. He didn’t have the energy to think of anything but the brutal cutting of the lash, and the euphoric rush he got right after it. It was like being thrust in ice water over and over, with no chance to adjust to the cold.
In all this time, though, he had made a lot of noise, but never asked anything of Spock.
Like with every other lash, McCoy waited for the next one when Spock finally stopped. By now the pain had driven him to a strange, floating sort of state, where everything he felt seemed out of his own body. The wounds on his back pulsed in unison, throbbing. He was panting hard and fell on the bed by the post when Spock untied his hands. The sounds behind him faded into a dull roar as he felt himself drifting off, with only the strength of the pain keeping him awake at all.
His body was alive, electrified, his skin shivering, his brain overloaded with so many sensations, and blood pumped fiercely through his body. He kept fading in and out, one second about to fall asleep, the next gasping for breath as his body came alive with pain in time with his heart beat. He continued to cry softly, but he was slowly growing quiet and still.
He realized in the back of his mind that he was hard, and he wasn’t sure what to think about that.
He felt Spock lay hands on him, but it was as distant as a dream. Spock was gentle as he put an arm around McCoy’s chest to support him. And then he splashed alcohol on his back. The human gripped Spock, clutching at anything he could get hold of, and drove his face into the other’s chest, his scream lost in the fabric of Spock’s shirt. He wept uncontrollably, overcome by the sudden and blinding pain. His own heartbeat deafened his ears, and Spock’s heartbeat echoed in its slow, far off rhythm.
Spock held him in his lap, gentle now, and McCoy relaxed only because he was too tired not to. He did not feel safe or comforted in the Vulcan’s arms, but his body was awakening with a strong new feeling. The smell of Spock’s body, that familiar scent at the crook of his neck, even the smell of his clothes, clean and yet saturated with the life of the owner, was overwhelming to McCoy. It was familiar and brought back memories of his Spock, of times when he had been held or otherwise close to him.
McCoy pressed himself tighter to Spock as his mind chose this time to crush him with the grief of losing his friend. But it was more than that; he had never once dared to share his true feelings with the Spock of his world. Even if his Spock would have refused him, he could at least say that he tried. He would at least have been honest to Spock, and himself. It wasn’t till that moment, which saw him crying and bleeding in the arms of the very one that had hurt him, that he realized how much he loved his own Spock.
He clung to this Spock, the only one he would be with, he thought miserably, his grief turning into tenderness. He didn’t imagine this Spock as his own, but he held onto him as if he were the one he wanted, not caring what this Spock would think about this. All that mattered was that he needed his friend here more than ever, but he had to make do with what he had.
Spock gave him a few minutes of rest before moving on to the next phase. McCoy was compliant and cooperative as Spock got him back on the bed, surely thinking that Spock would let him rest further. The doctor didn’t even struggle as Spock drew his hands up above his head to fasten them to the headboard.
But soon enough McCoy realized what was happening, and he burst to life. His face was pale and moist, and redness spread on the sheets beneath him as he writhed, while Spock unsheathed his side knife. A small part of him thought to plead Spock with his eyes, but still he said nothing. Spock’s eyes were empty and expressionless as he sat on the bed right by him and leaned over McCoy. The tip of his knife glazed over the human’s cheek, and dragged down harmlessly to his throat. It encouraged McCoy to lift his chin as it slid over the skin just beneath his jaw.
Spock gripped the knife handle with one hand and rested it by McCoy’s face, so he could see the blade out of the corner of his eye. His other hand slid down his body, gripping between the human’s legs. McCoy nearly choked on his sharp gasp, and stared at Spock with wide eyes. He started to moan as Spock very slowly stroked his thumb over the head, and he raised his knees up, digging his toes into the sheets. He felt the handle of the knife cold against his face as Spock pressed his fingers against his temple and forehead while still holding the knife.
/James is a vulgar beast of a man/ he transmitted mentally, and McCoy lurched from the suddenness of the Vulcan’s presence in his mind. All at once every separate whip wound roared to life, but the pain paled in comparison to the urgent throbbing of his cock in Spock’s hand. /He is easily impressed by blood and obvious shows of submission at its most primal level. He will be most satisfied when I am finished with you/
“Spock, please!” McCoy blurted, all shame of begging and of using that name fading away. At the back of mind, he was fantasizing about his Spock rescuing him; he only knew he was thinking this because this Spock dragged those thoughts out to mock them and let them die.
/He does not understand the true nature of submission/ Spock continued, slowly sliding his hand out from between the human’s legs to caress its way up his body. Without much of a warning, Spock dug the tip of the knife into McCoy’s chest and dragged it down, opening a slick red line. When McCoy spasmed, that perfectly straight line was knocked off course, so it became jagged and crooked by the time it reached his navel. Blood billowed to the surface and trickled down the side of the human’s body, a rich dark red, almost black in the room’s lighting. Spock pushed the image of it into McCoy’s mind, so that he could see as well as Spock could, what it looked like.
/You cannot truly belong to anyone until you have given yourself freely/ Spock teased the skin of McCoy’s thigh for a moment before plunging in, making several small but deep cuts in his inner thigh, and then traced the tip of it harmlessly along the skin stretched over his hip bone. /And you will give yourself to me, Leonard. James will think you are his because you let him fuck you, but he will never have you as I will/
“You’re fucking crazy!” McCoy burst, although speaking took great effort. He couldn’t bring the energy to speak further, but he knew Spock understood what he wanted to say. Just as he knew the strange trance-like feeling that was paralyzing his body and numbing his mind was because of Spock, and he could not fight it.
/You’ve always wanted this/ Spock said through his thoughts, so loud and clear in the human’s mind. McCoy stared up at Spock, his mind forcibly open to whatever the Vulcan could suggest. A part of him was resisting, but he felt the strong temptation to give in. The pain of his body and the shock of being given yet another wound became less important than Spock’s presence. It still hurt just as badly, but it was merely in the background now.
/I could-/ McCoy attempted to communicate back, forcing himself to concentrate enough to do it mentally. /-never-/ /-want this/ It was difficult to concentrate enough to send that message at that moment, but he did notice that overall, it was getting easier to speak that way. It was becoming more natural.
/I saw this part of you when I melded with you, Leonard, and this is why I took you. You have wanted this from your own Spock but could never have that with him/ Spock lay the knife down on the bed and started stroking between his legs again. McCoy yelled and tried to writhe out of his grip, his heartbeat deafening.
/No! I don’t want to be a slave!/ he shouted through his mind.
/I saw this in you, as I see it in you even now. You can hide your thoughts from yourself, but you can’t hide them from me/
McCoy’s mind went silent as lust and physical need took over. If not for the hold on his mind, McCoy would have climaxed by now. Even when Spock let go and stroked the skin of his torso, that throbbing need did not fade. Every touch from the Vulcan was as powerful as if he were jacking him off.
/Your Spock was too much a coward to give you what you needed. He and I are the same man, only I am not afraid to take what I want/
McCoy tried to scream, but couldn’t. He could only stare with glazed eyes, and he panted heavily. Thankfully, Spock did not try to force his ideas onto him any further, and McCoy was afraid to think further on them. He focused on his physical feelings, and Spock encouraged this by amplifying his bodily awareness.
“You will think of me when you are with him,” Spock said, his voice smooth and rumbling, a strange sensation now that McCoy was used to his mental voice. That command sat heavily in McCoy’s mind as Spock untied him, but Spock did not say anything more about it. Slowly the Vulcan removed himself from McCoy’s mind, and the human began to experience his outside world normally again. He didn’t realize until Spock’s presence left how much sharper and bolder colors had been, how vivid his bodily sensations were. Now that Spock pulled away, everything looked flat and dead for a while.
Now Spock was all business again. He left McCoy on the bed as he wiped his hands on a clean part of the bed sheets and said, “A small amount of fighting is acceptable. The captain enjoys a certain amount of playful challenge.” He pulled McCoy off the bed and brusquely wiped his body down with a towel. “But you must be careful not to fight him too much,” he said, holding McCoy by the shoulders. McCoy gazed back lifelessly. He was barely hearing Spock. “Above everything else, you must please him. You must make him believe that you are sorry and that you are willing to submit.”
McCoy was shaking, but felt his strength begin to return, though perhaps it was adrenaline waking him up. He took his clothes when Spock handed them to him and started to slowly dress.
“Above all things, the captain craves conquest. Once he believes he has conquered you he will be satisfied and forget about you. You will be safe from him as long as there are others to distract him.”
While Spock washed his hands in the bathroom, McCoy got the chance to see himself in the mirror. His wounds were hidden, but his face was ashen and sweating, his hair a clumpy mess. He looked like a hollow shell of what he once was and felt a pang of terror that even if his Spock could find a way to find him, he would not recognize him.
McCoy took the knife from the bed and had it gripped hard in his hand by the time Spock returned from washing the human’s blood off his hands. Spock stopped. “I understand your desire to lash out at me, but you must know I will not let you get close enough to stab me.”
“You know what’s interesting?” McCoy sneered, his hand shaking. “You’ve marked up my body, both back and front, but you haven’t touched my face.”
McCoy knew he was on to something when Spock tightened his lips and frowned slightly.
“That was deliberate, wasn’t it? James wouldn’t like that, would he?”
Spock slowly approached. “Give me the knife.”
For the first time in days, McCoy felt the rush of pleasure at Spock’s carefully hidden distress. The Vulcan fought to keep his emotions hidden, but he could not hide the anxiety in his eyes when McCoy lifted the blade to his own face. It was intoxicating, this swelling, dark thrill at causing those feelings in Spock. For once he had some power. He wished he could make it last, but the longer he’d leave it, the more time he’d give Spock to make a grab for it; for the moment Spock still had doubts that McCoy would do it.
“You must a sad, lonely man to have to force someone to love you,” McCoy sneered, enjoying the attention for the moment. “I think you would have had a better chance with the other one; he never had the chance to experience what real love could be like.”
As Spock started after him, McCoy dodged and sunk the blade edge into his cheek and dragged it down, using his own adrenaline for courage. Then he flung the knife to the floor and threw his hands to his face, hissing at the pain. But when Spock grabbed him by the hair, he sneered at him. “Think he’ll like it?”
Spock’s free hand shook in a fist. “You idiot,” he snarled, shoving McCoy away. “What are you trying to do, get back at me? You can only hope he believes I did it. You have no idea what you’re doing!”
“What difference does it make now?” McCoy snarled. “Look at me! How could it get any worse?”
Gritting his teeth, Spock took hold of him again, clawing tightly at the human’s hair, and pulled him close. McCoy’s knees buckled and he fell weak in Spock’s grip, distressed at the savage treatment. Defiance was easy with Spock held safely at bay, but he was once again in the Vulcan’s grip.
“This was nothing,” Spock snarled. “I merely made it look like I punished you. This is hardly more than what the other one took on a regular basis without even flinching. If the captain wishes it, he can reduce you to a pitiful shell of a creature. Do you remember when we first brought the admiral on board?”
A forced grunt through closed lips was McCoy’s answer.
“Think back to the slaves, the women that served us drinks. One in particular, the blond, the most damaged of the group. Do you remember?”
He did remember her, and finally figured out why she was so familiar. He was so used to her hair piled high atop her head, and of course her being healthy and vibrant. “J-Janice?” he whispered.
“She displeased him one time too many,” Spock growled. “Now he keeps her alive as a warning to others.” He released McCoy’s hair and roughly fixed up his sash, tugging it tightly around the human’s waist. McCoy was unable to form coherent thoughts as Spock fixed the pins on his shirt and straightened his hair with his fingers.
Spock grabbed the back of his head firmly. “All you have to do is obey me,” he growled. “You may not believe it now, but everything I do is out of love for you.”
“You torture me for love?” McCoy hissed, glaring coldly back.
Spock didn’t hesitate. “Yes. The captain wanted you punished, for your own stupid mistake, and I have done so. You can hate me as much as you like, that is irrelevant to me, but you will follow my orders to the letter, without even thinking. I will go to any length required to break you, Leonard.” He pulled McCoy closer, so that their brows touched, and paused a moment. McCoy shivered and closed his eyes. There was so much anxiety roiling inside him, most of it coming from Spock through his skin. “I have always loved you, and I will have you. No one, not even you, will take you away from me.”
McCoy had gone straight to the captain’s cabin alone, having assured Spock he would not go anywhere else. He knew it wasn’t a matter of trust, but that he really had nowhere else to go. Facing this alone did grant McCoy a small but significant shred of dignity, and perhaps that was a small gift from Spock. McCoy would not chose to see it that way, of course. He was also given ample time before the cuff would go off. Supposedly the captain would be expected to meet with the admiral in approximately two hours, so Spock gave him three.
After activating the buzzer on the door, he was made to wait several minutes, the entire time wondering if he shouldn’t just give into cowardly impulses and take off. The door zipped open before he could come to a decision, and he walked in as if pulled by strings.
The captain had been at his desk by the mirror, fixing his hair as McCoy timidly walked in. His smile was dark and large as he turned, but then it dropped when he got a good look at the doctor. His glare was harsh as he approached McCoy, it took a lot for McCoy to stay still. Kirk dragged his thumb along the jagged wound on McCoy’s face. “Who did this?” he asked in a low voice, and wiped the blood on McCoy’s shirt.
His heart pounded and he blurted, “Spock.” Instantly he burned with shame; that was cowardly and low, he thought.
Kirk narrowed his eyes and shook his head, growling softly to himself. But just as quickly his mood changed again, his face lighting up into a harsh grin, his eyes alive. This shift didn’t put McCoy at ease. He plucked at McCoy’s shirt and grunted, “Get rid of this.”
McCoy grit his teeth and stripped as quickly as he could with shaking hands, his mind relatively empty. All he could really think about was his now distant memory of what Janice Rand had been reduced to. He kept telling himself to just try to make it through whatever the captain had planned for him, and he should be OK. Relatively.
Both men inspected each other once McCoy had finished. McCoy tried to stand straight, but ended up slouching out of tiredness and the pain all over his body, and self-consciously tried to cover himself with his hands. While the cool air in this room, so different from Spock’s quarters, cooled his bare skin, McCoy took in all he could of Kirk’s appearance. This Kirk was even more different from the one he was used to than the Spock of this world was to his own. This Kirk was considerably fitter than his, his arms tight and toned, his face gaunt, making his Kirk seem to be soft and out of shape in comparison.
But his physical appearance wasn’t even the half of it. Even the Spock of this world retained at least a shell of what McCoy was used to; he could believe that they were essentially the same man. But this man circling him now, gazing up and down at his body as if it were a freshly hung carcass, this man could not have been more alien. Even with his smug, wolfish grin, McCoy saw a darkness in his eyes that made him wonder what had happened in his past. This man was not his warm and cheerful friend by any stretch of the imagination.
The captain grabbed McCoy from behind, holding him tightly in his arms, and took him to his bed. Being shoved against the man’s uniform split the wounds on his back open, and blood spilled onto the golden vest, some of the bright red droplets bouncing off the slick surfaces of all those metallic bits sewn into the cloth.
He sat McCoy down on the bed and sat next to him, pulling him in for a cold hug. The harsh surface of his top scratched at the cuts, and Kirk’s hands fully explored his back, but McCoy tried not to struggle. He felt a sick panic sitting here with Kirk, quite unlike what he had felt with Spock.
Kirk pulled him up onto his lap and kissed him savagely, not even giving McCoy the time to breathe. Only when Kirk lifted his mouth for a split second could McCoy greedily steal a gasp of air. He gave up trying to keep up with Kirk, but it didn’t matter anyway; obviously the captain did not expect McCoy to kiss back, but to just fully accept his kiss. Soon McCoy felt tears wet the corner of his eyes as his wounds screamed with pain. Kirk was scratching his back with no regard to the lash marks, tearing through the wounds, spilling even more blood down his back.
Holding the back of McCoy’s head, pressing his brow against the other’s, Kirk finally stopped and panted for a moment. The two were quiet, both bodies raging with red-blooded life; McCoy couldn’t help but compare the feel of a human body pressed against him after so long with a Vulcan.
“What do you have to say for yourself?” Kirk hissed, his eyes blazing so fiercely from beneath his brow that McCoy had to look away. He was distinctly aware of the captain’s scent, and how different it was from Spock’s, how…alien it seemed to him now.
Shivering slightly, McCoy grunted, “I’m sorry, Sir.”
“Is that all?” Kirk challenged, the grip of his fingers tightening enough to make the other gasp.
“It was wrong to refuse you!” McCoy blurted, his voice pitiful, miserable. “I-I’m very sorry for that, Captain, it’ll never happen again.” He wasn’t sure what he was expected to say, and hoped that would be enough. Verbally, at least.
A cold grin spread on Kirk’s face and he let out a rumbling chuckle. “So then why did you?”
McCoy stammered incoherently for a moment. He had not been expecting this. “I-I just-“
“Yes?” Kirk asked sweetly, stroking McCoy’s hair.
“I must have b-been stressed,” he said, shaking.
McCoy searched his mind for anything to grab onto that wouldn’t betray him. Then he noticed the weight of the cuff on his wrist, and pointed to it. “This,” he said. “It all happened so fast, I was not myself.”
This didn’t seem to convince Kirk. His expression didn’t change, but he didn’t say anything for a while. Finally he said, “And here I was thinking you didn’t like me anymore.” His tone was cold and sarcastic. It made McCoy shudder.
“Of course I do,” he whispered half-heartedly, staring hard into Kirk’s eyes.
“Hmmm. Are you happy with him?” he asked, a dangerous edge to his voice.
“Well,” McCoy stalled, unsure how to answer. He imagined something bad happening either way, but he chose the answer that he hoped would appeal to Kirk’s vanity. “No, I hate him,” he said.
Kirk’s laugh should have assured him that that was the right answer, but McCoy didn’t feel secure. With that chuckle still in his voice, he pointed to the floor at his feet and said, “Why don’t you show me how sorry you are.”
McCoy barely hid a grimace as he slid onto the floor on his knees. He crawled between Kirk’s spread legs, but didn’t know what to do after that. Should he touch him? Should he wait? Thankfully, Kirk did not expect him to do anything but wait as he took his time unzipping his pants. His cock hit McCoy on the face when he let it out, and the doctor jumped, his entire body tense and on edge. He felt like gagging right that moment, but he knew he wouldn’t have such a luxury. Blocking his nasal passage, he opened his mouth and took it in.
No sooner had he put his lips around it did Kirk shove himself further in, choking him. Kirk pushed all the way in and held McCoy’s head still. McCoy fought to keep from retching; he fought for breath and clawed at the slick, knee high boots flanking him.
“I suppose you’ve taken this transition a bit harder than I expected,” Kirk hissed, finally pulling himself out enough just enough for McCoy to draw breath. He pumped hard into him; McCoy feared he would throw up with every thrust. It hit the back of his throat and blurred his vision with the force of it.
Kirk yanked McCoy off him and held him tight by the hair. “I’m more than a little disappointed,” he sneered. McCoy just stared back, gasping now that he had the chance to breathe. “Well?” he shouted, further confusing the kneeling man. “Are there going to be any further problems?”
“No, Sir!” McCoy sputtered immediately. Even though he knew his next destination would most likely be Spock’s quarters, he still desperately wanted this to end.
Kirk glared coldly for a moment, inspecting him. Fear gripped McCoy’s heart as he sat there, helpless, with his own blood glinting in the bright light on the captain’s shirt. He felt even now a few rivulets snake down his back.
“Get up here,” he snapped as he got off the bed. McCoy crawled up onto the bed, every movement torturous, and sat with his knees drawn up by the pillow as Kirk undressed. Memories of the first time he had been in this situation came back to haunt him, the triumph he had felt in fighting the captain off now sitting like shame in his mouth. If he had only acquiesced then, he would not have to go through this now. Now that he had shown a trace of defiance that his counterpart obviously had never dared to show, his life depended on pleasing the captain to make up for it.
But wasn’t it always like that in this world?
For a moment McCoy could only concentrate on Kirk’s nude body as he slowly made his way to the bed. Not a trace of fat, every inch of his body efficient, strong. There were the shadows of old scars scattered along his torso, he noticed, as well as one on his thigh.
Eying McCoy with a predatory stare, Kirk crawled up the bed to perch himself above McCoy, who lay himself flat on the bed beneath him. He lowered himself down on the doctor, sliding his hands up the other’s arms till they reached the wrists, and he pinned them down by his head. He had to hold down McCoy’s hand where the bulky metal cuff got in the way of his wrist.
The captain’s breath washed hot and moist against McCoy’s throat, biting, rough kisses soon to follow. His skin, moist from the buildup of sweat, and salty for the same reason, slid and pressed into McCoy’s bare skin, torturing the knife wounds. McCoy sighed loudly and moaned as the larger body held him down, overtaking his body completely. Kirk moved his hands from McCoy’s to slide down and settle on his shoulders. This, however, did not inspire any thoughts of trying to take advantage of that slight freedom.
The kisses on his neck turned into a bite that pressed down on his jugular. His various pains began to fade together as an echo in the back of his mind as he started to lose consciousness. He tried to fight Kirk off, but his weak attempts were easily ignored. When Kirk finally let go, McCoy’s sensations and senses came flooding back, making him gasp and clutch at Kirk.
He was getting hard, but his body was not nearly as responsive as it had been with Spock. McCoy blamed that on the fact that he was too overwhelmed with pain and fear to be able to concentrate on lust as well. The sensation of Kirk’s cock rubbing on his own and his groping hands was powerful and pleasurable, but he still just wanted this to end.
Lifting himself off slowly, Kirk barked for McCoy to reach into the bedside table for his bottle of lube. “Go on,” he snapped when McCoy offered it to him, staring stupidly. His hands shook so badly he nearly dropped the little bottle as he opened it. He squeezed some in his hand and coated Kirk’s cock with it in such a lifeless, awkward way, as if he had no idea what he was doing. He didn’t dare look up at Kirk, but he could only imagine him glaring down at him.
Kirk slapped him and snatched the tube away, only to throw it across the room. “What’s the matter?” he snarled. “Distracted?”
“No,” McCoy muttered as Kirk spread the lube over himself in rigorous, rough strokes. McCoy felt himself blush, and he cast his eyes away.
“Still stressed?” he sneered.
“I-I’m fine,” McCoy whined, wondering where this was going. //How the fuck do you expect me to feel?// he wanted to scream. Drawing his hands across his chest, McCoy turned his face and wished Kirk would just get on with it.
Kirk grit his teeth and grabbed McCoy between the legs hard. “Then what’s this?” he yelled as McCoy screamed out. He squeezed harder and very nearly lifted the doctor by it, and leaned down to snarl, “Why aren’t you hard?”
“Please!” he yelled. “I don’t know, I don’t know! It’s not you, I swear!” He looked hard into Kirk’s eyes. It might have been useless to appeal to any compassion, but there wasn’t anything else he could do. Spock had not prepared him for this; he knew he was expected to submit, but he couldn’t believe he also had to appease the man’s ego.
A long, fierce glare, and Kirk slapped McCoy’s hip. “Turn over,” he snapped.
McCoy scrambled over to lie prone, fighting with the bulky blankets. It made him sick for a moment to see them stained with his blood, but he lay his head down and tried to turn his brain off. He felt Kirk lift his hips, and his thighs tensed up as he tried to balance himself. Barely a second later Kirk was forcing himself in, but with the thick coating of lube, he managed to push all the way in after just a few seconds. McCoy screamed into the blankets, tensing despite the fact that doing so would only hurt more.
With each thrust, a vague pleasure was building up until it almost overpowered everything else. It was intense, but hardly pleasant. Whether he wanted it or not, he was soon bucking himself back against Kirk, panting and clawing at the sheets.
“That’s more like it!” Kirk snarled, giving him an extra hard thrust. He held McCoy’s hips and fucked him with a powerful rhythm without needing to slow down. It was relentless and savage; as much as his body howled with an awakening lust, McCoy desperately wanted it to end.
As he began to get lost in these overwhelming sensations, he remembered what Spock had said. “You will think of me when you are with him.” He was disturbed by that thought, and tried to push it out of his head. He hadn’t thought to try to imagine Kirk as anyone else, because he didn’t want to invest himself in what was happening emotionally. Imagining that this Kirk were anyone he actually cared for would have been vulgar, he thought.
He bit into the blankets as he fought with his own mind now. Telling himself he would not think of Spock, the one of this universe, only made him do exactly that. His smug prophecy rang through his head, as clearly as if Spock were right there, snarling it in his ear, or forcing the thoughts into his head. He began to grunt “no, no,” to himself as his mind tormented him. Now he was imagining it was the Spock of this universe fucking him, digging his fingers into his hips, dragging his tongue along the oozing whip wounds, and he couldn’t stop.
And he didn’t want to.
Without a Vulcan mind to control his own, McCoy felt he would climax very soon, without even being touched. With his hips up, he was not in contact with the bed, and Kirk was not interested in getting him off, obviously. Yet he felt any minute now, he would come, all because he imagined so vividly that it was Spock riding him, he almost believed that were true.
As he got closer, he panted in ragged breaths, moaning loudly, eyes squeezed shut. He gripped the blankets hard as he finally came, driving his head into the mattress, howling out, “Spock!”
Kirk stopped immediately. McCoy froze and opened his eyes, the two of them quiet and still for an agonizing moment. “What?” he hissed, still inside him.
McCoy felt Kirk throb inside him and shook with fear. Anything could happen in the next second, and he was hardly in the position to defend himself easily, but he dared not move. There was no point to say anything, for explanations, he thought.
Kirk pulled out and turned McCoy over onto his back with a hand closed around his throat, shoving his head into the mattress. His teeth bared as he growled, shaking McCoy slightly with his squeezing hand. McCoy clawed at his hand, his body sluggish from exhaustion. A part of him was giving up, he realized, trying to tell him that it would better this way. Better to die now than to go on one more minute in this place, with such people.
But he wanted to fight it. Even if he had more of this to look forward to, the doctor did not want to die. He kept trying to pry Kirk’s hands off his throat and even tried to throw his knees up to hit him. It felt like trying to fight from waking from a dream, but he didn’t stop struggling until Kirk let go.
He wheezed and rolled over to his side as Kirk got up. The captain was still hard, his body glistening, and he tore into his drawers with a powerful, impatient rage. McCoy flinched at every slammed drawer, every random object thrown to the floor. In a few minutes Kirk was fully dressed, and came over to the bed. He seized McCoy’s hair and pulled him off the bed, almost dropping him. With a growl, he slammed him hard into the bulkhead and punched him across the face. McCoy threw his hands up to protect his face as he saw Kirk start to swing again, causing the captain to punch the cuff.
Shaking his hurt hand, Kirk growled like an animal and took hold of McCoy’s cuffed arm and smashed it against the part of the wall that jutted out in a sharp right angle by the door. He then let McCoy drop to the floor, cradling his arm, and went back to his dresser. He threw a thin robe down to the kneeling, moaning man. The silken robe fluttered to the floor by his knees as he felt his arm. It was broken.
“Get up!” Kirk yelled. McCoy stood up as quickly as he could, almost falling a few times, and did his best to put the robe on with one hand. With an impatient growl, Kirk tied the front for him and then slapped the wound on his face. “Get rid of that,” he growled. As McCoy grunted an answer, Kirk took his own knife from his belt and sliced an identical cut down the other cheek before McCoy even knew what was happening. “Only I can mark you where it shows,” he hissed, pointing at him with his knife. “You tell him that.”
McCoy didn’t speak or even nod, he just stared dumbly.
Kirk gathered up McCoy’s uniform and with a press of a few buttons, opened the door to his cabin. Then he shoved the man out and threw his clothes out into the passageway. He took hold of McCoy’s nape, shaking with rage. McCoy felt surreal in his hold, floating almost. Everything was happening so fast, he could hardly process it. If the captain were to stab him right now, it would come as no surprise.
“Go on back to your master,” he growled through gritted teeth. “You better stay out of my sight for a while.”
McCoy tried to answer, but Kirk shoved him away and disappeared back into his cabin, his door zipping shut, cutting him off.
His uniform lay heavily on his broken arm, and the robe was already stained through with blood on both sides.
Chapter 16: Imposter
Dorek, now a refugee on the Enterprise, tries to befriend Spock. M!McCoy and Spock have a confrontation
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Spock had finally decided to exit the transporter bay, because his inability to somehow conjure up a brilliant solution or observation just by staring at the controls was proving too much to bear. He knew his mental discipline had limits, and as long as he respected them, he could maintain said discipline. However, he could not rid his mind of the desperate pressures weighing down on him to return his friend to his rightful place, and just how impossible that continued to seem.
And even worse, he knew that if he were to consult another Vulcan on this problem, he would be told to make peace with the current situation. It would be a waste of time to continue wrestling with this insolvable problem. It would be madness.
Spock stopped and frowned slightly, recognizing that voice. He turned a hard, stony face to the Romulan addressing him. He had such a look of childish excitement on his face, it only added to Spock's irritation. He glanced just behind the other to see two officers watching them, their hands hovering over their phasers.
“Captain,” Spock replied stiffly. He stood up straighter and grasped his hands behind his back. He shot a look to the guards to assure them he did not feel threatened. “I trust your stay so far has been comfortable?”
“Oh yes, yes,” Dorek replied, waving his hand dismissively. “I'm fine. My crew is fine, before you ask. I just...well, I had hoped that I could spend a little time talking to you.” He turned his eyes up to Spock. They were hopeful, eager. No trace at all of attempting to hide his feelings, unless, of course, this was just some kind of deception.
Spock started walking down the hall way again, but in a way that encouraged Dorek to follow. His first impulse was to send the Romulan back to his quarters, but he was sure the captain would not wish for his “guest” to become angry with any of them. “We can speak in the rec room, Captain--”
“Oh, please, call me Dorek. Not only is it so much less formal, but considerably more accurate, given the circumstances.”
“Very well, Dorek. Keep in mind, however, that I do not have long.” He lengthened his stride, and with the Romulan and his escorts in tow, made it to the turbo lift. They were quiet and anxious to leave that confined space as they went to the appropriate deck. Spock took the lead out, and even quickened his pace, forcing Dorek to practically jog to keep up. He told himself this was to help impress how he busy he was, but if he were honest with himself, he'd know that to be only one reason.
As soon as they entered, the few officers there, whether by personal volition or by the stern looks on the escorts' faces, left. Spock stood by the replicator and asked, “Would you care for anything?”
Dorek sat down at the table. “Oh, just a glass of water. Thank you.” His pleasant tone irritated Spock, but he made no sign of that as he returned with two glasses of water. After placing them at their appropriate spots, he sat down next to the other.
“What is it you wish to speak to me about?” he asked, while Dorek had the glass to his lips. “Would you prefer to speak to the captain? If I asked him-”
“Oh, no, no,” Dorek answered, placing down his glass. “No, Commander, I wanted to speak with you specifically. I do hate to take up any of your time, Sir, and I do realize how busy you must be-”
“Would this have anything to do with my heritage, Captain?”
For just a second, they locked eyes, and Spock wondered if the young Romulan would once again request the far more personal form of address. Or if he would take offense to the rather cold tone of voice Spock used. And he did indeed look slightly deflated, and took a moment for him to compose himself to answer. This gratified Spock. He did not want the Romulan to think it was possible to charm him.
“It does, Sir,” he answered finally. He idly traced a knuckle along the curve of his glass and didn't look up at Spock while he spoke. “I had very much hoped to talk with you a little bit about the teachings of Surak.” Here, he did look up, with that same hopeful, vulnerable expression on his face.
“Any of the ship's computers can supply with you all the information you need,” Spock answered. “And the ship's library contains documents that should be more than sufficient.”
Dorek smiled, as if Spock's answer amused him and mattered little. As if he had been expecting it. That only made Spock more determined to be stubborn. “Sir, you may be surprised to learn that I have, in fact, studied quite a bit about the culture and philosophy if your people extensively before leaving Romulus. I've had my fill of what the dry computers can give me.”
“Unless you want personal anecdotes of my childhood,” Spock countered, with an attitude that would be cocky for him, “I fail to see how I can fill in any gaps in your self-education. Perhaps if I knew the reasons behind this curiosity, Captain, I could better assist you.”
For a moment, Dorek's previously smug expression faded, as he stared into his water glass and a very slight haze of green passed over his face. His apparent struggle in explaining his reason gave Spock cause for concern, as if perhaps the captain had less than honorable intentions he wished to keep secret.
So he softened, just a tad. He didn't want this man to close up completely. If Dorek had any treacherous plans, it was doubtful he'd come right out and reveal them, but there could be much to learn from more subtle, unconscious clues. “Dorek, let me make something clear with you. The security of this ship is my number one priority. If you tell me anything that would suggest to me that you would pose a threat, I will be obliged to take action. But anything else you tell me, I will regard as personal information imparted to me in confidence. Even if the captain were to ask me what we have discussed, if it doesn't relate to the ship or her crew, I would not tell him without your explicit permission. I take such matters very seriously.”
And, as Spock had hoped, the Romulan relaxed. He turned his glance back up at Spock and said with a slight grin, “I appreciate that, Spock. And I trust that whatever I say does indeed stay between us. As long as they are personal matters,” he added with an indulgent grin.
“Just as I must trust that whatever you tell me is honest,” Spock countered.
“It seems that mutual trust is mutually binding?” Dorek quipped.
Spock narrowed his eyes very slightly as he tried to read Dorek's face. He couldn't detect anything insidious, but doubted he'd ever have reason to lessen his suspicions. Nothing could change that fact that this was a Romulan he was speaking to. “If you choose to see it that way.”
Dorek flashed a wide smile and glanced back down at his glass. “To answer your question, Sir, I...and I do hope you don't think it incredibly silly of me or even worse, disrespectful, but I wish to become Vulcan myself.” He looked up to see Spock gazing back at him, as impassive as a brick wall. The color drained from his face and he turned slightly in his seat. “I really don't mean disrespect, and like I told you, I have been studying-”
“I believe you are underestimating the reality of your goal, Captain,” Spock interrupted. “You are talking about trying to immerse within yourself nearly 2000 year's worth of cultures and traditions that have evolved isolated from yours, and have been ingrained into the minds and souls of all of us who claim T'Khasi as home. Watching a few data-tapes-”
“But I haven't just been watching tapes!” Dorek interrupted right back, and then visibly calmed himself, realizing that it would hardly help his argument if he indulged in such displays of emotion. Slowly, deliberately, he focused on the water glass and continued, “You don't understand. You might seem to think that all Romulans love their Senate. The tyrannical government, the secret police! Well, we don't. I don't. And until the very day I decided to escape that nightmare, I was living with the very worst of them.” He turned his attention back to Spock and leaned closer. This act made the guards nervous, and Spock made a small gesture with his hand to them, signaling he was alright. “My father is Tal Shiar,” Dorek whispered.
This did not alarm Spock overmuch, and he really didn't have much sympathy for this man. In fact, now he was beginning to see this as some kind of family dispute. He could just imagine Dorek's father, accompanied by a dozen war birds, crossing into Federation Space to retrieve his runaway son. He did respect the promise he had made, but decided this was something that could not be kept secret. “When you report to Star Fleet Command, it would be wise to discuss that. They will find out anyway, but if you are as open and honest as you can be, things should go well for you. You do realize I will have to inform the captain of this as well?”
Dorek rolled his eyes and made a decidedly un-Vulcan-like expression of dismissal. “Fine. Tell him. I'll tell him myself if he asks. I'm happy to use that as evidence against my father, and help you understand my need to get away!”
“How does embracing another culture help anything? And, forgive me if this may seem rude, but I doubt your government allows much information regarding outsiders to the public. It would seem to me that your father would especially prove as an impediment. So how would you even know enough about it to desire to devote your life to it?”
Dorek leaned in again. “Because things slip through, Spock. People slip through.” He leaned back, pulling himself away from Spock, and sighed. “Things need to change, Sir. And I'm not the only one who feels this way, but we are terrified to speak up. These...teachings. They work for you. Am I not just a descendant of those who originally rejected them? I don't see why I can't try to find my way back.”
For a slight moment, Spock had felt a glimmer of compassion for Dorek. A moment of understanding, especially when he spoke of his father. But it was that very understanding that inspired uncomfortably conflicting feelings and snapped him out of whatever pleasant mind set he now believed this man was trying to inspire in him. For all Spock knew, Dorek could be a spy. In fact that was seeming more and more to be the case. Further, it was insulting to him that this Romulan should even think he had any business trying to convert to a way of life that was by nature beyond him. And even more insulting to imagine that Dorek was making this all up in the hopes of appealing to his ego.
No, Spock decided. This was laughable at best. And it wasn't his job, anyway. Let Star Fleet Command deal with him and his stories. He stood up, compelling Dorek to somewhat awkwardly rise as well. The guards eyed them. “Captain, I'm afraid I have no more time for conversation,” he said, and Dorek lowered his head. He waited, simply out of politeness, for the Romulan to raise it again to give him a chance to offer his farewells, although he was sorely tempted to leave just like that.
“I am very sorry to have offended you,” he said, his head still down, emotion thick in his voice. When he looked up, his eyes were tinted green but his expression was hard, steely. “I won't take up any more of your time.” He swiftly left the rec room, his escorts hurrying along behind him.
Spock felt he'd achieved a victory. The Romulan would certainly avoid him in the future, and he even thought that if any of what Dorek had claimed was true, he'd surely be rethinking those goals now.
But as he turned around to leave, his self-satisfaction dropped. McCoy was leaning against the bulkhead by the door, and he had quite a smug grin on his face. The doctor sauntered in, coming closer to Spock, who walked around the other side of the table. He did not bother to hide the intentions of this act; he kept his eyes on McCoy as he made it clear he would not allow him any closer.
“Was that amusing to you, Doctor?” he asked. “Did you enjoy watching me lecture the Romulan? Revenge, perhaps?”
McCoy's grin stretched as he chuckled softly and rolled his eyes. He crept around the table in slow but steady pursuit. So far McCoy was blocking Spock's way to the door. Of course, Spock could escape...if he broke out into a run. “I will admit I do enjoy seeing a Romulan in pain, yes. But that wasn't the fun part. No, Spock, it was you writhing. You couldn't stand him talking about aspiring to become Vulcan, could you?”
“I will not argue this point with you as well, Doctor. If you really had been listening to our conversation, then I believe I made my points clear enough for even you to understand.”
When McCoy stopped, so did Spock, and they stared at each other from over the table. McCoy was by now about near the middle of it. “You feel threatened by him,” he taunted. “What separates you from him, or any Romulan, for that matter? Thousands of years of development, bah! If you were born in his place, you'd be just like him.”
“You are deliberately simplifying the-”
McCoy started to walk back around the table, towards Spock. Spock held his ground, though his entire body tensed. “Yes, you would and you know it. If you were born in a world where it was normal to be that way, where you saw your parents, your teachers, everyone, living like that and no other. And anyone who was different, say, a Vulcan perhaps, was mocked, even feared. Their example used a moral lesson.”
He came up within arm's length of Spock but stopped. Spock replied, “Ah yes. I understand the purpose of this analogy, Doctor, and I'm afraid it does not fill me with whatever concerns you think it will. You are suggesting, of course had I have been born in, say for example, your world, I may have developed quite differently. Quite like someone you know? I'm afraid that's not exactly an eye-opening conjecture-”
At this, McCoy grabbed Spock's arm. He was not overly rough and did not appear especially hostile, so Spock did not fight him off, although his skin scrawled beneath the imposter's fingers. McCoy tugged him closer. “You may know this intellectually, Spock, but you haven't yet tried to imagine it, try to really know and feel it. But perhaps it's because you're afraid to, just as you're afraid to open up to that Romulan. Because you know there's that danger of losing yourself. If you think about what kind of man you'd be under the Empire, you'd begin to realize just how much of that man you already are!”
Spock jerked his arm, but found McCoy's grip to be stronger than he was used to. It took two tugs to pull free. “What do you want from me?” Spock asked in a slight hiss. “You have done nothing but terrorize me since you arrived. Are you seeking revenge for what my counterpart has done to you?”
McCoy smirked. “Believe it or not, if I could take revenge against anyone, it wouldn’t be him.”
“Then what is it?”
“I don't know, Spock. Maybe I want answers. I personally don't feel I'm terrorizing you. Perhaps...pushing you out of your comfort zone, in the off chance I get a glimpse of the real you. And by that token, the real him.”
Spock took a step closer with such defiance, that McCoy took a nervous step back. “You may push, Doctor. But I will tell you now, the harder you push me, the harder I shall push back.”
He turned and left the rec room, half-expecting McCoy to try to grab him again or to be followed. He told himself over and over that his problem right now was simply an excess of stress. There was no shame in recognizing limits, he reminded himself.
He looked over his shoulder several times as he made his way to the turbo-lift, worried that the imposter was following him. After that scene in the rec room, he felt it was wise to consider the man a definite threat to his safety. As if being cornered in his own quarters weren't threatening enough. It was not hard to see how much this false McCoy was enjoying the psychological pain he was causing, but what if he decided to attack him physically as well? It was clear that man cared little about his own safety and bodily health; desperate sadism alone would be enough to make McCoy try to take Spock on. And then Spock would be forced to defend himself. He'd be forced to hurt him...
//Just as he did// was the sudden thought that caused him to slow in his tracks. He paused for just a moment and quickened his pace to reach the turbo-lift. He gripped the handle almost hard enough to rip it off as a decision formed strong and secure in his mind. If it were McCoy's game to break down his defenses in order to manipulate him, then he was in for a rude shock. Because Spock decided that if McCoy did try to confront him again, he'd give him far more than what he wanted. If he wanted physical violence, then he was going to get it.
He shot down any guilt that tried to form in response to this plan by reminding himself that this man was not his friend. He owed him nothing and did not have to care about him. And if violence was the only way to control him, then that was obviously the only logical course of action. Especially since Spock was confident he only needed one chance to prove to the imposter that whatever he may think of his own Spock, this one would never back down or let himself be intimidated.
He was sure the captain would understand.
McCoy did not follow Spock. He was finished with him for the moment, although his next target was indirectly connected to the Vulcan. As he sped down the hall in pursuit, he was feeling pretty amped up. That encounter with Spock was...amazing. Even he could see how cruel he had been to the Vulcan, but if this Spock had any idea the kinds of abuses he would heap upon his own Spock on a regular basis...
And as he had said, his aim was better understanding. There was so much about this Spock that was eerily similar to his own, and yet so much that was an enigma. This one hid so much of himself that it was hard to tell just how similar he was. In a way, that was exciting. So far this Spock seemed the perfect pacific, and yet a few times, McCoy had caught the glimmer of fury in those cold eyes, the beginnings of what he knew to be the warning signs of violent intent. Could this Spock turn nasty if pushed, he wondered.
He was thrilled to find out.
But for right now, he was focused on the Romulan. His escorts turned and gave McCoy a curious look, and looked back to Dorek, who stopped to regard McCoy as if he were expecting grief from him, too. But McCoy gave all three a winning smile and addressed the Romulan, “Hey, Dorek...do you mind if I call you that?”
Dorek shook his head gently, a dazed look in his eye. But McCoy saw the receptiveness in his body language and took that as a go.
“Look, I just wanted to, well...apologize for my rudeness earlier,” he said, feigning humility. The escorts visibly calmed down as they noticed Dorek relaxing. They drifted back a bit, allowing them the semblance of privacy for a conversation, but were still obviously on alert.
Dorek was just happy for some sort of kindness. He broke into a smile. “Oh, no need, Doctor.”
“It's Leonard, actually.” Dorek smiled warmly and further cemented his pliability in McCoy's mind. The weak are so easy to control, he thought. Those escorts were a problem, though. He had to get rid of them. “You know, you don't look so good,” he said with a frown, stepping closer. Dorek frowned in confusion, and was about to reply, when McCoy took his arm, and not too gently. McCoy locked eyes with the Romulan and gave him a strong look before continuing, “I've seen this before. With any luck you're just dehydrated, but I'd better take you to Sick Bay.”
A brief moment passed between the two. This was a test, and not only did Dorek realize it as such, but he passed it. //Once a Romulan...// Dorek smirked conspiratorially at McCoy and let his knees buckle, forcing McCoy to catch him and hold him up. That was a bit dramatic, McCoy worried, but as long as the escorts believed them, that was forgivable.
So with the guards following, he took Dorek down the hall towards Sick Bay, with his arm around his waist. He glanced over a few times, just in pure amazement. This very same man, in his own universe, had been the cause, directly or indirectly, of so much agony and stress for not just him, but the entire crew. Hell, the entire Fleet. And really, it wasn't the terrible deeds that incensed McCoy so much, but the man's invincibility. No one dared touch him or give him any hint of disrespect to his face. And even Kirk could not touch him. It was true the captain had a way of making his enemies...disappear, but Dorek was just too high on the pecking order. Too well connected with other important people, mostly vengeful Romulans. If there had been any suspicions that his precious baby boy had been harmed on the Enterprise, Dorek's father would no doubt order the ship destroyed with everyone still on it. And no one would question him.
He didn't even know how many times he'd wile away the hours of his shift fantasizing about murdering that monster. Cornering him, after dispatching his sycophants, of course. Maybe taking his time...
There wasn't a vicious thing he hadn't imagined himself doing to the Romulan, the alternate of whom he was right now holding in his arms, completely trusting of him. At his mercy. But McCoy did not wish to kill this one. Just as in his own world, he knew he could not get away with killing Dorek, or anyone.
When he brought his over-acting load into Sick Bay, he informed the nurse and orderlies on duty that he was handling this situation himself, that it wasn't anything too series. And as part of his prerogative as a doctor, he was able to insist that Dorek's escorts remain outside the inner medical bay McCoy took him into. They would still be able to peer inside or hear most conversation, and could enter whenever they felt the need, but this was the most privacy the two could expect to have.
Dorek hopped up onto the medical bed and watched as McCoy went through the motions of giving him a physical. He said quietly, “I just figured you could use a friendly voice after that...disappointment with Spock.”
Dorek's jaw tightened and he glanced away. “Well, now I know not to waste my time speaking with him again.”
McCoy took one of Dorek's wrists, marveling at how trusting he was. There he was, holding that small wrist in his hands. He could snap it. He could knock the man down and strangle him. He had, within easy reach, a wide variety of drugs that could wreak havoc on that already journey-weakened body. And he could do all this well before his guards could stop him. He amused himself with these thoughts as he matched the pulse he felt with what showed on the monitors.
“If it makes you feel any better, he and I don't exactly get along, either,” he said, leaning in to whisper. He smirked at Dorek's look of disbelief. “It's true. I knocked him out two weeks ago.” And that was true, just in his universe, not this one.
“And you...forgive me, but...how did you get away with that? If a Romulan officer were to strike a superior...”
“Oh, I didn't get away with it,” he chuckled as he prepared a hypo. It was a hydrating solution of water and electrolytes, as it seemed that Dorek did indeed need it after all. He smiled to himself at how deadly he could easily make it, with the addition of just one or two compounds. And that death could be swift or torturous, depending on his choice. He lifted Dorek's sleeve and injected the solution. “I'm on probation. My duties are limited, and I'm also being watched, as you are. Though my guards aren't as obvious as yours.”
“Really?” Dorek peeked over McCoy's shoulder to make sure they weren't being obviously watched and asked quietly, “Was it worth it?”
McCoy laughed and slapped the Romulan on the shoulder, rather hard. “I only regret not hitting him harder.”
When Dorek laughed back, McCoy was able to see the one of his universe in this gleeful eyes, hear him in the savage note to his laughter. He was now convinced, as if he weren't fairly certain before, that this man was just as rotten to the core as the other. And that wasn't too hard to believe, anyway. They were the same men, just born to different circumstances. Except in this case, their circumstances were both based on violence and ruthless subjugation.
It was also clear to McCoy that the Romulan seemed to enjoy his presence and wasn't in any rush to get back. Not that he had much to get back to, just more of being watched like the prisoner he must have known he was. He feigned a more serious, compassionate attitude as he said, “I can appreciate your disappointment in him, though. You thought of anyone on board, he'd be the best one to try to talk to. You'd think he'd be flattered by your interest and he'd show some kind of, well...civility! But if you had spent much time here at all, you'd quickly learn to avoid just about everyone.” He put on a damaged expression.
Dorek frowned and peeked behind McCoy again. He was getting nervous, but in this case, that was good, McCoy thought. “Why do you say that?”
“I-I've really said too much already,” he answered, and he also looked over his own shoulder to add to the tensity of the situation. He turned back and smiled softly. “And anyway, that's not exactly my favorite subject. Why don't you tell me a bit about yourself? You mentioned your father to Spock...”
And as McCoy had hoped, this brought a flush of green to Dorek's face. He gripped the sides of the bed and turned his tense face away, though it was impossible to hide the fury that was tormenting him at the mere mention. McCoy was not afraid, however. He knew this anger was not directed at him, and that as long as he was careful, he could stoke it into something he could use.
He listened as Dorek unleashed a tirade about his father that was really something to behold. It was all McCoy could do not to break into a grin and force himself to appear sympathetic. There were a few mentions of the Tal Shiar and other gems of the Romulan system, but the young captain was rather more concerned with his own personal frustrations. Since his point of view would be undoubtedly biased, it was hard for McCoy to judge Dorek as being right or wrong in this situation, but honestly, he didn't care. No matter his intentions or his reasons, the Romulan still had violence in his blood. The dent in the metal frame around the bed beneath his hand was evidence enough for that.
McCoy invented a charming little story about his own father to further Dorek's trust. He told a nasty little lie that painted him in a sympathetic light, when in reality, McCoy's childhood was a paradise compared to his life on the Enterprise. It was due to those like his own Dorek that caused the troubles he had.
But Dorek ate it up and gazed with obvious sympathy. McCoy pretended to be a little embarrassed for having shared something so personal--and to a stranger!--causing the Romulan to be hooked in even more. McCoy chose this as the perfect time to part, for now. He took both Dorek's hands in his own and said, “If we stay here like this any longer, it'll be suspicious. For the both of us.”
“Oh, yes, yes of course-”
“Any time you want to talk, you come on down to Sick Bay, alright? Just stay away from Spock, or anyone else. You're not exactly welcome here, you know?”
Dorek nodded and squeezed McCoy's hands with a strength he was certainly used to. He slipped off the bed and slowly pulled his hands free. “I will, Leonard. And thank you.”
“Hey, we gotta stick together,” McCoy said with a smirk he hoped would convey quite a bit more than he dared speak aloud.
Dorek returned with a smirk of his own. It was largely repressed, but it had the same cold, hostile look, like the baring of teeth, that was painfully familiar. They left the room together, with McCoy explaining Dorek's condition and how it was treated. His escorts took him away, while McCoy closed himself off in his office. He had been most graciously given the rest of the night off by Spock, but was content to do a little drinking and reflecting on the past events by himself before passing out. It would give a chance to reflect upon these new opportunities. He knew the eventual outcome he wanted, but the trick was getting there. But if the next couple days worked out like the past hour, he was well on his way.
This has been haunting me since I posted this chapter. Spock and M!McCoy's attitudes possibly come off as incredibly racist, as they both seem to have something against Dorek and Romulans in general. Their feelings are rooted in something deeper, different for each of them, and they both have reason to at the very least be suspicious of someone who belongs to an enemy faction.
I'm not trying to explain anything away or dismiss this delicate subject, but assure my readers that I am often thinking about how to handle it realistically and ICly.
Chapter 17: Reality
M!Spock and McCoy have a talk and a fight; Admiral Dorek is suspicious
What remained of the man's will propelled McCoy down the halls, into the turbo-lift and towards Spock's quarters. Since he had been marooned in this nightmare of a place, the Vulcan's quarters had been his home, and though it had been the place of much agony, he was staggering towards it now as his only refuge.
He wasn't foolish enough to expect any compassion or help from Spock, but he did hope that he would at least be allowed a chance to rest before the next trial. He leaned against the bulkhead by the door after signaling his request to enter on the data pad. He jabbed the button over and over until it opened, at which point, his relief was exhausting in itself, as if his body knew it could give up now. If Spock hadn't been right there, he would have made it to the bed, but since he was, McCoy stumbled into his waiting arms and let himself be brought deeper inside.
He was silent and passive as he was lain down and the bundle he had been clutching pried from his hands. Spock sat on the bed beside him and ran his fingers down the human's face, ghosting just over the edges of the fresh wound. “I assume you told him I had cut you,” he said, his tone even and calm. He got up to retrieve a small box from his closet and came back with it. McCoy just lay there and watched him with lazy indifference. It didn't seem to matter at this point if the Vulcan intended on alleviating the pain or inflicting even more. It would even be a mercy if whatever Spock brought over might ensure he would not wake up again.
Getting no answer from McCoy, Spock said roughly, “A logical decision.”
McCoy snapped his gaze to Spock but didn't otherwise move. He flinched a bit as Spock applied a moist cloth to the wound he had inflicted upon himself earlier. “Yet by doing so,” he argued back. “I risked angering you. Hardly the logical choice.”
Spock finished cleaning the wound and then worked on setting the synthetic skin patches over it. His hands worked with quick efficiency, and yet were gentle. McCoy could hardly feel him working at all. “Given the choice between myself and the captain, you chose to risk my wrath rather than his. That is always the sensible choice.”
“So you forgive me?” McCoy sneered, indulging in bitter sarcasm for a moment, until Spock's harsh glare made him glance away. He lay still as Spock finished healing the self-inflicted wound and took hold of his broken arm. McCoy cringed and weakly tried to pull back, but Spock's grip was effortlessly secure.
As he watched Spock treat him, he realized it was much easier staring at his hands. From this angle this man could have been his own. As long as he didn't look up, he could pretend for a second that he was back home, being cared for by his friend.
But his more rational side despaired. Suddenly that energy that had fueled him during his encounter with this universe's Kirk faded. He felt he might be able to deal with the threats of everyone else, if only he could sense the slightest semblance of his own Spock in this one. And more than just appearance or personal habits, but if he could see they were essentially the same man, however deep underneath, that might give the human a little hope.
But when he glanced up, he saw a stranger. Even worse, a monster in the guise of a treasured friend. A constant reminder of what he'd never see again.
His glare had been stronger than he'd realized; Spock glanced over and seemed to flinch at it. He gripped McCoy's just healed arm in a threatening hold, as if threatening to snap it again, just after setting it. He locked eyes with McCoy, who did not glance away. In fact he only grew more defiant with every passing moment. His hatred was so strong, Spock did not need to have his fingers at the man's temples to feel it vibrating, like a living, seething being in the room with them.
“It is foolish to blame me for what the captain did to you,” Spock said, giving McCoy a thrill of triumph, because he only spoke to ease the tension. Spock had backed down first. “As I told you, his attention span-”
“Of course I blame you for it!' McCoy snapped and jerked his hand back towards himself. Since Spock had not let go, it sent a jolt of pain up through his shoulder, but the action caught Spock off guard, making him lurch forward. That moment was worth the pain. “I blame you for everything! You were the one who kept me here. Amazing that you're unable to see that logic.”
“You'll never survive here if you can't let go of what you can't change, Doctor.”
McCoy forced his spent body into a sitting position, closer to Spock. With his free hand he gripped Spock's arm, fingers digging hard enough to cause the Vulcan to wince, however briefly. “But you can change it.”
“Send you back, you mean?”
“Yes, damn you!”
Spock slipped his fingers off the human's arm and flashed a smug sneer. “Even I can't do that. I don't even know how your fellows made the switch in the first place.”
McCoy felt his heart race and very nearly lost whatever shred of control he had left. Especially without tactile contact, he could not tell if Spock were lying, but he had a sneaking suspicion he was not. “There has to be a way! Your counterpart could figure out, why can't you?”
“Doctor, even if I somehow ascertain how to manipulate two parallel universes, which do not exist in the same reality, may I remind you, I would not be surprised if such a task were time sensitive. We had experienced an ion storm just before the switch, which may have have been the essential power source.”
McCoy's jaw tightened. “Would you send me back if you knew how?”
Spock answered easily, gladly. “Of course not.”
McCoy turned the encroaching panic into rage. He'd stand no chance against the Vulcan, and he knew it, but he threw himself at him anyway. And whether it was his own desperate strength catching Spock off guard, or Spock was just playing along, but he fell on his back on the bed, with McCoy kneeling over him, trying to claw at him. Spock caught his hands easily, but still had to struggle to keep the human from writhing free.
“I'll kill you!” McCoy howled. “If it kills me too, I'll fucking tear you apart! You're not Spock, you're no Vulcan! You're a monster!” With a well aimed kneeing, McCoy was able to distract Spock long enough to yank his hands free.
He might have had the chance to get up and try to flee, but all he wanted to do now was throttle the man beneath him. Fueled by miserable hate, he squeezed Spock's neck hard enough to genuinely threaten his life. Spock's face drained of color, and for a moment, he slowed, two sets of eyelids drooping down. With deliberate effort, Spock forced his eyes open and met McCoy's gaze. This was enough to startle McCoy just enough to weaken his grip. Though he redoubled his efforts to close off the other's airway, the distraction was enough to give Spock the upper hand.
Spock knocked McCoy off, and with a bit of struggling, got on top of the human and pinned him down. His face was greenish as the blood rushed back, making his tight, just barely restrained fury all the more frightening. “It would seem you're finally starting to adjust to this world,” he snarled. “Why, in less than a week, I won't be able to tell you apart from the one I left behind.”
“Then what was the point, Spock?” McCoy demanded. His strength was sagging along with his body. He lay his head back and closed his eyes as he panted from the exertion. He wondered briefly if he would have actually murdered this man, or if he would have backed off just before it was too late. A few minutes ago, he might have, while the adrenaline rushed. But now? He wasn't so sure.
“I do not regret this. Despite my comments, I am still confident you'll be far easier to train,” Spock declared coldly.
When he put one of his hands to McCoy's face, fingers sliding along the temple, McCoy fought it, but in vain. He gripped Spock's forearm with both hands but more as something to cling to rather than to pry it off. McCoy felt himself relax, and though he knew that was being forced on him, he let it happen. It felt good, anyway. He felt his hands slip onto his chest as the other mind eased its way in. Soon his physical sensations faded into a surreal ghost of what they were before. He didn't fear the linking this time, and even felt a bit of relief from it. Spock was usually far more gentle during these times, more focused on McCoy's mind rather than his body.
/You can see for yourself that I've given up. If you won't send me back where I belong, you should just kill me/
/You underestimate yourself. You have the strength to accept your fate and thrive in it. You could even be happy if you let yourself./
/How could I possibly be happy like this?/
/To continue to hold on to this stubborn self-pity is illogical and self-defeating. Besides, this way you are getting what you want/
McCoy winced and tensed as this Spock forced upon him pleasant memories of his own Spock. “No, no!” he groaned aloud, tears brimming at his tightly shut eyes. He struggled weakly.
/You should dispose of this superficial differentiation between our two selves. That universe does not exist in this reality. It is no more real than a dream or a fantasy, ergo, that man is equally unreal. I am Spock, the only Spock. You have desired him for years, and now you have him./
/Then I've fallen out of love! I can only feel hatred for you./
/We both know that's not quite true, Leonard./
Spock slid his hands down from McCoy's face, as gently as he could breaking the psychic link, though McCoy still shuddered from the break. He slipped one arm beneath McCoy's back and held up him, while his other hand sought one of McCoy's. He gently opened McCoy's hand and pressed his first two fingers against McCoy's. McCoy inhaled sharply as a feeling of tingly calm washed over him. He could feel Spock's presence in his mind, but it was more of a suggestion this time. This touch was more of a caress, more subtle. And this time he could convince himself that he wasn't being forced to relax.
With that hold still in place, Spock brought McCoy closer to his chest. The human stretched his free arm around Spock's back and clung weakly. He pressed his face against Spock's upper chest and closed his eyes. He was far too tired to try to analyze his feelings right now or feel guilty for deriving comfort from this embrace. It would be the only comfort he could hope to find in this place, anyway.
“I have loved you for a long time, Leonard,” Spock said in a low, gravelly voice. “As far as I'm concerned you and the other are the same man, just with different histories. It would be the same if I were to have traveled into the past and met you some years back. Before the Enterprise left you twisted inside.”
McCoy understood what Spock meant, even though he was meshing two different men into one. And truth be told, McCoy was finding it hard to assert his independence from this universe anymore. As far as anyone else was concerned, he was the McCoy that belonged here. And if he may never return, then would he not, in his way, belong here too?
“You kidnapped me,” McCoy said, but all the fight had left his voice. He continued to hug Spock back, if only for the comfort of another warm body that was not currently causing him pain. “You're keeping me here as a prisoner and you've done nothing but hurt me.”
Spock rubbed his hand across McCoy's back gently. “I've already explained how that was necessary,” he said. “It has been that way between us ever since you reported on board: constant violence against each other.”
“That doesn't sound too romantic,” McCoy said. As soothing as Spock's arms were, McCoy would never truly relax.
“Indeed. It seemed the entire ship was just waiting for one of us to finally kill the other. No one ever interfered, because as long as we focused on each other, we would have little energy to attack anyone else.” Even as Spock recalled this, there was a hint of nostalgia in his voice, and his hand was caressing McCoy's back.
McCoy pulled back to look Spock in the eye. The Vulcan loosened his grip just enough to allow this. “And you're trying to tell me you loved him? Even with all this madness going on? It's obvious he never loved you back.”
“Yes, you did,” Spock argued back firmly. It became clear that Spock would continue to blur the line between the two McCoys until there was only one. And McCoy feared he would soon be forced to follow suit. “I never had to force you to couple with me, nor did you do so just to try to win my favor. The only man you willingly submitted to without fight was the captain, though only a suicidal fool would not. You never let me claim you, and sometimes I wondered if you really would have murdered me if you could, but Leonard, I know how you felt for me.”
McCoy was shaking his head in pure amazement as he listened. Spock seemed so genuine, so heart-felt, McCoy felt a twinge of pity for him. He couldn’t be sure what the facts were, but it was clear now what Spock felt the truth was.
“You can't expect me to ever forgive you,” he said, even as he pressed the side of his face against Spock's neck. He felt his eyes sting, and he clawed his fingers hard into the other man's back.
“Forgiveness is irrelevant,” Spock said softly. If he felt pain from McCoy's digging fingers, he made no effort to stop it. He only clung to the human with equal urgency. “All I've ever wanted was your submission.”
“Dammit, Spock! You know you'll never get that, either-”
“Just enough to allow yourself to love me,” Spock interrupted. McCoy was speechless, and wasn't even sure how to feel. Pity was at the forefront, but in a very non-flattering manner. How pathetic was this man, so high in rank, in possession of so much power and resources, with few others to fear as so many feared him, to be so desperate for someone to love him? His Spock had never shown such a longing...or had he, and was just better at hiding it? Or perhaps he'd been deluding himself all this time.
“I love Commander Spock, of the U.S.S. Enterprise,” McCoy said, growling slightly. “And I always will.”
Spock gripped McCoy's shoulders and violently jerked him off himself. “That vessel does not exist! There is no other Spock, no other you, there is only you and I! Only this universe, no other!”
McCoy glared back, chest heaving, expression belligerent and hateful. He was afraid of the Vulcan's temper, but would not back down that easily. By now he felt he had nothing left to lose, but whatever was left of his dignity.
“Perhaps I can make it easier for you to accept reality,” Spock snarled, grabbing hold of McCoy's head with both hands. McCoy struggled. He wasn't sure what Spock had planned, but knew it couldn't be good. Spock placed his fingers at the temples and around the cranium, and McCoy could feel, almost like a physical, sharp presence, stabbing its way in.
At first, McCoy was immobilized, but his panic mounted as he realized Spock was sifting his mind for his memories of his own universe, particularly of his own Spock. “No...” he groaned, realizing Spock intended to erase them from his mind. He focused his mind, using the very training Spock had given him to resist him. “It's not gonna be that easy...”
McCoy was fighting so hard his heart was pounding dangerously hard. He knew that a psychic battle between himself and Spock would be no contest; he had to take whatever advantage he could. He sent as many chaotic, distressing emotions against Spock as he could muster to distract him and reached around Spock's waist into his belt. He was aiming for the agonizer, and didn't realize until too late that he had grabbed his knife instead. Still thinking it was the agonizer, McCoy jabbed the blade into Spock's side.
He slumped when the link was abruptly severed, and tumbled off the bed and out of the way as Spock lurched back in shock and pain. He stared at the wound for a moment in astonishment, and the look he threw to McCoy was more pained than angry. Even considering the circumstances, McCoy was truly sorry. He had only wanted to defend himself in a way that merely caused momentary pain to Spock.
He jumped to his feet and rushed to the closet, where he had seen Spock get some first aid for him. “Hold on!” he shouted. “Don't try to pull it out!” He brought a small medkit over, but didn't get too close to Spock, who was panting and staring at him like a wounded animal. A very dangerous one.
McCoy trembled, afraid to get close enough to administer aid, but he was not about to flee, even though he certainly had the chance. “I was going for your agonizer, damn you! Look, it doesn't matter. You gonna let me treat you, or would you rather bleed out?”
Spock broke off his intense glare to struggle with his uniform. The knife had gone through two layers of clothing, effectively pinning them to Spock's body. “I have to pull this out,” McCoy said as he crept onto the bed. “Don't try to do anything. Let me handle it! Lie down.” Spock obeyed, and McCoy knelt over him. He slid the knife out and tossed it aside. Hot, green blood gushed and stained his clothes and bedsheets, not to mention McCoy's hands, but he worked quickly, his mind wholly focused on this task.
Quickly he ripped the outer tunic apart and ripped the hole in the undershirt larger so he had better access to the wound. He patched the wound with synthetic skin and began sealing the molecular bonds with a device much like one in his own universe, except a bit more advanced.
“Don't get up,” he barked in command. “You're still in danger of going into shock. You've got such low blood pressure as it is, it'll take you longer to recover. A stab like that would have killed you.”
“Did you have a crisis of conscience, Doctor?” Spock hissed, his breathing labored. His face was ashen, but he was recovering.
“I told you, I was going for your agonizer.”
Spock smirked cruelly. “In your inexperienced hands, that could have been even worse. Since you just missed my heart with that knife, and you treated me immediately, I can hope for a full recovery in a week at the most. But I don't think you realize just how much internal damage that innocuous little device you were reaching for can do. Damage that is hard to detect, and therefore never treated. Many have died from that terrible thing. Are you sure you didn't think of that when you invented it?”
McCoy scowled at him and then got up to stow the medkit, not bothering to clean it. “Next time I should just let you die,” he snarled. “Is that what you want?”
Spock watched him with cold eyes, his grin shallow and icy. “You are becoming more yourself every second.”
McCoy recoiled as if punched and tore out of the room, if only to escape that gloating expression. But even relatively alone in the hall way, he could not stop thinking about how it felt to stab Spock. What a rush that had been. He was still jittery from it, more alive and invigorated now since he was first stranded here.
He had loved it.
And when he really tried to remember, he realized something else that was as exciting as it was terrifying: he had reached for the agnoizer, that was true. But when his hand fell upon the knife hilt, he knew that's what it was when he grabbed it. He had intended to stab Spock. To merely hurt, or to kill? He was afraid to try to imagine which, because he suspected he already knew the answer.
Admiral Dorek sat alone in one of the ship's conference rooms, staring into a video screen on the table. He had Romulan guards posted just outside, but he knew no one would dare attempt to interrupt him. He had personally swept the room for bugs, even after his entourage had done the same before he'd entered. He had found a tiny device nestled within the leaves of a decorative plant on one corner of the room. Right now his little crew were waiting outside, most likely fearfully wondering what would happen to them as punishment for their failure. Probably they were debating among themselves as to which of them deserved the most blame. It amused Dorek to imagine them ready to tear each other apart out of fear of him.
But right now he was engaged with someone who did not fear him. Not as much as she should, Dorek always thought. That person was the Grand Admiral Shiarrael Dorek. “I must have more to go on besides your personal dislike of the man,” she was scolding. “It is no crime to be Vulcan.”
“Especially not when he has such an important father, isn't that right, Grand Admiral?” Dorek sneered.
“Sarek converted long ago, and has presented no problems for us. It was under his guidance that his son entered Star Fleet. Just imagine if Spock had been allowed to remain on T'Khasi-”
“With that insurgent mentoring him,” Dorek interrupted savagely. He slammed his fist on the table with the rage of his plans in finding this and other such rebels still unrealized.
“Yes, exactly. Sarek did the right thing in sending him away to serve the Empire. And so far, Spock has served Star Fleet well. If only we had more officers like him,” Shiarrael argued.
“There are two types of Vulcans, Mother,” Dorek lectured. “Those born and those self-created. The ones born are getting old. Their ilk will die out soon enough, and their spirits have died long ago anyway. They are of little consequence, which is the only reason, I assure you, I allow Sarek the dignity of what little freedom he has.” he leaned in closer to the vid screen, his green eyes narrowing beneath severe, up-swept brows. “And then there are those who seize upon this dusty old philosophy, with fire in their bellies and rebellion in their foolish minds. You forget that the Vulcans abhor violence and force of any kind, and they will use any means, even violence itself to topple the Empire. Before T'Khasi was colonized, the Vulcan mind could not conceive of conquest, it had been so long since anything like that had ever happened to them. You can imagine how they must resent us for it now.”
“You are transferring your own feelings onto them, Dorek,” Shiarrael pleaded. “I am not disagreeing with your basic assumptions, but I believe you are overreacting. This is a fad, nothing more. Just wait till this current generation gives way to the next-”
“By then it will be too late, don't you see? I have been keeping tabs on everyone who identifies as Vulcan, but I have yet to locate those insurgents. You do agree that Vulcans such as those, who smuggle themselves to other worlds, including our own, trying to convert others are dangerous?”
She sighed, “Yes, of course. I am not questioning the Tal-Shiar, my son. But I am asking you to at least gather actual, incriminating evidence against Commander Spock before acting against him. If nothing else, you must think of the political ramifications if you are not protected by such evidence. His father will fight you.”
Dorek leaned back and grinned. “Don't worry yourself, Mother. I have played this game many times before.”
Shiarrael nodded, glancing down. She then asked, “Have you had a chance to investigate Captain Kirk yet?”
Dorek frowned slightly. “I have been spending much time with him, yes. Is there something I should I be looking for?”
“In fact, there is, and I would prefer you to focus your attentions on him rather than Spock, at least until you get to the bottom of it. I'm sure you've heard the rumors of Kirk's ability to make his enemies...disappear?”
Dorek hissed dismissively. “Of course I have. Everyone has.”
“Well? Have you searched his quarters?” she urged.
“On what grounds? So far the captain has shown himself to be an exemplary officer in every way. His brutality has obviously inspired fantastical rumors. Pure exaggerations, nothing more.”
“You have the authority to search his quarters.”
“And what would I be looking for, Mother?” Dorek asked with a derisive laugh. “A crystal ball? What foolishness. And anyway, I would not like to jeopardize my rapport with him. While he believes me to be a friend and admirer, he is a very useful tool. I believe he will be great help in incriminating Spock, if the suggestion is put to him just right.” He cackled to himself.
“Your father would have been more cautious,” she said coldly.
Dorek swiveled half-lidded cold eyes to the Grand Admiral. “And it was that meekness that cost him his life.”
The Grand Admiral fought to withhold her outrage, but could not hide the hateful look on her face. Dorek merely sneered at her and her hatred, so used to it by now it amused him. She may have outranked him legally, but they both knew who held the real power. “The Enterprise shall rendezvous with Star Base Titus within a week, Grand Admiral,” he droned. “You shall have my reports then. Admiral Dorek out.” He snapped off the feed before his mother could respond.
The young Romulan stood up and made his leisurely way to the replicator, laughing to himself at his mother's ideas. He did intend to keep his eye on Kirk, now that the seed of doubt, however ridiculous it might be, had been planted, but he doubted he'd find any reason to act against him. In fact it seemed the only threat was the human's ambition, but that could easily be controlled. Let Kirk believe himself to be favored, and he'd be eating out of Dorek's hand in no time. Dorek had seen greater stumble over themselves for the favor of the Tal-Shiar.
As he sipped on a glass of wine he had ordered, his thoughts returned to Spock once again. No one else may see it, but Spock was hiding something, Dorek was convinced. There was a flame in those dark eyes, and if allowed to spread, it would promise trouble for the Empire. As much as he hated to admit, his mother was correct: without actual evidence, he couldn’t touch Spock. And he might not be be able to gather enough by the time they reached Titus. It would look too suspicious if Dorek remained on board afterward.
He thought about this as he left the conference room and headed for his quarters, dismissing his anxious entourage for the time being. This wasn't just a personal vendetta, he believed, but a matter of State, far beyond himself, his mother, anyone. The very Empire was at stake.
He was so immersed in his fierce thoughts, he almost didn't notice someone try to rush past him in the hall way. Snapping to alertness, he turned around and called for the person who had so rudely passed without saluting. He was a little surprised to see it was Spock's human slave, and he was covered in green blood.
“What's all this?” he asked, gesturing to the mess. When the human could only stare stupidly back, he snapped, “Explain yourself, human!”
“I-I've just come from Sick Bay,” McCoy stammered, then added hastily, “Sir.”
“Indeed,” Dorek said, eyes narrowing. “Who's hurt?”
“I'm not at liberty to say, Sir,” McCoy said boldly, but he backed up when Dorek came closer to him.
“I am the admiral of this fleet, Doctor,” Dorek growled. “There is no higher authority than mine here, now tell me!”
“Actually, there is,” McCoy argued back. He looked terrified and ready to bolt, but still would not give up this pointless argument. “And that's doctor-patient confidentiality. No one can force me to break that confidence.” His upper lip twitched upward in a barely suppressed sneer. “Not even you, Admiral.”
Dorek's molars were grinding with fury. How dare this insolent little creature defy him! “Your agonizer, Doctor,” he barked.
The way the human's face drained of color was satisfying, but McCoy didn't produce the device. Instead, he stammered, “I don't have one.”
“What?” Dorek exclaimed. “I hope for your sake you're merely hiding it, Doctor! Vastly preferable to what would happen to you if-”
“Doctor McCoy!” a low pitched voice called out from behind them, down the hall. Both men turned their startled gazes towards the source. It was Spock, jogging down the hall towards them. His face was flushed green with the effort of running with a still healing wound. “There you are,” he said, driving his body between McCoy's and Dorek's. In one motion he slipped an arm around McCoy's waist. His body hid this from Dorek, but McCoy could feel Spock's hand slip into his sash before he turned back around to face the admiral.
Spock saluted the admiral and then bowed his head in submission. Dorek wasn't exactly convinced, but he did calm down. “What exactly is going on here, Commander?” he demanded.
“I had an accident in my quarters, Admiral,” Spock explained. “Doctor McCoy treated me. He was returning to Sick Bay just now.”
“He just said he was coming from Sick Bay.”
“To protect my privacy, Sir. I instructed him to tell that to anyone who might ask. It would not do for the crew to learn that I am indeed able to bleed.”
Dorek snorted. “Be that as it may, I do believe I gave your slave a direct order.” He flashed his eyes to McCoy. “And I'm still waiting for it to be obeyed.”
Dorek watched the human glance to Spock. He could not discern any communication passing between them, or any change in the blank expression on Spock's face at all. He took the agonizer when McCoy handed it to him and turned a vicious glare to Spock. “I had ordered him to give this to me and he refused. Your slave needs to be trained in obedience, Commander!”
“Most likely he was still rattled by my accident, Sir. But I will of course instruct him.”
Dorek sneered. “You are just as responsible for the mistakes of this slave as for your own, Spock.”
“I understand, Sir-”
“You're lucky I'm a compassionate man, or I'd have both your skins for this. If the admiral of this fleet can't rely on absolute obedience, then I fear for the future of the Empire.”
“Yes, Sir. I apologize-”
Dorek scoffed, “Noted. I won't be so merciful next time. Now, you.” He beckoned McCoy closer with a finger.
“Sir, I assure you, I will discipline him-”
“Are you defying me too, Spock?” Dorek challenged. He noticed the hateful way Spock glared at him, even as he bowed his head and muttered another servile apology. “Don't make me repeat myself, human.” No sooner did McCoy take a step towards him, did he take a rough hold of his shoulder and yanked him close. He gripped the collar of McCoy's robe, noting that he had nothing on underneath, and pressed the device against the human's chest, beneath the robe flap. His grip only tightened as McCoy started writhing as soon as the device was turned on.
When McCoy tried to wrench free, Dorek quickly slipped his hand on the base of his neck, gripping flesh rather than cloth this time. McCoy clutched at his arm, but more for support than to try to stop him. He must have known that would have been impossible in his condition.
While McCoy broke down into tortured screams as the pain increased more and more, Dorek stole a glance at Spock. He was a little startled, frightened, even, to see Spock was staring directly at him. He didn't lower his gaze or even temper the hatred in it when Dorek caught him. If Dorek were any less of the man he believed himself to be, he would have been intimidated. But he remembered who he was, and who Spock was not.
He grinned and allowed Spock to enjoy this blatant display of anger. Spock had just tipped his hand.
Finally Dorek released McCoy, shoving him into Spock's open arms. He tossed the agonizer to Spock and looked down on them both. Then, as if nothing happened, he broke into his usual charming smile. “Will I be graced with your company for dinner this evening, Commander?”
“I'd be delighted, Sir,” Spock said in a low growl.
“Wonderful. I will give you the honor of preparing our meal tonight, in your quarters.”
“My quarters?” Then, to cover his mistake for questioning the admiral's orders, he added, “Sir, may I suggest the formal reception room on Deck-”
“I have a certain craving for Vulcan hospitality, Mr. Spock,” Dorek said, his menace thinly veiled. “You may expect me in two hours.”
Satisfied, Dorek grinned and left them. Two hours should be enough time to crack some secrets out of Spock's Vulcan lackeys. Amazing the results an agony booth could produce.