Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek. I do have many Star Trek novels and a 1995 TOS Calendar, as well as some DVDs.

Rating: Let's rate this at a 'T.' I am never very graphic, but the language is sometimes a little 'rough' and I use bad words There are even some 'serious scenes.' Everyone can make shocked faces now.

Dramatis personae (for the most part): Kirk, Spock, Nyota, Janice Rand, and some evil aliens.

Summary: Just remember, selecting a gift can be an adventure, but shopping with relatives . . .just make sure you are armed.

Notes: This piece is set in the same AU as I Hate Those Unexpected Phone Calls, Don't You? I know it's a dreadful title, but what can I do? I have no beta.

As usual, I am my own editor and oft times fail to turn a wise eye to the flaws of my own work. Responses concerning grammar, structure, plot, characterizations, spelling, and the like are much appreciated.

Many thanks to VickyfromGreece, who found some extra words and punctuation as well as some missing ones for me. I personally own any remaining errors.

Diftor heh smusma

-isobel


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Shopping for Fun, Profit and Galactic Peace

-i-i-i-i-i-i-


"Your mother's birthday is in about a month and a half. What are you getting for her?" The question came out of the blue and was associated with a disapproving expression from the most beautiful, but deadly brown eyes Kirk knew. He laid his sandwich back down on its plate and picked up his coffee.

Birthday? My mother has a birthday? Kirk thought and considered 'confused' for his initial reaction, but knew for a certainty that would work against him. Since his mom and Nyota Uhura's father-in-law wed, Nyota had expanded her sphere of influence and control to include his personal life as well as that of Spock's. She still seemed to consider her step-brother-in-law incompetent and childish in many areas and apparently birthday recognition had become one of them. Fortunately she didn't feel the need to second guess him on starship operations - yet.

"Hadn't really thought about it," he said, "Janice has me so buried in paperwork, I think it'll take a laser drill to get out from under." He smiled and played his 'I'm the captain, I am very busy, and really charming' card with a fond hope that she would think him overworked instead of thoughtless, or even worse, stupid and confused.

It didn't work, of course. It never did, but he had to try.

"You need to think about it and soon," she said. "If you want your gift to get to her on time, you'll have to ship it within the next week." With deft fingers, she broke off a piece of the spongy looking bread she had and used it to scoop out a bite of her spicy-smelling and richly red vegetable stew. "We'll be docked at Beta Casparii Four for at least two weeks. You should be able to find a nice gift there."

"I didn't think Vulcan cuisine had anything that you could eat with your fingers," Kirk commented trying to change the subject.

"It's not Vulcan," she gave him the 'look' again. "It's Ethiopian. Injera and a vegetable alecha. And quit trying to change the subject, Jim. Spock and I have already shipped her our gift." Another delicate bite of bread and stew disappeared into the beautiful mouth that was the fount of many frightening things.

"Shipped . . . You've already sent MY mother a birthday present?" Kirk snorted into his coffee. Now he was going to be in trouble with his mother as well with Nyota Uhura. If Sarek's Vulcan son and his wife could remember her birthday, why couldn't her all-too-human child. He should have known better than to have lunch with the maddening, but brilliant woman married to Spock.

"You haven't even thought about it at all, have you?" Nyota sighed and shook her head, "and, of course, we've sent something. Your mom is Spock's stepmother now, remember?"

Yes, he remembered, as if he would forget. If he did, Ms. Uhura would be there to remind him. At some level, he was disappointed in himself, but not as much as Nyota obviously was. For James T. Kirk, S'chn T'gai Nyota Uhura was a better reason than any other he'd found to avoid the happy bonds of wedded bliss and unholy matrimony. She ran his anal-retentive XO's life like a despot or drill sergeant. All more remarkable, for it was obviously with his XO's unreserved co-operation and approval. God knows, the Vulcan seemed to enjoy her despotic ways. Unfortunately for Kirk, she'd become determined over the last few months to do the same with him, but without the benefits Spock enjoyed. He could see no way of stopping her short of transferring her off, but that would lose Spock for him. Figuring out the trade-offs gave Kirk headaches when he thought about them.

"Seriously, you need to do something about it, and soon! I can give you a few suggestions. Aurelan and I worked out a list of some things your mother would love, when she commed me with the stills of the woven hanging she and Sam got for Winnie," Nyota paused, looking Kirk over again. "There are some great ideas, and we have your mom's sizes, as well." Nyota paused and looked at Kirk thoughtfully, "On second thought, I'm not sure you should be shopping for things that require sizes." She tapped a long elegant finger on his chest and pinched his tunic. "And you will need a clean shirt before you go back to the bridge. . . Captain!"

'Yes, Mother," Kirk muttered under his breath. "Just send me the damn list."


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"Perhaps you should not have been so forceful with him, beloved" Spock drew off his blue science tunic and sent it on it's way to the laundry. Nyota Uhura sat on the edge of their bed as she watched, with great appreciation, her most prized possession strip in preparation for a shower. Sometimes she couldn't believe she was really married to that gorgeous Vulcan body and bonded to that brilliant mind. "Jim does not deal well with non-negotiable demands."

"He's just being thoughtless and childish," she said. She scooted over a bit on the bed to give Spock almost enough room to sit down while he removed his boots and socks, "He really needs to learn to take care of family responsibilities."

Before Spock realized what was happening, she'd slipped to the floor and was undoing his left boot. "Let me help you with that, baby. Anyway I did, well Aurelan and I did, all the hard work figuring out some nice gifts he could pick from." She looked up at him and smiled, "I'll even make sure it's shipped out if he just gets her something." Nyota finished undoing the boot and started on the second one as he pulled his black t-shirt off and leaned forward to find the closure in her uniform.

"Why did you not simply select a specific item as you did with the gift we sent," he asked, then released a small gasp as a wayward hand dragged down the inside of his thigh. He stood pulling her up with him and finished divesting her of her uniform.

"Then he'll never learn to do it on his own. The man's in charge of a fucking starship, baby! He should be able to buy his mother a lousy little birthday present." Nyota's bra went the same way as her uniform, leaving the pair of them standing face to face, naked from the waist up. Spock pulled a pair of fingers down the side of Nyota's face then stroked the underside of her chin. Her warm brown skin darkened under his touch and he reveled in the fires of her rising passion, before he squatted down to unzip and remove her boots.

"You will be spending part of our shore leave ensuring that Jim has followed your instructions and obtained the required item, then?" He reached up and caught her panties and tights with crooked fingers and drew them down her legs where she stepped out of them. He rose and touched her face again, then moved a gentle hand across the tips of her breasts, eliciting a gasp and an electric jolt they both felt.

"Damn straight, Babe," she answered and returned his favor by undoing the closure on his pants, then pushing them along with his black boxer briefs to the floor. "I'm taking Jan with me, just as back-up. We should get it handled - really quick. That woman knows how to make him behave," she added, her hand moving a lot higher than just the inside of his thigh.

"I do not believe that my step-brother thinks of Ms. Rand in that way, ashayam." Spock pulled her arm up gently. He stroked her hand in the Vulcan fashion, sending her waves of his desire, then kissed her until she started to melt. "You might have better luck if you tried to pair him off with Carol Marcus, that scientist he met recently. He frequently speaks of her and they are in communication."

She followed him into the bathroom and leaned into the shower stall. She hit the button for a water shower and turned her eyes to survey her Vulcan and his responses to her. "He doesn't burn, though, does he?"

"I do not believe that to be the case."

"Not like you do," she said, turning her attention to the part of his anatomy that burned the brightest for her as he touched his fingers to her psi points.

"No, not like I do," came Spock's husky echo.

He pulled her tight to him and they slipped into the shower, each other and the fires of paradise.


-i-i-i-i-i-i-


More people than Kirk expected awaited him in the transporter room when he arrived to beam down to the planet. Most of his bridge crew, his chief engineer, at least three people from security along with McCoy and and McCoy's head nurse, Chris Chapel, were there. Their luggage had been sent down well ahead of them to reserved officer's quarters at the Star Fleet base planet-side, so most carried only the minimum. What surprised him most was Spock and Uhura dressed in casual Terran style clothing. Spock seldom discarded his uniform and when he did he tended to prefer Vulcan fashions. Uhura, well, she just didn't let him see her in casual Terran clothes very often.

Normally Kirk would be highly concerned that both he and Spock would be on prolonged shore leave simultaneously, but not this time. Enterprise had been offered an atmosphere exchange, a fresh overhaul of the oxygen scrubbers, and a deodorizing guaranteed to leave the ship smelling sweet, clean and springtime fresh for at least six months and more likely a year. The base at Beta Casparii Four had a reputation for being the place to get your atmosphere and associated support systems overhauled. They wanted to add the flag ship of the line to their list of satisfied customers so the offer appeared almost before the Enterprise drew into orbit and docked. Considering he was sharing space with hundreds of sweaty, gassy, stinky humans and other sentient life forms, Kirk could find fewer reasons to turn them down on their offer than he could turning down Uhura's thinly veiled "requests."

"Lieutenant. Commander," Kirk greeted them first, careful to maintain a professional demeanor around the rest of the crew. He didn't want to slip and accidentally use Nyota's first name in public.

"Looks like we have quite a crowd here right now," he commented, nodding to his colleagues. "Spock, are you and the lieutenant going down first or second?"

"First group, Captain," Spock said. "Nyota has plans and I want to visit the base's tech research center." Nyota rolled her eyes as she stood behind her Vulcan and gave her head a small, disapproving shake. Kirk didn't think the scientist was going to get much time to visit with science.

"I think I'll go down with the second group, then," Kirk decided. He'd counted 16 people waiting for this transporter room, that was two groups of eight. If he went down second, he might be able to avoid the inevitable shopping trip he didn't want to take.

The Lieutenant smiled. Hers were a thing of beauty. Jim could charm ambassadors, school teachers, heads of state, Star Fleet admirals and the grouchy old woman who lived down the road from the Iowa farm where he grew up, but hers could stop grown Klingons in a battle rage.

"Oh no, Captain!" she said sweetly. "You are in the first group. With Spock, the Doctor, Mr. Scott, Pavel, Janice, Ensign Gibbs," she pointed at the tallest of the three security people, "and me. Ensign Gibbs is meeting his brother and we," she indicated her small collection of people, "have lunch reservations at two. I know you have an errand to run first, so I thought that Janice and I could help you. You wouldn't want to be late for lunch, Captain."

"No, I don't think I would, Lieutenant Uhura, I don't think I would," he said with resignation as he stepped onto the transporter platform and into position. "Energize."


-i-i-i-i-i-i-


Down on the planet's surface, the eight of them vacated the transporter platform and moved to Customs and through Customs quickly. There were still some advantages to being the heroes that saved the Federation after all. One was, fortunately, and unfortunately, at times, instant recognition throughout most of the Federation. It got them through the luggage check and scanners fast, but not quite fast enough. As the Enterprise crew pushed out of Customs, the crowd pushed around them, appendages of all kinds shoving printed holographic images, demanding autographs.

"If I find out who talked . . ." Kirk began, then stopped as an elderly . . .uh . . .something, someone handed him an 8x10 print of himself to autograph. "Who do I make this out to?" he asked, hoping for the best from the universal translator.

"Merp'pa'pa'chirp." came the response.

"Can you spell that?"

"Em - EE- Two-Que-asterisk-horse-que-que"

"Sure thing!" Kirk scribbled out something illegible, signed his name and added a valentine heart, a child's interpretation of a sun, and a big Kirk smile as he handed the image back to the appendage that proffered it to him. He hated it when the universal translator failed to translate. He'd find out what kind of being Me-two-que-whinny-chirp was and see if somebody could update the language module. Uhura would know, and if she didn't, Spock would. He could cite nearly any Star Fleet regulation word-for-word from memory so there was no good reason that he couldn't identify random species of intelligent life forms.

Kirk had had enough adulation for the moment and he wanted to get out of the area before the Starbase commander and whatever local officials found them and offered them obligatory honors. "Okay, everybody. That's it. Let the galactic heroes through. They have luggage to collect and reservations for lunch," he boomed loudly at the crowd. Kirk's words, and the appearance of base security, was enough to cause the crowd to reluctantly disburse.

Regrouping away from the crowd, the crew chattered amongst themselves. They'd encountered reminders of the regard in which they were now held around the Federation before, but that regard usually involved speeches, bad food, boring company and dress uniforms. Seldom did they get the vid star treatment. Mr. Chekov seemed to find it 'werwy exciting' and would have run off with a really cute little redheaded girl if the hand of reason, attached to a dour Scotsman more interested in lunch than losing the young navigator to wee lassie, had not stopped him.

"Ye don't want to be runnin' off like that, lad. You'll get yerself lost," the older man advised, "And ye don't know where the lassie's been, now doo ye?"

Chekov stared at him, "But Meester Scott," Chekov started.

"Stay with us, laddie. Let's get settled, fed and then we'll find you some entertainment worth being entertained by." Scott continued to redirect the young curly-haired Russian away from the 'wee lassie' and back to his fellow Enterprise crew.

Once away from the crowd of fans and gawkers, the group relaxed and finalized when and where to regroup for lunch. Uhura and Janice stood in a subset that included Kirk and Spock. Nyota leaned slightly towards her Vulcan, face tipped upwards, as if considering a public kiss. That she thought better of it was clearly evident as she caught herself and, instead, glided her fingers over his. A subtle gesture, except to those who knew them.

Kirk tapped his yeoman's shoulder, "Look, they're making out." He pointed at Spock's fingers slowly dragging over Uhura's." The couple pulled their hands apart, slightly embarrassed.

Janice figured that this was going to get worse fast. She'd see the three of them when they got going and she didn't intend to spend her shore leave refereeing for her boss, the XO, and the XO's bride. It was one thing to help Nyota take The Man to pick out a birthday present. It was quite another to be his keeper. She quickly found a distraction in the form of a large black-framed screen mounted at a convenient height and angle.

"There's an interactive map of the district," Janice pointed out their current location, now highlighted on the map with a brightly lit smiley face and an arrow pointed downward, the classic symbol for "you are here."

"Looks like there's a shopping district over this way," Janice indicated a location that the screen assured them was full of a lot of little shops - crafts, antiques, specialties and the like. She tapped their current location on the huge glowing screen, then the location of the location she was suggesting. A bright yellow ribbon of light flew between the spots.

The device flashed words at her in response. Optimal route calculated. Maps and directions are ready for download, the device reported. Then with a great deal more civility, it asked, Would you care to reserve transport? Two, three and four person units are immediately available for your convenience.

"Ny?" Janice turned to the dark haired woman wearing vibrant primary red.

"Sounds good to me." Nyota replied.

"Captain?" Even off-duty, Janice Rand refused to call her captain anything but captain. She really really needed to keep the distance. There were no fairy tales with this master of a starship in her future. Not like that of Nyota and her Vulcan.

Jim sighed, scratched the back of his neck and checked his scalp for mind-control devices. He hated shopping and didn't know how he'd ended up going. Actually he knew, he just didn't like the answer. "Let's just go and get it done with, " he said.

Nyota turned back to her husband and Janice took up a brief conversation with McCoy. Kirk tried to find the good of it. His mom would get a birthday present and there were advantages to spending a couple of hours, in public, in civilian clothing, with two gorgeous women on his arms. The ladies might be off-limits but at least he could make other people jealous. Spock, or more likely Uhura, would kill him if he expressed any interest in her beyond the usual teasing. As far as Janice Rand was concerned, Star Fleet would have his head, both of them, if he tried to make time with his yeoman. He sighed softly to himself. There were days that he could have gotten lost in that long blonde hair and eyes the color of the ocean of hers.

Nyota was giving Spock endless instructions. The damn Vulcan was the most competent sentient being Kirk had ever known, and she still insisted on giving him lists of things he needed to do. The sex must be out of this world, and the next three planets for Spock to be so whipped. He watched in silence, as Spock listened, with great equanimity, to her requests and nodded. She concluded with, "I am sending you the information about where we're going," transmitting the kiosk's travel info from her portable to his.

"Hey, Spock. She'll have me back no later than 13:45, ship time, I promise!" Kirk interjected. With an instinct born of Star Fleet training and too many bar fights, Kirk pulled away from the hand that was going for his head; the same hand that caught the edge of his ear because he didn't move quite fast enough.

"Ow! that hurt!" he snapped, "Is my ear bleeding? You can get in trouble for attacking a superior officer, you know."

"Don't be a smart-mouth, Jim. It's undignified," Nyota turned towards him and poked gently at the ear she'd just grazed. "It's not even red. McCoy, come look at his ear, please."

McCoy glanced in the direction of the Captain and his Communications officer. "Your ear is fine, Jim. Stop whining."

Uhura gave him a "see, I told you so" look, then turned back to Spock. "You'll have time to check us in to the rooms. Could you get Jim's room settled at the same time, too?"

Spock had been looking forward to hitting the tech center while she was out forcing Kirk to go shopping. Kirk knew the Vulcan well enough that he was trying to figure out how to do everything Nyota wanted and still have time to visit the science projects before she got back. He thought about yammering inanely to distract her, but that would be uncaptainly. Anyway, someone besides him should have to suffer because of this little shopping jaunt. After all, it was Spock's fault. He was the one who couldn't keep it in his pants enough to say no to Nyota Uhura. Instead he bade his XO and the rest of his crew to behave until they met up for lunch.


-i-i-i-i-i-i-


Spock knew first that there was something wrong. He'd blocked most of the bond while Nyota went shopping. He hated 'shopping' with the passion of an ancient Vulcan or any man who has been forced to sit outside a dressing room, holding bags and untried apparel. Nyota, too, found his current science interests equally boring and had developed a disquieting tendency to giggle at him in the back of his mind and send lascivious thoughts his way when she found the material too far from her liking. Along with McCoy, Scott and Chekov, he'd gotten his party checked in with enough time remaining for a quick visit to the tech research center before Kirk and the women returned. Scott and Chekov followed the Vulcan enthusiastically and McCoy had tagged along because he didn't want to drink alone.

It was nearly time to meet. Spock found a memory of cool, dark skin gliding through his thoughts and he opened his side of the bond up, hoping to encourage her to 'hurry back.' He caught her amusement at Kirks 'shopping,' her automatic response to the intimate images he sent, then . . '.

He reeled with the intensity of Nyota's mental onslaught. Frantic, disjointed thoughts raced in his direction across the silver cord of their bond and he could feel none of her usual warmth and humor, nor even her more vexing emotions when she was unhappy. Confusion, the beginnings of control and he felt her fear, knew her fear, nearly collapsing under it.

Nearly. Instead of hitting the floor, he found himself caught by unexpected human arms and his fall redirected to a chair. "Nyota!" he managed to force her name from between his lips. McCoy was poking at him and pushed him back into the chair as he started to rise.

"Siddown you!" McCoy ordered, professionalism overcame insults as he turned from bantering friend to Doctor. Even on shore leave, the doctor carried a small medkit and was pulling out a scanning device. "What the hell just happened to you?" he demanded to know.

Spock pushed at McCoy again and erected enough of a mental shield that he could function. "Not me, Doctor," Spock rasped, his normal baritone rough and unfinished, "Nyota, Jim and Ms. Rand. Something has happened and they are in great danger." Spock rose, despite the best efforts of both McCoy and now Scott, to keep him down and in his seat, "I need to save Nyota before they kill her!"


-i-i-i-i-i-i-


Such naughty thoughts, Babe, for such a straight-laced Vulcan. She sent back amusement with love at the images and sensations she found in his mind of her body beneath his, cool, dark and passionate. Hurrying, hurrying, hurrying, my Love. She shared his lust and gave them back along with feelings of a task completed. Jim had found a treasure box for his mother. Covered in wood parquetry so tiny, delicate and precise that it would rival millefiore or the finest of enamel work, the box was full of secret drawers and hidden compartments that would take hours for Winona to puzzle out and solve. He'd picked a wonderful gift, found it himself and it hadn't even been on her list. Her opinion of her brother-in-law and Captain improved at the moment.

She, Kirk and Rand rounded a corner on their way back to the transport. Kirk carried the treasure box he'd just purchased, Nyota and Janice each had one small parcel. Uhura had once again abused her relationship with people in power and had what she and Janice had bought transported back to their cabins on the Enterprise. If her Spock shared the fate of the other Spock, some day she might be stuck in the role of an ambassador's wife. She would be ready for the intrigue by that time they got there.

And they improved again, real fast. Dark clad attackers, at least a dozen of them, came from nowhere. Ruthless and relentless, they pounded at trio. Nyota pivoted and kicked at her assailant as she screamed for her husband in her mind. She was well versed in the martial arts. Both she and Kirk trained regularly with Spock in Suus Mahna and knew how to overcome a more powerful opponent. She and Kirk had even trained as a team against Spock, learning to work together as they did now. Janice Rand, blonde hair falling from it's careful coif to chaotically round her face and head, delivered punch after punch in way that would have made her Star Fleet trainer weep with joy. The three of them worked themselves together, back to-back-to back until they fell.


-i-i-i-i-i-i-


Kirk woke with a screaming headache, unable to move. His hands were tied behind his back, his feet bound together, the bindings attached by another length of rope to the ones on his wrists. He could tell they were on a moving ship. It felt different from his girl, the Enterprise, but it was still a ship in space. He opened his eyes and twisted around to check his surroundings and see if Uhura and Rand were still with him. He rolled in the direction of his left, then his right, contorting his body, until he had located them. Both women were tied similar to the way he was and both were still out. He called softly to them, moving closer in a painful worm-like crawl. Neither answered his calls, they were both dead to the world. Kirk hoped fervently that they were just still knocked out.

A sharp noise to one end of the chamber in which they were held drew Kirk's attention. If this were going to be a stereotypical scenario, Kirk decided, some smarmy, over-dressed humanoid would appear, accompanied by his personal minions - a big bruiser of an idiot and a nerdy sort of creature that did the tech for them. They would then beat him up for information.

He hadn't gotten much farther through his ruminations when a well-placed foot rolled him over, bouncing his head on the metal floor. "Oww!" Jim croaked and turned to look at his assailant. Sometimes his prescience amazed even himself as he stared up at the very three individuals he's describe to himself just moments before. He'd only missed by a little bit.

The small nerdy fellow was the one kicking at him under the watchful eye of the big bruiser, and the smarmy over-dressed one. From what little he could understand, the big guy was in charge, the smarmy guy was tech and the little fellow was . . . the muscle?

"Talk, Kirk!" the little guy demanded, "How did you find out?" The little guy quit kicking him and Kirk twisted around enough that the miniature muscle could pull him into a sitting position.

"Find out what?" Jim asked. He looked over at the women again. One of Nyota's eyes blinked open for half a second. She was awake, but continued with the appearance of being out. They didn't like his response though. The little guy punched him in the shoulder. The, well he wasn't human and Kirk didn't know what species he was from, fellow was a lot stronger than he looked. If they survived, Kirk was spending a lot of time with a dermal regenerator.

"About the plan. You must have. You had the box with the plans hidden in them," the big non-bruiser said.

Kirk stared at them with one of those 'what the fuck are you talking about' stares, then closed his eyes as a pretense to check on his downed officers that lay on the floor behind the trio of aliens. Both women were awake now and Kirk had a sense that they were trying to loosen each other's bonds.

"What box? What plan." he asked in his most innocent voice. That brought another kick. Kirk grimaced with pain. Damnable little guy had shoes with really pointed toes and metal caps. No, he looked at the little guy's feet, no shoes. He could just hear Spock calling it a keratinous growth similar in formation to a claw or horn and situated on the specimen's hallux or great toe.

"Oh, that box!" he said as if the entire concept had just occurred to him. "I got that for my mom for her birthday. I had to get her something nice. My step-brother and his wife had already sent her something that probably reeks of quality, thoughtfulness and logic."

The three aliens started guiltily at the word 'logic.' "He doesn't know anything. Dump him and the women on that abandoned freighter. Maybe they can escape before they die," the big one laughed. Then the other two laughed with him. He exchanged a quick look with the now awake Uhura and Rand. They weren't getting out of this alive if these three had anything to say about it.

Kirk, while plenty fearful of death, was like the elephant's child and full of insatiable curiosity. He wanted to know why he and his crewmen were being dumped on an abandoned spacecraft to die.

So he asked.

Much to Kirk's surprise, they answered. The smarmy guy flipped Kirk's treasure chest over and pushed on the bottom of it, popping it open and pulling out a data carrier and several sheets of actual paper.

"This is the itinerary of that Vulcan ambassador. The one that supports the admission of Coridan to the Federation," the big guy rumbled, "It's worth a lot to us when we stop him."

Kirk watched as Uhura mouthed the words "Orion Syndicate" while the big one delineated their plan to kill Sarek of New Vulcan. Kirk was not sure if he was more surprised at the audacity of the plan or the total overconfidence of the would-be assassins. He was certain, though, that the trio of killers had no idea who they'd caught.

Behind the aliens, Uhura and Rand worked silently as possible, undoing the bindings that held them. Kirk kept his eyes on the big one as he waxed elegant, violating every rule that Kirk could imagine for interstellar criminals with delusions of grandeur. He'd been held captive enough to know that it was a very bad idea to reveal your plans to living people, even if you thought that they would be dead soon. He hoped that Nyota Uhura was doing everything in her power to make sure that her possessive and resourceful Vulcan knew as much about their situation as possible.

Nyota Uhura and Janice Rand stood up slowly and silently. With equal silence, each woman grabbed as large and heavy an object as she could quickly find. Uhura signaled and silently said "On three." Janice nodded her understanding. Nyota counted out three and both woman swung hard at their captors.


-i-i-i-i-i-i-


Leonard McCoy, Montgomery Scott, Pavel Chekov and Security Chief Barry Giotto beamed down with their First Officer. Technically Giotto was in charge of the investigation. Chekov was there, expressing an interest in security and people still tended to ignore him as if he were a child, making him effective at gathering information. Scott was there as the technical guy and McCoy came along to make sure the Spock didn't "Vulcan death grip every goddamn, blasted idiot that got between Spock and his woman."

Using Spock's hand-held, the five of them retraced Kirk, Uhura and Rand's steps to the point where they'd been captured. While the Vulcan and the Scotsman ran tricorders over the scene, Giotto and Chekov section out the area and looked for physical evidence of what happened and where the missing Enterprise crew members were.

Spock started and dropped his communicator. "Ashayam," he whispered half aloud and half in his mind. "Plot to kill my favorite . . .no Father. . .calm, beloved. Open your eyes and let me see what you see. Let me hear what you hear."

The other men turned to Spock. He stood as if an ancient Vulcan statue, calm and listening to inner voices. McCoy picked up the abandoned tricorder and pulled out a hypo he'd brought just in case Spock went on a rampage. For a logical, peaceful being, Spock possessed a nearly uncontrollable temper when provoked.

"I do not believe they are still on this planet. I know what the beings who captured them look like now. It may help us find them. I know why they were taken and that their captors have no idea who Jim, Nyota, and Ms Rand are," Spock said the moment he was freed from his trance and rushed the group of them back to the base commander's office.

The base commander, his staff and the unsavory elements that lurked around the moral edges of the base on Beta Casparii Four never stood a chance. The Vulcan, a green-blooded, pointy-eared hell on wheels logician, wasted little time or effort to find what he wanted - his wife and his captain.


-i-i-i-i-i-i-


The Enterprise, shields up, pulled into a close orbit around the large rocky asteroid at the very edge of the circumstellar habitable zone around Beta Casparii. The asteroid tumbled as part of a sparse ring around the star. There were not enough of the tiny planetoids to be a hazard to navigation, other worlds or each other, but there were enough of them and of great enough mass to make them interesting to the less than savory elements that came to the starbase.

Spock leaned back in the captain's chair, his fingers steepled, his vaunted Vulcan control at the very edge. McCoy stood behind him,just to the right, intending to be an anchor for the Vulcan if he needed it.

"Hail them, Lieutenant Palmer," Spock directed, with a forced calmness he did not feel. Nyota's mind was fuzzy and distant. He didn't like that at all.

"Hailing frequencies open, sir," she responded after a few quick motions over her console, then after a few moments added, "I have a Mr. Glarkian, who says that this is his base and we are not welcome."

Spock ignored the comment "On screen."

Palmer turned back to the console. "Yes, sir," she said and made the big alien Kirk had expected to be the muscle in his little drama appeared.

"I am Commander Spock, First Officer, and currently in command of the USS Enterprise, Mr. Glarkian. I have information that leads me to believe that you may have . . . accidentally come into contact with three crew members from my ship and have knowledge of their current whereabouts. I require this information," the First Officer stated in a tone that screamed "Defy me if you dare." Spock was not good at taking 'no' for an answer.

Glarkian blanched noticeably. There was only one Vulcan is Star Fleet who held that position and after the destruction of the Vulcan Home World, even the lawless could recognize Spock, son of Sarek the ambassador that he intended to kill, Hero of the Battle for Earth.

"I have no idea what you are talking about, Commander Spock," Glarkian responded. "You need to leave and take your starship with you. I will speak no more of it. This communication has ended!" Glarkian cut the transmission, but if he thought Spock would pick up the planet and leave, he was mistaken.

"Science station, please scan the asteroid for human life signs." Spock requested. There was death in his voice. McCoy placed his hand on the back of the chair.

"Spock?" he said meeting the Vulcan's gaze with his own.

"Rest assure, I will get them back, Doctor," The edges of Spock's lips turned up slightly and there was death in his smile and expression. McCoy was glad that, no matter how crusty their relationship was, the Vulcan was his friend.

"No human life signs found, sir," the officer at the science station reported back.

"Thank you, Lieutenant," Spock said and turned back to Liz Palmer. "Get me Mr. Glarkian back again."

Within moments, Glarkian appeared on the screen, this time angry and shouting. "I told you to leave. This area is not under Federation jurisdiction. You have no authority to harass me over something I know nothing about."

"I want my crewmen. I know you are holding them. I know about your plot to kill the Vulcan Ambassador and I do not care whether or not this asteroid is under Federation control. The Enterprise is under MY control and I will have them returned immediately," Spock delineated everything that Uhura had overheard Glarkian telling Kirk as they traveled from Beta Casparii Four to the abandoned freighter on the other side of the system.

"Fuck you, Vulcan!" Glarkian knew he was losing but wasn't willing to surrender. He cut the transmission again.

"I do not believe so, Mr. Glarkian," the Vulcan replied, feeling the faint shutters of the primary shields as Glarkian fired on the Federation flagship.

"Shields holding," Hikaru Sulu reported, "We could take this firepower for months without it damaging our shields to below 96%"

"Hail the base again, Ms. Palmer," Spock directed the blonde communications officer.

"Apparently you do not understand," Spock said before Glarkian could speak, "You are holding my Captain, his yeoman and our communications officer. Star Fleet does not look with approval at those who take such actions and it would be to your benefit to return them."

Suddenly Glarkian knew who he had and to whom he'd revealed his plans.

"You will release my captain, his yeoman and our communications officer or provide me with accurate co-ordinates of their location immediately. If you fail to comply, I will destroy your base of operations and reduce your functioning ships to so fine a rubble, they will form rings around the planet. There will be no negotiation on this point. Enterprise out!" Spock gave a small head nod to Liz Palmer, who cut the transmission. "Target the base defense grid, narrow beam. I wish to give Mr. Glarkian the impetus and opportunity to respond," he told Mr. Sulu.

Spock leaned forward in the center chair, his chin resting on his steepled fingers. His eyes were dark and his face hard. His angled eyebrows drew together just enough to form a slight wrinkle between them. The corners of his usually neutral mouth drew down slightly. Hikaru Sulu turned to respond. He had served with the pensive Vulcan for several years now and knew how seldom, if ever, he'd see Spock this angry and threatening. "Targeting acquired. Ready on your mark, sir."

Spock nodded his acknowledgment.

"Fire!"

One defense grid, two massive freighters, six smaller ships and a luxury star cruiser later, Glarkian begged to be allowed to transmit the location where he'd abandoned Kirk and the women.


-i-i-i-i-i-i-


Piles of old gray crates covered one side of the hold. Dusty and foul smelling they must have been in the belly of one ship or another for many years to take on the living and dying odors of so many species. Kirk, Rand and Uhura each pulled out a crate, levered it open, and dug through, looking for something that could be used for a weapon, communication with the outside world, or just to eat

Covered with more and more dirt, the three of them opened crate after crate finding nothing of use. Janice and Nyota sat down one they just closed, back to back, both the same shade of filthy dirty gray. Kirk stopped, too, for a moment and took a breather.

"I wonder how many crates we've looked through so far?" He stared at the disjointed pile they'd rummaged through.

Nyota rubbed at the dirt on her face. "One hundred and thirty-seven," she stated in a calm, serene voice, sounding very much like her Vulcan.

Janice, whose back was to hers and faced away from Kirk, pretended to sneeze as she choked back a laugh. The blonde leaned round, balancing her dirty chin on Nyota's dirty shoulder. "Point five," she added, pointing to a half rummaged through container that hadn't made it to the pile of fully rummaged.

"Let's get back to work," Kirk urged as he turned back to the pile. The crate he opened next had not seen the light of any start in as long as Kirk had been alive; even longer for some of it's contents. He pushed through the contents then fell back on his heels as he pawed though the objects that he was unexpectedly able to identify. Buried near the bottom, he found a stack of papers and envelopes and read the front of the top one.

"How the hell . . . ?" he murmured.

It didn't matter here, not at this moment. It was a mystery and a wonder to ponder when he had the luxury of pondering time. Right now, the only thing that was important was getting Uhura, Rand and himself out of this foul death pit of a hold. But still, he'd come back and get the crate. The packet, however, was different. It was too important to just leave. He tucked the sheaf inside his waistband and tucked his black undershirt back over them. He vowed return and recover everything in the hold. He carefully closed and resealed the particular crate that had held his find with a scrap of metal, he scraped a big 'K' on the side and another on the top, 'K' for 'Kirk,' 'K' for Kelvin.

He didn't have much time to ruminate. Janice called to him.

"Captain! We think we've found something useful!" Kirk scrambled over the boxes to where the two officers worked. He offered Uhura a hand-up. Once standing, she handed him the device she'd found. He looked at with admiration. Exquisite engravings of images, symbols and writing covered the flowing lines of the metal object. He identified controls on one side, then handed it back to Nyota.

"What is it?" he asked.

Nyota and Janice both looked pleased enough for Kirk to know that it had to be something good. "It's an advanced long-range communications device. Based on this gauge on the side, I'd say it's fully charged as well."

Kirk released a lot of the tension he didn't know he was feeling. "Can you work it?"

Nyota tilted the alien communicator in her hands. "I think so. The language on it is Hibaric. They like to use different frequencies than the Federation, but I should be able to reset it to Star Fleet emergency frequencies. As long as someone picks up the signals, we should be found."

"As long as. We don't even know where we are or if anyone is looking for us where we are."

"But they are looking, Jim." Uhura said with great confidence. "Spock is looking and I know he will find us. He told me."

"Let's just hope we're alive when he does, Nyota."

"We will be, Kirk," she had all confidence in her Vulcan husband and his relentlessness. "Can you imagine him permitting anything else happening?

Kirk shrugged and shook his head. Between the two of them, Kirk and Spock, they regularly beat the odds. He should take Spock to a casino based on their mutual luck.

"I'm going to keep looking for weapons while you get that thing working." He bowed and held out a gallant hand to his yeoman. "Ms. Rand, if you care to accompany me to the smelly old crates, while Lieutenant Uhura makes that comm work.

Janice curtsied and returned his easy smile. They pulled out another stack of crates and started digging through them, while Uhura poked, prodded, and reset the alien device that Janice had found.

With great patience and a quiet born of being a thoroughly superior sort of woman and the Vulcan's bride, Nyota Uhura translated and reset the alien device. It took mere moments for her to contact the ship and even less for Human's husband to locate them and beam the three of them back to the Enterprise.


-i-i-i-i-i-i-


With great care he packed up the yellowed pile of papers, first in bright white tissue, then a box, then colorful wrapping paper that was covered with pictures of stars and galaxies and spaceships, then another layer of packaging for the purposes of shipping it. He addressed the package and delivered it to Nyota.

"Do you think you can get it to my mom on time?" he asked.

Nyota smiled. After what she'd just been through with him, she was proud to call him Captain and brother-in-law. "I'll do my best, sir!"

Winona's call a few days later took him by surprise. He figured it would be at least a month before the package got to her, so he couldn't imagine what prompted the call.

"Oh, Jimmy, it's just so wonderful! I don't know how to thank you for giving me back such a tangible piece of your father," she said. Even through the vid screen, Kirk could see the tears welling up in her eyes.

"Glad you liked the present, Mom," Jim replied. Her joy felt good.

The Lady Winona clutched the small packet tightly to her chest. "I never thought I'd ever see these again. It's just too amazing!"

"You don't know just how amazing, Mom," he smiled to himself, happy he pleased her, happy that she was happy and happy that Nyota would leave him in peace - for at least a few days.


-i-i-i-i-i-i-


Jim settled down in a comfortable stuffed chair in the officer's lounge. Nyota Uhura, carrying her supper tray, sat down opposite him, placing her tray on the cube like conversation table between them. She picked up the bowl with her food in it, little greenish discs with generous bits of red, green and orange vegetables. It must have smelled better than it looked. Kirk's stomach growled. She leaned across the table, spoon in hand with a bite of her food for him.

"Taste it," she directed.

Kirk took the mouthful. "It's good," he said with some surprise.

"It's a nice side-effect of being married to a vegetarian. I've got a great selection of stuff programmed into the food replicators that Spock will eat besides that damnable plomeek soup. Get yourself some - It's French Lentil Stew and M'humba's naan."

Kirk like his replicated meat, but this was really good. Besides, he wanted to ask her a snoopy question. It should be easier to do with French Lentil Stew. He came back with a generous bowl - he really did like the stuff and three big pieces of bread.

"McCoy won't like that, Jim. He says you eat too much and are going to end up old, fat, and obnoxious."

Kirk shrugged. "You only live once."

"And die young," she added, "What did you want to talk about?"

"Just curiosity. What was it that you and Spock sent my mom for her birthday?"

"We sent her a couple of antique books from the 1800s. First editions. They were in a little antique shop Spock and I visited the last time the ship was dry-docked at Utopia Planatia," her whole body expressed extreme satisfaction, " We spent a week in New York, a week in Paris and a week in Arusha, touristing. One of the advantages of being Sarek's relatives. We caught rides on the diplomatic shuttle to Earth and the Vulcan embassy has apartments available for use in all the cities." She paused and added, "How do you think I got your gift to your mother on time?" Uhura gave Kirk a sly smile. "I am making liberal use of Spock's family's status and access to diplomatic channels, you see.

"So explain the 'We?'" Kirk requested. Nyota had piqued his curiosity and there was no stopping him now. "If 'We' sent her that, what did 'Me,' that is 'You,' send her?"

Nyota released a small sigh. Her dark eyes sparkled with amusement. Obviously she was quite pleased with herself. "Spock doesn't know so you cannot tell him."

"Tell him WHAT?"

"I sent your mom six kilos of the earth's finest chocolates - all in stasis," she said. Another sigh. A very different kind of sigh. Kirk was pretty sure he didn't want to know where that kind of sigh came from. She implied it anyway. "Chocolate is a wonderful thing for human women, particularly human women married to Vulcan men."

Kirk let out a strangled choke, "I'm not telling Spock unless you tell him first." The squicky factor was too high for Jim Kirk. He had just about gotten to the point where he could deal with the idea that Spock and Nyota were having sex. Even though Spock and Nyota had the larger cabin next to his, the rooms, and as a result, Jim, Spock and Nyota shared a bathroom. Kirk sometimes heard things he didn't want to as it was. He could deal with his Mother being married to Spock's father, but he didn't want any reminders that the two of them were probably having sex. He just didn't want to think about anything like that. Ever.

Slightly amused at Kirk's distress, she carried on the conversation nonetheless. "And what did you end up sending her?" she asked.

"I gave her back something of hers that I found. I don't really believe in coincidences, but . . . wow. When we were digging through the hold on that freighter, I found the cargo from an old salvage ship. Apparently the ship had cleaned up the region where the Kelvin had been destroyed. I found the packet of letters my dad had sent her before they had gotten married."

"My god! That's unbelievable. And you managed to keep them with you until Spock found us?" Nyota's look softened towards him, "Maybe you aren't quite as bad as I think you are."

"Does that mean I can use your first name in public?"

"No. Try it, Captain, and I'm siccing my Vulcan on you with every piece of paperwork he can find that you should have done and haven't."

Kirk shuddered at the threat. "As you wish. . . Lieutenant." She turned and walked away from him smartly, her long, dark, thick hair swaying with each step.

"Nyota," he whispered loudly.

Uhura turned sharply. "Kirk!"

He smiled at her with his golden beam. She smiled back.

The next day his PADD was filled with 387 inane reports he had to fill out else face the wrath of Star Fleet.

-end-

-isobel