Spock stood up from his station. He looked briefly at the view screen, which showed the hulking, beautiful shape of Saturn gliding past them like an oversized, plump comet without a tail, its slanted rings catching the light of Sol and casting light and shadow across the planet’s surface in curved bands. They were warping out of Earth orbit, and would soon be in interstellar space, then passing through what used to be Vulcan territorial space. Spock suppressed his feelings yet again. He was getting better at it. He turned his attention to his captain to distract himself from thoughts of his missing home.
He took the fuel report over to Jim, and the blue eyes looked up at him, an easy smile in them. Despite his internal gloom, Spock felt the urge to smile back, and berated himself silently. He must learn to control both ends of the emotional spectrum, good and bad, if he was to have any hope of achieving complete control.
“You got that twitch going there, Mr Spock,” said the captain at the precise decibel level which would confine his words to Spock’s ears without carrying them to any of the rest of the bridge crew. Spock wondered if Kirk had been studying Vulcan physiology, too. Nothing about this young man would surprise Spock, he decided.
“Twitch, sir?” his eyes narrowed in concentration.
“You nearly cracked a smile, there,” murmured Kirk, his own mouth working for control.
Spock inhaled deeply. A mistake, because that only brought to his senses a heady scent… was that the human?
“Our fuel consumption is up by over 0.5 per cent,” muttered Kirk, all business. Jim Kirk had been an excellent student at the academy. What Spock had not realised until now was just how extensively the young captain had been studying over and above the curriculum requirements.
Spock felt an eyebrow lift of its own accord, “It is because Mr Scott has been running experiments on the engine performance, sir. I have investigated the fuel consumption with him. It is within parameters.”
“Okay. Stay on top of it, though. Don’t let Scotty get carried away.”
“Given that he is now in charge of the Enterprise’s warp engines, sir, I believe that horse has already bolted.”
Kirk turned surprised eyes up to him and grinned, then turned serious again, “Mr Spock, you and I are going to have to spend a lot of time together.”
“I can recite every regulation, tell you every detail about this ship’s construction, and name every crew member on board. The things I need to know are the details of the day to day running of the ship, lead in times, daily routines... the stuff you live and breathe as First Officer. I’m afraid I’ll be relying pretty heavily on your expertise for a few weeks while we shake this baby down. If you notice anything out of kilter with my ship, anything at all, and you don’t think I’ve seen it or heard it or felt it, I want you standing in front of my command chair telling me. If I give any stupid orders, I want you to be saying ‘belay that’ before I can finish speaking. Okay?”
“Aye, sir. Your approach is,” and Spock searched for the right word for a moment, “….logical.” He had not had much call to use that word in regard to humans, until now.
“I am glad you approve, Mr Spock. Station. I want a full analysis of our destination, everything we know. Be back here in an hour. And I want my schedule expanded to include all my senior officer’s schedules as well. And Spock, we’ll have a Class One inspection at 1400 hours, get everyone on it. See to the preparations.”
It was an extraordinary work load to put on a First Officer on his first day on the job. That did not occur to Spock, he only nodded contentedly and replied, “Aye, Sir.”
Spock returned to his station and began working. He had anticipated trouble with Kirk, despite his older counterpart’s advice about their supposed future friendship. Spock understood though, that friendship could develop independently of a working relationship, and had half expected his working relationship with Jim Kirk to pose many difficulties. Spock had made the decision to face and overcome those difficulties in order to achieve the friendship of which the older Spock had spoken. But now it appeared that Jim was going to be totally professional in his approach to their working relationship. Spock could not help the feeling of relief that came over him as he sat back at his station, although of course his face was impassive.
It did not occur to him that the human had seen his equilibrium slipping as they headed for Vulcan space, and snapped the rapid-fire orders at him to distract him from that cold reality. It did not occur to Spock that a human could consciously help him, a Vulcan, to achieve and maintain self-discipline. But then, he did not know Jim Kirk that well at all.
The tiny royal blue marble of Neptune was sailing past them the next time Spock glanced up at the view screen. Pluto was not to be seen on this side of the sun at present. They were out of the Solar system before Spock spared the screen another glance. His eye was caught by the dark blonde back of Kirk’s head sitting in the command chair, and he began to wonder how they were ever to become friends. It seemed a remote possibility all of a sudden, and then Spock’s eyes widened as the captain spun his chair around, saw Spock watching him, and winked cheerfully at him. Spock tried yet again not to smile back, and returned to his work.
Spock turned back to his station, his controls tenuous. What possible good could come of befriending a human who had such a deleterious effect on his self-control, he wondered? Perhaps his older self was senile and should be ignored.
A sigh behind him caught his attention, and he stood up and stood behind Kirk’s chair, “Problem, Captain?”
“How… how do I get a coffee?” asked Jim, looking a little embarrassed. Spock leaned down and pressed the communications button, “Yeoman to the bridge.”
“I have a yeoman?” asked Jim.
“Of course, sir.”
“Of course,” repeated Jim happily, then turned as the turbo lift doors swished. Spock could not believe what he saw next… the captain gave his yeoman an appreciative once-over, his eyes sweeping from the blonde head down to the shiny boots and back up again, then the thousand-watt smile lit up Jim’s face. Spock decided to remind Jim of the fraternization rules at the first opportunity.
“Yes, sir?” asked the young yeoman like an eager puppy.
“I don’t suppose you could rustle me up a decent coffee, Yeoman….er..?”
“Rand, sir, James Rand,” the young man smiled. He had an aesthetically pleasing smile, Spock noted, feeling his lips tighten up.
“Nice to meet you, Yeoman Rand. If you could bring my coffee to the bridge?”
“Of course, sir!” and Rand disappeared with an entirely unnecessary smile.
Jim grinned at Spock, “This is cool. I wonder what else he does?” Then he saw the Vulcan’s look go through him like ice.
Spock decided now was as good a time as any to remind Jim of the fraternization rules and said very quietly, “Captain, may I remind you of the difference in ranks between yourself and the yeoman?”
Jim looked scandalized and leaned in to whisper, “I meant like laundry and stuff, Spock.”
Spock nodded stiffly and returned to his station.
Jim’s eyes followed him, his head tilting to one side, and then a slow smile spread over his face.
Spock tried very hard to meditate that night, but found his controls, if he was quite frank with himself, a mess. He had an inkling that the culprit for this was one James T. Kirk, but the logic of that conclusion evaded him persistently. In the end he gave in, gave up meditating and started a game of chess against the computer.
His door buzzed.
“Hey, Spock,” said Jim, looking around Spock’s quarters and spotting the Vulcan artefacts in a box in the corner, “Do you have an hour or two? I thought we could go over some things together.”
Spock sighed and nodded, feeling the balm of work spread through his being, restoring his equilibrium, “Of course, Jim.” It did not occur to Spock that the relief in his voice at having something to occupy his mind could be mistaken for warmth by the human. Of course it was not warmth. Vulcans did not do warmth.