Happy Birthday, Captain Kirk!
by Weird Little Stories
It was March 20th — two days before Jim Kirk's birthday — and Leonard McCoy had called a meeting of the entire bridge crew, minus Kirk himself, to talk about plans.
McCoy opened the meeting with, "I guess you all know why I called this meeting."
Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov all nodded, but Spock frowned and said, "I confess I do not. I am unaware of any problem that requires all of the bridge crew but excludes the captain."
McCoy rolled his eyes. "Jim Kirk's birthday is two days from now, and we're here to plan a little shindig."
Spock stood up. "Since Vulcans do not celebrate birthdays, this meeting can continue without my input."
McCoy grasped Spock's arm. "No you don't, Spock. You're Jim's closest friend — heaven only knows why — and you're not going to skip his birthday celebration."
Uhura jumped in to try to salvage the situation. "Mr. Spock, do you know WHY humans celebrate birthdays?"
Spock sat back down and turned to her. "From my observations, it appears to be an occasion for children to ingest an excess of sucrose and for adults to imbibe an excess of alcoholic beverages."
Uhura shook her head. "That's the FORM most celebrations take, but that's not the REASON." She smiled. "And really, there are lots of other ways to celebrate. Some people give gifts, some go out dancing, some play games, some take part in whatever the birthday person's favorite activity is. Nobody HAS to get drunk."
Chekov chuckled. "Maybe in the United States of Africa, you don't HAVE to get drunk, but in Russia, it is not a birthday unless there is vodka."
Sulu nudged Chekov. "You're not helping." Chekov pouted and looked down.
Spock ignored the byplay and tilted his head to one side as he looked at Uhura. "Then what is the purpose of birthday celebrations?"
Uhura smiled, a smile that could slightly dazzle even a Vulcan. "The reason to celebrate someone's birthday is for the people who care about that person to tell them that we're glad they were born."
McCoy looked sourly at Spock. "And I suppose even YOU'RE glad Jim Kirk was born."
Spock stiffened. "It is not the Vulcan way to express gladness for any reason ... but I can say that the galaxy is safer with so excellent a starship captain in command of the Enterprise, and I personally find it pleasant to be acquainted with him."
This was clearly a major concession for the Vulcan to make. McCoy and Uhura looked at each other and silently decided that this was the best they could expect from their determinedly Vulcan first officer. Uhura said, "All we need is for you to convey that to Captain Kirk on his birthday."
Spock looked puzzled. "The captain is already aware that I have high regard for him, both professionally and personally. For what reason would I repeat something he already knows?"
McCoy sighed, clearly gearing up, so Uhura jumped in again. "Humans are emotional creatures, and we perform better when our positive emotions have been engaged. Even though Captain Kirk already knows that you respect him and care about him, he'll enjoy hearing that on his birthday. It'll be good for his morale, and his morale is crucial for the effective operation of the ship."
Spock considered this, then inclined his head. "I will convey my regard to the captain on March 22nd."
McCoy looked at Uhura. "I'm appointing you Speaker to Vulcans from now on."
Uhura rolled her eyes and gave McCoy a sassy look. "I am the communications officer, after all. What did you think that meant?"
The group began discussing Kirk's favorite activities and which of them could be conducted on the ship. McCoy suggested that Spock and Sulu split Kirk's duty shift so that he could have the day off, and Sulu laughed long and loudly at that notion. He looked incredulously at McCoy. "You're good friends with the captain, and you haven't realized this yet? Being the captain IS Kirk's favorite activity!"
McCoy rolled his eyes but conceded, then asked, "Who will bake the cake?"
McCoy, Sulu, and Chekov all looked at Uhura, who gave them a wicked smile and said, "You may not know this, but Scotty's a professional-quality baker."
Sulu smiled at Scotty. "If your baking is as good as your engineering, your cakes must be the best in the galaxy."
Scotty chuckled. "I'd nae lay claim to that, but people do seem to enjoy 'em. And aye, I'll bake one for the captain's birthday bash."
They agreed to hold the party immediately after alpha shift in the captain's mess — a facility that Kirk generally used only for distinguished visitors, preferring to eat with his crew — and the meeting broke up.
Through it all, Spock devoted part of his large and faceted mind to pondering the question of how best to tell Kirk that he was pleased that Kirk had been born. It was something the Vulcan had never thought to do before, but now that it had been explained to him, he thought that it just might be a valuable activity after all.
Two days later, Kirk had a quiet shift on the bridge. There was no ship-wide party or acknowledgement of the captain's birthday, because Kirk had made it clear during his first year on the Enterprise that he believed it to be the captain's job to celebrate his crew, not the crew's job to celebrate their captain. Only the senior officers even knew when Kirk's birthday was, so alpha shift proceeded as normally as a day on the Enterprise ever did. Distances in space were vast, and the ship spent a great deal of time simply flying from one place to another; Kirk's birthday was spent in simple travel.
When alpha shift was over, McCoy appeared on the bridge and shepherded Kirk to the captain's mess. Uhura and Sulu had decorated the space with crepe-paper streamers and balloons, and Scotty's cake held pride of place in the middle of the table.
Kirk gestured to the cake and said, "This looks fabulous!"
McCoy said, "Scotty went all out in baking for your birthday, but even on your birthday, you don't get a piece until after you've had some real food."
Kirk chuckled and clapped McCoy on the shoulder. "What would I do without you, Bones?"
Each of them ordered his or her favorite meal from the food synthesizers, and they gathered around the table to eat. McCoy started the proceedings, something he'd wanted the participants to be spontaneous about, so he hadn't warned them in advance that they were going to do this.
McCoy cleared his throat. "I'd like each of us to share a favorite memory about Jim. Since it's my idea, I'll go first."
He smiled at Kirk. "One of my favorite memories is right after I came aboard the ship. Balok had caught the Enterprise and was saying he'd give us ten minutes to pray to any gods we believed in before destroying us all, and YOU made up some malarkey about how every ship had corbomite in it, and this corbomite doohickey would destroy anyone who tried to destroy us."
McCoy shook his head. "It turned out to all be a test, but we didn't know that at the time, and at first I was sure I was going to be killed my first week aboard. But then you bluffed on a poker hand with nothing at all in it, and I knew you were gonna make the next five years miiiiighty interesting."
Everyone except Spock laughed, and then Sulu leaned over to whisper to Chekov the context for events he hadn't been present for.
Kirk smiled at McCoy. "I wouldn't have thought of it if you hadn't just talked about bluffing, so you can take at least part of the credit for it."
McCoy pursed his lips and said, "Yeah, maybe two percent" to chuckles from the others.
Uhura jumped in as soon as the laughter had subsided. "I was one of the few people who got to see what we've been calling 'the Mirror universe' first hand." She shuddered. "It was a horrible place, a place where officers advanced in rank by assassinating whoever was ahead of them."
She looked around the table. "Finally, we figured out how to get home, we've got only a few minutes left before the two universes move too far apart for us to transport back, and Captain Kirk spent most of those last few minutes trying to talk their Spock into leading a revolution for kindness, fairness, and democracy!"
She shook her head. "I knew the captain was committed to Federation values, but the idea that he would try to start a revolution, even in that awful place and even when we were in a great hurry ... I knew then his values went BONE deep!"
Kirk smiled. "You can blame their Spock for that. He was so much like our Mr. Spock that I just couldn't stand to leave him in that evil place without trying to change it."
McCoy wagged a finger at Kirk. "Now, now. You don't get to deflect all these compliments and say they're really due to someone else. It's your damn birthday, so accept the damn compliments!"
Kirk chuckled. "Okay, I'll behave."
Sulu went next. "When that Romulan ship came across the Neutral Zone and attacked all those outposts, we couldn't even SEE it, because they had that cloaking device. And they had a brand-new weapon, something more destructive than our phasers and photon torpedoes put together. I thought the Enterprise would be destroyed, and I thought we'd all die knowing that we'd failed to prevent the next Earth-Romulan war."
He smiled at Kirk. "But I didn't count on just how wily our captain is! Kirk somehow knew exactly what the Romulan commander would do, where he'd go, how he'd behave. Even without being able to see them, we were still able to defeat the Romulan ship and prevent a war, all because our captain is a tactical genius."
Kirk smiled back at Sulu but didn't reply, evidently minding McCoy's admonition to simply accept the compliments.
Scotty went next. "My memory isn't exactly a happy one, for it involves the murder of three lovely lasses, with myself suspected of murder. This happened on the planet Argelius Two. Argelius Two is the only spaceport in that quadrant, and the murders upset the people there enough that they threatened to close the port. All of this put the captain in a difficult position, and a lesser captain would have let the Argelians convict me just to keep the peace. But our captain" — Scotty gave Kirk a broad smile — "our captain was scrupulous about obeying the local law while staying in my corner as much as he could and continually suggesting that the Enterprise computers could help figure out if I was guilty or no."
Scotty shook his head. "Because I blacked out during the murders, even I didn't know if I'd killed them or not, and if I'd been executed for the murders, I'd have gone to me grave thinking I'd killed those poor lasses." He looked at Kirk. "But thanks to the captain, we got to the bottom of the matter, and now I know that I never hurt a one of them. And at a time when I was down and couldn't defend myself, the captain made sure I got fairer treatment than anybody else was prepared to give me. I owe him my life, and on his birthday, I'll drink to him!"
Everyone but Kirk raised their glasses in a toast, and Kirk inclined his head in a brief nod, accepting their accolades.
Chekov went next. "When the captain and Uhura and I were kidnapped by the Providers of Triskellion, they tried to make us slaves who would be like gladiators, fighting in their arena. Captain Kirk took our punishments on himself and talked the Providers into letting us go if he won an unfair fight. He did everything he could to protect us, even though he'd have stood a better chance of getting out, himself, if he'd let us fend for ourselves." Chekov looked at Kirk. "I do not have much experience in Starfleet yet, but a captain who puts his crew before himself ... I am thinking that is not so common. I will remember, if ever I am a senior officer, how a good one acts."
Kirk smiled. "And how Mr. Spock acts, and Mr. Scott, and Mr. Sulu, and Ms. Uhura." He gave McCoy a mischievous grin and added, "But best you not act like Dr. McCoy, or you might get court martialed."
Everyone (except Spock, of course) chuckled, and Kirk carefully did not look at Spock, making it clear that he wasn't expecting the Vulcan to follow the human custom.
Spock steepled his fingers. "I told you, on the occasion of our visit to Sigma Iotia Two, that you were an excellent starship commander, and I acknowledged to Garth of Izar that I considered you as a brother. Those things have not changed, or rather, my opinion of you — both personal and professional — has only grown more positive the longer I have known you.
A single anecdote could not do justice to the many positive qualities I have observed in you, nor to the numerous times that you have put my interests ahead of your own. The most important of the latter is one I am prohibited from sharing publically, but I know that you are aware of it and are aware of the gratitude I bear towards you for it.
Rather than discussing a single anecdote in detail, then, I will simply repeat things I have heard you say, trusting that you understand the value and importance of these incidents.
Leave any bigotry in your quarters; there's no room for it on the bridge.
What have you done to do justice to the full potential of every individual of The Body? Without freedom of choice, there is no creativity. Without creativity, there is no life. The Body dies. The fault is yours.
Instinct can be fought. We're human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands, but we can stop it. We can admit that we're killers, but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes. Knowing that we won't kill today.
Risk, risk is our business. That's what the starship is all about; that's why we're aboard her.
Spock looked at Kirk. "There is more, but I sense that you are embarrassed, so I will stop here."
Kirk shook his head. "When you decide to give a compliment, Mr. Spock, you really give one."
Spock raised a brow. "They are merely your own words, reflected back to you. The honor is entirely yours."
Kirk looked down for a moment to regain his composure, then looked back up again. "Okay, everybody — CAKE!"
Scotty handed Kirk a knife, and the captain cut the cake into wedges, one for each person present, including Spock, who accepted his plate without comment.
Once everyone had been served, the group sang the Happy Birthday song to Kirk. Spock and Uhura could sing well, the others not so well, but the quality of the song didn't matter, because the sentiment was the important thing. Kirk had always valued his crew, and his senior officers had let him know that the things he'd done over the years had been seen and noticed and remembered, and they valued him in turn.
Kirk had the finest ship in the Fleet, an excellent crew, and the respect and affection of the only people who really mattered. People said you couldn't have it all, but Kirk thought that maybe — just maybe — he actually did. And you couldn't have a happier birthday than that.