When the captain entered the bridge Spock noticed that there was a fresh mark on his cheek. Kirk strode in unabashedly and took his seat. Without taking any offense Spock realized that the captain was intent on avoiding eye contact with him or any of the other bridge members.

Kirk was agitated. His eyebrows raised and he rubbed a hand against his face, blinking wearily as if he were trying to remain alert. It was a matter of ten seconds before Kirk was tapping his foot, cracking his knuckles, and shifting restlessly in his chair. Spock would not have noticed except that each movement registered sharply in his peripheral vision—as the child of Earth's ambassador he had learned to pay attention to mannerisms, particularly the nervous habits of humans and the emotions they revealed.

He remembered his mother's own agitation, her expressive face. It had always betrayed her true feelings. Spock thought it was curious how shamelessly and openly she felt, but Kirk's emoting was all the more obvious: it was clear that something had upset him.

But it was evident that whatever the issue was, it did not pertain to the current condition of Winona Kirk.

Spock excused himself from the bridge, his gaze lingering at the captain as he took his clipped steps forward. Surely Kirk was aware of his blatant stare, but he was determined not to see.

The turbolift deposited him on the floor of the bridge crews' quarters, where he met Uhura waiting for the lift herself. Spock stepped out and they let the lift rise back up to the bridge.

"You did not tell him," Spock stated, searching her eyes.

Uhura nodded. "Bad timing," she said. She pressed her lips together guiltily.

"You imply that there is a good time."

"No." Uhura sighed. "What was I supposed to do? That brother of his had escaped the brig and half of the head security team had shoved their way up. It hardly seemed like the time to deliver bad news."

"Someone must."

She shifted uncomfortably. Spock knew she would never ask him to tell Kirk; although Uhura was not prone to emotional displays, she was a slave to her pride. She would deem this request a weakness or a flaw, when in fact it was only her humanity.

"You cannot avoid him for long," Spock said softly. He cupped a hand on her cheek and she looked up, startled but touched by the gesture.

"I know." She turned her head, leaning into his hand.

"Nyota," he prompted her after a moment.

She stood up a little straighter. "He's at the bridge right now. I can't tell him, he's busy."

Spock heard the desperate edge to her voice. "It is unlikely that the captain would leave the bridge before we arrive at Acton, and then he will most certainly be occupied."

"He has the mission on his mind, then. It would be . . . illogical to tell him," Uhura persisted, borrowing one of Spock's favorite excuses.

The closest to real emotion Spock felt was in the reflection of Uhura's eyes. A part of him twinged at her sadness. He wished to rid her of it, but he knew it was beyond his power.

Spock did not want to manipulate this sadness, but he did have to point out the true logic of the situation so that she could not deny the necessity of informing the captain.

"Starfleet sent the message because the chances of Winona Kirk's survival are slim. I am certain they intended to prepare the captain for the possibility of her death. It is only fair that he is made aware," Spock said evenly, willing himself not to flinch at her widening eyes. To emphasize what he is trying to convey, he added abruptly, "Before it is too late."

Her features contorted in distress. Spock mechanically lowered his hand from her cheek and took a measured step away from her, resisting the faint and nearly imperceptible ache in his chest to empathize with her. Uhura was unaware of how nearly she broke his calm and he intended to keep it that way.

He understood that her silence was permission.

"I will tell the captain," he offered again, and this time she nodded.

"Please." Her voice wavered, but only barely.

They stood in a mutual silence for a moment. "I'm sorry," said Uhura.

Spock raised an eyebrow. She had nothing to be sorry for. It was human nature to feel, and Uhura's nature to feel for everyone around her as well. She took on unnecessary and illogical burdens that she need not bear, for the sake of others. It was why Spock loved her.

Before he could consider uttering these words out loud, though, Uhura had summoned the turbolift and left him standing alone in the hallway. The moment was gone.

Spock wondered if his father ever told his mother that he loved her, because when he thought about it, he wasn't sure if he ever did himself.

Chekov had not eaten lunch when their shore leave had been so abruptly cut off, and by now it was practically dinner time. Unwilling to admit that he'd been so engrossed in a physics textbook that he'd missed lunch back on the land base, he'd sat at his station all day trying to distract himself from the pangs of hunger. Naturally, he was ravenous by the time he managed to dismiss himself from the bridge and shove his way into the line at the mess hall—he was prone to being jostled about in the crowd, but somehow he plunged through it and found an empty table.

Aside from the bridge crew, Chekov was embarrassed to admit that he really didn't know anyone aboard the Enterprise. He was uncertain if it would be too forward of him to introduce himself to the other crew members. Despite his higher rank he was afraid of coming off as disrespectful to the much older and more experienced Starfleet personnel.

He ate alone, but he didn't mind. He usually brought a PADD with him and pulled up the library of texts he'd had the forethought to enter in before departing. He'd grown so used to this pattern of events that he was more than a little surprised when Uhura sat down across from him and looked at him expectantly.

Chekov bristled a bit in his chair. He hadn't forgotten how she snapped at him earlier.

"Jes?" he asked, intending to sound cold toward her. Instead he just sounded like he'd swallowed chunks of ice. Chekov internally cursed his boyish inflections, blushing into the mush of his spaghetti.

"Why are you sitting all by yourself?" she asked.

His anger dissipated into embarrassment. "I haff my PADD," he answered defensively, and she didn't press the matter. Chekov attempted to ignore her by pretending to read, but he was distracted by her relentless presence. He finally looked up, exasperated.

There was what appeared to be a tear streak that ran down her face. Chekov softened at once, and she noticed his stare.

"Ju do not vant any food from ze line?" he asked in a rush, trying to sidestep the awkwardness of being caught looking at her.

"No, I'm not hungry." She leaned forward, her eyes set on him. "Listen, Chekov, I'm sorry for snapping at you earlier. I didn't mean it."

"Eet ees alright, I understand," Chekov mumbled, blushing. He fiddled aimlessly with the spaghetti on his plate for a moment, and then cautiously met her eye again. "Ju are steel sad?"

She tensed. "Yeah."

"Jou do not haff to tell me why," Chekov assured her.

A small smile twitched at her lips as if he had said something amusing. "I know."

He cleared his throat and tried to find another topic of discussion. "Zees spaghetti ees awful, nuzzing like ze Russians can make."

He was gratified by her thin laughter. "I'll bet," she conceded.

Chekov was already finished. He didn't have much patience for mealtime because it carved out precious minutes of his day he could spend productively. But Uhura was still sitting across from him looking dejected and Chekov thought it might be rude to just leave her there.

"Jou do not vant to talk about eet, but jou seet zere like you do."

"Oh, I do, Chekov."

"But jou can't."

He has agitated her. "I can't."

"Ze Russians newer reweal zeir secrets," Chekov said lightly. He offered her the cookie he didn't want and she took it absent-mindedly.

"It's not really my secret to tell."

Chekov wondered if this was what high school was like. He was about to open his mouth to reply but just then the captain himself sat down next to him. Upon seeing the look on Kirk's face Chekov wished very much that he had decided to leave Uhura in her sadness earlier. Kirk was livid.

"You want to go on the away team on a planet that's at war?"

"Cease-fire, keptin," Chekov said feebly, knowing already that he has lost the argument. Uhura leaves with a stricken look about her and Chekov cannot help but feel betrayed.

"Let me get this straight. You've never been on an away team before now. We've just been informed that there is a near imminent threat of sabotage. You're seventeen fucking years old and you think you can just waltz in on an away mission without informing me?"

"Commander Spock vas—"

"Commander Spock, my ass," Kirk growled. "I'm the captain of this ship."

"Aye, sir, but I—"

"No buts. Jesus, kid—"

"Not a keed," Chekov said under his breath.

"—if Sulu hadn't finally told me what the hell was going on up there and you went on that mission without informing me, I'd kill you myself if you made it back alive."

"Sulu?" Chekov nearly choked. "Sulu told you about the away team?"

"He doesn't want you on it anymore than I do."

"предатель," Chekov muttered angrily in Russian.

Kirk was too exasperated to ask what he meant by it. "You're not going," he said simply.

Chekov willed himself not to react angrily. If the other crew members reacted it would be out of determination or drive, but if he did it would just be perceived as wild teenage hormones. As if he'd ever endured such a phase.

So he took a deep breath. "Permeesion to speak freely, keptin?" he asked evenly.

Kirk seemed somewhat surprised. "Granted."

"I haff not had ze opportunity to be on ze avay team prewiously, and ze Preence Carmeleon and I are quite fameeliar vith each ozzer. He has requested zat Starfleet send personnel zat are not perceived as a threat." Chekov raised his eyebrows at the captain, glad to see that Kirk was actively considering his point. "I am not wery threatening, keptin—but I am skeelled een wudimentary combat eef necessary."

"So basically you're saying you don't care if I send your body back to your parents with a note that says, 'Don't worry, he didn't look threatening, so some aliens went ahead and mauled him."

Chekov allowed himself a small smile. He could see that he had nearly persuaded the captain already. "Eh, zey haff all my seesters—"

"Enough bullshit, Chekov, I'm serious."

Ah, so he wanted serious. "Ju zink zat my parents vould allow me to enleest een Starfleet vithout knowing ze reesks?" Chekov would not go so far as to bore the captain with all the court orders involved with his enlistment, but legally emancipating himself from his family so that he could act as his own guardian had not been a fleeting decision.

After a deliberating silence Kirk sighed. "Alright. You're in."

Chekov grinned.

"But I'm coming with you."

Usually all Sam has to do is listen to the series of beeps on the keypad to learn the passcodes. When Jimmy was seven years old he'd spent hours fascinated with a pad just like that, one that Frank used to lock up one of their father's old cars. Sam would watch him pressing the keys and humming to himself.

A few months later he'd found Jimmy's entire torso leaning into the open hood of the car.

"How the hell did you get past the code?" Sam demanded upon entering the garage.

Jimmy's blue eyes were brighter than he'd ever seen them, startling in contrast to the dark bruise circling the socket. "Look at this."

He was pointing to the inside of the car hood. "It's a bunch of wires and shit," said Sam, unimpressed.

"It's so cool."

Sam laughed. "You don't even know what those do."

"I'll figure it out."

"How'd you get it open?" Sam tried to keep his voice more casual this time, as if the information meant nothing to him. But Jimmy was more malleable than clay and would have told him regardless.

His head was still immersed in the hood as he answered, his little voice alight with excitement. "I memorized how the code sounds when he opened it."

Sam understood that the "he" meant Frank; for whatever reason, Jimmy always avoided saying his name.

"How'd you get a look?" Sam asked.

His suspicious tone was lost on Jimmy, who looked up with a toothy grin. "I didn't." Then he hummed a string of notes merrily.

"You gonna tell me or what?"

"That's it," said Jimmy indignantly. He hummed again and it took all of Sam's willpower not to smack him out of impatience. "That's the code," Jimmy insisted. "Each of the numbers has its own sound, and when he punched them in I remembered the tune and played it on the keypad again."

Sam's smile stretched the entire length of his face. "Teach me."

Jimmy obviously remembered the incident. The keypads on the Enterprise were soundless, but that didn't hinder Sam all that much, not in the scheme of things. He was a little ashamed of how long it had taken him to work out the algorithms on the first code Jimmy had set, actually.

It was a five-part algorithm based on the numbers 2233.04. To anyone else it would be Jimmy's birthday, but to the brothers it was the day their father died. Jimmy had always been a sucker for sentimental shit like that.

After Sam escaped Jimmy set the captain's override code to the brig on random digits. It would be hopeless to try and get out without a tricorder, it might take weeks.

But Jimmy was negligent. He'd only reset his override codes to one deck. With the standard PADD installed in the prison cell, Sam could easily use the old algorithms to access anything and everything Jimmy had access to.

Sam read the urgent message from Starfleet. Not even a flicker of emotion passed on his face—one thing Jimmy hadn't taught him was subtlety, because Sam had learned it all on his own.

He read the message a second time and shut the PADD down. He knew Jimmy would be down here to reset the codes within the hour, and then Sam could make him see the truth he'd tried so hard to ignore. All he had to do was wait.

I'm sorry I haven't updated in, like, a week. I'm squeezing in paragraphs as I walk out the door. It is, as they say, "ridonkulous."