Title: Don't Stop Believing 4.2/?
Pairing: Kirk/Spock pre-slash
Warnings: Possible violation of the laws of physics
Chapter summary: Scotty doesn't like Spock very much and Kirk is perceptive. Otherwise, a first contact started with a firefight.
Notes: For detailed story summary/navigation/word count, please visit the Master Post.
Humans have a tendency to anthropomorphize inanimate objects, and if the Enterprise had truly been alive, the jolt of the unknown energy hitting it would have counted as a knockdown.
Spock picks himself up from the deck, which is still trembling in the aftershocks. He blinks several times, adjusting to the sparse emergency lights, and looks around.
People are groaning all over the bridge, splayed on the deck and their stations. Nyota is the closest one to Spock; he reaches for her.
“‘m fine,” she mumbles, uncharacteristically inarticulate, and the grip of her hands on his arms is weak as he hauls her upright and to her chair.
“Can someone get me a damage report?” Kirk asks, coughing. He’s standing next to his chair, leaning on it and checking controls that appear to be dead. Spock backs to his own station, which shows no signs of life whatsoever.
“Helm’s dead,” Spock hears Sulu say in frustration.
“My console is fried,” Chekov complains, sounding almost petulant.
“Spock?” Kirk turns to him, revealing a reddish mark high on his cheek from where his face must have encountered some hard surface. Spock is already moving along the bridge, opening several panels and checking the systems for life signs.
“We appear to be completely devoid of energy, Captain,” Spock says, walking over to Kirk. “The engines must be down.”
“Obviously,” Kirk agrees dryly, tapping his foot in emphasis of the familiar, now-lacking hum the engines are usually making. “Uhura—”
“I can’t reach Engineering, Captain.” She shakes her head angrily, pulling her earpiece out and dumping it on her console almost in disgust. “Or any other department. The intercom’s down.”
“That’s not all.” Sulu is standing next to the turbolift doors, which, despite his proximity, remain shut. “We seem to be locked in.”
“Spock.” Kirk turns to him, hands on his hips with a tight frown creasing his forehead. “Just before we were hit, you said something about an anomalous reading?”
“Correct.” Spock nods. “An unidentified energy field, which our sensors were unable to penetrate.”
“Could it have been a hostile ship?”
“Unknown,” Spock responds. “But possible.”
“Right.” Kirk purses his lips. “If anyone’s alive in Engineering, they might need help. Get down there; use the Jeffries tubes. See if you can help Scotty bring our systems back online. Mr. Sulu and I will take another route and try to find out what the hell’s going on, and round up some security if we can.”
“Captain,” Nyota calls, coming closer. “Request permission to join the commander. The communications center is down, but I might be able to set up an emergency generator so that we can at least use our communicators.”
“Good idea.” Kirk nods at her. “You’re with Spock, then.” He looks over the bridge at large. “I want everyone to arm themselves. We don’t know what we’re dealing with, and until we do, this is Condition Black. Is that clear?”
A chorus of “Aye, sir” runs along the bridge while people retrieve hand phasers and communicators.
“Chekov, you have the conn,” Kirk says, clasping his own belt. “Spock, get me an update if you can. If not, it’s SOP.”
“All right. Let’s go.”
Spock crawls down under the spare science station console at the back of the bridge to remove the hatch covering the Jeffries tube’s entrance. He has ten decks to climb down to reach Engineering; Nyota has six.
But four decks down, they discover they can go no further. The doors of the tube stay completely immune to the mechanical command, Spock’s strength, or magnetic sealers.
“Looks like it’s glued,” Nyota whispers. Spock can feel the heightened level of nervousness emanating from her, but she is keeping it tightly lidded.
“We must exit here,” he tells her lowly, moving into the side tunnel. “There is another entrance at the next intersection of the deck.”
They barely have the time to straighten up in the ominously silent darkness of Deck Four before they are fired upon.
Spock jumps, taking Nyota with him, and they roll across the floor, illuminated by the sizzling white blasts ripping the air. They can’t afford to stop, not even for a moment. Spock’s training and instincts kick in, and, in the midst of his chaotic movement, he realizes that all of the fire is coming from one direction. He pushes Nyota to the opposite side of the corridor, and they both take cover behind the barely concealing ridges of the doorways before returning fire.
“Three shooters,” Spock shouts to Nyota, using an obscure Tellarite dialect in the hopes of confusing their opponents. “Get to Jeffries tube 34 and proceed as planned. I will cover you.”
He can’t spare a moment to look at her in the vastness of the firefight, but he can feel her eyes on him even as her phaser sends out another blast. He knows she’s reluctant to leave him.
“That’s an order, Lieutenant!”
“Yes, sir.” She bristles and fires a rapid sequence into the blackness of the corridor, clearing it up for the few seconds she needs for the jump.
It helps that either she or Spock manage to hit the invisible target just as Nyota dives from her cover. Spock anticipates her move, rolling over and pushing the recovering time of his phaser to the limit and drowning the passageway in fire. Jeffries tube 34 is just around the corner; Spock hears the cover being removed in record time and ducks to the side, assuming Nyota’s previous position and not letting himself be swept over with relief.
Spock concentrates, trying to calculate the pattern in the rapid change of positions and angles the enemy fire is coming from. On his third attempt, he manages to hit a second shooter and, after a few moments, he realizes that the third hostile is retreating, shooting back occasionally to cover his movements.
Quickly, Spock runs forward, kneeling beside the splayed aliens, trying to see what they look like in the narrow bluish beam of his flashlight.
Humanoid and bipedal, with ebonite-black skin that seems to be naturally wet and resembles tar. The bodies aren’t covered in clothes, but there is a peculiar net of blue and green specks dotting their skin, connected by silvery lines. Spock reasons that they are probably shorter than an average human or Vulcan, but he believes their mass to be exceeding in two, perhaps three times that. These are most certainly representatives of a previously unknown race.
Knowing that any further examination will have to wait until they retake the ship, Spock hurries over to another Jeffries tube, risking a bit of extra distance to get a shortcut to Engineering.
He’s ambushed just as he rounds the corner. There are two of them, and for some reason they don’t fire, tackling Spock to the deck instead. He tries to evade them, but he was right about their mass, and feels his ribs scream as one of the aliens lands on top of him. Spock’s phaser scatters into the darkness and out of reach, his arms moving automatically to defend his head against a series of heavy blows.
Spock knows nothing about his opponents’ anatomy, but several seconds of fierce struggle empower him with the knowledge that he is quicker, but their blows are deadlier. He tries to apply the nerve pinch, which results in a deafening shout of pain and an outburst of berserk fury from his opponent, but not even a hint of nearing unconsciousness.
The alien slams Spock against the door, knocking the wind out of him and illuminating Spock’s vision in a manner that Spock is certain has nothing to do with external lighting. Unexpectedly, the door behind Spock’s back rolls open, much slower than it normally would but too fast still for Spock’s attackers, who aren’t quick enough to prevent him from being pulled inside.
“Commander?” a tiny, surprised voice says, as the door slams shut without obstruction. Spock recognizes the voice of a junior communications officer on Nyota’s team.
“Ensign Sano,” he greets, attempting to catch his breath. His body protests loudly as he sits up, but Spock ignores it.
“What’s going on?” Sano asks, kneeling beside him. “Oh my God, you’re hurt—”
“Irrelevant at the moment.” Spock pulls away from her hands, which have been trying to ascertain his status, clumsy in the semi-darkness. “We have been boarded; that is all I can tell you. I need to get to Engineering.”
There’s a nervous chuckle. “Well, it’s just a wild guess, but I think the big guys from behind the door might have a problem with that.”
Spock winces. “The situation is serious and does not call for inappropriate commentary, Ensign.”
Her face flushes and she backs off. “Sorry, sir.”
Spock gets to his feet, one arm wrapped protectively around his ribcage. The pain is sharp, but steady, and therefore manageable.
“I will have to use the ventilation grid,” Spock says, staring at the ceiling. “Please move your desk here.”
She goes at once to obey, but that doesn’t stop her from objecting. “Sir, those tubes are really narrow. In your condition—”
“Thank you for your concern, Ensign, but we do not have a choice.”
He climbs onto the desk, forcing both of his arms to work, and removes the ventilation hatch. The effort it takes to climb in nearly makes him faint, and he is certain that his teeth are not supposed to make this kind of sound. Once inside, he bends over.
“Ensign, I suggest you do not try to open your door again.”
“Yes, sir.” She nods hurriedly. “Good luck.”
Spock orients himself using the memorized blueprints of the ship more than his flashlight, which could give away his position. He crawls, squeezing himself into the narrow passageways, the sharp edges of the hatches ripping his shirt and scratching his arms. Finally, when he can go no further, he kicks a hatch open and falls down, hoping to at least gain the element of surprise if he’s in the midst of enemies again.
But he is fortunate this time – the rec room he breaks into is empty. Spock collects himself quickly and moves over to the weapons locker, swiftly punching in the code. He grabs a phaser and rushes toward Jeffries tube 25 this time, securing the hatch behind himself before climbing down.
The Engineering deck is under attack, but Spock has no choice. If the aliens take over Engineering, any hope of retaking the ship is doomed. He throws himself out of the tube and toward one of the side entrances, dodging enemy fire but feeling it burning his skin several times – dangerously close, but thankfully not lethal. Spock pushes himself against the doorway and fires back, one hand tapping at the door and hoping beyond hope someone will hear him in the roar of the cannonade.
The door finally opens a crack and almost instantly all the way, but not before a blast grazes Spock’s shoulder, and he sags down involuntarily. He falls through the door, which is instantly slammed shut, and blinks rapidly, listening to seemingly unending stream of expletives. Someone is maneuvering him, tying a piece of cloth over his shoulder and swearing as Spock sits up.
“...using fucking Morse code? Ye bloody lunatic—”
“Mr. Scott” – Spock winces, getting to his feet – “I am certain that this language is inappropriate.”
Scott glares at him. “Tell that to those bloody bastards behind the door. Sir.”
Spock shakes his head, looking over the ruffled engineering team members who are holding positions at all the entrances.
“What is our status?”
“We’re in deep shit is our status,” Scott growls, walking deeper into his kingdom of tubes and conduits as he gestures wildly with his hands. “I don’t have the first idea of how they did it, but the engines are off cold. We managed to prevent the chain reaction in the intermix chamber, but now it’s all frozen dead.”
“We have to restart the engines,” Spock says.
“Aye,” Scott grunts. “Tell me something I don’t know.”
Spock opens his mouth, but suddenly his communicator chirps at his belt, as does Scott’s.
“Well, would ye look at that,” the Engineer mutters, pulling the device out and studying it in awe. “They’re back online.”
Spock makes a mental note to commend Nyota’s efficiency, but there are more pressing matters to take care of.
“Spock to Captain Kirk.”
The firefight suddenly seems to be all over them, and it takes Spock a moment to realize the sounds are seeping from the open channel.
“Kirk here,” comes a slightly breathless reply, muffled with the sound of phaser blasts. “Spock, you in Engineering? What’s going on down there?”
“Captain, the engines are functional, but turned off cold,” Spock reports promptly. “Mr. Scott will require” – he looks at Scott who mouths a figure at him – “fifty minutes to restart them.”
Kirk swears then yelps, and there’s a sound of running footsteps and more shouting.
“Not good enough,” the captain’s voice comes in again. Kirk’s panting. “Listen, those motherfuckers are all over the ship. I’ve organized security teams and we’re implementing grid defense, but we can’t even get a headcount without internal scanners. We’ve had them contained twice, but they’re beaming out and beaming back in, before we can get our hands on them.”
Spock doesn’t have time to be impressed at the moment, but he is, despite himself, because the fact that Kirk managed to set up organized defense with most of the ship’s systems down and without communicators is no small feat by any measure.
“We need our shields up and we need them up now; we can’t wait fifty minutes,” Kirk snaps, and then he must be firing again, because the sound of the blast is almost deafening. “Med Bay’s full – I’ve left Sulu there to guard them, but I don’t know how many we’ve lost, and we can’t keep it up any longer.”
Kirk allows himself a gulp of air before continuing. “Tell Scotty he’s gotta risk a cold start.”
“What?” Scott sputters, blinking in shock.
“Captain, it has never been done,” Spock tells Kirk solemnly over Scott’s indignant, “Captain, it’s plain suicide!”
“It’s a working theory, it’s possible,” Kirk speaks over them. “We can’t afford to lose any more people, Commander. You’re there, you both know the formula, and that’s a fucking order, you two. Call me when you’re ready, and it’d better be soon. Kirk out.”
Spock slams his communicator shut and looks at Scott.
“Aye, I heard him,” the Engineer says, looking shell-shocked. “But Mr. Spock, this is crazy. For a cold start, even in bloody theory, the matter and anti-matter should be measured precisely to the last micron, and in case ye haven’t noticed, nothing bloody works ‘round here! I’ll have to set all the reactors manually, and that’s – that’s – I don’t even—”
“Mr. Scott.” Spock reaches and grips the apoplectic-looking engineer’s arm firmly. “We are pressed for time. It must be done, and there is no one in this room who stands a better chance of succeeding than you do.”
Scott blinks, looking at Spock’s hand on his elbow and then back into Spock’s eyes. He swallows. “Aye. Ye put in the formula. I’ll... I’ll get to it.”
Spock nods and releases him. He walks over to the main reaction control computer, which Scott has managed to get online somehow, and starts inputting the figures. His memory of the article he read on the subject two years ago is perfect, and Spock lets it flow freely through his hands, thinking of the captain as well.
Spock knows Kirk had a double major; in fact, he is probably more familiar with Kirk’s academic records than his own. It’s still impressive and for some reason, mildly exciting, if Spock is being honest with himself, that Kirk could recall his knowledge of a newly defended theory in warp physics in the midst of a crisis while being fired upon. It is, in any case, more pleasant to dwell on this fact than on the chances of the first-ever practical experiment in the field being successful under such circumstances.
“Well, it’s as ready as it can be,” Scott says gloomily, appearing at Spock’s elbow. “Ye done?”
Spock rechecks the equation for the fourth time and nods. “Check for yourself, please, while I inform the captain.”
Kirk answers immediately, panting. “You guys ready? We’ve just retaken the bridge; it’d be nice to keep it that way.”
Spock waits for a nervous nod from Scott and says, “We are ready, Captain.”
“Good.” A pause. “Throw the switch.”
Scott swallows, and pushes down the control. Holding his breath, he turns to stare at the plasma tanks coming to life, one by one, with a sound glowering in the uncommon silence on this usually busy deck. Slowly, each tank shows green, and Scott sways with relief that he has it right. Only then does he notice what Spock is up to.
“Mr. Spock what are ye doing?” Scott shouts in shock. “Ye can’t just—”
Spock isn’t listening, focused intently on his calculations as he experiences an acute case of tunnel vision. He has been staring at the even row of the equations on the screen, watching the indicators passing the point of no return, when, suddenly, he spots what seems to be a flaw in the formula.
If Spock were any calmer, any saner, at that moment, he would have realized that the theory has been proved mathematically several times over and the figures are correct, and, in any case, highly unlikely for him to just ‘spot’ a critical error in the blink of an eye, because other people must have asked this question before and it must have been answered satisfactorily, and Spock’s ruining their only chance for survival by intervening...
But he is not sane at that moment. He has somehow slipped into the coldest, smoothest, straightest tunnel his logic has ever created, and if he stops for a moment to check his calculations or to doubt them, he’ll lose the split second that separates them from obliteration – the micro moment of a head start he has over the silent but deadly streams of matter and antimatter rushing toward each other right now. Spock tunes out Scott’s yelling and Keenser’s whining, and concentrates until he forgets to breathe. He inputs the last digit an instant before the intermix chamber is flooded and waits...
A heartbeat. Another one. Another.
And then, the deck trembles beneath their feet, and there’s a series of consequent clangs that indicate the engines coming online.
It’s Spock’s turn to sway, and he grabs the console for support as Scott rushes over to the control panel to raise the ship’s shields.
“Do I want to know what just happened down there?”
Kirk’s voice neatly cuts through the haze clouding Spock’s mind, and Spock picks up the forgotten communicator, blinking.
“No,” he says, looking at Scott who still seems murderous. “You do not.”
“Ri-ight,” Kirk says skeptically. “Scotty, you there?”
“Aye, Captain,” Scott replies, coming closer and shooting nasty looks at Spock.
“Scotty, I’m transferring all command functions to Engineering,” Kirk tells him. “I’m placing you in operational command until this mess is sorted and we’ve contained all intruders. Right now, I’m heading out with the security teams.”
Spock frowns. “Captain, I do not believe—”
“Spock, get up to the bridge,” Kirk interrupts him. “Out chronometers seem to be going crazy; Chekov’s crying over his console.”
There’s an indignant shout in the background, no doubt coming from the ensign. Spock frowns still. “Captain, it is not logical for you to—”
“Spock, you’re the Science Officer, so get up here and help Chekov sort out this mess. I’m of no use on the bridge, and Garrovick needs every man he can get. It’s not over yet.”
“Aye, sir,” Spock yields reluctantly. “I’m on my way.”
“Watch your back,” Kirk advises before signing off.
Getting up to the bridge proves to be easier than Spock anticipates. He runs into an ambush twice more, but each time, a security team covers him, happening all too conveniently on his way to be a coincidence. He strides onto the bridge to be greeted by an irate Chekov and a picture of general devastation. It is painfully clear that the bridge has been a battlefield.
Chekov pulls Spock – thankfully by his healthy arm – toward his console, showing him the analysis he has in progress. They sit side by side, recalculating the probabilities before Spock orders Scott to stop the ship’s forward motion and activate the reverse. Spock then has Chekov change the course and strides to his own station, noting with satisfaction that Scott seems to have gotten most of the ship’s systems online, including the internal scanners. Spock concentrates on restoring life support in the sectors where it has failed.
An hour and forty-two minutes later, the turbolift doors swish open and Kirk walks onto the bridge, accompanied by Nyota and a security team. They all appear scratched, bruised, and beaten, but overall, none the worse for wear. Kirk is grinning broadly.
“It’s over!” he exclaims, whirling his phaser on his finger before bringing it to his lips and blowing off imagined steam. “All the bastards are sitting under guard in cargo bay four. Good work, team!”
He throws an arm around Nyota’s shoulders. She shoves him in the ribs, but grins. “Get over yourself, Kirk.”
Kirk brings two fingers to his mouth and whistles loudly, striding to his chair and gesturing for Spock and Chekov to come over.
“So, geek people – talk to me. Why does my wrist chrono say I’m living backwards?”
“It shouldn’t anymore, Keptin,” Chekov says hesitantly, glancing at Spock.
Spock folds his arms behind his back, ignoring a shot of pain from his shoulder. “The cold restart had an unforeseen side effect, sir,” he says. “According to Mr. Chekov’s calculations, which I can confirm, we have been thrown approximately three hours, twenty-two minutes, and five point four seconds into the past before Mr. Scott reversed the engines.”
Kirk whistles softly. “We have three hours to relive?”
“Affirmative.” Spock inclines his head. “I have taken the liberty of changing our course in order to avoid a second... encounter, with our assailants.”
“They call themselves the Bamun,” Nyota says from her station, not looking up from where she’s typing at a breathtaking speed. “The UT is pretty much worthless, but I’m putting together a team...” She trails off.
Kirk’s smirk holds more than a touch of bitterness as he shakes his head. “One hell of a first contact procedure. Just our luck.”
“Indeed,” Spock agrees.
The turbolift doors open again to reveal a haggard-looking Lieutenant Sulu. One of his arms is in a cast and he spots a newly sealed gash across his cheek as well. Chekov gasps and rushes to his side; Sulu acknowledges him with a small smile, but his eyes are somber.
“Doctor McCoy sends his regards,” he says, coming over.
“Head count?” Kirk asks quietly.
“We’ve lost eleven people so far,” Sulu tells him grimly, holding his eyes.
Kirk’s shoulders slump noticeably, and Sulu reaches out to pat his back awkwardly. Chekov steps closer as well. Nyota turns toward them in her seat, looking sorrowful.
Spock feels strangely excluded from this expression of grief and sympathy, as if there is some kind of invisible vibe uniting his human colleagues in this but carefully avoiding him. He shifts from foot to foot, feeling like an intruder.
“I will check the status of the available personnel with Doctor McCoy,” he says, his dry tone sounding harsh and scratchy to his own ears. “And I will organize the replacement crews and repairs schedule.”
Kirk looks up at him sharply, fixing on Spock’s face as if searching for something. Spock returns his gaze calmly, unwilling to let any emotion show. If he let his feelings uncoil now, he would not be at any level of efficiency at any time in the foreseeable future.
Kirk’s face closes and he purses his lips. Whatever he has been looking for in Spock’s expression, it’s clear he hasn’t found it.
“Yes, Commander, you do that.” Kirk runs his hand across his face tiredly, which the others apparently take as a signal to return to their duties. Kirk glances at Spock again. “Have that arm treated first.”
Spock frowns. “It is a minor injury. The medical staff is occupied with more serious matters.”
“Can’t argue with you on that one.” Kirk shrugs gloomily. “But it’s their job. Some of us pull the short straw every time.”
Spock purses his lips. “Indeed.”
When Spock finally does get to Med Bay, he congratulates himself with his timing. McCoy is exhausted after a double shift, still very busy, and simply doesn’t notice Spock slipping in. The Vulcan looks around for a free nurse and breathes a quiet sigh of relief as he catches Chapel’s eye. She has treated him before, and Spock approves of her quiet, down-to-business attitude.
She is not so quiet and polite after she scans him, however. Spock watches in idle fascination as she fusses over him, slams half a dozen hypos into his chest and neck, cuts away the remains of his shirt, and directs his movements, biting her lip in tired frustration. She becomes the first person that day – or has it been two days? – who is not reprimanded by him for inappropriate language, even though every scan of him prompts a new stream of profanities to seep from her lips that would make the proverbial sailor spontaneously combust. Spock is almost lulled by the sound.
“Commander? Commander, are you with me?” She shakes him slightly. “Sir?”
Spock blinks. She has very strong arms. “Yes.”
“Okay.” She exhales in relief, and, to Spock’s surprise, blushes. “You’re – you’re staring.”
“Oh.” Spock blinks again. His eyelids are heavy, and he frowns slightly, wondering what was in that medication she pushed into him. “I apo—apologize.”
“Will you be able to walk to your quarters?” She persists. “Sir?”
“Yes,” Spock says, confident. He moves to get up, but somehow ends up falling asleep instead.
“Sleeping on the job?”
There’s some fond exasperation in the quiet voice that wakes Spock. He runs a quick diagnostic of his own condition before opening his eyes. He is satisfactorily healed, his time sense informing him that he has been asleep for six hours. Only after that does he identify the voice.
“Captain,” Spock says, opening his eyes to see Kirk leaning against a wall, arms folded as he watches him. Spock props himself up on his elbows tentatively. Reassured by experiencing only some mild discomfort, he sits up. “You are free to reprimand me.”
Kirk snorts and tosses a long-sleeved undershirt into Spock’s face. “I’m willing to overlook it this one time,” he says leisurely, as Spock unfolds the garment. “If you promise not to pull this kind of shit on me ever again.”
Spock lifts an eyebrow, tugging the shirt over his head. “I did not plan on going to sleep in the middle of my duty shift—”
“Spock,” Kirk interrupts firmly, stepping closer and putting one hand on the biobed next to Spock’s hip. His eyes are gravely serious. “Stop it. You know damn well what I’m talking about.”
Spock holds his eyes, but doesn’t answer. He straightens the shirt around his form instead. Kirk huffs an indignant sigh.
“Chapel has done you a tremendous favor. You slept right through Bones throwing a fit over how I nearly worked my XO to death.”
Spock winces. “Clearly an exaggeration.”
He hops down from the bed, placing their eyes on the same level. Kirk doesn’t back down, and Spock doesn’t, either. He doesn’t like feeling crowded, but with Kirk, everything is a battle of wills, and it’s not Spock’s intention to show weakness.
“This time,” Kirk allows, holding Spock’s gaze. “What kind of logic was that? Indulge me; I’m curious. Do you enjoy being in pain or something?”
Spock merely lifts an eyebrow, but the captain is not thrown off the trail.
“Or was it—” Kirk narrows his eyes. “Did you think no one would care?”
And just like that, Spock can’t help it. He drops his gaze.
“Fantastic,” Kirk breathes out, a warm puff of air across the tip of Spock’s ear.
Spock says nothing.
“I don’t have time for this kind of shit right now, and neither do you.” The captain’s tone is stern, but the hand that grips Spock’s shoulder is solid and sure. “You’re an important and valuable part of this team, Commander, and if you ever endanger this part again on purpose or by neglect, there’re gonna be big repercussions, you understand me?”
“I don’t think I heard you.”
Spock lifts his eyes, and knows he’s probably glaring.
“Yes, sir,” he says louder, hearing his voice reverberate between the narrow walls.
Kirk grins in a manner that makes Spock wish to hit him.
“Good,” he says. “Now, let’s talk repairs schedule.”
“I do not believe we will,” Spock says, stepping away from Kirk and eyeing him critically. “When have you last eaten, Captain? Slept?”
“I—” Kirk pauses. His expression goes from that of a self-assured starship captain to one of a pouting child so fast that Spock almost softens. Almost. “Come on, Spock. It’s not about me.”
“How so?” Spock raises an eyebrow. “Are you not the most important and valuable part of this team?”
“Shall I invite Doctor McCoy to provide an opinion?”
Kirk blanches. “You wouldn’t dare.”
A lifted eyebrow is the only response he gets. Spock watches with satisfaction as the captain’s shoulders slump in defeat.
“Fine,” Kirk mutters, glaring daggers at his first officer. “I’ll remember you play dirty next time.”
Spock waits till Kirk reaches the doorway before responding tartly, “I should hope so.”
Kirk pauses, shakes his head, and walks out without looking back, but Spock knows, somehow, that the captain is grinning.4.3