DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of DebbieB and is copyright (c) 2000 by DebbieB. This story is Rated PG-13.


Don't Tell Me You Love Me When I'm Kicking Your Butt

By DebbieB


Christine Chapel folded her arms tightly across her chest. "This is wrong. This is categorically, unmistakably, totally and completely wrong."

"Shhhh." Uhura sat next to her in the crowded conference room. "You know as well as I do that morale couldn't be lower. If anything is going to be done about it, we all need to be together on this."

"I'm not together on anything. You are the one with talent. You are the performer. Not me. I'm the boring, nothing out of the ordinary, head nurse type. You remember? Medical school. Research labs?" She shook her head with a firmness decidedly reminiscent of Leonard McCoy. "I'm a scientist, not a vaudeville performer."

"Leonardo da Vinci was a scientist, muh dear, and he was a musician and artist as well."

"Different century, different subject."

Uhura laughed, a sparkling contrast to her friend's dour disposition. "You just don't like it when I'm right, do you?"

Chapel's response was cut short by the sound of the door whishing open behind her. "Oh, lord," she muttered as the ship's morale officer, Craig Lembeck, hurried into the conference room.

"Hi-ho, gang. So glad you could make it on such short notice. I see most of you have helped yourselves to the refreshments. As I mentioned in my memo, this is just a short planning meeting for the first ever Enterprise Talent Extravaganza." He grinned broadly, bright white teeth flashing from the baby-face which belied his age. "Come on, don't knock me down with the enthusiasm, folks." This was met with something just short of dead silence. A single cough echoed in the back of the room, but mainly the officers gathered in the room just stared blankly ahead.

If this lack of response fazed the morale officer, he didn't let it show. He just plowed on with the same energetic approach. "I've asked you here for this planning meeting because you are the best and the brightest. Each of you is a leader in your own department, a person to whom others look up."

"Well, yeah, if they're flat on their back in Sickbay, there's not much else to do but look up," Chapel muttered.

"Nurse Chapel," Lembeck continued, latching on to the slight motion she made when she leaned to deliver her sotto voce barb to Uhura. "You practically run Sickbay. And being so close to the nerve center of ship's medicine, you know how important morale is to the crew."

Chapel sputtered, caught off guard. "Uhmm, well, yeah… I mean…."

"And as head nurse, I know you take the current morale crisis very seriously."

"Well, of course I…"

"Then I can count on your support with this?" He took her glassy countenance for agreement and continued enthusiastically, walking over to the other side of the conference room where attention had waned. "I need all of you to support this, each and every one of you. Now, I know that some of you have reservations about performing on stage, but I assure you, the potential rewards far outweigh the risks."

"Not if I ever get him in the operating room," Chapel muttered.

* * *

The Captain's quarters were much more comfortable, if no less rife with controversy.

"You have given me no sound reasons why this display should have any positive affect on ship's morale."

Kirk shook his head for the umpteenth time and turned a helpless glance to his Chief Medical Officer. "Bones, can you explain this to him?"

McCoy, caught with a hand full of the clever sandwich triangles he'd grabbed from the catering tray, laughed. "What he's trying to say, Spock, is that nothing cheers up the common worker more than watching his or her boss make a complete fool of him or herself. Especially in public."

"That is utterly illogical, Dr. McCoy."

Kirk laughed as well. The generous spread of food and drink at the table was evidence he had planned on a hard-sell with Spock. "It may be illogical, but it's a time-honored human tradition." He ignored the raised eyebrow that told him exactly what Spock thought of so many time-honored human traditions. "There is a leveling that takes place, a realization that The Boss is just another guy or gal trying to do a job."

Spock's expression, or lack thereof, indicated quite clearly that he was not convinced. "Such a display does not correct the problems which cause the decreased morale. It is simply a diversion."

"You're right, there. And we are all aware of which root problems can be fixed and which are just part of the job. We're working on the solvable problems, Spock. But this diversion, as you call it, is more…" He turned helplessly to McCoy, who was too busy with his third salmon-salad sandwich triangle to supply the elusive word, "…symbolic. Yeah, it's a symbolic gesture to the crew. To show that we appreciate them, that we're willing to put ourselves on the line in an act of humor and goodwill. Even Bones has signed up."

McCoy swallowed quickly, not willing to let that opportunity pass without comment. "That's right, Spock. Why, the McCoy family tree is just full of travelling snake-oil salesmen, masters of wit and wonder, whose feats of prestidigitation were equaled only by their skill with the gentler sex." He straightened. "It would be criminal not to share that talent with the crew."

Kirk hesitated, but continued as if McCoy had actually made a valid contribution to the argument. "Even I plan on participating."

"You?" This came simultaneously from McCoy and Spock.

"Yes, me." If Kirk was affronted by their concerned exchange of glances, he didn't let it show. "I've been known to do a little magic with a ballad in my day. Back in the Academy, they called me 'Golden Throat' Kirk."

"Uh, well, Jim…"

"Captain, I do not feel it would be appropriate…"

Kirk silenced them both with wave of his hand. "Nonsense, gentlemen. I insist. I want my crew to know that I'm willing to go out on a limb for them. And if I can give them a few minutes of entertainment in the process, all the better."

Another exchange of pointed glances between First Officer and CMO. Then McCoy said, "Uh, Jim, you do realize that, as Master of Ceremonies, you're gonna be on stage a whole lot. And it is an unwritten show business rule that the Master of Ceremonies never takes a coveted spot for himself."

"But what about that guy from the Miss Galaxy contest? He always sings a song."

"Hack. Completely unprofessional. My great-great-great-granddaddy, Whistle-Stop McCoy, would have had him shot at dawn for the bounder he was." Kirk looked doubtful, but McCoy pressed his advantage. "No, Jim, as Master of Ceremonies, it is your job to make the other guys look good. To perform a song of your own would be positively…." He struggled for the word.

"Unsafe?" Spock supplied.

"Ungentlemanly," McCoy covered. "Why, Jim, you're the captain. You get all the glory, all the time. You can't think of taking the spotlight away from your people. That would destroy the whole purpose of this show."

"Well," Kirk looked doubtful. "If you really think it would be unprofessional…"

"Beyond unprofessional. No, it is not the Master of Ceremonies' place to perform in the show." The doctor turned a mischievous gaze at Spock. "But it is absolutely imperative that someone of command rank participate."

"Mr. Scott has already volunteered to play his bagpipes." Spock ignored the scowl on McCoy's face. "And while Lt. Uhura is not officially considered command rank, she has assumed that responsibility on more than one occasion. She has already informed me that she will be singing. Therefore, Doctor, it appears that criterion has been more than adequately met."

"Aw, c'mon, Spock. I've seen you pull that blasted Vulcan lyre out and play at the drop of a hat. Throw in a couple of scantily clad dancing girls, several bottle of good Kentucky whiskey, and you're two inches shy of being actually entertaining."

"My lyre is in a shop in Shi'Kahr, being repaired. Even if I were interesting in this public display, I would be unable to comply to your request."

Kirk, sensing a weakening in the sentry walls, chimed in, "Well, Spock, I'm sure we could program the replicators for a Vulcan lyre. It's not standard, but I know a few people with pull in ship's stores."

"A replicated lyre is out of the question. On the whole, replicated lyres are unable to produce the subtleties of sound inherent in their hand-made counterparts."

"Oh, don't fall back on that musical snobbery." McCoy made a grab for yet another sandwich, this time a vegetarian surprise on cracked wheat. "There must be something you can do. I'm pulling rabbits out of a hat, and Golden Throat here has even volunteered to belt out a version of 'Rocket Man' for us. It's not like talent is a prerequisite here."

"Hey," Kirk started.

"Listen, Spock. Let's make this interesting. Jim, get that commemorative coin you got from the Viazhali Mardi Gras Ball. Heads or tails, Spock?"

"I beg your pardon?"

McCoy took the coin from a still-scowling Kirk. "Heads or tails. If I win, you do the show. Without complaints. If you win, I manage your personnel rosters for a month."

"Dr. McCoy, introducing an element of chance does not strengthen your argument. Rather, it shows a desperation which indicates a serious lack of logic."

"What did you mean by, 'Golden Throat here'," Kirk continued.

"Jim, focus. Tell Spock that it's a good idea."

The Captain dropped his musings for a moment, then turned to his First Officer. "Mr. Spock, I could make this an order. But that would probably do nothing for your morale. At least with Bones, you have a 50/50 shot of getting out of it."

"Actually, the odds in a simple coin toss are not truly 50/50…"

"Heads or tails, Spock?"

"Heads." The coin sparkled as it spun heads over tails through the air before landing in the palm of Dr. McCoy's hand.

* * *

Christine Chapel limped out into the makeshift auditorium and found a seat in a darkened back row. On stage, the talented people continued with their talented activities while She of Little Discernable Talent stalked off to lick her wounds and plan her eventual revenge.

"'Hey, I've got an idea. Let's put on a show!'" she grunted. "Gee, Mickey, what a great idea. You can write the songs, I can replicate the costumes, we'll be a huge hit on Broadway and Auntie Em won't have to lose the farm."

"I beg your pardon?" Spock's voice startled her, coming as it did from the row behind her.

"Mr. Spock! I'm sorry. I didn't see you sitting there."

A lifted eyebrow was the only response she got.

"I don't mean to be nosy, sir, but what exactly are you doing here?"

The other eyebrow joined its compatriot at the top of Spock's forehead. What had started as mere Vulcan acknowledgment was transformed to a look of patient dismissal. "I lost a coin toss with Dr. McCoy."

Chapel couldn't help laughing. "You didn't choose tails. McCoy can whip out that two-headed coin faster than a Ferengi can fix a dabo table."

"Unfortunately, I cannot claim fraud in this case, Miss Chapel. After last year's Christmas party, I knew enough to choose heads." A slight shake of his head was the only emotional allowance he gave. "This was merely a case of … bad luck." He accepted her chuckle with enormous dignity. "Judging from your prior comments, is it safe to assume that you are not here willingly either?"

A quick blush raced across her cheeks, and Chapel was grateful for the cover of shadow in the auditorium. "I made a smart comment in front of the wrong person. I'm basically here to save face. Although," she said, stretching the sore muscles in her neck slowly. "Considering how many acts I didn't fit into, I might have just been better off not showing up." At Spock's curious expression, she elaborated. "Well, my first idea was to be in M'Benga's jazz ensemble." She grimaced. "That was before I learned that being able to play 'Orange Blossom Special' on the spoons does not qualify as musical talent." That was met with a silent, mutually consensual decision not to comment. "Of course, I then decided that I should revive my short-lived career as a baton twirler. You'll be happy to know that Ensign Morales is recovering nicely and should be released later today. And as for Miss Ross and the Supremes," she nodded to Uhura who was consulting with her newly-formed girl group on potential costumes, "It's amazing how little years of friendship means in the face of complete tone-deafness. I swear, if my legs were in better shape, I'd just set up a cage at stage right and do a go-go dance to 'Rock Lobster'."

Spock remained silent, as if unsure whether to ask for a translation or not.

"So what are you planning to do, Mr. Spock?"

"I have planned to recite excerpts from Sonek's On Logic and Reform."

"You are kidding, right?" Chapel stared hard, realizing that he actually intended to go through with it. "Forgive my impertinence, sir, but … well, as important as that work is culturally, don't you think it's a bit … well, dry?"

Spock stiffened. "Aside from Surak himself, Sonek is considered one of the greatest forerunners of modern Vulcan philosophy."

"I know, but…" She searched for a diplomatic way to tell him that one of the greatest forerunners of modern Vulcan philosophy would go over like a lead balloon with a crowd of junior officers. "Well, don't you think it's a bit … erudite for this show? I mean, McCoy is pulling rabbits out of a hat, and I heard a rumor that the captain actually wants to sing! I mean, what would your father think of you including the works of Sonek in that sort of hocum?" Okay, it was a little mean to use the old 'what would your father think' routine, but this was serious. Spock would be lynched if he tried to pull this off. He'd be safer with the baton routine.

Fortunately, the trick seemed to work. "What would you have me do, Miss Chapel?"

At this, she shrugged helplessly. "Well, you could always play the Vulcan lyre."

"My lyre is in the shop."

"You could sing. I heard you sing once…" Remembering that the one time she'd heard him singing, they'd also been used as human sex dolls for the Platonians, Chapel quickly changed the subject. "Or maybe you could … I mean, it would be great if you could…." She gave up. "You're in as bad a shape as I am."

"Worse, as I do not believe my attempts at go-go dancing would be appreciated."

"Oh, now you're a comic." She grinned, laughing softly at the pathetic situation in which they found themselves.

"You, I believe, are also not bound by the constraints of an ill-conceived and highly suspect wager."

"That's true." His utter seriousness combined with the utter ridiculousness of their dilemma struck her as funny. Chapel began to laugh in earnest.

"I fail to see the humor in this situation, Miss Chapel. We each have less than 32 hours to come up with a suitable performance for this … endeavor." He gave her a stern look. "Our cause will not be served if you succumb to hysteria."

"I know, I know," she choked. The more seriously he took the matter, the harder she laughed. "I'm sorry, Mr. Spock. It's just … too hilarious."

Spock lifted an eyebrow. "Human definitions of humor are a mystery to me."

This brought on another fit of the giggles. "Oh, you have no idea. You are a perfect straight man. Just perfect!" His complete dismissal of her description had her doubled over.

Chapel knew she should stop. It really wasn't funny. She really was hysterical. And all this laughing was making her stomach muscles scream in pain. Spock just had no clue how funny he was. He was the perfect straight man, every come-back with laser-like accuracy. She was just beginning to catch her breath when inspiration struck. "Oh, migosh," she hissed. "Oh, migosh my goodness!" She lifted her hand to cover her mouth. "This is perfect. This is incredible. Oh, migosh!"

"Would you care to enlighten me, Nurse?"

Chapel grinned broadly. "How would you like to show them up in a big way?"

"Show them up?" Before she could offer clarification, he said, "Showing them up would be highly preferable to what we currently have planned."

"Good," she said, grabbing his hand. "Come with me."

* * *

"This is utterly absurd, Miss Chapel."

"It's a classic."

Spock grimaced. The verbal challenge was minimal for a Vulcan, but the logic behind the sketch seemed faulty. "The entire narrative premise is based on the inability of the two characters to communicate effectively. The entire matter could be simplified by writing the names, preferably with first names to be more easily understood, on a roster, rather than continuing with this pointless activity."

"This pointless activity is a sure-fire laugh magnet. Now stop analyzing and just act frustrated."

"I will not be acting."

* * *

"Captain's Log: Supplemental.

"The first ever Enterprise Talent Extravaganza was a phenomenal success. I must say, I felt very natural on stage. It was a shame I didn't get to do my number, but the morale officer was very serious about staying on schedule.

"Of course, the highlight of the evening had to be the comic stylings of Mr. Spock and Nurse Chapel. I can't even begin to describe it here. But in the name of completeness, I have attached a transcript to the official log entry.

"Kirk out."

* * *

"Who's on Tactical?" A Dialogue between the Ship's First Officer and Head Nurse

Spock: You wished to speak with me, Miss Chapel?

Chapel: Yes, Mr. Spock. I'm setting up personnel folders for the new crewmen scheduled to arrive at Starbase 6. I wanted to get their names from you.

Spock: Certainly.

Chapel: I'm ready. Shoot.

Spock: There appears to be a preponderance of unusual names among the new arrivals.

Chapel: Unusual?

Spock: Unusual. On the bridge, we have Who on tactical, What on helm, and I Don't Know on communications.

Chapel: That's what I'm here find out.

Spock: I repeat: Who's on tactical, What's on helm, I Don't Know's on communications.

Chapel: You know the officers' names?

Spock: Certainly!

Chapel: Well then who's on tactical?

Spock: That is correct!

Chapel: I mean the fellow's name!

Spock: Who.

Chapel: The guy on tactical!

Spock: Who.

Chapel: The tactical officer!

Spock: Who.

Chapel: The guy doing tactics!

Spock: Who is doing tactics!

Chapel: Now what are you asking me for?

Spock: I am telling you Who is on tactical.

Chapel: Well, I'm asking YOU who's on tactical!

Spock: That is the man's name.

Chapel: That's who's name?

Spock: Yes.

Chapel: Well, go ahead and tell me.

Spock: Who.

Chapel: The guy on tactical.

Spock: Who.

Chapel: The tactical officer.

Spock: Who is the tactical officer.

Chapel: Have you got an officer assigned to the tactical station?

Spock: Absolutely.

Chapel: Who agreed to the assignment?

Spock: Naturally.

Chapel: When you report payroll for the tactical officer every month, who gets the money?

Spock: It would be illogical for anyone else to receive his salary.

Chapel: Who's salary?

Spock: Yes.

Chapel: All I'm trying to find out is what's the guy's name on tactical.

Spock: That is incorrect. What is on helm.

Chapel: I'm not asking you who's on helm.

Spock: Who is on tactical.

Chapel: I don't know.

Spock: He is at communications.

Chapel: Now, how did I get to communications?

Spock: You mentioned his name.

Chapel: If I mentioned the communications officer's name, who did I say is our communications officer?

Spock: That is incorrect. Who is our tactical officer.

Chapel: Never mind tactical - I want to know what's the guy's name on communications.

Spock: What is on helm.

Chapel: I'm not asking you who's on helm.

Spock: Who's on tactical.

Chapel: I don't know.

Spock: Communications.

Chapel: Would you please stay on track?

Spock: What was it you wanted?

Chapel: Now who's at communications?

Spock: It is illogical to insist on putting Who on communications.

Chapel: Why? I'm putting who at communications?

Spock: Yes. But he is not qualified to assume that position.

Chapel: What's the guy's name on communications?

Spock: What belongs at the helm, Nurse Chapel.

Chapel: I'm not asking you who's at the helm.

Spock: Who's on tactical.

Chapel: I don't know.

Spock & Chapel: Communications!!

Chapel: Do you have any medical crew?

Spock: Absolutely.

Chapel: The orderly's name?

Spock: Why.

Chapel: I don't know, I just thought I'd ask you.

Spock: And I have told you.

Chapel: Alright, then tell me who's the orderly.

Spock: Who is at the tactical--

Chapel: Stay off the bridge! I want to know what's the orderly's name.

Spock: What is at helm.

Chapel: I'm not asking you who's on helm.

Spock: Who's on tactical.

Chapel: I don't know.

Spock & Chapel: Communications!!

Chapel: The orderly's name?

Spock: Why.

Chapel: Because!

Spock: He is the new security chief.

Chapel: All. Right. Do you have an astrophysicist on the roster?

Spock: A deep-space mission without an astrophysicist would be illogical, Miss Chapel.

Chapel: The astrophysicist's name.

Spock: Tomorrow.

Chapel: Can't you tell me today?

Spock: I believe I am telling you right now.

Chapel: Then go ahead.

Spock: Tomorrow.

Chapel: What time?

Spock: What time what?

Chapel: What time tomorrow are you going to tell me who's the new astrophysicist?

Spock: Please endeavor to keep this straight, Miss Chapel. Who is not the astrophysicist. Who is at tact--

Chapel: I will declare you medically unfit for duty if you say Who's at tactical. I want know what's the astrophysicist's name.

Spock: What is the helmsman.

Chapel: I don't know.

Spock & Chapel: Communications!!

Chapel: Have we got a data librarian for astrophysics?

Spock: Absolutely.

Chapel: The librarian's name.

Spock: Today.

Chapel: Today. And Tomorrow's in astrophysics.

Spock: Precisely.

Chapel: All we've got is a couple of days in astrophysics. Okay. Suppose that I'm the librarian, and Tomorrow is in astrophysics, and a huge spatial anomaly appears on the sensors.

Spock: Yes.

Chapel: Tomorrow calls me, the librarian. I, realizing this is significant, want to call the tactical officer. So I turn on my communicator and inform who?

Spock: That is correct.

Chapel: I don't even know what I'm talking about!

Spock: It is correct nonetheless.

Chapel: So I call tactical.

Spock: Yes.

Chapel: Now who's got the information?

Spock: Naturally!

Chapel: If I send information to tactical, somebody's got to receive it. Now who got it?

Spock: Naturally!

Chapel: Who got it?

Spock: Naturally.

Chapel: Who?

Spock: Naturally!

Chapel: Naturally.

Spock: Yes.

Chapel: So I pick up my communicator and I send it to Naturally.

Spock: That is incorrect. You send the information to tactical, where Who gets it.

Chapel: Naturally.

Spock: That's right.

Chapel: So I pick up the communicator and I send it to Naturally.

Spock: You do not.

Chapel: I send it to who?

Spock: Naturally.

Chapel: So I send the information to Naturally.

Spock: You don't -- you send the information to Who?

Chapel: Naturally!

Spock: That is what you said.

Chapel: That's what I'm saying! I send the information to who?

Spock: Naturally.

Chapel: Ask me.

Spock: You send the information to Who?

Chapel: Naturally.

Spock: That's it.

Chapel: I send the information to tactical and who gets it?

Spock: Naturally!

Chapel: Who has it?

Spock: Naturally!

Chapel: He'd better have it! I send the information to tactical. Whoever it is tells the captain, who thinks we should investigate, so the guy forwards it to helm. Who has the information, and advises What. What tells Tomorrow that we're investigating the anomaly, and Tomorrow relays that information to Today.

Spock: Yes.

Chapel: The anomaly causes a security risk. It's handled by Because. Why? I don't know. He's at communications and I don't give a darn!

Spock: What did you say?

Chapel: I said I don't give a darn!

Spock: She is our new ship's counselor.


The End