It was just something that all Terrans had, written down or across their backs in the preferred language of the person whose name it was. It was something like a tattoo, and in fact many added to it, leaving the fateful name as the focal point of the design. As children, they’d get into groups after school or at slumber parties and look at each other’s backs and read out the names. The names, as the stories went, were that of their soul mates, the perfect person for them regardless of gender or sexuality, as more forms of love existed besides mere romance.
But as children aged, they often realized how useless the name could be. With billions of people in the world, and millions of miles to cross both on land and in space, it was unlikely they’d meet “the one.” Not everyone exchanged names on each meeting, and even if they did, there was a risk the “John Smith” they met was not the John Smith written on their back. Language barriers had a hand in it too. If in a foreign alphabet, the name became next to impossible to decipher, especially for southern boys growing up in Georgia with a name written in a language no human they met could read.
Leonard McCoy, like so many others, decided then it was best to settle for the people he had instead of some fantasy of a soul mate, and so he, like so many others, grew attached to a person he eventually married, since even if it wasn’t a perfect love, the love was still there.
For a time, anyway… Fight after fight, betrayal, and heartache, and Leonard knew he had made the wrong choice and thought perhaps he just wasn’t meant for love, as all his other relationships failed as well, occasionally when his lover found their soul mate against all odds.
That pained him more than anything, that these people he thought he loved were meant for someone else when he couldn’t even read the name on his back. So he, like so many others, just kept his shirt on and name hidden, jaded by the thought of love, but with a flickering hope somewhere in him that maybe he’d get lucky one day…
Sarek was surprised to find Amanda had his name on her back, though he did not show it. Vulcans long knew of the strange trait of humans to have names, rumored to be that of soul mates, on their backs, but he had not expected one to have Vulcan script running down between her shoulder blades, and he expected even less for it to be of his own name.
But the idea of a true love seemed illogical to him, and so he ignored that human trait.
And he instead married her for logical reasons as an ambassador to Earth.
Not because he fell in love.
At the very least… Not because he was fated to fall in love. She merely smiled softly, and he did his best to smile back, but only when no other Vulcans were around.
And so they had a child, a son, Spock, with pointed ears and green blood and all other appearances that were Vulcan traits, yet a human one as well as they found a name written across Spock’s shoulders in the human English.
Sarek made sure to have Spock keep the name covered at all times, and though his son knew the name was there, Sarek told the truth that it was an illogical human trait. He knew Amanda would tell him otherwise, but Spock would know how unlikely it would be to find the being with that name.
And so, they arranged for Spock to be engaged to a Vulcan girl, T’Pring, and nothing was said of the matter of the name on Spock’s back until years later when the engagement had been called off by T’Pring’s logical desire to be with someone else.
“So you’re half-human,” Leonard observed one day as they waited for the minutiae of the experiment to run and give them their results.
“Doctor, you very much aware of this,” Spock answered. “Is there a reason you choose to bring it up again?”
“Well, you know what humans have on their backs, right?” Leonard frowned at Spock’s staring. “I’m asking if you have anything like that.”
Spock frowned slightly, but gave no other indication of an answer for a while. “Doctor. I believe it is a private matter with which you need not concern yourself.”
“That’s a yes,” Leonard mumbled. However, he nodded and looked over the experiment again. “Very well, Mr. Spock. I can understand the need to hide it would be even greater for Vulcans than humans.”
“Is that so?” Spock asked, quirking his eyebrow. “By my calculations, out of human sentimentality, humans would have little problem sharing such a thing at all.”
Leonard shook his head. “I think you’d appreciate the logic in why many of us keep it private. Given how unlikely it is we’d find our ‘soul mate’ as they like to call it. There’s a phrase we have. If you can’t love the one you want, love the one you’re with. I suppose that’s why so many unsuccessful marriages happen...”
Leonard shook his head again. “Anyway, how long ‘til this is done?”
“Another 1.4 minutes, Doctor,” Spock replied. “You will not have to wait much longer.”
Leonard said nothing about the name when he had seen it on Spock’s back that time he had to operate. He kept silent, though Spock clearly knew that he had seen it. But with at least one hundred men named “Leonard McCoy,” perhaps more, in the entire galaxy, who was he to say it was him? With how often they argued, how much they appeared to dislike each other…
It wasn’t that Leonard hated Spock or his Vulcan heritage. Just that he wanted Spock to accept his human half more. But with that blatant reveal that both he and Christine saw, and how Spock didn’t want to tell him before now… It was hard for him to tell Spock to listen to his human half now; that would seem selfish of him.
And of course, with what just happened on the planet’s surface, on Vulcan between Spock and T’Pring… Leonard just finished going over Kirk, and Kirk was just waking up. It was still up in the air if Spock would return to the ship, though it seemed obvious he would.
Or was that just wishful thinking?
Spock entered Leonard’s quarters just after he had permission to enter. He found the doctor sitting, holding a drink of some sort in his hand, and looking up at him expectantly.
“Doctor McCoy,” he nodded in greeting.
“Mr. Spock,” Leonard replied in turn. “Quite the event down on Vulcan, wasn’t it?”
“Indeed,” Spock agreed, watching Leonard carefully. “Doctor… I am very aware you have seen the name on my back.”
Leonard pursed his lips. “A private matter, Mr. Spock. I did not want to bother you with human sentimentality on my part.”
“You do not think it refers to you?” Spock quirked his eyebrow.
“I don’t want to get my hopes up,” Leonard admitted. He set his glass aside and stood up. “But I suppose that… You see, Spock, I’ve never been able to read the name on my back…”
Spock took a calculated step forward. “May I be permitted to attempt?”
Leonard nodded and turned around, lifting both his shirt and undershirt over his head. Spock needed only a glance before he could recognize the letters, and he read them aloud. His name.
Putting his shirts back on, one after the other, Leonard then faced Spock again, staring quizzically. “Is that the name you say no human can pronounce?”
“I did not say no human can,” Spock answered. “Indeed, my mother is able to. You, however, would have difficulty.”
Leonard huffed up and said the name. And again. And again, getting it wrong for the third time before giving up. “Okay, fine. But that’s it, then? Your name?”
“So it would seem,” Spock nodded.
“How are we soul mates then?” Leonard crossed his arms over his chest and shook his head. “With how much we argue?”
“It does not seem logical, I agree,” Spock replied. “However, I find the presence of names on our backs indicating our soul mates to be just as illogical... Yet too statistically improbable to be mere coincidence.”
Leonard sighed, dropping his arms to his side. “Well… There are all kinds of love… And if we are meant to be together… Perhaps we should see what kind of love ours is?”
Spock nodded. “A logical approach to the situation, I agree.”
Leonard thought for a moment and then asked, “Would you care to accompany me to dinner, Mr. Spock?”
“Certainly, Doctor McCoy.”
He smiled. “Leonard, Spock. Call me Leonard.”