The Marriage of True Minds

Let me not to the marriage of true minds / Admit impediments.

As he listened to the whine of the transporter, and lost sight of Lieutenant Kyle at the controls, Leonard tried to ignore the usual clenching in his stomach. He knew, of course, that transporters were safe. As Jim pointed out to him countless times, (usually corroborated with maddeningly precise percentages from his Walking Calculator) they were much less likely to get into a transporter accident than a shuttle accident, or even a car accident on earth. But that wasn't what bothered Leonard. He didn't care about numbers — he cared about what actually happened. For some reason, he felt that he would rather be smashed into bits fair and square by a speeding hovercar, or baked inside a shuttle as it hurtled through some planet's atmosphere, than be reassembled into a melting mass of particles.

And that didn't even cover the weirder things that could happen. Like the time that Jim was somehow divided into two personalities . . . That still didn't make sense to him. Or more recently, when he and Jim and Scotty and Uhura found themselves transported into that house of horrors — the I.S.S. Enterprise. Normal transportation wouldn't mess with personality and morality and . . . well . . . universes. Whenever he pointed these kinds of things out, Jim would just laugh and say "Well, we made it through in one piece. Or lots of little pieces put back into one piece." Then he'd laugh again, because he cracked himself up. It was irritating. And yes, Leonard admitted that he was still in one piece physically, but sometimes when he had nightmares about the bearded Spock forcing his way into his mind, he wondered if he could truly say that he was in one piece psychologically.

So, as he watched the world come back into focus, he could only hope that he — his whole self — was really looking at the small scientific outpost, Vernon, on the M-Class planet, Epsilon Eridani d.

His apprehension must have shown, because Jim said, "Okay, Doc?"

"Yes. No thanks to those darn transporters."

"I must point out, Doctor, that inanimate machines, such as transporters are not sentient and therefore—"

"I'm just doing a human thing called 'anthropomorphizing,' Spock. We're psychologically inclined to do it, as you know full well. And anyway: How do you know they aren't sentient? D'you ask em? If they aren't, how do they do things like splittin' people into different halves of their personalities and puttin' different people in different universes? Tell me that!"

"Doctor, those were all the results of molecular—"

"Don't give me that, you green-blooded machine. Doesn't your precious logic say you can't prove a universal negative? I may not be a calculator, but I took logic!"

"I am gratified to hear that, Doctor, as I would never have gathered it from your general conversation. However, the probability that the transporter . . ."

"Gentlemen! Gentlemen!" Jim was clearly in no mood to listen to them squabble. Leonard was glad to see that Jim glared more at Spock than at him, even if part of him cringed at the trace of pity in the look he got. "We seem to have made it intact this time, Bones," he said, kindly.

They — Leonard, Jim, Spock, Nurse Bartlett and an ensign whose name he couldn't for the life of him remember, since he wasn't nearly as good with names as Jim and Spock — were walking towards a standard looking Federation science station.

"Well, if they are going to force us to use those blasted machines, they might beam us right into the settlement!" Leonard grumbled.

"Bones, I told you last time — it's just not polite. Even in Federation space, it's better to beam us a little way out, and then someone will welcome us."

"It's a science station with fifteen people!"

"Fourteen, doctor."

"Well, however many people there are, I don't see why we should walk five miles to get there, just so we can be met outside by a welcoming committee."

"Doctor, you exaggerate. We were beamed down precisely .236 miles from the station and . . ."

"Well, I'm not going to complain," Jim said in that voice and with that face — the one that always meant he was about to get himself into some ridiculous situation that would make Leonard want to roll his eyes, even if he was privately a bit jealous. The girl walking towards them was very beautiful, but she couldn't have been older than 21 — too young for Leonard, then. Well, he would just have to take more of a lead in the introductions since his rationality, unlike Jim's, was not compromised. After all, this was really his mission.

The girl extended a hand in greeting. "Welcome to Vernon, gentlemen. I am Sandra Jackson. My father is Mark Jackson, the leader of the expedition. He sent me to meet you, and help you get set up for the physicals."

"Dr. McCoy at your service, Ma'am." He was already rolling his eyes internally, because he could feel Jim breathing down his neck in his impatience to be introduced.

"Miss Jackson, this is Captain James Kirk . . ."

"Please, call me Jim."

". . . and Commander Spock, and Mr. Bartlett and Mr. . . . " Bones hesitated for a second, wishing he had bothered to learn the ensign's name.

"Lee," Jim hissed.

"And Mr. Lee."

"I'm pleased to meet you all."

"Well, lead the way. I have fourteen full physicals to complete today if possible."

Sandra's face fell. "Thirteen, Dr. McCoy."

"I thought you told me fourteen, Mr. Spock. Numbers off, eh?"

Before Spock could retort, Sandra cut in with a quavering voice, "No, doctor. Mr. Spock's numbers were accurate until three weeks ago, when my mother died in an accident involving some of our scientific machinery. It was . . . it was horrible . . ." Then she really started crying. She reminded him of his Joanna, so his fatherly instinct was to give her a hug. But he did have a sense of propriety — a sense of propriety that not only kept him from hugging her immediately, but also kept him from laughing when Jim got to her before him, and started rubbing her back gently and making hushing noises as she sobbed in his arms.

Leonard looked around. The nurse and the ensign were looking at each other nervously, and Spock just felt uncomfortable, even as his face didn't show it. Leonard knew he had to pull himself together quickly. He was a member of Starfleet, and he had a job to do.

He cleared his throat as Sandra wiped her eyes on her handkerchief, and sniffed shakily. (Was Jim really carrying handkerchiefs now? That was pathetic. Really pathetic.)

"I am so sorry for your loss, Miss Jackson."

She straightened up. "Thank you, doctor. But I am keeping you from your work. Please follow me, gentlemen."

Later that afternoon, Leonard was puzzled by his results. The members of the expedition ranged from the ages of nineteen to fifty-three. None were ill in any sense of the word, and yet there was something odd . . .

"I just don't like it, Jim. Not one bit."

"What is it, Bones?"

"These people all register as perfectly healthy on my scans, but something's not right."

"On the contrary, Doctor, I should say that all is very right. Surely you do not want these people to be sick, just so you can have the opportunity to inflict your potions on them."

"Spock, I'm very serious about this. People in their state of health should not appear tired and listless, as many of them do. We should have a look around, Jim. There may be something on this planet that makes it unfriendly to human life. Maybe these people shouldn't be living here at all."

"Okay. Put together a team from your labs, Spock, and look for anything out of the ordinary."

Leonard was with Jim getting ready to go back to the planet for dinner at the Jacksons' when Spock called in with a "negative" on his scientific expedition.

Dinner was a quiet, but pleasant affair. Leonard loved non-replicated food, and he always took advantage of opportunities to enjoy it. Spock excused himself soon after dinner was over and beamed back up to the ship to do some sort of research. Kirk and Sandra disappeared not long after that. Leonard continued to chat with Mark Jackson — they discovered that they had both grown up in Georgia, so they had plenty in common. When Jim and Sandra showed up again an hour or two later, Leonard went back to the ship with the captain.

The sound of the intercom startled Leonard awake. He jumped out of bed and grabbed some clothes before he had even pressed the button to answer — he'd been called in the middle of the night too many times before.

"McCoy here."

"Doctor, please come to the captain's cabin at once. It is an emergency."

Even in medical emergency mode, his gut reaction to Spock's voice was always snark. He had nearly said something about the Vulcan's obvious emotion before he realized that the emotion he heard was fear. Jim must be in serious trouble.

"I'll be right there, Spock."

He grabbed his emergency medical kit, and ran to the captain's room.

When Leonard got there, Jim was on the floor in the fetal position. He was shaking, his face was in a grimace, and he was gripping one of his first officer's hands with both of his, as if his life depended on it. His breath hissed between his teeth as he gasped, clearly in pain.

Leonard began to consider what might have caused this kind of pain as he knelt down next to Jim. He was about to reach his hand out to feel Jim's forehead, when he saw that another hand had gotten there first. Leonard turned in surprise to see Spock sitting cross-legged beside him, with an intense look in his eyes that he could not place. It was like . . .

He looked down at the hand again, and suddenly he remembered another Spock. He slapped Spock's hand away from Jim's face, yelling, "Get away from him, Mr. Spock!"

He was surprised to see Spock obey him immediately, almost jumping back, and wrenching his other hand from Jim's grasp. Spock stood up straight, put his hands behind his back, and asked quietly, "Can I help you, Doctor."

"For one thing . . ." Leonard decided to start by giving Jim a sedative. If nothing else, he would at least be unconscious while he was in pain. ". . . you can tell me what happened."

"I was in meditation at 0147 when I heard the sound of the captain dropping from his bed, as well as several noises of distress. I entered the captain's cabin, and attempted to determine what was troubling him. I received no response, aside from his taking my hand, as you saw. It was then that I decided to contact you. I have been able to determine that he is fevered, experiencing muscular spasms, and is not thinking coherently."

"Not thinking coherently?"

"Yes, doctor, I was able to determine that much through my contact with his hand."

"Well, Mr. Spock. Call whatever nurse is on duty to bring a gurney here, and we will bring the captain to sickbay. You can go." Leonard wanted the Vulcan gone. The small voice of reason was telling him that in an hour or two he would be sorry for being so short with Spock, and would regret the revulsion that he felt at that moment; but now he could not help himself. He did not want that creature, with his black alien arts, anywhere near him, not to mention near his clearly ill captain. He was shocked for the third time in fifteen minutes, when Spock glided out of the room, as emotionless as ever, without arguing.

When Spock had left the room, Leonard took a moment to close his eyes and breathe, and to put the nightmare image of those long fingers coming towards him to steal his thoughts out of his mind. Then he turned and did his best to help Jim.

"Spock? Could you come down to sickbay?"

"Yes, Doctor. I will be there shortly."

Leonard was feeling guilty about the way he had treated Spock, just like he knew he would. He hoped that actually calling Spock down to sickbay, and treating him civilly, would be understood and accepted as an apology.

"I don't know what it is, Spock. In some ways this is like tetanus, but there have been no recorded cases on Earth, or anywhere in the fleet, since 2065. And you know as well as I do that Starfleet personnel still get tetanus shots since we don't know what we might meet on a new planet. Besides, I can't detect any of the toxin Clostridium tetanii produces, and he has a high fever as well. He hasn't spoken at all, but as far as I can tell from my scanners, it's a muscular rather than a mental issue. Still, it is hard to tell with the brain."

"You are mistaken, doctor. His brain is not damaged, but I do believe that it is being assaulted. If this is the case, I am equipped to help him."

Leonard had to remind himself of his resolution that morning. He knew why every time Spock said anything that implied he could read minds he lost it. That other Spock had invaded his brain, and it had been torture — mentally as well as physically. He had been saving that Spock — saving his life. As Jim had said, he was very much like their Spock. And then, instead of being grateful, the man so similar to their own Spock had ripped thoughts out of his head. He couldn't see why the similarity between the two Spocks comforted Jim. If they were both so similar, couldn't their Spock use his power like that? He knew in his mind that his world's Spock hadn't — that he couldn't do that. But his emotions wouldn't trust his mind, no matter how much he wanted them to.

Ironic, he thought grimly, I only start to wish I could control myself like that hobgoblin when I hate him the most.

He didn't want to suspect Spock unjustly, but he couldn't give in to Spock, either. Part of him wanted to, but his will wasn't ready to give up his duty to care for Jim in favor of Vulcan mind hocus pocus — not yet. He would be civil, and that would be all.

"Well, Spock, I'd see an assault, if there was one. It would register as some sort of brain activity on my machines, so you don't need to worry about that. I just wanted to let you know how the captain is doing, and give you a chance to see him for yourself."

The next morning things got even worse. Not only was Jim still delirious with fever, Leonard got a call from Mark Jackson, informing him that Sandra was fevered too. When she was beamed up, it turned out that she was in a worse state than Jim. But Leonard remained helpless. There was very little that frustrated Leonard more than having no answers when a patient was ill. He couldn't even feel like he was doing anything. His scanners continued to say that Jim and Sandra were healthy, except for their symptoms, and it wasn't right.

When Spock called down from the bridge for the eighth time in an hour for a "status report," Leonard's nerves couldn't take it any longer. It wasn't the fact that the Computer cared about Jim that bothered him — it was the fact that he wouldn't admit it. As much as Leonard pitied the man, and sympathized with him as his human and Vulcan personalities battled for dominance, especially after meeting the very odd couple who produced him, (Who wouldn't be confused with charming Amanda and cold Sarek as parents?) he couldn't stop the anger that boiled up every time Spock self-righteously pretended to be logical, when any decent human would be ashamed not to be showing emotion.

"Shut up, ya pointy eared son of a Regulan blood worm! Don't you think I'd tell you if the captain were getting better . . . or even worse! If you want to see him, then get down here, and stop pestering me with your cold-blooded logic. D'ya hear? I've got nothing but a bunch of scans that say they're both perfectly healthy and a pair of eyes that can see they're not."

"Doctor, moderate your voice. The communication systems do not require excessive volume. Perhaps if you had spent less time considering ways to insult the Lady Amanda, my mother, and more time searching for a cure, Captain Kirk and Miss Jackson would be on their way to recovery now. However, since you are confusing my cooler body temperature with cold-bloodedness, I must call your ability to practice medicine at this time into question. I will come down momentarily."

Leonard would have replied if Spock hadn't turned the commlink off immediately. But once he'd had a few minutes to calm down, he was glad he hadn't had an opportunity to say anything else cutting. He felt a bit remorseful. He knew, too, that Spock would have cooled down — or, to be more accurate, warmed up, the way he always did when he actually got less agitated, instead of trying to pretend not to be agitated — by the time he got to the med bay, and neither of them would acknowledge their unfortunate argument when Spock walked through the door.

It was because he was so sure that they understood each other that Leonard was surprised by the wary look in Spock's eyes when he walked in. Surprised, that is, until Spock spoke.

"Dr. McCoy, after careful consideration, I believe that it is absolutely necessary that I perform the Vulcan mind meld on Captain Kirk and on Miss Jackson. The lack of any physiological reason for their symptoms leaves no alternative. The symptoms must result from a skillful manipulation of their minds by some hostile force that our medicine cannot detect. I . . . do understand your hesitation, doctor." (Leonard gaped at Spock, when he realized that he was trying to be sensitive.) "But I must insist. It will not cause any pain, and I hope it will not be unwelcome, particularly in the case of our captain."

What could he do when Spock put it like that? Trauma or no trauma, he couldn't let his personal psychological problems keep his patients from being healed.

"All right, Spock. But you'd better get results — fast!"

He was almost worried when instead of a snide logical retort he got a respectful question: "Doctor, whom do you judge to be in the most immediate danger? I shall meld with whomever needs me the most. "

It did not take Leonard more than a minute to make his decision. "Miss Jackson. Her fever is higher and still rising. I'm not sure that her brain can deal with the heat for much longer."

He watched in horrified fascination as Spock placed his hands to the girl's face, and began speaking in a strange voice. He couldn't easily make out much of what Spock said, and before he could really focus on the words, he noticed the monitor above the biobed. Sandra was dying. When he thought about it later, he wasn't surprised, even if he felt mildly guilty, that his first fear was for Spock, and not Sandra. He and Spock were close friends, despite everything, while Sandra was a patient. What would happen to Spock if she died while their minds were connected?

"Spock! Spock! Snap out of it, Spock!"

Spock must have sensed what was going on as well, because he broke the meld, and stepped out of the way, while Leonard and a nearby nurse worked frantically over the girl. But it was too late for her.

"She's dead." Leonard was in crisis mode, so he immediately motioned for a nurse to take care of the body of the girl and turned to Jim. "Nurse Robinson, go fill the tub with cool water. Spock, you help me get Jim out of here. We're doing this the old fashioned way."

"Doctor, that will not work."

"Don't you tell me how to do my job! He's burnin' up, and it's not caused by anything that we can find internally, so we're gonna assume that something's making him heat up, and try to cool him down so his brain doesn't fry while we're finding out what it is."

"It is, as I told you yesterday, Doctor, entirely mental. I must meld with the captain."

"Absolutely not, Spock. You may have just killed that girl, and there is no way that I am going to let you…"

He realized just before everything went black that Spock's hand was on his shoulder.

The sounds that Leonard heard as he began returning to consciousness, wondering why he could not move without serious effort, confused him. There were two voices — both familiar, but both unidentifiable.

"You will not have him. I will not allow it."

"It is too late. We are already one."

"You are not one. I know. I am with him now, and you are separate from us."

"We are one, as the girl was one with another. It is too late."

"The girl and the other were one, and now they are both dead. You will die if you persist. It is illogical for you not to leave now while you may, and instead of risking your own death."

Illogical? Spock! Leonard hadn't been able to identify the familiar voice because it sounded, despite its words, so very illogical. His head felt a bit clearer, though he still hadn't mustered up the strength to open his eyes, and he knew that was Spock's voice…so why did it sound so desperate? Spock's voice rang out again, though this time it had a warmer tone.

"Do not fight me, Jim! Our minds are becoming one. I will protect you."


And that was when Leonard realized that the second voice had been Jim's the whole time. But until he had whispered Spock's name, it had sounded loud and cruel.

"He is beyond your reach, now." Spock again, and now he sounded stronger — more confident. "You cannot enter my mind. I have seen the thoughts of your kind in the woman, and I am prepared for this battle."

Leonard opened his eyes, and saw Spock, with his fingers spread over Jim's face. Jim lay perfectly still on the biobed. A quick glance at the monitors showed that Jim's temperature was down, but his vital functions were all quite weak. Spock's hands were shaking, and there was a furious concentration in his eyes. He opened his mouth again, and spoke in the voice that always got ensigns working at double speed.

"Go now!"

And there was a strange flash of light, and Spock crumpled to the ground.

That woke Leonard up fast. A shout brought the first nurse back to help him get Spock onto the next bed. A cursory inspection showed that he was still alive, and probably just weakened from whatever just happened, but he commed M'Benga to come and check the Vulcan out anyway. He went back to Jim and began administering hypos, until he saw his heart rate and breathing normalize, and realized gratefully that Jim had fallen naturally into a peaceful, and hopefully healing, sleep. When he was satisfied, he turned to M'Benga, who confirmed that Spock was indeed weak and exhausted, but otherwise unharmed.

He went back to his office to lie down on the couch and think, and maybe even get some rest, while his patients slept. That was when it struck him that Sandra — Mark had called her "Sandy" — was dead, and he was exhausted enough to shed some tears for the young woman. But what had happened?

After a minute or two, he realized he was too tired to think about it. He got up and went back into the room where the two men were sleeping. Chapel had brought in some paperwork to look over while she kept an eye on them.

"Nurse Chapel, I'm going to lie down in my office. Wake me as soon as either one of them does."

"Yes, doctor."

When Chapel shook him gently awake, she told him that he'd been asleep for almost three hours.

"Captain Kirk is waking up."

"Thank you, Nurse. I'll go talk to him."

Jim looked at Leonard with a confused expression when he walked in.

"Bones, what . . . what happened? Why am I in your sickbay again?"

"Jim, you've had a fever and you scared me and Spock half to death, but I honestly don't know why. He might know, but he's asleep, so I was hoping you might be able to help me. What's the last thing you remember?"

"Is Spock okay? What happened to him?"

"Calm down Jim, he's in the next bed — just look to your right. There. See? Those are as normal readings as I'll ever get for him. But I want to know what happened to you."

He sighed impatiently while Jim stared at Spock, and at Spock's monitor. Leonard wished, not for the first time, that his friends would just trust his medical expertise. He had spent years earning the title of M.D. and Jim had taken one semester of "practical health" — a glorified first aid class required for anyone who wanted to get a Starfleet job off-planet. It was the sort of thing that gave people like Jim just enough knowledge to be dangerous. Still, he was used to it by now, and he understood the concern. Jim looked a little bit more relaxed when he turned back.

"Well, I . . . I remember we were orbiting the planet . . . Epsilon Eridani d, and we went to dinner with that scientist Jackson and his daughter, Sandy. And I remember she said . . . she said . . ." His face turned very red. "She said she loved me, Bones. And she wanted me to stay. And, well . . . she was pretty, but I knew it wouldn't be serious, so I tried to tell her 'no' and then . . . and then it's all fuzzy. Something about . . . hmm . . . oh! . . . we saw one of those things like . . . like on that asteroid. Remember? The Companion? It looked like that. And then I remember feeling like there was something in my head and I felt like I was on fire and . . . Yes! . . . it said something about becoming one so I tried to fight it until I realized I was fighting with Spock, and he was going to do a mind meld, and I had always wanted to try that, you know? Except at first it had seemed dangerous . . . and not like Spock . . ."

"That is because it was not I, Captain."

Leonard's head whipped up, and he looked reflexively at the monitor over the next bed. Spock looked fine, but still . . .

"Don't even think about getting out of that bed, Mr. Spock. You are not released from this sickbay until I say you are."

For a second Leonard thought Spock was going to argue, but he pulled himself together and turned to Jim again.

"There was a creature in your mind attempting to meld with you permanently. If you had not decided to fight it, you would have become one with it as had the woman and the others on the scientific expedition. "

"All of them, Spock?"

"Yes, Captain. All thirteen of the people on that expedition willingly allowed creatures much like Zephram Cochrane's companion to become one with them. That is what I learned when I melded with the girl. Apparently these creatures are also unable to survive away from their home planet, which is why, after she was beamed up, the girl's fever grew worse, and she died. The creature had elevated her temperature so that the colonists would make contact with us again, but once she was on this ship, the creature lost control."

"But how can you know that they were willing, if I wasn't."

"You were not taken, Captain, though the girl did bring you out there to attempt it, in the hope that you would stay permanently with them."

Jim turned even redder and mumbled something Leonard couldn't hear under his breath.

"Which is another example of why you must attempt to behave more logically where women . . ."

"Spock! Do we have to have this discussion again, right now?"

"As you wish, Captain. It seems that these creatures may be able to confer unending existence, and the prospect was too tempting to the members of the expedition, both as humans and as scientists. The girl, however, was already beginning to regret her choice. She was very young, and not a scientist in her own right. So, she tried to ensnare another to stay with her. She has paid dearly, though perhaps not as dearly as the others in the expedition. Only time will tell. In any case, Captain, I would recommend that this information be kept guarded by Starfleet until more research has been done by the scientists on the planet. I do not believe that news of the mythical 'fountain of youth' should be spread carelessly."

Leonard was still disoriented from the nerve pinch, and that, plus the bizarre situation, meant that his head was beginning to hurt. "I shoulda known that if there were more of those awful electric clouds we'd have the bad luck to fall in with them! Still, I don't understand how you managed to keep them from getting Jim."

"As I told you before, Doctor, and as you might have gathered from our experience on Cochrane's asteroid: These creatures need consent to join seamlessly with a human. I believe that Cochrane's companion either did not have, or did not choose to use the kinds of powers that these do, for they were attempting to overpower the captain against his will. When I attempted a meld, I found that he was still resisting, so I took the logical step of joining the power of my mind with his, so that together we could expel the creature from his mind permanently."

"That's not what it felt like to me at all," Jim cut in. "It's hard to explain, since I've never mind melded with anyone before. But I'd say that when you got into my head, you didn't so much join forces with me as send me into a bunker while you did the fighting yourself."

Leonard was positive now that he had to get some sleep, because he actually thought that he saw the tips of the Vulcan's ears turn green as he looked away from Jim's amused face and said, "As you say, Captain, you have never been in a mind meld before, so there is no way you could completely understand how it was working."

"Not to mention, Spock," Leonard was beginning to collect his thoughts and memories from around when Spock knocked him out, and he saw where Jim was going with this. "that your story doesn't begin to explain the stuff you said about protecting Jim when you were in the meld . . . or the way you fainted away when you were finished."

Leonard thought he may have seen the tiniest start of surprise before the Vulcan glared at him.

"Doctor, you were in no state to observe accurately." Leonard hoped that the twitch in Spock's right hand had not been a threat to send him back into oblivion for a while.

Actually, he didn't really care. The moment was too good to pass up. And besides, he had the power to discharge Mr. Bored-without-work Spock or not — and Spock knew it. "I'm going to go with Jim's theory. I think you went in there, and instead of doing the logical thing, and joining Jim, since two heads are better than one, you did the emotional thing, and pushed him out of the way and took the bullet yourself. And," because Spock looked like he was going to speak, "if you say anythin' about the figures of speech I used in that sentence, I'll know I'm right, and you're tryin' to divert attention from me."

At this the Vulcan closed his mouth and his eyes and lay back on the pillow. Jim looked at him for a moment with a sleepy, affectionate grin on his face. Then he yawned and smiled up at Leonard. "Well, Bones, Spock seems to have the right idea, even if he is in a pet. I'm going to go back to sleep, too."

"Sleep well, Jim. And Spock, now I know you're emotional—you aren't even taking issue with him saying 'in a pet.' You're that relieved that he is okay."

"Doctor, the word 'pet' as the Captain just used it is not a metaphor, since it is not (as you clearly believe) related to the Terran word for useless domesticated animals. I am not surprised, however, that you are unaware of the finer distinctions of your language given that—"

"Shut up, Spock."

Spock shut his mouth abruptly, and Jim chuckled. Leonard watched them for a few moments. Jim's regular breathing, and the indicators on the monitor above his head showed that he had fallen asleep right away. Spock was perfectly still, breathing slowly and regularly, but Leonard could tell from the monitor that he wasn't sleeping or meditating — just being silent. He suspected that Spock was trying to hear the Captain fall asleep. Leonard smiled — their friend wasn't really a walking computer. He should never have thought, much less said, otherwise. Leonard's ears turned red as he remembered some of the things he said to Spock in the past few hours. He knew Spock understood, but Leonard had been raised to apologize when he was wrong. So, before he could leave for a real night's sleep in his own cabin, he had to say something to the Vulcan lying stiffly on the biobed with his eyes closed.

"Thanks, Spock, for everything."

He rolled his eyes as Spock turned onto his side so that his back was to Leonard. He shouldn't have bothered. Jim was right. Spock really was in a pet . . . Though, now that Leonard thought about it, he shouldn't be too surprised — not at the way Spock was showing it, anyway. It somehow felt logical that a Vulcan's version of a pet would be the silent treatment.