James Kirk had been doing his paperwork, and ruing every minute, swearing to himself in an undertone. Right at the moment, it seemed each and every departmental head had something to requisition, something which would put further strain on the budget and resources usually allotted to a ship of the line in the business of exploration. Starfleet tightly controlled how much of any particular item was permitted as part of the payload of a starship—and with good reason. For there was only so much a ship could carry before compromising fuel efficiency. And that, of course, led to increased costs of operation. Dilithium wasn't easy to come by, and nor was it cheap.
Thankfully, Spock as First Officer handled most of the complex calculations relating to fuel and payload. But it was still the Captain's job to decide whether they should take on board sixty crates of fresh produce for the galley (knowing that it would require storage, and its freshness couldn't be guaranteed beyond a certain period of time), or forty crates of fruit and vegetables and a crate of spare transducer coils for engineering, four crates of beakers, test tubes, and Bunsen burners for the chemistry labs, five crates of much needed medical supplies, and ten crates of other miscellanea requested by other departments—all of it claimed by them as absolutely critically essential to their continuing work. And of course, if he then decided to get only four crates of medical goods, and five crates of science equipment, the CMO would have his balls for breakfast. Or if he decided not to get the science equipment, and instead insisted on Spock running a safety management course in the handling of delicate scientific glass-wear, then he'd possibly have to face not just a professional dog-house, but a marital one as well.
Just as he thought he'd managed to work out a compromise which would please no one, but would satisfy most of the urgent and dire needs of the ship, the door to his quarters chimed.
"Damnit!" he swore, throwing down his stylus and rubbing temples made sore by the effort expended over the previous—how long had it been? He looked at the chronometer: four(!)—hours. A migraine was developing behind his eyes. That'd be just typical, wouldn't it, on an evening before he had a rostered day off, which he and Spock had planned to spend together. All he needed right now were the symptoms of a massive headache, followed by a day of being a blob as he recovered from the aftereffects.
"Come," he called in irritation, hitting the button to grant his visitor access. He was greeted by the sight of Lieutenants Uhura and Wallace. In her hand Uhura bore a PADD, and the expression on both their faces was a mix of determination and trepidation.
"Please sit down. What can I do for you, Lieutenants?" He continued to rub his temples until they took their seats.
Both women sat, crossing their legs. Kirk couldn't help but notice and appreciate the long line of their skin from the bottom of their skirts to the top of their black boots for a moment, before reminding himself, thanks to the classes he'd attended at the Academy, that a) he was treating fellow officers as sexual objects, and this was grossly inappropriate and gratuitous; and b) he was a happily bonded individual, and bonded to a Vulcan male at that. Mind out of the gutter, and get rid of the "male-dominant" attitude, Kirk told himself grumpily.
Uhura carefully placed the PADD on his desk and slid it across to him.
"What's this?" he asked, taking it up.
"It's a formal petition, Captain, signed by all serving female members of staff who are obliged to wear the Starfleet regulation uniform for women."
"Okay," he said cautiously.
Lieutenant Wallace chimed in. "Yes, sir. Each and every female member of this crew respectfully requests that you submit a formal complaint to Starfleet Command, concerning the design of the uniform we are obliged to wear."
"You keep saying 'obliged to wear'. But my understanding is that no one is obliged to wear anything. Other than clothes."
Uhura rolled her eyes at Kirk. "Don't be naïve, Captain. And Command is quite clear that the default uniform for women is this," she gestured to her red dress. "And if we have to appear formally, then we are expected to wear regulation skirts and jackets."
"I don't see any problems with your uniforms," Kirk commented.
"Really?" Uhura's eyes boggled.
"Uh, it's a dress," he tried, perplexed. "It looks… nice?"
"Exactly. Have you ever tried climbing a Jeffries tube wearing a dress? Or running from hostile aliens in it? Look how tight it is. And how short. It allows us no dignity, quite aside from being completely impractical."
"Don't you have regulation, I don't know… bloomers? Is that what they're called? Knickers of some kind that go under the dress?" the Captain asked, waving a hand in discomfort. It was one thing to be sexily removing, or watching as those knickers were sexily removed, and quite another to be talking about women's under garments. The length of the women's regulation uniform genuinely wasn't something he'd ever considered—apart from the obvious benefits of short skirts for the appetites of men. Then again…
"Yes. But it doesn't matter how you look at it: the uniform we women wear is sexist. There's no way a man would be made to wear anything like this designed to show off his body," Wallace complained.
"I mean, who benefits from short skirts and tight-fitting clothing?" Uhura asked with passion, warming to her subject. "Men. It's all about male gratification in the female form through the subjectification of women. The uniform is quite frankly, an affront. And we are sick of wearing it. We are tired of the discrimination between male and female. Starfleet is supposed to be all about inclusivity and equality. Instead what this uniform does is to foster the last lingering dregs of an out-dated patriarchy."
"Symbols are important, Captain, and this uniform symbolizes the fact that the deeds of our organization don't match what it preaches," Wallace picked up. "Differentiation between male and female uniforms says 'We see men and women as different entities, with different roles, and some of the roles performed by men cannot be performed by women'. It stinks."
There was a pause.
"There's another problem with the design overall—of both the men's and the women's uniforms," Wallace continued. "I am no expert in these things; however, if Starfleet is a truly inclusive organization, then it is hypocritical to have two uniform styles, given the range of sexual and gender identifications among the crew. This shows a heavy Terran bias in the design of the uniform, for as we know, there are many species in the galaxy which have three, four, five, or even seven different sexes, and as many different gender identifications. But it also shows a shocking prejudice against those who do not identify as male or female. And against those who identify as male or female or other, but physically resemble another body shape. Starfleet claims to be egalitarian and inclusive; the male/female bifurcation in the uniform design exposes the truth: that Starfleet is still caught up in binary oppositions. And we all know which of those binaries is preferred: the male is still considered normative."
"Also," Uhura argued, "we have issues with the choices of fabric. Synthetic fibres are bad enough; you have probably noticed there is zero absorbency in the fabric from which your shirts—the same fabric used to make our dresses—are made. Further, at least if there were some elasticity in the fabric, if it were a knit rather than a weave, or if it contained a percentage of elastane or some equivalent, there would be more give in the shape of the dress—and I dare say, those who wear the men's regulation uniform would also find movement less restricted, and the shape and fit of it far more forgiving, given the great variety in the size and shape among the male members of the crew."
Kirk shifted uncomfortably, struggling to wrap his head around the issues raised. "What would you like me to do about this?" he asked, setting the PADD back on the desk.
"We would like you, as our Captain, to present this petition to Admiral Gomez on our behalf, and with your recommendation." Uhura responded.
Kirk sat, drumming his fingers on the desk as he wrestled mentally with what his staff were telling him. Clearly, if every female member of staff had complained, there was a problem. Approximately 40% of the Enterprise crew identified as female. Therefore, 40% of his crew was unhappy, and dissatisfaction he knew from experience led to poor performance. Logically, he should at least deliver the petition to Command, and strive to take action on their behalf.
On the other hand, while he could understand the misery of wearing uncomfortable clothes, he wondered why it had taken twelve months for them to decide they didn't like the uniform.
"Why haven't you said anything before now?" he probed. "We've been out here over a year; you've been wearing the same uniforms for at least twelve months. Why now?"
"Well," Uhura said, "it wasn't until we started comparing notes about six weeks ago that we discovered none of us was alone in hating the uniform, or in enduring the misery of the challenges it presents."
Uhura gave him a look. "Come on, Captain, think about it. Short dresses… women…"
He shook his head and stared at her blankly.
"Don't tell me you haven't noticed?"
He shook his head again, feeling confused.
"Typical, isn't it?" Wallace commented in disgust, Uhura pursing her lips and rolling her eyes in agreement.
"Let me lay it out there for you in simple terms: every month, a woman of childbearing age—"
Pennies dropped. "Yes, yes," Kirk hastened, uncomfortable thinking about female biology, "I'm with you now."
"And look," Wallace continued, "the baseline is, I'm just not comfortable with everyone who's anyone seeing my underwear. How you would feel if people had free access to see your undies in unexpected circumstances—like sudden drafts or mishaps?"
"Honestly, Carol." Uhura's tone was laced with cynicism. "Sometimes I think we're still back in the Dark Ages. The Captain's supposed to be an enlightened man, someone who's been put through all the classes on gender equality and so on back at the Academy."
"Which were useless," Wallace chimed.
"Yes, they were. Why do we even try? Come on, this is a lost cause. I bet he slept through those classes."
The two rose pertly and were almost at the door before Kirk managed to react, leaping up. Some part of his brain, trained and groomed to command, tweaked with intuition that this was not a matter to take lightly.
"Wait a minute! Wait, both of you," he said, coming out from behind the desk with the petition in his hands. "Just for the record: I took notice in all my classes, testing out of several. And that comment was *this* close to insubordination. Consider this a warning."
They both nodded. "Yes, Captain."
"I recognize I'm just a man, and therefore alien to your experiences as women. I know this: I fully support the aims and goals of complete equality for all people regardless of race, species, gender, sexuality, religious belief, or whatever. And in spite of what our society's achieved, we've still got a long way to go, as evidenced by the fact I actually have to think through these things. But at least I'm thinking. Give me chance to understand."
Both women looked at him in surprise and suspicion.
"Seriously." When he had their attention, he went on. "So let me recap: this petition you want me to champion to Command is asking for a change in the design of uniforms for women—and for men, if I'm hearing you right, given the problems with the fabric."
"Essentially correct, Captain," Uhura affirmed with a dawning smile.
Kirk looked down at the PADD he was holding, pausing for a moment before looking up. "Leave it with me, Lieutenants. At the moment I don't feel able to put to Command something I myself don't fully understand. If I'm going to have to go in to fight for it, then I need to be a signatory. And I can't be a signatory until I understand."
Uhura harrumphed. "Then this was a waste of time after all."
"Not necessarily. I didn't say I wouldn't support it; I said I needed time to understand it first."
"So is that a yes or a no?" Wallace asked, narrowing her eyes. The Captain looked at her appraisingly in return; God, she could be scary, a veritable ice-queen when angry.
"Neither. I'll let you know."
Clearly dissatisfied, the women left, the door sliding shut with a quiet whoosh behind them. For many minutes Kirk stared at the doors blankly, his mind whirring, and not liking some of the thoughts that were coming to him.
The problem was: how could he, as a male, understand where his female crew were coming from? Jim Kirk had enough sensitivity to realize, deep down, that he was a member of the privileged several times over: white, male, young, from the North American continent. Sure, he'd had a rough childhood. Huh, perhaps because of his rough childhood he had some sympathy for women and some self-awareness about his relationship to power and privilege as a white male. But it wasn't something he thought about every day. In fact, it had been years since those early classes which looked at the history of the women's movement, and the intense struggle for equality his crew's foremothers had had. At the time, he'd had an inkling that for him as a man to wrestle with those issues, it would mean a complete transformation of his worldview and approach to things, a transformation he'd been unable and unwilling to engage in because it all seemed too overwhelming. Now, he had come full circle, and those issues—about women and equality—had come home to roost in a practical, in-your-face way. He couldn't just ignore this and continue merrily on his way, doing what he'd always done, assuming his place in the universe. This demanded action.
The question was: he was obviously male, and he was at home in his skin identifying as male. He had no desire to be anything else. How could he as a confirmed male come to understand the perspective of his female crew? He couldn't become a woman. Well, he could. But why, when he didn't need to make that very difficult transition? He'd only known one person who'd transitioned from one identity to another, including reassignment surgery and gene therapy to alter chromosomes, and so on. And it had been incredibly painful on every level for that person. No. It wasn't a journey he needed to take. So how could he achieve the same, or a parallel experience of what it was to be female?
Ugh. He shivered at the thought of bleeding every month, unwanted pregnancies, boobs which hurt from time to time for no obvious reason (except perhaps cyclical hormonal changes). Who'd be a woman? Well, at least he wouldn't have to undergo any of that. How could he gain the experience without the physical issues?
And then an idea struck him, and he grinned broadly, imagining the response.
He went to his desk, and hit the comm. button. "Have the quartermaster report to my quarters, immediately."
Captain James Kirk strutted onto the bridge of his ship. There was no other word for it: the shoes forced him to walk that way.
"Good morning, everyone," he greeted cheerfully, enjoying the astonishment on the faces of the bridge crew as they turned and took him in, staring.
Spock was caught up in something, bending over his scanner. Kirk suppressed a frisson of arousal at the sight of that lovely taught ass; the last thing he needed right now was a boner. Braving what would come next, he sauntered over to Spock's station.
"Report," Kirk ordered.
"Captain," Spock responded, standing and straightening. And then went as if to go on, his mouth suddenly gaping as his eyes alighted on the Captain. He closed his mouth suddenly, just looking at Kirk. Putting both hands behind his back in his characteristic reporting stance, his face wearing his most logical mask, and his eyes aimed somewhere over Kirk's right shoulder, he continued, "Nothing to report, sir. Ship on course for Beta Caritae III, ETA five point three two one hours." He turned to his station, and then must have thought better of it, because he turned back to face Kirk again. "Captain, you are wearing a dress."
"No, Spock," he said, smirking, "I am wearing the Starfleet regulation command gold uniform. I simply chose to wear the version of that uniform the female members of the crew are obliged to wear." He looked sideways at Uhura, who clearly didn't know what reaction to have to this development. But his main focus was on his bondmate, whose high cheekbones were turning a fetching shade of green. He was tempted to take advantage of the situation and cock his hip in Spock's direction, but decided that would not be in the spirit of his endeavour. Perhaps he could give Spock a private show, later.
Wobbling his way to his chair, he resisted the urge to readjust his bloomers, which were pinching in all the wrong places. He could have dispensed with the bloomers, but they were part of the uniform. And Kirk was determined to follow through on his scientific exploration by making it as authentic an experience as possible. And so began an interesting day of observation.
Spock disappeared abruptly around morning tea time, claiming he had something to oversee in the labs. Jim suspected it was something else entirely, and smirked as he heard the doors to the turbolift whoosh shut behind Spock. His bondmate had been casting him furtive, disbelieving looks all morning at times when he thought Jim wasn't watching. The rest of the time Spock had appeared to carry on with his usual cool demeanor. Jim knew better.
He didn't see Spock for the rest of the day. As he sat in his chair watching the stars on the viewscreen, or paced the bridge to stretch his legs, he pondered Spock's response. Arousal? Or disgust? Curiosity? Revulsion? The bond didn't provide any clues, other than the knowledge of Spock's living presence somewhere near (if Jim had tried to identify a direction, he would feel "down" and slightly to the left, which was roughly where Spock's office in the science department was located). There was no way of knowing, short of asking Spock directly… which he planned to do that evening.
In the meantime, as the shift drew to an end he reflected on the experience of wearing the female uniform. The first observation was a practical one: it was short. As in, way short. While he was wearing the bloomers, the dress was woefully inadequate. When he sat down in his chair, the skin of his thighs connected directly with the imitation leather of the seat, and after about half an hour, he felt like he was sitting in a wet pool of his own sweat. Disgusting. And when he went to stand up, he became anxious lest anyone see that his butt was a massive wet-patch. This was bad enough that when he'd been to the toilet after lunch he'd actually checked to see whether the moisture was visible. It wasn't. But it still felt horrible.
As if that weren't enough, every time he moved, the dress moved too. If he bent over a little, it would ride up, sliding over the bloomers. It was just as well the bloomers were of the same fabric; he would've hated to have thought what it would be like had they been, say, of cotton, or some other fabric which would have caught the fabric of the dress, causing it to ride up. The bloomers were designed to cover one's normal underwear. But he still felt as if he was being exposed every time that too-skimpy fabric slunk up and over the pants.
On his way back to the bridge after lunch, there had been a brief emergency in Auxiliary control; the ensign on duty had dropped his sandwich into an open circuit. There was no damage, apart from some smoke, a fried circuit, and the ensign's pride. But it had caused the Captain to run (as best he could in unfamiliar heeled boots), and he now understood completely what Uhura and Wallace had been talking about.
There were other problems too: another aspect of the embarrassment of the ensemble was the fact the cut of the bloomers chafed against his inner thighs, and caused uncomfortable rubbing in the flesh either side of his dick. This meant an additional fear every time the uniform slid up: that people would see the painful chafing and draw the wrong conclusions. To say nothing of the pain. He didn't even know how to treat personal chafing; it had never been a problem. And it wasn't something he was willing to take to Bones. Just imagining the gleeful hooting and scoffing of his friend was enough to make Jim's balls crawl up into his body with mortification.
The end of his shift arrived, and he made a beeline for the turbolift, making it close in the face of a yeoman so that he could be guaranteed privacy. He felt a momentary regret for the rudeness of the action, but it paled beside the relief of being able to reach under his skirt to pull the offending fabric of his bloomers away from his hurting flesh. It was going to take a Herculean effort not to waddle from the lift to his quarters, and all the way he knew it would be a case of ouch, ouch, ouch.
No sooner had he finally entered his quarters, sore and limping and eager to kick off those long boots and strip off his chafing underwear, than Kirk was set upon with a whoomph, and pressed avidly up against the bulkhead, cool Vulcan lips nibbling at his neck and sampling his scent and taste. It took him a moment to realize a hand had slipped inside his knickers to clutch and massage his buttcheek.
He melted, giving in to the sensations. He felt himself becoming hard, a movement which made the bloomers—
"Ow!" Jim pushed Spock's shoulders back. "Ow, ow, ow!" In a hurry, and to Spock's evident perplexity, he quickly tore off the underwear and boots. "Thank God," he said, sighing and falling back onto the bed with both legs apart, the cool air feeling divine against the inflamed skin.
He shuddered at the feel of Spock's tongue as his partner ran it up Jim's leg all the way to—
Jim pushed his legs together defensively, sitting up a little and pulling the skimpy fabric of the dress between his thighs, cutting Spock's access. The Vulcan looked up in surprise.
"You are denying me? Are you well, Jim?"
Jim's heart melted at the confusion in Spock's eyes. He reached down, and pulled his mate up to lie beside him, propped up on one elbow. Tenderly, he traced his fingers down Spock's cheek.
"No, not denying you, Spock. Just… You need to know that I’m a bit sore down there tonight."
Spock raised an eyebrow. "I did wonder why you chose to wear the female Starfleet regulation uniform today."
Jim grinned slyly. "I take it, from your response, that you approve."
Both eyebrows went up. "I emphatically do not." Spock frowned. "Jim, if you choose to wear this uniform in future, it is likely that crew performance ratings will be affected."
"You mean: your efficiency, Mr. Spock?" Jim asked playfully. Spock's face fell into mock sullenness. Taking pity on his bondmate, Jim decided to explain. "Uhura and Wallace came to me yesterday with a petition. All the women of the crew had signed it."
"A request to alter the female uniform?"
"More than that," Jim shook his head. "They claim, and I quote, 'the marked bifurcation into male and female designs segregates and discriminates against women'. And let me tell you, they're completely right about how uncomfortable it is to wear." He sat up and pulled the offending garment over his head, leaving him in only his briefs. "I had the quartermaster make this to my specifications. Did you know I had to sacrifice some of my replicator allotment for civvies in order to have this little number whipped up? But in spite of it being made just for me, God, Spock. I don't think I've worn anything less comfortable in my life—other than that awful onesie my mother made me wear for Christmas when I was five. Oh, and the horrible denim overalls a well-meaning aunt gave me as a birthday present when I turned ten. I swear they rode up my buttcrack and it felt like I had a perpetual wedgie."
He paused. "And don't even get me started on the boots. I don't know how women walk in those impossible things."
"Why then did you decide to wear them?"
"Because Uhura and Wallace want me to be their knight in shining armour, riding in on a white charger to champion their cause to Command. And I didn't feel I could do that until I could also support their petition."
Spock nodded slowly. "Logical. It would not speak to your integrity for you to deliver a petition to Command to which you could not add your support. In fact, in such a situation, the presentation of an unsupported petition would increase the likelihood of its failure to be taken seriously by our superiors."
"Exactly." Jim reclined beside Spock, facing him, propped up on the opposite elbow. "You know, now I think about it, they really have my balls over a barrel on this. Those cunning, conniving… They knew I'd have to identify with them first. I'll bet they planned this, Spock."
"You do not believe you are reading too much into their motivations? Lieutenant Uhura appeared… flustered, and unsure how to respond to your appearance this morning. She did not react as one who had anticipated such a response as yours."
"Mmmm," Jim hummed non-committally. He sighed. "You're probably right, Spock. I'm tired, I'm grumpy, and I have nasty sores on my underwear line."
Spock leaned forward, pressing Jim back as he devoured his mouth. "Perhaps we might be able to remedy that situation." Still keeping Jim pinned to the bed, Spock shuffled his way towards the drawers on his side of the bed, and fished out some spiced lotion, the sort he used to moisturize his skin. Vulcan skin had a tendency to dry out in the sterile recycled air of the ship. "The herbs in this ointment are not merely to enhance skin, but are traditional Vulcan plants used in healing. It will help."
It also had other uses, from Jim's experience. And the thought of Spock taking care of him in that way? Turned him on right up to full volume. He fell into Spock's ministrations with a sigh. And Spock certainly took care of Jim well into the evening.
"Captain, Admiral Gomez on the line as you requested, sir," Uhura announced the following afternoon, looking at the Captain with an encouraging and grateful smile.
"Thank you, Lieutenant. Put it through to my ready room." As he rose from his chair, he couldn't help but give a little flounce as he turned on his heel. Perhaps the female uniform had its perks. Uhura rolled her eyes at him, and he grinned.
"Spock, you have the conn."
He entered his office and stood deliberately behind the desk before bending over to hit the accept button for the call.
"Admiral Gomez, sir."
"Captain." The Admiral did a double take. "What in the hell are you wearing, Kirk?"
"I am wearing the Starfleet regulation duty uniform for women."
"Why would you do that?"
"I'm sending you through a petition, signed by each female member of my crew, requesting a change to the uniform. Having experienced it myself…"
The Admiral cut Jim off with a guffaw. "I can't believe you've succumbed to this… this prank, Kirk. And as for you actually wearing the thing…" He laughed with a bellicose wobble to his chin. "Wait until I share this with the Admirals' lounge. You sure you're not space-happy? Better get your resident psych to check you over, Captain." He laughed some more, shaking his head before reaching for the termination switch. "And that's an order!"
"Wait, sir!" Jim tried, but the line died before he could say more.
Deflated and frustrated, he slumped into his chair. As he contemplated the abortive conversation, he felt the multivalent forces at work here: as a young, untested Captain given command of the flagship and under the watchful eye of the Admirals, humiliation could be a tactic to keep him under the thumb and remembering at whose whim he continued to hold the position as Captain. At the same time, the outright dismissal of his crew's petition rankled deeply; treating Jim with contempt was one thing, but treating his innocent crew with contempt—when they were doing the best job they could—that was not acceptable at all. And laced through all of it, he was beginning to see what Uhura and Wallace had been talking about: a latent, poisonous assumption of privilege, which automatically relegated the concerns of women to a position of minimal concern. Humph. How long had it been since those Admirals had done their Appropriate Relationships and the Balance of Power 101 course? Too many years, clearly. Jim reflected bitterly that the further up one was in the ranks of power, the more likely one was to excuse one's behavior, and to desire to control the behavior of others.
He snorted. That was utterly reprehensible. His Lieutenants were right: male power and privilege still prevailed among the ranks of Starfleet, unconscious and insidious. Something had to be done. And while women could protest all they wanted, could burn their bras or whatever, the only way change was going to happen was by men and others taking up the cry. The irony was not lost on him that as a human male bonded to another male of a different species, he was also a part of a sub-set of people who didn't fit the patterns of heteronormative patriarchy. He reflected on the old adage that it is ultimately in the interests of all people to protest against the stifling of minority voices, and to advocate for justice and equality for all.
A cunning plan formed in his mind, and he grinned wickedly to himself. The crew of the Enterprise was not going to take this lying down. Command would sit up and take notice of the flaws in the female uniform by the time they were done.
Bones stormed into Jim's quarters without seeking permission to enter, carrying a plastic flimsy, and waving it around in his fury.
"What the fuck nonsense is this hare-brained thing your sick and twisted brain's dreamed up, Jim? Huh?" McCoy proceeded to read from the flimsy. " 'And so in solidarity with our sister-crew members, as Captain I am ordering that from Alpha shift on Stardate 3487.4, all members of crew will be required to wear the Starfleet female regulation uniform. I so order this under Section C.456, paragraph 2.5, subsections c) and d) '. Are you insane?"
"Perfectly sober, and in my right mind, Bones. Better go see the quartermaster."
Bones looked at him, really looked at him, for the first time since entering his quarters. He hadn't had time to go to sickbay to chat to his friend, and was now conscious of McCoy's open-mouthed scrutiny.
"What. Are. You. Wearing?" Jim barely managed to hold himself back from laughing at the doctor's near apoplexy.
"A Captain's gotta set an example for his crew," Jim said as he stood, adopting a mincing pose, and fluttering his eyelashes winningly. "What's good for the goose is good for the gander."
Bones harrumphed. "Clearly," he muttered ironically. "Literally, even."
"Yep," Jim grinned obnoxiously, and then pulled himself together. "I'm dead serious, Bones. There are important principles at stake here. Wearing this uniform has opened my eyes to the kind of world the female members of the crew live in. Did you know I've had cat-calls? And the way some people look at my legs would have Spock nerve-pinching them were he with me. It's disgusting. Nobody deserves to live with that kind of lascivious attention."
"But why are you inflicting it on us?" the doctor complained.
"Because, Bones, when I did take this to Gomez, he laughed in my face and called it a prank." McCoy was still unconvinced, so Jim tried another tack. "Look, Uhura and Wallace were right: the uniform is not just uncomfortable, but also impractical, and in some cases dangerous. It's almost impossible to run in it, climbing is difficult. And I've been asking myself: why is it like this? Why must women wear such a stupidly designed garment? And you know what? Ours isn't much better; the fabric's shoddy and cheap, not absorbent, and the cut is pathetic. You can't tell me you haven't noticed."
"Well, sure. Although I've got the advantage of wearing medicals, and they're quite comfortable as it happens."
"You sure about that? Why don't you ask your female members of staff what they think of the uniform?"
Bones harrumphed. "Given that they would've signed the petition, that seems like a waste of time."
Jim shrugged. "What I want to do, Bones, is get the men to experience the discomfort of the female uniform. Command can hardly ignore the complaints of a whole ship. And just think of all the missions we'll go on: each and every one of them will be an opportunity for protest. I mean, can't you just see the Vulcans, for instance, raising eyebrows left, right, and centre, and complaining about the indecency of our uniforms to Command? Or the Rigellians? Or the Andorians? Then they'll have to take us seriously."
Bones crossed his arms thoughtfully. Jim could see the cogs turning, the doctor's resolution wavering. "I suppose I could go through the medical records and see if there's a correlation between injuries to female members of crew and their uniform. That would provide empirical evidence to support the petition."
Jim grinned broadly and slapped McCoy's shoulder. "That's the spirit, Bones. I think you'll make a fine woman."
McCoy angrily shrugged Jim's hand from his person. "Don't push it, Captain," he said murderously. "Fine. I'll go see the fucking quartermaster." Without so much as a "by your leave", McCoy swept out of Jim's quarters.
Jim hadn't even had time to settle himself at his console again when Spock walked through the door. He couldn't contain the thrill of arousal. Wow! Spock's legs just… went on and on forever, and the folds at the front of the dress barely covered his package. And the cut of the sleeves and bodice emphasized the well-toned muscles of Spock's biceps and pecs. Delicious! Delectable! Jim licked his lips and sauntered to where Spock had stopped in the centre of the room. He now understood why Spock had had the reaction he did when Jim appeared in the female uniform on the bridge. He reached up and wrapped his arms around the rigid neck, planting a kiss on the Vulcan's unresponsive lips.
"Aw, come on, Spock!" he complained.
"I cannot believe you ordered the entire complement of men aboard the ship to wear the female uniform."
"But you do make an awfully cute—"
"Do not finish that sentence." Spock made to push past Jim, heading towards their sleeping area.
"Don't be like that, Spock! Come on, now," Jim pleaded, moving around to halt Spock's progress, and wrapping his arms around the Vulcan's waist. He rubbed his hands up Spock's tense back in just the way that he knew would make his mate melt. A successful strategy.
Spock sighed and wilted in Jim's embrace. "It is for a good cause," Jim murmured in a pointed ear, "solidarity, identification with, understanding another perspective. Treat it like a scientific experiment; hell, you could even document and log your experiences with wearing it, if you wanted to. In fact, you know that's not a bad idea. I might get all the guys to do it. Thanks for that, Spock."
Jim let go, and immediately returned to his workstation to send just such a communication. Spock mumbled something incoherent to human ears, stripped off his clothes, donned a robe and went through to his own quarters to meditate. Jim knew Spock was unhappy about the uniform; but he also knew his mate, and he knew he'd come round. Sometimes Vulcan logic had its usefulness.
So much for assumptions. Spock "came round" to see Jim's point of view, and even began to encourage his departments to support the petition to change the female uniform. He also carefully, meticulously, anal-retentively catalogued his reflections on the discomfort and inconvenience of the garment, submitting a ten page report daily to the Captain, marked with a red flag. The red flag meant that the Captain received a copy at the same time as a lackey at Command, which also meant that the Captain had to signal to the lackey at Command that he had read the report paragraph by paragraph.
In addition to that, every time he caught sight of Jim, Spock would flush bright green and turn away. It was actually becoming a point of concern for Jim; when he raised it with Spock, the Vulcan shrugged and said, "There is only so far Vulcan suppression and discipline may go when dealing with a strong emotional reaction to a bonded mate". Since making that connection, the sex had been spectacular.
But, Jim reflected after three weeks of the new status quo, that in itself was pause for concern, and inadvertently provided proof of Uhura and Wallace' claim. From his own experience Jim could affirm that the female regulation uniform turned its wearer into a stimulus, an object of sexual gratification. Hell, his own lunchtime masturbatory sessions had been epic, and had extensively featured mental images of his husband in lewd positions, wearing his science blue dress.
Spock had interrupted one such session, pushing abruptly into the toilet which was located behind the viewscreen. He had turned Jim, roughly pushed aside his dress, bloomers, and underwear, and had proceeded to drive him wild, thrusting deep into his mate.
"Do—not—fantasize—about—me—wearing—a—dress," Spock panted, a word for each thrust, until both men were sent over the edge, orgasming hard. When they had regained their breath, he continued, "you do not sense my thoughts through the bond. But I do gain vivid impressions from your mind when your thoughts are towards me."
Jim wouldn't make that mistake again… except on purpose.
That evening, Spock's report had been an almost impassioned plea for the petition to be taken up by Command.
The crunch came six weeks into the crew wearing nothing but the Starfleet regulation uniform for women. The Enterprise had been posted to Grethalus III for trade negotiations. The away team, consisting of the Captain, Bones, Spock, Chekov, and two security staff all narrowed escaped negotiations of a completely different sort.
The moment they'd beamed down, the Grethalans' great aquamarine eyes had begun to rotate rapidly with rainbow-coloured light. From what they had managed to piece together later, the planet's inhabitants thought the Federation had sent them a complement of concubines as a gift, and had assumed each member of the away team was to be given to a corresponding member of the ruling council.
Not knowing the culture, thanks to the briefing being woefully inadequate, none of the Enterprise personnel had cottoned on to what was really going on with these "trade negotiations" until after they'd been paraded through the streets on biers, and showered with native flowers. They'd then been conducted to the temple, escorted by their paired Grethalan council member. By the time the priest had begun intoning a chant, it had been too late: they'd become the legal property of their respective council member.
When this had finally been made clear to the Enterprise away team at the conclusion of the ceremony, the Captain's ability to be suave and smooth in his diplomatic negotiations had been strained to the limit. He'd tried to explain to the Grethalans that they were not a gift, that they certainly hadn't come here to marry the council members, and that he and Spock were bonded already to each other.
"But you are dressed as life-givers," the head of the Grethalan council complained, perplexed and disappointed. "It is forbidden here for any to see the knees of a life-giver, except on their wedding day. The knees are…" The Grethalan official had coloured, his multifaceted eyes whirring purple embarrassment. Apparently the Grethalan reproductive organs were located behind the knee.
The away team had beamed back to the ship in a fine fettle, to submit their report to Starfleet Command, the mission to Grethalus a dismal failure. That night the entire male staff signed the petition for Command to reconsider the regulation uniform design, and it was dispatched in capital letters attached to the reports of each member of the away team, including those of the First Officer and Captain.
Admiral Gomez' response was swift. That might have had something to do with Captain James Kirk's threat to take the story to the galactic media, including the off-the-chart stations which broadcast to areas outside of Federation space… like say, into the Romulan Neutral Zone, and behind the borders of the Klingon Empire… The inference Jim had intended was that their enemies would ridicule them if word got out that the crew of the Enterprise were a bunch of girls. An inference the Captain had no moral qualms about attributing to a direct order from Command… At that remove, it wouldn't matter what the actual facts were; the story itself would put egg on Admiral Gomez' face.
Which right now, as he glared at the Captain through subspace, was splotchy with anger.
"Ok, Kirk. This has gone far enough. You are hereby ordered—"
"No, Admiral. We shall continue to wear this uniform until Command takes seriously the complaints of its female staff concerning the safety and practicality of their uniforms."
"You are ordered—" the Admiral tried again, his teeth gritted. Jim was in complete control, and practically purred with it.
"It would be most unfortunate for tapes of the story to get out, wouldn't it? I mean, for myself there's no way I'd ever implicate my honoured commanding officers in any kind of subterfuge, or stoop to something as low as, oh, being interviewed by News Today. But while a captain's responsible for the actions of his or her crew, I can't stop them from debriefing with friends. Know what I'm saying?"
Gomez' lips formed a furious white line. "Those uniforms were designed by a galaxy-famous designer, to whom we paid a fortune. Is your crew aware of how much would need to be spent on a new design?"
The Captain shrugged. "Surely workplace health and safety considerations should come before the need to employ the services of a flashy designer. Flashy designers design just that: unwearable art. We need something practical, something universal, and something anyone at all can wear, and wear comfortably. I can't tell you how old it gets having to fish your undies out of your ass every time you—"
"Alright, alright," the Admiral squeezed his eyes shut and waved both hands. "You've made your point, Captain."
"And I can personally attest, and my First Officer will support me in this, that the chafing is in another class altogether—" Jim continued gleefully.
The Admiral's raised, and very strained, voice was ice-cold. "I shall see to it that your petition is heard and acted upon. Command out."
The Enterprise was ordered to dock at Starbase 4 three weeks later. Jim and Spock took advantage of the extensive recreational facilities and were eating a pleasant meal at a restaurant overlooking a lake system when Doctor McCoy appeared before them, blocking the view.
"Uh, hi, Bones," the Captain said. "What are you wearing?"
"If I did not know better, Doctor, I would assume you to be sleep-walking."
"Oh, you would, would you, you green-blooded, ice-hearted, hobgoblin? Well, let me tell you: thanks to Captain Smart-Ass, this is the new regulation uniform."
Jim looked at Bones in horror. "But it's… it's a onesie. Space pajamas, as Spock says." He began to choke around his laughter at the thought.
He was interrupted by Bones throwing a package in his face.
"Oh yeah? I can't wait to see your moose knuckles, gentlemen." McCoy turned on his heel and stalked off while Jim and Spock opened their respective packages.
"It's not so bad. At least there's a jacket to wear over the top, which should cover… well, the important bits."
"The colours leave something to be desired," Spock observed drily. "Camel-puce, ice-blue, and… slime green. Not exactly a visually attractive array."
"But the fabric is stretchy. And look: the label says it's designed for maximum absorbency." Jim looked over his uniform. "But you're right about the onesie thing. Hmm," he pondered worriedly. "I hope it's not going to give us all moose knuckles."
"Moose knuckles, Captain?" Spock raised an eyebrow as he looked at him.
"You know: when your balls end up divided by the central seam…"
"It sounds most uncomfortable."
"It is. Believe me." Jim sighed. "Well, what do you think, Spock? An improvement on the previous uniform? I wonder how the women will respond. At least we'll all be the same."
"It has that to recommend it, although I suspect we shall require a trial period to determine whether the design is appropriate."
"Spock, surely they would have a team of people working on the science of the uniforms?"
Spock looked at the Captain, and Jim knew his mind was calculating. "I believe you have put your finger on the problem, Jim."
It took six months for the team Spock put together to come up with a functional design for Starfleet regulation uniforms: something which would be appropriately comfortable, absorbent, flexible, and wearable for days at a time without washing. Spock's team had conducted a thorough scientific procedure to determine this, using the proposed uniform they're received at Starbase 4 as a template.
They ended up with pants which were not too tight but not gapingly loose, an undershirt which tucked into the pants, and a tunic which reached to the crease of the thigh and dipped down in front of the wearer. The tunic came in the three traditional colours of red, blue, and gold, while the pants were black. And the boots that went with it came half way up the calf, and were flat-soled with plenty of arch support inside.
Spock's team's proposal went to Command and was accepted; Jim speculated that perhaps had they done this at the start, the reception may have been less dismissive. Surely the crew of the Enterprise was not the only group of Starfleet officers in the Fleet who had had issues with the old uniform. The new uniform was a success.
The day the news came through, the crew threw a party on the hangar deck, the only space big enough. Jim sat in a corner watching the happy crowd, and nursing the one large mug of punch he was allowing himself. His last experience with Scotty's special brew… had been memorable, and not something he wanted to repeat. Spock sat beside him, sipping his water from time to time. Lieutenants Uhura and Wallace came over.
"We just wanted to thank you, sirs, for all you've done. Thanks for taking our request seriously. These new uniforms will say everything we need to say: Starfleet is about equality and down-to-earth practicality, while being professional. We're delighted, and everyone we've spoken to is satisfied with the outcome. We're so lucky to have you both as our COs."
"You're welcome, ladies." Jim grinned and watched them returning to the nibbles table.
"Starfleet still hasn't resolved the situation with the Grethalans," Spock mused.
"Haven't they? I thought that was long done."
"The Grethalans are still claiming that we are to be their life-bearers, that we were gifts from the Federation. They are withholding mining rights until we are returned to them."
"Then they will be waiting a very long time," Jim responded. "I've heard that their so-called 'life-bearers' are literally tethered to a house."
"To the kitchen sink, if I recall correctly."
"You know what I’m like in the kitchen. I'd be a disaster." Jim's cooking was inedible, and his personal space was notoriously messy.
Spock crept one hand closer to Jim's along the bench they were sitting on until their little fingers were touching, a sign the Vulcan was a little buzzed. Such PDAs were not usually allowed.
"I confess: I shall… miss seeing you wear 'a dress'. It was… stimulating."
"Oh?" Jim raised both brows and then smiled broadly and winked. "Well, I still kept my uniform. You know, for old time's sake. In case my primal Vulcan mate wanted to, you know, chain me to the kitchen sink. Or the bed. And have his wicked way with me."
Spock's eyes turned dark. Jim leaned across to whisper in his ear.
"I kept it specially, so that you could tear my flimsy knickers right off in order to gain access and plunge your big, pulsing organ—"
Spock rose stiffly, grabbed Jim's wrist, and tugged him to his feet. They made it as far as a storage closet on Deck 10.
From then on, even the mention of The Dress was enough to unleash Spock's serious uniform kink. Jim played with it, trying other outfits, other female attire. But none had the power of the Starfleet regulation female uniform from 2260.
Years later, after one marathon round which had featured The Dress (now somewhat faded), Jim reflected on the irony that a symbol of sexual oppression and gender binary oppositions should have become such a part of their shared story. It also functioned to remind him every time it played a part in their lovemaking that even in this day and age, it was a struggle to maintain gender equality. The cause of continuing to undermine the facile assumptions of patriarchy required vigilance, not least because in their travels they frequently encountered societies many generations behind Earth in the realization of equality for all. It was a good thing that the uniform—which hadn't altered much in fifteen years, and had stood the test of time—now was emblematic of what Starfleet stood for: a radical, liberal vision in which every person had a part to play and a contribution to make to the betterment of society. It stood for people working in partnership, interdependently sharing resources and abilities. And in his view, as he sighed contentedly in his bondmate's arms, a vision worth living for.
Funny, what a mere uniform could embody.