"I dare you."
Spock's human half wanted to sigh. His Vulcan half expelled it via a raised eyebrow instead.
McCoy pointed at the Vulcan's forehead. "See! You've done that three times in the last minute. You couldn't stop it if you wanted to!"
The eyebrow lowered. "Doctor McCoy," Spock began with exaggerated patience. "I see no logic in indulging in this useless endeavour. There is nothing to be gained by 'daring' me to cease what is a perfectly natural characteristic."
"Nothing to be gained?" the doctor exclaimed. "How 'bout not having to see you perform eyebrow gymnastics a thousand times a day!"
The Vulcan's eyes narrowed. "I use that gesture as a reaction to the strange, the unexpected and the illogical. I use it with such frequency because I am so often in your company."
McCoy scowled, his features screwing up tightly. He opened his mouth, ready to berate Spock for the colour of his blood and question his parentage, but he shut it again, his expression changing to one of thoughtfulness. He was clearly changing tack. "You," he said, pointing a finger in Spock's chest, "are afraid. You know you can't stop raising that damned brow for even five minutes. You know that if you accepted the dare, you'd lose."
Spock felt his eyebrow twitch again and determinedly made it stay put. "Is that so, Doctor? And 'what is in it for me', as the saying goes, should I accept?"
McCoy pondered for a moment; he couldn't keep the anticipatory gleam from his eyes. "Okay. It works like this: I dare you to stop doing that eyebrow thing; you dare me to do something you think I can't do, and if you cave in first... you have to follow my medical orders from then on without argument." He smiled smugly.
Spock tried not to shudder. "And if you 'cave in' first?"
The doctor looked as though the thought hadn't occurred to him. "Then... I'll let you go to Doctor M'Benga for your next physical." He offered his hand to Spock. "Deal?"
Glancing warily at the proffered hand, Spock linked both of his behind his back. "Perhaps we should prepare a written contract," he said.
"Dammit, Spock! It's a dare, not a court case."
"And you do not know what I have dared you to do, yet."
McCoy looked up at that, trying to read the Vulcan's placid features. It was useless, of course; only Jim Kirk seemed to have any talent for that. The physician crossed his arms. "Let's hear it, then."
"I dare you, Doctor, to cease your illogical outbursts of anger and to behave in a manner befitting a Starfleet officer."
McCoy pursed his lips. "Are you saying that I'm grumpy, Spock?"
"Indeed," said Spock.
"Well, Spock," McCoy said. "I'm grumpy when I'm angry, when things annoy me." He leaned in close to Spock's face. "And I'm grumpy with such frequency because I am so often in your company."
The Vulcan glared at him balefully. "Then it shall be an interesting challenge, Doctor."
"Indeed," mocked McCoy. He reached for a padd on a nearby desk. "Okay, let's write this 'contract' of yours. Wouldn't want anyone to play dirty, would we?" He started scribbling furiously, muttering as he wrote. "We, the undersigned, accept the following challenges with the accompanying conditions: Spock must not raise his eyebrow—"
"You need to be more specific than that, Doctor," the Vulcan interrupted.
McCoy's face was a question.
"Which eyebrow, for instance," Spock prompted.
"Which...? The same damned brow you always lift, dammit!"
"Accuracy will help to exclude foul play, Doctor."
"Ooookay," drawled McCoy. "Commander Spock, with the unpronounceable surname, must not raise his—", he looked up at the offending brow as if to remind himself of left from right, "—right, slanted, Vulcan eyebrow..." He paused in thought, then added smugly, "either by itself or in combination with the left.
"If he does so, he agrees to follow Doctor McCoy's medical orders without question or argument.
"Doctor Leonard H. McCoy must 'cease his illogical outbursts of anger' and behave like an officer and a gentleman (which he already does) and pretend that Spock doesn't annoy him (which he does).
"If he loses (which he won't), he agrees to allow Commander Spock's next physical to be performed by Doctor M'Benga." He hastily scrawled his name underneath and handed the padd to Spock. The Vulcan stared at the indecipherable scribble for a moment, then signed his name neatly below that of the doctor's.
Captain Kirk couldn't quite put his finger on what was strange about the afternoon shift. Spock was bent over his scanners as usual. McCoy was hovering around the command chair. That, too, was normal behaviour. But, something – and it involved those two, he was sure – was out of the ordinary. And he meant to find out.
"Mister Spock," Kirk called across the bridge, waiting until the Vulcan turned and then beckoning him with his finger. "Report," he said, when Spock had arrived at his side.
Spock assumed his standard pose, with arms joined behind a stiff back. "The analyses of the data we collected from our last planet survey on Sigma Helios Twelve are going well. The rock samples we collected are quite fascinating; the planet, while much like your Earth in many ways, appears to be many million years older."
Fascinating indeed, thought Kirk. It was just the thing, he knew, that Spock enjoyed; examining bits and pieces from different planets was like a treasure hunt to the Vulcan. But, here was Spock, delivering one of his patented "fascinating" reports, and his face was expressionless. Even for him.
Before Kirk could wonder further at Spock's extreme blankness, McCoy cut in. "'Many million years older' than Earth, you say? That is fascinating, Spock. You must be very excited."
Spock knew the doctor was baiting him, and knew, too, that the captain was beginning to suspect he was acting strangely, but he wasn't about to let McCoy catch him so easily. "Indeed, Doctor," he said, maintaining the mask. "While I would not ascribe the term 'excited' to my reaction, I will say that I am... intrigued."
Kirk's brow creased. He should have seen that eyebrow lift ten times by now.... Ah! That's what isn't right. The captain's eyes shifted to his first officer's forehead. Spock's right eyebrow had remained unusually fixed in the one place all afternoon.
The Vulcan continued speaking, his face looking a little odd when only the bottom half of it was moving. "I would not expect you to understand, Doctor, but Sigma Helios Twelve could give us much information about the possible future of your planet."
Kirk turned to McCoy, expecting to see the doctor's customary scowl, followed by the usual "you green-blooded..." fireworks, but McCoy had an expression that was somehow falsely pleasant, and it seemed to Kirk just as strange as Spock's stiff face. He watched as his two friends stared each other down, abnormal, placid faces on both of them.
Then Spock raised his brow. The left one.
McCoy whooped loudly enough for the entire bridge crew to spin in their chairs and stare. "Haha! I knew you couldn't do it! Boy, have I got a treat in store for you for your next physical," he exclaimed happily.
Now beginning to comprehend, Kirk turned to see the corners of Spock's lips curl upwards.
"I believe you will find that I have not lost our 'dare', Doctor," said Spock.
McCoy's forehead immediately crinkled. He wasn't about to be done out of his prize by some Vulcan clever talking. "What do you mean, you haven't lost? The whole damned bridge saw that eyebrow fly off your face."
"Is that anger you are displaying, Doctor McCoy?"
"Hell yes, it's anger! And I'm allowed! You raised your brow and lost the dare. All remaining bets are off."
The first officer assumed a somewhat satisfied, yet wholly Vulcan, expression. "Do you not recall the document which we both signed? It was quite specific.
"'Commander Spock, with the unpronounceable surname, must not raise his right, slanted, Vulcan eyebrow, either by itself or in combination with the left.' Have I left anything out, Doctor? I believe you will find that I did not raise my right eyebrow, nor did I raise both. Those were the conditions of the dare, were they not?"
"Why, you green-blooded, hair-splitting... nasty Vulcan!"
Spock looked at Kirk. "Captain, if I may, I have an appointment to make with Doctor M'Benga." Kirk nodded, grinning after the retreating Vulcan.
When Spock had disappeared through the turbolift doors, Kirk turned to look at his chief medical officer. "Well, Bones, maybe that'll teach you to make bets with a Vulcan."
McCoy snorted. "Oh, it wasn't a total loss, Jim." At Kirk's questioning look, he added, "M'Benga's never done a full physical before, only the partial, more regular ones. He didn't know which tests he needed to take, so I told him to give Spock the works!"
Disclaimer: The Star Trek characters are owned by Paramount; story content belongs to Mrs Spock.
Mrs Spock ©2002-2016