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Story Notes:

Anyone who has read Common Knowledge knows I write canon but like picking up existing characters and putting them in new storylines.  If you are a purist, this may not be for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’ve been completely logical about the whole affair.”

What did that mean?

Jim Kirk took a coffee from his yeoman and settled back into the command chair.   The stars winked at him through the viewer.  They looked familiar enough, but that was the way with stars.  They had looked pretty familiar through the front screen of Shuttlecraft One from Starbase Eleven.    They hadn’t blinked then at the fact that his own personal Universe had just turned upside down.  And now, four days out from Talos IV and he had yet fully to take for granted again the feel of the centre seat, the solid reality of his ship beneath him. 

Many things had changed in the life of the captain of the Enterprise since the start of the five year mission.   He had learned what it was to command, the feel of four hundred lives and the knowledge that there was a blurred line between him and the sleek metallic elegance which was the Enterprise – that the two of them were both half flesh, half warp core, in one joyous, painful togetherness.  He had learned that most of what he had studied about command in Starfleet was irrelevant and the rest of it could have been understood in one twenty-four hour period when a combination of Klingons, engineering failure and planetary distress could teach you everything you needed to know about decision making.  And about failure.  He had learned more than he had ever expected about different brands of Scotch whisky and Georgian oaths.  His chess game had improved incrementally.  And he had learned that it’s always the unexpected in life that comes to mean the most to you.

Perhaps the most subtle lesson was the number of different meanings he had learned to attach to the word “logical”.    In orbit around Delta Vega, Spock had said that Elizabeth Dehner was wrong about Gary Mitchell and when Kirk had pressed him, he had said Because she feels.  I don’t.  All I know is logic.  But at the end of one of the worst days of Kirk’s life (although the process of Spock’s court martial en route to Talos IV included some spectacular competition) he had told Spock that Gary hadn’t asked for what happened to him, and the Vulcan had said I felt for him, too.

Spock’s habitual dialogue was the positioning of logic as anti-emotion.  Kirk knew enough of his Vulcan First Officer to know that it was more complicated than that, that logic could be a refuge from emotion and at the same time an emotional dialect, even an emotional weapon.

All of which meant that the person who had admitted at Delta Vega both that he had feelings and that his analytical tool of choice was logic, in saying at Talos IV I’ve been completely logical about the whole affair was not necessarily actually claiming that stealing Kirk’s ship was the logical thing to do.  Kirk was perfectly well aware of that.  Moreover, he didn’t think for one minute that his First Officer, renowned through several sectors of the galaxy for intelligence, bravery and exemplary Starfleet duty had really been suggesting that assaulting Starfleet personnel, impersonating Kirk and mutinying could reasonably be described as logical.  At least, not within the meaning habitually ascribed by the followers of Surak.

So what did it mean?

The trouble was that he, Kirk, was supposed to be the risk-taker, the rule-breaker.  He was the one with the reputation for treating the Starfleet rule book like a civilian wardrobe – choose at will, depending on the weather and personal preference (and the person you are trying to impress).  Or a box of chocolates – get there in time to take the one you want, and leave the others for everyoneelse.  He was the one who had re-programmed the Kobayashi Maru simulator; he was the one who had taken his father’s aircar for a drive when he had been grounded, aged fifteen; he was the one who had once had sex with Carol Marcus in the Council Room at Startfleet HQ – just because he wanted to be able to say that he had done so.  (Although they had made sure the lights were off and Carol complained that the décor was less than conducive to the occasion.  It hadn’t been long before the Farragut posting and he’d known that time was running out for them; perhaps he’d been trying to hold on.  Perhaps that was a reason for breaking rules for him – and for Spock?  He filed the thought away, for later.)

And yet, he thought, drinking the coffee and half turning in anticipation as he heard Uhura receiving an incoming message from Fleet HQ, he didn’t think he would have made the same choices as Spock had at Starbase Eleven.  Of course, you don’t ever know, do you?  Not until you’ve stood in someone’s Starfleet regulation boots and walked around in them a while.  Not until you’ve been brought up as the only member of a species, half-human-half-Vulcan.  Not until you’ve served with Chris Pike (eleven years, four months, five days), not until you’ve gone to Talos IV and seen what happened to the crew of the SS Columbia, not until you’ve seen reduced to half man, half dashboard the friend who thirteen years ago was your commanding officer. 

It occurred to him, then, the bitter irony between the parallel of his own self-reflection – he and his Enterprise, both half flesh half warp core - and what had happened to Chris Pike.  He wondered if this had served to fuel Spock’s anguish, because Chris would also have once been half flesh, half warp core.  Not that Spock felt anguish, of course.  Except he probably did, mused Spock’s captain, because Spock knew more than most people about being half one thing and half another.

Uhura said,

“Message from Starfleet Command, sir.”

“Put it on screen, Lieutenant.”

The screen filled with the image of Bob Wesley, and Kirk smiled.

“Good to see you, Jim,” said the screen, genially.

“Always a pleasure, Commodore,” he said, cheerfully.  “What can we do for you?”

“We’d like you to take the Enterprise to Deneva.   You’re the nearest ship, and the Endeavour is in orbit.  Latest communication from Eli French is that they might need some help.”

Kirk frowned, very slightly.

“What at Deneva is outside Eli French’s control, exactly?”

“Probably more sensible for you to talk to Eli.  As I said, you’re the closest, as it happens, but he particularly asked for you.  It’s a complicated situation.  We’re sending some background information across now, sub-space and encrypted.  Keep it to yourself, Captain; just for you and Spock at this stage.  Good luck, Wesley out.”

Kirk sketched a friendly salute and ordered a change of course, while a number of thought shimmied through his head.

Deneva meant Sam, of course.  He wondered, guiltily, when he had last spoken to Sam.   Sam and Aurelan and the kids had made it to Earth for his investiture as captain.  His mother had been lit up like a Christmas tree, ecstatic, her son a starship captain and her family reunited.  He most certainly hadn’t seen him since and he had not repaid the effort expended by his brother with any very frequent correspondence.  Not that Sam had written either, he reflected affectionately.  Sam would have found it easier to make the gesture of the trip to Earth than to remember to write.  Aurelan was another story, but he didn’t know his sister-in-law very well and the children not at all.

Eli French, on the other hand, was a rather better known quantity.  Eli and his First, Manoriss, had been assigned to the Endeavour at the same time that he had taken command of the Enterprise, and the four of them, Eli and Manoriss and he and Spock had formed something of a friendship, within the boundaries of what Starfleet allowed, in a life where you might or might not bump into someone at some conference, some council, or then again you might not, not until their birthday or promotion or retirement, or until the mission was over.  Or until their name came up in a communique from Starfleet which meant someone at home was receiving a bitter flag and your own eyes widened and you remembered the first time and the last time you saw them and resolved that you would be better at keeping in touch with your remaining friends.  Except, of course, that you never were.

Manoriss was from Rigel 9.  He was humanoid, blue-skinned, fiercely intelligent and as easy to overcome in unarmed combat as the average killer whale.   He and Spock shared the distinction of being Starfleet’s highest ranking alien officers, and the added characteristic in common that neither was human in temperament.  Manoriss was no Vulcan – Rigellians were passionate by nature, but humour was unknown in the culture, and he and Spock understood something of how the other had tried to fit within the human dimensions of Starfleet.  Privately, Kirk entertained rather strongly held views on the subject of Spock’s own sense of humour and the gap between the Vulcan’s professed perspective and his real understanding of and engagement with conversations about the Enterprise.  Nonetheless, he appreciated the support that Manoriss and Spock offered each other and he himself liked Eli French very much.  The four had got to know each other a few months into the five year mission, when the Endeavour and the Enterprise had been assigned to a conference on Venga Five. The conference had been largely staged for show, with little of substance that drew either crew, and the four senior officers had spent a number of evenings together.  Even Spock had unbent, Kirk remembered, and had clearly enjoyed the four-way camaraderie.  Kirk had been struck by the bond between Eli and Manoriss and, finding himself alone one evening with the captain of the Endeavour while the other two were each checking on their respective ships, had asked him about it, somewhat tentatively.

French had smiled, quietly.

“I had the biggest reservations about taking him on, you know, Jim,” he said, running a hand over the lower part of his face.  “I though Starfleet was asking me to be a diversity poster child, if you really want to know, and I couldn’t see how Man and I could possibly work together.  Do you know what I remember most about command stream lectures?”

“How to copy other people’s notes?” Kirk asked, smiling.

“No, it was Admiral Thornhill, remember him?”

“Thornhill – God, yes.  Haven’t thought of him in years.  He died, did you know?”

Eli paused, hand on glass.

“No,” he said, “no, I hadn’t heard.”  There was a pause, in which Kirk had sensed that Eli was back in Academy, listening to a retired officer with white hair and deepset blue eyes who had impressed Kirk mainly for his views on tactical manoeuvres under fire.  But it was not, apparently, what Eli French had remembered.

“What do you think the most important thing about a starship is, Jim?  I mean, what’s the thing which distinguishes an excellent ship from a good ship?  What’s the single thing which is going to make a difference, when you’re up against it?”

Kirk had understood the nature of the question, and he gave it the thought that Eli was obviously asking for.  It clearly wasn’t the state of the engines or even the experience of the captain.

“The command crew experience and dynamic,” he offered, after a minute.

“Nearly.  Thornhill was much more specific than that.  He said it was the relationship between the Captain and First Officer.  Think of that, Jim.  Because if you do, you’ll realise it’s true.  And when I heard about Man, when I first met him, I thought I’d fallen at the first hurdle.  I reckoned we could learn to do the job, you know – draw up crew rosters, fight Klingons, sit round a table and draw up reports.  But I figured Thornhill had been right, and I really couldn’t see where empathy and rapport were going to come from. I’ve never been so wrong.  I know how much you rate Spock, but I know that I’ve got the best First Officer in the Fleet – for me.   Because Man and I fit together – we’ve got complementary skills, complementary strengths, complementary intuition.  I can even tell you what he’s doing now and why he’ll be five minutes late and why it doesn’t matter because I can order dinner for him.   Shit, Jim, other than my need to further the French family line, we may as well be married.”

Kirk grinned, to cover up that he was moved.

“Not your idea of a romantic date, I take it?”

“Hardly,” his companion said, drily.  “Have you ever really looked at Man, and do you know much about Rigellian sex?  In fact, on that subject,” he continued, enthusiasm gathering, “I don’t know if you’ve met the First Officer of the Maryland; she’s given the keynote address tomorrow, and I have to tell you….” and the conversation had moved elsewhere.  It had stayed in Kirk’s mind, though, and he had taken it back to the ship and looked at Spock again through the framework supplied by French.  It had been less than a year into his posting on the Enterprise, still early days in terms of his friendship with Spock, but he remembered it because he had stood in his quarters and looked out of the viewer and played back the conversation and smiled to himself.  It had been a moment of recognition, of understanding, of knowing that by Thornhill’s criterion the Enterprise was the best there was, and that she could only get better.

The other thing which stayed in Kirk’s mind till the end of the shift was Wesley’s parting words – Just for you and Spock at this stage.  The problem with Talos IV was that there were a whole load of assumptions underlying that part of Bob’s message and while he was absolutely sure that most of them still held, he wasn’t entirely sure about all of them.  And he didn’t know whether Spock was, either.

***

Kirk eyed lunch with some reluctance just as the seat beside him abruptly filled with the ship’s CMO.

“Good,” McCoy said, looking over the captain’s shoulder with approval.  “I’ve been overhauling all the dietary cards for the senior crew.  The food replicators have been reprogrammed this week and I –“

“Does everyone get to eat this green stuff, then?” Kirk interrupted.

“No, of course not,” McCoy returned, dignified.  “That wouldn’t require much skill or be much use, would it?  We’ve given you all individualised balanced regimes.  Taking into account cultural preferences, of course,” he added, as the ship’s First Officer sat down opposite them.

“Morning, Commander,” Kirk said, affably.  “Your lunch looks remarkably unchanged to me.”

Spock’s eyebrow rose, predictably.

“Elucidate. Is there a reason why an alteration should be expected?”

“It looks as though you’re the only senior officer who can be trusted to order take out,” Kirk said, expecting a request for a redundant translation from Standard.  Spock opened his mouth as though to express confusion, and then closed it, thoughtfully.

To all intents and purposes, life on the Enterprise had continued unchanged since Talos IV.  Kirk’s manner to his First Officer was as friendly as ever, chess games had taken place and been won (and lost) and the three-way dynamic which involved meals consumed under crossfire in the senior rec room continued unabated.  (Kirk still smiled at the memory of hosting Eli French, as it happened, to dinner one evening the previous year, of watching Eli’s face while Spock and McCoy played their verbal tennis match, and Eli saying afterwards “Is it always like that?  And is there anywhere to hide?”)

But it was not the same, and both senior members of the command team were aware of this.  To Kirk, it was simply an unasked question.  And to Spock it was the combination of waiting for that question to be asked and the knowledge that he was unlikely when the time came to be able to produce an answer which would satisfy his captain.

The restoration of his former captain to Talos IV had been, as far as the First Officer of the Enterprise was concerned, an almost unqualified success.  He had been presented with a former colleague imprisoned in the most wretched of conditions; the clearest of laws preventing the release of that colleague to an effective state of health and happiness; the ultimate penalty facing any officer who knowingly involved themselves in the breach of those laws; and a current commanding officer who, by reason of his value both to Starfleet and to the Enterprise and to Spock personally, could under no circumstances be permitted to pay that penalty or risk his career.  The result of Spock’s strategy had seen Pike restored to a quality of life on Talos IV and Kirk’s freedom and career unimpaired, his record unblotted.  Spock’s own view of the affair was that his strategy could reasonably be viewed, retrospectively, to have been both identified and implemented flawlessly.

Despite this, the Vulcan knew that the situation was not unflawed; knew, also, where the flaw lay.  Kirk’s life and career were of ultimate significance to his First Officer, but his own professional relationship with his captain was clearly of considerable consequence to the optimal functioning of the ship.  Spock had amassed a considerable amount of knowledge of command relationships, having observed several at close hand – including that of Chris Pike with his former Number One – before finding that personal participation in the phenomenon was rather different from observation or even from studying analyses on what human beings termed rapport.  His decision to enter Starfleet instead of the Vulcan Science Academy meant that Spock was committed to supporting the human dynamic, and he understood perfectly the difference between serving under a Vulcan captain and serving under James T Kirk.  A Vulcan captain would not expect games of chess played after stressful days, would not comment on the ingredients of his lunch and would not have pretended to accept Spock’s occasionally deliberately less than entirely scientific calculation of the probabilities of success in particular endeavours.  Kirk could not run his ship without the development of a relationship with his First Officer and it was therefore of professional importance for Spock to respond to that need. 

What Spock had possibly not factored into his otherwise flawless strategy was the impact of Talos IV on his rapport with Kirk.  And the other thing he had not factored in (because he routinely chose to leave it out of all calculations, which was not, of course, the same thing as being unaware of it) was that his rapport with Kirk was neither entirely professional nor entirely a one-way thing, and if Talos IV had damaged it, it might be necessary for Spock to undertake a re-evaluation both of past decisions and of future choices.

Where he was still unsure was whether there had, in fact, been a choice.  In an uncharacteristic manifestation of self-doubt, he had spent some considerable time since Talos IV – time allocated to private mediation – considering alternative scenarios.  Even with the benefit of hindsight, watching Kirk go about his daily business and with the knowledge tucked away of Pike’s changed situation, Spock could not find it in himself to regret what had happened, or see what else he could have done.

Nevertheless, the Vulcan Science Officer who a month ago would have queried the reference to ordering take out in the context of the rec room of a Constitution Class starship several days out from the nearest Starbase, instead closed his mouth and lifted a glass of orange juice, and knew by something in Kirk’s shoulders that his captain was entirely aware both of the choice he had made and the reason for that choice.

“So, what’s awaiting us at Deneva?” McCoy asked through a chicken salad.  “Isn’t your brother stationed there, Jim, with his family?”

“That’s right,” Kirk said.  “I’m hoping to catch up with him – sent him a subspace, after I spoke to Wesley.  We’ve received the briefing from HQ, but it’s not as specific as I would have liked.  Looks as though there’s some sort of epidemic headed their way, but it’s more complicated than that.  I don’t have medical details yet, Bones, or I’d give them to you.  We’ll know soon enough.  It’ll be good to see Eli and Man.”

The Vulcan had paused, fork in hand.

“Captain, Commander Manoriss is not at Deneva.”

Kirk looked up, quickly.

“Man?  Not on the Endeavour?  Why not?”

“I am uncertain,” Spock said.  “However, I received a subspace communication from him twelve point three Earth days ago from the Delta sector, and it would not be possible for him to reach Deneva within that period of time.”

Kirk considered the matter, and shrugged.  “Perhaps he’s on shore leave.  Perhaps that’s why Eli needs our help.  Oh well, we’ll know soon enough.”

“Have you had the opportunity to speak to Captain French?”

“Not yet.  He’s been out of reach the past three days.  I have a call booked to him at 1500 hours.  I was going to ask you to join me then in my quarters.”

And there it was again, that almost undetectable difference.  Kirk could have told him about the call earlier, could have informed him of it simultaneously with making the arrangement. 

But he hadn’t.  Spock watched Kirk eyeing his lunch with an expression of casual lack of interest, and something inside him he could not quite have named sent off a tiny alert.  He stood and inclined his head to his commanding officer

“Permission to return to duty, sir, in that case.  I will attend your quarters at the appropriate time.”

Kirk waved him away, and McCoy watched him curiously as he pushed the meal away and reached for a coffee.

“What’s going on with you and the hobgoblin, Jim?”

“Absolutely nothing, Bones,” he returned pleasantly, “but thank you for asking.”

“Didn’t look like nothing to me, what happened back on Talos IV.  Looked to me like the man had a midlife crisis, abducted a senior officer, threw a mutiny and stole your ship, Captain.  And you had him court-martialled for it.  You telling me that’s nothing?”

“History, Doctor.  All resolved now.”

“Resolved my elbow.  I know there were reasons for doing what he did, I’m not stupid.  Do you, though?”

“Do I what?” Kirk asked.  He was uncomfortably aware of McCoy’s ability to home in on the precise issue which was bothering him, and was somewhat conflicted between wanting to ask the doctor to get out of his personal life and wanting to see if he could help.

“Do you know what his reasons were?  Have you talked to him?  Have you worked it out, the two of you?”

“We all know why he did it, Bones,” Kirk said, tiredly.  “It was all sorted at the time.”

“Shit, Jim, it’s a good thing you’re a captain and not a psychoanalyst.  In fact, I’m beginning to realise why you and the hobgoblin get on so well.  You really do believe in locking things up inside, don’t you?  Let me spell it out for you.  The man’s your best friend, you’re married to your ship, he lied to you and he left you stranded on Starbase Eleven and took your ship away.  Freud would have written a whole book about that.  Hell, he would have written several.  (They’d all have been wrong, as it happens, but they’d have made entertaining reading.)  My point is, you can’t just put it in a box, throw some regulations in, wrap it all up and bury it somewhere.  How can you have got this far in life without understanding anything about human relationships?  Spock’s a lost cause, plus he’s not actually human, but you?  Go on, Captain, tell me how you really feel.  I’m not saying I’ll agree with you, mind you, but tell me, go on.”

There was a pause, while the unwavering hold of McCoy’s blue eyes on Kirk’s face belied the jocularity of his tone.  And then he dropped his voice and said softly, “Before you do so in a medical consultation.  I have to be satisfied, you know, that the ship’s command crew is working well together.”

Kirk threw him a glance which managed to combine both irritation and surrender.  But the rec room around them was empty, and with a sudden movement which signalled to the doctor that Kirk wanted the release of expression, he leaned forward abruptly, put both hands on the table, and said:

“I still can’t believe that he did it, you know.   Oh, I understand all the reasons why, thank you, without talking to him.  But talking to him won’t change the fact that he did it.”

“Did what, Jim?”  The bantering tone was gone entirely; McCoy was homed in on his prey.

He lied to me.  He lied and he stole my ship.”  From a distance of less than a metre, it was impossible to mistake the betrayal, the anger.  The ship’s CMO was relatively sure that Spock would be able to detect it eleven decks away, were the First Officer within sight.  McCoy watched his friend with a mixture of sympathy and a degree of bracing support.

“I don’t think this one was about you, Jim,” he said, gently.  “This was for Pike.”

“Not good enough,” Kirk returned, instantly.  “He is my First, Bones.  It has to be about me, has to be about us.”

McCoy said, very quietly,

“You don’t own Spock, Jim.  He’s a stubborn, closed up son-of-a-bitch and he doesn’t open up easily and winning his friendship the way you have must feel like you won the Lottery – I do understand that, for all that the man makes me want to call the nearest shrink or shoot one of us (preferably him).  But you’re actually just one of a small number he’ll talk to.  You’re not the only one.  It’s part of how you work together that you’re the only one on this ship.  But there’s a whole galaxy out there with other people he values, people he knew before you came on board.  That might be something of a facer, given how you’ve come to be, together.   Fact is, you still don’t own him.”

Kirk stood up abruptly, angered.

“That’s not what’s going on here, Doctor.”

McCoy stayed seated. 

“Isn’t it?” he asked, mildly.  “How would you know if you don’t ask him, Jim?  You might be surprised at the answer – you might even find it helpful.”

“Might I?”  Kirk hesitated for a minute, and then turned back to McCoy.  “I think the foundation of my friendship with Spock is a little more secure than the picture you’re painting, Doctor.  But there always has to be one overriding loyalty, the one you won’t compromise whatever the cost, and in the world of Starfleet, Spock’s oath says that is the loyalty he ought to have for this ship and its current CO.  And try this for size – by any objective view, Spock betrayed my trust and betrayed this crew and betrayed his own commission, and you and he are both making a huge mistake if you think the road back from here to trust is anything but steep.  I’m doing my level best to make it like it was, but any other captain would have requested another First Officer, and you know it.”

“Oh, I do,” McCoy threw after him.   “But it’s making it like it was that’s the problem, Captain.  Why are you so afraid of talking to him?”

The rec room door closed behind Kirk, leaving McCoy with the dubious satisfaction that he had, at least, been heard.  Alone at the table, he regarded both senior officer’s unfinished meals and reflected, with some regret, on the hours he had spent on drawing up new dietary cards. 

***

“Captain, I have the Endeavour for you, sir.”

“Thank you, Uhura, I’ll take the call down here in my quarters.”

Kirk waved Spock to a seat opposite him and leant back in his chair as the screen lit up with Eli French’s remembered smile.  It was reflected on Kirk’s face.

“Eli, really good to see you.”

“And you, Jim.  Spock.  I hope you’re both well.”

“Despite McCoy’s attempts to the contrary, yes.”

“Excuse me?”

“Never mind,” Kirk said, relaxing, despite himself, into the dialogue.  “What are you doing on Deneva?”

“Originally, we were here on shore leave,” French said, looking rather wistful.  “It’s the most beautiful planet, Jim – ever been here?”

“Actually, my brother Sam is stationed there,” Kirk smiled.  “And I’ve therefore heard a lot about it but I’ve never been.  I’m hoping to catch up with him while I’m there.”

“Your brother?”  Eli looked confused.  “I was going to – there is a research biologist here named Kirk, but his name is George.”

Kirk laughed.

“That’s right.  George Samuel Kirk.  I’ve always called him Sam.  It’s a family thing – he was named for our father.  Don’t worry.  So you’ve met him?”

“Yes – I can see the likeness, now you’ve told me.”

“Don’t tell Aurelan that, for goodness sake,” Kirk said.  “And if you were having shore leave, how come Manoriss is half way across the galaxy?  According to Spock, he is in the Delta sector.”

There was an abrupt movement from Spock, rapidly checked, and as Kirk’s eyes went to him, enquiring, Eli French’s tone changed entirely.

“I’m sorry to have to inform you, Captain, that Manoriss is no longer serving on the Endeavour.”

Kirk stared.  Before he could begin to find the right words to offer into the entirely different face which now gazed out of the viewer, French continued:

“I’m also sorry to have to tell you that the rest of what I need to discuss with you is classified.  I’ve no wish to cause offence; I see you have Commander Spock with you, but I think we had better continue this conversation in person.  I’m aware of your ETA; it will wait till then.  I’ll look forward to seeing you shortly.  Jim, Spock.” 

Kirk looked at the empty screen and then back at Spock.

“You knew,” he said.  It was not a question.  Spock moved his head in silent apology.

“I had only ascertained the situation since I last saw you,” he said.  “I now realise it would have been felicitous to have given you warning before you spoke to Captain French, and I apologise.”

“Do you know what happened?”

“Captain, Commander Manoriss was court-martialled.”

Court-martialled?”  The two stared at each other.  I waive rights to this hearing and request immediate court martial.  Words unlikely to be forgotten by either of them, spoken only a few days ago, en route from Starbase Eleven to Talos IV.  And now this. 

Kirk recovered first.

“For what offence?”

“The information is encrypted, sir.  I do not know.”

“I see.  Anything else you don’t know, Spock?”  He wasn’t sure, really, where the words had come from, or what he had meant.  Perhaps the news from Eli French had shocked him – what on earth lay down on Deneva, where Manoriss had been court-martialled and French was not prepared to divulge the briefing to Spock and an epidemic was on its way and where, somehow, Sam was involved?  And perhaps McCoy had been right - Why are you so afraid of talking to him?  He didn’t know what he wanted, didn’t know what Spock would say.  He did know, from Spock’s face, that his First knew what he was being asked.  But into the silence, the communicator whistled from the bridge.

“Sulu here, sir.  We are arriving at Deneva in thirty minutes.”

Spock said,

“I am unsure as to your precise question, sir” and Kirk only allowed the words to hang between them for two point five seconds, before he leant over and hit the comm switch.

“On my way.  Kirk out,” and then, to Spock, “Never mind.  I’ll see you on the bridge.”

 

 

 

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