by K.V. Wylie

Dr. McCoy had disappeared several days ago, after their latest argument. It wasn't like the doctor to hide out for so long, so Spock wasn't surprised to enter a turbolift and come upon him.

"Doctor," he said in greeting, though not in his usual formal manner. Spock could afford to bend a little. After all, he'd won their last argument.

McCoy nodded in response. Spock's level came. He exited the turbolift, rounded a bend in the corridor, and found McCoy before him.

Spock looked behind him. The doctor had remained in the lift, hadn't he?

No, logic dictated that was impossible, for McCoy was, indeed,  in front of him.

The Vulcan walked past the doctor, entered the commissary, and came to an abrupt halt.

Dr. McCoy was in a chair at a table.

Spock's face didn't show it, but he was heavily startled.

"Doctor, how did you get here?"

McCoy shrugged. "I went to a Starfleet recruiting office."

"I meant, how did you get in this room?"

There were other people in the commissary, and now they were starting to stare.

"Never mind," Spock said. He returned to the corridor.

And found McCoy lounging idly against the opposite wall.

Spock's heart stopped in his chest. He would have whirled around to check the commissary again, but was too stunned to move.

Something wrong, Mr. Spock?"

"No," Spock managed. "I . . . need to return to the bridge."

But McCoy was around the next curve, and the next one. He was entering one room, leaving another, sliding out of a Jeffries Tube, eating an apple, talking to a crewman, laughing with Nurse Chapel, and helping Scotty take a cover off an access panel.

Three of him were in the turbolift, two upright and one hanging upside down from a ceiling strut while blowing bubbles from a soap pipe. One of the bubbles landed on Spock's forehead and popped.

Spock remembered nothing after that.

A little later, down in sickbay, McCoy looked with satisfaction upon a heavily-sedated Vulcan, and murmured as he stroked his brand new, shiny, Clone-a-Matic. "That'll teach you to think you can get the last word with me."

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