“What the hell are you talking about?” Jim Kirk shouted as he lurched to his feet, the chair he had been sitting on crashing to the ground behind him
“Take it easy, Jim,” Commodore David Stone, the Star Base 11 port master, soothed a he extended a hand partly in an effort to calm the enraged captain and clearly also in self defense. “You know how these things are. Someone has to be responsible for this. Someone has to shoulder the blame.”
Storming about the room, Kirk did not pause for long moments, but at the far side of the room he defiantly turned and said, “I won’t have it, David. I simply won’t have it.”
The older man made a placating gesture in his direction. “Jim, your ship is disabled and has been for almost three months. It will take still more time now that you are in port to repair that pile of molten metal that used to be your engines. The brass has taken a lot of heat about the flagship of the Federation being disabled on such a routine mission, and someone is going to pay.”
“Plenty of ships have been disabled before, Commodore, and no one has been charged with anything,” Kirk responded pugnaciously.
“This is different and you know it,” Stone countered. “He was emotionally compromised during the entire mission and took no action to remove himself from duty.”
“’Emotionally compromised’?” Kirk questioned incredulously. “Spock?”
“Yes, it is clear from the record that he was compromised, Jim. Didn’t you realize that?’
Jim Kirk took a minute to consider the question. The whole incident was painful to recall, and he found that his memories of some issues were quite clear where others were more blurred due to his injury. But he did remember the discovery of the idyllic planet where they had found villages of humans who appeared to be descendants of Native Americans and his subsequent stay there when he became separated from Spock and Bones during their time there. His memory damaged, he had become a part of village life and would have stayed there forever had it not been for the reappearance of Spock and McCoy who had saved his life but not that of his wife, Miramanee. Their goal, preserving the lives of the people living on the planet, had been successfully met, but being able to activate the asteroid deflector had certainly been a last moment thing.
Looking back, Kirk realized that he had not given it a lot of thought to his First Officer’s exhaustion and the disabling of his ship. The loss of his wife had numbed him, and to be honest he had given little thought to anyone else, even when McCoy had reported that Spock had pushed himself to the point of collapse trying to decipher the symbols on the obelisk they had found. In the past Spock had pushed his reserves when necessary and would likely do it again if the need arose. So long as he was recovering, Kirk had seen no problem with how he had resolved the issue of the oncoming asteroid.
“Spock never met Miramanee until the ship returned,” he said dully, trying to put into perspective the accusation that the port master had made. “Why would he care about her?”
Stone looked compassionately at Kirk, nodding his head in disbelief. “It wasn’t the girl that he was concerned about, Jim. It was you. Spock disabled the best starship in the fleet over you.”
For a moment, Kirk thought that his superior officer had lost his mind. Spock was his friend and his best officer. Time after time he had shown his loyalty to his captain, but what Stone was saying had simply never crossed his mind. Spock had feelings for him?
“Are you out of your mind?” Kirk ground out the words slowly. “Spock? In love with me?
Then he considered the statement. Certainly, he and his Vulcan First Officer had become fast friends, and there had been more than one occurrence when Spock has risked his life for his captain. But that was in the line of duty, wasn’t it? Spock had just been a good First Officer trying to protect his captain, hadn’t he?
Or had he been wrong? Had Spock’s protectiveness been extended toward his captain for other reasons? Reasons that had never occurred to his human captain? Surely he would have realized if Spock had feelings for him, wouldn’t he? Could he have been that blind?
“Sit down now, Jim,” Stone barked authoritatively, “or I will have security in here.”
Kirk gathered himself and considered the order only a moment before righting the chair and returning it to where he had sat. “I’m sorry, David,” he said. “This just came out of the blue. I still resist the idea that Spock should be charged in this matter, and I can’t imagine how you came up with the notion that he was in love with me.”
“Then I suggest that you check your CMO’s notes on Spock’s behavior during your presence on that planet, Jim,” he replied.
Kirk frowned. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. McCoy mentioned that Spock had become exhausted trying to decipher the symbols on that obelisk, and I could tell as soon as I recognized him that he was fatigued and had lost weight. But that isn’t the first time he’s worked like that. Spock is one of the most dedicated officers that I have ever known. When he is focused on an issue, it can be to the exclusion of anything else. Perhaps, you have mistaken that single-mindedness for love, David.”
The senior officer emitted a low chuckle. “You really don’t see it, do you, Jim?” He rose slowly and paced about the small office. “Since you took the captaincy of the Enterprise, there have been questions about your closeness with Spock. Some have even referred to him at your Vulcan shadow. And you have never heard a word of this?” He shook his head in amazement. “I don’t see how that is possible, but if that is your position I guess we can take it from there.”
“Spock has become my friend. He is one of the finest individuals I have ever known, and it has been my honor to serve as his captain. Gods know that he should have a ship of his own, and he’s told me that he has been offered a captaincy of his own more than once. But for this other...well, there is nothing between us, David. We’re friends, good friends, but we have never been lovers. It never even crossed my mind.”
“Then why did he practically destroy your ship, Jim?” Commodore Stone asked. “We know he is not incompetent. He is documented as stating that he knew the risks of pushing your vessel as he did.” He shook his head. “That magnificent vessel was reduced to moving at impulse back to the planet where you had been lost. Fifty two days, Jim. Fifty two days when your ship was not available to do anything except creep along because of that Vulcan. He put your life at risk as well as all those people on that planet.”
“You know as well as I do that they were delayed getting to the deflection point because of their search for me,” Kirk growled. “They looked for me for hours. How is that Spock’s fault?”
“I agree that finding you was a priority at that moment, but if Spock had broken off the search earlier and meet the asteroid at the deflection point your ship wouldn’t have had to get there at warp nine.”
Kirk shook his head in negation. “Commodore, you aren’t out there. You haven’t been out there for a while. You don’t know what it’s like. A ship’s crew becomes like a large extended family. We have to watch out for one another because there is literally no one else out there who will. Spock did what he thought was best, and I will not second guess him. I do not fault him for what occurred, and I will resist any attempt on your part or anyone else’s to charge him with anything.”
“Resist as much as you wish, Jim,” the commodore said smugly as he put his feet on his desk with an attitude of condescension. “While we have been here talking, a security team has boarded your vessel and put him under arrest. They probably have had time to return.”
“This is a done deal! You had no right to do that,” Kirk shouted, rising to his feet once more.
“As port master, I have every right,” Stone replied. “Any time a ship comes in for repairs I am required to make a judgment as to whether there were any irregularities that occurred in the process. It is clearly within my authority, and I believe that what Spock did was unnecessary. Therefore, I am charging him with negligence in the disabling of the Enterprise.”
Kirk stormed from the office. Somehow, he had instantly decided, he was not going to allow this to occur. As soon as he had seen Spock, he had known the guilt that the Vulcan had experienced carved into the lines of exhaustion and the pallor of his face. Spock had punished himself more thoroughly than any authority could punish himself, and Kirk did not intend to see this go further.
But Stone was correct. As the captain emerged from the port office, hot and angry from his discussion, the security team swept past him, Spock in tow. The five man team had taken no risks as Spock was shackled hand and foot. The Vulcan’s eyes caught him standing there impotently, and Spock’s gaze returned to the floor in front of him. He was clearly humiliated and shamed by how he had been treated. Spock said nothing and made no attempt to communicate, his embarrassment at being paraded through the space port clearly visible, however.
For once, Kirk could only stand and watch helplessly as the security team and Spock disappeared down the corridor in the direction of the detention facility.
Fuming, Jim Kirk pushed through the busy corridor as he made his way back toward the Enterprise. Port security had denied him access to Spock as he had repeatedly requested so he was now determined to talk with McCoy about the Vulcan’s arrest. While he had argued with the security officers about his access to his First Officer, it had occurred to him that only McCoy might have kept records on Spock’s behavior or condition during the two months that the ship had been returning to the planet. Could the physician have recorded something that Stone would view as incriminating? McCoy had mentioned nothing, but he had not checked the medical logs since his return. His only choice was to see the records from that time and learn for himself.
As he approached the dock where the still-damaged Enterprise sat undergoing repairs, Kirk hesitated for a moment to look at his gleaming ship. In a sense, he had often felt ownership of the vast ship since the day he had become her captain. The Enterprise was his in so many ways, but he had also come to acknowledge that the ship was Spock’s as well. For the Vulcan who had straddled two cultures all his life, Kirk had come to understand that for Spock the Enterprise was not just his assignment. The Enterprise was Spock’s home, the only place where he could be simply himself, free of the confining expectations of others. Then he knew once again deep in his heart that Spock would not have damaged their vessel if he had seen any other way to avoid it. Spock had done this so it must have been necessary, and he would not second guess that decision. Moreover, he would defend it as best he could.
Walking through the Enterprise felt odd to him with most of the crew absent. Nonessential crew had been given leave during the repairs, but most of the engineering and maintenance crews needed to maintain the vast vessel were still there. At roughly half crew roster, the Enterprise seemed empty and alien for once as he paced the halls in search of McCoy. Somehow he knew that the doctor would be there checking on the crew and scowling if someone got as much as a scratch.
Eventually he found McCoy in Sickbay overseeing an inventory of medical supplies and staff prior to requesting more. Kirk had always trusted the older man to do everything just as it needed to be done and never question him in this aspect. But instead of the greeting he expected when he walked into the Sickbay, McCoy scowled when he saw Kirk and slammed the PADD in his hand down onto a counter.
“Nurse Chapel,” he growled, “continue to check the supplies. I need to speak with the captain.” A look at Chapel made it clear that the crew knew about Spock’s arrest. She had been crying, and Kirk wondered how much the others knew. McCoy made a gesture for Kirk to follow him and stalked to his office, slamming the door closed behind the two of them. “What the hell is going on, Jim?” he demanded.
“I take it you’ve heard about Spock,” Kirk said.
The doctor was just short of apoplectic. “Why would you do such a thing, Jim? What’s gotten into you? I know that you love this ship but arrest Spock for damaging it?” His blue eyes were bright, and he looked as angry as Kirk ever remembered seeing him.
“I didn’t make that decision, Bones,” he said defensively. “In fact, I didn’t know anything about it. I was in the port master’s office. Commodore Stone invited me there, and I assumed it was to talk about repairs. While I was there, he arranged for a team to come over and arrest Spock. I didn’t know a thing about it until they were talking him to the detention center.”
McCoy shook his head. “Well,” he drawled, “that makes me feel better but not a whole lot better, Jim. Why the hell was that done?”
“Stone seems to have this insane idea that Spock is compromised because he is in love with me,” Kirk responded irritably. “Have you ever heard such a crazy notion?”
McCoy paled visibly and looked away from him. Rising, he walked around the office picking up the antique medical objects he had here and there as though he had never seen them. Finally, he turned to Kirk reluctantly and said, “Well, that’s a problem, Jim, because I think he is.”
For a moment, Kirk could not breathe. Then he laughed at the sheer idiocy of it. Spock? In love with him? That was impossible. But as he looked at the expression on the doctor’s face his response began to mute. This was not a joke. Bones really believed that Spock was in love with him.
“You’re kidding, aren’t you?” he responded tentatively.
McCoy began to pace again as he considered his response. Again, he stopped and said, “No, Jim, I’ve suspected it for a while. Spock has never said a word, but I’m pretty sure of it.”
“How could you think that?” Kirk stuttered.
McCoy’s expression softened, and he returned to his desk to pour them each a glass of amber liquid. “I think I need a drink if we’re going to talk about this,” he confessed. “This romance stuff had never been my forte, but I’ll do the best I can.”
The captain waited for a response that didn’t come. Finally, he prompted, “Bones, I’m waiting. Why do you think Spock is in love with me?”
McCoy met his eyes finally and began, “Spock is different with you than he is with any other member of this crew, Jim. When he is on duty, he is professional with you and everyone he deals with, but off duty you are the only person whose company he seeks out.”
“We are the command team, Bones,” Kirk pointed out. “We have a lot of work to do together, and I seek his counsel on a lot of the decisions I have to make.”
“Granted,” McCoy responded, “but you also play chess and you’ve taken a couple of shore leaves together.”
“That doesn’t mean that Spock loves me, Bones.”
McCoy sighed deeply and took a long swig of liquor before he began again. “Jim, Spock is intensely protective of you more than anyone else on this ship.”
Kirk shrugged. “I am the captain. Regs consider me indispensable. You know that, Bones, regardless of how much I disagree with it.”
McCoy nodded, looking slightly less angry. “Yes, and Spock has protected me and other members of this crew, Jim. He is an exemplary individual, Jim, and is highly competent, but Spock’s failing has always been dealing with the human crew.” He laughed softly. “That is not a problem with you, Jim. It’s never been a problem with you. You get him better than anyone I’ve ever seen, and I’ve known him for a while. Spock has opened up to you more than anyone else in his life. Why would he not love you? He’s been alienated from his culture, his parents have turned their back on him, and then you come along and accept him right where he is. He would be a fool not to love you, and despite what I’ve said to the contrary that Vulcan is no fool.”
For long moments, Kirk sat in stunned silence. “If he is, Bones...if he is...why has he never said anything? Why has he never given me any indication?”
“Think about it, Jim,” McCoy said, waving his hands in the air. “His wife divorced him in the Kali-fee. He hasn’t spoken to his father for almost two decades. Everyone has turned away from him, has abandoned him. If he told you, you might do the same. Why would he risk that, Jim? He can love you silently from a distance and never risk the chance that you will abandon him, too, if you don’t know, right?”
Kirk thought of the pleasure he had had spending evenings with Spock over a game of chess, their talk sometimes of the ship’s business but other times simply talking about their past and their goals for the future. Being with Spock had become fulfilling in a way that he had never experienced with anyone else. It was as though they had somehow merged a part of themselves into the other. Yes, he had looked forward to those evenings with his First Officer, and he finally realized that it was not only because they were friends. A feeling that was warm and affectionate toward the Vulcan began to rise to his consciousness, and he wondered how he had somehow overlooked it. The notion of Spock being arrested, embarrassed, and challenged about his decisions during Kirk’s absence gave the captain real, genuine pain. Could it be that he was in love with Spock, too?
“I have been a fool,” he muttered softly. “I have missed all the signs, haven’t I, Bones?”
McCoy’s expression was gentle. “Jim, you and Spock have served together for several years now, and part of this is that you are captain and First Officer, but I’ve been on more than one ship and I’ve dealt with more than one command team. What you have with Spock is special. Is it love? I’m not certain, but I know someone who can tell you that and that’s Spock. You need to talk with him.”
“I tried, Bones. I saw him being taken to detention and followed him there. Security won’t let me speak with him until they finish interrogating him.”
McCoy’s eyebrow rose in imitation of a certain Vulcan of their acquaintance. “And you let that stop you?” he murmured, his voice teasing. “Jim Kirk, the no-win scenario guy let’s security get between you and Spock?”
Kirk nodded his understanding. “Yes, I need to talk with him. I hate to do it there though. There is no privacy, and if there is anything that we need to have this discussion it’s privacy.”
McCoy shrugged casually. “Spock is not going to run away. Hell, if they said they were going to execute him over it, he’d probably stand there and let them do it. Why don’t they release him so he can come back here? Tell them that you need him to help supervise the refit and the engine repairs. If they don’t buy that, tell them I need to supervise him medically. That’s not all that far from the truth, and it won’t be questioned if anyone takes a look at him.”
A slow grin grew on Kirk’s face. “He broke it so he’s got to fix it? You’re brilliant, Bones.” Rising, he threw back the last bit of liquor in the glass. “You’re right. Released on his own recognizance so that he can facilitate repairs. Thanks, Bones.”
With that, he turned and strode back in the direction where he had just come determined to secure Spock’s release so that they could have a much overdue talk.
This is a new story that I have completed in draft. The second and third chapter will be posted within the next couple of weeks. I am still having problems writing but am hoping that with perseverance this will pass. I hope you enjoy Exposure.