Reflective Irony

by J. Rosemary Moss

So here we are. Damn that Vulcan physiology of yours—I wanted to save you, but I didn't want you to regain consciousness so quickly.

"Why did the captain let me live?" you demand, grabbing my wrist as you sit up and narrow your eyes at me.

You expect an immediate answer, but that doesn't stop me from keeping my mouth shut. But if I were of a mind to talk, I'd take considerable pleasure in telling you that Jim would've let you die. He doesn't associate you with our Spock—he knows better. And he knows that his duty is not to save your miserable Vulcan hide but to get us back to the Enterprise. Our Enterprise.

Jim's got a hell of a lot more sense than I do.

Well, maybe not that much more sense. He did agree to let me save you, after all. That, apparently, was a mistake.

God damn it, you're hurting my wrist. Not that I expect you to care. You want information, and you're determined to get it. There's no point in me fighting you, is there? We both know how easily you can overpower me.

And yet I'm not afraid of you. I'm fascinated—but I'm not afraid.

You're standing up now and you've got me pressed back against the wall—and my wrist still hurts like the devil. You haven't broken it yet, but you've made it clear that you're willing to do so. But that's the least of my worries. I watch, still fascinated, while you lift your hand and place the tips of your fingers on my face.

And I'm still not afraid.

"Our minds are merging, Doctor," you tell me.

A forced mind-meld, Spock? But I can't call you Spock, can I? You're not him. But you're a version of him—you're a side of him that's ruthless enough to invade my thoughts and risk screwing with my brain.

But I'm still fascinated. And I'm still not afraid. Hell, I can feel myself starting to relax. You've still got Spock's sense of honor, don't you? It may be half buried and half twisted, but it's still there. So I know that I can trust you, Spock. Not my Spock—but still Spock.

"Our minds are one," you say, pressing your fingers against my face now.

And I know you're not lying. I can feel your head inside mine. I can feel that cool logic that you're so damn proud of. Yes—proud. Don't bother telling me that 'pride' is a human emotion. I can feel every inch of your fierce Vulcan pride right now.

"I feel what you feel," you continue, concentrating so intently that your voice becomes a harsh whisper. "I know what you know."

If I weren't so damned captivated—if I could stop myself from staring at you as if you were a cobra about to strike—I'd almost smile at that. I know you're telling the truth…and I know that you're finding out a hell of a lot more information than you bargained for.

It's all laid bare for you. You know about my father and how he died. You know about Jocelyn and how she betrayed me…and how I ran away to Starfleet, leaving even our daughter behind.

And you know just how I feel about your God-damned, green-blooded, pointy-eared counterpart. And you know that it's only cowardice—the same cowardice that made me turn tail and flee from Jocelyn—that keeps me from seeking Spock out one night, placing my hand over his and telling him just what I think of him.

Hell, you even know that I think you look good with a beard. It kind of suits you. It makes you look even more like Satan, of course, but I could learn to live with that…

But you have the information you wanted too. And that's all that matters to you, right? You know who I am now—you know that I'm not your Dr. McCoy. And Jim isn't your Jim. And Lt. Uhura and Mr. Scott aren't yours either. We're all just counterparts of the people you know. And we don't belong here. We need to get home.

And you know our plans now—you know how we intend to get back. No, you don't have the technical details. You can't take something from me that I don't have to give. But you've got the general idea and that's enough. I can already feel your brain adapting to the information and filling in the blanks.

Ok, you've got what you want—why don't you break the mind-meld now? What's stopping you?

Because you're still curious about me. You want to know how much my counterpart is like me. I wish I could tell you, Spock. But I haven't the foggiest.

And I wish something else—I wish that I could delve into your thoughts the way you've delved into mine. But I can't. I suppose you know how to protect against that. All my thoughts are open to you, but I have only a glimpse here and there of yours.

You're moving your face closer to me. Why, damn it? You have all the information you need—and either you're going to help us or you're not. What's the point of looking even deeper into my thoughts?

And suddenly it's over. I feel you pull away—a clean, abrupt break. But you're still holding my wrist, prepared to break it. And your face is only a scarce inch away from mine. Maybe less.

I finally find my voice. "What now?" I manage.

You don't answer me. But I know that look: you're in the midst of some complicated calculations. So I shut my mouth again and let you work out whatever mathematical puzzle you're trying to unravel. But I continue to watch you and I recognize the moment when you've reached your conclusion...however unsatisfactory you find it.

"What now?" I repeat.

You raise your eyebrows at me. "You are a fool, Doctor, not to fear me. I am not 'your Spock'—and I am quite capable of harming you."

"I know. But you're going to help us get back, aren't you?"

"Yes," you confirm. "I am."

You release me then and hail the bridge. You relay an order to cut off power to the transporter room. I stare at you and try to keep my mouth from dropping open.

"I thought you were going to help us!"

You narrow your eyes at me. "I suggest that you watch your tone, Doctor," you warn me. "I am merely ensuring that your captain does not leave until we reach the transporter room. It is unlikely that they can leave without you—I believe all four of you are necessary—but that is not certain."

You cock your head at me then. "It's almost a pity," you mutter. "I find you more…interesting than your counterpart. But I must have my captain back and, if I understand what your Mr. Scott intends, that may not be possible if I keep you behind."

I swallow hard at that. Some part of me can't help but take that as a twisted compliment. But I'm just as glad that you can't keep me here.

You pause and nod your head at the door, giving me a silent order to accompany you. I obey you—there's no point in doing otherwise. But you don't quite trust me, do you? You take hold of my arm as we leave sickbay and walk to the turbo lift. Your grip is painful, as if to remind me that you can break me if I don't behave.

We're alone in the turbo lift. You keep hold of me and give me a look I can't quite interpret. It's almost as if—well, as if you want me. Not love me, mind. I don't think you're capable of that. Or if you are, you'd never admit it. But you find me a damn sight more than 'interesting.' If you were my Mr. Spock, I'd rate a 'fascinating' from you.

"You should speak your mind to my counterpart," you advise me, breaking the silence that's fallen between us.

I stare at you for a moment, wondering what prompted that. However intriguing you find me, I don't think you care what happens between me and the version of you waiting for me back on the real Enterprise.

"Why?" I manage. "You think there's some chance that he—that he returns my feelings?"

You raise one eyebrow at me. "On the contrary, Doctor, I think that highly unlikely. But I also think that cowardice does not become you."

I have no answer for that—nothing except a sour smile.

We're both aware of the irony here, aren't we? You do want me. I wasn't wrong about that. And I can't help but want you—you're so damn much like my Spock. If there was time, we would start something. Hell, you might even let me grow on you. You might even come to care for me. And I suppose I'd come to care for you too.

But I already love Spock—my Spock—and he already cares more for me than you ever will. But he cherishes me as a friend, nothing more. Even if I overcome my cowardice and tell him the truth, it won't change things. He'll never want me the way that you do. I know that with a sudden, biting clarity.

You release me as we enter the transporter room. You don't pay me any more mind, except to nod toward the transporter unit. It's another silent order from you. And then you turn your attention away from me and onto Jim.

That's all right—I don't mind. We've said everything that needs saying, haven't we? There's no point in wallowing over some vague, missed opportunity in this sick mirror universe.

When you and Jim finish speaking—when Jim, Scotty, Uhura and I are all in place—I watch you operate the transporter. This might be the one time that I don't mind having my atoms scrambled to Kingdom Come. We need to go home.

But I am sorry to leave you behind. I wouldn't willingly stay with you—not for all the mint juleps in the world—but some part of me will miss you just the same. And when I do get my courage up and brace myself for rejection from your counterpart, I'm going to miss you all the more.

I continue to stare at you as the transporter does its job. There's just enough time for our eyes to meet—just enough time for me to convey one last thought.

Be kind to my counterpart, Spock. Perhaps, if you give him a chance, he'll merit your interest too.

The End