He noticed her during the first week of his assignment aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. How could he not notice her? But it took a little bit longer for him to realize just how much he noticed her since that day. He supposed that he owed their coming together to a certain Cyrano Jones and his breeding factory of Tribbles. He’d never seen her smile quite like that before, maybe when she sang in the rec room. Uhura usually found something to smile about. When she did not smile or lost even her relaxed and casual grace while on duty, everyone knew that something had gone wrong. Chekov knew that he never wanted to see that smile disappear from her face.
He’d practically told her that when – after almost three years of spending much more time together than his entire first year aboard the ship, and discreetly dating for two of them – he blurted out a phrase he hadn’t planned on including anywhere in his rehearsed speech. “Let’s get married.”
Uhura had stared stupidly at him, her fork poised halfway to her mouth, the vinaigrette dripping slowly from a skewered lettuce leaf. “What?”
There was no turning back then. He’d already destroyed what he’d wanted to say with three words. He tried to think of how to salvage that verbal disaster, but the only thing he was able to do was dumbly repeat it. “Let’s get married.”
He didn’t need her to speak to know her answer. Her smile was radiant.
Three days later, their years of discretion was utterly destroyed by their captain when alpha shift began. Kirk was in his chair, one leg flung over the other at the knee, and a smirk playing at his lips. “I’m calling a meeting for all Department Heads for fourteen hundred today.” He swiveled his chair to face his communications officer. “Uhura, make everyone relevant aware of that.”
When Kirk swiveled back to face the front viewscreen, he gave Chekov a look that practically screamed mischief. Chekov hung his head and tried not to groan. When Kirk had that expression, nothing good was going to happen. The captain was scheming something.
Uhura looked around the conference table uneasily. She knew who she’d passed the captain’s order to and there were several extra people. What was going on? Why was the ship’s chef at this meeting? And Rand, and Chapel? McCoy was Medical Chief, so wasn’t Chapel redundant? And wait, Chekov wasn’t even a department head, so why was he even here? Not that she wasn’t pleased to see him, but…
…then the chief engineer asked what almost everyone else at the table had to be thinking. “Captain,” he began, his voice nervous. “Are we…in trouble?”
Kirk actually laughed! Kirk never laughed in one of his top officer’s faces! Technically, he still didn’t since he was five seats away from Scotty, but the point was that Kirk could usually manage to reply with words before he chuckled. Not this time. “No, Scotty. This is a good meeting.”
The answer seemed to satisfy Scotty, who smiled to himself merrily as he relaxed in his seat.
Kirk looked at everyone gathered and then started the meeting officially. “Something’s come to my attention from Starfleet Command that we need to celebrate.”
“They’re finally allowing the still!” Scotty shouted, unable to contain his excitement.
Kirk couldn’t help but smile with the engineer. “No, that’s…That’s not it.”
Scotty’s smile disappeared, and he looked quickly around at everyone in the meeting. “Thank God everyone here already knows about it.”
McCoy raised an extended finger. “Unofficially, of course.”
Kirk shook his head. “I’m referring to official business.”
At that moment, Spock – who had been consulting a padd since he arrived at the meeting – put his padd on the table and turned his chair to face Kirk. “Captain,” he began, just a hint of confusion in his voice. “There is nothing in the record that indicates a required celebratory ritual, even by human custom.”
Kirk smiled at his first officer with that mischievous glint in his hazel eyes. “Oh? I can think of a few. But one of them caught my attention this time.”
McCoy just couldn’t take the teasing silence anymore. He stood, slammed his palms to the table and leaned toward Kirk. “Well, damnit, sir, what the hell is it? I think I speak for everyone—” He nodded at Spock. “—with the exception of our resident Vulcan there, when I say that I’d like to know what the hell we’re celebrating!”
Uhura suddenly realized what Kirk was about to say. She and Chekov had submitted the change in status notice to Starfleet Command several days ago. They must have just gotten back to Kirk about it. She looked at Chekov, who had begun to sweat and grow pale at the same time, before she folded her hands on the table and dropped her forehead to her arms.
As she tried to hide her embarrassment, she clearly heard the amusement and delight in her captain’s voice as he announced, “We’re all going to help plan the best wedding this crew’s ever seen!”
“Wait,” Sulu interrupted. “I’m confused. Who’s getting married?” Uhura raised her head, staring at him in shock. Chekov seriously hadn’t told his best friend about this? She turned her stunned expression to Chekov who looked at her helplessly.
She looked to Kirk, whose expression was one of pure playfulness. He looked right at her as he answered Sulu. “Uhura said yes.”
“Not to you, I hope.” McCoy looked stunned. If the situation didn’t involve her in this engagement reveal, Uhura might have laughed at McCoy’s complete disbelief.
Before Kirk could reply, Chekov swatted the Chief Medical Officer on his blue sleeve. McCoy turned his attention to the younger man. “No, to me!”
It took a moment for McCoy to understand. When he did, the doctor fully looked Chekov over in his seat, his expression a mixture of impressed, stunned, and horrified. “Good God!”
Spock was surprised when the captain declared his first officer as the official Wedding Planner. “Sir,” he objected, as he walked alongside Kirk to the turbolift that would take them back to the bridge. “I am too unfamiliar with the customs involved in human matrimonial ceremonies . Would it not be more—”
“Logical?” Kirk flashed him a teasing smile.
Spock did not take that bait, and simply continued through the sentence, “—to assign this duty to someone with more experience?”
They entered the turbolift and a moment later were heading to the bridge. Kirk was gazing at him calmly, confidently. “Spock, you’re the most ideal for the job.” Spock was about to voice his objection again when Kirk held up a silencing hand. “Because you never miss a deadline. And with you in charge of keeping everyone else essentially on track with what they’ve been assigned, there is no way that anything will be forgotten, incorrect, unprepared, or not perfect for Chekov and Uhura’s big day.”
Spock did not exactly sigh, which only made Kirk’s smile grow. “There’s no one better to plan this wedding, Spock, but you.”
And so it was that Kirk did his best to lighten Spock’s workload in order to give the Vulcan more than enough time to check on the progress of all of the other Matrimonial Preparations Departments’ throughout the next several weeks. Spock had lists upon lists of areas to check on – ranging from floral arrangements, to music selections, to Uhura’s dress fittings, to food and drinks, to the wedding cake, to Chekov’s dress uniform tailoring, to seating arrangements. How did humans do this? It seemed far too complicated and time-specific for any one human to keep organized. But this was not so difficult for Spock.
Except for the next two meeting he was about to attend. Both of them were one-on-one meetings, first with Uhura, and then with Chekov. Uhura’s bridal shower invitations among her chosen crewmembers were to be sent no later than in three days. She had yet to choose her guests. This needed immediate attention.
On his way, his padd chimed, alerting him to a new message. He looked at it as he slowed his stride slightly. It was a short message.
Spock, I’m sitting in on the meeting you have with Chekov about his bachelor party. He needs one done the right way, and I intend to make sure it happens.
Spock did not exactly roll his eyes at his captain’s message.
It was a good enough excuse to drink while on duty! Scotty and McCoy were lounging in one of the observation decks, a few padds spread between them, and scattered around the padds were several half-sipped drinks of varying colors and consistencies. “I refuse to serve this!” Scotty announced after sipping a bright orange liquid. “No one will drink this!”
McCoy chuckled. “And you won’t mix it for them anyway.”
Scotty nodded sharply. “That’s right!”
McCoy looked down at one of the padds. “Well, I know for a fact that sometimes the captain will imbibe in a Brandy Alexander. Usually, he sticks to the regular Saurian Brandy, but I don’t know…”
“For a special occasion?”
McCoy made a note on the padd. “Yeah, he might opt for the Alexander.”
It was Scotty’s job to decide on a drink list for the wedding. He wanted it to be a true experience, with a bar tender and everything. That meant he would be mixing them himself. But he also was not about to have an unlimited variety of drinks. He was going to stick with a list – but still an impressively long list – that he could handle throughout the night. That meant ruling out which drinks he just would not make. “All ales are in, though.”
McCoy shook his head, as he made some more notes. “What about the wines? Uhura likes wine sometimes.”
“Aye, that she does.”
“Is she wearing white?”
Scotty stared at McCoy, who felt like he suddenly had to defend his own question. “I’m asking because I went to wedding once, where the bride wore white and things got a little exciting when one of her drunken guests spilled red wine all over her dress. That’s all I’m asking, Scotty!”
Scotty’s expression didn’t change.
McCoy frowned. “Fine,” he grumbled. “I’ll ask Spock.” He stood up and left. He had a meeting with the ship’s chef anyways to make sure that everyone’s dietary requirements – or restrictions in the captain’s case, his weight was still a little high – were all being followed with whatever the man was planning to serve for the reception. After all, he was a doctor, not a chef, but he at least still had the authority to tell the chef what was off-limits…at least for some of the guests.
Sulu was rather pleased with himself. He’d made arrangements with Captain Kirk to spend a little less time on the bridge and a little more time in the arboretum’s flower garden enclosure in order to work on growing the flowers that Uhura and Chekov were thinking of having for the ceremony. Once she’d decided on a bouquet, she was gracious enough to give him free reign of what the centerpieces would look like.
Her only guideline was that they contained only three colors: red, yellow, and white, since they didn’t have silver.
Sulu was not clueless. He knew that she chose those colors for their uniform designations. He could always engineer a silver flower, but it would take some time. Meanwhile, he’d helped her pick out the flowers for her bouquet and planned to use the same or very similar varieties in her centerpieces. At least they were warm colors.
He had plenty of time before his job had to be fully ready. But he had a definite list of what he had to either specially grow – which meant some genetic modification to speed their maturation – or gather for the bouquet and centerpieces. Red and yellow roses were easy to come by, as were the red tulips. Daisies and yellow marigolds were easy to grow. Those yellow calla lilies, though.
Uhura just had to want yellow calla lilies.
Kirk had purposefully scheduled them all on alpha shift that day so they could all head to the galley, which was really only used under two conditions. The first for when all of the replicators decided to rebel and not work properly at the same time – which happened rarely, but when it did the entire crew was grateful that Kirk had insisted on a kitchen staff aboard the ship. The second condition was for special occasions – usually pertaining to diplomatic functions. Also, rare, but it certainly made such events on the ship bearable with decent freshly prepared dining fare. And there was the occasional off-hour where the captain absolutely needed a snack and a snack he might indulge in without Doctor McCoy finding out about it when he ordered it from the replicator. Okay, so there were three conditions.
He considered cake taste-testing a special occasion.
The Captain found himself in the galley with McCoy, Spock, and the soon-to-be-newlyweds awaiting their cake options. He’d been looking forward to this for two days. Finally, he’d be able to essentially eat an entire piece of cake, loaded with sugar that McCoy would probably tell him would give him a heart attack before he was forty-five. The best thing about this excursion was that Bones couldn’t say anything about it. They were here to taste-test cakes, and if Kirk decided that he liked all of the samples enough to eat more than one tiny forkful, then that’s how it was going to be. McCoy couldn’t say anything. It was rare enough that cake was on the replicator menu anyway. Indulgence was sometimes completely worth it.
Kirk decided the way to eat all of this cake was to keep the conversation flowing. Keep them talking and people don’t tend to look around at what everyone else is eating.
“So, have you and Rand decided on what to do with the shower?”
As Uhura stared at him in surprise, he scooped up another mouthful of cake.
“Just something small and simple. Sometimes showers irritate me because they’re so…I don’t know.” She ate some of the first cake sample.
“Is not the purpose of a bridal shower for the bride to receive gifts intended for both of the intended parties in order to ease the process of cohabitation?” Spock, Kirk was amused to notice, was eating almost daintily! He took the tiniest amount of cake on his fork to be considered polite before setting the first sample aside. Kirk opened his mouth to call him out on it, but another voice beat him for the right to speak.
“Well, yes, I suppose, Mister Spock.” Uhura looked very interested in her cake. Kirk took another forkful of this sample while he could. “But, how many things do we possibly need right now? It’s not like we’re about to get a house together.”
“We could start looking,” Chekov suggested. They smiled at each other.
“Well,” McCoy loudly began as he set his sample aside. “I, for one, am not a fan of showers either. When I got married…” He paused for a second, then pressed on. Kirk knew he was thinking momentarily of his divorce. Wedding preparations was certainly not a time to discuss divorce. “We got so many unnecessary things that we didn’t know what to do with them!”
“What if you didn’t have to ask for material gifts?” thought Kirk aloud.
“Cluttered up the damn house!” McCoy kept grumbling.
“And ask for what instead?”
Kirk shrugged. “Oh, I don’t know.” He snuck a piece of Spock’s sample that the Vulcan set aside. “What if you decided instead to not have a shower exactly, but something more like a…” He looked at Spock. “Help me, Spock. What do women do in groups on their own time?”
But Spock ignored him. He was contemplating the cake sample. “I object to this recipe.”
“What?” McCoy exploded. “Why? I think it’s delicious!”
Spock raised an eyebrow and looked at McCoy. “Doctor, it contains chocolate.”
Kirk took one look at Uhura and knew that she had enjoyed their last cake sample. In fact, by her crestfallen expression, he was willing to bet it had been her favorite so far. Well! He was not about to let that stand. Not even against Spock. “It’s not your wedding, Spock! If they want chocolate in their cake, they’ll get chocolate in their cake!”
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw both Uhura and Chekov give him a watery, grateful smile. Just to rub the point in, Kirk didn’t even try to hide that he had been eating the rest of Spock’s sample. He picked it up, and swiped a huge chunk up with his fork. “Personally, I like this one best, too!” He ate the chocolate cake fiercely and glared at the Vulcan, daring him to protest now, and ignoring Spock’s disapproving gaze.
The wedding ceremony had been planned, the reception was planned. Everything to do with both of them were planned. And now…
It was time for a Bachelor Party Shore Leave.
McCoy would never admit it to anyone, except maybe Spock because that Vulcan could keep secrets better than a scrambled, encrypted computer program, but he had been dreading this shore leave since Kirk had taken Chekov aside and asked him if he wanted to leave the ship for his bachelor party. He’d known since the meeting that their fearless leader would be the one in charge of this moment. And he had been growing more and more unhappy about what he could be planning since.
But, here they were, transporting onto the surface of Pas5-10N and following Kirk as he led Chekov merrily through the streets. They had been ordered to wear civilian clothing, and McCoy knew that when that happened, it could not be somewhere reputable they were headed.
“God, I hope we’re not going to a—”
“I have expressed this concern to the captain no less than ten point seven six minutes ago, Doctor.”
McCoy looked to his left at Spock, feeling a little relieved, but still uncomfortable. “There are other types of places, Spock, that are close enough.”
Scotty was on McCoy’s right. “Wherever we’re goin’,” he said with a grave expression. “It can’t be as bad as what happened on Argelius II.”
McCoy remembered it well. Scotty had been blamed for a dancer’s death, and that he couldn’t remember the murder nearly damned him. He nodded at the engineer. “I think we all are going to be watching out for each other tonight.”
“Aye, that we will.”
Kirk had led them all into a dimly lit building. The tables had plenty of space between each other. It was busy, it was dark, and it was sinful. McCoy looked at Spock to be sure he was not the only one a little uncomfortable. They were in their seats at a table almost in the center of the room. “Jim,” McCoy asked, leaning closer to his friend. “What is this place?”
He was given the look that he’d seen Kirk give countless attractive women. Charming and mysterious. “I can’t tell you yet.”
They were fed well. Chekov attacked his meal ravenously. He was in high spirits. He kept darting glances at Kirk, wondering if this was all that was going to happen while they were there.
It wasn’t until after their dishes were being removed by the wait staff that McCoy had his answer. Kirk had whispered something into the ear of his very pretty Andorian server, who glanced at Chekov then nodded. “My bill,” Kirk confirmed to her.
“Bones, you asked what this place was,” Kirk began. McCoy nodded, even though he was beginning to suspect what the other man was about to say. “It’s called Orion’s Belt.” Kirk turned his smile to Chekov. “Where they go out of their way to take care of you.”
Almost on his verbal cue, the lighting in the room became impossibly dimmer, almost to black. McCoy heard Scotty gasp. “It’s okay, Scotty,” he tried to reassure him. “This isn’t Argelius II.”
“Doctor,” Spock announced clinically in the dark. “There is someone touching me.”
Almost immediately after the Vulcan spoke, McCoy felt a hand snake down his arm. The lights raised just enough to make out shadows, then. And a little more. Orion’s Belt, indeed. Their table was circled by swaying, provocatively dressed, and pheromone-releasing Orion women – all perfectly formed, all perfectly graceful. All perfectly sinful.
When he saw that a smiling Chekov was being touched, and fondled, and caressed, and – good God! – fed by four of them, well McCoy could not help but enjoy himself.
He had to leave the party. It was just too much. All of the touching was overwhelming him. He still did not understand the purpose of the bachelor party. He had asked if the proceedings were actually a betrayal and an insult to Chekov’s bride-to-be, but it was not the deliriously happy Chekov that answered his question. It had been the captain.
“Spock, this is his last shore leave before he’s obligated to spend the rest of them with his wife!” A black-haired Orion female, fully draped on Kirk’s lap, was teasing him with some sort of delicacy between her fingers. She wanted him to snatch it from her with his mouth. “Let him enjoy his last night as a free man!” He caught the piece of food with his teeth. The Orion swooped down and pressed her lips to his.
The female had broken away from him and was biting Kirk’s neck. Something stirred in Spock at that moment. “That’s an order, Spock,” his captain half-commanded and half-moaned.
He could not stay there and watch this. He was not enjoying himself. He stood quickly. But he did catch Doctor McCoy’s concerned and sympathetic gaze. He did not care for it.
“Spock! Where are you—”
But even he knew why Kirk had not finished his question. He did not even have to look. It was obvious when his captain’s words became a groan.
And so he found himself in the corridor, his ka’athyra cradled under one arm. He requested admittance into the rec room in which Uhura was having a small party with her closest women friends aboard the ship. He knew that Uhura would not have approved of what her fiancé was doing down on the planet below, but it was not her place to tell her and ruin her night before her wedding. His own night had already been ruined as soon as that Orion female had slithered her way onto his captain’s lap.
“Mister Spock, usually males aren’t allowed in these things.”
He met Uhura’s teasing eyes. He noted the silence in the room beyond. He nodded to his ka’athyra pointedly. He did not trust himself to speak. She followed his gaze and understood. “But I would love to hear you play tonight.”
Spock entered the room as the only male, and proceeded to pluck the strings of the musical instrument, trying to force the image of Kirk and the Orion from his mind.
The reception began without a problem. The first problem happened when a certain Kevin Reilly happened to get a little too drunk after dinner. He had stood on the table, grabbed the flower arrangement right out of the centerpiece vase – much to Sulu’s dismay – and used it as an antique microphone in order to loudly and badly sing old Irish love songs. Uhura and Chekov endured the first one with gracious smiles, but once he began to repeat the same song he’d just finished…That was it. Kevin was escorted to his quarters in order to sleep off the alcohol, a security guard stationed at his door to avoid anything like the incident where he took over engineering.
Kirk certainly was not about to forget that incident with Kevin.
“Well, Captain, I am certainly glad they went with the chocolate,” McCoy said as he sat down next to him. “Best cake we had on this ship in…oh, I’d have to say years.”
“Oh, I agree.” Simultaneously, they ate a little more.
McCoy leaned forward to glance at his friend’s drink of choice. “A little too much alcohol last night, Jim-boy?”
Kirk glared at him. He would have thought his doctor friend would have no complaints about the water. “Because someone thinks I should suffer for my sins.”
The doctor snorted. “Spock seems to be suffering today. Won’t go near the cake. Only picked at his food otherwise. But I’m sure that his captain didn’t notice, being so busy marrying two of his officers and otherwise enjoying himself.”
Kirk stared at his cake, tapping it with his fork. “I’ve noticed, Bones.”
“Oh? I thought I was the only one who noticed people’s eating habits around here.”
Kirk sighed and watched Spock as the Vulcan approached the newlyweds, speak to them briefly, and then leave the reception. “Is he sick?”
McCoy stood and gave Kirk a pointed look. “If he is, it’s not a kind of sickness I can cure.” He then went across the floor, spoke one sentence to a yeoman, and a moment later led her to the open area of the room where couples still danced.
Uhura and Chekov had been married for a week by the time Kirk realized what Spock’s problem might have been. It was another week until he figured out that he felt similarly to his first officer. It was true, he had always found great satisfaction in women when it came to romance. But…they never stayed with him. It was never serious. When he realized that Spock was probably the most steady relationship he’s ever had with anyone before or since – Bones being a very close second – he leaned back in his command chair in stunned, silent realization.
He glanced at the science station, watching Spock work. Could it be? Could they be?
It was Spock who approached him at the end of the shift, reminding him of their usual chess game. They had missed it two weeks ago because of the wedding. And they missed it last week because of an away mission.
Kirk sat across from Spock in his captain’s quarters, staring at him through the levels and the pieces. Spock seemed less in control than usual. Nervous? Kirk studied the board. He wasn’t winning by a huge margin this time, so there was no reason for Spock to be nervous. Besides he never got nervous during their games.
When he met Spock’s eyes again, he knew he could not disguise the dread he felt when he suspected that his first officer may have guessed that his affection and feeling for the Vulcan went much deeper than strict friendship. He opened his mouth to say something – anything – when Spock found his voice first.
“Captain, I have thought a great deal of Mister Chekov’s bachelor party and the events during that evening.”
“I have, too, Spock, and I—”
Spock held up a hand for silence. Kirk gave it. “Jim,” he began, immediately telling Kirk that this conversation was no longer professional, but personal. “You—shortly before I left, you—” It was highly unusual that words failed Spock. He almost tried to help, but he knew that whatever the Vulcan was trying to say, it was something that he needed to construct on his own. “Jim, you said that Mister Chekov would now be obligated to spend his shore leaves in his wife’s company.”
Spock met his gaze, but his eyes were anxious. “I would like for you to have that same obligation—” Kirk swallowed as Spock swallowed. He didn’t know exactly where he was going with that until Spock added two words. “With me.”
Kirk suddenly thought that his earlier doubts were unfounded. They could be. “Are you offering a proposal, Mister Spock?”
Spock’s eyes did not leave his. “I am.”
How did he feel about this? He didn’t know. Was he panicking? No, he wasn’t. Was he disturbed? No. He smiled at his first officer. He knew Spock would recognize the smile. He had seen it many times directed at others that were not him. But not this time. This time it was only for Spock. “I didn’t even get a warning this was coming.”
“You are disappointed.”
“I didn’t say that. I said it was unexpected, like a Klingon attack.”
Spock tilted his head. “The initial attack is always unexpected, Jim.”
Kirk looked down at the table. “I don’t like surprises.”
The response was quick. “I see. Forgive me, Captain.”
He heard Spock rise from the chair and begin to leave his quarters. “Spock,” he called to the retreating Vulcan. He didn’t need to look up to know that he had stopped. That he had not left. The lack of footsteps was all Kirk needed to know. “It was a good surprise.”
Kirk stood and went to Spock as the Vulcan asked for clarification. “Then, you do not object to my lack of warning so that you could prepare your ideal shore leave which would be your last spent as a free man?”
He laughed at the question, a soft amused chuckle, as he closed the distance between them. He curled his hand around the back of Spock’s neck. “I have a proposal for you, Mister Spock.” There it was, the curious raise of one eyebrow. He gave his first officer a bright smile. “Let’s get married.”
Three days later, Captain Kirk called a meeting for all Department Heads, including the ship’s chef.