Change of Command

By

Pat Foley

Spock stepped into his quarters and stopped. The door slid shut behind him, sealing out human emotion and illogic. Spock felt his shoulders relax as the warm dry air enveloped him. The firepot's dusky red glow reflected off the similarly hued wall hangings, and seeped through his closed eyelids, a welcome relief after the cold, blue-white or yellow lights he endured the rest of the day. Spock let out a breath he hadn't been aware he'd been holding, the cold humid air of the corridors, and breathed in deeply air more acclimated to his desert bred lungs, air faintly scented with Vulcan incense. Home. Here on this Starship Enterprise, lightyears from the 40 Eridani, the planet of his birth, a Vulcan/Human hybrid had created a small, two room refuge he considered home.

He had plans for his evening, meager-sounding, perhaps to the humans he served with, but satisfying to him. A sonic shower to erase the last vestiges of his duty day, a cup of hot, spicy Vulcan tea, and then the next several hours devoted to the pursuit of hyper-space physics. Perhaps the conclusion to the paper he'd been writing for weeks, in these rare snatches of free time granted to the science officer of a starship. On the way to the shower he crossed to the servitor and dialed his tea. A full human might have been whistling with happiness. Spock only allowed himself a deep contentment. He had pulled off his tunic, had almost made it to the shower when the intercom whistled its own call.

Spock halted. It took him a fraction of a second longer than it should have to turn, and more control than he wished to deny the disappointment that flooded him. It is nothing, he thought. A momentary interruption, a question, an overlooked report. But he knew he had overlooked no reports. His voice was at its most Vulcan as he depressed the intercom key.

"Spock here."

"Mr. Spock." His captain's face. Jovial, smiling. Not a reprimand, then. Though he had yet to completely understand his new commanding officer's moods, to anticipate and adjust to his ideas. Eleven years of service with Chris Pike had left him with strong sense of how things should be done on the Enterprise, and a small inner shock at how protective and defensive he felt towards the previous captain's ways. Questioning the rationale behind Kirk's orders had brought out the steel in Kirk's otherwise mild demeanor, resulted in his being chided for inflexibility, with the orders unchanged.

"Yes, Captain?" He was guarded with Kirk, his face wooden, impassive. He knew it displeased Kirk, but the defensiveness came, unbidden. He could not seem to control it. The last two weeks had changed everything that Spock had relied upon as stabile for eleven years. The tension crept back in his shoulders and the room seemed suddenly as cold as the corridor. What will he change now?

"I understand you play chess, Commander. I thought you might enjoy a game."

Who told him, Spock wondered, and then remembered Kirk had seen him playing against the computer, testing it after he'd enhanced its programming. No one's fault then. And nothing to be done. A social invitation from one's captain was virtually an order, acquiescence was expected unless one had an impeccable reason. Spock did not even consider manufacturing one, such a ploy would only see the invitation reissued. Spock had correctly gauged Kirk's determination, even in small things such as this. An officer had a duty to serve even the smallest whims of his captain. He had no choice.

"Your information is correct, sir."

"Good. Main rec, then, say, in half an hour?"

"Of course, sir."

"I'm looking forward to it." Kirk signed off, seemingly undaunted by his science officer's frozen expression.

Spock flipped the intercom switch off, his eyes closed as he struggled with inner control. Pike had his gregarious human moments, but he had also been a private person, largely solitary by nature. He'd never been close even to Number One, and a Vulcan second officer was even less likely to be singled out for attentions of a personal nature. While Spock had never doubted Pike's respect and regard, while they had a relationship that spanned a dozen years, his former captain had never pushed himself on his crew. Indeed, he had possessed an almost Vulcan restraint in that regard which Spock respected and considered suitable for a superior officer.

Spock had been shocked and fascinated by Kirk's gregarious behavior, hitherto directed to the other members of the crew. Kirk managed, somehow, to both socialize and still maintain discipline. But Spock had no desire for a personal relationship, and experienced a quiet horror at the thought of that gregariousness turned toward him. Yet he knew Kirk would not be satisfied with mere familiarity of service records and qualifications. He wanted to know the men under his command, particularly his senior officers. He had been selecting all of them for such personal attentions. Spock up to now had been free of them, and had hoped it meant Kirk intended to respect his Vulcan heritage in that regard. But apparently he'd just been waiting until he'd found a suitable reason to engage his attentions. And now, with chess, he had found one. And it would be his turn. That knowledge filled Spock with a sick dread. He was not adept at personal relations. He had become adept at fending off similar interests from his colleagues fascinated by his alienness. But with his captain he had no options and no choices, except transfer. And to what? With another human captain, another human crew he would be as alien, even more so, than here on the Enterprise, his home. At least here he was largely accepted. But he was not known. And he did not want Kirk to know him either.

He sighed, and then regretted the sigh as unVulcan. Main Rec, too. The largest, noisiest, rec on the ship, where enlisted and officers mingled without regard to rank, where a chess match between the new captain and himself would be sure to draw a large crowd, with telepathic overloads enough to make a full Vulcan cringe. The sigh drew the spicy aroma of the Vulcan tea into his lungs. He looked up, seeing his research awaiting him invitingly on his desk, in vain. Instead he would spend the evening fending off personal questions across a chessboard from a man whose penetrating eyes demanded he surrender his soul along with his duty. He shivered and slowly pulled his blue uniform tunic, still in his hand, back over his head and tugged it down. On it, the Enterprise emblem shimmered and winked, but it no longer represented the Enterprise he'd known. His refuge was gone.

end

I found this vignette on an old hard drive of mine. If you're interested in other early Spock/Pike/Kirk tales, there are a couple of mine – originally published in Masiform D, up on Trektales com. They are Officer Material and For the Good of the Service. The URL is in my profile.

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