"Well," says McCoy, and everybody winces. McCoy swears all the time, but when he's reduced to saying 'well' in that particular genteel accent, things are truly up shit creek and someone is about to donate their leg for a paddle.
The aliens, big white misty creatures who live half on this plane and half on another one, shift a little, as if even they can tell that McCoy is about to stage the sort of epic fit that made the entire Academy believe that Jim was actually the second Mrs Dr Leonard H McCoy even after Jim had spent four semesters breaking all assumptions about what lifeforms were sexually compatible with humans.
"Forgive us," one says, in a soft misty voice. "We are repairing him now, but his body must lie in the other plane for a space of time."
"Fascinating," says Spock, in the tone that means he's going to be the one ripping off the leg for the paddle.
"However," says the alien hastily, because even aliens who live on the far edge of reality can tell when they've pissed the Vulcan off, "We will give his spirit a form. He wishes to be with you."
Spock just stares at them.
From the misty edges of the room, a shape forms.
"Merowowowow," howls Jim, scrambling up Spock's shoulder and staring hatefully around the room. "Hissssssssst."
McCoy covers his eyes. "Jesus fucking wept," he says.
The first time the captain goes missing, it's a shipwide shitshow, as Uhura puts it. Everyone's looking everywhere -- crew are woken up and press-ganged into the search. Scotty impresses them all by pretty much making up a way to locate feline life-signs on the spot, which makes everybody really excited for about a minute before they realize that beween the ship's cats, the pet cats, and the pet Tribbles (which no matter what Scotty does register as cats, too), Kirk is still ninja-ing his way through the ship and nobody knows where he is.
Spock frowns at the display when everyone else groans and gives up and goes off to look in the Jefferies tubes a forty-seventh time. He takes Scotty's seat and says, "I think we can safely eliminate all cats located in quarters of the lower-ranking officers and enlisted crew," he says.
Chekov is the only one left to hear; everyone else has already scattered. He watches as Spock eliminates about a quarter of the life signs on the screen.
"You can also remove any cats who are in the Botanic department," Chekov chimes in. Most of the ship's cats congregated there for the hunting, but even as a cat, Jim has allergies that are strictly incredible. "And in the laundry rooms."
Spock says nothing, but something catches his eye and if it were possible for a Vulcan to sigh, he would probably do it. As it is, he just exhales extra-loud. "I believe I have located the captain," he says, and leaves without another word.
Chekov stares at the screen for a full five minutes before seeing what Spock sees.
"Captain," Spock says, standing in front of the captain's chair on the bridge, "It is inappropriate for you to be here."
Kirk blinks up at him, and lashes his tail.
"Nevertheless, you agreed that in case of emergency, you would not be able to press the console buttons with suitable dexterity," Spock replies. "Additionally I had believed that we all learned a valuable lesson regarding the importance of physical appearance last week during our confrontation with the Ferengi. Your form at the moment, while quite ferocious in aspect to creature less than six inches tall, is not quite the imposing figure that best represents a Starfleet warship."
Kirk considers this, and tucks his feet under him, curling his tail around his hindquarters. Sensing defeat, Spock gathers the captain in his arms and says, "As you were" to the security officer posted at the door for Gamma shift.
"I swear, Commander, I don't know how he could've gotten in or how I could've seen him," the woman says fretfully. Spock glances down at her boots; there are telltale traces of cat hair on them.
"Indeed, Lieutenant," he says.
The only fight that he and Spock have while he's like this is over the litter box. Jim figures out defecation etc. pretty quickly, and he doesn't need one, but apparently Amanda Grayson had a cat once and little Spock had the job of Poop Patrol because the day after the first night Jim manages to finagle his way into Spock's room for the night, there's a new, tastefully concealed, self-cleaning litter box in one corner of Spock's room.
"Waaaa?" Jim asks, honestly baffled. He'd been so proud of his ability to flush the toilet himself he'd actually made Spock come witness it (and had gotten an off-the-cuff lecture about the importance of conserving water, but it had been worth it). Why Spock thinks he needs a litterbox is beyond him.
"It is perfectly clean," Spock says.
Jim makes a disparaging noise in the back of his throat.
"While in your altered state, it is perhaps more suitable for you to utilize those tools specially designed for one of your form," Spock tries.
Jim gives serious consideration toward making his point by shitting on the outside of the litterbox, but that'd probably be immature.
"I did not want to mention it," Spock finally admits, "But you have the tendency to... miss. The toilet. On occasion," he adds, noticing how all the hair on Jim's back is already standing up on end.
"Hssssssst," Jim yells.
He doesn't talk to Spock for a week. McCoy doesn't stop laughing about it for three weeks.
"Do not give the cat beer," says McCoy automatically.
"Wodka – " begins Chekov, and cowers away from McCoy's glare.
"Meh," complains Jim, lashing his tail.
Fortunately (?) Pike's out on a tour of inspection, so Spock contacts HQ and says they need him. Jim clearly thinks they don't, but Jim is enjoying himself hugely and also has tried to get on the captain's chair and swear at Romulans twice already. It was pretty amazing watching his tail bush slowly out and his tail stand up on end, and on the bright side, had confused the fuck out of the Romulans, but still. Something must be done, and Jim is, if possible, even less manageable now.
Jim realizes his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity right away, and when Pike materializes, there's a flash of dusty-tan-tabby and then a purring mass winding itself comfortably into Pike's lap, squeezing blue eyes up at him and lifting a sleek white throat to invite caresses.
He's also casting distinctly smug looks over at Spock, but Pike has gotten this far politely pretending he has no idea that Spock's non-existent emotions for him exist, and he doesn't mean to stop living in cozy denial now. It would be easier without the poisonous look Spock just shot Jim, but Pike carries on.
"So," he says, clearing his throat as Jim wraps his limbs around Pike's forearm and burrows his head into Pike's hand, "I see you weren't exaggerating."
"Captain," hisses Spock. Jim squints a look of blue-eyed evil at him and begins to wash Pike's hand.
"Okay," says Pike, pinching his nose with his free hand. "Spock, get your captain off my lap before he breaks a regulation. Jim, stop being a slut. McCoy, explain what's going on."
Then of course Jim tries to spend the night in Pike's bed. Pike's slept with a cat like Kirk in the bed before, and he's got no desire to wake up in the morning to Jim playing facehugger and probably scrubbing his ear affectionately with his sandpaper tongue.
Also, Pike and Jim feature in enough horrifying rumors already; he's not going to be found with Jim Kirk actually in his bed if he can help it.
Pike tips him out into the hallway, and Jim lashes his tail indignantly. "Kirk," he says, in his best I'm The Admiral voice. "You are not spending the night in my room."
Jim's ears go back, and he presses up against the edge of the door, obviously meaning to eel his way in as soon as he gets an opening.
Pike considers his options.
"If I make it an order for Spock to let you sleep in his room?" he offers, because bribing cats and Jim Kirk is technically a bad idea but bargaining is sometimes a painful necessity.
Jim considers this.
"I think there was some bacon in the supplies beamed up," adds Pike, and Jim's ears go forward.
"You are such a whore," Pike tells him, affectionate, and flips open his communicator. "Pike to Spock."
"Do me a favor and remove your captain, will you?" says Pike, and it's only the long time he's known Spock that makes him pick up the slight hesitation before Spock says, "Yes, sir," all bland resignation. "I will be there presently."
Pike flips his communicator closed and looks down at Kirk. Jim squeezes his eyes shut and begins to purr.
"Only one piece of bacon tomorrow," says Pike firmly. "McCoy will have our hides."
The four people who can understand Jim:
1. McCoy, because he spent three years in a room approximately the size of a stunted peanut shell with the son of a bitch and somehow likes him anyway. Anyway, at least now Jim's neurotic cleaning is limited to his own balls instead of the top of the cabinets and the coat closet.
2. Pike, because he's just that awesome, and Jim actually might love him better than butter cookies.
3. Spock, who is a touch telepath descended from felinoid ape-creatures.
4. To everybody's surprise, Sulu, who turns out to be some sort of fucking cat whisperer and also, he explains, "We spacejumped onto a drill manned by crazy Romulans. Our bond is transcendent."
To which Jim headbutts his arm, as if to say, Dude. Bros.
He and Uhura work out some sort of semaphore code based on tail positions and Jim jumping on Spock and clawing at him, when all else fails. Spock puts up with this with mute resignation, as if it's too much to even argue with them.
Gaila doesn't even bother to try to understand him. She just scoops him up against her breasts and coos at him, while he puts his paws against areas no gentleman's paws should be and looks hideously smug.
So, McCoy thinks, business as usual, pretty much.
"Admiral, are you giving That Cat bacon?" says McCoy the next morning, eying Jim disapprovingly.
Pike shrugs and feeds the captain another shred of bacon. "There's plenty left. They had some beamed up with the supplies."
"Bacon is bad for cats," observes McCoy, but gets up and goes back to the food line.
"Bacon is bad for everybody," murmurs Spock, who spent the entire night after Pike so cravenly handed his captain over to him alternately getting his ear washed and having the captain stare at him from a position atop his chest. Spock could not decide which had been more unnerving.
Sulu ends up being banned from the intership gaming tournament for giving the captain catnip – which would have been fine, except Spock had come in as Kirk was sitting over his pile of 'nip with crossed eyes and sometimes sneezing like hffchu, picked up both captain and catnip, turned to deliver a thundering eyebrow to Sulu, paused and said, "Hffchu."
Ten minutes later both captain and first officer are sitting on the floor, staring at a wall and sneezing hffchu at each other every so often, McCoy is in the middle of a really horrible discussion with a Vulcan, and Pike glides in the room.
Both Spock and Kirk swivel their heads to look at him, and there's something so thoughtful and predatory about it that Pike just puts his chair in reverse and rolls the hell out of the room.
"Hffchu," says Kirk, sounding vaguely disappointed.
"Indeed," agrees Spock, "Hffchu."
"Congratulations, Lieutenant," says McCoy, slapping Sulu's back in a way less friendly than really fucking painful, "You just solved the problem of hundreds of Vulcans who weren't in the mood tonight."
"Oh sweet popcicle Jesus," says Sulu prayerfully.
Uhura's still insisting on wearing the male uniform but Jim's not really bothered about it, except somewhere between the cat instincts and his own mind he's a little hurt that Uhura thinks he'd take advantage of it like that. Well. He totally would to Gaila, but he and Gaila are awesome like that. And Uhura lets him sleep on her bunk! He's seen her strawberry footie pajamas! Why can't he twine affectionately around her ankles?
He contemplates unfairness and girls and how Vulcans are so awesome at scratching behind ears for a while, sitting paws-tucked-under on the side of one of the couches.
Uhura comes in and he swivels his ears toward her, sitting up and letting out a chirp. She comes over, eyes the couch, and says, "If I sit with you, am I going to end up tossing you like a frisbee out the door?"
"Nyoooo," says Jim.
When Spock comes in, Uhura's reading on a padd and Jim is curled up next to her, sound asleep with her hand on his back.
"That cat," Pike says, "Was lying in wait."
Uhura tries to avert her eyes. Pike's an attractive man and all, but there's got to be something against regulations about seeing an admiral in his boxers. "Yessir. I'll take him to Spock's--"
"Yeah, you do that," Pike says, "And then send Scotty up here and have him put a fucking magic lock on this door. Waking up at two in the morning to a cat purring sweet nothings in your ear is--" Pike waves his hands around, like he's got too many feelings to express.
"Of course, sir," Uhura says, although the couple of times she's woken up to find Jim sprawled on her bed purring, she's arranged him at the foot of the bed and gone back to sleep. Her feet get cold, and the captain's better than a hot water bottle.
Pike's door hisses closed in her face, and in the sudden absence of him shouting she can hear the rumbling smugness emanating from the cat in her arms. She lifts him slightly to glare at him. "Captain," she starts.
"Mahw," he sooths, putting a paw delicately on her nose. His eyes squinch up and the purring increases.
"You know, smug isn't a good look on you," Uhura says. "Makes you look fat."
Jim's eyes blink open, wide and horrified, and he struggles in her grip.
She ignores his twitching -- Jim's got vicious claws, but he's never ever pulled them out, not even that time Chekov grabbed him by the tail trying to prevent him from escaping through a door -- and strolls down the hallway toward Spock's quarters. "It's true. You lower your head and your neck disappears, it's really bad. Makes you look like a Tribble with a tail."
"Meh," Jim grumbles.
"Well, that was fun," says Jim, bouncing back onto the bridge, human shaped again and allegedly as good as new.
"It was not," says Spock.
One day, Meg was innocently wasting time before work, and got to talking to an evil entity named Lepagus. This evil entity, by using her evil powers, got Meg to admit she really kind of wanted to write a fic where Jim Kirk was a cat.
….on the bright side, she ended up co-writing it.
The moral of the story here is there are a lot of people on the internet that should be kept apart at all costs, lest they commit cat jokes on innocent fandoms.
Back in the day, when dinosaurs ruled the earth and we all hung out on mailing lists run on university servers instead of LJ, I was on Feline-L. There was a lady there who raised Scottish Folds, and she had two cats named Candy and Dandy. See, their mother wasn't feeling so thrilled about their dad, so they gave her a hit of catnip. Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.
One of these days I'll stop making inappropriate jokes about Pike/Spock/Kirk but apparently today is not that day.