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Out Flew the Web

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Out flew the web and floated wide; The mirror crack'd from side to side… Alfred Lord Tennyson, “The Lady of Shallott.

Leonard McCoy walked into sickbay approximately one and a half minutes late for his morning shift, but he couldn’t find it in himself to give a damn. He’d barely slept the night before, his sleep riddled with violent nightmares – or rather, nightmare, singular. It was the same damn dream over and over again, a post-traumatic reaction to the recent events involving the mirror universe. He’d treated himself with prescription sleep aids, to no avail. The damn dream woke him every night, left him unable to get back to sleep, and he sat up until the early hours, cursing his subconscious.

“Morning, doctor.” Christine Chapel was already busy at one of the workstations. The counter around her was crowded with test tubes and petri dishes. An ongoing project, in that case. “You look awful.”

“Thank you,” McCoy replied dryly. “And here I was thinking I was the very picture of youth and beauty.”

“Don’t try and put me off with your usual sarcasm,” she said. “Something’s bothering you. I can always tell.” She turned and picked up a hypospray, injected him neatly before he had the chance to protest.

”What the hell was that?” He clapped a hand over the injection site, although the hypospray had been painless enough.

“Broad spectrum vitamin and mineral complex,” she said. “When’s the last time you ate a square meal?”

“That crap the replicators spit out?” He scoffed. “Forget it.”

He went into his office, sat down at his desk. His head was spinning from lack of sleep, so he called up a cup of espresso from the food slot and downed it. He’d left some work unfinished from the previous day and began methodically updating the medical files of several dozen crewmembers who’d recently completed their annual physical examinations. His mind kept wandering so that he had to go back over each file again to ensure he hadn’t made any errors. It was incredibly frustrating. The outer door swished open and he heard Chapel greet someone, looked up in time to see Spock standing there.

McCoy was up and out of his chair, his body reacting seemingly without his knowledge or permission, pinning his back against the wall. No, not him, not him, please don’t do it I’m begging you—

“Doctor?” Spock’s expression didn’t change, except for a raised eyebrow. “Are you quite all right?” He moved towards McCoy, and something in that small gesture terrified McCoy beyond the power of speech. He lost the awareness of his surroundings then as his vision greyed out, gave himself up to unconsciousness.

The next thing he knew, he was staring up at the ceiling of his quarters. His body felt liquid and boneless, very tired. What the hell was in that hypospray Chapel had given him?

“It was not Nurse Chapel’s hypospray,” a voice said. McCoy looked up. Spock was sitting beside the bed, watching him. “You experienced a violent emotional reaction to my presence in sickbay. I confess I do not understand.”

“You phrase it like a question.” McCoy realised he was dressed in the clothing he would normally wear to sleep, boxer shorts and a loose t-shirt. “Who undressed me?”

“It was I,” Spock confessed, without a trace of embarrassment. “I thought you would be more comfortable that way.” He tilted his head, regarding McCoy keenly. “Now will you tell me why my presence caused you to react so violently?”

“It’s not you,” McCoy began. “I’ve been having these…nightmares. Ever since we met your mirror universe counterpart, and he—”

Spock’s eyes widened. “Did he…harm you?”

McCoy swallowed hard. His throat was suddenly very dry. “Not physically.”

“I see.” Spock shook his head. The gesture was so slight that anyone who didn’t know him well would have dismissed it as a mere tic. “I have reviewed the logs from the incident, doctor. I know what it is he did to you. I cannot help but feel I am partially responsible.”

“Spock, what he…” McCoy paused, hunting for words. “What the other Spock did to me was—”

“It was rape, doctor.” Spock’s voice was curiously empty and flat. He stood, suddenly unable to meet McCoy’s gaze. “Mental rape.”

“A forced mind meld, yes, but hardly—”

“No, doctor.” Spock didn’t turn to face him but moved towards the door. “He…raped you. Doctor, I…there can be no apology that will ever possibly suffice for what he did. I am sorry.” The door to McCoy’s quarters swished open and shut, and Spock was gone.

“Well, if that wasn’t the weirdest conversation…” McCoy said aloud. He sat up in bed, but the movement ignited a storm of dizziness inside his head, so he lay down again. Rape? Did Spock actually think…? The idea disturbed him. Spock was the least violent person he knew. McCoy couldn’t comprehend Spock being capable of such a thing, but if the mirror universe was, as they’d theorized, the dark side of their current existence, then Spock…some part of Spock was capable. It was a disquieting thought. He turned onto his side to contemplate this, but was suddenly very tired, and within a few moments he was sound asleep.

***

Spock went directly to his quarters after leaving McCoy, and immediately settled into meditation. But his mind would not quiet itself, his consciousness returning again and again to what McCoy had revealed. Eventually he gave up trying to meditate and went looking for Kirk. He found him in his quarters, reading one of the old-style paper books he favoured for some reason Spock could never understand. “What’s on your mind, Spock?” Kirk laid aside the book, his posture and expression indicating both his interest and his willingness to listen. “You seem troubled.” He gestured at a chair. “Have a seat. Can I get you something?”

“I require nothing,” Spock said. “Captain – Jim – I am deeply troubled by what occurred during our encounter with the mirror universe.” Quickly, and with his usual economy of words, he told the captain what had occurred during his conversation with McCoy. Kirk listened carefully and didn’t interrupt. “I realise what I did. I must make it right.”

“Far be it from me to fault your logic,” Kirk began, “but I fear you are assuming responsibility for something that wasn’t your fault. What does McCoy think about this?”

“He has not made his feelings known.”

“Doesn’t sound like our Doctor McCoy,” Kirk commented.

“I entered sickbay earlier today, and my presence induced what I can only term a nervous collapse,” Spock told him. “Your medical literature refers to a condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder. I believe Doctor McCoy is suffering from it as a result of what my counterpart did to him.”

Kirk’s mouth compressed into a thin line. He said, “Spock, you’re not a psychiatrist.”

“I am not,” Spock agreed, “but there are mental protocols my people have developed that can help him. I wish to try.”

“What does it involve?”

Spock thought for a moment before replying. “I will require a significant amount of time spent in close quarters with Doctor McCoy. If he will permit me…if you will permit it, Captain. He suffers greatly in his mind, and it is partly my fault. I feel strongly that I must make reparations to him.” He stood up. “Do I have your permission?”

“Of course. Spock, do you honestly think you can help him?”

“I don’t know. I sincerely hope he will allow me to try.”

****

Spock was waiting by his bed when McCoy woke screaming from the nightmare. He caught McCoy’s hand and held it, spoke soothingly until the doctor came to full consciousness. “Spock!” McCoy gasped. “What the devil are you doing here?”

“I am here to help you,” Spock said quietly, “if you will let me.” He reached a hand towards McCoy’s face, and the doctor shrank back from him. “You need not fear me,” Spock said. He cupped McCoy’s cheek. “I am so very sorry. I intend to undo what my mirror counterpart has done to you. Please.”

McCoy returned the touch, his fingers spread on the Vulcan’s cheek, as if in imitation of a mind meld. “Yes.” He folded forward into Spock’s embrace, allowed Spock to hold him and ease him back down onto the bed, cover him with the blankets. “I want you to stay,” he said. “Stay with me. Say you will.”

“Doctor, we have a lot of work to do,” Spock said. “And it will not be easy. Are you willing to allow this?”

“I am.”

“Then let us begin.”

To be continued…