A/N: Hi everyone. I promise I haven't gone utterly around the bend. And yes, this is a new story. OMG right? It's really kind of an experiment. I wanted to write a detective story in the tradition of Sam Spade. That's why this is totally AU. Not sure what's going to become of it, but here's the first chapter. We'll see what happens next!
It's not so late when I look up at the door to my office. Gaila's standing there with her 'I'm leaving and you won't stop me expression.' Her well-worn brown wool coat is buttoned all the way up, her warmest hat barely containing the red curls threatening to spill out from underneath.
"You going then?" I ask, already knowing the answer.
"It's cold. And it's snowing. Again. You need to leave soon too, Jimmy."
"I will, doll. Just one or two more things to finish up here," I tell her like I always do. Of course I won't be leaving any time soon. I know it. And I know she knows it. But we have this conversation almost every night as she's leaving.
"Alright, Jimmy. You want me to lock up?"
"No. I'll lock up in a while," I say, watching her nod. "See ya Monday."
"Right," she says, looking like she has something to add. She changes her mind and after getting her purse out of her drawer, leaves.
I turn from the door where she just left and look out the window. Snow is falling on the streets of the city, adding to the slush already there. No concern of mine, really. My apartment is just across the street. There's a light on that says it's not empty and I smile, not surprised when the phone on my desk rings. Even before I pick it up, I know that it's him.
"Hi," I say.
"Hello," he answers, sounding as serious as he always does. "Are you coming across soon?"
"Another hour," I tell him, looking out the window to see if I can spot him moving around our apartment. But he must be in the kitchen where I can't see him. "How was school?"
I can hear him shrug. "They can concentrate only on their holiday."
"I know. Just three days next week," I remind him.
"Yes," he agrees. "Should I bring your dinner?"
"No. Keep it warm for me. I'll be there by 6."
"I will. I stopped for pasta," he says, sure that will get me home sooner.
"5:30 then," I respond with a laugh.
"I look forward to your arrival."
"Me too," I say right before I hang up, a smile still on my mouth.
I'm just about to lock up for the night when I hear the sound of high heels crossing the wooden floor outside my office. "Hello?"
"Mr. Kirk," says the woman who appears in my doorway. She is…gorgeous, tall, legs from floor to ceiling. Wrapped in a dark fur coat. Collar pulled high that does nothing to disguise the sculpted lines of her perfect face. Dark skin, dark eyes, dark hair peeking out from under the matching fur hat.
"Yes," I finally respond, guilty for staring. "What can I do for you?"
She gracefully crosses the space that separates us, accepting my silent invitation to sit in one of the wooden chairs facing my desk. "I find myself in need of …assistance."
"I see," I say, waiting. She'll talk when she's ready. Not before.
"My husband," she says, a tiny break in her voice. "My husband is very likely cheating on me."
I find that hard to believe. Because no way has he found someone more beautiful than the woman sitting across from me. "That's unfortunate, Mrs. ...?"
"Uhura," she says, "Miss Uhura. I did not take my husband's name."
"I see, Miss Uhura," I say, thinking quick. I know her name. And now that I've gotten used to her startling good looks, I know her face too. Seen it in all the social sections of all the papers. "Why do you suspect that Dr. McCoy is cheating on you?"
If she is surprised that I know who her husband is, she doesn't show it. She glances down at her glove-covered hands before looking back up at me. "A woman knows, Mr. Kirk. A woman always knows."
I can only nod. I've been in this business long enough to know she's right. Why the men in this city think they can get away with it is beyond me. "You want proof then?"
"I want…." She stops, considering her words. "I have heard that you offer…other discrete services."
"Ahh…" I say in realization. "You want me to see what I can do about stopping him."
"In a word, yes," she agrees. "I love Leonard. And I know that he loves me. He's strayed. Men do. I want him back, Mr. Kirk."
"I see," I respond, studying her. She looks right at me, her eyes sad but determined. She's been crying. Recently. But that's none of my concern. I lean back in my chair, considering. I've promised Spock I won't offer those…services any longer. Too dangerous, he tells me. Please concentrate on lost children and missing heirlooms.
"You are concerned I won't pay you?" she guesses, her voice quiet.
"That's not it," I assure her, straightening to look at her. "I've cut down on providing those… services."
"I see," she says, glancing over the battered surface of my desk, looking at the blinds that perpetually tilt, no matter how many times I straighten them. I can see she's evaluating, weighing. "I will make it more than worth your while."
"I'm sure that you could," I agree, my voice harder than I intended. She almost flinches but stops herself.
"I have heard you are the best," she says. "I asked around. If anyone can stop Leonard, it's you."
I nod to acknowledge her words, not necessarily in agreement. "Why is this so important to you?" I ask.
"He's my husband, Mr. Kirk."
That's not much of an answer but it's apparently the only one I'm going to get.
"Please do this for me," she says, surprising me. Her tone has changed. It's softer, more sincere somehow. Like her heart really is breaking. And I'm the one who can stop it. When she begins to silently cry, I know I'm sunk.
"All right," I agree, reluctantly. I provide her with my handkerchief, which she uses very delicately. "Where can I find him?"
"He'll be at the hospital tomorrow. Until 1:30. Board meeting," she says, sniffing lightly. "He always eats at Jockey's Haven when it's over."
"All right," I repeat, wishing I had said no and stuck with it. Now I have to tell Spock. Because lying to him is not an option. I discuss my fee with her and she nods in agreement. She even pays me half up-front. Always nice to have something to show for breaking my promise.
"I will contact you on Sunday," she says.
"That's fine," I agree, reluctantly giving her the phone number to the apartment. She knows everybody in this city. If she wants to get my number, all she's got to do is call the owner of the exchange. He'd give it to her, no questions asked.
"I'll speak with you Sunday," she says, leaving me alone.
I lock up the office, hoping Spock will still speak to me when I tell him. Well, business is always slow around Christmas. This will help. Not that we need the money so much. He's a tenured professor of physics at the university, after all. Money's steady. Our needs are few.
I stomp the snow off my boots before opening the door. He's heard me on the steps and is there, waiting for me. Tall and handsome. Black hair. Black eyes. Lips that don't usually smile but know how to kiss.
"Kiss me first. Then tell me," he requests.
I gladly comply, greeting his tongue and tasting the wine he has already started to enjoy. "I love you. You know that, right?"
"I do know," he agrees, taking my coat to hang it on the outside of the closet door to dry. "And whatever it is you have done that I will disapprove of will not change that."
"Nyota Uhura came to see me," I tell him, accepting the white wine from him.
"She is interested in hiring you?"
"She said her husband is cheating on her," I say, sitting on the couch next to him, in front of the blazing fire. It's a little too warm for me but he likes it hot so I don't complain.
"And she wants proof."
"No," I say hesitantly, feeling his body tense. "I know, Spock. I know I said I would stop."
"Yet you have agreed to assist her," he says, all disapproval and pent up anger.
"Yeah," I'm forced to agree. "I'm just going to talk to him."
"This is what you always tell me, Jim. Then it turns into more. And you endanger yourself yet again." He shakes his head, his disappointment tangible.
"I can handle myself," I snap, instantly sorry. He's always been over-protective. One more reason I love him the way I do. But it's my job.
"It's your choice," he corrects, not respecting the barriers I've tried to place between us. His mental abilities are way stronger then mine but he usually doesn't use that to his advantage. Unless he's angry. Like now. "When are you 'talking' with him?"
"Tomorrow. He has a hospital board meeting. Then he always eats lunch at Jockey's Haven."
"A private club," Spock points out.
"Yeah. But you're still a member. Even if you don't ever go."
"So you are proposing that you use my father in this endeavor."
"Not your father. And I'm not using anyone. I'm a member by virtue of being married to you," I remind him. A little too loudly.
"But you can enter only if I accompany you," he reminds me. As though he needed to.
"You'll worry the entire time I'm gone anyway. You may as well come," I say, trying really hard not to sound like a 4 year old.
"You are acting like a 4 year old," he informs me sternly. "And I should send you to bed without any dinner."
"But you won't," I tell him, leaning closer and licking his ear. That gets him every time and this one is no exception.
"You are exasperating, t'hy'la. Even for a human."
"But I'm your human. And you love me," I remind him, kissing him soundly.
"You are. And I do. Come and eat," he says, holding one elegant hand out to me, which I gladly accept and follow him to the table where dinner is waiting.