|Above and Beyond the Call of Duty
Author: Closet Scrawler PM
Kirk must rescue Spock from a diplomatic... error. -Not slash-Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Humor - J. Kirk & Spock - Words: 5,045 - Reviews: 64 - Favs: 160 - Follows: 8 - Published: 10-25-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5467307
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimers are illogical.
WARNING: This is not slash, but it might still be offensive to some for its comment on the subject of homosexuality. Rated for mild language and humorous reference to afore mentioned homosexuality.
=(^)= Above and Beyond the Call of Duty =(^)=
Doctor McCoy ran a finger under the collar of his dress tunic and tugged at it with frustration. It wasn't that the damn thing was too tight, exactly, it was just annoying to feel it against his skin where no cloth had any right to be. It always felt like he was being choked.
"Don't worry, Bones, I have a feeling this won't last very long."
McCoy looked up with a start like a guilty schoolboy. He'd been so preoccupied that he hadn't even heard Jim enter the transporter room. No one hated diplomatic functions more than the captain of the Enterprise, but it was obviously bothering his friend that these talks were coming to an unsatisfactory end. An annoying collar should be trivial by comparison. Still, the sympathetic look Jim tossed at him was appreciated.
Kirk held up a hand, several golden strips of cloth dangling from his grasp. "You will be pleased to note that we will no longer have unwanted attentions," he said with a smile.
McCoy snorted as Kirk separated one of the strips and proceeded to tie it around the doctor's left bicep. "I wasn't aware that you felt there was such a thing as 'unwanted attentions'," he quipped. He grunted as Kirk gave a tug on the cloth, making it unnecessarily tight in retaliation.
Kirk glanced at the doors as they hissed open and Spock entered. "They are very, very friendly," he said, looking back at McCoy. "All of them," he added for emphasis and waggled his eyebrows meaningfully.
"Indeed," Spock affirmed dryly.
McCoy loosened the band, then ran his fingers over the material. The twin ribbons trailed down his arm, the ends fluttering at his elbow. "So, this means… what?"
"Hold out your arm, Spock," Kirk said. Spock obeyed and watched with curiosity as the captain wrapped the shimmering material around his first officer's arm. "As near as I can tell, it's like a wedding ring."
"Uh…" McCoy said hesitantly.
"Not to each other," Kirk said with a hint of exasperation. He held out the remaining ribbon to Spock, who took it and gave it a brief examination. "It just means we're spoken for - which encourages most citizens here to back off."
McCoy let out a small sigh of disappointment.
Kirk raised his eyebrows. "Well, you can take it off if you want," he said as Spock began tying the cloth to Kirk. He hadn't thought McCoy liked the attention.
McCoy held up a hand quickly to stop that line of thought. "No, no, this'll be fine." He paused, then grinned at Spock, who had finished his task and had calmly clasped his hands behind his back. He couldn't resist. "It's just that the only entertainment down there was watching everyone flock around Spock," he added, and let his grin turn into a smirk.
Kirk smiled, and turned to regard his first officer. "Yes, I noticed that too."
Spock glanced from one to the other as the two humans made a show of studying him. It occurred to him that he should find the conversation insulting. However, the talks to encourage the Beltrans to join the Federation had begun to inexplicably fail, and the tiny smile on Kirk's face was the first glimmer of happiness his captain had displayed in the past several days.
Spock raised an eyebrow at McCoy in a subtle dare.
"Must be the ears," McCoy drawled after a moment, rising to the challenge.
The captain's smile widened slightly, and Spock considered it worth the sacrifice of a bit of dignity.
The amusement was short lived, however. Kirk turned as a beep sounded from the console behind him and Lieutenant Kyle looked up from his display. "They signal they're ready for you, sirs," Kyle said reluctantly, as though regretting having to interrupt.
Kirk nodded, the smile fading, and the three men moved to take their places on the transporter pads. "Energize."
Kirk released his breath slowly when the energies faded away. He didn't find the transporter process disturbing, but he had found over the years that exhaling the air from the ship before inhaling the living atmosphere of a planet made the transition easier. He took a moment to adjust to the slightly different tug of gravity. Beside him, McCoy surreptitiously glanced down at himself, as though to ensure everything had made it. Kirk suspected Bones didn't even realize he did it, and it was now just a habit.
Kirk swept his gaze once over the hall and found he was still impressed. It was designed similar to one of earth's old cathedrals. The vaulted ceiling was adorned with murals and great sweeping arches led to hallways branching from the main chamber. Spock made a slight motion with his chin, and Kirk followed his gaze. He flicked a glance at his friend, thankful for the warning. He straightened his shoulders and put on his very best diplomatic face.
"Greetings, Captain Kirk," Functionary Elad said smoothly as he walked over to them. "Mister Spock, Doctor McCoy," he continued with a small nod to each.
Spock inclined his head politely and McCoy gave his best charming southern smile.
Elad's eyes widened slightly as he took in the shimmering golden ribbons. "All three of you are recently bonded?" he asked in surprise.
"Ah, no," Kirk hedged, realizing how unlikely it would sound if he agreed. "Our customs regarding the matter are somewhat… different. However, since this is your world, we have agreed to adopt your customs once we became aware of them."
"Ah," Elad said. He glanced between the three of them with growing alarm. "So this is why you have been so uncomfortable?"
Kirk hesitated, thinking fast, then slowly nodded. He hadn't realized they'd been so obvious about it. He fervently hoped his brilliant idea wasn't about to start some kind of diplomatic incident. It had seemed fairly simple and straight forward.
Elad made an unhappy fluttering gesture with both hands. "Oh! Then on behalf of my people, I offer my sincere apologies for the misunderstanding! It is most rude to pay court to ones who are bonded!"
Kirk smiled and waved a hand dismissively. "Don't worry about it – every civilization has their own customs, and it takes time to learn them. We do not take offense lightly, and offer apologies for any we might have given." The words rolled off his tongue easily, for he had lost track of how many times he'd said the same thing during his service to Starfleet.
Elad smiled and relaxed. "Yes, I imagine such incidents are common, since the Federation has many worlds," he said with a wistful smile. "Please," he added with a gesture, "I do not intend to monopolize you. Enjoy the gathering." With that, Elad turned and quickly headed for a small cluster of people.
Kirk glanced at McCoy, who interpreted the look as his cue to 'mingle' and drifted off towards one of the banquet tables scattered around the hall. Standard procedure was to at least look like one was having a good time, and the best way to fake it was to partake of the offerings. These people took their celebrations seriously, and a daily series of banquets had been arranged by the government. The first had started very reassuringly cheerful, but had deteriorated sharply by the third day. The general feeling of the gathering was somber. He sighed and wished he knew what had gone wrong.
The attendees were giving them curious, speculative glances, but none had yet besieged them. He fingered the cloth armband. "Well," he said softly for Spock's hearing alone. "At least these seem to be working."
"It would appear so," Spock replied just as quietly and allowed a touch of relief to color his voice to show his gratitude.
Kirk glanced at him with a brief smile of sympathy before turning to glance around the room again. They both looked over as McCoy suddenly waved at them. He was pointing at something on the elaborately decorated buffet table with a vague look of disgust. Kirk made a short, negative gesture. McCoy scowled and mouthed something in too exaggerated a manner to actually read it.
"Mister Spock," a feminine voice said and Spock turned away from the spectacle the two were making of themselves.
The bondmate of Elad, Lady Tralan, stood before him with a fragile glass of bubbling clear liquid in one hand. Spock bowed his head in their manner of greeting. He saw Kirk shift position out of the corner of his eye, apparently making another gesture across the room at McCoy. Spock wished fleetingly that his companions were better versed in the art of subtlety.
"Elad tells me you are all bonded," she said in the straightforward approach these people seemed to have in all things. She motioned with her free hand at the flowing armband. Spock felt very uncomfortable with any kind of deception, but the lady seemed to take his hesitation as shyness. She smiled. "Oh, how charming – is your bonding so recent then? Does your bondmate serve on your ship with you?"
Spock forced down a sudden surge of alarm. He considered himself a reasonable diplomat, but this line of questioning was simply not his strong point. He glanced at the captain for assistance.
Kirk was not there.
Spock quickly turned his head, searching the room until his eyes fell on his captain. Kirk was doing an admirable job of hiding it, but Spock detected his annoyance in the jarring stride of the man as he joined McCoy at the table. Apparently, the doctor had managed to convince the captain to examine whatever it was he found so intriguing. Spock suppressed an irrational rush of dismay. It appeared he would have to find a solution of some kind. His thoughts raced, but he could think of nothing to say that would not be an outright lie. He turned back to the lady, wondering if he could somehow change the subject, and saw that she had followed his gaze.
"Oh!" she said suddenly, looking quite surprised. "You are with the Captain?"
Spock started to nod, for they had indeed all three beamed down together, but then he connected that question with the other two and froze. He blinked.
"Oh!" she said again, her eyes widening.
"You misund—" Spock began quickly, but she did not allow him to finish.
"But that is so charming!" she said, her voice rising slightly in pitch in her excitement. Spock opened his mouth, but could not bring himself to be so rude as to interrupt. "We had thought your Federation frowned on such! Oh, I must go tell Elad!" She whirled in a flurry of gauzy fabric and was gone.
Spock stood rooted to the spot. He watched her cross the room, headed toward a knot of dignitaries. He started to follow, then stopped. She was talking before she even reached them, and after a moment the entire group looked at him with varying degrees of surprise. Then their faces turned as though they were one entity, and Spock followed their collective gaze. Kirk and McCoy appeared to be arguing quietly over something, oblivious. Spock looked back but the small group had already dispersed and was heading toward others. Spock watched with a growing sense of something very like dread as the newly informed clusters of people cast the same looks and split up.
It was like watching a virus propagate.
Spock did a quick survey of the large chamber, did some rapid calculations, then turned on his heel and walked towards the captain as fast as dignity allowed.
"I'm telling you, Jim, it's still alive!" McCoy hissed under his breath.
Kirk sighed. "All right, maybe it is. But we're supposed to be—"
Kirk looked up, his senses going into red alert by Spock's tone of voice. His first officer's entire body radiated a stiff control, which could only mean he was very, very alarmed by something. Kirk cast a quick glance around the room and abruptly became aware that the atmosphere had changed considerably. They were being stared at.
"Uh oh," McCoy muttered, obviously seeing the same thing.
"Spock!" Kirk said sharply, leaning toward him. "What happened?"
"There has been a... misunderstanding," Spock informed him gravely.
Before Spock could elaborate, however, two women appeared out of the crowd and all three officers obligingly turned to them. Spock stood rigidly, but both humans tried to look casual. First rule of diplomatic misunderstandings: look calm. Both women were beaming happily at them, their arms linked together. "We just wanted to say you two make a darling pair!" They smiled at Kirk and Spock, then twittered girlishly and were off to greet others.
McCoy's eyes grew very wide as they both stared after the women in stunned silence.
Kirk turned to look at Spock, his face slack with shock. "What did you tell these people?" he demanded in a low whisper of astonishment.
"Jim," McCoy said, giving Kirk a less than discreet elbow to the ribs.
Kirk had just enough warning to force his face into a semblance of normality before he turned. Elad and Tralan were nearing them. His string of bad karma lately had obviously determined that Spock not be allowed to give him an explanation before hurtling him into the midst of this crisis. Well, nothing to do but improvise. They were smiling, so he smiled too.
"I understand now what you meant by cultural misunderstandings, Captain Kirk," Elad said cheerfully. "And I find I must apologize again."
Kirk hesitated. From Spock's attitude, he'd been expecting some sort of confrontation.
Tralan made a graceful gesture with one hand. Kirk wasn't familiar enough with these people to know exactly what it meant, but she seemed pleased. "We had gotten the impression the Federation was somewhat closed minded, but we have since learned of our error."
Kirk processed the words. Diplomacy in general was not one of his greatest strengths. He glanced at Spock, but the Vulcan was staring straight ahead as though trying his best to blend in with the flowery centerpiece on the buffet table. McCoy was just as helpful, giving him a small shrug. He settled on honesty. "I'm not sure I understand," he said carefully.
It was Elad who answered. "Our culture is very open about sexuality, Captain, and it's very important to our people and society. From what we had observed about your crew, however, we had gotten the impression that our viewpoints would not be acceptable." He smiled happily, his gaze taking in Kirk and Spock. "We were very saddened by this, but we are willing to reopen talks to join this Federation of yours."
"Oh," Kirk said. He couldn't think of anything else to say. It dawned on him that the only members of the Federation they had met thus far were the crew of the Enterprise, who, while having their own forms of affection, certainly did not display it quite the way these people did. He supposed it must look to them like they were… restrained.
At this point, Kirk decided he would have preferred to be on the Enterprise with six Klingon warbirds throwing photon torpedoes at her. He cleared his throat. "Well, first of all, Mister Spock and I…" he paused, trying to think of a tactful way to correct their impression.
"Oh, we really are so pleased to realize our mistake!" Tralan declared happily. "I was most surprised." She graced Spock with a smile. "You seemed the most unlikely pair, but once I became aware of it, it's really quite obvious! I must say, I found your reserve to be uncomfortable, Mister Spock, but now I see that you are a perfect compliment to each other."
McCoy choked. He whirled around and snatched up a glass of something violently purple from the banquet table and sipped it. He winced at the taste, but took another sip anyway before turning back.
Kirk began to marshal all of his considerable self control and determination, for he knew what he had to do. He hoped Spock would forgive him, but the misunderstanding had already been made, and it was truly in the best interests of this world to join the ranks of the Federation.
McCoy beat him to it. "Well, yes, ma'am," he drawled smoothly. "Why, Vulcans are well known for their open mindedness and tolerance. They even have a name for the philosophy. They call it I.D.I.C. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations." He took another sip of his drink, utterly poker faced.
Elad smiled and nodded. "Yes, Mister Spock was telling us of that just yesterday." He cast a very indulgent smile at the two of them.
Kirk glanced at McCoy. The doctor's smile over the rim of the glass had a distinctly smug aura to it as he took another sip. Only a small tic starting at the corner of the man's left eye gave him away. Not to be outdone, and truly intent on encouraging this world to join the protection offered by the Federation, Kirk casually wrapped an arm around Spock's waist. He had not thought Spock could get any more rigid, but he was proven wrong. He regretted Spock's obvious discomfort, but he couldn't help a twinge of victory as McCoy's eyes nearly bugged out of his skull.
"I'm glad this misunderstanding has been cleared up," Kirk said, turning back to Elad with genuine relief. "I was very disappointed that it seemed you were going to decline the Federation's invitation."
Elad smiled happily. "We will add another banquet for tomorrow, Captain, and we can finalize the treaty."
Tralan, however, still seemed preoccupied with the less political concepts. "I must know – is your bonding recent?"
"Uh…" Kirk decided to go with as much honesty as was possible, under the circumstances. "Very recent." He thought he might get frostbite from the cold hostility radiating silently from Spock.
McCoy sputtered and took a hasty gulp of his drink.
Kirk put on his best smile. It was just as well that Spock was several inches taller than he was, because he didn't think he would be able to keep a straight face if he could see his first officer's expression. He felt his face starting to turn red from the effort, but there would be very important diplomatic ramifications if he faltered now. Besides… there was absolutely no way he was going to break before McCoy did.
Tralan cooed happily, and reached out to run a motherly touch along Kirk's chin. "I thought so – you're positively glowing, Captain!"
The laugh came out more as an explosive exhalation, and Kirk instantly released Spock to grab the doctor and push his head down so they couldn't see his face. McCoy shook under his hands, laughing so hard that he made no sound. Kirk hadn't expected the doctor to fail so dramatically, and was frantic to come up with some kind of escape. He looked around in near panic for any kind of inspiration.
"Oh, no!" Elad and Tralan cried together as McCoy bent over double, wheezing, and the glass shattered against the tiles.
Kirk seized the opportunity. "He's having some kind of reaction to the drink!" he said quickly. He did not have to feign worry, for this mission was now in serious jeopardy.
He instantly heard a communicator chirp. "Spock to Enterprise – three to beam up, medical emergency."
McCoy finally managed to heave a deep breath. Kirk wrapped his arms around him tightly to squeeze the air out of him again before he could give them all away with recognizable laughter.
"Oh, I hope he is all right!" Elad exclaimed in alarm.
The last thing Kirk heard as the transporter energies snatched them away was Tralan's contemplative voice. "Elad, my love, I think they are a threesome."
McCoy howled and fell to his knees the moment the confinement beam released them, dragging Kirk down with him. "Three—three," he managed to gasp out as he clutched at his sides and flopped onto his back.
Kyle's eyes widened with alarm. "Sir, a medteam is on their way," he volunteered urgently.
Kirk got to his feet and held up a hand, but the absurdity of the situation finally overcame him. His brand of laughter, however, was unmistakable for what it was and the crewman blinked in confusion.
Spock calmly stepped over the prostrate doctor and dropped off the transporter platform. "Belay that order, Lieutenant," he said.
The doors swished open even as Kyle reached for the controls, however, and the medteam burst into the room. They took in the scene instantly, and headed for McCoy. Kirk waved both hands at them, and they paused. Kirk hauled McCoy to his feet, and held him upright until he managed to control himself.
McCoy sucked in a huge gulp of air. "Wasn't fair," he managed to get out. "Something in that damn drink." He staggered towards the medteam, still gasping. "We're okay, Christine," he said to Nurse Chapel, who was looking between the three with open concern and confusion. The doctor made a shooing motion, and hustled the medteam out the door ahead of him. "You're never going to believe this!"
"Bones," Kirk called after him. McCoy turned around, wobbled, and caught his hand on the frame of the open doorway for balance. "Not a word."
McCoy's eyes widened in shock. "You can not do that to me!"
Kirk took a deep breath. "Sorry, Bones," he confirmed. "That's an order, Doctor McCoy," he added, using the formality to make certain his friend knew he meant it, despite the wide smile he still hadn't quite gotten under control. He nearly burst out laughing at McCoy's look of complete horror.
"God dammit!" McCoy roared in fury and turned his mutinous glower from Kirk to Spock. The Vulcan returned the glare with serene aloofness. McCoy shook his head. "Lord, I sure wish I had a picture of you two down there. Damnedest thing I ever did see! If you could have seen yourselves!" he said before suddenly staggering backwards into the corridor. The doors closed off the sound of laughter.
Kirk leaned over the console to punch a button. "Kirk to bridge."
"Scott here," came the familiar lilting accent. "Everythin' all righ' sir?"
"Actually, Scotty, things are splendid," he replied, and grinned mischievously at Spock. "Any change up here?"
"No change, sir. You were nae gone more than ten minutes, ye know," Scotty answered.
"Good. Switch me to Uhura please."
A moment passed, and then the lieutenant's soft voice greeted him. "Yes, sir?" she asked.
Kirk leaned casually against the console. "Send a message to Starfleet command," he said, then paused a moment to compose his thoughts. "Negotiations are back on track and should be concluded in less than twenty four hours. Commander Spock single handedly discovered the source of a cultural misunderstanding that was interfering with the talks, and took appropriate measures to correct the situation. This was at some personal cost to himself, however, so I am logging a commendation in his file." He waved a hand, even though she couldn't see it. "Kirk, commanding, et cetera."
Another brief pause while the communications officer entered the data. "Message sent, sir."
"Thank you, lieutenant. We'll be up in a little while, after we get out of these dress uniforms. Kirk out." He tapped the button to close the channel. Kirk leveled a gaze at the transporter chief. "You didn't see a thing," he said firmly.
"See what, sir?" Lieutenant Kyle asked, eyes wide with innocence.
Kirk nodded. "As you were," he said curtly as he left the room.
Spock fell in step beside him as they headed down the hall towards the turbolift. All transports that called for a medical emergency required the corridors between the transporter room and sickbay be cleared. Spock was grateful that the area was empty, for the captain glanced at him sideways and suddenly choked off a snicker. Spock released his breath slowly in a small sigh. This, apparently, was too much for Kirk, who burst out in laughter.
"Sorry, Spock," Kirk stuttered. He coughed, and scrubbed a hand across his watering eyes. He didn't think he'd ever live to see the day when McCoy lost a poker face so spectacularly. He hoped that drink didn't turn out to be poison or something, but he couldn't remember the last time he'd laughed so hard.
"Apology is not necessary, Captain," Spock answered. "Nor is a commendation. I recognize the necessity of the situation."
Kirk shook his head, trying to be serious. "Spock, I meant it. That wasn't fair to you, as a Vulcan. I consider that above and beyond the call of duty, my friend, especially when you consider what you're going to have to put up with when we go back down there tomorrow. Although… I must admit I'm looking forward to you explaining how they got that impression in the first place." He pressed his lips firmly closed in an effort to control his expression.
Spock did not reply as the lift arrived and they entered.
"Deck five," Kirk said as he grasped the hand control, but the words came out garbled and the computer made an unhappy chirp. Kirk cleared his throat. "Deck five," he repeated more clearly and the lift began to move.
Kirk leaned against the wall of the turbolift and took several deep, calming breaths, resting his hand on his chest as if to physically slow his heart from its rapid thudding. Spock could see the pulse jumping at the base of Kirk's throat. He would have been concerned had he not known for a fact that he was not injured. Kirk looked up, met his serious gaze, and doubled over in a sudden fit. Spock reached over and pressed the control that halted the lift. He refused to allow his captain to walk the corridors in this state. Kirk made no move to dispute the action, so Spock patiently waited it out.
At length, Kirk drew himself up straight. "Okay," he said, digging a fist into his side to try to quell the cramp starting up. "I'm okay." Kirk tugged at the hem of the dress tunic, then smoothed down the front. Spock wasn't sure who he was trying to convince. Kirk gazed directly at him. He smiled, but remained in control, so Spock started the lift again.
The doors parted, and the two walked in companionable silence the short distance to the captain's quarters. Kirk was trying to undo the knot in the ribbon tied to his arm when they came to his door. "Spock, what did you do to this thing?" he asked.
Spock reached out and deftly undid the binding with one swift motion. He pulled the cloth from around Kirk's arm with a graceful flourish and held it out to him. The captain gave an amused snort and plucked it from his fingers before turning to his cabin door. Spock's own quarters were only a bit farther down the corridor, but he politely waited while the captain keyed the door open.
Kirk turned before entering, his hand resting on the keypad. "You're all right with this?" he asked. "Not… well, upset?" Kirk winced slightly at his own choice of words, but let the question stand.
Spock regarded his captain calmly. The initial embarrassment had faded away, and all that truly remained was the memory of his two closest friends laughing themselves into near exhaustion. McCoy would undoubtedly be insufferable for weeks after this mission concluded, but even that seemed a small price to pay for such a memory. Instead of saying any of these things, however, Spock clasped his hands at the small of his back and answered with great dignity. "I am grateful that Doctor McCoy does not have the picture he so desires."
Kirk considered that, possibly even imagining what such a picture would look like. He leaned against the patiently open doorway and started laughing again.
Vulcans were primarily touch telepaths, but strong enough emotions could be detected without physical contact. Spock felt the waves of amusement rolling off his captain, and instead of reinforcing his shields as would be proper, he carefully removed a layer.
And then he deliberately graced Jim Kirk with a brief, rarely granted smile.
It was a tiny thing, barely a curling of the mouth. He informed the part of him that needed a reason that he was doing his duty in making certain the captain did not concern himself needlessly. But the rest of him very quietly basked in the nearly overwhelming wash of warmth and affection that his friend radiated in reply.
Kirk sighed, truly happy for at least this moment, and Spock silently reveled in that also. "I'm glad it turned out well – even if it was at the expense of your pride."
Spock gave a small shake of his head. "A small price to pay, Captain, to induct an entire world into the Federation and spare them the attentions of the Klingon Empire."
Kirk gave him another smile. "I suppose so. See you on the bridge," he added. Spock inclined his head in acknowledgment as Kirk disappeared into his cabin, already tugging at his dress tunic.
The door closed, and Spock began to carefully reinstate his mental shielding as he headed for his own quarters. It was no intrusion to accept that which was freely given, yet Spock always felt a touch of guilt when he so indulged himself.