Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount/Viacom.  This story is the property of SterJulie and is copyright (c) 2005 by SterJulie.   Rated PG.


After the Credits: Operation—Annihilate!



As Spock reflected, he realized that it all began with a sniffle.


After he had regained his sight, Spock had been plagued with watery eyes, which led to a bad case of the sniffles.  The one handkerchief that he carried each day soon became soggy and useless, hence the sniffling.  He tried to do it quietly, but Lt. Uhura had obviously noticed.  After coming back from his lunch break, Spock found a small packet of disposable hankies at his duty station.  He caught Uhura's eye, and she winked and smiled at him encouragingly.


Then came the looks of pity.


As Spock walked down the corridors and went about his duties, sometimes delicately wiping his eyes or nose, he noticed sympathetic glances from members of the crew.  Spock was confused.  Surely, these looks couldn't be for him.  At one point, Spock even looked over his shoulder to see the intended recipient of such compassion. Of course, there was never anyone there.


Next came the condolence cards.


"I am so sorry for your loss."


"Whomever you lost must have been very special to you."


"To grieve I in you (plural)," someone wrote in an atrocious attempt of Vulcan.


Spock was confused, nearly as much as he was insulted.  How dare these anonymous crewmembers think that his eye malady was nothing more than a failure at emotional control!  He wiped his ever-chapping green nose and reminded himself that insult was also an emotion, and that he needed extra time in meditation that night.


The rumors were the last straw!


That part began with a supposed scene in the Mess Hall.


Everyone had been toiling on the Deneva situation.  The medical department was providing healing of body, mind and spirit for the survivors.  Science was making sure that all of the oversized parasites were destroyed.  Engineering was examining the ships the creatures had built with the aid of their infected hosts. Communications was notifying off-world relatives of the tragedy.  And Operations and Security were assisting in excavating mass graves for the victims.  By the time the relief ships arrived, there would be little left to do.


Needless to say, everyone on the Enterprise was tired, tempers were short, and good judgment was in short supply.


Spock was next in line at the replicators when Kirk stormed up to him.  No one could hear the exchange, but everyone knew that their captain was livid by his body language and angry whispers.  Spock took a moment to dab at his eyes and nose before racing out of the Mess Hall.


Kirk turned toward the crew, who had fallen silent at the exchange.  The captain's eyes grew big as saucers, and his body language changed from "I'm pissed" to "Oops!"


The second the doors closed behind Kirk's retreating back, the Mess Hall came alive with a loud buzz.


"Did you see that?  He made Spock cry and everything!"


"A lovers spat, right here in front of everybody! "


"Lovers?  THEM?"


"That can't be right!"


"C'mon, Spock let's the captain touch him all the time!"


Spock noticed the pitiful glances were becoming more furtive, questioning, even after they were relieved from the relief efforts on Deneva.  He also noticed that his eyes were continuing their maddening emission.  As much as he was loath to admit it, he needed to seek relief in Sickbay.


Spock noticed that Nurse Chapel was not her ebullient self.  She was more aloof and cold than he.  Curious.  She usually knocked other nurses aside to tend to his needs personally.  This time, Chapel handed Spock off to McCoy with nary a word.


McCoy reminded Spock that his eyes were still recovering from trauma and that the tears, though a nuisance, were actually quite normal.  The good doctor replicated an ointment to soothe Spock's chapped nose and handed him a set of eyewear, sunglasses to be precise, and sent him on his way.


Spock caught sight of himself in a mirror.  His irritated nose was framed by the sunglasses, and not only was his proboscis chapped and green, it was now shiny as well.  He suppressed a small sigh and decided that tonight would be a good night to take nourishment in his quarters.


The buzzer sounded as he set out his repast of dehydrated fruit and a satisfactory bowl of instant soup made from his mother's own mix.


A nervous looking Kirk stood at his door, unwilling to enter.


The captain related the preposterous stories that were flying all through the ship about Spock, about himself, about Spock and himself.  The rumor mill had it that Spock was seen weeping all over the ship, at first thought over the death of someone he loved.  Then there was the scene in the Mess Hall which was seen as a lover's quarrel between the two of them, during which Spock broke down in tears over their split-up and fled the room weeping.


Spock blinked behind his visor.  He stiffened with the effort to calm his emotions: outrage, shock, humiliation, and the incredible need to laugh out loud.


Kirk must have noticed something in Spock's demeanor that said this whole situation bordered on lunacy.  Try as he might, the good captain could not stem the giggles that bubbled out of him.  Spock cocked his eyebrow in response, which only served to increase Kirk's giggles in speed, volume and intensity until the captain sounded like an old-style machine gun.


In fact, just the sight of Spock, his eyebrow raised high above his dark shades and his green nose shiny and glowing like a Vulcan Rudolph Reindeer, was enough to send Kirk into hysterics.  The captain could not stand without holding on to the doorframe, so Spock took one of Kirk's arms, draped it around his own shoulders, and assisted the captain to his quarters.


That only fueled the rumor mill more.


"The romance is back on!"


"What are you talking about?  Spock threw the captain out of his quarters!"


"Kirk was stinking drunk!"


"Spock was only wearing those glasses to hide the twinkle in his eyes."


"They're baaaack!"