Disclaimer: Star Trek characters belong to Paramount. Originals are mine.
Author's note: A good friend of mine has been pressing me for a story featuring one of the OC from Expanding the Oecumene for some time now. I was waiting for an Action/Adventure plot to come to make it happen, so here we go. Takes time during the 1st 5-year mission, closer to the end of the 2nd season.
Warning: Work in progress
Beta/Editor: Lil black dog, who is a jewel. All remaining mistakes are mine.
Codes/Rating: K&S, S&OC, M, Sc. Friendship/Adventure/Drama. Some UST. Strong R.
Summary: Spock discovers he does not remember the events of the previous evening. Kirk discovers Spock has a friend he knew nothing about. Starfleet Security discovers the body of an alien diplomat. Someone has to save the day and prevent a major security breach. WIP.
Cloak and Dagger
Official functions were not at the top of James Kirk's preferred activities list. They were tedious, and boring, and anything but productive in any sense of the word. Not to mention there was always the possibility of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person. Doubly so, when the function in question was a diplomatic event. He didn't have a knack for diplomacy, not in the slightest. Talking always got him into trouble, even if it pulled him out of it just as well.
Yet strangely this time he didn't seem to mind. Actually, he was the one who requested that the Enterprise be diverted to Starbase 16 in order to officially accept the Legourians' petition for Federation membership. It wasn't necessary, as the Starbase commander was entitled to act on behalf of the Federation just as well, but it gave the Enterprise a much desired break after several exhausting missions. The crew needed a change of pace, and so did the ship, according to the Chief Engineer.
Scotty had been driving Kirk up the wall for weeks requesting they make a stop for maintenance which was long overdue. The sound of the docking clamps being engaged brought the Captain a certain measure of relief, which was unexpected at best, as usually it had the opposite effect. He didn't like to feel his ship trapped. But by then, he was rapidly reaching the point when he would have gladly put her in drydock—just to get Scotty off his back.
The thought of his Engineer made Kirk grin. Usually, it was next to impossible to get Scott off the ship during whatever R&R time they were cut. When it came down to shoreleave, Scotty was the champion for staying on board, with Spock coming in a close second. Yet this time both of them were the first ones to leave the ship, even though it wasn't exactly shoreleave they were after.
'Boys went shopping,' Uhura muttered under her breath just this morning to the utter amusement of the entire bridge crew.
Kirk grinned. He imagined that by now Scotty would be halfway harassing the Starbase engineering team, while Spock would go in search of new scientific equipment. Kirk didn't envy the Starbase officers that would have to deal with their requests in the slightest. He shook his head, as a wave of affection washed over him. His first and second officers' zeal to ensure that the Enterprise only got the best of the best wasn't an easy thing to endure if one happened to be on the receiving end of their determination.
Kirk himself was four hours behind them in disembarking. Reluctantly, but inevitably he finally had to submit to a long-postponed physical. McCoy was so irritated that Kirk thought, with mild pangs of guilt, that this time he might have cut it a little too close. McCoy's overall report on the crew's physical fitness was two weeks overdue, thanks exclusively to the Captain this time, and Kirk was still mulling over what he could do to make amends. But that would have to wait, as he had to pay a visit to the Starbase commanding officer now. It wasn't strictly necessary, but it was a kind of a long-standing tradition a wise captain wouldn't want to break.
Just as he was about to cross the docking area and enter the inner rim of the station, the familiar figure of his First Officer caught his eye. Kirk grinned to himself and was about to call Spock's name when he noticed that the Vulcan wasn't alone. He was talking to a tall, well-built, dark-haired human wearing Command gold. No, Kirk corrected himself, not just Command gold. Captain's gold.
That was odd. Starfleet, of course, was a huge organization, and there was no regulation which would state that James T. Kirk should know personally each and every one of his peers. But it still felt strange to watch Spock being so completely at ease around a stranger.
Without being consciously aware of it, Kirk frowned. At ease was an understatement. In fact, Spock's whole posture screamed relaxed comfort and loosening up the way the Vulcan rarely, if ever, appeared. The human was talking animatedly to him, often laughing and gesticulating expressively with one hand. The other was resting casually on Spock's arm, to which the Vulcan seemed to have no objection.
Kirk raised his eyebrows, watching. That was most uncharacteristic of Spock. Who was this man? He couldn't possibly be one of Spock's former commanding officers; he was too young for that, seemingly around Spock's own age. And the relaxed familiarity the two of them were exhibiting was at any rate not at all reminiscent of the way Spock held himself with his superiors, not with Pike and not with Kirk. That was most peculiar.
But it got even more so at the next moment when the doors to the nearest cargo hold opened, and Scotty walked out, engrossed in studying his padd. He nearly stumbled over the unlikely couple and, to Kirk's utter surprise, grinned broadly in recognition. The unknown captain greeted him most enthusiastically, clapping his back and giving him a heartfelt handshake. Spock watched the exchange leniently, showing no signs of surprise at this development. He said something, and both humans burst out laughing.
Kirk shook his head, resuming his way slowly. He was completely puzzled at the little scene. It looked like a class reunion, old friendships flaring up in a moment's notice. But that couldn't be the case, could it? Scotty had left the Academy before Spock even entered, and since they both seemed to be on equally friendly terms with the unknown man, that had nothing to do with it. He wondered briefly why witnessing such a blatantly pleasant encounter had left him with an unidentified sense of unease and worry. Surely, there was no cause for that?
He grinned at his own reaction. Was he getting paranoid, seeing a threat lurking around every corner? Well, he thought with a hint of grim humor, starship duty will do that to you.
"Jim," Commander Britty greeted him amiably, rising from behind his desk. "Come on in. It's good to see you."
Kirk smiled back as they shook hands.
"You have a new aide," he nodded subtly towards the outer of the office.
"Trust you to notice," Britty grunted, gesturing towards a chair. "I have already warned her about you."
"I can tell," Kirk nodded seriously. "She's just invited me to some sort of party she's hosting tonight."
Britty groaned and rolled his eyes.
"What is it with women anyway? You'd think you're irresistible."
"I take it she didn't invite you?"
"I'm a married man, Kirk," Britty glanced at him strictly. "So save your innuendoes."
"Try not to sound so disappointed, Warren." The pleasantries out of the way, he got down to business. "What can you tell me about the Legourians that I don't already know?"
Britty looked at him pensively.
"Do you have a new First Officer?"
Kirk blinked, slightly taken aback by the question.
"Then I don't think I can tell you anything you don't already know," Britty shrugged. "Given how thorough your First is, I'm surprised you even asked."
"Well," Kirk intoned, inordinately pleased for some reason. "They were stationed here for two months. I was hoping you could provide me with some insight."
"Not really," the Starbase commander shook his head. "They are a quiet lot, Jim. Keep to themselves mostly. We've organized every possible tour for them we could think of, showed them all our advances. They seemed interested enough, but when it comes to any kind of social interaction, they snap closed like oysters. They would just stay in their quarters and do God knows what in there for days at a time. Silent types."
"Shame, that," Kirk shook his head. "My CMO would like nothing better than to take a closer look at their physiology. But I take it, they wouldn't be particularly open to the idea."
"I sincerely doubt it."
"Why is the Federation so interested in them?"
Britty looked thoughtful.
"They're good merchants. Currently, we leave most of our trade agreements to Vulcans, which is fine, but has its setbacks."
"Like what?" Kirk raised his eyebrows. Vulcans were renowned for their efficiency in commercial dealings.
"Like they wouldn't consider trade with certain species at all," Britty said. "The Orions, for one. Or the Gurans."
"I'm not sure I'd want to trade with them myself," Kirk cringed. "If not for the cheap dilithium."
"Exactly. Our Vulcan allies value their ethics more than the outcome."
"It's our ethics, too," Kirk remarked calmly. "I wouldn't want my ship to be powered with crystals extracted by slave labor."
Britty shook his head.
"It's not as black and white as that."
"Neither are the Vulcans."
Britty raised his hands and gave him a placating smile.
"Point taken. Anyway, that's the only use I can see in the Legourians so far, Jim. I've been watching these negotiations for some time, and I can't think of anything else of value. Of course, we don't only accept those worlds who can give something to us."
"But we prefer that they do," Kirk nodded in understanding. "I was merely curious about your view on them. My role here is simple—accept the petition and say, 'Thank you for applying.' I hope you don't mind us walking in on you like that."
"Not at all," Britty shook his head. "You know I hate diplomatic stuff. As far as I'm concerned, you can cut in on me any time. But I know I'm not that lucky."
Kirk smiled good-naturedly, only too well in agreement with the Commander's assessment. A thought crossed his mind and he raised the question that had been bugging him, trying to sound as uninterested as possible.
"Say, Warren, is there another starship in range?"
"Another starship?" Britty looked perplexed. "Oh, you mean the Adventure. It's one of the new Hermes-class, she only came in this morning and hasn't docked yet. Why do you ask?"
"No reason," Kirk shrugged with masterful aloofness. "I just saw a guy wearing captain's gold and wondered who he was. Hermes-class, did you say? I didn't know they were ready for launch."
"The Adventure is the first, from what I heard."
"I must admit I'm unfamiliar with it."
"So is Captain Radek, I would imagine," Britty chuckled. "He's only just been promoted and this is his new command. He spent a couple of weeks on the station waiting for her, and I would imagine getting bored out of his wits. Maybe you should take a moment to say hi."
"You know him well?"
"I hadn't heard of him until he stopped by to introduce himself. But he seems like a pleasant fellow."
"Really," Kirk said, with inexplicable skepticism. "I'll meet him if I get the chance." He stood up, reasserting his easy grin. "Thanks for talking to me, Warren. The ceremony's in two days, right?"
"It is. By the way, Commodore Wesley sent word he might make it, too. He's a friend of yours, isn't he?"
"Bob Wesley?" Kirk lifted his eyebrows. Surprise warred inside him with uneasiness. "Yes, we're friends. At least we were, until... well."
"Yeah," Britty nodded sympathetically. "You have to know that nobody blames you, Jim. It must have been terrible to watch this machine fire at your friends. It's a good thing you were able to stop it."
Kirk's face darkened, expression closed.
"Thanks, Warren," he said. "I appreciate it, but I'd rather not talk about it."
"Of course," Britty nodded. "Well then, Jim. You have a party to attend."
Kirk winced lightly, but grinned.
"Do I have to?"
"Hey, you're the one with the reputation. But take my advice, go for a few hours. If my experience with the Legourians is any indication, you'd better get as much entertainment as you can while it's there."
"Thanks, Warren," Kirk nodded at him lightly. "I'll see you around."
It turned out though that Commander Britty's suggestion was excessive in any case, because Lieutenant Barns had no intention of letting her guest of honor escape. Disposing of his half-hearted reluctance at the sight of her pretty face, Kirk gave in graciously and allowed her to show him to the local recreation center.
It was late in the Beta shift when Kirk returned to the Enterprise. What compelled him to do so wasn't immediately clear—he wanted a change of scenery after all, didn't he? He was enjoying the merry company his beautiful guide had assembled, and if he were to follow his usual routine, he should have taken her up on her offer and stayed. Never let it be said that James T. Kirk would willingly pass up an offer like that, and yet something made him say a polite no and bow out.
He must be tired, he mused lamely as he made his way back to his cabin. Or, getting old? Kirk chuckled. Way too early for that. And it wasn't as if he found the young woman unattractive. But she was a little bit too eager to please, a little bit too awed by him, so awed, in fact, that it didn't even feel natural. He couldn't shake off the feeling that she was merely picking up a spectacular specimen for her collection, rather than being interested in him, however briefly. There was something of a routine in her gentle yet slightly detached approach, giving away the fact that she was far more interested in spending time with Captain Kirk rather than with Jim Kirk.
There were times when he wouldn't have minded. But tonight his pride outweighed his desire for companionship. Or perhaps it wasn't even pride. He had found the encounter lacking in subtlety, and that was in the end what made him withdraw. Curious, that. He had never been one for subtlety before. Delicacy and sophisticated conversation were more Spock's style than his. Not that he could actually picture his Vulcan friend in a similar situation.
He chuckled at the idea, and nodded at a passing crewman who gave him a bewildered look. Kirk grinned, realizing he had come to a stop at Spock's door rather than his own. What was it he had said to his First Officer so many months ago? Something about Spock giving him emotional security? That seemed to be just as true now as it had been then. Maybe even more. It wasn't that late yet, and Spock probably wouldn't mind him dropping by for a delayed game of chess. But almost instantly the thought made Kirk frown.
Spock wouldn't mind, and if he did, he wouldn't admit it. They had been spending a lot of time together lately, and Kirk wondered suddenly if he had been monopolizing Spock's free hours. True, the Vulcan had never said no to him to date, but then would he? Given his predilection to strict subordination and loyalty, wouldn't it stand to reason that he might have considered it his duty as well?
Funnily enough, the thought had never occurred to him prior to meeting Spock. He could always tell when someone was enjoying his company and when they weren't, be it subordinates, superiors, or otherwise. Spock was an adult, of course, and fully capable of deciding for himself, but it felt wrong somehow that in so many instances Kirk was unable to read him. Kirk could clearly recall several occasions when he got the distinct impression that his First was humoring him, agreeing to do something he would normally avoid. It seemed like fun at the moment, but it always left him with a sense of mild unease and a slightly guilty conscience.
The Captain rubbed at his eyes tiredly, and moved on towards his own cabin. The only way to know for sure would be if Spock took the initiative in his own hands. But Kirk had yet to see him so much as suggest sharing a meal in the Officers' Mess, never mind a game of chess. It was true that protocol-wise Spock was impeccably correct here. But protocol never stopped Bones for one. Or Gary. And surely even a Vulcan could make some small concessions sometimes when they were all off duty? Particularly when his captain had told him in so many words that he wouldn't mind?
Kirk sighed. Spock had to be constantly prompted to call him by his first name even. Getting so little feedback from anyone, Kirk normally would have long abandoned any attempt to draw them out. He wasn't in for desperate cases. For some reason, the idea of leaving Spock to his own devices had never occurred to him. Perhaps because Spock was giving him feedback, just not the kind to be easily discerned. Or maybe it was because he quite plainly liked the Vulcan, and was never bored in his company whatever they were doing.
But tonight, he decided, Spock had earned a night off, and a night off in every sense. Kirk could use an extra hour of sleep himself, come to think of it. He was tired and he planned an early start tomorrow. He walked resolutely to his quarters, for once yielding to the logic of common sense.
He woke up in the dark and completely disoriented. The first thought that greeted him back to consciousness was that this was not his own bed. This wasn't even the Enterprise. After so many years, the feel of his ship was something he would recognize instantly. His head was buzzing uncomfortably. His whole body felt numb, as if the proverbial ton of bricks had landed right on top of him. He wasn't hurting exactly, but he was unusually weak.
Where was this place? What happened?
Those were not the kind of questions any Vulcan should ever have the necessity to ask.
"Computer, lights," Spock said tentatively into the darkness, noting the uncharacteristically raspy sound of his voice.
Miraculously, the lights came on, and he sat up abruptly, studying his surroundings.
He wasn't in his own bed, of course, but this one was also Starfleet issue. As was the room surrounding it. He was fully clothed but for his blue shirt that was mysteriously missing. It wasn't the only thing, too. Wherever he looked, he could not locate his tricorder, which he had with him in order to log his requisitions at the Starbase facilities, and which he was sure he still had the previous evening.
It was morning now, he could tell, but he didn't know the time precisely, and it was another alarming realization. He tried to concentrate on the last clear memory, but it was difficult, recollections were elusive and vague.
He remembered the bar, clearly. Their small party was starting to break up, and it ultimately came down to the four of them. The proprietor warned them he was going to close soon. Sinead... Lieutenant Kerr, Spock corrected himself promptly, took that as a cue to leave. Mr. Scott offered to walk her back to her ship. Spock deemed it necessary to remind him that they had an early briefing scheduled in the morning. He remembered the affronted look the Engineer had given him. He thought then that he must have misunderstood Scott's intentions regarding the Lieutenant. He tried to apologize. Mr. Scott, however, seemed to be in exceedingly good spirits and only waved him off dismissively.
Spock didn't spare the incident much thought. He had a more pressing concern on his hands, namely Luca. It was obvious that his old friend had consumed more alcoholic beverages than seemed reasonable, even by human standards. The joy of their unexpected reunion as well as of the long expected and much anticipated promotion and new command was clearly too much to resist. Spock realized that Luca would have unlikely made it back to his quarters on his own and volunteered to escort him.
He looked around with renewed scrupulousness. These must be Luca's quarters. Walking here was the last memory Spock had of the night before. As usual, Luca's inebriation resulted in hindered coordination, lowered inhibitions and excessively affectionate behavior. None of which was something Spock couldn't handle. It was, after all, nothing new to him.
Same as now, back at the Academy, he was usually the only person who would not consume any alcohol and would therefore be stuck with the dubious honor of taking care of his indisposed companions. He tried naturally to avoid any gatherings that might have resulted thus, but having a friend like Tora Jonnson or a team leader like Luca Radek, he sometimes had little choice. He had never backed off from his obligations then, even though he could never understand the persistent desire to incapacitate themselves that so many humans exhibited. Most certainly, he could not have left Luca alone last night, for now that he was captain, he had more than his personal image at stake.
They walked here, Spock remembered that. Or rather, he walked, and Luca was half-pulled, half-carried. Spock remembered stepping through the doors. And then...
His memory was completely blank. He frowned in concentration. Vulcans didn't suffer from amnesia of any kind. He must have been unconscious during those missing hours. But why? And why was he feeling so weak? So dizzy? He was certain he did not drink any alcoholic beverages last night. Why was he nearly incapacitated? Why couldn't he remember? And why wasn't Luca here, if these were his quarters?
It occurred to him that he would not get any answers by sitting here and waiting for his head to clear. One glance at the chronometer told him he had missed the morning briefing. He was, in fact, two hours thirty-seven minutes late for his shift. This was unacceptable. Technically, he was AWOL.
He should contact the Enterprise immediately... Only then did he notice that his communicator was nowhere in sight, either. Spock rose to his feet abruptly and instantly regretted it. But his stubbornness kept him upright, even as his legs threatened to give way. He straightened with difficulty, realizing that his balance was regrettably off. He staggered towards the comm panel on the wall only to find it inactive.
That was odd, but he couldn't spare much thought to this peculiar circumstance right this moment. Several tentative steps across the room apprised him that he would be able to get back to the Enterprise under his own power, but he would have to walk slowly. If only his head wasn't spinning so badly...
He made it to the door, holding onto the walls, but he couldn't continue like this once he left the room. Summoning every bit of strength he possessed, he managed to let go and walk without support. Slowly, though. He was certain he was barely moving.
The station swung around him uncomfortably. Luca's quarters were in the most populated area, right across from the main promenade. Spock started to count his steps to maintain his concentration. He could tell people were staring. But there wasn't much he could do about it, except walk on. He would have to see McCoy, he realized with an unpleasant sinking sensation coming from the region of his stomach. Late as he was already, he had no choice. It was getting clearer by the moment that, as he was now, he was not fit for duty.
It occurred to him that he was staggering and swaying, like a drunk seaman headed for his ship. Shame heated up his face, and he realized he wasn't controlling his emotions either. If the Captain were to see him like this... Spock bowed his head and nearly tripped over his feet. He forced himself to banish irrelevant thoughts and concentrate on controlling his motor functions.
Suddenly, his way was blocked. He raised his head perplexedly to discover several Legourians watching him, their impenetrable black eyes focusing on him with unidentifiable menace. Vaguely, he felt surprise stir within him. Everything he knew of their people told him this was not their usual routine.
"Excuse me," he said, hearing his own voice blurring and feeling renewed embarrassment wash over him. "May I... pass?"
They didn't move at first, only stared at him blankly.
"Ex—cuse me," he repeated with difficulty, sensing the upcoming despair. He was suddenly struck with the terrifying realization that if he stopped now, he'd fall and wouldn't be able to rise.
He never saw where the first blow came from. They were suddenly all over him, hitting him methodically and in perfect silence. Far from being able to fight back, he couldn't even do a half-decent job of evading their blows. Strangely, he didn't feel much pain, even though his mind was telling him that he must be hurting. It was almost as if he was watching himself being beaten from afar, dimly aware that it was he in the middle of it.
"All right, break it up!" A sharp voice cut through the crowd, assaulting his hearing.
In a moment, he was surrounded by the Starbase security officers who held the Legourians aside. Only then did Spock realize he was curled up on the floor, instinctively trying to protect his head. He looked up, expecting assistance. Surely, this was all some sort of terrible cultural misunderstanding.
The hands that jerked him upright were far from gentle.
"Are you Commander Spock of the USS Enterprise?"
With great effort, he managed to focus on the officer who asked the question.
"Correct," Spock uttered, extremely confused.
"You're under arrest," the Security officer told him sternly. "You have the right to remain silent. However, if you wish to invoke that right, it will be mentioned in your court-martial. Take him to the brig."
"Wait!" Spock managed to stall the forward motion, despite his weakened state and the effort of the guards urging him on. "What are the charges against me?"
The officer had given him a look of sheer disgust.
"You are being charged with assassinating the Legourian Ambassador. Do you have anything to say?"
Spock stared at him in astonishment. The incredible nature of the statement had shaken him to the core.
"No," he said. "I do not."
At this moment, he could not offer anything logical, rational or even coherent if his life depended on it. Which, from the looks of it, was the case.
"Take him away," the officer ordered to his men. "If he causes any trouble, stun him."
Shocked, like he hadn't ever been in his life, Spock offered no resistance.