I wake up first. After enjoying the rare chance to watch Spock sleep, I wake him. He doesn't mind. Gives us time to have the dessert we skipped last night.
Once we're dressed, we walk to Sarek's brownstone. There's no wind. The snow is holding off for a little while. Spock agrees it's actually warm enough to enjoy the air.
T'Pring opens the door, taking our coats and inquiring about my health. I'm fine I say, secretly amused. Spock silently scolds me. I mostly ignore him. T'Pring tells us that Sarek is in the library.
He's alone when we get there. T'Pau is meditating, he tells us. I gladly accept the coffee T'Pring offers me. She reluctantly gives Spock a cup of his favorite tea.
Spock and Sarek speak about family matters. Who is marrying whom. Who has recently given birth. Who is attending university and where. It's a strange sort of conversation but not an unusual one for father and son.
When T'Pau enters, we adjourn to the dining room and enjoy brunch. It's a surprisingly casual meal. Much of the usual formality absent.
/It is because they are pleased that you are with us,/ Spock tells me.
I'm not so sure but I accept his explanation. The conversation centers mainly on family again. I pay enough attention to avoid being rude. I want to be more involved but I can't focus.
/We will figure it out,/ Spock promises me.
As soon as we can after we finish eating, Spock makes our excuses. We express to T'Pau our gratitude once, then bid her farewell and return home. The phone is ringing as we enter our apartment.
"Hello?" Spock answers. It's Giotto. He has information. Spock invites him to come around. I find some aspirin and wash it down with bourbon. Spock disapproves even as he understands.
Not many minutes pass before Sam arrives. They obtained a search warrant for Yakovlev's hotel room.
"Mr. Chekov said that they were staying with the McCoys," Spock says. I can feel his confusion. It's the same as mine.
"They were, officially. Chekov still is. The maestro had the room for business dealings," Sam tells us.
"What business?" I ask.
"Apparently he was working both sides. He was mining for information. Then selling it to the highest bidder. He was hoping to talk with you about what he knew," Sam tells Spock.
"To whom was he planning to sell the information?" Spock asks.
"You if you would buy it. Or if not, he was hoping to find out what you were doing and sell that info to Montgomery Scott. His intel was available to the highest bidder."
Spock shook his head at that, his confusion still matching mine and buzzing in my head. "What's his connection to all this, though?" I ask. There's still a piece missing.
"We haven't quite figured that out yet. But we think the key is Kheri Uhura. We found his phone number and address on a pad in Yakovlev's hotel room. And a bundle of money. American. English pounds. East African shillings."
"East African shillings," Spock says, glancing at me. I can feel his surprise and his concern.
"Yeah. I found this in his room," Sam says, taking a handkerchief out of his pocket. Embroidered in one corner is JTK.
"Did you take it?" I ask, staring down at it like a snake set to strike.
"It would look bad for you if someone else found it, Jim," Sam points out, giving it to me. "How did it end up with him?"
"I gave it to Miss Uhura when she came to see me. This is her lipstick." I look up at Spock who looks unhappy.
"Seems Miss Uhura has some explaining to do," Sam says in a hard voice.
"You need this, Sam," I say, returning it to him. "I'm in the clear. On T'Pau's word. And from the fingerprints you did find."
Sam nods, accepting the handkerchief back.
"Will you be able to return it to evidence without being discovered?" Spock asks in concern for Sam.
"Sure. Not a problem," Sam says, putting it back in his breast pocket. "I've requested a search warrant for Kheri Uhura's place. Tell me his connection."
"T'Pau intimated that Uhura may be the primary financier of LARK. He is the sponsor of the Endowed Chair which brought Dr. Montgomery Scott to America," Spock explains.
"I heard of Uhura's interest in space travel. But where does the maestro fit into it?" Sam asks, the question we are all considering.
"And why was he killed?" I add. "What does Cupcake have to do with any of this?"
"And the McCoys," Sam says, shaking his head. "I'm thinking of paying a visit to Dr. McCoy and his beautiful wife."
I nod, looking over a Spock. He's worried. But I'm not entirely sure why.
"May I accompany you?" Spock asks, surprising me. I hadn't expected that.
"Why?" Sam asks. He's not opposed to the idea. Just wants to know Spock's reasons.
"They can't lie to him," I say.
"Yeah. Sure," Sam says. "I need to give them a call. You don't drop in on them even if you are the police." He goes to our kitchen to use the phone.
/You think they are involved,/ I say.
/In some manner, they are. I think that they are responsible for your arrest./
/Oh,/ I respond. /Hire me. They kill the Maestro. I have motive and history./
When Sam returns, he says that they are at the Doctor's city apartment and will meet with Sam and Spock as soon as they arrive. Once they've gone, I sit down and write out the pieces of the puzzle. Maybe I can put them together and get the whole picture.
Sam and Spock talk with the Doctor and Miss Uhura. Their attorney Christopher Pike is there too. Spock's sure it's not a coincidence.
After some convincing, she admits that her father made her hire me. She didn't want to. She and Dr. McCoy had a terrible fight about it right before she came to see me the first time. Her tears were real. Just like his anger was authentic when we talked to him at Jockey's Haven. He was mad that she had done it.
Sam tells them that they could be arrested. Spock tells me that they look resigned. Dr. McCoy asks Nyota to tell them the rest. Reluctantly, she finally does even though it implicates her father.
Turns out, Mr. Uhura wants to be responsible for the return to space. He doesn't especially care how it's accomplished. If Spock is right, he wants to discredit him by discrediting me. Then Dr. Scott can take over Spock's research.
If Dr. Scott is right, Mr. Uhura can take credit. As his backer. They say that Dr. Yakovlev had the missing bit of technology that would make Dr. Scott's theory workable. He was trying to sell phytrochemical montuaccelerater to Mr. Uhura for three times the agreed-upon price. If he refused, he'd sell it either to Spock or to the highest bidder
/That's why they had him killed,/ I tell Spock in realization. He asks them.
Miss Uhura says she had nothing to do with Dr. Yakovlev being killed. She's pretty sure her father hired Cupcake to do it but he protected her from that information. Her father was willing to use her. But only as long as he was sure she wouldn't be in trouble herself. Involving me was easy enough. She felt bad that I was arrested but knew I'd be exonerated. Mr. Uhura never said why she was to hire me. Just that she needed to.
"This is not sufficient to have my clients arrested," Mr. Pike tells Sam.
"No it is not. Nor can we have Mr. Uhura arrested unless we have more substantial evidence," Sam agrees reluctantly. "I did find this in his hotel room."
Spock says that Miss Uhura looks pale when she sees my handkerchief in Sam's hand.
"Nyota," Dr. McCoy says quietly.
"Mr. Kirk gave it to me the first time I met with him," she says. "It was in the pocket of my mink."
"How did Dr. Yakovlev end up with it?" Mr. Pike asks her.
"I honestly don't know," she says. Spock says she's telling the truth. That's good enough for me.
"Do you know the whereabouts of the phytrochemical montuaccelerater?" Spock asks. I can tell it's simple curiosity. He doesn't believe it's the key to space travel although some others do.
"I don't know," Miss Uhura says. "I don't know if my father recovered it or not. You would have to ask Dr. Scott if he has it."
"Is it the key to space flight?" Dr. McCoy asks Spock.
"In my opinion it is not essential. There are others who take a differing view."
"Like Dr. Scott," Dr. McCoy confirms.
They chat for a few more minutes, Sam requesting that they not leave town. If they go to their manor house, they need to let him know. Mr. Pike doesn't like it but he doesn't tell Sam no.
/What's next?/ I ask Spock as he and Sam leave their apartment building.
Spock asks Sam who is not sure. Spock suggests that they visit Dr. Scott. Sam agrees.
/Can you come collect me?/ I request. /I'm not in trouble with Dr. Scott./
Spock makes the request of Sam who agrees. They swing by our apartment and I go down and get into the car. It takes only a few minutes to arrive at the University and we park right outside the physics lab.
Spock uses his key to open the main door and we proceed to the lab reserved for the visiting Physics Chair. Sure enough, Dr. Scott is there. And so is Stron.
"Stron," Spock says. Stron stares at him, his breathing shallow. He looks guilty even for a full Vulcan. There is a definite green tint to his cheeks and tips of his ears.
"Dr. Spock," Stron responds, slowly turning his head to look at Dr. Scott who is watching them with his mouth open.
"What are you doing here?" Spock asks although it's pretty clear. Stron is wearing a lab coat, safety goggles, and oversized gloves. The equipment you wear when you are assisting in experiments involving acceleration of relavistic Kepler-energy.
"Why shouldn't he be here?" Dr. Scott finally asks. There's no anger to his words. Only confusion.
"He is my lab assistant," Spock explains. We can all see the shock on Dr. Scott's face.
"You lied to me? Vulcans don't lie," Dr. Scott says. Now he's angry. And surprised.
"I did not lie, Doctor. I told a version of the truth," Stron says. His voice is soft. We know he knows he caught.
"A version of the truth," Dr. Scott repeats, his accent even thicker. "Dr. Spock, I had no knowledge that he works for you still. He told me he had completed his last assignment."
"For the semester," Spock clarifies. "We have not yet started the next cycle."
Dr. Scott turns to Stron, his face red. "Vulcans don't lie."
"We do when it is convenient," Spock says, all disappointment and pity. "How much did you tell him?"
"None of it, Professor. I was planning to tell you what I had discovered," Stron claims.
"Do not compound your lies with more," Spock says.
"He dinna tell me a thing about your work, Professor," Dr. Scott says.
"How long has he been working for you?" I ask. Seems germane to the conversation.
"A week. Since right after New Year's. But no any longer. Clear out your things."
Stron does it, leaving as quickly as his dignity will allow.
"Why are you here?" Dr. Scott finally asks, realizing that we have invaded his lab with a policeman in tow.
Sam explains who he is and why we have come. About Dr. Yakovlev trying to extort money from Kheri Uhura. About Miss Uhura hiring me so they could implicate me in his murder. "Do you know anything about the location of the phytrochemical montuaccelerater?"
"I don't," Dr. Scott says, thinking it over. "The maestro did mention something to me about the LARK at the Christmas to-do. But I paid him no mind. The Russians have it backwards, if you ask me. Your theory is workable," he says to Spock. "Theirs is not."
"Does that mean there's no need for this phytrochemical montuaccelerater?" Sam asks, utterly confused.
"It could be key," Dr. Scott says. "I'm na so sure."
"Spock?" Sam asks.
"I believe it will simplify the process. I do not believe it is imperative to the development of a working model," Spock says. "Stron was of the belief that it would be impossible to achieve space travel without it."
"Which could explain him working for you," I say to Dr. Scott. "I'm thinking he wanted to see if you would be willing to pay more for it."
"You're saying he's tied to Mr. Uhura?" Sam asks.
"I don't see any other reason for him to work for both Spock and Dr. Scott. Playing the two sides against each other," I say.
"That does make sense," Spock agrees.
"Ah, laddie, it does," Dr. Scott says. "Where do you suppose he's gone?"
"To Mr. Uhura's," Sam says, the light bulb blinding us all when it comes on. "Can you get back home by yourselves?" he asks us.
"I can take them, Mr. Giotto. Na worries there," Scott assures him.
"Thank you. I'll call you as soon as I can," Sam says, hurrying out. Good thing we came in his police car instead of our roadster.
"May I see your work?" Spock asks Dr. Scott who readily agrees. They talk about Scott's theory and discover they have a lot more in common than either of them thought. By the time we've been there an hour, they agree to work together rather than in competition. Dr. Scott has some reservations about what Mr. Uhura might think but the chances are pretty good he'll end up in jail and have no say at all.
Dr. Scott drives us to our apartment and we invite him to stay for dinner, a simple affair but he enjoys it. As we are finishing our dessert and coffee, Sam calls. He says he's at the police station and if it's okay, he'll just stop by. We naturally agree and I put on a fresh pot of coffee.
Sam comes up, accepting the coffee after I've taken his overcoat. He settles on the red armchair. I sit next to Spock on the sofa. Scotty's in the black armchair. We get comfortable. Sam says it will be a long story.
Turns out that Stron was working for Mr. Uhura. Trying to get the inside information on both theories. The maestro was also trying to harvest the info to sell it to the Russians who worry about their national pride if America gets back to space first. The maestro never had the phytrochemical montuaccelerater. He was actually in the market. Thought by trying to extort money from Mr. Uhura, he'd turn to a different source and Yakovlev would steal it from there. Mr. Uhura got fed up with him offering then withdrawing it, upping the ante, and never producing the goods. He threatened Yakovlev who finally confessed he didn't have it at all. That's when Uhura had Yakovlev killed. And framing me for it would discredit Spock's work.
Some of this Uhura told Sam. Some he discovered by going through the ledgers on Mr. Uhura's desk, search warrant in hand. Uhura's high-powered attorney tried to stop Sam from searching his mansion but he couldn't find anything wrong with the search warrant and was powerless to stop the search. Stron turned out to be a wealth of information when Sam threatened to have him arrested. Which he had no grounds to do. Stron hadn't actually done anything illegal. But the handcuffs were enough to loosen his tongue.
Miss Uhura and Dr. McCoy were to be interviewed the next morning. Sam didn't think they would be arrested. He believed them that they were victims in all this. Miss Uhura would probably take over the railroad business now that her father was disgraced.
We talked well into the night, the four of us enjoying our own company. Who knew that two physicists would have so much in common with regular Joes?
/You are many things, t'hy'la. Regular is not one of them,/ Spock tells me when we are finally in bed together.
"Thanks, I think," I say before he silences me with a kiss.
I return to my office the next week, with Sam's blessings. The police tape is down. Gaila has had the office swept and dusted. It's good to back at work.
Ten after eight, Gaila sashays in. She smiles when she sees me at my desk. "I missed you," she says, her red curls tumbling down when she takes off her hat.
"Same here," I say. "What'd I miss?"
She shrugs and leaves my office, returning five minutes later with a notebook and a cup of steaming coffee. "I paid the rent. I paid myself. Phone bill's due tomorrow." She ticks off each item, barely pausing to breathe.
"How much do I pay you?" I ask when she pauses.
"Not enough," she laughs.
"You're right about that. Give yourself a raise."
"You got it," she agrees. "Do I get to decide how much?"
"You know how much we can afford," I remind her.
"Sure do. And next month I'm going to take my own case," she tells me.
"That's fine," I agree.
"So what happened after you were arrested?" she says, all eager and waiting to know.
I explain about the two competing theories which turn out not to be so different after all. Spock and Scotty are working together now.
She nods in approval at that, asking when she will get to meet Dr. Scott. This is after she asks if he's married. I pretend I don't know why she's asking.
"Was that Mr. Uhura arrested?" she asks me. She's read about him in the paper. Doesn't like him one bit.
"He was. Released on bail. Sam thinks they have a pretty good chance of a conviction. Stron is going to testify for complete immunity. Prosecutor is working a deal with Cupcake in exchange for his testimony."
"Poor Laurel," Gaila says, shaking her head.
"Yeah," I say. "Miss Uhura and Dr. McCoy aren't in trouble. They didn't know why he said she had to hire me. And it's hard not to do what your father tells you."
"She seemed so nice," Gaila says.
"You never met her," I point out.
Gaila shrugs. "Is T'Pau still being nice to you?"
"She is. Mind melds will do that. Sarek is less cold toward me."
"Good. I'd like to give him a piece of my mind," she says. She has never liked the way he treats me. Always been fiercely loyal.
"Any clients call or come by while I was out?" I ask her.
"Four. I have their names and numbers. Don't take the case of that Jonathan Archer. Can't find his prize beagle. You don't do lost pets," she says.
"Mr. Archer is the district attorney," I remind her. "Don't you think it's in my best interest to have him on our side?"
She frowns at me. After giving me the list, including Mr. Archer, she leaves my office. I hear her typing. I sip my coffee and look out the widow at the gently falling snow. It's good to be back.
A/N: So there you have it. Hope you enjoyed reading it! I sure had fun writing it. I am considering writing more Adventures of Private Detective James T. Kirk but I'm not sure. What do you think, gentle reader? One installment enough? Would you enjoy more? Hmm...