The replicate Tobias has died, and now Spock's inexplicable behavior has even Dr. McCoy looking toward Vulcan for medical assistance.
Image courtesy of TrekCore.
Original Series Characters:
Chapel, Christine, Kirk, James T., McCoy, Leonard (Bones), Spock
Angst, Drama, FriendshipWarnings:
To Hell and Back
05 Oct 2015 Updated:
05 Oct 2015
This story follows Wednesday's Child in the "To Hell and Back" series.
1. Chapter 1 by M C Pehrson
2. Chapter 2 by M C Pehrson
3. Chapter 3 by M C Pehrson
4. Chapter 4 by M C Pehrson
5. Chapter 5 by M C Pehrson
6. Chapter 6 by M C Pehrson
A WALK THROUGH THE SHADOWS By: M. C. Pehrson
Insistent chiming dragged Kirk from an erotic, brandy-laced dream. No deadly urgency in the nagging sound, no intercom whistle or whooping alert siren-shipboard noises that always brought him wide awake, heart pumping adrenaline. Even half asleep, Kirk sensed the planetary stillness and pulled the covers over his head.
The chiming continued. With a bearish growl, he tossed back the blankets, stumbled to the bedroom door, and opened it. Chatter from a 24-hour video link mingled crazily with the phone. Squinting into the brightly lit living area, he hollered, "Bones!"
There was no reply.
Kirk shut off the video and grumbled his way to the phone. Out of habit he leaned over and reached for the view button, but realizing that he was clad only in underclothes, hit audio instead.
"Yes, who is it?" he snapped. Slow static-like waves of sound hissed from the speaker. Someone breathing? Thoroughly annoyed, he demanded, "Who's there?"
Somewhere distant, a throat cleared. "Admiral," came the faint but oh-so-familiar voice.
"Spock?" Kirk was instantly alert. Why would his second-in-command be using a ground line? Why wasn't he aboard ship? "Mister Spock, where are you?"
More silence. Then, "Shir...sir...I have been...unexpectedly dechained. I meant to say...detained."
"Detained where? Spock, I left you in command."
"Jim, I..." Spock's words were so faint that Kirk bent closer to the phone. "I...am in Wrigley's port dishtrict. In...jail."
Kirk sank into the phone chair and activated video. He scarcely recognized the man who appeared on the small screen. Spock's left eye was badly swollen, as ugly a shiner as Kirk had ever seen. Green blood seeped from a split at the left corner of Spock's fiercely controlled mouth. Kirk stared with disbelief at the rumpled Vulcan bangs and the downcast but uninjured right eye.
"What the blazes," spoke another familiar someone standing directly behind Kirk.
He whirled as Doctor McCoy's hand met his shoulder. "Bones, where have you...?" Then he saw the green-skinned, scantily clad female settling into a nearby chair with typical Orion languor. "So that's where you've been," he muttered lamely.
Turning back to the comset, he found the screen going dark.
"Your time is up," announced a polite computer voice. "For additional service, please insert another token."
As Kirk's image faded from the screen, Spock reached for a pocket and found none. His hand fumbled over rum-soaked fabric, aggravating the deep ache in his right side. He vaguely remembered being kicked.
"C'mon Dad," ordered his boyish police escort.
Spock made no attempt to analyze the remark. Just walking in a fairly straight line demanded all his concentration as they moved past the admittance desk, to a corridor of dreary cells, mostly occupied.
An authoritative voice called after them, "Put that Vulcan in the transient section!"
This necessitated a turn into yet another corridor, where they passed by a cell crowded with rough-looking humanoids. The sight of Spock's disheveled Starfleet uniform drew a flurry of catcalls and rude comments. A gloating Belsarian rose to his full, impressive height and pushed aside his weaker cellmates for a closer look at Spock.
"C'mere, little buddy," he rumbled. "I'm not done with you yet." His hairy arm thrust toward Spock and was promptly stung by an invisible security field. The Belsarian howled with pain.
"There you go," said the policeman, indicating a blessedly empty cell further down the corridor.
Spock weaved into the assigned space. He looked at the stained bunk, at the dirty toilet bowl, and the stench of excrement and stale sweat threatened his unsettled stomach. As the guard activated a force field, a wave of dizziness sank Spock to the cold cement floor. He drew up his knees against his chest and nearly gagged on the added odor of his liquor-drenched uniform. Orion pirate's rum, as black as the L-langa Mountains near his childhood home.
A stream of peculiar impressions teased through his thoughts-frost-beaded goblets, pulsing music, painted women. A red-haired dancer, naked flesh pale as moonlight. And her name...her name. It somehow eluded him. After a time he surrendered to the intoxicating effects of the alcohol and lay flat on his back, letting his thoughts drift free of the prison cell, far from this dark, miserably place, high above a pleasant beach washed by lavender waves...
A firm voice roused him. Flooded with unreasoning shame, he whimpered and curled onto his side.
The peculiar name sent a chill straight through him. But as he huddled on the damp, rough floor, something shifted in his mind. "Jim?" he asked, not daring to look.
Shoes scraped over the cement. Two pairs of blue slip-ons came into view. A Starfleet officer knelt beside him, waving a pocket medscanner. After a moment, the man grunted. "I don't believe it. Drunk as a skunk."
"Looks like he picked the sleaziest hole in Port District." Looking only mildly amused, Admiral Kirk grabbed Spock under the armpits and muscled him upright.
"Whew!" McCoy sniffed as he helped steady him. "Did he drink it or wear it?"
The mildewed jailhouse walls began to pitch dangerously, and Spock realized there was no controlling the urge this time. He was going to throw up.
Spock opened his eyes, and squinting, raised a hand to block the painful glare. He was lying in sickbay, clad in temperature-regulating pajamas. Every inch of his body warned him to lie still.
"Doctor," he rasped, mentally groping through a strange tangle of thoughts.
"Feeling like hell," McCoy answered himself. "And I filled you with enough Counternol to sober a snarth."
"Counternol!" Swallowing a bitter surge of stomach acid, Spock reared up from the sickbay mattress. "Why," he demanded, "would you inject me with an anti-ethanol drug?"
McCoy broke into a lopsided grin. "Well now, Doctor Chapel performed the actual rite. I was too busy holding down a snookered Vulcan. Bombed. Sloshed to the gills. Falling down drunk. Got it now?"
Spock searched his shipmate's weathered face, wanting badly to disbelieve the absurd statement, but there was no denying the unpleasant aftertaste of liquor in his mouth. Without further comment, he settled down on the bed.
McCoy looked intolerably pleased. "Well, that's more like it. Just rest easy. What you're feeling is no doubt uncomfortable, but seldom fatal. The correct medical term is ‘the morning after'."
Spock closed his eyes, one of which was swollen and sore, but the weird blur of memories were even more painful. Unable to deal with them just now, he swept the tangle into a deep corner of his mind. The room grew so quiet that he thought the doctor had left.
Then, still quite close, McCoy asked, "Would you care for a drink?" With an annoying chuckle he quickly clarified, "Water? Juice?"
As Spock accepted a swallow of water, he noticed a wall chronometer and gave a start. "I am late for duty," he said, attempting to rise again.
McCoy placed both hands on his chest and laid him flat. "My Vulcan friend, you are currently relieved of duty...on Admiral Kirk's orders. What happened last night is just a little more serious than spoiling our tour of the town. Jim is...." He must have seen the questions forming. "You don't remember, do you? At least not all of it."
Spock raised his right hand and stared at the splayed fingers. He was not sure why he had even moved it, but the action triggered a sharp recollection-clasping Kirk's hand while struggling to describe his life-changing meld with the machine-entity, V'Ger. And then another, more recent meld came to mind. Direct mental contact could be most disconcerting...
Wearily he admitted, "My...memory is...uncertain."
McCoy gave a nod. "Well, try and get some sleep. Your head will clear up when you feel better."
All that day, McCoy kept Spock shut away in sickbay. No one entered the private room without clearance, and that meant no one...including Admiral Kirk. Twice Kirk stopped by to rail at that "groundless, arbitrary restriction", but McCoy held firm. Over the years he had become an expert at pulling medical rank, and at his age, he was not easily intimidated. There was good reason to keep Spock secluded. By nature, Vulcans craved privacy, even in the best of times. Any Vulcan who had lapsed as badly as Spock deserved a chance to get a grip on himself before facing the world again. He had probably needed a blowout after three rugged years pursuing the discipline of Kolinahr. Three years away from family and friends, holed up in some Vulcan wasteland. Whatever Spock had been trying to prove, he had failed, returning to the Enterprise newly fallen from the esteemed pinnacle of Vulcan logic.
More than once, McCoy had felt like walloping that fiercely insular Spock. But then, whether through heroism or self-interest, the Vulcan had risked his fool neck to join minds with a machine entity that was endangering Earth. And what Spock found in that solitary meld changed him, for V'Ger's barren intellect showed him the value of emotions-the very humanness he had always fought so hard to repress.
But now was Spock becoming too human? Perhaps the recent episode at Helexia had been more of a shock to him than McCoy had realized. Dorian Wren's unethical experiment. The sight of his dying replicate. Since that wrenching day, the Vulcan had not been the same.
Corridors were dimming for the ship's night cycle when a clean set of clothes arrived in sickbay. McCoy delivered the underwear, pale blue tunic and trousers to Spock, who had emerged from his shower clad only in a towel.
"Boring color," McCoy said, tossing everything on a chair. "And the tan's just as bland."
"We are not dressing for aesthetic effect," Spock reminded him.
"The designer must've been color blind," McCoy muttered, looking down at his own plain white outfit. "Admit it, Spock. You hate these new uniforms, too." The Vulcan clothed himself in noncommittal silence. Noticing that Spock had to suck in his stomach in order to fasten his trousers, McCoy said, "So the readings didn't lie-you are putting on weight. I thought I've seen you going for second helpings."
Spock gave him an icy glare, and then reached for his tunic. The black eye and bruised lip served to accentuate the overall satanic effect.
"Never mind, you look just fine," McCoy said, deadpan. "For Halloween."
It was a very tired joke, and not deserving of a comment. Yet as Spock went out the door, he could not resist saying to the doctor, "Trick or treat."
Once beyond sickbay, his pace quickened. Everyone who caught sight of him, lapsed into staring-at a wall, at the deck-anywhere but the source of their astonishment, Spock's battered face. He felt their eyes boring into his back as he walked the corridors, pretending indifference. No doubt the crew was already gossiping, trading stories about the humiliating behavior that he only vaguely remembered. He longed for the privacy of his cabin, but Kirk might seek him there and demand answers he could not give.
In those troubled days after returning from Gol, Spock had occasionally sought meditation in the private cubicles nested between the ship's inner and outer hulls. Now the interhull seemed like the perfect retreat. As he roamed through the skeletal maze, past occupied cubicles, his sensitive ears overheard sounds of human sex play. He should have been able to ignore it. Instead, his footsteps slowed and he found himself actively listening and responding to the sensual pleasures that the sounds evoked. His right hand was on a door, his mind voyeuristically seeking beyond the barrier, when approaching footsteps startled him. Guiltily he jerked away from the cubicle and prepared to bolt, but found himself trapped amidst frightening shadows.
Nowhere to run, no escaping the punishment...
Hurried steps bore down on him. Firm fingers clamped over his shoulder. Crying out, he wrenched free and fled deep into the strange, dusky world.
Perhaps instinct had led Kirk to the interhull, or perhaps the bond that had grown between him and Spock over the years. Whatever the cause, he came away stunned at what he found. Was that cringing, frightened creature really Spock? It hardly seemed possible, yet Kirk had been close enough to touch him. Even in the shadows, there had been no mistaking those pointed ears and that smooth dark hair. Yes, Spock. The same man who recently shrank from him in a squalid jail cell, drunk. The same man who now stood before him, as rigid as Vulcan granite.
"Sit down," Kirk said, indicating an office chair.
With the Vulcan obediently seated, Kirk settled behind his desk. The hour was late, but Spock had finally responded to a thrice-repeated intercom summons and presented himself. Kirk glanced over the list of complaints on his monitor, and silently wondered how he would get through this. There were official formulas meant to ease such situations and keep them on a professional level. He knew the words by heart. For that matter, so did Spock. But Kirk realized there was no way to detach himself from his personal feelings for this man.
"Spock," he said as a friend. "Why did you run from me tonight?"
Emotions stirred the usually impassive features, but Spock quickly recovered his composure. "Admiral," he replied in a formal tone, "I cannot answer that question."
Kirk was both mystified and annoyed. "You can't...or you won't?"
Spock averted his eyes, coldly silent. Here was the Vulcan deep freeze all over again, and Kirk was not about to let him get away with it.
"Never," Kirk snapped, "not once in all your years of service have you ever abdicated a command. Yet last night you beamed off this ship without assigning the conn, without so much as logging your departure." He gestured at the screen. "It's all here. Dereliction of duty...absent without leave...public drunkenness...disorderly conduct..." He paused in the litany to take a breath and found a look of controlled horror in Spock's eyes. "Not to mention the various assault charges, including those on the arresting officers. It was no easy task settling all this with the local authorities. Now, Mister Spock, you must settle with me."
Spock spread his hands on his thighs and stared down at them. "I...remember little of it. Music. Colors. Faces."
One slender hand rose to his discolored eye. He frowned slightly. "You say there are assault charges. Are any of them...sexual in nature?"
Kirk was only mildly surprised by the query, for three years ago Spock had seriously injured a female shipmate while in the throes of pon farr. Was that what this was all about? Was he still struggling with the aftermath of that terrible time?
"There was a woman involved," Kirk told him, "though not directly. You tangled with a Belsarian over some exotic dancer, but apparently you were both too drunk to inflict any serious damage." Spock was visibly relieved. Though it was none of his business, Kirk wondered, "Were you meeting a woman at the interhull tonight?" Those secretive compartments were popular for intimate rendezvous among the crew, and contrary to popular belief, Vulcans were quite capable of mating at any time.
Spock gave him a strangely guarded look. "I was seeking meditation. There are cubicles reserved for that purpose."
Though not entirely convinced, Kirk let the matter drop. "Irrelevant, in any case. What concerns me most is your conduct last night. You left the Enterprise without leaving an officer in command." Beaming aboard ship with vomit on his shoes had dampened his initial twinge of amusement. Discovering that Spock abdicated his duty had wiped the smile permanently from Kirk's face. "Why?" he demanded. "Just tell me why."
"I...do not know," Spock replied after a moment of thought. "The memories are clouded."
"Were you drinking before you left the ship?"
Spock's distant, haunted eyes turned from his. If ever there was guilty-looking man, this was it. Swallowing his person feelings, Kirk stood, and the Vulcan rose respectfully to attention. But the eyes, the fathomless brown eyes remained fixed on some faraway point.
Kirk broke the silence with an admiral's well-seasoned authority. "No man, Mister Spock, no one is so valuable that I will place him above the welfare of this ship. No one who fails in his duty to this ship and crew will go unpunished." He paused, a frown of doubt creasing his brow. These past years had brought pressures on Spock that might have broken a lesser man. The Vulcan was not indestructible. Relenting a bit, he continued, "For now, you are suspended from duty and confined to the ship. I'm postponing a formal captain's mast until you submit to a psychological examination."
Spock stirred. "Permission to speak, Admiral?"
"Sir, Doctor McCoy has released me from medical care."
"Nevertheless, Mister Spock, you will present yourself for examination first thing tomorrow. Those are Doctor McCoy's orders...and my own."
The Vulcan bowed his head in apparent acceptance. Kirk dismissed him before personal interest won out over his own responsibility as ship's commander. He had meant every aching word about duty. Yes, he may have used the V'Ger crisis to regain command of the refurbished Enterprise, but that command was now temporarily his, and he would not compromise it. But his private wish to install Spock as the new captain now seemed but a distant hope.
Glancing at his wrist chronometer, he sighed. He must get some sleep if was going to function tomorrow. Correction: today. Warp out in five hours, a new course to of all places, Mason's Resolve, where they would take on a medical team bound for a conference on Vulcan. It would be his first visit to Mason's since Spock's ill-fated pon farr, and the timing could not be worse.
In the rational portion of his mind, Spock knew there were not many paces separating the turbolift from his quarters, but tonight it seemed uncomfortably far in the night-dimmed corridor. He covered the distance quickly. Even so, his heart was pounding by the time he reached his door. For a moment he stared at the smooth metallic surface, not quite remembering how it opened. Then the door sensed his presence, opened of its own accord, and he was safely inside.
The cabin was swathed in deep shadows. A single flame guttered near his meditation alcove, in peril from stray air currents and neglect. Its hypnotic writhing briefly held his attention before he turned to the room's control panel and abruptly switched on every light. Yet somehow it still seemed wrong.
He closed his eyes, and a dreamlike wraith seemed to reach for him, tender and inviting with her promises of sensual pleasure. So near. So very near. A delicious yearning was rapidly overtaking him when he abruptly came to himself and ended the troubling fantasy. It was not the first seductive episode of this type, and they were becoming harder to resist.
I am Vulcan. I am in control.
Carefully regulating his thoughts, he made his way to his bed, but the mere sight of the narrow bunk was enough to set him burning again. A pon farr image of Ensign Orella rose in his mind, and was instantly superimposed with that of a red-haired human female. He turned away. Confused, he reached out, and his fingers rammed into an unexpected surface.
He stared steadily at the partition until it became familiar again. Then slowly he sat on the bed, watching his spectral reflection move in a nearby mirror, and it was as if he were viewing a stranger. Hardly logical, but there was little logic in seductive visions...or in recurring dreams full of desperate, unanswered pleas.
Let me go! Let me out!
"Who are you?" Spock asked the entrapped image.
In the silence that followed, his shoulders slumped and he made no effort to straighten. There would be little rest tonight. Even if he forced sleep on himself, the dreams would come again. At last he rose, put on a meditation robe, and assumed the traditional posture. He would try to empty his mind and open himself to a'Tha, using the ancient Way of Kril'es, or harmony with One and All. It differed from any exercises of the Kolinahru, and even those he had practiced in earlier years, for since V'Ger, he had begun to seek a more personal relationship with the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Perhaps there he would find the strength he needed.
"Conscience can be a marvelous rudder," McCoy said as he bit into his toast, "guiding an individual along on an even moral keel."
"Through life's ocean of good and evil," Kirk finished with a wry grin. He swallowed some hot black coffee and glanced once around the officer's lounge. Though no one was near enough to overhear them, he lowered his voice. "But Bones, Spock is a Vulcan, not a boat."
"Spock is Spock." Scowling, the doctor scooped up a forkful of scrambled eggs. "He's not any more Vulcan than human, despite his physical appearance."
"And you think he's suffering an attack of conscience?"
Kirk shifted in his seat. "Hell, we've all done things that we're not particularly proud of. With Ensign Orella, pon farr gave him little choice. And with Tobias, he had no culpability at all."
"True," McCoy said, "but the way Tobias died still concerns me. Spock in there all alone with him..."
Kirk stiffened. "Surely you aren't suggesting that Spock..."
"Did him in?" McCoy waved the thought aside. "Of course not, but Spock has been acting mighty strange since that night on Helexia. I'm going to put him through every test in the book."
Kirk pushed up from the table. "When is he due in sickbay?"
"Thirty minutes. I'd like you there, if possible."
Kirk managed a wan smile. "Reinforcements?"
"I'll take all I can get."
Kirk was in sickbay nursing a second mug of coffee when Spock punctually arrived. The Vulcan looked as if he had spent the night in an anteroom of hell.
McCoy dropped any semblance of a professional manner, took Spock by the shoulders and said, "This has gone about far enough, my friend."
The alien eyes shifted to some terribly neutral point between the two humans. "I do not understand your meaning, Doctor."
"Oh, I think you do," McCoy countered. "I think you understand with painful clarity. Self-recrimination. Gut-wrenching guilt. I've heard tell that Vulcans consider such things illogical...like other bothersome emotions they sweep under the rug. Don't they?" Spock remained stock-still, yet there was a sense of something stirring beneath that rigid exterior as McCoy pressed on. "A man...a feeling man can only operate like that for so long. Then the pressures make themselves known in unpleasant ways."
Looking coldly at McCoy, the Vulcan said, "Remove your hands."
With an angry little shake, McCoy released him and went over beside Kirk. "Jim was there, we both were. Friends. Remember the word? We cared enough to stand with you on Helexis, but you stayed behind in that basement...and you came out a changed man."
Kirk set down his mug. "McCoy is right. At first the difference in you was so slight that I wrote it off as a contemplative mood. Understandable for someone who'd met and lost his double in the space of an hour. But since then you've grown steadily more withdrawn, and now this destructive binge. It's all connected, isn't it?" Rising to his feet, he promised, "Nothing you say will go beyond this room. Let's have the truth. What went on between you and Tobias?"
Spock's gaze dropped. After a silent moment, his hands began fidgeting and he glanced around the deck as if wrestling some private sin. "I...I won't be punished?" he asked in an uncertain voice.
Kirk cast the doctor a startled look, then said, "Let's hear it."
Now Spock's normally composed features shifted into a nervous mask. "I was so sick...when the other came. Somehow I thought I knew him...and then when he touched my face..."
Kirk opened his mouth to speak, but a meaningful glance from McCoy silenced him.
Facing Spock, the doctor gently asked, "He touched you?"
"Yes. He was...in my thoughts. I begged him to help me."
"Tobias," Kirk said.
Spock turned suddenly to Kirk, eyes brimming with anguished tears. A shiver began in the admiral's back and swiftly chased over his entire body. This was not Spock. This could not be Spock. He had responded to Kirk's voice as if Tobias were his name!
McCoy had reached the same conclusion. "So you begged Spock to help you. And then what?"
Tobias/Spock repressed a sob. "I could feel his disgust. He...he...didn't like me."
McCoy shot Kirk a worried glance, then went over and put an arm around his troubled patient. This time Tobias/Spock seemed to take comfort in the touch.
"Well now," McCoy said, lapsing into his country doctor drawl. "There's no need to get upset." He gently guided the Vulcan to the diagnostic table. "Just wait here a minute and Doctor Chapel will see what's ailin' you."
"I'm not sick anymore," Tobias/Spock insisted, but nevertheless he obeyed.
McCoy stepped out of the room with Kirk. Grim as death, he waved Christine Chapel through the sliding doors. "Give him a preliminary exam, Chris. And don't be surprised if you find his behavior...a little odd."
No need to tell me that, thought Chapel as the door sealed her and the patient in privacy. Since V'Ger she had seen many new sides of Spock: laughter, exhilaration, tears. Yesterday she had even seen him drunk and helped nurse him through a Vulcan-sized hangover. At this point, very little would surprise her.
Businesslike, she strode to the diagnostic bed and set its programming as she chatted. "I could tell you this isn't going to hurt a bit, Mister Spock, but neither of us would believe that. Just consider it payment for all the trouble you caused around here yesterday."
She paused in her work to glance over at him. Spock's eyes were on her. Oh, but he was handsome-shiner, banged lip, and all. Another kailoscopic treatment would help bring down the last of the swelling.
With a gentle smile she said, "Please slip out of your tunic and undershirt, then lie down."
Once he settled on the diagnostic bed, she studied the readings displayed on the wall monitor. Autonomic functions were a little high for his hybrid physiology, but within acceptable limits. After entering a notation on his chart, she turned to find all the readings at peak level.
Her heart gave a lurch. What was going on? Taking the Vulcan's wrist, she searched out his elusive, racing pulse. His skin felt burning hot. His bare chest rose and fell too rapidly.
Suddenly he asked, "Will it really hurt?"
"What?" Chapel laughed uneasily. "Of course not. I was only..." Dragging her eyes away, she tried to focus on the examination.
"You are quite beautiful," he told her.
For an instant she doubted her hearing, but then her gaze locked with his. Clearly, he had meant it. And in those smoldering eyes, she read a great deal more. Stunned, she released his wrist, but he immediately seized her arms and brought her down firmly against him. She was too shocked to resist as his fingers slid into her hair, forcing her nearer and nearer, until their lips touched.
No, her mind cried, this is wrong! But she could not hide the feelings he aroused in her as the kiss deepened and their thoughts brushed.
Not here, she objected. Not like this.
But I want you, he answered.
Yes, and almost from the beginning, she had wanted this man. Despite all his repressive ways, she had loved him, even knowing that he could never behave differently, never return even a small part of her affection. In the interest of sanity, she had refined her hopeless passion into friendship. But the tinder was still there.
Somehow she pulled away from the seductive lips, and with his hands still on her, looked down at him. Yes, she reassured herself, this really is Spock. A Spock she had seen only in dreams, breathless with lust and damnably desirable. Here was the secret face had always longed to uncover. Spock, wanting her shamelessly.
"Let me...let me lock the door," she managed to rasp.
Yes, his mind answered, but come back. Come back quickly.
Burning with need, she hurried to the control panel.
"Jim, a meld with Tobias would explain a lot. There's something I want you to see." McCoy ushered Kirk into his sickbay office and pulled a printout from a desk drawer. "I requested this data on Tobias from the Federation Science Board. It's a personality profile compiled by Dorian Wren. I had no idea how relevant it would turn out to be."
The mere mention of Doran Wren set Kirk's blood boiling. In a fit of professional jealousy, she had used a novel technology to duplicate Spock, and though Tobias was now dead, the repercussions of her twisted experiment seemed to be living on.
Kirk skimmed the report. Whatever else the blue-eyed, blond Tobias might have been, he was darn near identical to Spock and reflected what Spock might have been, raised apart from his rigid Vulcan culture. Compared to their own Mister Spock, his replicate sounded downright hedonistic.
"Jim, he could feel so conflicted about Tobias dying, that he's taking on his duplicate's personality."
Kirk no longer saw the doctor's worried face. He saw a decorated First Officer leaving his post; he saw a once strong shoulder shrinking fearfully from his touch, and cast about for some plausible explanation. "Alright, Spock might have been disturbed by his meld with Tobias, so he forgot to assign the conn before leaving the ship. So he went out and got drunk and picked a fight over some floozy. Does that make him nuts? And maybe now he's still a little hungover, a little confused, that's all."
McCoy sighed. "Do I have to list all the parallels in their behavior? For Pete's sake, you saw Spock respond to the name ‘Tobias'."
"I'm not sure what I saw," Kirk shot back. Tossing down the report, he stalked out of sickbay as if the devil were at his heels. Sure, someone could interpret Spock's behavior to fit the doctor's theory, but he preferred waiting until all the facts were in. When every test was complete, they would sit around a table and analyze the results. And by then Spock would probably be just fine.
But later that day, Kirk's hopes were dashed when Spock became violently ill. Not liquor this time, but meat-a childish excess of the same animal flesh that Spock had carefully avoided all his life. Suddenly anything seemed possible. In a galaxy where a Vulcan could go mad, Kirk marveled that time still flowed smoothly forward. The Enterprise would arrive on schedule at Mason's Resolve in fifteen hours. As commander of the ship, he would welcome the medical delegation aboard, smiling as usual. Only instead of Spock at his side, the Vulcan would be in sickbay, under psychiatric confinement.
The bed was not uncomfortable, just strange. But that should not have mattered. Wide awake, Spock rolled over and studied the dimly lit room. An empty table, four bare walls, a screened-off commode, a single locked door. It might as well be another jail cell. Essentially, it was.
Though part of him chafed at the confinement, another part of him felt relief at being shut away. Here he was spared the unsubtle human curiosity of his shipmates. Here he was prevented from doing anything more to humiliate himself. The enclosed space, with its firm boundaries, brought a vague visceral comfort. But it did nothing to relieve his inner tension.
Tonight, that tension bore a woman's name. Christine.
The thought of Chapel's mature good looks and shapely figure set Spock's nerves on edge. Surely the stimulating images her name evoked were not real-mere phantasms related to his drunken debacle on Wrigley's Pleasure Planet. Stretching his limbs in the ritualistic Vulcan manner, he focused on that fierce hope, disallowing any other possibility. But an increasingly aggressive inner voice broke through to mock him.
You are lying to yourself. Christine knows what we did with her.
"We?" Spock protested aloud. "I could not have behaved in such a manner." And yet lately he had behaved in shameful ways, doing such harm to his own body that Doctor McCoy had ordered him confined. At least that was the reason McCoy gave, and for once Spock had not pressed him.
And why not? demanded that nagging voice. Why no questions? Were you afraid of the answers? Afraid that Chapel talked?
Spock felt like tearing into his skull to silence the contrary whisper. He had tried everything else-logic, meditation, and all manner of mental redirection.
He was tossing restlessly when the door sighed open, sending a brief shaft of light into the room. Turning, he came face to face with Doctor Chapel. The surge of physical attraction he experienced only deepened his sense of embarrassment.
"Did I wake you?" she asked, worry evident in her voice.
Spock averted his eyes. "I...was preparing for sleep." He hoped the half-truth would send her away, but instead she walked closer. This time he spoke plainly. "Doctor, I wish to be alone."
Ignoring his request, she came over to the side of his bed and spoke in an apologetic manner. "We...we need to talk."
He ventured a look at her, and the doctor's blushing face made it harder for him to deny. Had their sexual encounter in the examination room been more than a fantasy, after all?
Her eyes answered his unspoken question, brutal in their honesty, but unaccusing.
Overcome with shame, Spock turned his face to the wall. "I am sorry," he choked, even as his body ached to feel her touch again. How could she have been so willing to pleasure him, even at the risk of her Starfleet career? It seemed that all the years of Vulcan indifference had never cooled her desire completely. She would have done anything he asked. Anything. And only Doctor McCoy's impatient buzz at the locked door had prevented him from demanding still more.
A hand gently closed over his shoulder. "No, Spock. I must apologize to you." Christine's voice barely held steady. "As your doctor, I violated a professional trust. What happened...is my fault. You took me by surprise, but even when I first felt your mind working on me..."
"My mind?" Slowly Spock turned to her. "Are you saying that I...?"
"It doesn't matter," she said firmly. Bringing her hand to rest on his, she interlaced their fingers. "Please believe me. You aren't to blame...and I am not offended. If I thought it would help your recovery, I'd..."
Spock felt the coolness of her human palm against his, felt the stimulating direction of her thoughts. More than anything, he wanted what Christine could offer; here, this very moment, in this very tempting privacy. Hadn't it been so before? A woman's touch. Smooth, knowing hands bringing delight.
Tears welled in his eyes as he forced himself to draw away. "Leave me," he pleaded.
Christine sighed. "I suppose I've only made matters worse by coming here...but I wanted you to know that your confinement has nothing to do with...with us. No one knows about what happened."
There was relief, swept aside by a cold, juvenile wave of suspicion. "And now you're offering to keep quiet? For a price?"
He did not know where the insinuation had come from, but it was too late to retract his words. He felt the woman's hurt and anger like a lash.
"Spock! You can't believe I'd blackmail you."
He stared at her, bewildered, for suddenly the name "Spock" meant nothing to him. Yet somehow he knew it should, just as he knew that this woman's face was wrong. Familiar, lovely, desirable, but wrong.
A whimper rose in his throat. "I...I didn't mean..." Didn't mean what? What offense filled him with such shamed apology? The woman's eyes had grown kind, so perhaps he would not be punished, after all.
"Oh Spock," she said tenderly. "What's become of you?"
Yes, what? Suddenly the mind shadows parted, and a bright shaft of reason shone upon a pivotal memory. In quiet horror, Spock recalled, "I...was melding with my replicate...and...and felt him die."
When Christine stayed silent, he drew strength from her composure and briefly explained how his strange replicate came into existence. "But he did not live long. And for a time, standing beside his dead body, I thought I might go mad. I would have done anything to bring Tobias back." He swallowed hard and took a deep breath. "I could do no more than close his staring eyes-an empty, wasted gesture."
Drained, Spock did not resist when she pressed a gentle hand to his cheek. Now that it was said, perhaps he would be allowed some small measure of peace. But no. The inner voice was waiting.
You let me die. You wanted me to die...
It had been a restless night for Kirk, and he was already awake when the computer called to him. Rising, he quickly showered and dressed. The Enterprise was orbiting Mason's Resolve, but there would be time to consult with McCoy and eat some breakfast before the doctors beamed up. With a distracted glance at the mirror, he smoothed his uniform and left for sickbay.
A disturbing pall hung over the medical department. Instead of the friendly aroma of coffee, Kirk smelled trouble as he approached McCoy's office. The door was ajar. Entering, he found McCoy at his desk, strain etched in every line of his face. Nearby, a woman sat softly weeping. Kirk recognized Christine Chapel, and his stomach flipped. In all her years of service, he had never seen her lose control, not even at Spock's abrupt departure from Starfleet.
The question fell from lips gone cold. "What's going on? Has something happened to Spock?"
McCoy briefly glanced at Chapel. He looked old beyond his years as he grimly said, "Sometime early this morning, he escaped confinement...and beamed down to the planet's surface."
Then Spock was alright. Kirk's heart resumed beating. "There'll be a record of the transport coordinates. Why wasn't I informed immediately?"
Once again McCoy's eyes darted to his fellow doctor. "Well, the transporter crew didn't see anything extraordinary in an officer leaving the ship. News of Spock's situation hasn't exactly been advertised, not even around sickbay. I didn't realize he was missing until a few minutes ago, when Chapel told me."
Now Kirk almost wished he had not been so secretive about Spock's situation. But knowing what privacy meant to Vulcans, there had been a powerful urge to protect him any way he could. He turned his attention to Chapel, whose tears suggested that there was more to the story. "And what part do you have in all this, Doctor?"
Sniffling, she dried her reddened eyes on a tissue and sat up straight. "Admiral. I..." Her voice quavered away to nothing. "I...am responsible for losing Mister Spock."
"It's true," she continued miserably. "Yesterday, while examining him, he...behaved in a way that I felt sure would trouble him. I...I couldn't sleep, thinking about it. So finally I went to his room to...to air the matter. I wanted him to know..." Her voice choked off.
"Know what?" Kirk was getting a peculiar feeling.
Chapel's face went crimson as she stared at the floor. "I didn't want him feeling guilty over his...his familiarity."
Kirk looked to McCoy, who seemed nearly as disconcerted.
McCoy cleared his throat and said, "While on the examination table yesterday, our dignified friend induced Christine to...to engage in activity of a sexual nature."
Kirk's jaw dropped in disbelief. Then he recalled one of Dorian Wren's comments about Tobias. Sexually uninhibited. A most telling observation. She must have carried out extensive hands-on research into the replicate's libido. And now, if Spock was taking on aspects of his replicate's personality...
"I...I tried to stop myself," Chapel said, strangling on the words. "But his mind held me. And again, early this morning. He was telling me about his encounter with a replicate named Tobias, how they were melding when Tobias died. And...and then...he got me to open the door. Somehow it seemed that I shouldn't tell anyone until morning... "
As she lapsed into silence, McCoy remarked, "A clear case of mental suggestion, but at least now we have an important clue. Spock was mentally joined to Tobias at the very moment of death. No wonder he's so troubled."
Kirk soberly agreed. But how to help him?
Spock had not worn his wrist communicator. On Kirk's orders, Mister Chekov scanned the general area of the beam-down, located Spock's life signs, and was carefully monitoring his position from the bridge. Any further actions would have to wait until Kirk and McCoy played host to the delegation arriving in the transporter room.
A slim figure with jet black hair formed in the final beam. As the light played over the pointed ears and pleasing features, Kirk sensed destiny at work in this stranger. Healer T'Sora, enjoying a sabbatical from a prestigious Vulcan school of medicine, was on her way home to attend the medical conference.
At first opportunity, Kirk drew her aside and briefly described Spock's situation as a hypothetical case. T'Sora showed immediate interest. Together with Doctor McCoy, they were soon in sickbay, poring over Spock's recent medical history and the personality file on Tobias. The healer's rare violet eyes became downright grim.
"I know this man," she said. "The only child of Ambassador Sarek by an Earth woman."
It seemed to Kirk that a subtle inflection hinted at disapproval. "Might that be a problem for you, Healer?"
"It would more likely pose a problem for Spock," she replied with unruffled calm. "At times, he must find his unique heritage challenging."
"Spock manages to get by," McCoy said very dryly.
Degree by chilly degree, the room's temperature seemed to plummet, and Kirk experienced second thoughts. Why had they invited this unsympathetic stranger to pry into the intimate details of Spock's life? Time stretched as T'Sora scanned the data displayed on McCoy's monitor.
"Well?" McCoy said at last. "Have you encountered anything like this in your practice?"
The healer turned to her human colleague. "Not precisely, Doctor. But only a trained healer or a highly skilled adept should attempt the sort of meld Spock initiated with Tobias. He should have known better."
McCoy bristled. "Perhaps some errant emotion swayed his Vulcan judgment. Death is never a pleasant thing to watch."
"That is a fact," she acknowledged, and retreated into her own thoughts.
"Well, can you help him?" Kirk finally asked.
T'Sora roused herself and nodded. "I may be the only one who can."
An incomprehensible lecture followed, yet somehow the aura of Vulcan mysticism helped bolster Kirk's confidence in the healer. It mattered little what he or McCoy or any human thought of all this. If Spock believed, perhaps she could help him.
Within minutes they were standing on a grassy hillside of Mason's Resolve. Three years earlier, Kirk, McCoy, and Spock had stood on this very hill near the stone cottage of Chess Master Hotaka. Now Mason's had gone stormy with autumn. Even T'Sora seemed to take a moment to adjust from starship decks to thunderclaps and stiff breezes. Gathering their bearings, they followed a narrow trail to the residence. Its windows were tightly shuttered, and the once lovely gardens gone to weeds. Wondering what had become of Hotaka, Kirk walked up the porch steps with his two companions.
T'Sora fingered the broken door latch and said, "He is within."
A forced lock on a vacant home was not such a remarkable thing, but Kirk did not question the certainty of her words. Even without the aid of ship's sensors, he had his own personal sense where Spock was involved. His only concern now was getting his friend promptly back to the Enterprise for treatment. Catching McCoy's eye, he moved for the door, but T'Sora neatly stepped into his path.
"Admiral," she said, "I cannot help Spock unless you commit him unconditionally into my care. In Vulcan healing there is no middle ground."
McCoy huffed. "I don't think I like the sound of that."
T'Sora's violet eyes held Kirk for a long moment, and their message was clear. Knowing what that message could mean for Spock, Kirk acted against his nature and backed down.
"Bones," he said quietly, "I don't think we have much choice."
"Like hell," McCoy protested, yet he threw up his hands in a helpless gesture, for even he was facing his professional limitations.
"If you leave me a communicator," T'Sora said, "I will contact you when we are ready to come aboard."
So they were being dismissed.
A gust sighed over the porch, stirring dead leaves trapped in unkempt corners. Kirk looked at the peeling red door, fighting a powerful urge to rush in and claim Spock. With an effort, he unfastened his wrist communicator and held it out.
"He's yours," Kirk told the healer, silently adding, And God help you if you betray my trust.
T'Sora sighed as the two humans sparkled away in transport. It was a relief to be rid of their negative emotions. Gazing over the windswept hillside, she wondered how any reasonable being could endure their turbulent company for hours, for days, for years on end. The unpleasant thought led her back to her new responsibility. To Spock.
Freeing her mind from distractions, she invoked the ancient healer's discipline, focusing on the tortured soul awaiting her inside. Once she reached the appropriate plane of awareness, she passed through the doorway into a shadowed, musty-smelling room. Her sensitive ears heard shallow respirations coming from a sofa. And there lay the dim shape of a man, curled in on himself, trembling.
For a moment T'Sora remained absolutely still, gathering a minutiae of data even as she pitied this wounded creature hiding beneath a mildewed blanket. Then moving closer, she spoke his name.
When there was no response, she slowly went over and knelt at the sofa's edge, not touching in body or mind. Finding his dark watchful eyes, she said, "I am T'Sora, a healer. Fear me not."
Movement rustled the blanket. A hand appeared and grabbed hold of her arm. A hoarse voice pleaded in Standard, "Don't leave me!"
Tendrils of disorderly thought licked at her shielded mind, repellant yet somehow fascinating in their passionate intensity. Danger, she warned herself. This was no ordinary patient. This was no ordinary Vulcan. This was Spock, a member of her own clan Talek-sen-deen.
Visions of the halfling rose from her memories. A little boy as inquisitive as a khree pup. A bright, poised adolescent at clan gatherings. A determined young man in defiance of his father. A handsome Starfleet officer cruelly rejected by his betrothed. And now this...
Recalling her duty, she withdrew from his grip and opened the nearest window. With fresh air blowing in, she took stock of her patient in the ancient healer's way. It was a time-tested rite of soothing chant and knowledgeable touch. As she began the Rabban Iksom, she brushed Spock's sensitive meld points, eliciting a pained reaction from his inflamed nerves. The man was on fire, but the source of this disorder lay not in any bodily organ, but somewhere in the depths of his mind. As she sensed the incredible force of will by which he was restraining himself, there was a deepening of respect.
"Do not be afraid," she repeated. "I will not harm you, my brother."
Tears brimmed in the tortured eyes, and for a moment he seemed to behold T'Sora with recognition. Then his eyes closed, and his body convulsed with some fierce internal struggle. When next he looked at her, she knew that nothing of Spock remained.
"Tobias," she said, and the halfling responded with pure panic. His arms flew out, knocking her off balance, and she landed hard on the tiled flooring. Though he was poised to escape, she expertly swept him off his feet and reached for the nerve pathway at the base of his neck. One tempered squeeze and his body went limp, while retaining a certain useless degree of consciousness.
T'Sora rose to her knees and observed the disabled halfling. Though she was not sure who was now controlling Spock's body, of one thing she was absolutely certain. He could not endure much more of this devastating strife. Treatment must begin at once, while there still remained a reasonable chance for recovery. Considering her personal circumstances, it was a perilous business. Any Vulcan nearing his or her seventh year risked mental contagion from an unbalanced patient. T'Sora knew her time well, and joining with Spock's mind was apt to trigger pon farr. Since she no longer had a bondmate, it would put her in grave danger. The problem consumed her as she arranged the covers back over Spock's shivering form.
"Well," she said, as much to herself as to him. "What then shall I do with thee?"
Desperation flared in his eyes. "Slay me," he urged. "Mercifully...as your father once ended I-Chaya's suffering."
So Spock was back. T'Sora experienced a wave of deep sentiment. That determined boy and his injured pet sehlat. How difficult a decision it had been for young Spock, yet he had chosen as reasonably as a healer. Using a corner of the blanket, she wiped a tear from his face, then reapplied just enough pressure at his neck to keep her patient immobile, yet capable of communicating.
"But Spock, you are not an animal. I cannot take your life, even mercifully. Given time, I might help, for you see...it is a matter of the katra."
His comprehension slowly dawned, with a regret that was bitter to behold. "The katra...?"
Her lips stirred into the suggestion of a smile. "Yes, my unfortunate one. That is how you came to be in such a state, and by the foolhardy act of your own hand. Healing is best left to those who understand it, particularly as death approaches."
Spock shook so that his teeth chattered. "I had not thought..."
"You do not yet know how to think," T'Sora admonished him. "I can teach you more about the living spirit than you ever learned in the shadow of Gol. Healer's knowledge." Gently she arranged her fingertips on his burning face. "But first..."
Spock locked his mind against the powerful consciousness skimming his surface thoughts, but in his weakened, chaotic state he could not hold out for long. Soon the healer would sink deep into his hidden places and lay them bare. With all his remaining strength, he resisted, but there was no way to escape her skillful probing.
Spare yourself, urged T'Sora. Do not oppose me. With firm intent, she pressed through the wounded layers of panic and outrage, deeper and deeper into the tangled mindscape.
Outside, the sky had cleared. Sunlight streamed through a window, dappling Spock's blanket. Thunder rumbled in the distance as T'Sora gazed at the dark head cradled in her lap. Lightly she touched his brow, careful not to rouse him yet. It had almost happened. A few moments longer in the halfling's mind, and they might have deeply bonded. Even so, she felt warmed, changed. The turbulent union had awakened a solicitude that she had not experienced since the death of her mate. She could not abandon the halfling now. By some means she must save him, and perhaps even save herself in the process.
For every healing there was a price.
Reaching into a pocket of her robe, she drew out a pleej corn from the store of herbs she carried. Its spicy, seductive fragrance called to mind an ancient warning. "One taste saves, but the second enslaves." The quaint words exaggerated the drug's potency, but out of wise habit she shielded her nose with a sleeve as she crushed the wrinkled kernel to powder between her fingers. Even in his sleep, Spock scented the pungent release and turned toward it, nostrils flaring. Inhalation would not be sufficient in this case. T'Sora forced the precious dust between his lips, then carefully wiped away every trace as the halfling began to stir. Soon they would be ready to meet Admiral Kirk.
The conference was not turning out as Kirk had envisioned: calm, rational being seated around a table, reviewing Spock's medical test results. The healer's unexpected request made him feel anything but calm. Stunned, he glanced from one person to the next; at Doctor Chapel's stony face; at Doctor McCoy, angrily clutching a folder of printouts; at regal T'Sora, radiating a sublime confidence that Kirk found galling.
But we are civilized beings, Kirk forcibly reminded himself. We will hear everything she has to say and consider her words on their own merit, rather than gut-level emotion. Now, more than ever, Spock needed them as steady as Vulcans, for judging by his appearance, he could no longer reason for himself.
Kirk turned to his sick friend. Spock looked as if he belonged in bed, but the healer had insisted that he be present at this meeting, so there he sat, vacantly staring at his palsied hands-a mute but eloquent exhibit for the healer's case.
Kirk's eyes came to rest once again on T'Sora. "You say it's imperative that Spock accompany you to Vulcan for a lengthy course of treatment."
"Yes," she patiently reiterated. "Unless you commit Spock into my care, he will never recover."
"You're that sure of your diagnosis?" McCoy pressed.
T'Sora faced Spock, and the violet fire in her eyes seemed to command a response from him. For the first time, he looked up.
"Your name," the healer demanded. "Speak your name."
Spock's mouth opened, and for an instant his expression showed a little of his former intelligence. Then the encouraging glimmer died away, leaving a vacant-eyed stranger.
"He cannot answer at present," T'Sora explained. "He does not know how to respond. The treatment I administered has brought the two life currents within him to a truce, but only temporarily."
"Two life currents?" Chapel questioned. "So you're telling us that Tobias has actually entered into Spock? Years ago, I experienced a union of that sort with him. We shared consciousness for a few minutes when his body had been taken over by an alien. But that wasn't at all unpleasant."
The healer nodded. "Then at least you, Doctor, have some basis for understanding. What has happened to Spock is similar, but as you have seen, most unpleasant due to the undisciplined nature of his replicate. The vestigial link joining him to Spock from the moment of replication made the death transfer a natural part of the survival instinct. In the midst of their meld, Tobias felt himself dying and fled into Spock."
Kirk remembered the incident Chapel had mentioned. That long ago day, he had almost lost Spock to the scheming alien, Henoch. He knew that it was possible for some highly evolved life forms to effect such transfers at will. But Spock and Tobias were Vulcan-human halflings. Suspicion made its way into his voice as he said, "I've never heard of this kind of life force transfer among Vulcans."
"It is a private matter," T'Sora coolly explained, "one virtually unknown to outworlders. I can say nothing more on the subject. If you want Spock to recover, you must entrust him to me."
Trust that cold-hearted woman? Like hell, Kirk thought as he prowled the night-dimmed corridors. It was late aboard ship, and lonely. He had not felt so alone since the day Spock left for Gol. Nothing would relieve the empty ache; not company, not food, not even the good warm bite of Saurian brandy. Tonight he had tried them all.
Walking aimlessly along, he became aware that he had almost reached sickbay again. He stopped so suddenly that a passing crewman gave him a curious stare.
"Good evening, sir," said the young man.
Kirk offered a curt nod, and then turned a corner into sickbay. McCoy and Chapel were holed up in McCoy's office, each clinging glumly to a lukewarm mug of coffee. Kirk studied a wall monitor that had been linked into Spock's isolation room. The screen showed him sleeping peacefully in bed. Seated close by, T'Sora seemed to be lost in some kind of meditative trance. Perhaps the scene should have reassured Kirk, but it made him want to rush into Spock's room and yank the healer away. Was it a jealous urge? A stranger, not Jim Kirk, had succeeded in helping Spock. She was the one Spock needed now.
"Look at that," McCoy said. "I have to admit it. She's done more good for him in two days than we did in two weeks."
Kirk looked. There was nothing else to do but look.
Chapel reported, "Admiral, the information I requested on T'Sora arrived a few minutes ago. Her credentials are quite impressive. Would you like to see her file?"
Kirk took over her seat and studied the desktop screen. Somehow he was not surprised at the glowing account of T'Sora's background and medical career. If anything, the healer seemed overqualified to bother with the case. Maybe that was part of what troubled him; her deep, consuming interest in Spock. He had always assumed that Vulcan healers kept aloof from their patients.
"Look," McCoy said, pointing to the wall monitor.
T'Sora had risen. Bending over Spock, she positioned her graceful fingertips along the side of Spock's face. The touch was brief, yet Kirk sensed that an intimate exchange had taken place. Now T'Sora straightened and gazed intently at her patient.
"Well Jim," McCoy asked softly, "what's your opinion?"
Glaring at the healer's image, Kirk said, "This is solely a medical decision." He faced his CMO to add, "And something tells me you've already made it."
McCoy's eyes went bleak with apology. "I have to do what's best for Spock. So he goes."
Though Kirk swore under his breath, he knew that McCoy was right. They had no idea of how to treat Spock's disorder, so T'Mara was the only option. Mumbling something conciliatory, he left the office. There would be plenty of time to say goodbye to Spock tomorrow, and maybe Spock would even be fit enough to understand.
Out in the shadowy corridor, he paused for a deep breath, badly wanting another shot of brandy. But no. Nothing was going to stop the pain, so he might as well let it tear at him, full force, and begin to wear itself down. He would survive. He always did.
Hell, he thought, what's wrong with me? Nothing bad will happen to Spock. That woman will make him well again. After all, everyone knows you can trust a Vulcan. Can't you?
Next, in the final story of the series, follow Spock to Vulcan in "The Healer's Price".
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.