Sorry about the long delay—I'm a busy girl, these days. This chapter's a little short, but it seemed like a good place to stop. The next one is already in the works, though that doesn't mean much. I've been trying to alternate which story I'm updating, so the next chapter posted will probably be for my Bleach fic.

Chapter 15

Archer's expression was serious, but not unkind as he looked across his desk at the Command Team of the Federation flagship.

Spock returned the look with Vulcan indifference, while Jim was slightly more apprehensive. After their earlier encounter with Bekett, the young Captain was understandably on edge, though not with Archer. More with the situation, if Spock was reading the tangle of emotions correctly.

"Bekett is going to try to cause you trouble," Archer stated after a few moments of silence. "I know his reputation around the Academy campus—it's understandable, but incorrect. He's fairly neutral towards most nonhumans… provided they have no telepathic or empathic abilities. He has a profound distrust for anything capable of 'getting in his head'. Unfortunately, that now includes both halves of the Command Team of our flagship."

Spock remained silent, contemplating. He didn't know enough of Admiral Bekett to come to any conclusions without further information.

Jim, on the other hand… "So, what? He takes it as a personal insult?"

"Close enough," Archer observed dryly. "He's not known for being too tolerant of same-sex relationships, either, but on Earth that's still a debated thing. He's trying to get the two of you removed from the Enterprise. So far, he's only gotten laughter for the attempt, but he's got a few small 'special ops' groups under his command that are almost fanatically loyal. I want you to be careful. They might decide to do something even against standing orders from the general Admiralty not to."

Jim grimaced, and Spock was tempted to mirror the expression. He settled for quirking an eyebrow, "I do not believe this was the initial reason for our being called here."

"It wasn't," Archer grinned suddenly, pushing an envelope across the desk, "On a lighter note, congratulations on your marriage. You two have numerous acquaintances wondering why the first they heard of this was after the fact—not to mention the press."

Jim groaned, "Please tell me you're kidding. The press?"

Archer gave an unrepentant shrug, "It's not like you kept it a secret."

Spock picked up the envelope, addressed to both himself and Jim, and, after glancing to Archer for tacit permission, broke the seal.

A PADD and several datachips slid onto the desk, along with a note on actual paper.

A glance at the note told him it would be better to wait on the datapad. He slipped the chips back in the envelope so as not to lose them, effectively sealing it with a deft double-fold. "Thank you."

"That aside… anything we should know that wasn't in the reports?"

Jim winced, glancing sideways at Spock.

Spock met the gaze evenly. Though I would have preferred to speak with the doctor first, I believe our situation merits the Admiral's concern.

Well, let's see what he says. "Yes, but it hasn't been in the reports because we haven't actually had the chance to discuss it with Bones, yet. Would you mind waiting?"

"Something aside from your apparent distance restrictions and inability to handle physical contact?" Archer was actually mildly surprised.

"Uh, yeah."

The Admiral considered for several moments before nodding once, "If you'd rather discuss it with your doctor before anything else, that's understandable. I'd rather that was within the next few days, though."

Jim flashed a grin, more subdued than usual, "Thanks, Admiral. And… what do we do about Bekett?"

"For now, stay away from him. If he's willing to attempt assault… well, I've talked to several of the others about his behavior. He's going to be ordered to a councilor, and there's a possibility you two will be called in on a session to attempt to settle your differences. Otherwise, we might have to simply get a restraining order against him—although if that happens, he may be demoted. That should be enough incentive for him to back off."

"And if it is not?" Spock pressed.

"If it's not, there's going to be trouble. The kind that ends in penitentiaries."

Good enough, for now. Spock inclined his head in acknowledgement.

Archer glanced at the clock above the door, "Anyway, I have another appointment coming up, so I'm going to have to kick you two out. Be careful of the press—they may have heard you're here."

"Lovely," Jim muttered, standing, "Anyway, thanks for the warning. We'll be careful."

It was quite clear he didn't mean the warning about the press with that last.

xxxx

The press, it turned out, was easily evaded. Jim know of several side entrances, the first of which provided a press-free escape. They beamed directly back to the Enterprise from the side yard, thereby avoiding any encounters with reporters.

Once back aboard their ship, Spock glanced to his bondmate. Should we find the doctor?

Jim grimaced, Yeah, probably. Gahh—that's a conversation I'm not looking forward to.

Spock made a soft sound of agreement, Still. He must be told.

Yeah, Jim tilted his head, You realize this will give Bekett more ammo, right?

Unfortunately, Spock acknowledged. However, if the previous information was not enough to have us removed from command, it is unlikely that this will change that.

There is that, Jim agreed. Suddenly he chuckled, "You realize we held that entire conversation in our heads without anyone else around?"

Spock's eyes softened as he returned the comment with a slight dip of his head, his gaze on Jim's amused expression. It was good to hear Jim laugh.