Title: The Trouble with Normal.
Summary: It's time for the Enterprise's performance evaluation. Too bad that on this ship, 'normal' gets a whole new meaning.
Notes: I was trying to write Ariadnechan's story and this fic kept nagging me. Since we reached a dead end, I decided to concede the point and just write it down. It was supposed to be cracky, but as we all know by now, I suck at it… I like to believe that it's a little cracky, but I think it turned out weirder than crackier. Okay, enough ramblings, I hope you all enjoy it anyway. Ariadnechan, this story is like a snack right before the main dish (you know, like a botana) (mixing Spanish and English looks weird). Man, what did they put in that eggnot? I'm chattier than usual. All right, to end this incessant babbling, I wish you all a happy Holiday, the best for you and your beloved ones. And thank you, Darkgirl5 for your amazing help with the beta for this fic, you're wonderful.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything except the fantasies in mi head.
The Trouble with Normal.
When ships were sent on missions that were longer than a year, the Admiralty thought it prudent to evaluate the performance of said ships annually throughout their missions in order to detect any abnormalities and guarantee the correct work environment that Starfleet always encouraged. That was the main reason why the Enterprise had a special guest for the next week.
"Mister Adams is a Psychiatrist sent by the Admiralty to evaluate our performance. He will be conducting personal interviews, group sessions and he will be observing our shifts to assess the adequate function of the Enterprise. We ask for your full cooperation with Mister Adams' job."
"I don't get why they sent a shrink," Doctor McCoy complained, ignoring completely the presence of said 'shrink' in the room. He should take note of that.
"I think it will be a great opportunity to get another point of view in our performances." Captain Kirk said gleefully, and he took note of that as well. In his experience, nobody liked performance evaluations. "Would you like to say a few words, Mister Adams?"
He glanced at the entire room; it was full with hesitant eyes.
"Thank you, Captain Kirk. I would like you to think of me as a psychotherapist more than a shrink…"
"There's no difference except the fancy title," muttered Doctor McCoy. Captain Kirk and Commander Spock looked at the Doctor with disapproval. He had heard things about McCoy back in the academy. It seemed that they were all true.
"I would like for everyone to feel comfortable around me. You don't have to pretend or act differently, I want to see the way the crew interacts and it would hardly help to improvement if you act as if everything is perfect. The purpose in this evaluation is to observe things as they are, and then work on the weakness that could surface. You also can call me Carl, we'll be sharing the same space for a week; formalities aren't required."
He knew this speech would do little to make everyone feel comfortable, but at least he was trying. Every ship so far had acted like he was ruining all their accomplishments; since this was the best ship in the whole fleet, he expected even more resistance than usual. So far only Doctor McCoy had expressed his disapproval, and to be honest, Carl thought that was more a result of his personality more than the work environment. According to his classmates, McCoy always complained about everything.
Carl decided it was best evaluate different aspects of the crew, starting with general things and then landing on the five basic aspect of every successful command. He would start with personal interviews.
1. – Inkblot Test.
"Captain, what do you see here?"
"Oh, I know this one! It's an ink stain! Right?"
"Um… yes, but, what do you see in it?"
"I see an ink stain."
"Okay, how about this one?"
"A smaller ink stain."
"A bigger ink stain."
Captain Kirk smiled during the entire interview, pointing out different sizes of the inkblots on the sheets.
Notes: The Captain probably had some sort of counseling and he already knew about Rorschach's test.
"Commander, what do you see here?"
"A white sheet with a black ink mark on the right side, I would say with a 45º angle. My theory is that someone dropped a small amount of ink in your sheet and then proceeded to fold said sheet."
"Oh… okay, but, what do you see in this ink stain?"
"I do not see anything except what I already said. I am aware that you are trying to deduce my answers; nevertheless I find this entirely illogical. Humans are more likely to answer your queries as you expect it; Vulcans cannot relate with subjective interpretations of something tangible. Therefore to me it is just a white sheet with a black inkblot; perhaps humans can provide a more accurate response to what you are looking for."
"You are familiar with the exercise… I didn't know Vulcans had any knowledge of human Psychology."
"Doctor McCoy gave me a document that dealt with that subject. It was a very entertaining reading; humans want to make sense of everything no matter how illogical this action is. Such as giving an ink stain a meaning. The article also outlined the failure in projective tests, especially when those tests are from two centuries ago."
"Sometimes the basics are the most informative source to obtain what we want to know." He felt stupid trying to defend his methods to a Vulcan.
"I am sure you believe that."
Commander Spock kept lifting his eyebrow in a menacing manner while he explained why this exercise was pointless. He refused to answer after he showed him the third sheet.
Notes: Vulcans are resistant to analysis.
"Yeah, I know, I have to give the stupid inkblot a shape. I see a hypospray."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course; next."
"Okay… what do you see here?"
"You also see a hypospray here?
"Doctor McCoy this was a white sheet without any inkblot on it. How did you see a hypospray?"
"I have a wild imagination. Are we done? Unlike you, I have things to do."
"Would you like to talk about it?"
"For God's sake. Look kid, I know you are young, it's probably your first year doing these evaluations, and you are eager to find something wrong. But let me tell you, everything is fine here and I can't be wasting my time with ink stains when I have so much work to do."
Doctor McCoy left the room before he could answer.
Notes: McCoy is indeed an ideal subject for electroshock treatment.
"What do you see here, Mister Sulu?"
"And in this one?"
"How about this one?"
"A triangle inside a square."
Mister Sulu kept saying geometrical forms during the interview.
Notes: Doctor McCoy probably handed Mister Sulu the same document he gave to Commander Spock; that would explain the neutral answers Mister Sulu gave during the interview.
"What do you see here, Miss Uhura?"
"Oh, is this the test where you interpret what I said about the stains?"
"Are you familiar with this experiment?"
"Doctor McCoy gave me a document that talked about it. This is so exciting! It's the first time I have the opportunity to do it. Mmm… I see a cat."
"Was that wrong?"
"No, of course not… how about this one?"
"And this one?"
Miss Uhura shaped every inkblot as an animal.
Notes: I think Doctor McCoy is a little bit paranoid.
"What do you see here, Mister Chekov?"
"I have to see a shape, right? Doctor McCoy gave me a document with details about this, but it said that you will interpret my answers and see if I'm not crazy."
"I'm not evaluating if you are crazy. No one serving on Starfleet is in their right mind."
That made Mister Chekov smile. Being the youngest crewmember, he probably would have a lot to say about the work environment. It was important for him to earn his trust.
"You just have to say what you see, that's all."
"Okay… I see Russia."
"How about this one?"
"Russia and Japan."
Mister Chekov continued to interpreting inkblot as countries, Japan and Russia to be more specific.
Notes: I just confirmed that Doctor McCoy is paranoid.
"You can call me Scotty, lad."
"Very well, Mister Scotty…"
"No, no, without the 'Mister'; very formal."
"Scotty then… what do you see here?"
"You see a sandwich?"
"Aye. With tuna."
"A sandwich with tuna?"
"And mustard and a big slice of ham."
"Scotty, did you have breakfast this morning?"
"Nay, too much work in the engineering department."
Given that Mister Scott's appetite was interfering with the test, he decided it was best for him to just go and eat something.
Notes: Make sure that everyone has already eaten before conducting these interviews.
Notes: Mister Keenser ate the sheets. Change to digital format next time.
After a discussion with nurse Chapel about the benefits of subjective interpretation, Carl decided to perform interviews only with the Bridge crew adding Mister Scott and Doctor McCoy, and then arrange a group session with the rest of the crewmembers. Doctor McCoy trained his personnel very well to be as annoying as he was at being analyzed.
2. – Colorimetric:
"What's your favorite color, Captain?"
"I don't know. I like it… green is life and all that… why? Is it a bad color? Does that make me a sociopath?"
"No, no. Why would you think that?"
"Well, Bones… I mean, Doctor McCoy said that you could label some answers and I don't want to give the wrong impression. My subconscious has life of its own sometimes."
"There's nothing wrong with green. I was just curious about why this particular color."
"Oh. Well… I just like it."
"You always liked green?"
"Mmm… I haven't thought about it. I guess I'm fond of the color lately."
"Why? What happened?"
"I don't really know. Maybe it was because one time we visited a planet with this big forest and a lot of foliage. It was cool."
"I see. What does the color green mean to you, then?"
Captain Kirk seemed reluctant to answer the question.
"I do not have a 'favorite' color. It is illogical preferring one color over another when they both have the same purpose and having a preference would imply that it would have some sort of benefice."
"Commander Spock, I know this seems pointless to a Vulcan, but could you just cooperate with me?"
"I am doing my best; I am participating in this examination though I find it completely futile. May I add that I am not human, therefore you should not evaluate me the same way as you evaluate them?"
"Well, could you try harder? I know you are Vulcan, but you have emotions as well… How about having a preference for a color?"
"I do not see what emotions have to do with this course of action, however since you are very demanding and I am deducing you are not going to stop questioning me, I shall answer even though I find this pointless and irrelevant. If I am compelled to have a preference over colors, I would choose blue."
"Because you forced me to choose one color and that was the one that I relate the most."
"Blue is the color you relate the most?"
"It is a neutral color, pleasant to the eyes."
"Pleasant to the eyes?"
"Are you going to repeat every comment I do in a questioning manner? I must say I find this unnerving."
"Oh… I'm sorry. So blue it's your favorite color…"
"No, blue is the color I chose because I was obligated to do it. I do not have a favorite color."
"You know? Captain Kirk's eyes are blue."
"I am aware."
"Could it be related to your preference for color blue?"
Interesting. Commander Spock lifted an eyebrow but his cheeks turned a little bit green.
"My uniform is also blue. Could it be related to my illogical choice of color?"
"I don't know, you tell me."
"I thought you were the specialist."
"In this case, you know more about your motivations for choosing the color than me."
After a prolonged silence, Commander Spock looked at him neutrally.
"I have no comments upon the matter."
Notes: It looks like Captain Kirk and Commander Spock are really close.
"Your favorite color is black?"
"That's right. What? Am I crazy? Let me tell you, I took the 'brainwash' course when I was in Medical School. As long as I don't say red, I'm good."
"Are you answering this only to bait me?"
"If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen."
"Fine, tell me doctor McCoy, why is black your favorite color?"
"I don't know. It makes you look slimmer. It's formal. I just like it, okay?"
"What does the color black means to you?"
"It's a color, it doesn't mean anything to me."
"But you have a favorite color; it must be for some reason…"
"Because you asked for one, and that was the first one that came into my mind. I better change the damn color, otherwise you are going to keep me here forever. I choose pink."
"Yeah. What, too gay? I like pink. It's sassy."
Doctor McCoy kept changing the color during the entire session.
Notes: McCoy is infuriating. He also may have multiple personalities.
"I like it, it's very lively."
"I see… what does the color yellow mean to you?"
"I haven't really thought about it… I guess it means brightness."
"Like when someone smiles at you and can lit up an entire room. Something like that."
Notes: Mister Sulu kept talking about beaming smiles for the rest of the session.
"Well, I don't really have a favorite color."
"Yes, Commander Spock already explained to me how 'illogical' this exercise is."
"He's Vulcan; this has makes no sense to him."
Notes: Lieutenant Uhura has been the most neutral person in these interviews.
"All right, if I have to choose one color… I guess red."
"You look surprised…"
"Oh, I just thought you would choose green."
"Not really. Red is passionate and courageous, it's a powerful color. I like it."
"Interesting… what does the color red mean to you?"
"Boldness and confidence. Those who wear red are very brave, don't you agree?"
"Yes, I think that as well."
Notes: The rumors about Lieutenant Uhura and Commander Spock being involved in a relationship seem to be unfounded.
"It's a nice color, very dynamic."
"What does yellow means to you?"
"Intelligence. Like when one person is very smart and brave and projects that confidence..."
Notes: Ensign Chekov and Helmsman Sulu's answers are very similar. It looks like they are projecting their personal feelings in their answers.
"Aye, like a pipe… or a wrench. That color is beautiful. The wires also have great colors."
Notes: Mister Scott has very interesting answers.
3. –Describing co-workers in one word.
"What would be a word to describe Doctor McCoy?"
"Have you talked to him? He's the grouchiest grouchy you will meet."
No point in debating the point; it was true after all.
"Don't you think that's a little sexist? She's a person."
"Yes, but she is a hot person. It's not an insult, I'm acknowledging her attractiveness. I don't mind if she describes me as 'obnoxious' or 'infantile'. And let me tell you, she will do it."
"Okay… Ensign Chekov?"
"I was going to say 'crazy genius', but you said one word, and let's face it, he's crazier, so I stick with that."
Captain Kirk seemed to take his time in answering, almost like he was debating what word should be the best.
Notes: This is leading to something interesting.
"What would be a word to describe Doctor McCoy?"
"Commander, why are you saying the same word in every person?"
"Because it is the word I would choose to describe them."
"Don't you think it's odd to have just that word for everyone?"
"Okay… Ensign Chekov?"
Commander Spock stayed silent for a few minutes.
Notes: Commander Spock has just confirmed the strong relation he shares with Captain Kirk.
"What would be a word to describe Helmsman Sulu?"
"Um… okay… how about Lieutenant Uhura?"
"Are you relating every person with something medical?"
"I'm their damn doctor; I know them from their charts."
"How about you stop that and give me something different?"
"How about you take my answers and shut it?"
No point in arguing with McCoy.
"I haven't treated him yet to relate him with something medical."
"Um… okay, Captain Kirk?"
"Idiot? He's your Captain… you are aware of that, right?"
"Oh, I meant it as something good. I just get annoyed when he goes and hurts himself and then I have to fix him."
"So idiot is your answer?"
Notes: Apparently Doctor McCoy is friends with Captain Kirk and Commander Spock; he is the type that insults the ones he cherishes the most and he didn't relate Kirk with something medical like he did with the others. Mister Spock and McCoy apparently argue constantly, which could explain the answer he gave when I asked him about it.
"What would be a word to describe Lieutenant Uhura?"
"Yes, he is the youngest in the crew, yet he is the most reliable, he is smart and he always gives his best. I think he's admirable."
"Okay. How about Mister Scott?"
"Um… okay, Captain Kirk?"
Notes: There was a strange gleam in Sulu's eyes when he talked about Ensign Chekov.
"What would be a word to describe Helmsman Sulu?"
"Gentleman. He is the most attentive and fun person I've ever met."
"Mmm… I'm debating between 'obnoxious' or 'childish'… I think 'guidance' is the one I would choose, but you can't tell him."
"These sessions are private, don't worry."
Notes: Lieutenant Uhura was very emphatic when she talked about Mister Scott.
"What would be a word to describe Helmsman Sulu?"
"You think Helmsman Sulu is handsome?"
"Well…" Mister Chekov blushed. "It was the first word that came to my mind, let me think about it."
"No need, this is an honest exercise, I appreciate your candor. How about Lieutenant Uhura?"
Notes: Pay more attention to the relationship between Mister Chekov and Mister Sulu.
"What would be a word to describe Helmsman Sulu?"
"You think Lieutenant Uhura is perfect?"
"Oh, yeah. She is beautiful, smart and with a great sense of humor. She's just right."
"Okay… Ensign Chekov?"
Notes: it looks like they are a lot of personal relationships going on around this ship regardless of what regulations indicate.
4. –Philosophical questions:
"Captain Kirk, if Commander Spock and Doctor McCoy were hanging off a cliff and you could only save one, which one would you choose?"
"First, Bones would never be on a cliff. He barely beams down when he is required and only because I drag him. He thinks that beaming will eventually misplace his internal organs. Second, Spock has this weird radar that can tell the ground stability."
"Let's pretend they are in this situation anyway, who would you choose?"
"I guess I would call the security team and we will rescue both."
"You can't, you need to choose one."
"Why? I can save them both."
"No, in this case you must choose one."
"I can't choose one. They are both important."
"But if you have to…"
"Look, I've cooperated with this, but you can't make me choose between my best friend and my…"
"And your what, Captain Kirk…?"
"My Commander," he said firmly. Carl knew that wasn't what he wanted to say, but he let it go.
"There could be situations where you will have to choose. Which one, Captain?"
"As Captain, and if there was really only that option, I should choose Doctor McCoy. The ship can't be without a CMO but it can function with one on command."
"What would be your choice, Captain?"
"My choice would be Commander Spock; if I was in that situation though I would do anything to save them both, and I would succeed. There's always a way to get things, even if it isn't the conventional alternative. I wouldn't let anyone fall."
"Don't be ashamed of your answer, Captain. It was a truthful choice, it's the way these exercises work."
"Well, I knew that if I didn't choose one you weren't leaving me alone anyway. I just chose the less grumpy."
Notes: Mister Kirk was justifying his answer in order to continue his obvious denial about his feelings for Commander Spock.
"Commander Spock, if Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura were hanging off a cliff and you could only save one, which one would you choose?"
"That would be impossible. Lieutenant Uhura does not beam down in difficult missions and Captain Kirk's safety is always ensured because that is my job. Are you suggesting that I am lacking of the necessary abilities to maintain the Captain's protection?"
"Ahm, no, of course not. It's a hypothetical situation."
"I do not understand. What is the point in creating a hypothetical situation that would be implausible in the practical field work?"
"It's about knowing more about you as individuals. What would be your answer?"
"How high are they standing?"
What difference does that make?"
"If they are in a certain high maybe they could survive the fall and that could impact in the decision making."
"They are very high. They couldn't survive."
"I would pull both of them up."
"You couldn't do that, they are very heavy."
"Irrelevant, I have three times the strength of a human being. I could lift you, and your weight would be of no significance to me. Would you like me to demonstrate?"
"No, no, I believe you. Let's pretend you had human strength. Which one would you choose?"
"Why must I choose one? I think the practical solution is saving both of them."
"You can't. Choose one."
He thought it would be the first time he would see a Vulcan sighing, but Commander Spock just took a deep breath and looked coldly at him.
"Captain Kirk is my priority, given that he is the highest rank on the Enterprise and we need him the most."
"So you would choose Captain Kirk."
"I believe that is what I have just said."
"Because he is your priority."
"Are you repeating what I said as a technique, or is this a particular quality you possess?"
"Does it bother you?"
"I admit I find it displeasing, yet if it is a technique and your intention is unnerving the personnel in front of you, then I must say it is a success. I was reluctant to admit that Doctor McCoy was right about this evaluation, however I see he was indeed correct in every assertion he proffered."
Notes: Commander Spock is losing his patience with the exercises. Stop bothering him; he can crush you like an ant. Commander Spock is also in denial about his feelings for Captain Kirk; it's not surprising, he's Vulcan. They have strong emotional repression.
"Doctor McCoy, if Captain Kirk and Commander Spock were hanging off a cliff and you could only save one, which one would you choose?"
"Neither. They can drop dead for all I care."
"It's not my problem that they chose to be idiots and hang off cliffs. I fix them after they do stupid things, not before."
"So you would let them fall."
"Pretty much, yeah."
"And you wouldn't do anything about it?"
"Maybe I would laugh at them… I don't know, I improvise as I go."
"Doctor McCoy, are you taking this exercise seriously?"
"Well, you can't blame me if I don't. Dumb questions can only have dumb answers."
"Doctor McCoy… you said you took this course, then you must remember its purpose."
"You must choose one of them."
"I choose Chekov."
"Mister Chekov isn't in the choices."
"It's just either Captain Kirk or Commander Spock."
McCoy spent the entire session choosing any crew member except Captain Kirk or Commander Spock.
Notes: McCoy is getting on my nerves.
"Miss Uhura, if Captain Kirk and Mister Scott were hanging off a cliff and you could only save one, which one would you choose?"
"Captain Kirk doesn't allow me to beam down to dangerous missions unless they need a linguist urgently. I couldn't face that scenario. You should ask Commander Spock; he always beams down with Captain Kirk whether the Captain likes it or not."
"It's hypothetical, Lieutenant. Which one would you choose?"
"Even if I choose, I couldn't help either, they're heavy and I would probably need help to pull them back up."
"Let's assume you had the strength to do it; which one?"
"That depends… is Commander Spock with me?"
"If Commander Spock is there, he could pull Captain Kirk up and I could help Scotty."
"Commander Spock isn't there."
"What about McCoy?"
"No crew member is there, only you."
"Oh, that's impossible, Spock is always with Captain Kirk, and McCoy would hardly be missing if they were in danger."
"Like I said, it's hypothetical."
"But it doesn't make any sense. I can't choose one, Kirk is my Captain and Scotty is… well, he's important to the Enterprise too. I think I would ask for Commander Spock's help and we could get both of them."
Lieutenant Uhura didn't choose one of them directly, but he knew she would have chosen Mister Scott given her assumption that Commander Spock would help Captain Kirk. Each one cared for their most important person.
Notes: Find the document McCoy sent to everyone and delete it from the data base.
"Mister Sulu, if Captain Kirk and Ensign Chekov were hanging off a cliff and you could only save one, which one would you choose?"
"Well, Commander Spock probably would be saving Captain Kirk, so I would help Chekov."
"Commander Spock isn't there."
"What? That can't be, Commander Spock is always with Captain Kirk."
"This time he isn't."
"But Commander Spock wouldn't let Captain Kirk beam down alone."
"It's hypothetical; which one would you choose?"
"Since I'm sure Commander Spock will be always there to help the Captain, I choose Chekov."
"You would let your Captain die for an Ensign?"
"No, Captain Kirk's safety is assured with Commander Spock. Trust me, he will be always there to pull the Captain up."
Notes: Everyone seems confident that Commander Spock is attached to Mister Kirk all the time.
"Mister Chekov, if Captain Kirk and Helmsman Sulu were hanging off a cliff and you could only save one, which one would you choose?"
That was quick.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, Commander Spock would probably help the Captain, that doesn't worry me. Sulu, on the other hand, could be at risk."
"Commander Spock isn't there." He felt stupid repeating this.
"Commander Spock is always where the Captain goes."
"And you think he would choose Captain Kirk over any crew member?"
"Well, if he could save both, he would, but Captain Kirk is his priority."
Apparently everyone knew about Commander Spock's priorities.
"Let's say Commander Spock was lost somewhere else. Which one would you choose?"
"Commander Spock would be lost with Captain Kirk then. Like I said, they are always together on missions."
Notes: This is getting nowhere, but I take Mister Chekov's quick answer as significant.
"Scotty, if Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura were hanging off a cliff and you could only save one, which one would you choose?"
"Lieutenant Uhura, of course."
"She's a woman, she is more vulnerable; besides Commander Spock would help the Captain."
"Commander Spock isn't there." He sighed because this crew was really dense.
"Oh, lad, Commander Spock is with Captain Kirk all the time."
"What do you mean 'all the time'?"
"They beam down to missions together, eat together and play chess together. They are the best buds on the Enterprise."
"I thought McCoy and Captain Kirk were best friends as well."
"Yeah, but Commander Spock is in charge of the Captain's protection. He takes his responsibility very seriously."
"So you would choose Uhura, even when it could mean that you Captain may die?"
"The Captain wouldn't die. Mister Spock would be there to help him."
Notes: Apparently everyone trusts Commander Spock with the Captain's safety.
Given that the individual interviews weren't exactly a success, he decided to move on to group exercises to prove the five aspects of a successful command.
"Let's do an exercise on trust. When I say your name, you must stand in front of the person I indicate and you will let yourself fall backwards. If you trust your co-worker, then you know he or she wouldn't let you fall."
Everyone looked at each other with apprehension. He knew this exercise always gave different results; it was hard to predict what could happen with this crew.
"Captain Kirk, please move in front of Doctor McCoy. He's the one catching you."
"What? Why me?" McCoy glared.
"Don't be shy, Bones. You can grab me whenever you want," Captain Kirk smirked, walking towards the doctor. Mister Spock moved as well.
"Mister Spock, please, this exercise is safe. There's no need for you to stand that close to the Captain."
"Yeah, personal space, Spock." McCoy mocked. "You are getting awfully close. If you don't have a roses' bouquet and a bottle of wine, I don't put out."
Notes: Apparently jokes of a sexual nature are usual among the highest ranks.
Without saying a word, Commander Spock backed down with his eyes fixed on Captain Kirk.
"Okay Captain Kirk, put your arms in front of your chest, and relax. When you feel ready, please let yourself fall."
"You better catch me, Bones."
"Don't be annoying. Do it so we can finish this."
"All right… here I go."
Captain Kirk let himself fall; he noticed how McCoy was catching him, but he was being helped by Commander Spock.
"I got it, Spock." McCoy gritted his teeth.
"The Captain's weight could be too much for you, Doctor. I am ensuring the Captain does not fall."
"I carried him all the time when we were at the Academy. This isn't my first time with Jim in my arms."
He noticed the small twitch in Commander Spock's eye. Interesting.
"Guys, I know you two enjoy arguing and all, but could you please let me get back up again? My back is bothering me."
They obeyed immediately, which surprised him. Even when they were disagreeing, they listened to Captain Kirk.
"Let's try it again, and this time Commander, let Doctor McCoy handle the situation," he suggested gently.
Mister Spock nodded tightly and stepped back again.
"This time keep your hands on my back instead of my ass," Kirk said, delighted.
"I wasn't grabbing your ass… I think Spock decided you needed support there," McCoy said with sarcasm.
"I apologize, Captain. Doctor McCoy was not permitting me to help him; I did not realize what my hands were touching."
"Yeah, right. I'm using that excuse next time I want to grab someone's ass," McCoy smirked.
"Okay, enough. Remember we have Carl here." Captain Kirk finished the discussion. "Bones, here I go."
Captain Kirk let himself fall again. Doctor McCoy took him gently with his arms, but then again Commander Spock intervened, putting his hands on the Captain's lower back.
"Dammit! Can't you keep your hands away from Jim?" McCoy protested "I said I got it!"
"It is my duty to prevent the Captain from any harm."
"I'm not harming him, I'm catching him, thing that's difficult with your ear on my cheek. I'm about to bite it off."
"No need to get kinky." Captain Kirk interrupted. "Lift me back."
When they did it, Captain Kirk sighed and looked at him with a sympathetic smile.
"I'm sorry Carl, my crew just get a little bit protective of me from time to time."
Apparently 'crew' meant Commander Spock. They were right though, Commander Spock would always be next to Mister Kirk to prevent him from any harm. It was clear that Captain Kirk trusted anyone to catch him.
"That's okay Captain Kirk. Let's try it one last time."
"Okay." Captain Kirk turned to Commander Spock. "It's fine, Spock. Bones wouldn't let me fall, unless I have done something to him and right now we ceased the pranks. I'll be all right."
Commander Spock nodded again, this time uncertain. He noticed how the Commander clasped his hands behind his back, probably to contain himself from intervening again.
"One more time, Bones."
Captain Kirk let himself fall for the third time, and doctor McCoy caught him entirely. Commander Spock took one step toward them, but he didn't intervene.
"All right, it's enough." McCoy helped Captain Kirk to stand again. "I don't want Spock glaring at me because I have you in my arms."
"I was not 'glaring'." Commander Spock said suddenly. "I was ascertaining the Captain's safety."
"Right. Whatever, he's in one piece. Stop the Vulcan death glare."
"Good work, Doctor McCoy," he thought it prudent to congratulate McCoy in his effort. This time Commander Spock was the one being difficult.
"Jeez, thanks. I feel special because the nut job told me that I did well in what I've been doing since I met the Captain."
Notes: McCoy doesn't respond well to ANYTHING.
"Mister Spock, you're next. Please step in front of Lieutenant Uhura and Helmsman Sulu."
"I am afraid I cannot do that. They will not be able to sustain me. I am heavier than a human and they are not strong enough."
"Please, Spock, you are making us blush," said Lieutenant Uhura with a smile.
"I apologize, my intention was not insult you; I was stating facts."
"We can hold you, Commander," Mister Sulu tried to encourage Mister Spock.
"I'll help." Captain Kirk suggested "That way we can hold you."
"Captain, that would be highly irregular," Mister Spock stated.
"So you can grab my ass and I can't grab yours? That's hardly fair!" Captain Kirk smiled widely while Commander Spock seemed nervous; Lieutenant Uhura and Helmsman Sulu exchanged resigned looks.
Notes: Captain Kirk tries to ease the tension with jokes.
"He's joking." Doctor McCoy added, probably noticing how he was writing something down. "No need for you to report everything."
"Come on Spock, we can do it. Just trust us," Captain Kirk said with a serious tone. It was impressive how they could change the environment from playful to meaningful in a matter of seconds.
He was about to say that Captain Kirk wasn't required in the exercise, but seeing that Commander Spock only listened to the Captain, he refrained. It was important to see if Mister Spock could actually do the exercise.
Finally Mister Spock walked in direction of Captain Kirk, with uneasiness. It was unique seeing a Vulcan looking this uncomfortable, but instead of defying Captain Kirk, Commander Spock obeyed. That showed the leadership the Captain had on the crew.
"Whenever you're ready, Mister Spock."
He thought the Commander would back out. A few minutes passed and he honestly thought he would refuse to do it. Then, surprising everyone in the room, he let himself fall. Mister Kirk was the first who caught him, while Lieutenant Uhura and Helmsman Sulu took the Commander's shoulders.
"There, it wasn't that difficult, right?" Captain Kirk said, helping Commander Spock to his original position.
"Did someone grab your ass?" McCoy asked.
"I do not think that topic is any of your business," Commander Spock said with a neutral tone.
"Oh, man! Someone did! I bet it was Jim!"
"Don't be jealous, Bones," Captain Kirk winked at him.
He coughed politely, reminding everyone that he was still there. It seemed that they forgot his presence quite often.
"Right. Who's next?" Captain Kirk asked.
Lieutenant Uhura was caught easily by Mister Scott, and Doctor McCoy argued while doing the exercise; Captain Kirk caught him smiling. Overall it was a productive exercise; he could see how Captain Kirk created a trustful environment. Without a doubt this crew would support anyone in difficult times.
For the next exercise Carl prepared himself for what McCoy would say. He had been incredibly unhelpful so far, but when he found out that he was going to make the crew play a match of paintball, he would be insufferable. It was disconcerting how he was more afraid of McCoy than Captain Kirk.
Thinking that letting Captain Kirk handle McCoy was the best option, he decided to broach the subject for the next exercise during lunch. He sat with Captain Kirk and Commander Spock. Apparently they indeed eat every meal together.
"Good afternoon Captain Kirk, Commander Spock," he said warmly.
"Hi, Carl! So, what's next? Another group session? I can't wait to see Bones all frustrated." Captain Kirk smiled widely.
"I'm afraid that Doctor McCoy is beyond modern science and social behavior," he sighed, hoping that his comment was labeled as a joke more than a professional inference.
"I concur with you, Mister Adams. Doctor McCoy could benefit from alternative methods to modify his unpleasant manners," Commander Spock seemed more at ease with him and that was good. An angry Vulcan was a dangerous Vulcan.
"We aren't whipping Bones, Spock," Captain Kirk said with glee.
"Negative reinforcement has methodical background and it is effective in wild animals that misbehave."
"Bones isn't a wild animal. He doesn't bite."
"He manages medical equipment. That makes him dangerous."
Since Commander Spock was saying this in a serious tone, he didn't know if he was joking, it was hard to tell. Mister Kirk seemed to take this conversation like a normal event. It was odd.
"I think you just want an excuse to be naughty with Bones," Captain Kirk winked at Commander Spock.
"I do not," Commander Spock huffed, indignant.
"Captain, I was wondering if the crew could take the day off tomorrow?" he intervened because this could lead to something he didn't want to find out.
"Sure, we don't have missions until you clear us out. What's the agenda then?"
"A paintball match."
Mister Kirk laughed out loud while Commander Spock looked uncomfortable.
"The old fashioned way, or are we using the holograms?" Mister Kirk asked.
"The old fashioned way. With real paint."
"Man, I haven't played that since I was a kid. It's going to be fun!"
"I'm sure," he said sharing the happiness the Captain showed.
"May I ask the purpose of this exercise?" Commander Spock lifted an eyebrow.
"I can't see you in action because the Admiralty only allows this evaluation on safe ground: in this case, orbiting near Earth. I need to see how you behave in a somewhat hostile environment."
"Well, paintball can get ugly. My brother shot me in the head one time," Captain Kirk mused.
"This is an unsafe exercise." Commander Spock said after hearing Captain Kirk. "I do not think it is appropriate."
"Oh, come on, if we are in different teams you get to shoot me, it's great!" Captain Kirk said with enthusiasm.
"I have no interest in shooting you. Furthermore I do not see the logic in wasting resources in something that would not be beneficial to the Enterprise in any way."
"It will give us the green light from Carl to get back on missions. I think it's a huge benefit."
Commander Spock tilted his head in a contemplative way; he finally blinked and nodded.
"Awesome!" Captain Kirk said, clapping Mister Spock's shoulder. "So should I tell the crew about this then?"
"Yes, we'll divide the Bridge crew adding Mister Scott and Doctor McCoy; the rest will be sorted out in the teams."
"I can't wait. This is going to be great!"
Silently, he agreed. Especially since the way he will divide the teams could lead to something interesting.
The next day, when he entered the Conference room, he was greeted by the entire Bridge crew and Mister Scott; Doctor McCoy was there as well, glaring at him.
"The teams will be blue and red; as soon as someone shoots you, you are out of the game. The goal is obtaining the opposite team's flag, which each team will hide and secure around the ship."
"We are supposed to track a flag around here?" McCoy snorted. "If you haven't noticed, this ship is huge, and Keenser fits in every ventilation duct; whoever gets Keenser will have an unfair advantage."
"Every team has their own resources, and the flags have a small device that sends a signal to…"
"Ignore him, Carl, he's just pissy because he doesn't want to play." Captain Kirk waved his hand, dismissing McCoy. "I think everyone here has played Paintball and if they don't, at least they read about it since I told them to. We operate under the same basic rules, right?"
"Yes, that would be correct. Now, for each team we need a Captain… How about Mister Kirk leads the red team… and Mister Spock leads the blue team."
It was incredible. The entire room froze like he just cursed them. Mister Spock looked livid and Mister Kirk frowned.
"All right, it will be weird not having Spock on my back telling me what I'm doing wrong, but I can deal," Kirk said after a prolonged silence. He noticed the looks everyone was giving him, almost like wondering 'how dare you separate out beloved Command team?'
"Since I did not agree with the proposition, I believe you must find another Captain for the blue team. I will be part of Captain's Kirk team," Mister Spock said with an edgy tone, like that would make him back out. He was considering it, but this had a purpose and even when the Vulcan could kill him with one hand, he must endure this to see the interactions between the crewmembers.
"Commander Spock, you are Second in Command, it is logical that you lead the second team."
"Negative. My job is to protect Captain Kirk, for that I need to be on the same team he is."
"In this case you aren't on duty; the Captain doesn't need your protection."
"Hey!" Captain Kirk complained. "I can manage a game of paintball just fine. Come on Spock, you are Captain of the blue team. What's next?"
He noticed how Commander Spock opened his mouth and then closed it again. He didn't dare defy the Captain, even when he opposed the decision.
"Now the Commanders for the teams… Lieutenant Uhura, you are the Commander for the red team."
"Uhura, you heard the man, you are my hot co-Captain. I like sharing the power with you," Captain Kirk smirked.
"I'm regretting this already. If I shoot someone on my team by accident, are they still out?" she said walking slowly towards Mister Kirk.
"She would be your Commander, not your co-Captain," said Mister Spock in a cold tone.
"Fine, fine, the point is that she's on my team for once, and I'm taking advantage."
"Don't push your luck," Lieutenant Uhura glared at Mister Kirk, but he could see the small smile on her lips.
"And Doctor McCoy… you are the Commander for the blue team."
Again the room was silent, while McCoy and Mister Spock exchanged looks. McCoy was appalled and Mister Spock lifted an eyebrow.
"You want us to kill each other, right?" McCoy muttered as he approached Commander Spock.
"I believe you can make a good team," he said trying to sound convincing.
"I knew you were nuts. Just shoot me at the first opportunity you get," McCoy said to Commander Spock.
"I do not shoot people unless it is necessary," Commander Spock said.
"Are you saying that I need to provoke you into shooting me?" McCoy snorted. "Please, you have wanted to do that since we met!"
"That is not accurate."
"All right, enough." Captain Kirk interrupted. "You two are playing for the same team… which now that I said it out loud sounds even funnier than I thought it would." McCoy glared at Captain Kirk. "Let's leave the friendly banter behind; we have a game to start."
He noticed how Mister Kirk was invested in showing him how this environment was adequate for performance, almost guessing that he was writing down everything to show it to the Admirals. Contrary to common belief, he also thought this kind of setting was beneficial for the ship, even when Admirals were still too strict to see a different side.
"Giotto will be your guide in this, Carl, and as soon as you make the announcement, then we can begin."
He nodded. Yesterday he had talked with the crew about teams, they know what color they were assigned, but they had no idea who their leader was. Also with Mister Kirk's help he would be able to monitor the entire match with the security holocams and the ship's communicators. Mister Giotto will stay to help him in any difficulty it could present.
"Very well, Mister Sulu, you are in the blue team and Mister Chekov in the red team. Mister Scott, you can choose any team you feel adequate for you."
"This is exciting! I choose the red team because I'm an engineer. It suits me."
Notes: Mister Scott probably chose the red team because Lieutenant Uhura was also on that team.
"Come to the winning team, Scotty," Mister Kirk smiled.
He said through the ship's communicator who were they Captains and Commanders. To identify their teammates, they will wear a small fabric in their arms with their team color. The first team to recover the other team's flag and bring it to the security room will win the game. Mister Kirk seemed far too competitive to take this as a simple game; however it was Commander Spock who worried him, since he looked like he wouldn't cooperate with the exercise.
When they started the game, it was interesting seeing all the teams gathering around the hallways; he heard Mister Kirk voice asking for his team to reunite in a designed place, and Mister Spock arguing with Doctor McCoy about their strategy.
"Jim is predictable; he will make Uhura guard the flag because he thinks we wouldn't dare shoot at her," Doctor McCoy snarled.
"I do not understand why the Captain would think such thing," Commander Spock said frostily.
"Most of the crew is afraid of her. The rest likes Scotty. Do the math."
"That is completely illogical."
"What are we going do to with our flag?" Mister Sulu interrupted, probably knowing this argument would reach a dead end.
"I believe you shall keep the flag, Mister Sulu. We should make the same strategy as if we were playing chess."
"Again with the chess?" McCoy sounded annoyed.
"I do not believe I have played chess with you yet."
"Jim fills me with the dirty details of your 'chess games'." He could see McCoy doing the air quotes.
"If we stand here arguing, we will lose time and the other team can get an advantage."
He glanced at his right, noticing Lieutenant Giotto sitting next to him, smiling widely. He must find this amusing since he wasn't the one 'doing this stupid thing' as McCoy said it.
"Mister Sulu is the mediator in the discussions, right?" He asked casually.
"Sulu knows how to deal with the Command team when they get stubborn. I think it's a gift," Mister Giotto mused.
"Oh, is it common the differences among the Command team?"
"Not really… if McCoy beams down and Commander Spock is there, then there will be differences. The Captain and Commander Spock get along better, they hardly argue."
"But they fight sometimes?"
"When Captain Kirk wants to beam down and Commander Spock doesn't want him to do it. There's a whole quoting regulations ritual until they reach an understanding."
"Captain Kirk hardly sticks to regulations… it must be difficult to work with him."
Giotto looked at him with a frown, and shook his head with conviction.
"Captain Kirk knows what he is doing; he is the best Captain in the fleet."
"Didn't he use to call you 'cupcake' in your formative years?"
Mister Giotto paled, but he recovered quickly.
"Off the record?"
He nodded; perhaps Giotto will say something prejudicial about Captain Kirk.
"He was an idiot back then."
He expected something worse.
"And to be honest, so was I. Everyone makes mistakes, it doesn't mean we can't grow up and admit that we were wrong. Back then we were all cadets."
"And you don't resent him for being Captain now?"
"Why would I? The guy deserves it."
Mister Giotto sounded like he truly believed this, which was impressive. He often came across with old feuds between crewmembers because they had some sort of disagreement during their formative years. In this case he didn't know if Mister Kirk managed to make peace with Mister Giotto, or if this was more an unsaid agreement, but it was clear that Giotto was comfortable in his post and he didn't mind serving under Kirk's command.
Something caught his attention. Mister Kirk was left alone, without any teammate to protect him in case the enemy found him.
"What is he doing?" he frowned. This was beyond tactical planning, leaving a superior officer alone, even with his strict orders of doing so, was against protocols.
"Well, his Commander in this game is a woman; he won't expose her to be attacked." Giotto explained.
"That doesn't make any sense. Just because he has a female Commander doesn't mean he has to make any distinctions. It's the post that dictates the actions, not the gender."
"Man, you really are the Admiralty lapdog." Mister Giotto snorted and he felt affronted. He was doing his job, he couldn't please everyone. "Sorry, that was uncalled for."
"Off the record, I guess," he wanted for the crew to treat him like they do normally. He knew he shouldn't take any comment personally.
"It's a game anyway." Giotto said sounding annoyed. "You can't reflect this into real situations."
"On the contrary Mister Giotto, precisely because it's a game it shows what the true nature of their personalities could make them do in life-treating situations. For example, in this case Captain Kirk is more worried about his teammates' safety than his own."
He noticed Giotto fidgeting, confirming his point. Captain Kirk methods' were labeled as unorthodox and now he understood why. Commander Spock being pathologically closer to the Captain made more sense.
"It's what makes him good," Giotto said, defending Kirk.
"A Captain is the highest rank on a starship, he is indispensable and he must not put himself at risk. He's foolish risking the ship's stability."
"The Captain thinks we are all indispensable on this ship, that's why he protects every member of the crew. Starfleet makes a big deal about Captains being safe, but Captain Kirk believes in the old saying 'The Captain sinks with the ship'. And I can tell you that we all know Captain Kirk will always help us out; we will do the same. He has our support in everything."
He didn't say anything else given that Mister Giotto was getting rather defensive of his Captain. It was clear that if he dared badmouth about Kirk, any crewmember will jump in his defense.
"We will not shoot any crewmember unless is strictly necessary." He heard Mister Spock's voice. "Our goal is obtain the flag, and Captain Kirk probably will be guarding it."
"Uhura is the one guarding it," McCoy said in a dry tone.
"Yes, Doctor McCoy, we heard your theory. Still I believe you are wrong, therefore we are obtaining the flag with my strategy."
"Man, you sure are a bossy Captain. I didn't think there would be someone worse than Jim."
"I assure you that I am not interested in ordering you all the time. I do not know how Captain Kirk manages it."
"We kiss and make up all the time."
He noticed how Mister Spock went rigid after hearing what McCoy said; rumors said McCoy and Kirk were involved in the Academy, but with what he had observed, it seemed it was more of a brotherhood bond; very different that what was happening with Commander Spock.
"I'm joking, Spock." McCoy said finally after noticing the stiffness in Commander Spock. "See? Now is a good moment to shoot me."
"So… then are we ambushing Captain Kirk?" Mister Sulu said to change the subject.
"It will not be hard. Captain Kirk must have asked his teammates to disperse around the ship, leaving him completely unguarded." Commander Spock sounded resigned, like he knew exactly how reckless Captain Kirk acted in these situations.
"He isn't an idiot." McCoy snorted. "Although on a second thought…"
"Mister Sulu, please guide the crewmembers I assigned to you and proceed as indicated."
"Yes, Captain," Sulu smiled and he noticed how Commander Spock seemed uncomfortable with what Mister Sulu said.
"Do you honestly think it is best for us to stick together?" McCoy frowned.
"Indeed. If I leave you alone, you will get yourself shot and be out of the game in what I estimate will be less than a minute. We must ensure all the teammates' safety and you are the only one who will purposely provoke others into attacking you."
"In other words, if you have to do it, so do I."
Commander Spock didn't answer, but the silence was confirmation enough. It was interesting, Mister Sulu guided the rest of the blue team into the hallways and they chased every red team member they saw, but they didn't shoot them. In fact, neither of the teams were shooting the enemy. They were only running around the ship, almost like children playing tag.
"Look." Giotto interrupted his musings. "I get you wanted to see how we will act in missions, but you forgot something."
"And what would that be, Mister Giotto?"
"Kirk taught us how to be loyal and support every crewmember in this ship. They won't shoot a fellow partner, even in a game. We can't. We don't see an enemy when we see a crewmember of the Enterprise. We see one of us and we know this is a stupid game and Kirk said we should give our best; still it's a friend that we are seeing. They won't shoot unless it's necessary, and I assure you, casualties will be low."
He knew Giotto was right. He was sure this would be the perfect excuse for the crewmembers venting their frustrations and disagreements with fellow co-workers, but apparently there wasn't any tension in them. How could that be possible?
"We train, yell and unload all in our spare time." Giotto offered. "The Captain deals with every disagreement in the moment... well when he finds out."
"What do you mean 'when he finds out'?"
"Commander Spock is the one who end problems faster. He's a Vulcan, it's hard to argue with his logic. Captain Kirk and Commander Spock argue over this. The Captain wants to be involved in every problem, and Commander Spock thinks the Captain shouldn't be bothered with 'small disagreements'. Most of the time Captain Kirk learns of what happened after it's been resolved by the Commander."
Having a Vulcan in Command must be really interesting. Giotto was right, logic was needed on the team, and apparently Kirk and Mister Spock had the perfect balance. One with the logic and one with the instinct. Perhaps it was what every Command team needed on the other ships.
Half an hour later, there were no casualties yet, but Kirk kept moving to hide and McCoy and Mister Spock were walking through the hallways arguing all the time.
"Look, I think I saw Uhura…"
Before McCoy could end his argument, Commander Spock pulled him to the floor with him; they saw a small stain of red paint on the wall.
"Damn, it was my chance," McCoy complained, but he could see the relief in his eyes.
"We must be closer to the Captain."
"Yep, Jimbo must be down the hallway. Now what?"
"It is safe to be on the ground for the moment. Do you see anyone near?"
"You are the one with the sharper hearing, do you hear anything?"
"No, that is why I asked you."
"Well, I don't see anything either. I volunteer to play decoy. I can take one for the team."
"While I appreciate your generous offer, I am afraid I have to refuse. You are Second in Command, we cannot risk losing you."
"So now First Officers are more valuable than Captains? I recall that every time Jim tries this argument you tell him to fuck off and add that it's your duty."
"Perhaps I am seeing the Captain's perspective now."
"Whatever, what are we going to do, oh fearless Captain?"
"We will advance for the ground."
"Crawling? Let me tell you that unless I'm wasted, it's not fun."
"It is not supposed to 'be fun'. Be aware of any sound."
This was enlightening. First, it showed how even with all the disagreements, Commander Spock and Doctor McCoy would protect each other. Also showed how the only way the red team attacked the fellow crewmembers was when their Captain could be in potential risk. It was the only way Commander Spock and McCoy could have known they were closer to Kirk.
"This is going to be fun," Giotto said with amusement.
As he watched one of the screens, he understood why. In one of the corners Lieutenant Uhura and Mister Scott were hidden, waiting for McCoy and Commander Spock. McCoy noticed Mister Scott shadow and it was battle reflexes. McCoy shot Mister Scott at the same time that Lieutenant Uhura shot him. It was almost like Mister Scott was protecting Lieutenant Uhura and McCoy was protecting Mister Spock. Commander Spock took the cue and hurried away down the hallway leaving McCoy deal with the opponents.
"Damn, I almost had Spock," Lieutenant Uhura said with glee.
"Woman, that was a dirty shot," McCoy smiled, seeing the small stain of paint near his crotch.
"Hey, it's your weakness, not mine." Lieutenant Uhura winked. "And don't complain, you shot Scotty."
"Well, I had to protect the hobgoblin, what can I say?"
"Aye, the Captain will be proud of you," Mister Scott smiled widely.
"Since you already left me out of this stupid game, at least tell me, do you have your team's flag?"
"No, Jim said, and I quote 'Bones will be after you because he thinks I'm going to give you the flag, hence you are banned from grabbing it'."
He realized that other thing noticeable around the Enterprise was the lack of formality. That way Captain Kirk became 'Jim' or Commander Spock just 'Spock'. Mister Kirk must be one of those persons who didn't believe that ranks defined the individual.
"I should thank you Uhura, you did me a favor; I don't have to participate in this stupid exercise anymore."
"You are aware that Mister Adams can hear everything, right?" Lieutenant Uhura said.
"Of course, the nut job and I have an understanding. I say how idiotic his exercises are and he ignores me."
Giotto glanced at him with a smirk.
"Doctor McCoy is very difficult to please," he said as an explanation.
Shaking his head, Giotto returned his attention to the screen. Mister Spock was getting closer to Captain Kirk, and he avoided every shot directed at him so far. He only shot back when he had no other choice, and his aim was perfect. Suddenly ten members of the red team were attacking Commander Spock, and the most impressive thing was that Commander Spock only left four of them out of the game. He shunned the rest until they were left behind and he entered the hallway he was looking for. The one where Mister Kirk reached at the same time. It was like they were connected and knew exactly where the other was going to be or where they were moving to. This synchronization must be effective in dangerous missions. As soon as Kirk saw Commander Spock, he lifted his gun in front of him.
"Damn, I should have known you would catch me eventually," Kirk sounded amused.
"Indeed, it was a pointless exercise in our case." Mister Spock said with a flat tone. "I am assuming that once again you sent every member of your team away."
"You know me. At least Uhura didn't give me the 'you are breaking regulations' speech you're so fond of."
"I would not be so 'fond of' said speech if you agreed to follow protocol at least once."
"All right, we are in a tricky situation. You aren't shooting me, and I hardly would do it. Do you want to play chess until we wait for someone on one of our teams to win this?"
"I believe it is the best course of action."
To his surprise, Captain Kirk and Commander Spock started moving imaginary pieces and saying out loud the positions. It was the first time in his experience where no one on the Command team shot the other one. The message was clear 'Either we go down or we win together". To accomplish this kind of compromise was almost impossible. It was beyond posts and personalities. This was a profound bond, and suddenly every answer they gave in their personal interviews made more sense.
"So, who has the flag on your team?" Kirk asked casually.
"No way! Chekov has our flag." Kirk laughed. "Great minds think alike."
After another hour, Mister Chekov finally obtained the blue team's flag after tricking Mister Sulu and shooting him while he was distracted. He apologized profoundly afterwards, almost like he had committed a terrible transgression. When Mister Chekov arrived at the Security department, he announced the winner and everyone gathered around the hallway, red team celebrating and blue team giving their congratulations to the winning team. There were only ten casualties, which was surprising giving that all the four hundred and fifty nine members were participating. The way Captain Kirk and Commander Spock designated leaders, gave orders and everyone acted according to them was amazing. He hadn't seen this kind of coordination in previous evaluations.
The Enterprise with all the informality and unorthodox methods had the best results so far.
"It was unfair, Sulu can't resist Chekov's puppy eyes," complained McCoy.
"Bones, we all have to use our secret weapons." Mister Kirk winked. "I heard you gave your life to protect Spock. I knew you loved him."
"Shut up, I was looking for a way out."
Everyone looked happy; at last they had fun in this exercise.
"So, Carl, what's the verdict?" Kirk asked with cheerfulness.
"It was an entertaining game, I also had the opportunity to talk with Mister Giotto and obtain a different perspective"
He expected for Kirk to get nervous when he heard that Mister Giotto gave his input, but Kirk once again surprised him. He smiled widely and nodded.
"Giotto tells the best stories; you'll never get bored with him."
"Are we done here? Jim wins again, no surprise there," McCoy spat.
"I disagree, Doctor McCoy. For me, it was a day of surprises."
McCoy glared at him, with his paranoia, he probably thought he meant it as something negative. Captain Kirk dismissed everyone, saying that he was happy with the result as a reassurance. He excused himself to prepare the last activity in this evaluation. It was the best one because it gave him the insight he needed to see the cohesion and support the members had.
As he walked away, he noticed Commander Spock following him in a prudent distant. After they were out of hearing range from the rest, he coughed lightly.
"Mister Adams, I was wondering if I may have a word with you."
"Certainly, Commander." he stopped, turning around. "what can I do for you?"
"Captain Kirk is infuriating." Commander Spock said deadpan. "He is stubborn, hardly sticks to regulations and let his emotions cloud his judgment most of the time."
He tried to maintain a neutral face, but he was shocked on the inside. Apparently he was wrong in his conclusions, and Mister Spock was just that good pretending to like someone. Vulcans were better liars than he'd thought.
"I see," he didn't know what else to say. Could be this the Vulcan's subtle way of asking for transference into another Vessel?
"I do not agree with him in tactical decisions; he often takes unnecessary risks and pushes his luck in dangerous situations. However, he is noble and kind, he listens when I suggest another approach and he cares about the members of this ship. He has made this place a second home for most of the crew… including myself. I would willingly give my life if that means maintaining the Captain safety. I will follow Captain Kirk to any vessel he goes because I cannot be with another person on Command. He is and will be always my Captain and my loyalty and respect belongs to him and nobody else."
He was sure that his shock was now visible. Mister Spock must have concluded that his review was going to be negative, and when that happens Admirals move Captains to different vessels with different crewmembers. The fact that Commander Spock was saying this out loud was astounding. He knew it was true though. Mister Spock will follow Mister Kirk everywhere, no matter how many differences they had. Maybe they didn't even notice how deep this bond between them was, but actions spoke louder than words, and in this moment, Commander Spock's speech only confirmed what he already guessed.
Still he couldn't let this opportunity pass.
"I thought you had Mister Kirk brought up on charges for cheating on his last exam."
Mister Spock looked taken aback, which was surprising as well.
"I had a different view of things back then. My experience with Captain Kirk has been edifying, giving me the opportunity to see a gain a wider perspective. He does not believe in 'no win scenarios'; currently I share his opinion after I saw what he can accomplish because he believes it. I just wanted to say that no matter what you report to the Admiralty, Captain Kirk will have my support and I will be with him in every step after it."
Without saying another word, Commander Spock walked past him. It would seem that the Kobayashi Maru trial was still a touchy subject for Commander Spock, yet he defended Captain Kirk with a passion he didn't know Vulcans could possess.
Denial could blind you to the most obvious sentiments.
The last activity was simple enough, but informative nonetheless. Again it involved only the bridge crew, Doctor McCoy and Mister Scott.
"Dammit Scotty! Why are you wearing a skirt?" McCoy asked with shock at seeing Mister Scott.
"It's a kilt."
"You look like a high school girl, man!" McCoy kept glaring at Mister Scott.
"I'm proud of my heritage," Mister Scott said.
"I think you look better in a skirt than Uhura," said Mister Kirk, smiling.
"It's a kilt," Mister Scott grumbled out.
"Well, he has great legs," Lieutenant Uhura chirped in.
"Thanks, lass." Mister Scott said proudly. "I like to work out."
"I only see you eating sandwiches." Mister Chekov added. "When exactly do you work out?"
"The machines are hard work, lad."
"Very well." he interrupted the discussion "for our last exercise, you will pair up and share with your partner stories about the object you chose to bring; one team will have three members, don't worry."
He noticed how Mister Spock was getting close to Captain Kirk, probably thinking that they would chose their partner.
"If you don't mind, I will choose the groups," he said.
"I do mind." McCoy frowned. "You always put me with Spock like you want to hook us up or something. I don't know what you're thinking, but I'm not interested in him that way."
"I concur," Mister Spock added coldly.
"Very well. Mister Kirk, you'll be with Mister Scott. Lieutenant Uhura, you will be with Mister Chekov and Mister Sulu. And Doctor McCoy…"
"Did you at least hear anything I just said?" McCoy glared.
"Yes, however, as you pointed it out yesterday, I ignored it. Please team up with Mister Spock."
"Idiot nut job," he heard McCoy whispering.
The assignment was to bringing something that reminded you of home or something that was characteristic of your culture. Mister Scott was the most enthusiastic, explaining the meaning of the kilt to anyone who asked it about it.
As he watched them chatting, he caught glimpses of the conversations around him. Mister Spock and McCoy were arguing, it wasn't surprising anymore; Mister Kirk was touching the Kilt while Mister Scott explained the story behind it and he saw Lieutenant Uhura holding a long sword, probably Mister Sulu's property.
He decided to approach the most difficult team first and see what was happening.
"How are you doing?" he asked casually to McCoy.
"Peachy. Go away."
"No need to be rude, Doctor McCoy." Mister Spock said with calm. "We are sharing our personal experiences, Mister Adams."
"And what objects did you decide to bring?"
"Doctor McCoy explained to me seven different ways of injecting someone on the neck with his hyposprays. He seems very skilled in that particular action."
"A lot of practice with Jim." McCoy smirked. He knew he liked baiting Mister Spock, but this could be dangerous. Kirk was a sensitive topic for Commander Spock.
"I am sure." Mister Spock said dryly.
"So, you brought a hypospray?"
"Kid, I never leave Sickbay without one. You don't have any idea of how handy it is when you have a moron Captain."
"Please, desist in insulting Captain Kirk," demanded Commander Spock.
"Nut job knows it's because I like him that I insult him."
"Then you must love Mister Adams given that you have not stopped insulting him since he arrived."
McCoy and he looked at Commander Spock with shock. He said it in the same neutral tone he uses for everything, but the fact that he just not only made a sarcastic comment, but also was intended to cause discomfort to McCoy was… completely out of character.
"Touché, Spock." McCoy shook his head. "Jim is a bad influence."
"He is not." Commander Spock said with conviction.
"Very well." He coughed because this was getting weird. "What object did you bring, Mister Spock?"
"I did not bring any object."
"Oh… why is that?"
"I am Vulcan, therefore something particular of my race is my presence given that this ship is inhabited by humans in a ninety point three percent. I concluded my attendance for this exercise would be enough."
Well, how could you argue that?
"He's a ray of sunshine, isn't he?" McCoy added with sarcasm.
He just nodded and walked away, leaving them bickering again. Somehow Mister Kirk was wearing Mister Scott's kilt now, and Miss Uhura was whistling at him.
"Skirts are awesome!" Captain Kirk laughed out loud "I'm making this an official uniform for everyone."
"It's a kilt," Mister Scott said with resignation.
"You said that last time and you didn't last a day in one," McCoy glared at Mister Kirk.
"That was a bet, this is more comfy."
"Maybe you have Scottish blood, Captain," Mister Scott chirped in.
They continued conversing cheerfully and he crossed out the last word in the list he needed to ensure the ship had before he approved the stability of the crew: Freedom.
How he ended up wearing Mister Scott's kilt and watching a duel between Captain Kirk and Helmsman Sulu was still confusing. Kirk was right though, kilts were incredibly comfortable.
He observed the rest of the crew, but if the Command team was good, it will hardly be a problem with the work environment.
He didn't agree with a lot of Mister Kirk's policies, like the lack of formal titles at all times and the fact he prefers protect the crew than himself, but it worked. He couldn't give a bad review when this ship had the best results.
"I sent my report to Starfleet." He said when it was time to leave the ship "It was an interesting visit, Captain Kirk."
"At least you had fun, right?" Mister Kirk smiled, shaking his hand in a firm grip.
"'Fun' wouldn't be the word I would choose, but it was enlightening."
"We live to serve."
"Captain Kirk… before I go, are you aware of the new additions in some of the regulations in the Starfleet code?"
Captain Kirk looked at him with doubt and Mister Spock lifted an eyebrow.
"As you know, romantic relationships were pretty much frowned upon given that it could jeopardize the mission. Those who defied the regulations were constantly harassed to prove they were competent."
"My mother filled me in, yes. I don't see what this has to do with our evaluation. There aren't any personal relationships around here."
Kirk was a good liar. If it wasn't because he already knew there were personal relationships developing on the ship, he would have believed Mister Kirk.
"However the regulation now has a special clause where it invalidates the old statement. If it doesn't interfere with the job and can keep personal life and work environment separated… Starfleet approves relationships. I would like to think things are changing, and the Enterprise could be the big step into this new era."
Mister Kirk smiled widely with a gleam in his eyes. Perhaps next year he would see things more solidified around the Enterprise. He knew it was a risk, if the personal relationships failed, it was likely that the Enterprise's efficiency would decline. He had faith in this Captain though. Somehow he knew Kirk would make things right.
As he said his farewell to the crewmembers, grateful for their cooperation, he noticed how Mister Kirk and Mister Spock kept glancing at each other with a knowing look. He could swear that when he was disappearing from the platform, he saw Mister Kirk's and Mister Spock's fingers entwined.
It wasn't a surprise that next year he got to see so many relationships on the Enterprise. He wasn't very thrilled when he caught Mister Kirk and Commander Spock kissing on the Observation deck… although this proved a hypothesis: Vulcans were very passionate indeed.
Kirk said McCoy was still single and looking… somehow Carl thought that this meant that this evaluation was going to be a big set up for him.