I was doing a shift with Ensign Wasim Rafi, and boy was I enjoying it. We were in a bathroom, having been left to fix a wire in the wall of corridor 3b on Deck 3, which only had crewmens' quarters on. They were all out on shift, though, and the circuit controlling their bathroom lights had burnt out. Some idiot (Ensign Helms, I think they said it was) had managed to leave the tap running and water had welled up and got into the wall; we were lucky it was only this that'd gone! All the water had been cleared up earlier, but the circuit itself was still broken. It was in a pretty awkward place behind some other wires, so getting to it was uncomfortable to say the least. All the panelling we'd removed was strewn out behind us, and you still had to stick your head in and twist painfully around, holding yourself above the rest of the wires (which you couldn't lean on, that would be a much bigger task to fix) while you persuaded the ends of the burnt-out sections to meet up again. My back hurt, my arms hurt, we had to keep switching as we got tired from it. But that wasn't why I was enjoying this.
You see, I had a thing for Ensign Rafi, big-time. He was about 4 years younger than me and had just come from the academy to his first assignment on a starship around two weeks ago. He was athletic and muscled, but not too bulky, just the right amount. He had this thick, dark wavy hair, big brown eyes and when he smiled he was one of those people that it really transformed his face and made you want to smile, too. Not quite as loud as I'd usually like, but he was decent enough to talk to once you got him talking. But this didn't matter at right that moment. It wasn't his front end I was ogling.
He began to withdraw from the wall and I quickly averted my eyes, pretending to be concentrating on the edge of the panel instead. Yeah, it's just that interesting, that panelling. He sat down beside me, stretched his back and started rubbing his shoulder to try and relieve some of the stiffness.
“It's tough work,” I sympathised. “My back's killing me.”
“Mine too,” he replied. “But there's nothing that can be done. That circuit's in too awkward a place, but there's nothing we could justify rigging up that would make it any easier.”
“Yeah. But I think I might take a couple of minutes' break before I go back in there again!” I joked, watching to see if he'd disapprove. If he did, I'd retract it. But no, his face softened.
“I think I might benefit from that too, if you don't mind” he said. “It'd be nice to sit in a normal position for once. I don't fancy having to visit Dr. McCoy later with chronic backache.”
“Oh, me neither. I've never liked doctors, and Dr. McCoy's far too rough with injuries. I remember having a gash on my leg, but he was in a rush with some other injuries and I swear I hurt more after he'd cleaned it than before!”
“Really? He's that bad?” asked Rafi, looking worried.
“Well... not that bad all the time, but you do have to watch out if there's a lot of people he has to attend to. And always stay on his good side, that helps,” I grinned. “Or get Nurse Chapel instead.”
“Is she the blonde one?”
“Yeah,” I answered. “She's-”
We'd been talking so loudly that neither of us expected the door to open. Least of all to open to the captain of the ship and his first officer. I didn't have time to react as Captain Kirk deftly saw the panelling we'd left in the doorway entrance mid-step and hopped over it, followed by Mr. Spock who didn't.
I think all of us were amazed to see someone so calm and dignified stumble over. I was horrified but still had to fight back the mad urge to laugh. It wasn't as mind-blowing as it could have been though because, quick as a flash, Captain Kirk whipped round and caught him by the shoulders, Mr. Spock catching him by the arms. To his credit, Mr. Spock's face never moved.
Now everyone who knew Vulcans knew they had a problem with people touching them, some kind of huge personal-space barrier. For most I'd say it's at least a metre wide. Even people who didn't know Vulcans had heard about their notorious aversion to physical contact. But as I'd seen on so many occasions, our First Officer never had this issue with our good Captain. Who was now looking annoyed. Though not letting go of Spock. I composed my face as quickly as I could.
“Ensign Greene, Ensign Rafi, you should both know that all doorways are to be kept clear, so who's responsible for this?”
“It was me,” I lied. “I'm sorry, neither of us expected anyone to be coming in here, I'll move it,” I blustered, getting to my feet and moving the offending panels. Mr. Rafi, likewise, got up and stood to attention, embarrassed. They were like celebrities, I often saw them but it wasn't often that either of them spoke directly to me. The Captain looked back to Mr. Spock, eyes wide with concern. Don't think I didn't see it just because I was pretending to move the panels into a pile.
“Are you alright, Spock?” he asked, tenderly. Still holding each other.
“I assure you, I am quite alright, Captain,” he replied in that tone where it's obvious he's pretending to be irritated by the concern. I've heard that he's not as unfriendly as he appears, though. Case in point: still holding onto each other. Then came the awkward pause where they just looked into each others' eyes for a few moments. I'd seen that happen a lot, too, but not often when they were actually in contact. The mess hall was going to want to hear about this. I tried to look as inobtrusive as possible, fighting the urge to smile. They made a cute couple, though no-one I knew was actually sure if they were really together or just at the stage where they were hoping they would be.
I snuck a peek at Rafi's face out of the corner of my eye. The embarrassment was gone and had been replaced by a faintly quizzical look. He probably hadn't seen them besides his welcome onto the ship, so he wasn't used to this as we were. What, had he not heard? Did this man not gossip? Maybe not, he hadn't spoken that much yet.
Captain Kirk suddenly seemed to notice us again. He removed his hands and turned to us, all business-mode. I drew myself up once more, professional.
“This is the site where there was water damage to the wiring, is that correct?”
“Yes sir,” we answered in chorus.
“And have you got any more damage to report?”
“None so far, sir,” Rafi responded first.
“Yes, that's all,” I agreed.
“Alright then, I'll leave you to it. Let Mr. Scott know if you find anything else. Good work, men,” he said, giving us a smile. Mr. Spock, of course, remained as he always did, giving us a nod of acknowledgement. They swooped out, busy as ever with their rounds.
There was a hush as we let out a breath and turned to sit back down near the circuit. I waited for him to speak first. This was about the most enduring topic of conversation on the ship, so I wanted to see how he'd react to it first.
“Are they...” he started.
“Yes?” I responded, playing innocent, turning to him.
“Are they always like that?”
I let out a laugh and shook my head, like, this kid doesn't know the half of it.
“Yes, actually.” I replied. “That's nothing, I remember once...”
This new scene would make us the most popular people on the ship for today at least. If this didn't get Ensign Rafi talking, nothing would. Now as I said, I don't know if Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock were together, but everyone I knew had seen something happen at least once that made it painfully obvious what they wanted; a glance, a verbal exchange, a touch.
And as for myself and Rafi, well...
Let's just say it gave us a good topic of conversation.