Title: A Fine Officer
Author: Dread Nought
Code: K & S
Disclaimer: Paramount/Viacom own these guys. This is a not-for-profit work.
Summary: A new captain and changes for Spock. Answer to a Where No Man Has Gone Before episode of the week challenge.
Captain Kirk set his tray down in the officer's mess to the surprised looks of the table's occupants. Kirk smiled and glanced around at the fresh faces thinking that Pike must not have eaten with the crew often.
"Dr. Piper," Kirk addressed the chief medical officer.
"Captain," the dry reply came back.
"Carolle isn't it?" Kirk asked a redheaded man across from him.
The man brightened. "Yes, Sir."
Kirk gave the man a slight smile and started in on his dinner. He was acutely aware of the table's other occupants slowly going back to their own meals and conversations. He would have to get used to being completely outside the normal social circles of the ship now that he was captain of a large vessel. He tried not to eavesdrop on the nearby conversations that were intentionally pitched to be below his hearing but he couldn't help overhearing gossip about their last mission to exit the galaxy or more specifically the Orion sub-arm.
Kirk frowned and decided not to finish his meal. He nodded to the table's occupants and stood up to dispose of his tray.
He tried to walk through the corridor with the same detached confidence he had seen Garrovick project. Since he was thinking ahead to the message from Starfleet he had received at the end of alpha shift he wasn't as detached as he would have liked. Komack wanted the Enterprise to return to Starbase Three immediately and he had changed course as soon as he had received the message. He hadn't finished his report yet and Starfleet would be wanting it. Understandably.
Kirk entered his quarters and frowned at the pile of report tapes on his desk, color-coded by department. Three weeks into their five year mission and he had to replace his first officer. He sat down with some trepidation and went through the tapes. He had taken care of condolences to families of the dead already since it helped him put everything else in perspective. This left him with pulling together everyone else's reports into the official one, the one and only: Report.
He fiddled with the tape from sciences, flipping the orange cassette over repeatedly with his fingers as he stared at the ship's status display on his terminal without really seeing it. Finally he inserted the cassette and began reading Lt. Commander Spock's report of events. It was concise and completely unemotional despite the traumatic events it described. The first officer of the Enterprise had attempted to take over the ship and then the landing party on Delta Vega using newly formed telekinetic powers. Only Spock could write so uninvolved about a male human ego completely out of control.
"James R. Kirk," he repeated aloud to himself and grimaced a little at the thought that even as Mitchell was setting up Kirk's grave he remembered the nickname Gary himself had given him at the academy: "James Read-It-All Kirk." He should have realized that when Gary started in on Spinoza that something galacticly serious was wrong with him.
And now he needed a new first officer. Hopefully one he wouldn't have to kill three weeks from now. To top it off the brass wanted them back at the nearest major headquarters, tout de suite. The mission had barely started and already they were reining him in.
He reflected as he skimmed the non-essential details before him, that he felt less about losing Gary than expected -- panicked self-defense could really harden one's feelings. He popped out that cassette and picked up another at random, trying to focus on the task at hand.
He pressed the comm button on the desk. "Eta to Starbase Three?"
"Four days, fifteen hours, seven minutes," Kelso's voice replied.
"Thank you, Lieutenant." He signed off and returned to the engineering report.
Elsewhere, the author of the sciences report was checking in the equipment returned from Delta Vega. Except for the weapons that had been itemized and stowed in armored lockers immediately after their return to the ship everything else was still sitting in a case waiting to be cleaned, tested, and re-stowed. Spock's human shipmates seemed to abhor this task and Spock, who found it meditative, allowed it to fall on himself when he was part of the landing party.
He studied a broken power conduit connector that he recognized from the feverish wiring of a self-destruct circuit for the cracking station. As he turned it under the light, he considered that the new captain was not getting off to a masterful start. Pike would have finished a thorough study of the old recorder before crossing the barrier. He had been a careful commander who proceeded in a step-by-step fashion. The new captain waited until the crisis was upon them to devote time to decoding the badly damaged log and most importantly, its meaning.
To Spock's view, Captain Kirk seemed more concerned with completing the introductory mission of the ship, right on schedule, so that they could prove themselves to Starfleet Command and move on to more exciting missions. Kirk needed to learn that in space the unknowns always outnumber the knowns even in a mundane assignment, making overconfidence the most deadly of human attitudes.
He marked off on the manifest and dropped the broken connector into the 'cycler. Speculating about Pike had opened a window into emotions Spock did not wish to examine. He spent a few minutes focussing his thoughts and moved his attention to the reels of spare wiring that lay next in line for attention.
"Come on down, Jim. I'll buy you one." Komack said over the visual connection. "Bring down your whole bridge crew. This isn't a public hanging, I just want to talk to you."
Kirk nodded and smiled, hiding his relief. "I'll be there Admiral. Kirk out." He switched off the terminal and considered that he probably wasn't out of the woods yet. He had walked through his decisions a hundred times in the last four days. He could defend them all. He hadn't damaged 'Fleet's precious ship more than the barrier was destined to. He'd saved the crew from a telekinetic egomaniac, his best friend, whom he had argued with command to assign as number one, he reminded himself with some chagrin.
Alpha shift was just about to end. He needed to go to the bridge and relay Komack's invitation. Not a public hanging, he reassured himself.
Lt. Commander Spock noticed the message light on his terminal as soon as he returned to his quarters. He played the message and studied the accompanying paperwork with some surprise. The captain was promoting him, not only to Commander, but also to first. Another rash decision, part of his mind decided. It was an honor, but it put him one step closer to the command he did not want. He would have to insist on remaining in the Sciences line.
He encountered Kirk in the corridor as he exited his room. "May I speak with you, Captain?"
Kirk looked up, thoughts obviously elsewhere. He took a deep breath. "Can it wait? I have a meeting with Komack, planetside."
Spock considered that he had fourteen days to formulate his reply to the notice of promotion. "Yes," he said.
Kirk smiled in relief. "Are you coming down to the base? Komack and other assorted brass want to have a get-together. I'd like you to be there, but since it is at the base pub you aren't required."
"If I complete my duties in time, Captain."
Kirk took that as a "no" since Spock seemed to know to the nearest millisecond when various tasks would be completed. Kirk nodded in understanding and continued down the corridor toward the turbolift.
Spock eventually beamed down to the planetside part of Starbase Three. It was late evening and though he knew because of his acute hearing that the bridge crew had decided to give Kirk space at this meeting and leave early, Kirk had told Spock he wanted him there so he had made time for it. The pub was housed in one wedge of the octagonal central conference building. The noise level inside was very high for sensitive ears, hundreds of competing voices forming a crescendo bordering on white noise. He did not immediately see Kirk or Admiral Komack or any other Starfleet "brass".
He moved across the center of the room, watching on all sides for a familiar face. A slotted divider with hanging plants ran in a semicircle around the bar area in the middle of the room. Spock walked along this with the intent of walking around it to check the tables along the far wall. As he reached the end he had to wait for a server with a large tray to finish setting down bowls in front of patrons at the bar.
Before the pathway was clear of waitress and oversized tray, his ears picked up the sound of Captain Kirk's voice from the other side of the partition. "What are you saying here, Captain? You are suggesting the admiral reject my promotion request?"
Spock stopped and stood as though waiting behind the people two-deep at the bar. He could not make out the reply to Kirk's question.
"He has been at Lieutenant Commander for eight years," Kirk voice came again.
Spock waved off the bartender who asked with his eyes if Spock wanted anything.
"Jim, I can't see him as fit for second in command of Starfleet's finest." That was Captain Smythe's voice. "'Fleet is an Earth based organization and it's command line should reflect that. Can't have the people back at home thinking we've left their protection to Others."
"It is not the best precedent, that is true," Komack said.
"He's a fine officer," Kirk stated with moderate conviction.
"You've put command in a bad position, Kirk. Unless he turns down the promotion." Komack's voice.
Smythe added something Spock couldn't parse out of the sudden laughter of several women at the bar. Then there was silence from the table in question followed by the ordering of more drinks. He turned and retraced his path through the bar.
Spock walked out of the conference area and out of the base campus. A flat expanse of grass spread out from the edge of the buildings, separating the base from the town. Paved walks criss-crossed the slope leading down to a small lake. Spock walked out into the darkness on the diagonal until he faced the water near the center of the expanse. A bench stood just off of the nexus. Spock sat down and stared out at the eight moons reflected in the faintly rippling water. A ninth moon was just rising above the horizon, red and ringed, a captured satellite judging by its contrast to the other orbiting bodies.
Spock remained on the bench, in a half-meditative state, gaze locked on the vibrating reflections. He had been increasingly unable to clear his mind since the start of this mission. Usually his thoughts were disturbed by unwelcome emotion which he was well-practiced at ignoring. This felt nothing like an emotion, it was more of a void in the center of his mind that refused to be filled or compressed. The void seemed to have expanded in the last hour until it interfered with his logic. He probed the edges of it with some concern. He had no discipline to apply to it.
Spock heard his name spoken in question and he roused himself from the deep state he had slipped into. His name was repeated, closer this time.
Kirk stepped off the pavement onto the grass beside the bench and studied his officer. Spock sat, slightly hunched, staring out at the lake in the increasingly chilly air in just his basic duty uniform. Kirk considered all of the obvious questions and discarded each in turn. Spock possessed the most brilliant mind he had ever encountered and obvious questions seemed inappropriate. "Nice view," he hazarded.
Spock's eyebrows furrowed and he nodded.
"You wanted to talk to me?"
Spock thought a moment. "Why did you promote me?"
Kirk sat down on the bench sideways so he faced Spock. "Because I need a first officer and you are about four years overdue." He zipped up his coat and stuffed his hands in his pockets, shrugging off the cold.
"Will command approve the promotion?"
Kirk stopped still. "I expect they will."
"Despite the bad precedent it will set?"
Kirk breathed deeply of the cold air and stared up at the few stars that were visible given the cumulative light from the many moons. "I didn't see you at the pub."
"Would it have made a difference, Captain?"
Kirk pulled his gaze back down and pursed his lips as he formulated a reply. "I'll defend the promotion. Let me worry about that."
"Seems unlikely as you did not defend me tonight."
"I did," Kirk insisted, taken aback by the tone in Spock's voice.
Spock shook his head once. "Pike would have exploded."
"That would explain why he didn't make admiral."
Spock turned to him. "And that is your sole goal?" The derisive tone in his voice had not faded.
"No, I'm not looking ahead that far and frankly wouldn't want that bunch as my colleagues."
Spock fell silent and Kirk took another close look at the incongruities of the scene before him. Eleven years Spock had served under Pike, Kirk considered how at the moment it seemed like an eternity. He stood up. "Come with me, Commander," he ordered and turned to lead the way. Spock stood slowly and stiffly followed. Kirk waited for him partway down one spoke of pavement. It was clear to Kirk that the cold had gotten to the Vulcan and since Spock was his direct responsibility he'd better take care of him, as unlikely as that duty had seemed previously. As he led the way back to his assigned suite, he wondered at this unlikely behavior from someone reputed to be the most stable and predictable in all of Starfleet.
At his rooms, Kirk thumbed the door code and gestured for Spock to enter. With an awkward bow, Spock stepped into the rooms. Kirk threw off his coat and indicating one of the couches said, "Have a seat."
Spock obeyed, still uncharacteristically stiff.
Kirk paced the length of the couch once and turned to Spock. "I'll concede I should have defended you better." He spread out his hands palms up. "I have to confess it caught me so off guard I couldn't come up with an appropriate reply. I had no idea this was so endemic at command."
Spock gave him a doubtful eyebrow which made Kirk bristle.
"Out there." He pointed at the upper corner of the room. "All that matters is the crew of the ship. Command can only make trouble now and then. That is the beauty of a long mission to the edge of explored space, out where subspace takes weeks to get back to Earth. I need you at First. I need your stability-"
He paused and studied the other, still hunched oddly, as he sat on the couch. Concerned, Kirk approached Spock and rested the back of his hand on his cheek, checking his temperature. Spock startled and stared at Kirk in surprise. The Vulcan's skin was much too cool. Kirk again dispensed with the obvious question and pulled rank. "Stand up. Come here."
Kirk led the way into the bedroom. He cranked the waterbed temperature up to 41C and pulled back the covers. "Lie down," he said.
Spock hesitated only a moment before sitting on the edge of the bed and pulling off his boots. He lay back and Kirk pulled the covers over him. The red light on the bed went out a few moments later, indicating it had reached temperature. Kirk sat on the edge and watched Spock stare up at the ceiling. Eventually he asked "Feeling better?"
Kirk laid his hand on Spock's covered chest. "I'm sorry. You deserve better."
Spock's eyes indicated confusion. "I do not understand."
"I'm referring to Starfleet."
Spock nodded understanding. He cleared his throat. "I was out of line earlier, Captain. It will not happen again."
"You were cold. And you weren't out of line. I expect honest criticism from my officers. I can't run a ship without it." He studied the angled features lying on his pillow. "You going to be all right? I'm referring to your hypothermia."
Spock finally met his gaze. "I am almost recovered. I can depart in approximately four point one minutes."
Kirk shook his head. "No." He reached up and turned off the bed lamp. "I am going to pull rank one more time and tell you to go to sleep."
Spock started to sit up. "I cannot take your bed, Captain."
"Commander." Kirk let a hard edge taint his voice. He pushed the other back down. "Go to sleep."
Spock fought the pressure of Kirk's hand a long moment before relenting and resting again on the pillow. His mind had been thrown into turmoil and he spent a moment containing his thoughts. Kirk's hand still pressed down on his chest as though Kirk were not certain he would continue to obey. In that moment, Spock gave in. Deep inside, he gave himself over to Kirk. It was illogical, the human had not proven himself as colleague or captain, but he felt it happening anyway. As he relaxed into the notion of total obedience and loyalty to this man, he felt the void in his mind dissipating and nearly sighed in frustration.
Kirk straightened up, finally satisfied, and left the room.
Spock shook his head in the darkness and wondered at this weakness he seemed to have for this human already.
Orange morning sunlight streamed into the room and Spock opened his eyes. Eight thirty-nine, his mind supplied the likely time. He had slept much longer than normal. He rose and picked up his boots and carried them into the main room.
Kirk looked up as he entered. "There you are. I was beginning to think I'd have to wake you up." Kirk sat at a small counter on the far side of the main room in his bathrobe. Spock set his boots down beside the door.
"You can shower if you want and there is a fresher if you want to straighten out your uniform." He indicated the sonic-steamer on the side wall. It was not considered prudent for one's career to walk around a starbase looking ruffled. Spock considered the fresher and then stripped off his tunic and laid it over the wire-frame inside the cabinet. His pants followed.
Kirk noted that Spock apparently wore a thermal shirt at all times. Spock kept this on and with a nod walked to the bathroom. Kirk watched his black-briefed muscular rear as it disappeared behind the bathroom door and shook himself out of the reverie it pushed him into.
Kirk pulled his padd back over and continued reading the day's news. The water and sonics turned on behind the door. Kirk read for a while until the fresher chimed. He got up and removed Spock's uniform and shook it out a bit to cool it quickly so it would look crisp. Then took it over and hung it on the hook on the outside of the bathroom door so Spock could get it easily.
When he got back to the counter he took out the fabricated milk and a small box of granola. He poured these out into a bowl and put the milk away. He was just picking up a laden spoon when the door chimed.
Before he could get up to answer the door, it opened to one of the few people whose thumbprint would override the lock, Admiral Komack.
"Good morning, Jim," he greeted Kirk sunnily. The Admiral looked impeccable. Kirk adjusted his bathrobe.
"Sir," Kirk returned.
Komack came over and leaned on the counter as though it were a bar. In a comforting tone, he said, "We didn't get a chance last night to talk about Mitchell. I know the first time out can be rough enough without having your crewmembers turn on you." He finally noticed the sound of the shower. He glanced over at the bathroom and did a double take on the sciences uniform hanging there with the unmistakable single solid and single broken braid on the cuffs.
He turned back to Kirk with a look of consternation. "That your science officer in there?"
Kirk answered with a shrug, "Yes."
Komack gave him a barely contained, stunned look. The shower shut off.
"He's using my shower," Kirk supplied, stating the obvious. Spock could be heard moving around behind the door.
Komack continued to stare at him. "I know you and Mitchell were involved at the academy. I didn't think you'd be stupid enough to renew that relationship when you started a new command."
Kirk heard the motion behind the door stop. Vulcan hearing was reputed to be very good. He could tell his new First about his sex life if and when he himself felt like it, thank you very much.
"I didn't, Admiral," Kirk stated with a hard tone. He realized Spock was going to want his uniform so he walked to the bathroom and handed it inside. Spock gave him very strange look which communicated that he realized the Admiral was in the room. Kirk, realization now dawning, gave Spock a mischievous grin.
With an even face, Kirk returned to the counter and his cereal. "Do you mind if I finish breakfast, Admiral?" He had to work very hard to keep the grin off his face.
Komack stood straight. "No, no. Go ahead."
Spock exited the bathroom, looking almost as impeccably groomed as the Admiral. He bowed a greeting.
"Mr. Spock," Komack returned, looking from the Vulcan to Kirk.
Kirk looked up from his eating with a face of pure innocence.
"Well, Jim. We can talk about this another time." He started to leave. "Oh, I brought this by. It is the paperwork for your crew assignments. . . and I'll have the approval of Mr. Spock's promotion by this afternoon." He stepped up to Spock. "Congratulations, Commander."
Spock bowed his head again. "Thank you, Admiral."
The door slid closed behind Komack's deep red tunic.
Kirk looked over at Spock with a grin.
Spock's brow furrowed and he puffed out his chest. "Am I understanding correctly that my promotion has been approved because the Admiral is mistaken in believing that we are involved in an intimate relationship?"
Kirk waggled his eyebrows at him between bites. "No one told you you'd have to sleep your way to the top?"
Kirk stared at the closed door Komack had just exited through. "I hadn't realized how much influence I could have on command. They must really want to keep me happy."
Spock crossed his arms. "You were given the most coveted position to open in Starfleet in a decade, and you did not realize the influence you had with command?" Spock asked in a tone of disbelief.
Kirk shrugged and rinsed his bowl in the sink. He looked up at Spock still standing defensively with his arms crossed. "Worried about your disparaged honor, Spock?"
Spock tilted his head to one side noncommittally. "I would be somewhat troubled were gossip to travel far enough. . . to make it to my father." He ended with something close to a wince, which made Kirk chuckle. "You are surprisingly unconcerned by the misunderstanding. If I may say so, Captain."
"Are you kidding? In my entire career that is the most respectful look I have ever gotten from someone in the command line."
"I do not understand."
Kirk leaned over the counter. "Spock. On the scale of most difficult
to bed, Vulcan women are ranked as. . . nearly the most difficult." He
a chopping motion with his hand against the counter surface. "Vulcan men." He waved his hand off of the counter. "Aren't even on the scale. The ultimate demonstration of prowess."
At Spock's still uncomprehending look, Kirk said, "Never mind."
Kirk took the cassette Komack left and inserted it in the padd. He glanced through the contents and tapped his fist on the countertop. "Piper resigned." Kirk felt his newfound control slipping away again. "He could have filed with me directly," he observed. "Well, let's see whom fleet has available to replace him." Kirk picked up the stylus and paged through the cassette.
He looked up and considered Spock. "Are you waiting to be dismissed?" he asked gently.
Kirk went back to the padd and moments later slapped his hand on the table, startling Spock. "Well, look at that. 'Leonard McCoy' is on this list." Kirk gazed happily at the list on the screen. "Well, well, Bones McCoy. Now that would be an interesting addition to the crew."
"'Bones?' Is that not a rather unpromising nickname for a medical officer?" Spock inquired.
"It's- Why Mr. Spock, you do have a sense of humor buried in there." Kirk gave him a glowing grin. "It's an old Earth naval term: 'Sawbones,' for the ship's doctor."
"Even more unpromising."
Kirk laughed, which felt very good. "I met him on leave in Georgia during my first assignment. A very ornery horse my shipmates had challenged me to ride broke my tibia in three places. McCoy was almost as ornery as the horse. I think you'll like him." Kirk thought about it more. "On second thought, maybe you won't."
"You are very certain he will take the assignment."
Kirk read the screen, pulling up McCoy's record. "It would be his first off-Earth assignment. Looks like he just got divorced. That increases the likelihood. I'll put in a request right now." Kirk tapped the screen a few times and pressed his thumb on the corner of the screen when the device requested authentication.
He put the padd away. "Well, that brightens my mood." He studied Spock. "Everything all right with you?"
Spock nodded. Kirk detected a bit of sheepishness in his posture.
"It's a bright sunny day. Care to go out? We have all day planetside."
Kirk stepped over to the couch where his duffel lay open. He picked out a fresh uniform and took it to the bathroom. "Give me a few minutes," he said and pulled the door closed after Spock's nod of acknowledgment.
A few minutes later he re-emerged in uniform. "How about a walk around the lake?" He headed for the outside door, Spock following. "We could walk hand-in-hand and really get the rumor mill running."
Spock stepped back. "Please. Captain." Spock said in mock indignation.
Kirk grasped Spock's upper arm and steered him ahead out the door. "Come on," he said, noting with deep satisfaction that Spock did not jump at his touch this time.
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