Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount/Viacom. This story is copyright (c) 2006 by Mistress V. Rated PG.
The Vulcan in Black
His fingers picked up the holodisc and caressed its darkness. He looked at the foreboding portrait adorning its matte surface and felt the energy still generating after all these centuries. He popped it into the player and took his place in front of the mirror.
This was his guilty pleasure. Somehow, Christine had not figured out that they shared yet another thing in common. To be honest, he was beginning to wonder how so many commonalities had existed between them, yet they were only just beginning to discover these shared joys. Perhaps the rain incident had caused something to take root, he thought, something that continued to grow through the terrible events that had happened just a few short weeks ago. But now was not the time to brood. Christine was at yoga and he had a blissful hour to himself. She would find out eventually, he was certain. It was only logical, as their bond intensified, but for now, this was all about him.
The track started up. Spock lifted one eyebrow at his reflection, squared his shoulders and gave an almost indignant toss of his head. He spoke along with the voice.
"Hello, I'm Johnny Cash..."
* * *
"OK," Kirk said to the small group before him. "That's the briefing for now. But there is something else I need to discuss with all of you, because, for once, I am at a complete loss as to what to do." His senior management team -- his most trusted aides -- looked back at him, realizing now why the special meeting had been called.
"What is it, Jim?" McCoy asked. "And what do you need from us? How can we help?"
Kirk sighed and leaned his chin on hands, a bemused expression on his face. "It's Riley."
"Riley? Th' lad cannae do anything more, Cap'n," Scotty said. "After th' last incident, y've closed doen his little operation but bonny well. And I've got my eye on him. He willnae do something foolish again, sir."
"Oh, yes, he can!" Kirk spat out. "That little sneak has formed a corporation! Spock, your findings?"
The Vulcan looked up from his report. "Affirmative. Messers Riley, Sulu and Kyle have formed a charitable holding company named the 'Tres Caballeros' and its sole purpose appears to be having social functions to raise money on behalf of other charities. It is registered with the appropriate legal and Federation authorities. You cannot disallow its presence here, lest you fall afoul of anti-discriminatory regulations."
Kirk's eyes blazed. "And let me guess. They want to have another one of their parties."
Even Spock had had enough. "Yes, Jim," he replied, a sure sign that this was also disturbing to him. "They have applied to hold a function next Saturday in the rec room. It is another acoustic karaoke evening."
"I'll see to it he doesnae blow the ship up, Cap'n" Scott quickly interjected.
"There must be more, Spock. Please, go on." Kirk spoke from behind the hands now covering his face, obviously remembering the last themed party that had taken place. He had finally found the trader who'd sold the dangerously bootleg tequila to the Lieutenant and had him thrown in the nearest brig, thereby partly exonerating Riley, but the memory was still very painful.
"It would seem that the corporation has decided to raise funds for a Terran charity called, 'Save the Cowboy', which is based in Laramie, Wyoming. It is quite a newsworthy group at present, given that a remake of an old-fashioned Terran Western-genre film has been nominated for an Academy Award. This group was instrumental in keeping the film historically accurate."
"He doesn't want a country western themed night, by any chance, does he?" McCoy asked.
"Indeed, that is precisely what the group has planned to host. Costumes are optional, but participants are asked to choose an appropriate song, and must pay an entry fee, the proceeds of which will go to the charity."
"And we can't stop them from turning my ship into another Battle of the OK Corral? Wasn't once enough?" Kirk was looking a little worse for wear by now.
"No, we cannot. I had a lengthy conversation with Commander Vee at Starfleet Legal. They are legally within their rights to hold the event, and we must allow them to do so. She was most adamant that we comply, as there have been several charges of discrimination on other Federation ships lately."
"So we're stuck." Kirk said through his hands once more.
"Not exactly," Spock replied. "Commander Vee gave a most logical suggestion. It is an old Terran saying." His voice faltered a bit around the phrase. "If you can't beat them, join them!"
"Of course!" McCoy almost shouted. "He'd never expect us to show up! We can all be there in force, like at the Federation Day event. Only this time, we'll be in the audience. Just making our presence known. And we'll have to keep doing this for the first few events, to keep Riley on his toes."
Spock raised his eyebrow. "I did not know the Lieutenant studied ballet, nor was I aware that male ballet dancers performed en pointe, Doctor."
McCoy glared at the Vulcan, good-naturedly, if that was possible. "Of course he's not a ballerina Spock, it's just -- an old Terran saying."
"Boys, boys, play nice," Kirk said, a smile beginning to come back to his tired face. "Bones, that's it. I'll expect all of us to be there. Scotty, you and Spock will triple check the wiring this time, and Bones, you and your staff will quadruple check all the alcohol that's being served, even if it's from Lt. Rourke's stores. I'll volunteer to be emcee -- if Riley refuses, I'll make it a direct order. I want double the usual security standing by, and medical staff on call."
"Should we perform as well?"
Kirk turned to stare at his first officer -- and friend. "Spock? What did you say?" Perhaps he had misheard the statement.
"I asked, Jim, if it would not be logical for some of the senior staff to perform as well? That would make our presence seem legitimate, and less like '1984' ".
"Can any of us carry a note?" Kirk was rapidly losing control of his emotions and was on the verge of breaking down into uncontrollable laughter.
"Maybe all four of us could carry one note together, badly!" McCoy snorted. "But I suppose I could try 'Buffalo Gals" or something."
"I can't sing for ... well, I can't sing," Kirk said. "I presume Uhura and Chris will be on the bill, they always are, with their talent. I could do some cowboy poetry, though."
"We dinnae have cowboys in Scotland, sir." Scotty was matter of fact in his apology. "I shall nae sing."
Spock's voice was quietly emotionless. "I shall endeavor to perform as well, Jim."
"Spock? You don't have to, we have enough ammunition already."
"Actually, Jim, I had been contemplating this possibility for some time. So I shall indeed be performing." The Vulcan's face was as implacable as ever, but his eyes held -- mirth?
"On you harp? This isn't a regular karaoke night, it's honky tonk down 'n dirty, Spock." McCoy was adamant. "C'mon, Jim's right, you don't need to make the effort, not that it's not appreciated."
"I understand your concern, Doctor, but I have been in several 'honky tonks', as you call them, all over the galaxy and assure you, I can provide an adequate performance to please this kind of audience. And in answer to your question, no, I shall not be playing a Vulcan instrument. I shall be using a guitar, and the song shall be most appropriate to the evening."
Kirk exhaled. "Meeting adjourned," he said, before his First Officer and CMO got into it further.
* * *
"Hey, Chris, guess what?" Nyota's voice came over the com unit at her desk.
"What's up, Ny?" Christine replied, scanning another report that was overdue. She had been back on duty for 10 days now after her illness, but it seemed the galaxy had come to a stop in her absence. Right back into the fire, and she was trying to make up the slack with long days.
"The brass ok'd Riley's request for another karaoke night. On Saturday!" Nyota's voice was bubbling over with excitement.
Christine hrrumphed. "Aren't they worried he'll cause another meltdown?" The memory of the last karaoke night was still fresh, even if she and Spock had connected the very next evening. Had it been that long ago? she asked herself.
"Now Chris, the last one did kind of bring," she dropped her voice and whispered, "you know who and you together."
Spock would be listening for sure by now, Christine thought.
"That can't be why you're calling me, Ny." She was being naughty and loving it.
"No, silly, what will you sing? You've gotta do this one, it's for a charity!" Nyota was still whispering, much to the amusement of the Vulcan nearby, who could clearly hear every word. He was certain this performance was for his benefit, as it always was.
"I'll -- think about it, Ny. Remember, I'm still supposed to be taking it easy. Len's orders."
"I've already signed both of us up, darling, so you'd better be thinking of a song! See you later!"
* * *
"Spock, have you seen my Johnny Cash compilation disc?" Christine asked as she searched through the bookshelf. Her hand closed over the wanted item. "Never mind, I found it." She put the disc into the player.
"T'hyla--" Spock began.
She waved him away, determined in her actions. "I have to find a song to sing this weekend. This one should be perfect." She hit the remote for track three and started to listen.
"You wonder why I always dress in black..."
Christine's face became confused. This wasn't track three. She clicked ahead. Maybe she had hit the wrong number.
"Lookie yonder coming, coming down that railroad track..."
"What in sam hill is going on?" she asked herself as she removed the offending disc and looked at it. Her face grew even more puzzled. "This -- this isn't my Cash compilation!"
"No, T'hyla," Spock said, amused, as he moved to put his arms around her. "It's mine."
Christine whirled around in his arms, a look of astonishment on her face. "Yours?"
"Mine." He kissed her on the forehead. "I have been a fan of his for some years."
"This is a rare compilation, Spock! I recognize it -- only a very limited number were made, a long time ago. These cost a fortune!" She now held the disc reverently in her hand.
"I can assure you, beloved, when I purchased the set, it was the usual price for the time." He took the disc from her and placed it back into the holder, then returned to more pressing matters.
"When was that?" she asked, dying of curiosity. Spock, a Cash fan? This was beyond even the limits of her wild imagination.
"When I was a student at the Academy. I purchased it at Rasputin's Records, in Berkeley. Although my parents had first introduced me to his music when I was perhaps six years old." The corner of his mouth was turned up. Then it bloomed into a full smile. "You are -- surprised?"
"That's a Vulcan understatement," she replied as she dragged him over to the sofa. "I want details, mister!"
"There are no details, beloved." He pulled her against him in a now familiar embrace as they sat together. "I find his music easy to listen to, politically thoughtful, and his mathematically-precise rhythm is to be admired."
Leave it to Spock to find the logic, she thought. "Mathematics? What are you on about?"
"I believe it is referred to as his 'boom-chick-a-boom' sound? It is well-synchronized and adds to the enjoyment of the music."
"Okay, I'm not letting you off the hook that easily," she replied as she turned to straddle him, a smile on her face. "What's your favorite song?"
He merely raised his eyebrow, a sure sign he was amused. "It is illogical to prefer one musical piece over another when all of them are, as has been written, classics."
"But you must have at least one that you listen to more than usual?" This was beginning to be a standard m.o. for them, and it was quite enjoyable.
"Perhaps, yes, there are several that I find myself returning to," he said eventually.
"You're not going to tell me, are you?" She climbed off his lap and snuggled up next to him. It was no use. According to Amanda, Sarek had given all his stubborn genes to his son.
"No. But you shall hear one of them on Saturday evening." His hand moved to caress the side of her neck.
"Saturday? At karaoke? Don't tell me--" Her eyes got wide once more.
"Let us say that circumstances have necessitated the senior management team to be in attendance. So it seemed only logical that I perform a number while in there. I presume you shall be singing as well? You just said you were searching for a number?" The hand moved to her shoulder, then started stroking the inside of her elbow, a sure sign that the evening was headed somewhere delightful.
"Well, since Johnny Cash is now flavor of the month, I guess I'll have to find something else to sing. I wouldn't want to pre-empt you." She covered his hand with her own and turned into his embrace.
"Flavor of the month?" His lips covered hers in a brief but intense kiss.
"Something like that..."
But other matters were on his mind at the moment. Spock reached over and retrieved the disc. "What do you think of think of June Carter Cash?" he asked.
Christine sighed. "She sang like an angel, but their life was -- such drama! He met her when he was married to someone else, they worked side by side for years, crazy about each other, nothing either of them could do. They finally got a chance to be together..." Her words trailed off as she realized she could have been describing the relationship with the man sitting next to her. "Um, why do you ask?" Where was this discussion going?
Spock pointed to a track on the disc cover. "What about this number? They sang it together."
She read the title, surprised. "It's -- emotional, but it sure is a classic. That summed them up, no doubt about it."
"Do you know this song?" he pressed further.
"Of course, what's with all the questions?" They were wasting valuable canoodling time.
He put the disc down and took her in his arms once more. His face was just inches from hers. "Would -- would you consider singing this with me on Saturday?"
"As in a duet?" Christine could hardly believe what he had just asked, and he had proposed twice already. She ran her fingers across his ear and got the response she expected.
"Yes, beloved. It is logical that we perform together, since we are both capable of singing reasonably well ... and we are, after all, a couple." He stroked her cheek. "I would be honored to have your presence on stage with me."
"On one condition." She wasn't letting him off easy just yet.
"Which is?" he whispered as his lips moved closer still.
"You tell me what your favorite song is!" And then she tickled him.
His Vulcan speed caught her before much damage had been done. "In time, beloved, you shall know everything. Now, I believe there is a much better way to use our time off than sparring with each other."
Her hand moved up his thigh to familiar territory. "I agree," she conceded.
* * *
"So, you're ready? What are you singing? You haven't said a thing. What's with they mystery?" Nyota was peppering her friend with questions.
"Officially, I am supposed to be taking it easy, Ny," she said as they headed toward the rec room. "How are my boots?"
"They're fine. You're fine. Are you singing or not?" Ny replied with an exasperated sigh.
"I am singing."
"Girl, that Vulcan is influencing you too much. Details, please. What are you singing?"
"Shouldn't you be asking who I'm singing with?" Christine replied softly, with a twinkle in her eye.
Nyota stared at her friend. She had heard that the senior management might be performing, and that even Spock had agreed to do a number, but...
"He asked you to sing with him?" she finally asked, incredulous.
"Why is that so hard to believe, Ny? He's asked me to live with him, he's saved my life, he's proposed twice ... though I must admit, it sure floored me!"
"So, what are you doing?" Nyota persisted.
"We've been through this before, haven't we?" Christine said wickedly. "I am singing a duet with Spock, but it's a surprise. And he’s singing something too, but that Vulcan mouth of his has closed up so tight about it even a le-matya couldn't drag it out of him."
* * *
"Ladies! Welcome! We're all looking forward to your performances." Lt. Riley beamed up at them from the check-in table where he sat with ... Kirk.
"Yes, ladies, it will be a pleasure," the Captain added. "It should be a very interesting evening."
"I'll say it will be," Nyota said to Christine as they found seats. "Did you see the look on Riley's face?"
The evening, well-attended and enthusiastically received, progressed without incident. Kirk seemed to enjoy being emcee, stopping now and then to recite some cowboy verse. The performances were great. Nyota did a steaming version of "Walkin' After Midnight" by Patsy Cline, and Len cleverly threw the song to the audience with his leading them in "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain."
"Where's Spock?" Nyota asked as she returned to her seat. Neither had seen the Vulcan so far, but he had been billeted to monitor the electrical system with Scotty, so his absence was not unexpected. Christine was ready. They had rehearsed during the week several times and were confident the number was ready for its debut.
Christine shrugged. "I guess he'll show up when he's on."
As if reading their thoughts, Kirk paused dramatically from his monologue. "Okay, folks, you've all been wondering if the rumors are true. Well, they are. And I am now proud to present our own First Officer, Mr. Spock!"
There was a shared intake of breath as the Vulcan appeared on stage. He was dressed entirely in black, from his regulation t-shirt to his tight jeans to his cowboy boots. A twelve string guitar was slung across his back.
Christine wondered where he had gotten cowboy boots. They were good ones. No cheap imitations here, but then Spock always did his homework.
Nyota wondered if Christine fully appreciated how hot her man looked right now. If not, there were probably several dozen women in the audience who would be happy to tell her.
Kirk wondered, as did McCoy, if Spock had been at the Antarian fire water.
Spock sat down and adjusted the mike to his height, then brought the guitar across his lap. Christine swallowed hard. He was looking right at her.
"Thank you, everyone. I hope you enjoy my selection."
And then his fingers set to work on the guitar strings, like magic. Christine recognized the song instantly. A shiver ran down her spine. It was one of her all-time favorites, but seldom heard, because Cash's daughter had made it her own. She thought for a moment that Spock had read her thoughts, but no, there was no way he could have possibly known she liked this one.
Spock's rich voice started in, just like Johnny Cash's would have. The similarity was uncanny.
"In a little cabaret, in a South Texas border town
Sat a boy and his guitar, and the people came from miles around
And all the girls, from there to Austin..."
The audience started clapping along. Spock carried on.
"To the little dark haired boy who would play
The Tennessee flat-top box..."
Christine was having trouble breathing. The song -- it was one of her favorites. The fact that Spock chose it was scaring her beyond belief. But she clapped along anyway, a huge smile on her face. His guitar solos were perfect. Absolutely prefect. But then, she expected nothing less from her man. He was who he was.
The song ended and the audience erupted into thunderous applause.
"Well, that's a hard act to follow, folks, and even I won't try. You've had enough of my poetry," Kirk said with a smile. "But here's Lt. Riley with 'Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off!'”
Christine was vaguely aware of Spock sitting down next to her. She was still in shock. His arm went comfortably around her shoulder.
*What troubles you, beloved? You did not enjoy my performance?*
*I thought it was wonderful ... only...*
*You question how I chose this song?*
*Yes.* She was really creeping out right now.
*I do not know, T'hyla. I like the song. It seemed logical that I choose this one to perform. The rhythm is quiet precise and catchy.*
*So you -- didn't read my thoughts?*
*We are not fully bonded yet, my beloved. No. I could not possibly have known you favored this song too. But please, do not worry so much. We are performing soon.*
They sat through a few more numbers and Christine relaxed, in part to Spock's constant massaging of her neck and shoulder. Finally, it was time to take their places.
"And now, a special duet from Mr. Spock and his fiancee, Christine Chapel!" Kirk said with another huge smile on his face.
They looked at each other, the picture of calm. Then Spock started playing the strings and his voice teased her with a question.
"If I were a carpenter, and you were a lady,
Would you marry me anyway, would you have my baby?"
And strong and sure, with all the love her heart held for this man, and something she could not quite figure out, she replied.
"If you were a carpenter, and I was a lady,
I'd marry you anyway, and I'd have your baby...."
* * *
Spock looked up from his seat at the bar, where he and Christine had gone to join the other performers. He was surprised to see Lt. Dillon standing before him.
"Lieutenant? Is there a problem?"
The young man shook his head. "I just wanted to say, those were a fine few pieces you sang tonight. You like Johnny Cash?"
Spock nodded. "I do enjoy his music. And thank you. Your performance of 'God Bless Texas' was quite well-received too."
"Thanks, sir. I grew up in Cash country. Tell me, do you like his early work or his later stuff?" The Lieutenant was obviously trying to be friendly.
"His work is timeless. I enjoy all eras of his offerings."
"Have you heard his duet with Rodney Crowell?"
Spock nodded again. "A seamless spanning of the generations. Very well done."
Dillon hesitated a moment, then went on. "Do you jam?"
The Vulcan hesitated not a second. "I have not ... yet. Why do you ask?"
"Sometimes ... some of us get together and ... well ... play. Maybe...?" Dillon looked down at his boots for a moment, then straightened up. "If you ever want to join us, sir, we would be honored."
"I shall keep that in mind, Lt. Dillon, and do keep me apprised of your activities," Spock replied, as a comely young woman came up to stand at the Lieutenant's side.
"Tex, you promised me a dance," she purred.
"Thank you, sir," Dillon replied as he moved off towards the dance floor.
"What was that all about?" Christine asked as she returned to sit next to her fiance.
"Shop talk," he replied. He turned his attention back to Christine. "You said you would like to learn my most favored of Cash's offerings, did you not?"
"Yes, you mean it wasn't what you sang tonight?" she replied, curious again.
"Come with me," was all he said.
* * *
They stood, wrapped around each other, watching the timeless stars go by on the deserted observation deck.
"I could stay here forever," she said after awhile. Never mind the illogical response she would surely get.
"I, too, find this view pleasing, beloved," Spock replied. "I did tell you that you would learn everything when the time was right. The time is now correct, so may I ask you to share my favorite song by Mr. Cash?"
"Of course," she said.
Christine recognized Willie Nelson's voice in a heartbeat, then that same heart threatened to stop. This was her all time favorite song too...
*I'm afraid,* she said.
*Do not be. I am puzzled too.*
"I was a highwayman, along the post roads I did ride
With a sword and pistol at my side
Many a young maid lost her baubles to my trade
Many a soldier shed his lifeblood on my blade
The bastards hung me in the spring of '25 But I am still alive..."
Images began to play along her mind. With a start, she realized they were shared with Spock, and that he had no idea where they came from, either. She swallowed hard as the next verse began, with Kris Kristofferson' sorrowful sailor's lament, accompanied by haunting pipe music. Spock held her tightly in his arms.
"I was a sailor, I was born upon the tide
With the sea I did abide
I sailed a schooner 'round the horn to Mexico
I went aloft to furl the mainsail in a blow
And when the yards broke off, they said that I got killed
But I am living still..."
The visions got more intense, it seemed to be two souls traveling separately across time, looking for something. Fulfillment?
Then Waylon Jennings’ rich sounds wrapped themselves sadly around her heart, an aching loneliness following.
"I was a dam builder, across the river deep and wide
Where the steel and water did collide
A place called Boulder on the wild Colorado
I slipped and fell to the wet concrete below
They buried me in that great tomb that knows no sound
But I am still around... I'll always be around..."
The song and music were making tears run down her cheeks. Her breath was catching in her throat. She felt like two pieces of a puzzle were at last clicking together, after aeons of searching.
*I do not know what is happening,* she managed to say.
*Nor do I, T'hyla, but listen with me.*
And then Johnny Cash's voice filled the space. And suddenly, she knew. And so did he. All the searching, the familiarities, all the unspoken needs, had finally been fulfilled. It was so simple, why had they not seen it before?
"I fly a starship, across the universe divide
And when I reach the other side
I'll find a place to rest my spirit if I can
Perhaps I may become a highwayman again
Or I may simply be a single drop of rain
But I will remain... I'll be back again... and again... and again..."
Her tongue tripped over an unfamiliar word.
"Vah'ren," she whispered.
"Soulmate," he said just as softly.
And at that moment, everything fell into place.
He pulled her down onto the floor and took her purposefully into his arms. It just seemed the right thing to do, no matter how illogical it might be.
*You are home,* he said.
"I am home," she said.
There would be time enough to discuss what had just happened. For now, the love they felt for each other was all that mattered.
* * *
Several days later, Sarek and Amanda opened a vidmail from their son. After the usual pleasantries and news, he became serious.
"My parents, I know how things can become unnecessarily illogical out of context, so I show you these scenes to ask your understanding. It was necessary in my capacity as a Starfleet officer to perform in this manner, and nothing improper did occur. Still, these images may yet haunt us in the future. We are of the opinion that we do not truly care, but in your position, Father, it may someday matter. So you are forewarned. We shall see you in 3.7 months when we arrive on Vulcan for our bonding ceremony."
Sarek looked at his wife. "Surely they have not re-made 'Vulcan Love Master'"? he asked, incredulous.
"Let us see what they have sent, beloved," she wisely answered.
They sat and watched the performances. When the transmission ended, Sarek once again turned to Amanda.
"A logical choice of songs, do you not think, my wife? Nothing improper in the least."
She nodded. "I agree, my husband. We have taught him well, do you not think? Would you join me for some ice cream in the kitchen?"
Sarek grasped his wife's hand and followed her with a smile on his face.
Amanda began to hum. "We were married in a fever ... hotter than a pepper sprout..."