Show and Tell

Title:  Show-and-Tell

Author:  Shoshana

Summary:  Leonard McCoy visits his great-granddaughter’s classroom. Long established Spock/McCoy relationship.

Rating:  PG-13 for profanity/obscenity and sexually suggestive conversation. Brief reference to group marriage.  

Warnings:  Most of the Spock/McCoy interaction occurs in the second half of the story.  Tribble alert!  References (TAS) More Tribbles, More Troubles as well as The Trouble With Tribbles. Hurt/comfort, in flashback.

Disclaimer:  I do not own Star Trek.  Not a molecule, atom, quark or vibrating string of it.

Notes:  The “northern” of “northern mockingbird” refers to North America; found throughout much of the U.S., the species is closely associated  with the American South.  Polygeminus grex is the common tribble. “Lingam” and “yoni” are Sanskrit words for stylized representations of the male and female genitalia, respectively.  “Light-year” is a  measure of distance, not time, but is used here idiomatically.

Dedication:  Dedicated to the memory of my cat Tribble, who gave me twenty years’ worth of purring, soft fur and love.







Drifting in the hazy borderline between sleep and full awakening, Leonard

McCoy heard the six trilled, liquid notes, then heard the phrase twice

repeated.  A shorter series of notes followed, also repeated two times.  Briefly

he thought he must be dreaming of his boyhood in Georgia:  he was hearing

the ever-varying song of Mimus polyglottus, the northern mockingbird, his

favorite bird and arguably the most talented avian singer of the North

American continent.  They were found in San Francisco where he now

lived, but the mockingbirds of the western U.S. were not such accomplished

mimics and singers as those in the east.  No ornithologist, Len was personally

convinced that the mockingbirds of Georgia were the most creative and

beautiful singers of their species.


The bird switched to yet a different phrase, and Leonard reached full

consciousness.  He knew himself then be in the outskirts of Atlanta, though

not in his childhood home; he was in the guest room of the new home of

his granddaughter Theresa and her husband Ron.


He stretched and opened his eyes.  A familiar sight greeted his eyes in

the otherwise unfamiliar room:  the long, straight back of his mate, seated

on the other side of the bed and draped in the black folds of a Vulcan

meditation robe.  Len lay still, not wishing to disturb Spock’s concentration.


Having sensed the awakening of his bondmate, Spock soon finished his

meditation and turned to his husband.


“Good morning, Leonard. I trust you slept well?”  The two men touched

fingers in the Vulcan manner. 


“Damn bird sang all night, I don’t know how I got any sleep.”  Spock

sensed the pleasure lurking behind the grumbled complaint.


“Mockingbirds have a predilection for vocalizing during the nocturnal



“I said that already.”  Len pulled Spock down for one long kiss.  “Don’t

have time for more of this, I’m afraid, I’ve got to get ready to go to school

with Molly.  Sure you don’t want to come with us?  She said you would be

welcome to tag along.” 


“No, I shall remain here.”


Len did not press him.  He thought it likely that Spock expected to be bored

to tears (well, the Vulcan equivalent) by sitting through a third-grade class

in a Terran educational system, or that Spock feared Molly would find

embarrassing the presence of her great-grandfather’s non-human husband

at her school’s Grandparents’ Day.  Not that Molly had ever evinced any

discomfort regarding Spock; she had an easy relationship with her

“Osa’mekh’al,” or “honored grandfather.”


“I will, however, meet you at the school later and walk home with you.”


“Theresa asked you to do that, didn’t she?” Len said as he retrieved slacks

and a shirt from the closet.  “She thinks I am incapable of walking six

blocks by myself.  I am neither senile nor decrepit, I’m only eight-one,

for God’s sake.”  Len would be walking to school with Molly, but her

mother would be picking her up after school to take her to flute lessons. 

“I survived decades of traipsing around the galaxy, I can find my way

back to my granddaughter’s house alone.”    


“Theresa did not request me to accompany you.  The weather today

promises to be fine, and the walk would be pleasant.”


“I’ll look for you, in that case.”


An hour later, as Len prepared to exit the house with his great-granddaughter,

he saw her place in a large bag a garment fluttering with rainbow-colored



“That’s the Vellubbish native dress I sent to you for Halloween last fall.

Why are you taking it to school?”


“Oh, you’ll find out why, Pop-Pop,” the child replied, her gray eyes



“Won’t reveal the mystery to me?”




The April morning was indeed fine, and Len relished the walk with Molly.

He especially enjoyed the profusion of color from the azaleas and the white

and pink flowering dogwoods.  The air was filled with birdsong, the

ubiquitous melodies of male mockingbirds staking out claim to mates and

territory largely drowning out the chatter of the other birds.


They arrived at the school, and Molly hung the native dress in her locker.

An assortment of sixteen grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-

grand-parents were visiting her class.  Len and the other adults sat through

a math class and an art class.  At about 10:00 Miss Collister announced,

“Our class has been studying the galaxy, and this week the children have

been bringing in objects from other planets for show-and-tell.  Yuka, you

are scheduled for today.  You may go first.”


So this is why Molly brought that Vellubbish costume to school, Len

thought to himself with a grin.


Yuka went to the front of the classroom carrying a large box from which

she extracted a cantaloupe-sized oval mass of golden brown fur, the sight

of which prompted a murmur of aaawww’s from her classmates.  Len smiled

at the sight of the familiar creature.


“This is my pet tribble, Honey.  Tribbles come from Iota Geminorum IV.

Honey’s very friendly.  She likes everyone.” Yuka handed the purring

Honey to the closest classmate.  “Of course, all tribbles like everyone.”


“Except Klingons,” Len grumbled.  Several of the visitors gave him an

odd look.


“They’re easy to take care of, but they do like to eat a lot.”


“That’s an understatement,” Len said under his breath, prompting more



“They don’t poop or pee, though.”


“Thank God for that,” sighed Len, remembering the mounds and myriads

and multitudes of Polygeminus grex which had swarmed over the Enterprise

more than three decades before, and the giant colonies of the species, the

result of botched genetic engineering, which had overrun the ship two

years later.


Tribbles have very efficient digestive systems,” he said to the adults eyeing him.


Yuka then proceeded to pull from the box two much smaller cream-and-

brown tribbles and nonchalantly handed them to nearby classmates.  


Len’s raised an eyebrow in concern.  Was Honey not chemically neutered

as required by law?  He had developed the sterilization formula almost thirty

years ago, after the Enterprise’s second encounter with tribbles.  Not that he

had ever earned a single credit from the discovery; Starfleet owned the

patent, not him.


Then a pure white tribble and a silvery gray one, both long-haired and the size

of oranges, made an appearance.  These, too, were passed to nearby students.


Both of Len’s eyebrows were now raised.  Had Honey produced four

babies in the two hours since school had started?  If so, she was an

exceptionally fast gestator.


Two more young tribbles emerged from the depths of the box, one black

with white stripes and very long hair, and a shorter-haired white one with

gray patches. 


Len was now extremely alarmed.  Sure, the critters were cute as all get out,

but with their exponential reproductive capacity seven fertile Polygeminus

grex would, by Len’s estimations (Spock, he knew, could have calculated

much more accurately) inundate Atlanta in a month, Georgia in six, the

North American continent in a year.  The Federation was still uncertain

how much havoc tribbles had wreaked on the Klingon homeworld . . . .   


The innocent-looking tribbles were an ecological menace, and their

equally innocent-looking owner was a dangerous criminal.


Evidently Miss Collister was either familiar with the renowned prolificacy

of Polygeminus grex or she had a fear of small, furry creatures, because

the consternation with which she was regarding the small white and gray

powder puff Yuka was trying to hand her would have done credit to a

Klingon confronted with a screeching tribble.


“Maybe you like this one better?” Yuka suggested, offering the black and

white longhair.  “They don’t bite, you know.”


Miss Collister’s expression resembled that of a hound dog cornered

by a skunk with a raised tail.


“Did Honey have all those babies this morning?” the wide-eyed teacher



“Oh, no, don’t worry, these aren’t Honey’s kits.  She can’t have babies,

she’s been neutered.  The kits have all been neutered, too.”


Len muttered, “Thanks kid, wish you had mentioned that before damn near

giving me a heart attack.”


The two women on either side of him glared at him disapprovingly.


Southern women.  Could cuss up a storm themselves, but didn’t like

men using profanity in their presence.


Miss Collister, having visibly relaxed, accepted the striped tribble. 

Engrossed in stroking it, she did not notice Molly’s raised hand.


“One of my family’s two breeders just had a litter,” Yuka explained to

the class.  “We have six more kits at home, all buff-colored like Honey. 

We only breed variations of the natural colors, not those weird artificial

designer colors like pink and purple.  We’re selling the entire litter.”


What, was this kid a budding Cyrano Jones?  You were supposed to have

a license to breed or sell tribbles.  A bunch of licenses, actually.  Hell, you

were supposed to have a license just to own a neutered tribble. 


“My parents are the only licensed tribble breeders in Georgia.” 


“That’s reassuring,” said Len under his breath.


Miss Collister finally noticed Molly’s frantically waving hand.  “Yes,



“My great-granddad discovered how to neuter tribbles while he was in

Starfleet,” proclaimed a proud Molly, pointing to Len.  “He’s visiting



“Your great-grandfather is Dr. Leonard McCoy?” asked Yuka.  “He’s famous

among tribble breeders!”  The child walked over to Len and handed him the

tribble remaining in her hand, the white one with gray patches.


Len stroked the soft fur.  Anyone observing him would have assumed

his smile was prompted by pleasure in the purring creature in his hand,

or perhaps by gratification in the unexpected recognition of his service in

Starfleet.  He was, however, remembering with fondness how his not-yet-

then-mate had proclaimed himself immune to the soothing effects of petting

a tribble even while noticeably succumbing to its charms.  The tribble Len

held in his hands closely resembled the one Spock had handled so many

years earlier. 


Miss Collister reluctantly placed the skunk-patterned tribble in the box,

and ordered all the other tribbles collected and put away as well.


Show-and-tell continued.  A short boy named Zack lugged from the side of

the room a long, thin bundle, about one and a half meters long and wrapped

in a cloth binding.  Standing the object on end, Zack unwrapped the upper

half of the material, revealing a leather scabbard, intricately carved with

glyphs, from which projected a gleaming, ornate metal hilt.


“This is a Kintonian ceremonial sword.  My uncle Ben brought it back

to Earth from Kinto II almost thirty years ago.”


Leonard gaped at the alien artifact.  What the hell was an eight-year-old

doing with a Kintonian ceremonial sword?!  Diamond hard and scalpel

sharp, their blades were deadly.  He and Spock had once narrowly saved

Jim from having been decapitated with one by the pissed-off husband of

a woman who had seduced their Captain.  At least, Jim had claimed to be

the object of seduction, rather than its instigator . . . .


“Jim was pretty bent out of shape,” Len said in a low voice to himself,

“that Spock and I didn’t get there in time to save his girlfriend.” 


Visitors eyed Len askance.  He ignored them.


“It’s really sharp and heavy,” the young presenter said.  "The

Kintonians chop off people’s heads with them.”


“Cool!” murmured all the boys, and half of the girls, in the class.  The

other half of the girls made faces.


“Here, I’ll take it out of its scabbard,” said Zack, reaching for the handle,

which stood higher than the top of his head. 


Miss Collister rushed to Zack’s side.  “No, Zack, this is very interesting,

but I think it’s best if the sword stay in its scabbard!”


Next was a boy named Gilbert, who unveiled a glass-fronted display case

on which were mounted a dozen seashells, delicate whorls glistening with

an array of iridescent colors.  Leonard scowled disapprovingly at the

beautiful things; he recognized them as originating from Xanta V, and for

the past fifty years illegal to trade. The Enterprise had once intercepted a

smugglers’ ship carrying a huge load of contraband, Xantanian shells

included.  In the short and one-sided firefight which ensued, Jim had gone

trigger-happy, but Spock had stopped him from blowing the other ship to

smithereens, pointing out that it was not logical to destroy an already-

defeated ship which was presumably carrying valuable cargo.  “Valuable

cargo” proved to be an understatement:  on board had been the – severely

injured in the unnecessary firefight – kidnapped teenage son of the king

of Trythcania.  


“These are seashells from Xanta V.  They’re so shiny because they’re made

of silica, instead of calcium carbonate, like our seashells on Earth and most

other planets are,” explained Gilbert.  “These days it’s against the law to buy

or sell Xantanian shells because they’re so rare, but my great-grandfather

bought these more than a hundred years ago.  We have a certificate to prove it.”


“Well, at least they weren’t obtained illegally, then,” thought Len to himself,

“like those thousands of shells that were on the smugglers’ ship.”  Ninety

percent of the seashells had been broken in the firefight.  Starfleet had not

been happy about that, and had been suspiciously eager to confiscate the ones

which had survived intact.  Len had always suspected someone in Starfleet

had made a handsome profit on them. 


“Spock talked Jim out of blowing those smugglers out of the sky,” he

grumbled to himself, “and I’m the one who spent three hours patching the

kid up, but it was Jim who got the goddamn Trythcanian Medal of Honor

for ‘rescuing’ their prince.”


More disapproving looks from the women sitting next to him.


Next went a boy named Orion, whose spiked green hair might have

belonged to one of the designer tribbles disdained by Yuka.  He pulled

from a bag an old-style paper magazine on the cover of which was a

photograph of half a dozen scantily-clad men and women in provocative

positions.  “This is a tour guide to Yoni-Lingam’s World.”  Many of the

visitors gasped, and even Len’s eyes went wide:  Yoni-Lingam’s World

was the most notorious pleasure planet in the quadrant.  “My two

moms and two of my three dads went there on their honeymoon —” 

A red-faced Miss Collister rushed to the boy’s side and hastily stuffed the

catalogue back into the bag.


Len thought to himself, “Well, if that kid has five parents, I guess Molly

doesn’t have much reason to be embarrassed by her great-granddaddy

being married to a male Vulcan.”


The name “Yoni-Lingam’s World” evoked complex feelings in Len.

He had never set foot on the infamous pleasure world, but two times

events involving that planet had almost ended his relationship with Spock

before it had barely begun – and yet, paradoxically, had brought them



Late in the fourth year of the five-year mission, he and Spock had begun

seeing each other, or more precisely, sleeping with each other, their mutual

lust having finally asserted itself.  With the onset of physical intimacy their

previously uneasy friendship became even more distant and awkward. 

Even while Len reveled in the carnal pleasures of Spock’s bed, he had

missed the debates and the banter.  The arguments, he decided, must have

been their way of getting each other’s attention, and with the sexual

tension between them relieved, now were no longer needed.  He missed

them, nonetheless.


Two months after the commencement of their sexual relationship, the

Enterprise had been scheduled for a shore leave at Yoni-Lingam’s World. 

Len, off-handedly, had made a crack to Jim about planning to visit.  The

remark had been a joke; he would never have gone to the planet while

involved in a relationship, even a casual one, and would have been unlikely

to do so even if not involved.  But unknown to Jim and Len, the literal-

minded Spock had accidently overheard and had taken offense.  He had

performed the Vulcan equivalent of a sulk, and without explanation had

withdrawn himself from Len’s bed.


Len had been left confused – and far more upset than he ever would

have expected to have been.  Not surprisingly, he missed Spock’s bed;

more surprisingly, he missed Spock’s company, even that of a Spock more

taciturn than ever; and most surprisingly, he had found himself worried

about Spock’s feelings.  Why should he be tormented by the possibility

he had unwittingly hurt Spock’s feelings?   Not that he had ever really

doubted Spock had emotions, and deep ones at that, but surely he was

capable of arousing in the Vulcan nothing more than common lust and

uncommon irritation.


After the bulk of the crew had disembarked to Yoni-Lingam, Len had

marched himself to Spock’s quarters.  He finally dragged out of the

surprised Vulcan (who had expected Len to be on the planet) what had

happened, and he had made a sincere apology, which was readily accepted. 

Each man had already been left shaken by the unexpected realization of

how much the other actually meant to him; now each was left stunned

by the revelation of the other’s vulnerability to himself.  It had not occurred

to Spock that he could hurt Len in any significant way; like Len, he had

assumed that the other man felt nothing more than a combination of

physical attraction and casual friendship.  He, too, apologized.


Still emotionally reticent with each other, they did not use the word

“love” in their conversation, or their bed, that night, nor in the weeks

which immediately followed; but both were aware that only love carried

with it the potential for the profound hurt they had unintentionally caused

each other.  Their verbal pyrotechnics resumed, and the fireworks in bed

burned hotter than ever.


Four days following that pivotal conversation, the Captain, in gratitude

to his CMO for having saved the life of the Trythcanian prince, presented

his friend with a bottle of expensive Saurian brandy he had picked up on

Yoni-Lingam; Jim knew Len would much prefer the liquor to the Medal

of Honor Kirk himself had received.


Unbeknownst to Jim, the liquor dealer had been a Klingon agent, a lackey

of the more honorable Koloth, who had jumped at the chance to assassinate

the overbearing James Tiberius Kirk and perhaps take out, along with their

tin-plated dictator, a few unfortunate crewmembers of the garbage scow

known as the USS Enterprise.  Not for another six weeks did the

unfortunate new owner of the tampered-with Saurian brandy uncork the

poison intended for his commanding officer.  Somewhat fortunately, he

downed only a single shot; much more fortunately, Spock was with him

when, about an hour later, he collapsed in his quarters, violently ill.


It was soon determined that the brandy had been contaminated with a

deadly botulin-like toxin, and a short time after Starfleet relayed a message

to the Enterprise confirming a rumor that a Klingon agent had been posing

as a liquor dealer on Yoni-Lingam, Spock had confronted Kirk.  Jim sat

through Spock’s rant, the thoroughly emotional and irrational contents of

which were nonetheless delivered with the deceptive icy calm of Vulcan-style

fury.  Kirk had finally exploded:  “It was an accident, dammit!  How was

I supposed to know the fucking brandy was poisoned?  Bones is important

to me, too!  I’d trade places with him if I could, but I can’t!”  Then, much

more gently, Jim had relieved Spock from duty, so that he could keep vigil

by his lover’s side.


Len’s sole memories of the next four days were confused, dreamlike

recollections of Spock holding his hand and murmuring, “I love  thee,

Leonard.  Thee must live, t’hy’la.”  (Much later, Christine would tell Len

that it was only during those days, as he had lain near death, that she finally

conceded to herself that she would never have a chance with Spock.)  And

when Len had opened his eyes and had croaked, for the first time, “Love

you, too,” Spock for once had made no effort to hide his smile.


Spock had known Len was well on the way to recovery when, the next

day, he had groused, “Wish it hadn’t taken me almost dyin’ to get you

to say ‘I love you.’”


And Len had witnessed, more than twenty years later, the fleeting but

murderous expression on Spock’s face when on Melydizg-Dakahrsh

they and Jim had confronted an exceptionally insolent Klingon who had

bemoaned to the Captain:  “I’ve always been sorry that Saurian brandy

I sold you didn’t kill you.  Who did it kill, by the way?”


“I think he would have torn that Klingon apart barehanded, if he had

had the chance,” the reminiscing Len murmured, prompting the most

dubious sidelong looks yet from his fellow visitors.


Miss Collister said, “Molly, you are next.  I know your exhibit is out in

the hallway.  You are excused to go get it.”


Molly flashed Len a huge grin as she exited the room.  Len was baffled by

the impish amusement in his great-granddaughter’s eyes.  She had made no

attempt to hide the Vellubbish costume from him.  Perhaps she was going

to change into it?


Moments later, Molly returned to the classroom – accompanied by a non-

Terran costume he had seen only hours before.  Only it wasn’t the rainbow-

beribboned dress Len had given her, and Molly was neither carrying nor

wearing the alien garment; this was a flowing black robe, worn by a tall,

spare figure in many ways more familiar to Len than his own face.  Spock

met his bondmate’s eyes, and though there was no smile on the Vulcan’s

face, Len recognized the amusement hidden there.


//You pointy-eared devil//, Len sent through their bond.  //Pulling a trick

on me like this!// 


//Molly suggested ‘the trick,’ not I//, came the silent reply.


“This is Mr. Spock.  He’s half human, but he’s from Vulcan. He’s married

to my great-grandfather.  They served in Starfleet together, on the Enterprise,

and now they’re both teachers at Starfleet Academy in San Francisco.”


Spock proceeded to give a short talk about his homeworld, appropriately

tailored for the age group to which he was speaking.  He patiently took

questions as well, many of which dealt with his Starfleet days rather than

with Vulcan.  During the presentation Len smiled at his mate with pride

and indulgent affection.  Afterwards, Spock sat down next to Len and

remained to observe the rest of the school day. 


School let out at 3:30.  Theresa arrived to take her daughter to her flute

lesson, and before leaving Molly made sure to hug both Pop-Pop and



“That was quite a prank you and Osa’mekh’al pulled on me, kiddo,”

Len told her.  “You had me tricked, bringing in that dress.  Was that

your idea, or his?”


“It was mine.”


“I pulled some practical jokes in my younger days.”


“I know, you and Grandma have told me.”


A small group of adults and children, hoping to speak with the Starfleet

luminaries, had clustered around Spock and Len.  Neither man had ever

relished their celebrity (which had in any case waned with the years),

although the more extroverted Len knew that Spock found such attention

more wearing than he himself did, not that the Vulcan would ever have

admitted it.  The two of them graciously tolerated the attention this day,

but Len was secretly grateful for the seven tribbles again being passed

around the room, drawing attention away from himself and, especially,

his husband.  


A young woman of East Asian descent waited patiently to speak to them. 

“Hello, I am Fumie Matsumoto, Yuka’s mother.  My daughter tells me you

are Dr. Leonard McCoy of Starfleet, who discovered how to chemically

sterilize tribbles.  And this is your husband, Mr. Spock?  I am honored to

meet both of you.”   


“Yes, ma’am.  Pleased to meet you.”


“Dr. McCoy, I would like to offer you the pick of the litter, for free. 

Either one of the kits Yuka brought to class, or any of the six we have

at home; those are all the more common tawny color.  Would you be

interested in having one?”


Len hesitated.  Their orange tabby, Schrodinger, had died three months

earlier, about the same time Amanda had died unexpectedly at the premature

age of one hundred and nine.  In the upheaval which had accompanied the

death in the family he and Spock had not replaced the cat, although they had

talked casually of doing so.


//If it pleases thee, Leonard, take one.//


“I’ll take the white one, the one with gray patches,” Len said.  “Thank

you very much, ma’am.”


//Would you object, Leonard, if we had two tribbles?//


//Not at all.  But I’m surprised you’d want one.//


“May I inquire, Ms. Matsumoto,” said Spock, “is the solid gray one

available for purchase, and if so, at what price?”


“Yes, we’re selling the entire litter.  The silver and the striped one are

fancies; they cost twenty-two credits.  The tawnies are fifteen, the others

are seventeen.  The price includes registration fees.”


“I wish to purchase the silver.”


Spock paid for the silver tribble, and Ms. Matsumoto presented Len

and Spock with their two new pets as well as temporary licenses for



“I’m sorry to see this one go,” Ms. Matsumoto said, giving the gray

tribble a final pat.  “It’s one of the most intelligent kits we’ve ever bred. 

It already recognizes its name, Silver.  You’re welcome to rename it, of



Later, as they walked home, Len said, “That was a pair of surprises –

first you showing up like that, and then buying a tribble for yourself! 

I wouldn’t have expected in a dozen light-years to see you turn up as

a show-and-tell exhibit!  You were quite a hit with the class.  Thanks

for being a good sport and doing that for Molly.”


“I enjoyed doing so.” 


“You mean you enjoyed seeing my expression when you made your

appearance.  I probably was gaping like a Zlrookian grouperfish. 

Are you sure you’re not going to get overheated walking in that

black robe?”  The afternoon was unseasonably warm for April.


“I do not easily get overheated, Leonard.  Do not be concerned.”


“If you say so,” Len said.  “I don’t have any objection to having two

tribbles, but I would never have expected you to want one.  Back on

the Enterprise you insisted they were useless.  Have you learned to

appreciate cute, furry, affectionate creatures after all, Spock?”  Len

stroked the spotted white tribble perched on his left shoulder.


“I have greatly missed Schrodinger’s Cat.” 


“Well, plenty of people think cats are useless.  Sounds to me like

you’ve acquired a human characteristic.”


“Please do not insult me, Leonard.”


“Well, I figure I’ve got another fifty years or so to humanize you yet,

you green-blooded walking computer.”


“Your metaphor does not make sense.  Computers are not sanguineous,

nor are they typically ambulatory.  However, if you are correct about your

life expectancy, I will have approximately fifty additional years to instruct

you in the advantages of logic.”


“Then we both have something to look forward to,” Len replied, with a

rakish grin.  “We’re going to have to rig up some kind of cage, so these

two don’t get into Theresa’s kitchen and replicators.  Why did you pick

that gray tribble?”


“I found it aesthetically pleasing because its hair is the exact color of



“Spock, that is the most illogical reason imaginable for choosing a pet! 

Especially since my hair is liable to get whiter over time.”


“No matter,” Spock replied, ignoring the aspersion on his logic.  Perhaps

the silver tribble was exerting a soothing effect on him.  “Why did you

make your particular selection, Leonard?” 


“This one looks like the one you held on the Enterprise, back when

you said you were immune to the calming effects of tribbles on humans.

And don’t bother to tell me,” Len said with a smile, “that’s an illogical

reason.  I know damn well it is, and it suits me just fine.”


Spock tilted his head, scanning his eidetic memory.  “You are correct

that the tribble you have chosen resembles the specimen I handled on

the Enterprise.  I am surprised you have such a detailed memory of the

incident.  I referred that day, however, to the effect of the tribble’s

trilling rather than to the organism itself, and I utilized the word

‘tranquilizing’ rather than ‘calming’ when describing the effect of

its vocalization on the human nervous system.”   


Long accustomed to his mate’s obsessive precision, Len rolled his

eyes in mock irritation.


“As I also recall, the next day you asserted that you liked tribbles

better than you liked me.” 


Len recognized the teasing lurking behind the dispassionately uttered

words.  His mouth quirked in a smile at the memory.  “Yes, I did.  I was

lying.  To myself, rather than to you.  It was always about you, Spock.”


“‘It’?  About me?  I do not understand.  We were discussing the Enterprise’s

initial encounter with tribbles.”


Len halted and regarded his mate with an expression Spock knew well,

a look compounded of exasperation and affection.  Len answered silently,

through their bond rather than vocally.


//My thoughts, Spock.  My heart.  From the time I met thee.//   Only

rarely did Len use the intimate “thee,” and when he did do so, it was

always nonverbally, through their bond. 


//Ah, I understand.  It was thus for myself with thee, as well, t’hy’la//,

came the silent answer.


They touched fingers, and then resumed walking. 


Len said, smiling, “And as I recall, you said in that same conversation

that I talked too much.”


“Incorrect.  I made no direct commentary on your volubility.  I only

stated that tribbles did not talk too much.”


“But you sure as hell meant that I talked too much.  You still think

that, don’t you?”


“At times.”


//And these days you have to put up with me talking in your head, as

well.//  Through the bond they sensed each other’s amusement.


“Are you going to keep the name Silver for that one?” Len asked.  “I hope

you won’t be referring to it as ‘the organism’ or ‘the specimen’ or, God

forbid, ‘the animated pilose spheroid.’  You’ll end up hurting its feelings.”


“You are engaging in anthropomorphism, Leonard.  If you have no

objection, I shall call it ‘Haul-tuhk.’”


“Vulcan for ‘silver,’” replied Len, nodding.  “Appropriate.  Haul-tukh

it is, then.  Figures you’d pick the smartest one of the batch – we’ll have

the only bilingual tribble in the sector.  And I realize he’s a neutered

hermaphrodite, but Haul-tuhk looks like a boy to me.”


“You are again anthropomorphizing.  We shall refer to Haul-tuhk by the

male pronoun, however.  Do you have a name chosen?”


Len hesitated.  “Would it be disrespectful to your mother’s memory if

I called her ‘Mandy?’”    


Spock considered briefly before replying.  “My mother was filled with

much love.  The name is suitable.  I do not see the logic, however,

in perceiving Haul-tuhk as male and Mandy as female.”


“Not everything has to be logical, Spock.  How many times have I told

you that?”


“I have long since lost count of the total.  In the past month, including

this instance, only three.  You say it much less frequently than you did

earlier in our relationship.”  Spock did not point out that this was largely

due to the fact that he now tended to point out to Leonard only his most

egregiously illogical statements or actions.


A harsh rasping sound came from above their heads, prompting both

men to look upwards.  “Spock!  Look, there!”


In the sky Spock saw a slender gray bird, white flashing from its tail and

wings as it darted after a much larger fleeing raptor.


“Haven’t seen that for awhile.  Mockin’bird chasin’ a hawk, a Red-tailed,

I think.  Mockers will go after anything, you know – hawks, owls, crows,

dogs, cats, snakes.  People, too.  When I was a kid my family got dive-

bombed for two years straight by a pair that nested in our magnolia tree. 

Feisty little critters.” 


Spock contemplated the small bird in its dogged and noisy pursuit of the

hawk.  His mate reminded him of a mockingbird.


Slender and gray and neat and – even now, in his ninth decade – active

and alert and quick.  Irascible.  Talented, in his own fashion, at mocking.

Fearless when defending territory or family, or when confronted

by enemies.  Distinctively Southern, even when living elsewhere.


And, yes, loquacious. 


Spock did not share his ruminations.  He was not certain Len would

appreciate the comparison.  He knew Jocelyn had made it, long ago,

and not in a complimentary manner.


They resumed walking.


“I don’t suppose Vulcans have show-and-tell,” Len said.


“We do not call it that, but it is not unknown in the Vulcan educational

system for students to make an oral presentation on a personal possession. 

The activity can function as a useful exercise in public speaking.”


“Humans are known to engage in another kind of show-and-tell,” Len

said, in the low drawl he reserved for Spock’s ears alone.  


“Ah.  What may that be?”  Like that of the male mockingbird, Leonard’s

voice was, thought Spock, especially euphonious when conveying interest

in mating activity.


“Oh, it involves personal belongings being put on display,” Len replied

with a suggestive smile.  “Which in adults can lead to oral presentations

and to exercise, but not of the public speaking variety.  A variation of the

game is called playing doctor.”


“Playing doctor?”  Spock raised an eyebrow.  “I assume you are

accomplished in this game, then.”


“With the right playmate?  You bet your sweet Vulcan ass I am.”


“I would be interested in participating in this game,” Spock said, his

own voice dark and inviting.  “With, of course, the right playmate.”


“No one will be back to the house for more than an hour.”


They quickened their pace.




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