DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of T'Kuht and is copyright (c) 2001 by T'Kuht. This is another section, I guess I'll make this a little running dialogue too. I have this placed post "The Paradise Syndrome" and pre "Plato's Stepchildren", just somewhere in the middle there.
Open Door Policy II: Two Faces
The Enterprise sailed through open space. There were no major crises yesterday or today and none were expected for tomorrow. But, one thing about tomorrow, there were always surprises. So, even though the ship was going about its normal routine, it was always best to be taut, ready for anything at a moments notice. Commander Spock was such a man. He never let his guard down. He found that humans were often catapulted into more precarious issues by allowing themselves to relax than if they maintained calm and constant awareness. He had command of the bridge that day. Jim Kirk had proclaimed it a day of rest for himself and Spock was hardly one to disagree. Other than himself, and possibly Scott and McCoy, Jim Kirk took the least time off than anyone else aboard. His shore leaves often ended in near disaster because he would try to push six months worth of anxiety and restlessness in two days worth of outgoing activity. The addition of the new holographic recreation room now gave the crew the opportunity to let off more steam so that their shore leaves could be fewer and far between and less riddled with personal injury. A trend among crew usage was beginning to cause concern for Spock however, one that he wished to speak to the captain about..
"Miss Uhura, did the captain leave messages as to his itinerary for the day?"
The Bantu woman turned to Spock, thought a moment, recalled the captain's list of things he wanted to do on his day off. "He planned on trying out the new rec room, perhaps drop into the bowling tournament, and generally lounge around."
Spock nodded, typical human day of rest. "I will be off the bridge for precisely one hour. Ms. Uhura, you may watch the bridge."
"Yes sir," she said and deftly switched the controls over to her station. Spock liked to give her more opportunities than Kirk did to take the lead. It wasn't that Jim didn't think she could handle the job, it just simply did not occur to him to have her do so. She was a communications officer, after all, in the support services section. She no longer wore the gold tunic of those in the more obvious command ranks. In fact, she knew of no ship's captain in Starfleet history that had started out as a switchboard operator. She might just have to try to change that. Right now, she'd just monitor things from her station.
Spock waited till he was in the turbo-lift to ask of the captain's whereabouts. The voice intoned, "Recreation Room 3, deck 11."
"Deck 11," Spock requested and the lift sped him easily to his destination.
Deck 11 was mostly recreational and large room facilities. He rarely made an unofficial appearance on this deck, but the crewmembers who were passing by did not come to attention or even seem to notice him. Kirk preferred a more relaxed atmosphere on his ship, so the crew was ordered on constant stand down mode unless they were verbally told to come to attention. Coming to the recreation room doors, he asked permission to enter before opening the door.
What greeted him was a veritable wilderness. Pine trees, the sound of rushing water, birds, the waft of breezes... It was frontier Earth or any number of planets that they had visited with a parallel botanical structure. A path led down to a water's edge. It was crystal blue, the sky full of lazy cumulus clouds, and the horizon of nothing but trees and wilderness. Spock was impressed with the technology. He could hear the sound of a solid thwack behind a series of thick bushes. Making his way to the sound, he rose an eyebrow. Kirk was dressed in the same outfit, or at least a similar one that he had been found in when the ship had been sent to ward off an asteroid from destroying a planet filled with transplanted Native American Indians.
"Captain?" Spock said as he watched him take up a small hatchet and aim carefully at a target made out of a felled tree. The hatchet made a satisfactory thunk as it hit dead center.
"Spock?" Jim Kirk asked, a little peeved that he was disturbed in his neo-paradise.
"I had come to speak to you about the use of this particular room," Spock began now realizing that he was there for a very lame reason.
"You think that the crew's abusing the facilities or that the captain is simply being a hog because he's been in here for over three hours?" Jim asked not meeting Spock's eyes.
"Neither. It is apparent through the number of requests for certain programs that it might be wise to expand the categories for vistas such as this," Spock replied carefully aware that the tomahawk Kirk was throwing was real, not a simulation.
Kirk pulled the hawk out, twirled it in his grasp, finally looked up at Spock. "Why do you think that is, Mr. Spock?"
It was an odd question. Kirk was not in a good humor today, but he was being careful to accommodate the Vulcan. With a deep sigh, he motioned for him to follow him on a walk. "Come on. I'll show you around."
They made an odd statement, a Vulcan dressed in science blue and Kirk in buckskins, as they walked along the bank of the wide part of the river. Kirk stopped, picked up a nice palm sized pebble and skipped it across four times. It made all the sounds of a real pebble and real water. If he put his hand in, it would come out wet. "Do you have an answer?"
Spock considered. "Natural vistas such as this remind people of home, it is relaxing, unfettered with technology."
"You miss the point, Spock. People want this...." he answered, indicating the landscape, "because they are lacking something in their lives. I know I am."
Spock immediately began to piece things together. Kirk often became melancholy, depressed, especially if he was 'feeling' his years. Kirk's 38th birthday was last week. While humans lived a longer life span than they had in the past, it was still 38 years. Spock remained quiet. If Kirk wished to tell him what the problems in his mind were, he would. He always did. Kirk stayed squatted down by the water's edge.
"I was happy here," he finally admitted and shook his head. Rising back up, he kept a look out to the water as if he were speaking to the air and not to his best friend. "Now I know why you didn't want to leave Leila."
Spock tensed at the mention of Dr. Kalomi's name. That incident had been so long ago, and he had hoped that it had been forgotten. Spock did understand Jim's problem better now though. It was not the landscape that had made him happy, it was the woman. "Miramanee?" Spock supplied.
Kirk nodded, turned to him. "You know what it is like to have a woman who loves you. Someone who considers you special."
Spock paused. He had several in fact, but only while he was with Leila had that feeling of 'happy' been created that Kirk mentioned. "My happiness was brought about by spores. While I can understand your desire to have that again, I would not wish that life with those requirements."
Kirk agreed, "Yes, but the point is you were happy for a fleeting time. It makes you able to empathize with my plight. I was happy in truth. I had someone, she loved me. She died to keep me from taking all the blame. My child died with her."
Again this aura that he had seen before in Jim Kirk spread over them like a funeral's gloom. He had come to Spock the first time he had found out about a child that he would never see. Spock had felt that presence of disappointment and emptiness in Jim ever since. He ached to know that boy. Spock had never been in that position. He doubted if he ever would considering that it would take a lot of modern technology to make it possible for a woman of either Vulcan or Human stock to carry his child. Spock had been informed that Miramanee was pregnant by Dr. McCoy. The only other person to know that was Nurse Chapel who had been there to try to save her life. It had been silently agreed that the three would never speak of it to anyone or to Kirk unless he spoke first.
"You are no longer happy here?" Spock said.
"It's not that. I get in these ... blue funks... I start thinking about my life when this isn't possible anymore," Kirk said realistically. "I guess I want to have something more than a ship in my life. Eventually, Fleet will take her away from me. If we live through this mission. It's always possible that tomorrow we may all be blown out of the sky."
That burst the tension of the moment. Kirk gave Spock that jaunty grin that he always had when he was trying to pull his emotions out of the bottom of his shoes. Spock went along with him. "Indeed, I would estimate the odds at..."
He waved him off. "That's okay, I guess I want to have something to ... prove that I was here."
"A son, to carry on the family name?" Spock supplied. That was very understandable. On Vulcan that was a top priority with all families.
"Or daughter. Someone to look back when I'm gone and say that Jim Kirk was my dad... I know it's human and not very logical."
"On the contrary, it is indeed logical, even if it is human. You are an exceptional man. You have done things most only dream of. You wish to share that and allow it to live past your own time," Spock finished. Kirk and Spock walked over to a fallen log, Kirk sat down, motioned for Spock to follow his lead. Spock remained standing, hands clasped behind his back as he always did when he had serious conversations with the captain. He was not a confidante like McCoy who usually came bearing drinks and wry humor.
"Funny you should be able to see that."
"Vulcans do share many things with Humans culturally. We have the same sense of duty and honor to family. In fact, our familial ties are often so strong that they bind like chains," he added with some amount of annoyance.
Kirk wondered what he referred to, out of the blue said, "T'Pring?"
"Yes. She was chosen for her strong family ties and qualifications. In a way, you are much luckier when it comes to being able to choose the company you keep."
"So, now that she's out of the picture, do you get to choose or will another be selected for you?" Kirk asked curiously knowing that this was a touchy subject and if Spock chose to change the topic, he'd do so without a second thought.
It was Spock's turn to gaze out at the river. "I have every right to claim my own wife. However, there are no candidates as yet. My father spoke to me of this while he was here. We agreed to give me the time needed. There are ways ... there is time," he said and stopped. That was as far as he'd go in trying to explain the intricacies of Vulcan betrothals. When the time came, and it would be sooner than later, there would be a bride for him once again, even if it was in name only.
Kirk grinned slyly, teased him a little. "There's always Christine. She loves you a great deal, you know."
Spock's eyeward expression told Kirk a lot. He shifted his feet in the pebble strewn dust and hesitated. "Marriage between Miss Chapel and I would not be agreeable."
Kirk shrugged, "I'm sorry, didn't mean to insult you."
"It is not me you insult," Spock replied softly. He met his friend's eyes in the afternoon shade. "Miss Chapel is undoubtedly not aware of the difficulties a marriage between a Vulcan and a Human would incur. If she were, she would not be so eager to please me."
"Your mother seems happy, satisfied..." Jim said remembering the smiling but controlled Amanda and her honest love and affection for her husband.
"My mother is a remarkable woman. She has endured much between my father and me. Her strength is a testament to Human resolve."
"And you don't think Christine is that resolute. You think she'd cave in quickly?"
"No, she has proven that she is of the same metal as my mother." Spock wondered how the conversation had gone from trying to understand Kirk to his own problems. He sat down next to Kirk. "I am not..." he tried and faded off. He wasn't sure how to phrase it.
Kirk chuckled, "You don't think you're good enough for her, is that it?"
"I would prefer to think of it as a problem in communication. She believes that she could be happy with one such as I, but when the time came for ... tenderness, the affection that Humans are so fond of, and I could not deliver what she wished... She would grow discontent. She would wish to leave because she would be miserable. I could not blame her."
Jim Kirk resisted the urge to drape an arm around Spock's slightly slumped shoulders and give him a brotherly hug. "Spock, you are assuming that she would wish to leave you just like T'Pring did not want you. I think I can tell you that Chris has a little more of that deep abiding affection for you than you think. You told me that T'Pring and you really didn't know each other. She didn't want you because you were famous or infamous. In many ways, Chris has been privy to more of your ups and downs than a lot of people, and she is still there. I think if you gave her a chance..."
"The chance that she could change her mind. I do not wish that," Spock stated simply.
Kirk shook his head, rose to his feet. "Then my friend, I doubt if you will ever find anyone to be the wife that you want or need. You have to take chances in your life. Even if you fail, you've at least tried."
Spock considered. He did not wish to try. The way things stood, Christine Chapel's love was satisfactory in the fact that it was there. If he acted, did as she thought she wished, and she fled the other way, he would no longer have the comfort of that unrequited love to hold onto. Kirk thought of something else, something that Spock might not have considered. "Have you even considered that she would say yes to you or by doing nothing you shove her further and further away from you?"
"I do not wish to hurt her. They are her emotions that are in question after all," he replied confidently.
"Yeah, and you have none of those demon emotions. Right, Spock. Well, I'll tell you one thing for certain. She won't be here forever. I don't mean she'll turn her back on you. If I read her right, she'll always be there if you need her. But, Spock, all things come to an end. Even you, my friend. What will you do when you find it is impossible to have her or any other woman you wish, and you could have if you would have simply asked? You will live a long and regret filled life. Grab the brass ring while you can. I know I'm the last person to be giving advice in this department. My own love affairs have been notorious, but I have learned that you won't get unless you try. I might get slapped in the face, but at least I asked the question..."
With that Kirk noted the sunlight begin fading. He'd spent the entire afternoon in his neo-paradise. "Come on, time to get back to the future. I'm not saying go propose to the woman, just give her a little bit of a chance. Think about it for a while. I'm gonna go check in on the bowling tournament, want to come with me?"
Spock straightened followed Kirk through the trees. "I am on duty. In fact, I am 2.5 minutes late reporting back. I left Miss Uhura in charge."
"Well, she's got a good head on her shoulders. Come on, no time like the present."
"I shall take you up on the offer some other time. I will give your advice some consideration," Spock decided and strode quickly down the corridor to the lifts. It would give him something to think about while he took the rest of the watch on the bridge.