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“That ion storm sure did mess things up,” McCoy said and sighed. “I keep getting reminded why I hate those blasted things every time Scotty lies on the floor tinkering with those things.”

McCoy was – of course – referring to the transporters, and a sturdy woman named Montana Scott was – of course – lying on the floor, tinkering with said mechanical devices.

“I must say, this is a very intriguing experience, Captain,” came a velvety voice from behind Kirk. He turned around and got another shock. The perfect being standing before him was the most beautiful and exquisite person he had ever seen. Brown, beautiful eyes, shiny black hair and a sculpted face. Delicate, pointed ears and a slender, tall body with the most beautiful hands he had ever seen.

“I have to agree,” Kirk said. “In all my years in Starfleet, I’ve never experienced anything like this.”

“Alternate universes are intriguing,” the Vulcan said. “And you say that my counterpart in the other universe is ... male?”

“Yes, he is,” Kirk nodded and couldn’t tear his eyes away from this Enterprise’s first officer. She was absolutely gorgeous. “His name is Spock,” he added.

“Fascinating. It is the male form of T’Spaak of course, so I might have guessed.”

“What about my counterpart?” asked Kirk. “Is he ... also a she?”

T’Spaak shook her head and gave that hint of a smile that Kirk recognized so well. “No, Captain, he and you are ... as my captain would say ... the “spitting image” of each other.”

“Hm,” Kirk said and looked at T’Spaak speculatively and suddenly noticed that there was a ring on her left finger. A wedding band? “You are married, I see?” he said, curious as to find out whether T’Spaak was married to the alternate universe equivalent of T’Pring.

“Yes, the captain and I were married six months and five days ago,” T’Spaak said and again, Kirk could see the hint of a smile in her familiar brown eyes. He swallowed hard and suddenly it was all so clear to him.

“All right,” said the female Scotty. “I believe we can try now, Captain.”

Kirk nodded and stepped onto the transporter padd. It swirled him away from the alternate universe and back to his Enterprise again – he hoped.

As he materialized on the other side, Spock and Scotty stood there, their familiar faces – and genders – making Kirk heave a great sigh of relief.

“Welcome back, Jim,” said Spock and Kirk smiled at his first officer. How could he not have seen it before? The worry deep down in those brown eyes, and the care that screamed out the truth for everyone to see, but which was so difficult to detect, because Spock was Vulcan and used to hiding his emotions.

“Spock,” Kirk said softly. “You and I need to talk.”

“Certainly Captain,” Spock agreed and fell into step beside his captain, as he always did. But this day was different than any other day, Kirk decided. Because he had finally seen the light.

END

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