The Vulcan drew himself up straight. He closed his eyes for a long moment, then opened them and stared straight ahead past the doctor's shoulder. Abruptly he asked McCoy, "Did you enjoy him?"
McCoy studied the other thoughtfully, wondering if he should pretend he didn't understand the question.
Spock took his hesitation for a refusal to answer. He hissed, "I asked you, Doctor, did you enjoy him?"
Steadily McCoy looked at his companion, seeing the pain he was trying and failing to hide. After a moment the doctor replied, "I did. Very much. But he thought I was you." He said the words as gently as he could, and yet they kept on reverberating in the ears of both men.
Spock broke into a sweat and made fists with his hands, trying to hide their tremble. Through clenched teeth he demanded, "If he thought you were me, what was the point of physical intimacy? Surely that is cruel where you are concerned, and pointless where I am concerned?" Images of Kirk and McCoy together welled up in his mind's eye. Two humans on equal footing, two humans loving each other simply and easily.
//not fair, not fair// Spock felt his stomach knotting. The room seemed very hot.
McCoy gestured to the others around them with a wave of his head. He murmured, "Maybe we should discuss this somewhere else." He could see the stiffness in Spock's shoulders, the balled fists, the rapid pulse at his temple. McCoy knew that the old Spock would never have wanted to discuss such personal matters. But this one, this one was a mess physically and mentally. It didn't take a trained physician's eye to spot that. Strange that Spock couldn't leave past events alone--he must be in even worse shape than he appeared.
Woodenly Spock agreed to McCoy's suggestion. The two made their way out, McCoy saying a goodbye here and there, trying to make everything look casual. Once they were in the corridor McCoy put a hand on Spock's shoulder to steer him into a turbolift, but he felt a shudder radiate from the point of contact. McCoy took a step sideways and spoke the lift into motion. Spock retreated to the opposite wall, as far from the human as he could get.
They stood silently in the lift--the quiet felt like a dark fog folding around them, moving them apart from their shipmates, from the realness of the vessel humming around them. The cheerful ticking as the lift moved mocked the hard silence of the living beings it contained..
Spock knew he was losing control, losing the ability to keep his grief-stricken human half in line. Clamping down on Vulcan emotions--he'd learned that at a young age; tying off human emotions was quite a different matter. Vulcan practices were proving of little help governing the spectacular range of human reactions. These threads of emotion were like a trickle of water leaking through a dam--a terrifying symbol of what was as yet invisible, but in silent motion all the same.
Blindly Spock stumbled after McCoy when the lift doors opened. They passed down the hall to the doctor's quarters, McCoy trying and failing to get a casual look at his companion as they walked. They saw no one else from the crew.
Like a robot Spock stared at the floor while McCoy palmed the lock and opened the door. He hesitated to follow the doctor into his quarters--he had a sense of stepping into a parallel universe. Nothing felt right. But apparently the path onward lay within. He passed through the doorway.
McCoy had moved over to his work area. He loosened the diagonal flap of his jacket and gestured for Spock to sit. Spock crossed to a portal and remained standing as he looked out, his back turned to the room.
McCoy sighed and poured himself a double bourbon from a bottle in the cabinet behind him. The Vulcan wasn't making this any easier. He took a deep breath and dove in.
"Look, Spock, I can't believe you lived with Jim all these years and learned so little about human conduct--human sexuality. Sex is a complicated thing. Jim--Jim has always played by slightly different rules. It's part of who he is. You heard him say 'I need my pain,' right? Well, for him part of the pain comes from how he handles relationships with other people. He's a very physical man--his relationships are usually pretty physical also. That doesn't always make for the best results."
McCoy stopped, waiting for Spock at least to turn around. His lack of response was hard to read.
"Your point, doctor?" Just a few words, but McCoy could hear great pain and frustration in the bitter tones. He tried again.
"Ok, look. For him, physical contact is mixed together with how he sees himself. He draws strength from sex, he believes it makes him more a man, more a captain." McCoy stopped. "Spock? You listening to me? It's not logical, you know, but it's true. Humans often feel that way, right or wrong."
Spock nodded shortly but didn't turn. McCoy hesitated, started to speak, stopped. Took another drink from his glass. Spock's manner was worrisome. None of the textbook states of mind for Vulcans came close to this. A lot had happened recently, enough to affect any member of the crew, let alone one who had gained and lost a brother in the space of a few hours.
Wondering if he was addressing the real problem, he soldiered on. "But when all's said and done, sometimes we just need to comfort each other, to do things we might not normally do. Sometimes circumstances affect us. Sometimes a chance word, or an unexpected event. You may recall one of my specialties is space psychology, and I'll tell you I've heard some pretty strange things over the years... Actions by themselves don't necessarily make people bad, or good, Spock, it's not that simple."
The doctor finished his bourbon and began wandering around the room, attempting to hide his anxiety at Spock's un-Spock-like conduct. He couldn't quite figure out why his visitor indicated he wanted to talk and then refused to. The doctor fiddled with things as he touched them. He darted glances at his guest. He picked up a lump of granite, tossed it gently from hand to hand. He noted the grain of the crystals, the sharp colors the eye could pick out close up that merged at a distance into a smooth pink. Eventually he said, "Spock, it was good to be that close to Jim. I can't say I regret it. I'm sorry if it has caused you pain, but at the time we didn't think it concerned you. Can you understand that?"
At last Spock turned to face the doctor. Even across the room McCoy could see a tear was sliding down the Vulcan's cheek.
"All my life I have been ... excluded. Never quite good enough. Never quite what Sarek wanted. Or the other Vulcans." One hand worked like it was kneading clay. Spock broke off and rubbed the heel of his hand against his forehead. Then he turned back to the window and began speaking again, hesitantly.
"Sybok of course manufactured the visions he showed to us. Yet ... Well ... Sarek said those same things to me every day of my boyhood. By word or deed."
He leaned against the metal band surrounding the port. He began to talk more freely, though his lips were scant centimeters from the transparent aluminum in the frame.
"I told Sybok I know my place. I do. But it was painful learning what that place was. To be logical--to be logical is not always to be kind."
As the words began to spill a little more quickly, Spock's normally smooth baritone began to grow rough.
"I grew up not knowing my future. Not knowing what careers would be open to me. Or acceptable to Sarek. Not knowing ... not knowing whether I would indeed be mated, or whether T'Pring would reject me. When she came to understand to whom she had been betrothed--she was ... angry." He stopped for a moment and gulped in some air.
"I feared she--knew she--she was merely following ... she was ... I would burn alone." He spun to face the human but fixed his eyes on a point somewhere behind the doctor's shoulder.
The thumb rasped repeatedly across the bunched fingers. Spock's pain was enormous. McCoy couldn't imagine how Spock had thought he could control feelings like these with logic alone. Spock's other hand dragged at his eyes, trying to wipe away the shaming, unfamiliar tears.
In a shattered voice the Vulcan went on. "And I did. I did burn alone. And I would have died. She would have killed me. She preferred her logical assessment rather than my life. But I survived. Because of, because ... You saved me. And the captain. He saved me too. He saved me. I had him ... and I loved him ... and I lost him." Spock was by now sobbing openly. "I lost him."
The doctor was appalled. He had never had to deal with Spock, or any Vulcan, in this kind of condition. No Vulcans ever *got* in this kind of condition. He poured another bourbon and parked it on the table near Spock. The Vulcan turned away and ignored it.
Awkwardly McCoy flopped onto the couch. He spread his arms along the back and tried to find appropriate words. "Y'know, Spock, I think we all find it hard to blend in at one time or another. You're not that different ... "
"I am that different." The Vulcan slammed his fist against the wall. Tiny shockwaves rippled across the surface of the liquor in the cup. "There are very few like me. If there were, perhaps--perhaps fal-tor-pan would have been more successful. Perhaps I ..."
His words hung in the air.
"Perhaps you wouldn't have lost Jim? You really haven't, you know. Spock," said McCoy softly. "He wasn't rejecting you. He was ... it was what Jim and I needed right then. Just some simple physical comfort. And even though it wasn't about you, you were more involved than you think."
The Vulcan spun around.
"Well, I told you he thought I was you. Oh, not literally, I suppose, but you know you can't carry a man's soul around in your head without having it affect you. There are some things I've learned from you--a little Vulcan, for instance--there are some things you left behind, I guess you could say. I imagine he found that attractive."
"Doctor, what are you saying?" All color had drained from Spock's face. His shoulders were trembling.
"You're about half in my head, Spock. The Vulcan half transferred back, but the human side of you--maybe I got a copy of the file, when they were trying to move the original over to you. Something like that. It's fading, gradually, but a lot of your human memories--they're fragmentary but I've still got a lot of 'em. I get these flashbacks sometimes ... " McCoy broke off uncertainly, not quite sure how to describe what he experienced.
In a tearing voice Spock demanded, "You possess recollections of mine? of mine?"
McCoy blanched at Spock's tone--not even in the plak tow had he looked like this.
Apprehensively the doctor responded, "Yes, Spock, I do. I should have said something, maybe, but I didn't realize I had stuff you didn't have, and then I thought the healers ... "
The doctor had no chance to finish. Spock was on him in a rush. He shoved McCoy backward against the couch, violently. Surprised, McCoy tried to slide away but he wasn't fast enough. Spock knelt hard on one leg and jammed his elbows against McCoy's upper arms. He heaved himself against the doctor's chest, angling to get his fingers in the meld-grip on the doctor's face. McCoy managed to get a hand under Spock's leg and tried to tip him over backward, but he couldn't get enough purchase.
As McCoy's fingers scrabbled on the cloth of the uniform tight around Spock's thigh, the Vulcan hit him hard in the jaw. McCoy's grip loosened, and Spock's hands made a vise-like grip across the doctor's face. With long middle fingers Spock crushed the flesh at the corners of the human's jaw as the hands settled on the meld-points. The bridged fingers began to set the link.
McCoy could hear him whispering //mine, mine// but couldn't tell what Spock meant. For a moment he tried to relax, thinking Spock might calm down if one of them got a grip on the situation.
This was utterly different from Spock's setting the katra--that had been a featherlight touch, so delicate he hadn't known it had happened. There hadn't been preparation there either--no preliminaries, no discussions. But this was terrifyingly different.
Rage possessed Spock. Eyes inches from McCoy's, the Vulcan spat out the words they both knew well: "My mind to your mind, my thoughts to your thoughts ... " Spock's fingers pressed right down to the bone--McCoy could feel pain spring up in the arc of those green fingers.
Again McCoy writhed in his grip, trying to escape this invasion, but even in calm times Spock's strength was much greater.
"Spock, wait ... no--"
McCoy felt a hot wedge driving into his brain. He could sense Spock's mind opening his, opening to his, releasing a violent blast of grief and longing. His brain seemed to be stretching to allow for the new personality, the huge emotions. His skull felt too tight--an image of little cracks forming in the bone burst into his consciousness. Spock's deep probing gave the sense of motion where there should be none, as if his brain were turning within his skull.
Spock's superior strength and stronger purpose tore now at this part of his mind, now at another. The Vulcan's consciousness raged inward, digging and clawing at the delicate fabric of McCoy's self. Frantically the doctor tried to protect his mind, to limit Spock's access. He failed.
//open your thoughts, you have something I want, something of mine. I will have it.//
Desperate, McCoy tried to glue his eyes shut, but Spock's mind within his was too compelling. Dark, maddened eyes bored into his, reflecting his soaring fear.
Shocked to his soul, McCoy felt Spock carve inward wherever he pleased, like a knife in butter, like a river eating into its banks. The brutal meld left no privacy for his own memories and thoughts--Spock rummaged wildly, violently, looking for--his past? for himself? for Jim Kirk?
The doctor struggled under Spock's fingers, but he could feel the nails draw blood as he resisted. His jaw creaked under Spock's pressure, and Spock's knee high up on the inside of his thigh was cutting off all feeling in his leg. He couldn't move against the strong arms holding him down, against the Vulcan physique driven by fury, by fierce longing. Only with effort could he form coherent thoughts.
He'd merged with Spock before, he'd seen many telepathic techniques in his medical experience. He knew a rape when he saw it.
From a distance McCoy could hear himself speaking in forced unison with his attacker, mouthing words, names, places from the far past.Edith Keeler -- Carol Marcus -- Omicron Ceti -- Babel --
McCoy could feel himself melting into Spock, tuning in to Spock's thoughts just as Spock was receiving his. McCoy knew he was losing his own distinct identity, becoming something bigger, deeper. He watched as the meld laid bare his private thoughts and memories, left them there for the taking.
After an eternity the Vulcan seemed to discover what he wanted. McCoy could sense a tearing, a pulling, like a hard scab being removed too soon. Spock had found old memories and more, a hidden area in a dark recess. Convulsively his mind grabbed at the human's, and a ribbon of recollections began to unwind before the two of them, to spill apart in the storm.
McCoy gagged as he sensed the movement inside his head. Then the private life of his friends burst before him like fireworks. He shrank from the brilliant images. He wept--for the loss of his privacy, for this knowledge of Spock and Kirk he was forced to view. He wept for his pain, and for Spock's suffering.
The images of the two lovers were highly erotic, and intensely personal, and deeply shaming. McCoy knew he had never been so aroused in his life. He cried out at the agonizing admission the meld of their two minds demanded--that he wanted what they had had, wanted Spock, and Kirk too.
//sssssssssooo closssssssse, soooooooooo innnnntimate// The Vulcan spoke through him and to him. Using his lips, his teeth, using those of the human underneath him. McCoy could feel the sounds of the words as if they were the touches of fingers on his most inward places. The stimulation brought down his barriers like warp core breach.
Here were Kirk and Spock touching for the first time, in his own Sickbay. The Vulcan learning desire, and frustration, and anticipation all at once. The possibility of a bond beginning to dawn, when they could hardly admit it to themselves let alone each other. Kirk knowing a fierce joy. Spock clasping Kirk's hand as if his life depended on it, wanting to feel that sensitive human flesh against his palm and fingers, now and always.
//give me your hand, jim ... nothing to fear ... come to me, accept me//
Then walking in the dark with--Jim. Contriving to touch his shoulder, his hand. Kissing him--kissing his *commanding officer*--toppling into the fires of human love and lust. Both of them sheltered under a dark cloak, groping for hard release in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Vulcan, and McCoy too, burning to own Jim Kirk--terrified by the strength of human reactions, human need. Spock learning just what human emotion had to offer when it was amplified by physical release.
// i want a mate less vulcan than t'pring, jim ... *much* less vulcan//
Here they lay together for the first time, in Kirk's big fourposter. McCoy and Spock groaned as one, at the bitter glory of the old-new memory. How could he have forgotten this? How could he stand this new-old memory of what wasn't his? Each lover finding the other's pleasures and limits, joys and sorrows. New customs, new tastes. Spock--and McCoy--learning to go slow, Kirk--and McCoy--gaining stamina. Kirk learning what this gesture meant, and that half-smile. Spock learning to cope with Kirk's sexual approaches anywhere and everywhere. Oh, how he coped ...
McCoy could feel Spock drawing the human essence into himself. The human's mind was spilling into Spock's. His body writhed and suffered with the images. Tried to hold them off, to resist--
Tried to grasp them, open wide for them. So stimulating, and so not his own. Not-his-own mind, not-his-own body pouring into Kirk and Spock and clawing to stay McCoy, to keep these memories for always.
Spock's lean arms held him rigidly, the alien hands dug into his head. The Vulcan's pelvis began slow piston-strokes against him. The memories and erotic images had had their effect on Spock, too. He needed his human, he needed him now.
//jim, jim// Then like a lightning-bolt in his face, Spock found McCoy's memories of loving Kirk. Stepping across the fire. Kissing him. Warming him with his hands. Sliding into the sleeping bag, sliding into his lover. Two humans in an utterly natural act, arousing each other, comforting each other, bringing each other joy and release.
//not fair, not fair// Spock screamed silently. //mine, mine, mine//
He could see how McCoy had wanted Kirk, or was it he who had wanted Kirk? Was it his soul in McCoy's head that spurred the two humans to join? Here was McCoy, speaking Vulcan to Jim Kirk, speaking Vulcan ... McCoy taking what was his, taking the body that was his
This human, that Kirk-body, this McCoy-body, was his, his forever. He would take this man, use him, hurt him as he had been hurt, make him feel this same rage, this desire, this crude need. Not logical, not at all.
Or very logical.
McCoy felt Spock's attention waver briefly and he heaved up against the taller man. Both pitched over onto the floor, but the Vulcan stayed on top. His fingers hardly moved from the doctor's temples.
He lay full-length on the human, a mockery of how it had felt to lie with Jim Kirk. Spock seemed oblivious to the layers of clothing between them. Anger drove him, and fear and jealousy, but he could not stop himself from caressing the human's neck with his lips, feeling that cool Terran skin for the first time in--years? one lifetime, at least. He nuzzled McCoy delicately, like a cat checking its prey for signs of life. He rubbed his face hard against the doctor, inhaling the familiar/unfamiliar human scent.
//jim oh jim ... new smell ... wrong//
He grated his face along the stubble of the other's beard, seeking oblivion in a sensory overload. The meld let McCoy feel Spock and feel through Spock; he knew the other was finding the texture of his skin new, odd, different. He could sense the sexual excitement the other was finding in the body of a Terran, and most shamefully knew Spock could see in him how he ached to feel the caress of Vulcan hands. Spock's hands.
Forced to witness the blissfully agonized union of his dearest friends. Forced to feel Kirk entering him/them long ago, forced to feel Spock's anticipation of their first time with the burning heat of his home planet. He hated Spock, and wanted him, at the same time. That beautiful body, so strong, so untouchable. Remorseless, captivating. Taking him against his will, accidentally offering what he had always wanted but didn't dare admit.
Half-conscious, he floated through the last night the bonded pair spent together. In a hot haze he saw the image Spock had held in his destroyed mind as he died. He was Kirk, he was Spock. He was Kirk, moving over Spock, and in him. Sensing the welcome of the primeval Vulcan heat. Sensing muscles expanding, tissue swelling in anticipation, voices groaning with the pleasure. He was Spock, Spock. He was seizing Kirk's hips and lowering his mouth, lips parted, and ...
McCoy was intensely ashamed to realize he had ejaculated. And as abruptly, Spock left him.
Whether Spock had found what he was looking for McCoy in the wreckage of his mind could not tell. With base relief he knew Spock had withdrawn. The Vulcan had stopped his brutal penetration, and that was all that he could comprehend. McCoy tried not to shudder, tried to relax against the hard floor beneath him. One step at a time. Breathe in, breathe out. In, out.
Neither spoke. The whole experience had taken mere minutes, but it felt like an eternity. Somewhere in that violent penetration they had crossed a final bridge. The Spock McCoy had known was gone. In his place was this crazed savage, a madman taking and breaking what he found in his path.
McCoy struggled to his feet and said, unevenly, "Get out." He wavered where he stood. He touched a hand to his forehead and stared at his fingers when they came away bloody. His head felt somehow askew, and he could feel his trousers sticking nastily to his skin.
Spock closed his eyes and pulled a dry hand across his face. Without answering he headed for the door. He was staggering a little also. He did not look back.
McCoy heaved himself toward his desk. He hit the comm button and specified Kirk. "Jim," he said, barely controlling a tremor in his voice, "I'm in my quarters. It's an emergency."