In the turbolift, Kirk asked Spock, Is it my imagination, or is
McCoy avoiding us?
I have noticed a certain unusual absence of the good doctor from
the bridge lately, Jim.
Yes . Not exactly hanging on my chair making annoying comments, is
No. However, I am hesitant to consider that a detriment.
Oh, come on, Spock! You miss him; admit it.
Spocks raised brows were the only reply to Kirks teasing.
The human smiled briefly, and then sobered. This has been going on
ever since we returned from the parallel universe.
One Vulcan brow rose again, but without the other. You imply a
Kirk shrugged. Maybe. He turned pensive. In fact , I dont quite
know how to say this, Spock , but I think it may be you that hes
Spock was mystified. I am certain that I have done nothing to
warrant such atypical behavior.
Not you. Your bearded double.
Now the brows really climbed.
Ive been thinking, Kirk went on. Bones was briefly alone with
him. And that was shortly after that other Spock admitted to me that he
would get the information that he wanted about us from Bones, because he
said that McCoy was soft, and had a plenitude of human weakness. Something
sinister mightve happened.
Spock frowned. To what sort of sinister something do you
If I knew that, I wouldnt have a mystery.
The clean-shaven Spock looked dubious. I assure you that it is not
the habit of Vulcans to torture or terrorize other individuals, even
ones as irritating as McCoy can sometimes be. The mere thought of such
abuse was clearly distasteful to him.
Kirk looked doubtful in turn. I dont know. That other Spock could
be quite ruthless.
If he found McCoy to be any sort of problem, or obstacle, or even
just an annoyance , mightnt he ?
I cannot advise you, Captain. I have never met the individual.
Oh, come on, Spock, Kirk chided him gently. Just imagine yourself
slightly sadistic , ruthless , stop-at-nothing .
Spock said stiffly, That personality would be contrary to my
Kirk looked at him askance. This from the man who almost brained me
with a stool once.
I was under the influence of alien plant spores, at the time.
Spock sounded slightly wounded.
Kirk went on as if his Vulcan friend hadnt spoken. And who nearly
strangled me to death with a Vulcan what-do-you-call ahn woon?
something like that.
I was under the influence of pon farr, then. Spock sounded
And who slugged me and knocked me backward over a table one time.
Spocks brows arched. I was under the influence of the shipwide
disease that suppressed the centers of judgment, like alcohol, at that time.
It was transmitted by mere touch, as youll recall. Human victims on the
planet froze to death while taking showers with their clothes on, while I
All Im saying is, you dont know what the bearded Spock mightve
been under the influence of.
Spock clammed up, and pursed his lips pensively, if a bit
What might he have done? What could you have done, if you were
under the influence of who knows what, and if McCoy were somehow a
problem, or a handy solution, for that matter? What would you do???
After a pause, Spock said somberly, Almost anything.
That response chilled Kirk, but after a suppressed shudder, he
realized the lack of informational content, and said irritably, Thats a
Spock stared at him more directly. I am constrained to point out
that you are missing the obvious: go to McCoy and ask.
Dont you think Ive tried that?? Kirk was annoyed. All he does
is mutter Nothing and walk away from me!
Spock looked fatalistic then. That is indeed perplexing. All that I
can suggest, is that when the good doctor wishes to tell you, he will.
Kirk looked irked. And in the meantime, Ive got a distracted,
inefficient chief surgeon. And an upset friend.
What would you have me do, Captain? Spock was direct.
It was what Kirk had wanted to hear. He was eager. Since you cant
guess what mightve happened . He winced inwardly at Spocks visible
indignant reaction to the word guess, but barreled onward. would you
do a mind meld, and find out?!
Spock looked affronted.
I know, I know, its against your principles to force one, and its
against every Vulcan rule in the book, but if doing so can save a friend
pain, or perhaps even save his life !
You are that concerned about him?
Spock actually sighed. Very well.
McCoy stood in his office, trying to concentrate on his reports, and
trying not to see in his mind the nightmarish face of the alternate-universe
Spock, coming at him with fingers raised, spreading toward his forehead like
the unwelcome advances of an alien hangar-deck, opening to swallow his poor
helpless shuttlecraft of a mind. Mind rape, human students at the Academy
called it, when first learning of and whispering about the Vulcan mind
probe. Definitely something to be avoided. But McCoy had been so probed by
the bearded Spock, and it truly had been a rape, a harrowing experience:
painful, frightening, and demeaning. To McCoys shock and shame, the alien
had even retrieved the human term mind rape during the meld, and had
derived a modicum of amusement from it. McCoy shivered at the memory of the
slight humor that had flashed back at him. He flexed his wrist; it still
ached from where Spock had taken an appalling grip on it, in order to propel
him across the room and pin him against the wall, so that he could inflict
his mental attack. The foreign Spock had been relentless, merciless, and
thorough, clinically stripping away unneeded information in order to unearth
the useful facts that he sought, leaving McCoy a jumbled mass of confusion
ever since. And McCoy had been utterly helpless to even slow him down, let
alone prevent him from doing his cold evil. He shuddered again. That was the
worst part, he supposed, even worse than the pain and the fear: his complete
vulnerability to that heartless man.
Spock and Kirk walked in. McCoy barely suppressed a gasp. Hed been
avoided this universes Spock ever since, sensing that this one shared the
same capabilities of the other, given the right circumstances; and also
finding this one too much of a painful reminder: seeing the wicked face in
his mind every time he gazed at this face.
Then his alarm grew. Spock was advancing, his Spock, the one whod
never before hurt him , and he was approaching in the same way.
Panicked, McCoy brought his arms up to ward off an attack, and Spock
seized his wrist , the same one , the sore one , to gain leverage, and to
push him back against the wall behind him. And it hurt.
The fingers of Spocks free hand spread to envelope McCoys face.
The cruel hangar-deck was opening again to enfold him.
McCoy cried out, wordlessly, haggardly. Within moments, Spock had
all of his answers about the other Spock, even including the mild amusement
that that Spock had derived from the term mind rape.
The clean-shaven Spock withdrew abruptly, in shock. McCoy crumpled
soundlessly to the deck.
What?? What?! expressed an alarmed Kirk.
Spock regarded him, and said flatly, This was the wrong thing to