The Remover
Or bends with the remover to remove

Killing Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell had been the only logical solution to the problem — Spock was certain of that.

And yet . . .

And yet, he wished he had not been the one to propose the solution. He wished that something had happened to cause Captain Kirk to recognize and accept the necessity of Mitchell's death . . . or that someone else had taken it upon himself to advise the captain. Then perhaps Kirk would not blame him for the death of his friend.

Spock was tempted to sigh as he once more analyzed his behavior during the crisis. He had been straightforward and unrelenting as he told Captain Kirk what had to be done, yes; but he had done his utmost to be sensitive to human emotions and other human weaknesses. He had called the captain "Jim" — as much as it went against his nature to do so — in an attempt to remind the captain that he did have . . . friends?

Because, that is your ultimate concern, is it not? Spock thought to himself. You do not want him to stop being your friend, even though you know he has rejected you. He had been sure that Captain Kirk had forgiven him his part in the affair after Spock admitted that he did feel for Mitchell, but he was wrong — the next day Kirk had been moody and short with him.

Another voice — his Vulcan conscience, he supposed. It sounded very much like his father — cut into his thoughts: This is why we do not indulge in friendship, Spock. Casual friendship leads only to emotional turmoil, and therefore lack of control and focus.

Yes, that was what his father would say. His father did not approve of his choice to enter Starfleet at all; but if he had deigned to observe his son's behavior when he served under Captain Pike, Spock believed, his father would have approved (albeit grudgingly) of the devotion to duty that he exhibited. If his father could see him now, however, he would tell him what part of Spock's mind was saying already — that this newly formed friendship with Kirk was indulgence in a human weakness.

"Status report, Mr. Spock."

"The planet's atmosphere is approximately 79.01% nitrogen, 19.34% oxygen, 1.04% xenon, and 0.61% krypton. Readings detect animal life, but there is no indication of any technological innovation. Our primary scans confirm previous reports that this planet is rich in dilithium ore."

"Lieutenant Uhura, call Dr. McCoy, Lieutenant Commander Giotto, Lieutenant Commander Scott, Lieutenant Sulu, and Ensign Richardson to the transporter room. Relay the information Mr. Spock has just given, and tell them to prepare to accompany me down to the planet."

"Captain, might I suggest that . . ."

"When I want suggestions from you, I'll ask for them, Mr. Spock."

The sudden rush of shame and something else distinctly unpleasant at the short reply was a new experience for Spock. He should have known better, though. Certainly, he had never offered unsolicited advice to Captain Pike. Then again, Captain Kirk — until nine days ago — had encouraged him to give advice. But of course, that encouragement had come during their off-duty chess matches, and they no longer played chess.

He reminded himself that Kirk was his captain now, and he owed him the same duty as he had given his previous captain. If he remembered that, all would be well.

Spock sat in the officers' mess by himself, reading an article in a technical journal that Lieutenant Commander Scott had recommended to him.

He admitted to himself, as he struggled to comprehend the article that he had not minded eating with Captain Kirk and the other officers. He was free to admit it, because that fault was past. He had not shared a meal with the captain in over three weeks, and it did not look as if he ever would again. Which was as it should be.

Spock did wish, though, that he had not gotten into the habit of looking through each week's schedule to determine whether he and Captain Kirk shared any breaks. It was another of those all too human habits that he had allowed himself to acquire, but had not noticed until the incident at the galactic barrier brought him to his senses. He would learn from this. It was a proper punishment for succumbing to the weakness of friendship.

He saw the captain walk in, and he looked quickly back at his journal and started reading the article from the beginning. He was not paying so much attention that he did not notice where the captain sat. Or that he was sitting alone.

Spock was finished with his meal, so he got up and returned his tray. On the way out of the mess he caught Captain Kirk's eye for just a moment, and the look he saw was not the cold anger that he had been facing for the past twenty-three days. Instead it was . . . despair? guilt? hurt? It was an odd mixture of emotion, but one, Spock realized, that he recognized.

23 years earlier

"I will not practice with Spock. He is not a full Vulcan, and therefore cannot have full Vulcan strength. My technique will not be honed properly."

"That is illogical, Stonn. You know that all the students must have a partner, and during each session that partner is different so that any weaknesses in one will be compensated in practice with another."

"Spock is not a worthy partner for a young Vulcan male. Perhaps he should practice with a female."

"Once more you display your ignorance, Stonn. Had you applied yourself to your Vulcan biology, you would know that females of your years are larger and stronger than males of your years, and the separation of the sexes in physical education is for the protection of the males. Now you will control your illogical distaste and practice with Spock."

Spock schooled his face into an impassive mask as he faced up to the much larger boy. He tried to control his anger at the insult, as well as his fear of the coming exercises.

Several minutes later he was not able to recall how he ended up on the ground with a sharp pain in his head. He did remember, though, that right before Sobak, the instructor, told him to go home, Stonn had hissed in his ear, "You deserved that, you filthy half-breed."

When he got home, his mother watched him with concern.

"What's wrong, Spock?"

"Nothing is wrong, Mother."

"Why are you home so early?"

"My performance in physical education was not satisfactory. I was sent home so that I could improve my technique rather than injure myself or others through my own incompetence." It was not exactly a lie.

"Were the other boys teasing you again?"

"Mother, why would one Vulcan tease another? It is an irrational act intended to elicit an emotional response. To do so would be illogical."

"Spock." His mother made a move as if to embrace him. He wanted nothing more than to run to her and tell her of his troubles. But to do so would not only be illogical, it would be surrender. If he could not control his own emotions in reaction to their taunts, they won.

"Mother. I am a Vulcan. I do not need your weak human sympathy."

He would not have dared to speak so in front of his father, who, while agreeing with Spock on the issue of proper Vulcan behavior, would never allow him to speak disrespectfully to his mother. But he knew his mother would not fault him. Furthermore, he knew that his mother understood him perfectly, and that she would show him sympathy. She would allow him to walk away now, but later she would let him know, in a way that would not hurt his Vulcan pride, that he was loved, and that he was not a "filthy half-breed," but an important, unique sentient being.

As Spock remembered his unwarranted curtness — even expressions of anger at times — towards his mother, expressed only because he knew it would not stop her loving him, he wondered: Was that weakness a unique side effect of his mixed heritage, as he had always assumed it to be? Or was it, perhaps, a normal — for humans — reaction to pain? Particularly if the individual did not like to admit weakness? And if he trusted that his cruelty would not alienate his friends forever?

Perhaps that was what Captain Kirk was doing to him as well?

It was highly illogical, but Spock felt almost gratified that the captain trusted him to repair and preserve their friendship, even if his trust was subconscious.

And that was why he made up his mind to do something about the situation. His mother had showed her love for him, even when he retreated into his Vulcan dispassion.

James T. Kirk, he now realized, had retreated into his anger, and it was Spock's duty to bring him back. To do for his captain what his mother had so many times done for him was only logical.

"Kirk here."

"Captain Kirk, this is Lieutenant Commander Spock."

"What do you want, Mr. Spock?"

The tone was hardly encouraging. But this was one way Spock's Vulcan upbringing would actually aid him in a delicate emotional matter — he did not need to feel welcome. He only needed to know that he was right.

"Captain Kirk, I have been making some calculations, and we have not played a game of chess in 28.54 days."


"I have also observed your behavior, and it seems clear to me that these games are beneficial to you. They provide an opportunity for you to rest your mind from your work as a captain, while continuing to stimulate it — chess is, in fact, one of the only logical forms of what you humans call 'recreation' available on this ship. I am the only member of this ship who can provide you with a satisfactory challenge, and thereby make playing the game a profitable exercise. Furthermore, as I am one of your highest ranking officers, it is beneficial to both of us to learn more about one another through a game such as this."

"Mr. Spock, I assure you that there are a lot of ways to get recreation besides playing chess, and I know you more than well enough."

"Captain Kirk, as a final benefit, those games provide a forum in which to express and develop a friendship between us that I am loath to lose."

There was complete silence.

"Captain Kirk?"

"I…Spock…I told you to call me 'Jim.'"

"What time would be most convenient for you, Jim?"