by K.V. Wylie

It's a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become real.
  --The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams.

Have we come this far to have gone astray?
I've been lost before, but not lost this way.
You and me thought we'd be forevermore.  
Do I know you?  Did I ever?  
Thought I did.  Now I'm no better.
  --"Evermore", by Neil Diamond.  

Wind burned Leonard McCoy's eyes as he raised his head towards the Guardian of Forever.  Grit blew against his face.

The Guardian hummed.  It sang.  It ran a distorted blur of noisy pictures, images too fast to comprehend.

McCoy hated it.

The last time he'd stood here, clothes sodden in Cordrazine-laced sweat, he'd jumped and set in motion events that had caused pain to one of the dearest men he'd ever walked beside.  He wouldn't be the cause of more.  He was standing well back, behind everyone in the landing party, and there was no Cordrazine in his med-kit.

He knew Jim Kirk was thinking of Edith Keeler and wondered if the Captain was tempted to jump himself, change history, and damn the rest.  But Kirk stood well at the back too, head bowed.  Only Spock had walked up to the Guardian, and, whatever the Vulcan thought, he kept to himself.

The Enterprise had been ordered here after the Guardian began to throw out more time disturbances.  The violent waves had reached to Starbase Eighty near Vulcan, and Starbase One at Earth, respectively jarring T'Pau's rock-hard calm and Admiral Nogura's complacent self-involvement.

Spock's tricorder whistled.  The ground rumbled.

"Shut it off," Kirk said.

"Sir?" Spock said, looking back.

"Don't piss it off," Kirk said, his voice tight.

Spock returned his tricorder to his belt and said something in Vulcan.  That was the last thing McCoy remembered.

He woke up in a puddle of dirty water.  Sunlight flashed at him.  McCoy squinted as he looked around.

He was in a narrow, muddy, garbage-strewn lane.  Buildings of faded, greasy brick rose at each side of him and the smell was atrocious.  He caught movement and saw people walking past the end of the alley, the women in long dresses that reached to their ankles, and the men in dark suits and hats.  A rhythmic, clip-clopping sound preceded the sight of a horse pulling a wagon.

McCoy stared, curious and aghast.

"Where the hell am I?" he whispered.  "I didn't go through.  I was at the back!"

He heard a noise behind him and turned.  "Spock?"

The Vulcan was rising unsteadily to his feet, a hand to his head.

"Are you all right?" McCoy asked.

"I am dizzy."  Spock glanced at the buildings.  "Where are we?"

"I have no idea," McCoy said.  "But, Spock, I didn't go through the Guardian.  I know I didn't."

"It appears that we did."

"And Jim and Scotty and the guards that were with us?" McCoy asked.  "Did you see what happened to them?"

"No, I did not," Spock said.

"What did you say to it?"

"I spoke your name," Spock said.  He turned and McCoy gasped.

"Spock, your ears!"

Spock frowned, touched one, and abruptly sat down in the dirt.

He touched the other one.  McCoy pulled the Vulcan's hands away as he pulled out his scanner.

"No sign of surgery."

"They are Human," Spock said, sounding even more stunned than when he'd found Kirk alive after the Koon-ut-kal-if-fee.  He reached again for pointed tips that were no longer there.  His fingers traced curved cartilage.

"You look weird with round ears," McCoy said.

Spock's tricorder suddenly beeped.  The Guardian's deep, strange voice began to speak.

"Vulcan Spock, Doctor, resolve the time paradox."

"Guardian, the danger," McCoy said.  "We could change the history of this planet."

"I have adapted the Vulcan to be of this time.  It is one of my many multitude of purposes."

"To just drop us here, without any idea where or when--" McCoy fumed.

The tricorder suddenly shut off.  McCoy smacked it. "Guardian!  Guardian!"  He swore.

Spock was still sitting on the ground.

"Spock," McCoy started.

The Vulcan picked up McCoy's medical kit and, before the doctor realized what he was up to, withdrew a scalpel and cut his forearm.

"What the hell are you doing?" McCoy asked, but halted at the blood welling up on Spock's arm.

It was red.

"The Guardian called me a Vulcan, but I am not one," Spock said, still sounding dazed.

"Of course you're a Vulcan," McCoy muttered.  He took Spock's arm.  "The first thing is to get some dry clothes and figure out where we are."

They had barely taken a step when a door in the alley opened and a man shot out, tumbling violently to a heap at McCoy's feet.  Another man in a stained apron appeared in the doorway and shouted, "Be gone with you!"

The door slammed shut.

McCoy discreetly scanned a cut on the man's forehead.  "What happened?"

"I'm a little behind on my tab."

"I see."  McCoy cleaned the cut and dabbed some cream on it. "It's superficial.  Keep it clean and it should heal all right."

He helped the man to his feet.  The man touched his forehead and eyed the cream that came away on his fingertips.

"What is this?"

"Stona gel," McCoy said.  "Why?"

"I'm a medical student.  I've never seen this before."

"It's not from here," McCoy said.  He noticed the man staring at his clothes.  "My friend and I aren't from here either. We're visiting."

"I guessed, with that funny accent and clothes.  Where are you from?  France?"

"A little farther than that," McCoy said.  He glanced at Spock who was uncharacteristically silent.  The Vulcan was barely paying attention, one hand still touching an ear.

"Is he a mute?" the man said, referring to Spock.

"I should be so lucky," McCoy said.  "Did you say you were a medical student?"

"Yes, at St. Bart's Hospital.  My name's Stamford."

"I'm McCoy and that's Spock," McCoy said, shaking the proffered hand as his mind raced ahead.  They couldn't stay in the alley.  They needed to find out exactly where and when they were.  A hospital would be familiar at least, a place he could get centred.

"I was looking for St. Bart's Hospital," McCoy said.  "I'm a medical student too.  Could you tell me how to get there?"

"I'll take you," Stamford said.  "I want to look up some of my mates, see if I can get a few shillings for a pint or two."

McCoy had no idea what any of that meant, but he nodded. "Thanks."  He took Spock's arm.  "Come on, we're leaving."

As they emerged into the sunshine at the end of the alley, Stamford whispered, "Does he need to be led around too?"  He nodded at Spock.

"Not usually," McCoy said.  "He's having a bad day."

"A pint would be just the ticket for him," Stamford said hopefully.

"Sorry, we're as short of credits as you," McCoy shrugged.

"Typical medical student," Stamford laughed.

They went down the street, McCoy marveling at the surroundings and Spock seeming not to notice them at all.

It was noisy.  People called to one another, hurried by, or got in and out of what appeared to be an endless profusion of horse-drawn carriages.  There were women pushing strollers, groups of men smoking that McCoy had to step around, and raggedy children darting barefoot in the midst of it all.  The street was crowded with glass storefronts.  McCoy could barely catch all the names and advertisements.  Chocolates were sold beside a watch repair shop.  A pawnbroker (whatever that was) huddled between a dressmaker and a chemist.  A tobacconist was on a corner.  McCoy had to run across the road between oncoming horses and a stern woman with a gaggle of children behind her.  Then he was on the next corner beside a bank, and a boy was in his path, shoving sheets of newsprint into his hand.


McCoy shook his head as he noted the headlines.  Skirmish in South Africa.  Fighting in Afghanistan.  The Prime Minister has Full Confidence in Our Troops.

English words, McCoy noted.  They must be on Earth, but when?

Before he could get a better look at the newspaper, Stamford was drawing them down the street.

"We're in London," he whispered to Spock.  "I just saw the front sheet of the London Star."

Spock glanced up as if, despite the daylight, he was trying to pick out the constellations.

"Not a star," McCoy said, but he was relieved that the Vulcan was at least starting to respond.

"Are we near the hospital?" McCoy asked Stamford.

"Just a few more blocks," Stamford said.

They passed more shops, then buildings where McCoy guessed that people lived, little gardens and fences in front.  At last the hospital came into view, a huge, brown building with a somewhat neglected air.

"Where are you staying?" Stamford asked suddenly.

"We haven't figured that out yet," McCoy said.

"I know a chap who's looking for some roommates.  He should be in the chemistry lab right now.  I'll introduce you." Stamford bounded up the stone front stairs.  McCoy rushed after him, and paused at a bulletin board.  Fastened to the board were small sheets of old-fashioned paper.

"Spock, look."  McCoy pulled off a few papers.  "Chemist's shop requires lab assistant.  Anatomy professor desires locum.   Stamford!  How do we apply for these?"

Stamford looked back.  "It should say on there.  Don't be talking too loudly though."

"Why not?"

"It marks you out.  If your father can't afford to pay your board and all, then you must be common.  You don't want that going around."

"That sounds snobbish," McCoy said hesitantly.

Stamford suddenly grinned.  "Where are you from anyway?"

McCoy tried to think back to his grade school history classes.   "The Americas."

"Some of the old guard still refer to it as one of the colonies," Stamford laughed.

"We had a revolution."

"Tell that to my grandfather.  Come on.  The lab's this way, and old Arthur's always good for a few bob."

They moved into the main hallway and the smell hit them.  Even Spock commented.

"Formaldehyde, ammonia, carbolic acid," he murmured.  "And ether, I believe."

People strode through the long, narrow hallways, carrying books and reams of paper.  McCoy was surprised that no one seemed to be bothered by the chemical odor that wafted from the very walls.  Stamford was unaffected too, for he'd bounded ahead energetically.

"Come on, McCoy, Spock.  The lab's down here."

Their uniforms gathered more looks from the people here than from anyone in the streets outside.  The passersby here were all of one particular type as well.  All were young men in suits.

"No women," McCoy said suddenly, but whatever more he might have said was interrupted by the realization that he'd lost sight of Stamford.  Consequently he had to pause at every doorway and peer in.

He found the other man in a cavernous room crisscrossed with black-topped tables.  Glass beakers and test tubes gleamed dully in the pale light coming from a few windows overhead. The blue flame of a gas jet flickered as he went past it.

Stamford was at the end of the room, talking with a tall, bulldog-shouldered man.

"McCoy, Spock, this is Arthur," Stamford said.  "He's studying to be an oculist, which is why he works in the dark so much." He laughed, and McCoy smiled too, though he'd missed the joke.

Arthur shook McCoy's hand in a hearty way.  "Good to meet you," he said.

Up close, McCoy could see that Arthur was a little older than the rest of the students he'd passed in the hall.  The leathery remnants of a hard tan lay over his cheeks, but an unhealthy pallor was under his eyes.  His hair was cropped and he held his left arm close to him.  McCoy caught sight of bandage at Arthur's collar.

"You're hurt?"

"It's much better, actually," Arthur said.  "What really laid me up was a fever.  I've just returned from overseas."

South Africa would be too cold for that tan.  McCoy knew that much at least.  "Afghanistan?" he ventured, and Arthur blinked.

"Yes, I interrupted my studies for a stint there.  How did you know?"

"It was just a guess," McCoy said.

"McCoy and Spock are looking for digs and I thought of you. Do you still need a roommate?" Stamford asked.

"Yes," Arthur said after giving the Enterprise men a longer, more studious look.  "I've seen some rooms in Baker Street that are agreeable, but I need someone to go in on them with me."

"We're interested," McCoy said, "but we need to earn some, um, shillings first."  Assuming that someone who could admit the financial need for a roommate wouldn't be snobbish, he held out the slips of paper.  "Spock and I thought about these."

"That's no trouble," Arthur said.  "I can take you around to those, and then we'll look at the rooms."

Things were accomplished in short order, but too easily and McCoy wondered if the Guardian had a hand in it.  If the contraption could take the tips off Spock's ears and change his circulatory system, it had powers beyond what anyone had suspected.  By the next day, and after passing a few easy tests (the level of medical knowledge verified that they were, indeed, very far in Earth's past,) he had the locum position and Spock the chemist's assistant.  The day after that, they picked up some second-hand suits and moved into Baker Street.

"Do you need a hand moving your things?" Arthur asked.

McCoy shrugged.  "What you see is what we have.  We lost our luggage on the boat over."  After his interview with the anatomy professor, he'd read some periodicals in the library, simultaneously amazed at a library that housed actual paper books and disheartened at the primitive age they were in. He'd discovered that a ship was the only way to get across the Atlantic Ocean and that the trip would take, astonishingly, a month.

"If we get an aneurysm or appendicitis, we're screwed," he'd said to Spock in the library.  "God forbid if we have to go anywhere outside of the London.  There are only trains, slow as sin."

The landlady brought tea and biscuits with raisins in them, real tea and real biscuits.  Real cream in a small pitcher. Linen napkins.  China cups and saucers.  McCoy poured reverently, to Arthur's amusement.

"I know you have tea in America," he said.

"My family were coffee drinkers," McCoy said.  He took a grateful sip.  "I can't remember the last time I had actual milk, and I've never had churned butter."

After a chuckle, Arthur went to his room up the stairs.

"Spock, have some tea and toast," McCoy said gently.  The Vulcan was at a window, looking down at a street below.  To the doctor's surprise, Spock came to the table and sat down.

"Don't have the biscuits with the raisins," McCoy said.  "What the landlady calls shortening is animal fat.  But the bread is all right.  Do you like jam?"

"I do not know," Spock said.  He allowed the doctor to serve him.

"This is a nice room," McCoy said.  "It's warm enough, though I don't know how it would be in the wintertime, with only a fireplace for heat.  Hopefully, we won't find out."

The Vulcan took a small bite of toast.  A step in the right direction, McCoy thought.  He hadn't seen Spock eat anything since they'd arrived.

"The rugs are woven.  They're beautiful," McCoy commented. "The drapes are velvet.  I've never heard of the material. It's very soft.  Did you notice?"

"I did not touch the velvet," Spock said.

"The flower design on the walls is drawn on a thick paper they glue onto the paint.  And the desk is made of oak, from an actual oak tree."

"Polymers are not yet manufactured," Spock said after a second bite of toast.

The curtains in their sitting room were drawn back and sunlight glinted off glass and varnished wood and swirled dust motes in the air.  In front of the fireplace were two stuffed armchairs, so comfortable that McCoy had already fallen asleep in one.

A gas fixture poked out of the wall by the door to the stairs, but candles and oil lamps were needed in the bedroom he and Spock shared.  In the bedroom were two single beds against opposite walls.  A towering wardrobe stood between them.

"We could probably move the beds together," McCoy had said upon their first look at the rooms, but Spock had shaken his head.

"If I remember your history, that would not be wise," the Vulcan had replied.  "What we have done in bed is illegal in this time."

"What do you mean?" McCoy asked, surprised.  "How do you know?"

"There has been or will be a famous trial involving a writer named Wilde.  He was taken to trial for the crime of sodomy and sentenced to hard labour.  You and I must be vigilant."

Those words came back to McCoy as he sat in the sunlight, sipping his tea.  He had nearly kissed Spock when the latter had come to the table, but Arthur had the rooms above and the landlady the rooms below.  Either of them could, at any time, be on the stairs.

"I'll slip up.  I'll give us away," McCoy said.

Spock glanced over with a slight frown.  To him, the doctor's comments had come out of the blue.  They had been talking about the wallpaper and furniture.

"I mean, pretending we haven't been in bed," McCoy said. "I'll be very glad to get back home."

"Should I return like this?" Spock asked.

"If the Guardian changed you once, it can change you back."

"Will it?"  Spock pushed his food away.  "I cannot go back. To have anyone see me like this..."  He stopped.

"You're still a Vulcan," McCoy said.

"I am not."

"If it comes to that, I can put the points back on your ears," McCoy said.

"You cannot change the colour of my blood."

"Pointed ears and green blood are not what made you a Vulcan."

Spock got up.  A mirror hung by the coat rack.  He stood before it.  "I do not know what I am."

"I've spent two years going after you for not being human enough.  This is how it's coming back to haunt me," McCoy murmured, thinking of the irony in now having to do the opposite.  "Spock, your people were once emotional and tribal.   Then Surak came along and they went to the other extreme, but they were Vulcans all the way along."

"But not with red blood."

"No," McCoy conceded reluctantly.

Spock turned to face the doctor.  "I will not go back, Leonard."

McCoy shook his head.  "We can't stay.  Spock, there are contaminates in the air, in the food.  Everywhere. One tumour and we're dead.  Even something like diabetes could kill us. And I didn't want to mention this before when I was trying to get you to eat, but there are mice in the kitchen downstairs. "

"You will return."

"All by myself to an Enterprise without you?" McCoy asked. "Don't ever say that to me again."

He got up, stood behind Spock, and looked into the mirror at the features that now seemed more alien than before.  The rounded ears were wrong.  They disturbed the angles of the face and unnaturally softened the thin cheeks and nose.

"Can you look at me now and say I am Vulcan?" Spock asked quietly.  His eyes met McCoy's in the reflection.

"Despite the ears, you're still beautiful," McCoy said. "Inside you're you."

"Am I, Leonard?  Am I?"

McCoy woke from some unaccustomed sound outside.  He got out of his bed, glanced across the room at Spock, but the latter was sleeping, drawing quiet breaths.

The doctor went into the sitting room, moving awkwardly around the unfamiliar furniture, and went to the window.  The gas street lamps outside were lit and a yellow fog swirled around them, looking like phantoms looming and receding in the halos.

It was late, but even at this hour the odd person went by. The storefronts and apartments above were still and dark except for the tobacconist's shop across the street.  A small light flickered in the back.  McCoy supposed the shopkeeper and his wife were arguing again.  He'd heard them at it earlier.

The fog occasionally broke to reveal the stars overhead. McCoy couldn't pick out the constellations, though he'd been able to as a boy.  Sagittarius was near Cassiopeia, or was that Gemini?  He couldn't remember, but, looking up, he did recall how alone looking at the night sky always made him feel.  It was too vast, too impenetrable and oblivious to sense one person standing on a pinprick on the earth's surface.

He wondered about Jim and the Enterprise, farther away now than just in distance.  Could he and Spock get back?  Would Spock return?  If the Guardian took him, he'd have no choice, but what would happen then?  McCoy could still see Spock in Sickbay, bowed and taut under the first tongue lick of Pon Farr, asking to be taken off duty and hidden away before anyone else could see him.


McCoy jumped guiltily, as if his thoughts had been overheard. He turned and found Spock a few inches behind him.

"You left our room," Spock said.

"Sorry," McCoy said.  "Do you have any idea what we're supposed to do?"

"No, I do not.  Being told to resolve a time paradox is somewhat vague."

"Somewhat?" McCoy snorted.  "Damn time donut."

"Is that what you were contemplating just now?"

"I was thinking how alone we are here."

"Yes," Spock said.  He reached around the doctor to draw the curtains.

To stop him, McCoy put his hands over Spock's.  Then he thought of Arthur in the room above and hesitated.

"Everyone in the house is asleep," Spock said.

Encouragement, McCoy wondered?  Telepathy?  Could he rely on Vulcan hearing?  Did Spock even possess that anymore?  Yet the thought didn't stop him from caressing Spock's long fingers with his own.

The Vulcan's breath caught.  The way to Vulcan arousal still mystified McCoy.  That simple fingertip-to-fingertip touching could be as stimulating for Vulcans as kissing was to him was as amusing as it was intriguing.  Alien touch, beyond McCoy's ken.

Spock returned the caress, fingers dancing along McCoy's palms.  It tickled.  It didn't do anything else for the doctor, but that didn't matter.  It excited Spock and the sound of his now ragged breathing turned McCoy on.  That was how this worked between them.

Spock took McCoy's hand and led him back to their bedroom, shutting the latch silently.  They chose McCoy's bed, being closer to the door.  Not that it mattered.  Both beds were small.

After finding that there was no room to lie side by side, Spock got on top.  They lifted their shirts and rubbed together quietly, aware now of a spring that squeaked and an indeterminate noise downstairs.  Spock kissed McCoy.  This was for the doctor for kisses didn't do much for him.  He stopped when McCoy reached down between them and opened Spock's trousers.

"What do you wish to do?" Spock whispered.

"Anything," McCoy whispered back, stroking over Spock's genitals, the ball sac, along the laboring penis, then up again, making a line over the Vulcan's chest, shoulder, and down one arm to the back of one hand.  Spock moaned and McCoy grinned.

"Lift up," McCoy said.  Spock did.  McCoy pushed down Spock's pants and did the same to his own.  Then Spock laid back down, all warmth and prickly hair.  McCoy made a sound as their sensitive groins came together.

They moved reservedly at first until they figured out how to avoid that one noisy spring, and sweat and pre-come provided enough lubrication to keep them from chafing each other.

"Touch me," Spock said softly, but he meant everywhere, not just at his genitals, and McCoy did.  The doctor stroked over the nape of Spock's neck, down his back to his buttocks, down his thighs, then up until he was running his hands through the Vulcan's hair so hard that he was sure he was yanking it out.

"Harder," Spock demanded, but it had been enough.  He abruptly stilled and cried out.  McCoy felt the splatter between them.

Before he was finished, Spock's right hand crept down, moving underneath McCoy until he was between the doctor's buttocks. McCoy felt fingers pressing against his moist anus.  He sucked in a hard breath and came.

They would have rolled apart at this point.  There was no room here.  Spock got up and, with the tail of his shirt, wiped between them.

"I don't want you way over there," McCoy said.

"There is no alternative, Leonard," Spock replied.  He bent quickly and kissed the doctor.  "You must sleep now.  You have two classes to teach tomorrow."

McCoy watched the Vulcan go to his side of the room.  "This sleeping arrangement is..."

"Leonard," Spock said, interrupting the expletive.

The landlady served breakfast the next morning, bringing kippers, toast, and the news that a young boy had died in the street during the night.

"How?" asked McCoy and Arthur simultaneously.  "When?" Arthur added.

The landlady shrugged.  "I don't know.  A terrible thing, it is.  The poor mother will be beside herself, if the lad had a mother.  Mrs. Langdon next door says the boy was found in that water where they're putting in the sewers by the corner.  Not safe, those things aren't, what with the cholera they say is in the drains."

"It's a shame," Arthur said after the landlady had gone downstairs.  "Poor boy."

"The water is not that deep where they're doing the construction," McCoy said.  "He couldn't have drowned."

"The fog was thick last night," Arthur said.  "Perhaps he fell into where they're laying the pipe."

"But that's below the street, and Mrs. Hudson said he was found in the water.  That's been collecting along the curb," McCoy said.  "If he fell down where the pipes are going, then someone would have had to have brought him back up."

"Speculation," Spock said disapprovingly.  "Insufficient data."

McCoy turned to Arthur.  "If no one knew who this boy was, where would they take his body?"

"Probably Spitalfields.  There's a mortuary on Montague Street."

"Leonard, should we involve ourselves?" Spock asked.

Mindful of Arthur, McCoy said, "Regarding our particular circumstances lately, I don't believe in coincidence, Spock. We're here and the boy's here."

He retrieved one of his scanners from the bedroom, hiding it in his jacket pocket, and returned to the sitting room to see Arthur putting on a coat.

"Let me come with you," Arthur said.  "I can show you where the mortuary is.  I don't know how you'll get in where the lad is though."

"I'll figure out a way," McCoy said.

"First," Spock said, "let us determine exactly where the body was."

The sewer work was being done near the tobacconist's shop and the only fencing was a feeble notice on a couple of wooden posts strung together with wire.  Two workman's carts stood near the digging.

McCoy glanced around with a frown.  "There was a light on in the shop last night and there are streetlights above.  Even with the fog, the carts are big enough to mark the place."

"The street urchins know the lane ways pretty well too," Arthur said.

"Perhaps the boy was not a street urchin and therefore unfamiliar with the construction work," Spock said.  He bent down several feet from the water at the curb.  "I see a few tracks from adult-sized boots, probably the local constabulary retrieving the body.  I don't see a child's tracks."

"What about there?" McCoy pointed towards some mud that had runoff into the intersection.

Spock bent over it.  "Horses, wheels.  Street traffic.  A bicycle heading west."  He returned to the curb.

Arthur frowned at him.  "How do you know which way the bicycle went?"

"The back tire's tracks overlaid most of the front tire's tracks."  Spock pointed at an impression by the curb.  "Here is something."

Arthur took a few steps forward to get a better look.  McCoy took the opportunity to run a quick scan of the water.

"A dog," Spock said.  "A dog ran in and out of the water before the police arrived.  Their steps obliterate some of the paw prints.  Ah!"

"What is it?" Arthur asked.

"Here are the child's tracks.  Very faint, do you see?" Spock said.  He pointed along a line.  The child was running and he originated from-" He paused, following the track, then pointed at the tobacconist's.  "Here.  He came out of the shop, into the mud, and finally into the water where he presumably stopped."

"If he was running, was he was being chased?" McCoy asked.

"I see only the child's tracks.  I do not see evidence of anyone having been in pursuit," Spock said.  "Unless the dog was chasing him."  He moved up on the sidewalk.  "Peculiar. There is a large, square impression on the cement.  An object was here last night and recently removed.  You can see the outline in the moisture."

"You can tell all of this from marks on the ground?" Arthur asked.

"It is self evident," Spock said.  "Leonard, it would aid us to know the cause of death and the child's identity."

"I'll go to the morgue.  You can buy some tobacco.  See what you can find out there," McCoy said.  "I'll see you tonight."

As he and Arthur started down the street, Arthur asked, "Leonard, why do you wish to investigate this child's death?"

"It's sad and it happened on our doorstep."

"The police will investigate."

"If they think the child is one of the multitude of poor boys I see on the street corners day and night, how far will they go?" McCoy said.

"That depends on the officer," Arthur replied.  "Spitalfields is the poorest district in London, Leonard.  Keep an eye on your purse."

They took an omnibus to the East End of the city.  Arthur led the way through dim, wet streets until they reached a gray building adjoining a doctor's surgery.  A line of meanly dressed men and women had already begun to form at the office.

The attendant at the morgue glanced antagonistically at them. "What do you want?"

"My nephew didn't come home last night," McCoy said.  "I heard a boy was brought in this morning."

"What's your name?"

"McCoy.  This is my friend, Arthur.  We're students at St. Bartholomew's Hospital."

"I don't know if the doctor's around.  Come back later."

"Please," McCoy said in a deceptively polite voice.  "My sister's in hysterics."

Gruffly, the attendant got up and grabbed a ring of keys from a hook on the wall.  "Don't know what you wanna go seeing dead bodies for.  Seen one you seen them all."

He led them down a long hallway and into a room that smelled so strongly of disinfectant that McCoy was forced to breathe through his mouth.  Shrouded bodies lay on tables at the sides of the room.  In the middle of the room, under a strong lamp, was a large dissection table and, on it, the body of a boy.

The attendant waited at the door.  Arthur took a few steps, then stopped and drew his handkerchief over his nose.  McCoy went directly to the table, holding his scanner so that his palm covered most of it.

The boy was a blonde and slight and wearing thick clothes for the season, a sweater and woolen pants.  Water had swollen the sweater.  McCoy drew up the sleeves as Arthur came up behind him.

"The fingernails are clean," McCoy said softly.  "The clothes are well-made and the shoes are new.  This boy belonged to someone.  He wasn't one of the street youths."  Frowning suddenly, he said, "He looks familiar."

"You know him?"

"No, but..." McCoy paused.  He bent down so that his ear was over the boy's mouth, then gently compressed the chest.  The action both allowed him to listen to the boy's lungs and hide the scanner from Arthur.  "Gurgling.  He took in water, but not very much.  The boy is bruised over the left cheek and forehead.â€�

"The water at the curb can't be more than six inches deep," Arthur said.

McCoy straightened and replaced the scanner in his pocket.  To the attendant, he said, "This is not my nephew.  What will happen to him if no one claims him?"

"What do you care?" the attendant retorted.  He jerked his head towards the hallway.  "This way."

"Just a minute," McCoy retorted.  He took a clean shroud from a pile on a side table and tucked it gently around the boy.

Once back outside, McCoy said, "Hopefully Spock can find out the boy's identity at the tobacconist's."

"One of the inspectors at Scotland Yard is a friend of my father," Arthur said.  "I could see if anyone has reported their son missing.  I'll check the hotels near us as well."

"Why hotels?" McCoy asked.

"The boy's clothes were foreign," Arthur said.  "His family might be tourists."

"That's excellent," McCoy said.  "Spock isn't the only detective around here."

Arthur reddened in pleasure.

It was nearing teatime before McCoy finished teaching his classes and got back to Baker Street.  Only Spock was home. He was in their bedroom, meditating.

"What did you find out?" McCoy asked, closing the door behind him.

"Not very much.  A man named Mr. MacGregor owns the tobacconist shop.  He claimed to know nothing about a child, even after I pointed out the boy's tracks had come from the rear of his establishment.  He does have a dog, a brown spaniel whose paws are the right size for the prints we found near the boy's."

"His light was on late last night," McCoy said.

"I remembered seeing it when I came into the sitting room where you were," Spock said.  "When I mentioned it to Mr. MacGregor, he grew belligerent.  To appease him, I bought an ounce of what he called shag tobacco.  When I returned here, the landlady informed me that a police officer had been around to ask if she owned a dog.  The officer told her that a child had died due to being bitten by a rabid dog and he was looking for the animal.  Were you able to examine the boy's body?"

"Briefly, but I recorded a scan of him."  McCoy pulled out his scanner, attached it to his medical tricorder, and downloaded the memory.  He aimed the tricorder at a clear spot on the floor.  The tricorder whistled, then projected a holographic image of the boy.  As the image came into focus, McCoy read off his findings, "Muddy water in the trachea, but it entered after he'd stopped breathing."

Spock eyed the hologram.  "Is that blood on the front of the boy's head?"

McCoy nodded.  "Small fracture of the skull and associated bruising and swelling."

"Enough to prove fatal?"

McCoy checked his readings, then nodded sadly.  "Yes."

"Did the dog push him down?" Spock asked.

"From the front?”  McCoy handed the tricorder to Spock.  "I don't register any animal fur or saliva.  You check."

The Vulcan ran through the scan.  "No evidence of dog hair on the child's clothing."  He turned one of the dials on the tricorder.  The image on the floor rotated.

"What are those?" McCoy asked, pointing at something poking out of the sweater at the front.

"They appear to be feathers caught in the wool."


Spock nodded.  "Three feathers.  I will need to take readings of the local birds in order to determine the species."

McCoy suddenly shut off the tricorder.  "Here comes Arthur."

"How do you know?"

"I can hear him on the stairs."  McCoy frowned at the expression on Spock's face.  "What's wrong?"

"I should have heard him first.  Vulcan hearing is--" Spock paused.

"Vulcan hearing isn't all it's cracked up to be.  I've walked up behind you on the bridge and startled you many times."

"You have not."

"Yes, I have," McCoy insisted.  He opened the bedroom door and called out, "Hi, Arthur."

"How did you know it was me?" Arthur asked as he appeared at the landing.

"You bounded up the stairs like you were familiar with them, but tripped over the new floor mat the landlady put down while we were out," McCoy said as he went into the sitting room. "Do you have any news?"

Arthur shook his head.  "Nothing yet.  No one has reported a lost boy to the police.  I went to five hotels too, but nothing."

"Spock didn't get much out of the tobacconist's, but we think he's hiding something.  The boy died from a head injury, not from drowning."

"How did you confirm the head injury?" Arthur asked.

"Uh, I went back to the morgue this afternoon," McCoy said quickly.

"The police think that a rabid dog killed the lad," Arthur said.  "There will be an inquest."  He turned as Spock came out of the bedroom.  "I'm amazed at how much you could see in the marks in the mud outside."

"It is simple observation," Spock said.  "I am going for a walk.  I will be back before evening."

After he left, Arthur said, "Is he always like that?"

"Like what?" McCoy asked as he sat down in an armchair with the day's newspapers.

"Cool, contained," Arthur sat in the other armchair.  "He doesn't smile."

"He does, but not often," McCoy said.  "His family's all like that.  It's the way he was raised."

"Is Spock his first name or his last?"

"Uh," McCoy glanced at a newspaper and saw an ad for cigars. "His last name is Sigerson.  Arthur, three large feathers were caught in the boy's sweater.  Spock's gone to check out the birds in the area, but would you have an idea what bigger birds are around here?"

"Bigger than the songbirds?"  Arthur thought for a moment. "There are pigeons, of course, mostly in the squares and in the park.  Likely ducks in the park too, even at this time of the year.  Are the feathers in the boy's sweater important?"

"I don't know," McCoy said.  "They're there.  We have to account for them."

Spock returned later to find McCoy in a chair by the bay windows, a cold cup of tea in his hand as he contemplated an array of city lights spread out before him.

"It's pretty," McCoy murmured.

"As you wish," Spock said.  His appreciation of landscapes was more reserved.

"Your last name is Sigerson," McCoy said.  "Arthur asked. He's curious about you."

"That could be problematic."

"But understandable.  Even with round ears, you stick out." McCoy eyed Spock.  "Did you find a place to meditate?"

"No," Spock said, taken aback by the doctor's perception.  He sat on the windowsill.  "The feathers on the boy's sweater came from waterfowl."

"A duck."

"Two ducks," Spock said.  "One feather from a male duck, two from a female.  Leonard, the boy's death, while regrettable, may have nothing to do with our mission."

"I know."  McCoy set his teacup down.  "I thought I'd sleep out here tonight.  That will give you the privacy you need to do whatever it is you do."

"Meditate.  Your presence does not constrain me."

"It used to.  Have we lost the passion already?" McCoy asked, trying to joke.  He sobered again.  "When I'm upset, I work. You sit down."

Spock took a few moments to answer.  When he finally spoke, his voice was reluctant and low.  "If the alterations the Guardian have made to me are permanent, I must find the path to acceptance."

McCoy reached up and brushed Spock's hair away from his ears. "I don't know how to help you.  If I could take a torpedo to the thing--" He paused.  "I'm so damn angry.  How dare it!"

"Anger is non-productive."

"It deserves to be blown off its planet."

Spock took McCoy's hands in his.  One of the men was trembling, or they both were.

"Len," Spock said.  "I am angry.  It is not Vulcan to feel this, to indulge it."

"Then you meditate and purge it, and I'll be angry for you."

Spock's features softened until he almost smiled.  "You express what I may not."

Now it was McCoy's turn to be taken aback.  "I hadn't thought of it that way.  And, ah, not that I want to debate it, but anger can be productive.  It motivated Da Vinci, Gandhi, Einstein, Jesus, even D.H. Lawrence."

"Are you saying Lady Chatterley's Lover was written in anger?"

"I believe it was," McCoy said.  "Rage, ecstasy, sympathy, tenderness.  It's difficult to feel only one emotion at a time."  He eyed Spock.  "You've read Lady Chatterley's Lover?"

"Most Vulcans have.  The author argues for the reconciliation of mind and body, each in perspective."

"Holy cow," McCoy mused.

"Where is Arthur?" Spock asked.

"He went out to dinner with some friends.  He and I are going to stake out the tobacconist's shop tonight."

"I will accompany you."

"Well, it won't be until later.  You have time to do whatever you need to."

Spock let go of McCoy's hands, briefly touched the side of the doctor's cheek, and then went into their bedroom.

When Arthur returned several hours later, his first words upon entering the sitting room were "What is that odor?"

"Shag tobacco," McCoy said.  Despite the night air, he had a window open.  He knew the Vulcan didn't have any incense. Burning it was an integral part of reaching deeper levels of meditation.  Spock would have had to make do with the only combustible he had at hand, so McCoy hadn't wanted to complain about the strong smell filling their rooms.

"Cor, that's poisonous," Arthur said, fanning at the air with newspapers.  "I didn't know Spock smoked."

"It's a recent habit," McCoy said.  He went into the bedroom.

Spock was sitting cross-legged on several cushions in the middle of the room.  In front of him a small wad of shag burned in an ashtray, sending a line of blue smoke rising silently to the ceiling.  He opened his eyes at McCoy's steps.

"Arthur's back," the doctor said quietly, trying not to breathe in.  "The tobacconist's shop has been closed for a while, but the light's on in the rear."

"Then it is time we departed," Spock said.  He rose slowly, stretching as blood returned to his arms and legs.

"That stuff's atrocious, not to mention carcinogenic," McCoy muttered.

"No doubt," Spock agreed.  He carried the ashtray into the living room and threw the contents into the fireplace.

McCoy glanced outside the window.  "The fog's returning again.   Too bad we don't have a light."

"A lantern would announce our presence," Spock said. Meaningfully, he added, "We have nothing else."

McCoy nodded.  Spock's tricorder had a small LED, but they couldn't use that in front of Arthur.

"I meant something small so that we don't fall into the sewer work," McCoy said

Spock took a handkerchief from his pocket and wet it in the water in the hand basin.  "Do you have any coins, Leonard, and something to use as a filament?"

McCoy had some pence and shillings.  Taking one of the pictures from the walls, he drew out the wire that held the hook.  "Here."

Spock laid his wet handkerchief on the table and sprinkled salt from the shaker onto it.  He put a penny on it, folded it over, put a farthing on top of the penny, folded it again, and repeated the process until he had a small stack of coins within the cloth.  Then he wrapped the wire around the bundle until the two ends were close, but not touching.  Sparks began to fly between the ends of the wire, creating a small glow.

Impressed, Arthur grinned.  "That is astounding."

"It is inefficient," Spock said.  "However, the light should last for approximately one hundred and twenty minutes."

They went outside, being careful not to disturb the landlady. Once on the street, they walked in the opposite direction, away from the tobacconist's.

"In case we are being watched," Spock said to Arthur.  "We must be mindful."

"What are we planning to do?" Arthur asked.

"Listen and observe," Spock said.

They walked around the block, coming up to the tobacconist's shop from the rear.  They passed no one until, unexpectedly, they saw a fishmonger standing on a corner, his baskets empty, but still reeking.

They waited, but the man didn't move.

"The lookout?" McCoy wondered.

"Likely," Spock answered.  "The fog is not yet thick enough to prevent his seeing us if we move any closer.  We will need to provide a distraction."  He glanced around, thinking, until his gaze settled on two small forms in a doorway.

"Would you like to earn some money?" he asked.  The forms straightened and became two street boys.  They padded on bare feet out of the doorway and looked at the three men suspiciously, then at the sparking light McCoy was holding.

"What do you want then?" asked one.

Spock offered them some coins and gestured at the fishmonger. "Take the gentleman's basket, let him chase you for a few blocks, then drop it and run away.  That is all."

"A prank?" asked the other boy.  "He's the wrong sort to do that to.  He's part of the gang going in and out of MacGregor's."

Spock put the coins into the taller boy's hand.  "What do you know about them?"

"MacGregor's not his real name.  He's Irish.  There's been some men on pay, doing something for him.  MacGregor's wife don't like it."

"What do you mean, men on pay?"

"I don't know, but they do something for him and he pays them.   A man and a woman in funny clothes went in three days ago and they ain't come out yet," said the other boy.  "What's your business with it anyway?"

McCoy, Spock, and Arthur exchanged looks.  Then McCoy said, "A young boy came out of that shop last night and died in the street out front.  You wouldn't have happened to have seen it?"

"No," said the smaller one.  "We heard."

Spock held out a few more shillings.  "Would you be willing to help us?"

The boys shrugged.  "All right.  It's your skin."

They took off, grabbed the fishmonger's basket, and ran down the street.  The man gave a yell, then chased them.

Spock, McCoy, and Arthur waited until they were certain that the yell hadn't caused any alarm inside the shop.  Then they continued down the block and entered the tobacconist's back garden.  Using the small light, they made they way around bushes and upturned clumps of earth until they found a place to crouch under a window.

McCoy pulled the wires apart until the sparks stopped.  Then he cautiously rose up and looked in the window.

"There are five men standing, and a woman and sixth man sitting.  One of the men standing is talking, but I can't make out what he's saying."

Spock inclined his head.  "I believe he is speaking an old Earth language."

"It's German," Arthur said.  "I can understand a little."  He rose up.  "The woman is crying.  Wait, she's saying something."  He stopped.

"What is it?" McCoy asked.

"Something about her son.  I think she asked where he was, and the man standing said he was upstairs."

Spock risked a look.  "The man who is standing is MacGregor."

"MacGregor says that if the man and woman do something, he will let them have their son back."  Arthur crouched back down.  "That's terrible.  That poor lady doesn't know her son is dead."

"Can you catch any names?" McCoy asked.

Arthur shook his head.

"What does MacGregor want the couple to do?" Spock asked.

Arthur listened.  "I'm not sure.  It sounds like he's talking about a door."

"A door?" McCoy repeated.

Arthur shook his head.  "I think so."

He rose up again, gave a sudden cry, and sat down.  Inside the house, a dog began barking.

"The spaniel!" Arthur said.  "It was at the window."

Before they could move, the back door opened, sending a square flood of light two inches from McCoy's feet.  Praying the slight fog would be thick enough to hide them, McCoy froze.

The door closed as abruptly as it opened.  The light disappeared.  A damp wiggling bundle fell into McCoy's lap.

"What the...?" he began, then realized it was the dog.

The dog licked his face.  McCoy got a mouthful of tail as the spaniel turned to nose Spock's sleeve.

Spock stroked the animal's head.  In a whisper, he said, "One thing is obvious."

Arthur and McCoy glanced at him.  He added, "This animal is not responsible for the boy's death.  The dog did nothing in the nighttime."

He gave the spaniel a final pat, then nodded at the gate. "The lookout will be returning soon."

Once back in the street, they quickly returned the way they'd come.  They were near their door when McCoy abruptly stopped. "Damn."

"Leonard?" Spock asked.

"I forgot the light.  I dropped it when the dog jumped on me."

"We cannot go back," Spock said.  "When the saltwater dries, the battery will lose its charge and it will appear to be nothing more than a few coins in a cloth.  It could not be associated to us."

"What's our next step?" Arthur asked.

"We need to go to the police," McCoy said.  "What about your friend at Scotland Yard?  Would he be there now, or do you know where he lives?"

"Someone at the office should know," Arthur said.

"Arthur and I will go, Leonard.  You should retire.  You have an early class."

"I'm not going to be able to sleep while there are hostages across the way."

Spock took Leonard's hand.  "The seated couple was not restrained.  They may not be hostages.  And we need to keep our paying positions."

McCoy waited until Spock and Arthur were out of sight before grudgingly turning back to their apartment.  He was near the door when he paused, then turned and looked around again.

On the corner by the tobacconist's shop was a small, enclosed, blue booth.

"You weren't there before," McCoy murmured.  He went up to it and walked around it.  There was nothing of note on it except a door and the words Call Box at the top.

It was the right size for the square impression Spock had seen in the dew on the sidewalk that morning.  McCoy tried the door.  It was locked.

After a few moments of thought, McCoy walked back across Baker Street and went into the apartment.

Upon entering their bedroom, Spock's first words to McCoy were, "Why are you not asleep?"

"How can I, with that woman waiting across the way for her son?"

"We are not certain that the boy was her son."

McCoy held up a medical scanner.  "I had it in my sleeve when we went over.  The DNA matches.  What happened at Scotland Yard?"

"Arthur's friend is an incompetent officer named Inspector Lestrade.  He said that his department has heard rumblings at that address."


Spock shook his head.  "That was his word.  The Inspector said he will check the address in the morning."

"A lot could happen by morning," McCoy muttered.

Spock sat on the end of McCoy's bed.  "We will know if anything transpires.  The street boys are keeping watch.  They will inform us if anyone leaves or enters the house.  I have duties to attend to at the chemist's shop in the afternoon, but Arthur states he will be finished his classes by then and will be here to receive the boys, should they come."

"Those boys can keep watch all day and nobody would notice them.  There are so many of them on the streets," McCoy said. "It's terrible."

"As dismal as the social conditions are, it does serve our purpose."

"The conditions are appalling.  Do you know that there are no women in the classes I teach?  Not one.  They're not allowed."

Spock stroked McCoy's leg.  "Leonard, this world will get better."

McCoy sat up in his bed.  "Spock, there's something else. Earlier, you took my hand in front of Arthur."

"Yes," Spock said.  "I made a mistake.  He is an intelligent man and may perceive that the gesture was not one of normal friendship."

McCoy touched Spock's hand.  "How can this be illegal?  I don't understand it."

Spock kissed him, then asked, "Where is your tricorder?"

"In the wardrobe under some books.  Why?"

Spock laid a finger across the doctor's mouth before retrieving McCoy's tricorder and his own, and setting them a few yards away from each other.  Aligning the scanners so that they focused on a spot in between them, Spock adjusted the polarity, then turned the tricorders on.

"Leonard."  Spock held out his hand.

McCoy got out of bed.  When he got to the area between the tricorders, he began to float.

"I didn't know they could do that."

"It is one solution to our squeaking beds," Spock murmured.

They undressed each other.  Their clothes bobbed in the air until they reached the edge of the field where they dropped to the floor.

Spock put his mouth to McCoy's.  McCoy caressed him in return.   The lack of gravity forced them to keep tight hold of each other, and they twisted as they floated.  First Spock was on top, then McCoy, as they began a slow spin.

They moved into a sixty-nine, drawing each other around and around.  McCoy loved feeling the Vulcan's penis becoming erect in his mouth, the tangy, intimate smell, and the raspy hair rubbing against his cheeks and chin.  His own organ swelled in the warmth of Spock's mouth.

All of a sudden, Spock pulled off McCoy's penis and put a hand on the floor to stop their spin.

"What is it?" McCoy asked, wondering the Vulcan had become motion sick.  But Spock only asked, "Will you?"

"It will be difficult to clean up afterwards without running water," McCoy whispered.

"We will manage," Spock whispered back.  He turned until they were face to face.  He was serious.  This particular act was almost a sacrament to him.  He'd had offers before; he'd admitted such to McCoy.  But McCoy was the first.

Spock spread his legs, carefully so that they wouldn't start another spin, then reached down to direct McCoy's penis.  The doctor arched up and penetrated him.

McCoy closed his eyes.  The tightness was exquisite, and he didn't want to come too soon.

"Why did you pick me?"

Caught up in his own feelings, it took Spock a few moments to focus enough to reply.  "Pick you for what, Leonard?  To make love with?"

"I seduced you, remember?  I meant this."  McCoy smiled as Spock kissed the edges of his mouth.  He could feel the Vulcan's lips curving in a smile too.

"You were the right size."

McCoy opened his eyes.  "Oh lovely.  Nothing to do with me then except that I happened to be the correct number of centimeters."

"You still do not know when you're being teased," Spock replied.  He covered McCoy's mouth fully with his own.

McCoy tried to move inside Spock, but couldn't.  The lack of resistance sent them both towards the ceiling.  Finally he grabbed one edge of the wardrobe and wrapped his other arm around Spock's back.  By pulling against one while he pushed against the other, he finally managed an awkward rhythm.  The movement smoothed a little when Spock echoed McCoy's handholds.

"All right?" McCoy asked.  The Vulcan nodded, his dark eyes even more serious now.

"Am I hitting the right spot?"  In this position, the doctor couldn't tell.

"Yes."  Spock's hold on McCoy stiffened and he buried his face against the doctor's neck.

McCoy was sweating so hard that he was beginning to lose his hold on the wardrobe.  He ached to just let go and really thrust, but it couldn't be done in zero-g.  His arms trembled with the effort.  He could climax anytime, but he wanted Spock to go first.  In a normal bed, he could have done any number of things.  Here he could only pray his clumsy movements were enough.

"Are you close?"

"Yes."  It was almost a moan.

"Please come," McCoy begged.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, Spock cried out. McCoy let go of the bureau and came, but his orgasm was interrupted when the top of his head whacked into the ceiling.

The hit sent them back towards the floor.  Spock managed to kick one of the tricorders out of alignment as they touched the rug.  They landed hard, McCoy underneath.

"We're never doing that again!" McCoy gasped.

But there was such a look of amusement on Spock's face that McCoy couldn't help but laugh.

McCoy left early for St. Bartholomew's Hospital.  He passed the tobacconist's shop.  It was quiet.  The blue booth was still on the sidewalk.

While he was waiting for his omnibus, rain broke through the clouds and soaked him.

It was still raining at noon when he started back for Baker Street.  He ducked into a pawnbroker's shop to wait out a gale and saw something in the front window.  He returned to the apartment with the item under his arm.

"Any news?" he asked Spock.

"The head boy, Wiggins, has been up twice to make a report. No one has gone in or out of the house, except for Inspector Lestrade.  He visited the shop this morning, but he told Arthur he didn't see anything out of order," Spock said.

"There are two people in the back being threatened and he didn't see that?" McCoy asked.

"The Inspector stated he did not search the house because he could not obtain a warrant.  He did say that the Yard has been keeping an eye on the address due to Fenian activity."

"What on earth is that?"

"Arthur states it is an illegal Irish organization involved in trying to free Ireland from British rule.  Leonard, we have spent significant time on this matter, and it may have nothing to do with our original mission."

"I know."  McCoy put the wrapped package on Spock's lap. "This is for you."

Spock undid the string and withdrew a violin and bow from the box.  Then he looked at the doctor.

"I don't want you burning any more of that shag," McCoy said. "And I know that playing your Vulcan harp helped you meditate on the Enterprise."

Spock carefully studied the violin, including taking the bridge out from under the strings so that he could move them aside from the sound holes and peer within.  "Leonard, how much did you pay for this?"

"Fifty-five shillings.  And I have no idea how it sounds, but it's probably the closest instrument to your harp that we'd be able to get in this time.  Don't play anything that hasn't been written yet."

"Leonard, it's a Stradivarius."

"Is that bad?"

"It is extremely valuable."

"Oh.  I thought what I paid was steep," McCoy said.  He didn't know what a Stradivarius was, but the Vulcan looked pleased.

Spock tuned the instrument.  He was in the middle of a piece by Stravinsky - McCoy's choice - when Arthur returned.  He finished the song before asking, "Do you have any objection to a violin?"

"None at all," Arthur said.  "As long as it's played well."

Spock put the violin away in its case.  "Arthur, I do not wish to disparage your acquaintance at Scotland Yard, but I believe our street boys will be more effective in ascertaining what is going on at the tobacconist's shop."

"I have to agree," Arthur said.

"Leonard has another class to teach and I am due at my work. Will you be able to remain here this afternoon, in case Wiggins returns?"

"Of course," Arthur said.  "I keep thinking of that poor woman waiting there for her son to return.  If we could only speak to her."

"If she leaves the house, we will have a chance," Spock said.

"Spock, if it wasn't the dog, what did kill the boy?" McCoy asked.  "He died from a skull fracture, but how did he get it?  His footsteps came out of the house alone; no one came after him.  And there's nothing around there for him to hit his head on."

"Perhaps he tripped and hit it on the sidewalk?" Arthur asked.

"There was no blood on the sidewalk," Spock said.

"Or in the water.  Also, I don't know why he looked familiar," McCoy said.  "If we were, ah, home, in America, we could check our findings with our medical records."

"We do not have that option," Spock said.  "There is no use dwelling on it.  We must work with the tools we have."

McCoy put his still damp jacket back on.  "Thank you for waiting here, Arthur."

"It's the least I can do," Arthur said.  He settled in an armchair with the day's newspapers.

After they got outside, McCoy said to Spock, "What is that?" He pointed across the road at the blue booth.  A couple of road workers were sitting on the curb beside it, eating their lunch.

"I do not know what a Call Box is," Spock said.  "The workmen do not appear concerned about it.  Likely, it belongs to them."

"It looks out of place."

Spock studied the structure again before saying, "Leonard, you must learn to restrain your emotional reactions to ordinary objects."

McCoy sighed in irritation.  "Spock, who would you call from it?  And how would you call?  Nineteenth-century England does not have communicators."

"Nineteenth-century England has a telegram service," Spock said.  "The structure may be connected with that."

"Then why would the booth come and go?" McCoy argued.  "It was there the night the boy died.  You saw the impression on the sidewalk.  It disappeared.  Now it's back."

Spock didn't reply immediately.  They continued their walk past shops and a park, turning up their collars against the cold rain.

At last, Spock said, "I will trust you, Leonard.  The child is important.  The Call Box is important."

Surprised, McCoy couldn't think of a retort.  "If Jim had heard you say that, he'd think you had a fever."

"I am unsettled," Spock said.  "I am not myself."

McCoy didn't have a reply for that either, and they'd come to his omnibus stop.  After a slight touch on the doctor's hand, Spock continued down the street.

McCoy gave two more lectures at the hospital and stayed late with some students.  He returned to Baker Street after nightfall when the rain had turned into sleet.

Arthur was the only one in.

"Anything?" McCoy asked.

"No," Arthur said.  "The landlady left a cold supper for you and Spock on the sideboard."  He gathered some newspapers off of the floor.  "You had a visitor.  He said he'd return tomorrow."

"A visitor?"

"His card is on the table by the door."

McCoy found the card.  It was blank except for one word. "Doctor?" McCoy asked, checking both sides.  "Doctor who?"

He handed the card to Arthur who eyed it curiously.

"I've never seen a calling card like this," Arthur said.  "I didn't look at it.  He put it on the table himself and asked for you by name.  A pleasant enough chap."

"No one you recognized from St. Bartholomew's or from MacGregor's shop?"

"Not from the hospital, Leonard, but I didn't get a good look in the back window at the tobacconist's."

"Odd," McCoy said.  "I suppose I'll find out tomorrow."  He dropped the card on the table and went into his bedroom.

He returned a second later.  "Was the landlady in there?"  He gestured behind him.

"She wanted to sweep the carpets.  I helped her move the furniture."

"The furniture didn't get moved back quite the way it was before."

"I'm the one who moved it back after she went downstairs."

McCoy hesitated, thinking of what Spock had said about the current morals.  Finally, Arthur broke the silence.

"Leonard, it is none of my business, of course.  If I am mistaken, I am sincerely sorry.  If I am not mistaken, you needn't worry about me.  It is not my choice, but I respect it may be yours."

McCoy rubbed his forehead.  "Was it, ah, Spock's taking my hand that clued you in?"

"Partly," Arthur said with a chuckle.  As he left the room, he added, "Nothing to do with the walls being thin."

"My lord," McCoy muttered.  He would have wished to sink through the floor, but that would only have put him downstairs with the landlady.

He waited up for Spock's return, just to see the reaction.  It was predictable.

"Leonard!"  Spock said, his tone severe and disapproving. "You moved our beds together.  This is irresponsible."

"This is not my work," McCoy said.  "It's Arthur's present to us.  Apparently, you're pretty loud during the height of passion."

Both eyebrows disappeared completely.  McCoy was relieved to see that Spock was still Vulcan enough to do that.

Spock sat stiffly on the settee beside the doctor.  "He said that?  Or moving the beds is a joke on your part?"

"Spock, he heard us," McCoy said.  "And if I thought moving the beds together would bother you, I wouldn't be with you.  I can find lots of people who don't want to sleep with me.  I don't need to have one in bed with me."

Spock's brow furrowed as he tried to figure out the logic or illogic in the doctor's declaration.

Turning serious, McCoy said, "Tell me again that you want to stay here.  Tell me that you want to waste your time making noxious and ineffective potions in that chemist's shop all day, or that having to wait in the rain for a horse-drawn, creaking omnibus is something you're willing to put up with. Tell me that you never want to see space again, never want to see the stars whipping by the screens, and never want to make love in a private, warm place of our own where no one can hear us.  Tell me that you don't miss the sound of Uhura's voice on the bridge, or Scotty's brogue echoing through the intercom, or the sight of Jim swinging around in his command chair." McCoy glanced around the room.  "No matter what we do, no matter where we are, this time will never be ours.  It will never be home."

"Shall anyone see me like this?" Spock asked.  "Shall I let my father see me?  I was always too Human for him before.  Now look at me.  I do not even have the semblance of being a Vulcan."

McCoy gently stroked the hair away from the rounded ears. Then he stood.  "Come on.  We're both too exhausted for this right now."  He held out his hand.

Spock allowed himself to be pulled to his feet.  They went to the bedroom and shut the door.  They looked at the beds for a moment before undressing and getting between the covers.

McCoy moved on his side and Spock curled behind him, skin pressing on warm skin.  The Vulcan wound an arm around McCoy's stomach, and a square of light from the window fell on it and lit it in a burnished blue glow.  Outside, tree branches scraped in the wind and someone called from far away, a street vendor perhaps, making his way home.

Spock hugged McCoy and said softly, "Leonard, I do not wish to stay here."

McCoy turned and took the Vulcan in his arms.

McCoy was getting milk from the milkman when he looked across the road and said, "Ducks."

The milkman glanced at McCoy curiously.  "Begging your pardon, sir?"

"I see ducks."  McCoy pointed across the road toward the tobacconist's shop.  The blue booth was still sitting there, as were the workmen's carts and the roadwork in the street. In the water along the curb sat two brown and white ducks.

"They like the water," the milkman said with a shrug.  He collected empty bottles from the stoop and returned to his wagon.

McCoy picked up some stones and pitched them hard against the booth.  Startled, the ducks flew into the air, knocking over an upright in their flight.

Ten minutes later, he entered the sitting room where Arthur and Spock were eating breakfast, strode over to them, and plopped three feathers on the table.

"Ducks," he said.

The other men looked at him.

"Pardon?" Arthur asked.

"Ducks," McCoy said.  "There were a pair of ducks across the road in the water.  I scared them and they took off."

"I assume you have a reason for telling us this," Spock said.

"Have you ever been hit with a duck?  They may be small, but they're solid, and when they get scared, they fly up fast." McCoy drew the other men to the window.  "See that upright the workmen put up?  Two ducks hit it and turned it over."

"Leonard, are you saying that the boy was killed by ducks?" Spock asked.

"The boy had feathers in his sweater and a skull fracture," McCoy said.  "I lifted that upright back up and it's heavy. It's made of wood.  The question is, what scared the birds?"

"Perhaps the boy frightened them when he ran out into the street that night," Arthur said.

"No, they flew into the boy, not away from him," McCoy said. "It had to be something else."

"I was that something else," came a new voice.

McCoy whirled around as Arthur and Spock rose.  A man leant against the doorframe, hands crossed casually over his chest. He was dressed in black from his jacket to his boots, but his clothes were not stylish.  Even for this era, they looked old-fashioned.

He studied McCoy and Spock carefully.

"This is the chap who was here for you last night, Leonard," Arthur said.

"You're a doctor?" McCoy asked.

"Are you McCoy?" the man asked.

"I'll say if you do."

The man grinned.  "I'm The Doctor."

McCoy frowned.  "I'm McCoy.  This is Spock."

The Doctor tilted his head at Spock.  "Missing a few eartips? Tough break that.  I've been looking for you both ever since I found this."  He dropped a handkerchief on the sideboard.  A piece of wire and some pennies and farthings rolled out as it hit the shelf.  "Not quite a product of the current science, is it?"

Spock came around to stand in front of McCoy.

The Doctor noted the protective movement.  "The three of us are working on the same problem, the boy's death, the paradox.   Or is it the pair of ducks?"  He laughed, but he was the only one to do so.  "That was supposed to be a joke.  Anyway, my compliments to you, McCoy, for figuring it out.  I'm sure the Vulcan would have, given enough time to get over the loss of his ears."

Spock and McCoy exchanged a look before glancing at Arthur. The latter was looking very thoughtful.

"Yeah, yeah, I know he's standing right here," The Doctor said.  "I've had companions travel with me before.  I let them know all about the TARDIS, and nothing terrible happened to the course of time.  Besides, we'll probably need Arthur's help to fix this."

"TARDIS?" Spock asked.  "Your ship?"

"You're catching on.  Yes, that little blue box across the street is my ship.  That's how I traveled here.  I wanted to look in, see how Queen Victoria was getting on, but my landing scared the ducks and they hit the boy.  See, he's not supposed to die yet.  While I was trying to figure out how to set it to rights, I found your little battery.  Then I ran into Inspector Lestrade, a rather dull fellow who did, however, mention Arthur and his friend McCoy.  Doctor McCoy.  And things started to click here."  He tapped the side of his head.

"You're a time traveler?" Arthur asked.  "That can't be."

"He's not a time traveler.  He's just insane," McCoy said.

"I might be both," The Doctor said, and McCoy shot him a stern look.

Sobering, The Doctor said, "How did you get here anyway?"

"We went through a device that calls itself the Guardian," Spock said.  "It was not our choice."

"No?" The Doctor asked.  He turned to McCoy.  "The Guardian may have heard your name and thought that you were me."

"I did say your name, Leonard, just before we were taken," Spock said.  To The Doctor, he said, "Are your people responsible for the Guardian?"

"For all of them, yes," The Doctor said.  "But they make mistakes.  That's why we stopped making the things.  Dratted nuisances."

"All of them?" McCoy echoed.  "Just how many would that be?"

The Doctor shifted uneasily.  "Oh, not too many."

McCoy muttered a swear word.

Arthur glanced at him.  "Do you believe him, Leonard?"

"That he's nuts?" McCoy countered.  "Definitely."

"Who is the boy?" Spock asked.

The Doctor picked up a pen from the sideboard and wrote on the wall, E=MC2.

McCoy broke the ensuing silence first.  "You killed Albert Einstein?  The Albert Einstein?"

"He's not the anything yet, except a boy.  Give him another ten, twelve years and he'll be right on that time and space conundrum," The Doctor said.  "His parents are connected with the German embassy.  Mr. MacGregor and his Fenians want Mr. and Mrs. Einstein to get them into the Embassy."

"Through the door," Arthur said suddenly.  "Now I understand."

"You do?" McCoy stared at him.

"German and English relations are difficult," Arthur said. "Germany feels that England has expanded her empire into too many countries.  The Fenians may hope to form a secret alliance."

"As interesting as that is," Spock said, "we have a bigger concern.  The boy's death."

"Exactly," The Doctor said.  "If young Albert doesn't grow up, become a patent clerk, and then create that rather primitive equation, your world will never achieve spaceflight.  You'll never create an atomic bomb either, but you've got to take the spoiled with the good."

"He can't grow up," McCoy said.  "You killed him."

"You're forgetting something," The Doctor said.  He pointed out the window.  "Time machine."

"If you have a time machine, and I'm not saying you do," McCoy said, "then why haven't you fixed things already?"

"Time's a tricky thing," The Doctor said.

"Really?" McCoy shot back.

"My people have rules about changing history.  Mostly, we don't do it."

Arthur abruptly sat down.  McCoy patted his shoulder.

"You do believe him," Arthur said.

"I'm humoring him," McCoy said.

The Doctor grinned.  "That happens a lot with me.  The problem is, in order to jump time back the way it should be, I need the boy.  He and his parents need to be in the exact same spots that they were in when the pair of ducks flew up and time changed.  Albert's parents are across the street, but I don't know where he is.  That's why I came here last night to see you, Doctor McCoy.  You know how he died, so I'm guessing that you must have examined the boy's body after death."

"The child is in a morgue in Spitalfields," McCoy said.

"Fantastic!" The Doctor said.  "The parents are where they should be, so all we have to do is…"

"They're not," said another voice.  Wiggins was at the door. "Mr. Sigerson?"

"Come in, Wiggins," Spock said.  "What has happened?"

Wiggins came in guardedly.  His gaze went around the room and settled on the money on the sideboard shelf.  "Those people you wanted watched, the man and the woman?  MacGregor and his men just took them out in a cab.  Some of my boys are following."

Spock went to the sideboard and scooped up the money.  "This plus a Guinea is yours if you can put us successfully on their trail."

"This way, sir."  Wiggins scampered back downstairs.

The Doctor pointed at Arthur and Spock.  "The two of you get the boy's body and bring it back.  McCoy and I will get the parents."

"Excuse me," McCoy cut in.  "I don't recall putting you in charge."

"No one ever does," The Doctor grinned.  "But when you've lived for nine hundred years, it tends to happen."

"I have a better idea," Arthur said hesitantly.

Everyone turned to look at him.

"Well?" The Doctor prompted.

"St. Bartholomew's often gets unidentified bodies from the morgue for, ah, dissection.  It's not legal, but it happens," Arthur said.  At McCoy's look of revulsion, Arthur added, "They get buried afterwards, a decent burial.  If I go to the morgue with one of the hospital's growlers and tell them I'm there for Professor Hope, they'll give the boy's body.  I don't need Spock, but you might.  The Fenians are not known for being peaceful."

McCoy eyed The Doctor.  "And he hasn't lived for nine hundred years."

"There's nothing wrong with my plan," The Doctor said.  "But we'll use his."

"We had better hurry.  Wiggins is waiting," Spock said. "Though I suspect that Mr. MacGregor and his group are en route to the German Embassy, it is better to have Wiggin's direction."

They parted from Arthur in the street where Wiggins and another boy were waiting impatiently.

"They've taken three hansoms.  The couple you're interested in is in the first one," Wiggins said.  He pointed down the street.  "Jerry here says they've gone towards Clapham Square.   I've got a post there, Samuel.  He's selling candles."

Spock, McCoy, and The Doctor hailed a cab.  As they set off, McCoy glanced at the blue booth.

"That little thing is a time machine," he said dubiously.

"The inside's more roomy than you'd think," The Doctor said.

McCoy quieted their cab started off.  The street vendors were coming out, dragging their barrows of goods behind them.  A rabbit seller vied with a water cart for a choice corner.  A maid negotiated with a knife grinder, and two men waited outside the off-license pub.

A newspaper boy approached their cab when it slowed at an intersection, but then they were off again, finally turning onto Clapham Common that was, despite the early hour, a din of noise of people.

McCoy spied the boy selling candles.  "Just a minute," he said to the driver as he jumped out of the cab.  He was back in a moment.

"Down that street," he said to the driver.  "Please hurry." He had barely taken his seat when the cab lurched off.

"I told Samuel that Wiggins had sent me, and paid him a few bob," McCoy said.  "Samuel knows MacGregor's gang by sight because they always travel the same way, MacGregor in the first carriage and two men in each carriage behind him."  He turned to The Doctor.  "Any bright ideas now?"

"I have this."  The Doctor held up a small, metal something.

Spock frowned at it.  "What is it?"

"A screwdriver.  A sonic screwdriver."

McCoy sighed.  "Right.  When we catch up, you can jump out and offer to build them a desk.  Spock?"

"Two of us will create a distraction, and the third will retrieve the parents."  He lowered his voice so that the cab driver sitting above couldn't hear.  "Leonard, as you are familiar with horses, I suggest you retrieve the parents.  If they do not speak English, I do not know how you will convince them to go with you, however, you must put them in this cab and return quickly to Baker Street."

"And I need to be familiar with horses because?" McCoy prompted.

"The cab driver will be unconscious on the ground," Spock said.  "You will need to drive the horses.  The Doctor and I will make an attempt on one of MacGregor's cabs from the direction away from you."

"I don't suppose either of you could consider a less violent way," The Doctor interrupted.  "Humans!  Always ready to leap into the fray with fists flying."

Angrily, McCoy gestured at Spock and said, "He's Vulcan."

In a single, swift motion, The Doctor nicked McCoy's scanner from the latter's pocket and aimed it at Spock.  He turned the readout towards McCoy.

McCoy grabbed the scanner.  To Spock, he said, "Is there any reason whatsoever we have to have this person with us?"

"No," Spock said quietly.

"I'm the one with the TARDIS.  And the screwdriver. Remember?" The Doctor said cheerfully.

"Then you'd better build that desk because there they go!" McCoy said suddenly, pointing out the window.

Three hansoms rushed past their cab.  In the first one, MacGregor glared at them before motioning to his men.

Spock leaped out of the cab.  A second later, he lowered the unconscious driver to the sidewalk.

"You're still Vulcan enough to do that," McCoy said, giving the driver a quick scan to make sure that the neck pinch hadn't hurt him.

"Later, Leonard," Spock said.

McCoy tucked a few coins into the man's pocket before taking the horse's reins.  Just as he turned the cab around, a hansom barreled into them and pitched their cab onto one wheel.

The Doctor leaned out with his screwdriver.  McCoy heard a short, high-pitched whine as he tried to right the cab.  Then The Doctor gave McCoy a quick grin before ducking back in.

"Quite the gadget," McCoy muttered as he looked behind him. The pursing hansom lurched as the wheels suddenly fell off. Two of MacGregor's men pitched onto the ground, one tumbling through the doorway of a real estate agent's store.  The other fell into a pot seller's cart.  The contents of the barrow crashed down onto him.

He glanced ahead.  MacGregor's cab had turned a corner.  McCoy yanked the reins and the horse, still startled from the earlier collision, took off in a jerky gallop.

"Look out!" he yelled at the corner.  Alarmed pedestrians jumped back on the sidewalk, but a cake seller wasn't so lucky.  The cab slammed headlong into him.  McCoy caught a split-second sight of the man's wide eyes before a shower of muffins rained down.

"Leonard!" Spock called from inside the cab.

"It's ok," McCoy called back, trying to brush muffins away as he steered.

"Leonard, behind us!" Spock yelled back.

The third hansom was catching up.  MacGregor's men leaned out each side.  McCoy caught sight of the glint of a gun before turning back around.

"Doctor, your screwdriver!"

A shot sounded.  A bran muffin lying on the roof of the cab in front of McCoy exploded.

McCoy ducked, too late, and the action caused their horse to careen to the left.  They winged a gaslight pole.  He grabbed control of the horse just as MacGregor's hansom disappeared down an alley.

"Damnit!" McCoy tried to turn the horse around.  Another shot flew past and the gaslight shattered.  "Doctor!" he yelled again.

He heard a whine for a moment.  It fizzled.  Then he heard, "Oops."

"What's wrong?"

"Just a slight adjustment," came a chirpy reply.

McCoy caught sight of a moving dray.  He urged the horse around it just as the following hansom rushed past.

MacGregor's men checked their horse easily.  McCoy just managed to get their cab to the other side of the dray when they returned.  He drove the horse onto the sidewalk under awnings and back around.

As he made the second circuit, the back flap of the dray opened.  McCoy barely missed it as his cab jumped back onto the sidewalk.  By now, traffic had stopped in the road and pedestrians had gathered in groups well back from his track.

An amused man called, "Hurry up, mate!  He's on your tail!" He waved at McCoy as the latter ran his horse back onto the road.

McCoy desperately scanned for a place to go.  The alley was too far.  MacGregor's men would have a clear shot before he could get there.  The next intersection was just as far.  But he couldn't go in circles forever.

He decided to make one last lap before breaking for the corner they'd just come around.  He passed the back of the dray again.  The movers were lifting something large.  Then he ducked as the sidewalk awnings slapped at him.

Just as they got back on the road, he heard a thunderous boom.   The moving dray shook and McCoy's horse reared.

He fell into the street.  As he rolled to his feet and grabbed the horse, he saw Spock and the Doctor running towards the back of the dray.

Another crash sounded, but this one sounded musical.  A lopsided piano appeared, rolled slowly past McCoy, and bumped into the curb across the street.

The crowd cheered and clapped.  McCoy stared at them, then, holding the bridle firmly, he edged forward for a better look.

At the back of the dray, in a tangle of piano wire and keys, lay MacGregor's men and the movers.

Spock looked over.  "Leonard, we've lost the first hansom."

"Down that alley."  McCoy pointed.

"Come on!"  The Doctor sprinted back to their cab.  "I'd better drive."

McCoy hesitated, then, figuring it couldn't get any worse, gave up the reins.  He and Spock jumped into their cab just as The Doctor urged the horse forward.

The alley led into a narrow lane crowded with fences and the small back yards of tenement houses.  Washing flapped from lines strung from second story windows.

"Which way?" McCoy asked.  He leaned out the window to look up at The Doctor.

The Doctor was eating a muffin as he looked back and forth. "The Embassies are in that direction."  He pointed left.

"Would he go without his men?" Spock asked.

"He can't go back to Baker Street.  He knows that's where we'd look for him," McCoy said.

"Then he will have to take the boy's parents to another safe house," Spock said.

But luck was with them.  Just as they exited the alley, they saw MacGregor's hansom.

"He must have assumed his men would deal with us," Spock said.

MacGregor saw them.  So did Einstein's parents who made a motion to get out of the carriage.  MacGregor pulled out his own gun as he spurred the horse.

"Hang on," came The Doctor's chirpy voice.  McCoy and Spock just had time to grab the inside straps of the cab before the cab jumped forward.  Their horse, still sweating and upset, erupted into a fierce run.

"He can't hold this pace!" McCoy shouted, referring to their horse.

"Why not?  He's headed for Putney Bridge!  A clear run!" The Doctor called back.

"No, our horse!" McCoy tried again, but Spock suddenly grabbed him as one of the outside rails of the bridge flew past.  The horse's hoofs took on a hollow sound.  Ahead of them, MacGregor tried to take aim, but his shot went wild over the water.  His hansom swayed from the recoil.

"He's going to go over," McCoy said.

"The boy's parents are resisting," Spock said.

McCoy squinted.  There was a commotion ahead.  Occasionally an arm appeared out the window.  The boy's father appeared once, just his head, before he was yanked back into the hansom.

Then MacGregor appeared.  He looked directly at them and raised his gun.

McCoy and Spock tried to hit the floor of their cab, but there was no room.  McCoy pushed Spock below him, closed his eyes, and prayed.

He heard the gun.  Then he heard a shrill, splittingly loud squeal followed by a small splash.

Their cab was slowing.  McCoy cautiously got up.

MacGregor's hansom had hit the rail.  His horse had broken free, but the hansom was caught in the splintered wooden rails and hung over the water.

McCoy ran out.  The hansom was empty.

"Where are they?"

"Here," The Doctor said.

McCoy looked back.  Mr. and Mrs. Einstein had been thrown clear.  The Doctor said something to them as he helped them up.

"You speak German?" Spock asked.

"I speak nine billion languages," The Doctor said.

"Where's MacGregor?" McCoy asked.  He looked over the rail at the choppy water.

"He didn't go in there," The Doctor said.

"Then where is he?" McCoy demanded.

The Doctor pointed down the bridge.  "He ran."

"We have to get into his house," Spock said.  "We may need him to do so."

"No, we don't," The Doctor said and tapped his screwdriver. "MacGregor's door has hinges and I have a Phillips head."  He spoke again to the parents.

After a couple of minutes, Spock said, "Will they return to the house?"

"Yes," The Doctor said.  "I told them their son was indeed at tobacconist's shop and if Arthur is true to his word, that is exactly where he'll be."

"You're not going to show them the boy's body!" McCoy said.

"Of course not, Doctor McCoy," The Doctor said.

During their drive back in the cab, The Doctor grew more and more sober.  By the time they got to Baker Street, he said, "I'm not entirely sure this will work.  Time lines are a tad complicated and the TARDIS is a wee bit stubborn."

"I can't stand him," McCoy said to Spock.  The Vulcan raised an eyebrow.

Arthur was waiting in the street with his wagon.

"Were you successful?" Spock asked.

"Yes," Arthur said.  "No trouble at all."

"You go up to a morgue and they just hand you a body," McCoy started, but Spock shook his head.


The Doctor turned to Spock.  "You might want to get that Stradivarius of yours while I take Mr. and Mrs. Einstein inside."

McCoy watched him lead the parents towards the back of the shop before saying, "What would you need a violin for?"

"I have no idea," Spock said, but he ran into their flat and retrieved it anyway.  He returned just as The Doctor did.

The Doctor lifted a wrapped bundle out of the back of Arthur's cart and laid it on the curb beside his blue telephone booth. Then he opened the door of the booth.  "All right then. Everyone inside."

"In that little thing?" Arthur asked.

The Doctor smiled and gestured forward.  "Judge not with your eyes."

Arthur went in.  "It's beautiful!" McCoy heard him say.  Spock went next.

McCoy paused on the curb.

"Hurry," The Doctor said.  "Before the workmen come back from their lunch and discover the boy's body."

McCoy stepped into the booth.

And into a vast, high-domed, circular room.

The walls buzzed in a myriad of lights and control panels. Long loops of cables hung from the ceiling, gently waving as if in a breeze.  And in the middle of the room, dominating everything, stood an immense, round computer that sparkled and shone like a beacon fire.

The Doctor turned some knobs.  "Everybody ready?"

He didn't wait for an answer however.  He grabbed a lever and the room filled with a groaning, wheezing cacophony of sound.

McCoy grabbed his ears.  His feet left the floor and his vision exploded into white light.

"It's a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become real." 
   --The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams.


"Here, Leonard."

McCoy looked up.  He was on the floor of the TARDIS.  Spock stood over him, hand extended.   Arthur was rising from the floor a few feet away.  The TARDIS was quiet.  The Doctor sat on a small rise of stairs with a smile on his face.

"Did it work?" Arthur asked.

"Let's think positively," The Doctor said.

Arthur opened the door of the TARDIS.  After a second, he asked, "Where are we?"

"Switzerland," The Doctor replied.  "Though you might also want to ask when."

"What?" McCoy and Arthur asked simultaneously.

They walked out of the TARDIS and onto a green, brilliantly sunlit hill.

The Doctor took a deep breath.  "The Alps smell like winter all year long, don't you think?"

"Why are we in Switzerland?" Arthur asked, looking a little pale again though he was valiantly hanging on.  "And  how did we get to Switzerland?"

"The Einstein family lived in Switzerland," Spock said.

"Exactly," The Doctor said.  "And little Albert will eventually get his degree here, but that's moving ahead.  At the moment, the Einstein family is enjoying the scenery on the first leg of their summer tour of European capitals.  They've been saving for this trip for a while and tomorrow morning they will board a train to France.  After that will come England."

"Where they get captured again," McCoy said.

"Let's change their itinerary," The Doctor said.  "I think Madrid would be nicer than London this time of the year. They'll eventually get to London, but later on.  They'll have a pleasant time and then return here in eight weeks, tired but happy, to their house in--"

"But not be captured again," Arthur interrupted.  He smiled. "And the boy won't die."

"If you can change their itinerary," Spock cautioned.

"I will," The Doctor said.  "It was my fault that the boy died."

McCoy glanced back at the TARDIS.  "Can your ship go forward?"

"About six centuries?" The Doctor replied.  "Oh yes, but first things first.  Come along Mr. Spock if you wish to see Einstein as a lad."

The Einstein family was just ahead, standing by a tourist railing as they looked out over a glacial gorge.  Spock noted the boy a few paces behind his parents.

Albert glanced over the rail, then turned around and looked contemplatively up at the sky.

His mother said something to him in German and gestured at the view.  He nodded and answered her, but his eyes never left the passing clouds overhead.

The Doctor walked over to the parents and began speaking casually to them, gesturing at the scene like a fellow tourist.  McCoy came up behind Spock.

"That mind," McCoy murmured, eyeing the boy.  "He was, rather is absolutely brilliant."

"Indeed," Spock agreed.

McCoy was thrilled to see the child alive and well.  So was Arthur. He smiled at the sight before wandering to the rail.

"If the time paradox is fixed, the Guardian should return us," Spock said.

"If it's working properly," McCoy said.  "I wonder who The Doctor's people are."

"Time travelers," Spock surmised.

"Awfully insouciant time travelers," McCoy remarked.

The Einstein family left the tourist look out and began strolling down the pedestrian walk.  The Doctor walked with them, after a wink at Arthur.

"I'm not sure what he's up to," Arthur said, coming back to them, "but I suppose we have time for a nosh.  I'm hungry. How about it?"

A hotel nearby had an outdoor patio.  They had tea, one eye on the road, but The Doctor didn't return.  Afterwards, they returned to the TARDIS, but couldn't get in.

"I suppose we could hang around here," McCoy said.

"Or we could go for a walk," Arthur suggested.  "It would be something to do."

They walked in silence down a path Arthur chose.  He was thoughtful, and seemed to barely take in the scenery.  McCoy felt somewhat numb, having had too many surprises in one day than he cared for.  And Spock was neutrally quiet.

They had been walking for a couple of hours up a mountainous, rocky path when Spock said, "That noise, whatever it is, is getting louder."

"I've been noticing it too," McCoy said.

"Reichenbach Falls," Arthur said.  "I saw it on a plaque at the railing."

Their path suddenly bent and they came upon a knoll at the edge of another gorge, this one filled with a massive tide of water hurling violently into the chasm below.

McCoy looked down cautiously.  He couldn't see the bottom. The cascade disappeared into a pounding maelstrom of mist and white crests.  The roar of water on rock hammered his eardrums.

The three men stood, watching the tumbling water, until Arthur shouted something.

"Pardon?" McCoy shouted back.

They retreated from the path and into a small clearing away from the cataract.  Finding a boulder, Arthur sat, wiped the spray from his face, and said,  "With your permission, I should like to write an account of our adventure."

"Such an account would hardly be believable," Spock said.

"I'd romanticize it," Arthur said.  "Make it a fiction and leave out the time travel.  I've written a few little tales. They haven't sold, but I see now it's because I've been missing a strong, lead character."

McCoy and Spock glanced at each other.  "What sort of character?" McCoy asked worriedly.

"That is why I said, Spock, with your permission," Arthur replied.  "I have in mind a detective, tall and precise and not given to emotional sentiment.  When you were able to discover so much in a few tracks of mud and water in the street, I admit I did not at first believe your conclusions. But then you explained how you arrived at each fact.  You used quite clear reasoning.  I have been looking at the ground ever since then, trying to see what you see."

"Clear reasoning should not be beyond anyone's ability," Spock said.  With a look at McCoy, he added, "Though I sometimes wonder."

"Hey," McCoy grunted back.

"With your permission of course," Arthur said.

"I would be honoured," Spock said.

"I'll have to put another character in for contrast, someone not always privy to my detective's thoughts."  Arthur laughed.   "This is exciting.  I have a good feeling about it."

Their conversation drifted to The Doctor and whether or not he would be successful.  Later, as they were returning down the path, McCoy drew Spock back a few paces and whispered, "You know what he was describing, don't you?"

With a tilt of his head, Spock said, "A Vulcan."

"My Vulcan," McCoy corrected.

They went back to the hotel restaurant.  The TARDIS still sat where they'd left it.  People walked around it without paying attention to it.

"It sticks out," McCoy said.  "Why don't they see it?"

"I didn't notice it in London until you pointed it out," Arthur said.

They ordered supper.  The Doctor didn't return until they'd finished eating and the sun was setting.

"I think I've fixed it," he said in a self-satisfied way.  "I let them think I'd just come from Spain and that it would be more educational for the boy to go there than to England.  I can be quite charming, you know."

"We don't, but we'll take your word for it," McCoy muttered.

The Doctor sat beside Arthur.  "You've taken to the idea of time travel rather well for a Human."

"I've seen it with my own eyes," Arthur said.  "I confess that I've been sitting here looking at your ship and can't for the life of me figure out how the inside and the outside reconcile."

"How would you like to spend some time working it out?" The Doctor asked.  "You may have noticed it's kind of big in there for one person."

"I have to finish my classes or I'll miss my degree," Arthur said with a bit of longing in his voice.

"You're forgetting, Arthur," The Doctor said.  "That's a time machine.  We can go anywhere, stay anywhere, for as long as we wish, and I can return you right back to when and where you started from.  Scout's honour."  Without waiting for an answer, he asked, "Where would you like to go first?"

Arthur was quiet for a few moments.

"You can go anywhere in the universe.  Will you ever get another chance?" The Doctor asked.

"I can't think on that big a scale," Arthur said.  "Anywhere in time.  Anywhere in space.  It's incredible!"

McCoy fidgeted.  The Doctor caught it.

"Don't worry.  I'll get you both back to where you should be too," he said.  "All I need are the coordinates."

"Vulcans do not worry," Spock said, touching his ear as he spoke.

"If you knew how many faces I've been through, you'd understand why you shouldn't get attached to little things like the shape of your ears," The Doctor said.

"Attachment is illogical," Spock said, quickly dropping his hand back down.

McCoy noticed Arthur following the conversation with a cautious expression.

"You are from the future too, aren't you?" Arthur said at last.  "Earth's future?"

"There's more than one brilliant mind around here," McCoy said quietly.

The Doctor brightened.  "Thank you."

McCoy sighed.  To Arthur, he said, "I'm from Earth's future. Spock is from another planet.  We were thrown into the past against our will."

"What is it like there?" Arthur asked, his hand straying to the shoulder he'd hurt in Afghanistan.  "Are there many wars in your time?"

"Not on Earth," Spock said.  "Your people will overcome it. One day, there will be a true peace."

"Not for a long while though," The Doctor said.  "Still lots of excitement left in this old planet.  Back to the point, Arthur.  Are you in or out?"

Arthur eyed the TARDIS.  "I'm in."

They slept in the TARDIS which had more bedrooms than The Doctor claimed to know about.  After they had settled in their room, McCoy said, "Is he going to take us home or not?"

"I don't know, Leonard," Spock said.

"If he doesn't, we're stuck.  The Guardian hasn't kicked in yet," McCoy grumbled.  "I hate waiting."

"We have no choice but to wait," Spock said.  He sat beside McCoy on the bed.  "You asked recently why I allowed you to be the first to enter me."

"And you said I happened to be the right length."

A small smile touched the Vulcan's face.  "You did indeed fit correctly, Leonard, but not there.  Here."  He took McCoy's hand and laid it over his heart.

McCoy's scowl softened.  "Attachment is illogical."

"Yes," Spock agreed before reaching over to turn out the light.

As McCoy was coming awake the next morning, it occurred to him that the body pressed against his was too warm.

"Oh hell, what did you catch?" he murmured, reaching for Spock's forehead.  His palm brushed against the side of Spock's head instead.

Instantly he was sitting up.  "SPOCK!"

Spock startled awake.  "Leonard, what's wrong?"

McCoy grinned at him.  "Oh my oh my oh my!"  He reached for his scanner and began laughing.  "Look!"

Spock squinted at the readout.  "What is it?"

"Copper blood!  And--"  McCoy gestured at the sides of his head.

Spock slowly raised his hands and touched his ears.

"The TARDIS must have returned to a point before the Guardian took us," he managed, rather breathlessly for him.

They dressed quickly and went in search of The Doctor and Arthur, but the TARDIS was empty.  McCoy and Spock went from room to room, up and down stairs, lost until they inadvertently found the control room.

"How the bloody hell does all of this fit?" McCoy asked in exasperation.

"The Doctor explained it to me," Spock said.  "He called it time and relative dimension in space."

"What does that mean?"

"It means," Spock paused.  "I don't know."

McCoy laughed again.   "Come on," he said, as he opened the door.

They stepped out.

And onto the Guardian's planet.

McCoy halted.  He could see the Guardian, its interior filled with a dizzy spin of pictures.  Next to it was…he stared.

Next to it was Spock, pointed ears, blue shirt, tricorder out.

He looked beside him.  Spock stood with him as well.

"How the--?"

"Ssh," came another voice.  McCoy found The Doctor and Arthur behind a column, watching the scene.  It was The Doctor who had spoken.

"You can't exist in two places at the same time, so wait until you've left before going out there," The Doctor said.

Feeling fuzzy, McCoy managed, "Uh, ok."

The Doctor's statement became more clear when he realized he could see himself as well, standing at the back of the landing party.

The ground rumbled.

"Shut it off," Kirk said.

"Sir?" the Spock by the Guardian asked, looking back.

"Don't piss it off," Kirk said.

"Here it comes," McCoy said

The first Spock said something more.  The Guardian's interior imploded.  The first Spock and McCoy disappeared.

McCoy had unconsciously grabbed hold of Spock's sleeve.  He had to force himself to let go.  Then he said, "Doctor, can't you deactivate it?"

"You might as well ask me to deactivate a Dalek," The Doctor said.

"A what?"

"Never mind."

The Doctor turned around.  "Where's your Stradivarius, Vulcan?"

"It is in the TARDIS," Spock said.  He'd been caught by the scene before them and didn't look away from it to answer.  "It belongs to Earth's past."

"It won't hurt anything if you keep it.  I told you to bring it.  Hang on."  The Doctor went into the TARDIS.

McCoy watched as Kirk and the landing party picked themselves up off the ground.  He heard Kirk ask, "Where's Spock?"

"I think you'll be going back to where you should be soon," Arthur said.  "Leonard, Spock, I am extremely fortunate to have known you."

"It is mutual," Spock said.

"Yes," McCoy added.  "Good luck with your stories."

Arthur nodded at Spock.  "I hope this is not impolite, but you do seem more suited to pointed ears."

"I happen to think so," Spock said seriously.

McCoy gestured at the TARDIS.  "Good luck with _him_."

Arthur smiled, looking as eager as a little boy.  "It will not be boring."

The Doctor returned and handed the violin case to Spock.  "If you go around those rocks, you should be able to come out near the Guardian and make it look as if you were thrown to the side rather than through."

"Will it grab us again?" McCoy asked.

"It shouldn't, but you never know," The Doctor said.  At their expressions, he continued, "You know, that is part of the fun."

McCoy thought about ten things he could say, but opted for, "Thank you for returning us."

The Doctor brushed off the sentiment.  "Now don't do that.  I don't do that.  Hurry up.  Your impatient friend is looking for you."

Kirk was scouring the area, phaser out.  After a last look at the TARDIS, McCoy and Spock ran around the rocky rubble surrounding the Guardian and into the clearing in front of it.

"Are you hurt?" Kirk demanded.  "Where were you?"  He eyed the violin case.  "Where did you get that?"

"It was back there," Spock said, gesturing vaguely.  "We are uninjured."  Before Kirk could launch into another series of questions, Spock said, "The Guardian has ceased causing time disturbances, Captain."

Kirk turned slowly.  The Guardian of Forever sat still and quiet.  Its centre was empty.

"We need to know more about this thing and the people who built it," Kirk said.  "It's getting out of hand."

"It's a fair guess that the people who built it are insane," McCoy commented.

"They're dangerous."  Kirk opened his communicator and hailed the Enterprise.

McCoy took Spock's arm and pulled him a few steps away.  "Do we put what happened in the logs?"

"We are breaking regulations if we do not do so," Spock said. He met McCoy's eyes and his lips twitched in a small smile. "As far as I am concerned, we were simply thrown to the side."   He took McCoy's hand.

"He wrote those stories you know.  Quite a few of them, but he eventually got sick of you and threw you over those falls," McCoy said.

"Really?"  An eyebrow tentatively raised.

"It's true.  Look it up."

They heard Kirk's order for beam up just as they heard the faint wheezegroan of the TARDIS.  Spock could only say, "I will," before the transporter beam took them.

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