I do not own Star Trek. I do not own Mr. Spock, Captain Kirk, Christine Chapel, Doctor McCoy, or anything else from Trek. I did once have a build-it-yourself model of the Enterprise, but the nacelles kept falling off.
I have some of my favorite themes in here, including a little bit of Spock and chocolate. Not enough to be significant. It's mostly for me.
Featured characters from TOS are the big three, Kirk; Spock; and McCoy, along with Chris Chapel and three nameless cats.
Comments, critiques, and helpful feedback is always welcome and appreciated, even comments that are not positive. Let me know how I can improve. Right now MS Word is still my beta, though we often argue over grammatical minutia, it's still better than me doing my own.
Finally, this piece is for celticmusebooks who wanted to know what was on the kitchen floor.
***Other pieces in this story arc that are available. Busman's Holiday, a fic named by a word processor, is in the TOS section. In addition there's Busman's Holiday Outtake 1" in the Star Trek 2009 movie section and Busman's Holiday Prelude in the Star Trek The Original Series section. There's a 'Sequel in Process' to the main story, but it's only available on my computer and my brain. ***
Best Left Unexplained
A Busman's Holiday Interlude
"You do not need to explain your choices, Adun'a. It is the same for to me when you are gone and I am here alone. "
"Not quite. You never did explain what that was I found on the kitchen floor after Jim and Leonard came over while I was at that conference last year."
"Jim says some things are best left unexplained."
An hour, maybe forty-seven minutes and thirty-two seconds after he sat down, Spock's front door chimed the bright little melody his wife had selected. He laid the PADD on the dark, antique coffee table, the long, gray cat on the couch and got up to answer the door. The PeepHole™ screen displayed a pair of familiar faces. Spock opened the door to greet his former captain and the old country doctor.
"Greetings, Jim. Leonard. Your arrival is most unexpected."
"We were in the neighborhood," explained Kirk in his jauntiest manner, leaning ever so slightly forward, a reddish jacket flung over his shoulder.
Spock raised his doubtful eyebrow.
"Okay, we confess,' Kirk laughed. "Bones, here," He playfully shoved at the doctor, "said that Christine was out of town, so we thought we'd come over and keep you company." Kirk looked past the Vulcan into the living room and the PADDs on the coffee table. "We're your friends. We couldn't let you sit on the couch, programming until you die and the cats eat your corpse."
"I doubt, Jim, that programming will cause my death. I am a computer expert and it is what I do. I also doubt that the cats would eat me, even if I were to die," replied the ever-logical, purposefully misunderstanding Vulcan. "Their food is provided by an automated system if Christine or I are unable to feed them."
Kirk grinned. "It's a figure of speech." He pulled the jacket from his shoulder and used it as part of a broad gesture.
Spock's eyebrows, both of them this time, went up slightly.
McCoy rolled his bright blue eyes. "Are we gonna have to stand out here all day, Spock, and listen to this big mouth jabber, or are you goin' to invite us in?"
"Forgive me, Doctor." He swung the heavy, wooden door fully open. "Do come in." The Vulcan stepped back as he pulled the broad slab of ancient oak aside.
Kirk hung the jacket casually on the coat rack just inside the door. "So Chris is gone for at least three more days, right?" he commented.
"Based on the schedule provided by the conference, that is correct," Spock responded. He'd given up years ago on trying to get his humans to understand the concept of 'accuracy.'
"Good," Kirk smiled. Spock would have shuddered at the smile, but it was bad for his image. The admiral continued. "I have a great idea for a little male bonding."
"I am not sure about that idea, Jim," Spock said, leading his guests into the front room. McCoy settled on an end of the couch Spock and the cat had occupied after moving a pair of dark red silk accent pillows. Kirk slid into a burgundy wingback chair that was likely 200 years old.
"You don't even know what the idea is yet, Spock."
"I am very familiar with your 'ideas,' Admiral. I am not sure I am comfortable with the potential outcomes." Spock paused, remembering human niceties. "Would either of you care for something to drink,"
"A beer, if you've got them," McCoy said. "It's hotter than Vulcan in here."
"Not hardly, Doctor. The ambient temperature is 2.1 degrees less than the average yearly temperature of Shi'Kahr." Baiting McCoy wasn't as much fun as having his wife home, but it would do for the moment.
"You know what I mean, Spock!" McCoy grumbled under his breath while Spock said, "We do have beer. Christine purchases it from a micro-brewery that is within walking distance of our house."
"I'll have a beer, too." Kirk interrupted, then returned to his unspoken idea. "It'll be fun, won't it, Bones?" He looked directly at the Doctor, nodding his own head up and down slowly as a signal for McCoy to agree.
"Probably more fun without the pointy-eared goblin," McCoy smirked, his eyebrow slowly rising in a grayed arc into his forehead, "but yeah."
That settled it for Spock. He sat three bottles of beer on the coffee table, along with the traditional offering of water to guests. "What are we doing?"
The Vulcan's day had started adequately. Brilliant sunshine poured through the sheer, white drapes that billowed and waved over the open windows. Or it would have, had the sun been out as it had been earlier in the day and the windows opened to the fresh air. No brilliant rays of sunshine broke through the now gray, overcast sky. The curtains, light and airy when a breezy hand caught them, hung sadly, like dead leaves not yet fallen. He'd closed the windows tightly and turned up the heat to something closer to the temperature of his native world. He did this when she was gone, as certainly as she cranked up the air conditioner when he was away, instead living in the balmy too-warm, too-cold compromise they usually maintained.
The house always fell silent when she left. Not that is was quiet. If nothing else, their three cats, a fat tortie, a small, ancient orange, and a skinny, longhaired gray, spent their time mewling, purring, pouncing and complaining about the food, the weather, and on which side of the door they were.
Spock found them so annoying that, the last time Christine was off planet, he devoted all the time he'd planned for a research project to the construction of the most complex 'exterior feline containment and recreational unit' that Chris had ever seen. Based in the seldom-used side yard, it stretched up the side of their two-story house from ground to roof. Complete with 'bi-directional access ports' on both floors, a safe play area on the ground, multiple cat-sized ramps, landings, shelves and a set of cat perches on the roof, his design gave the cats maximum outdoors with maximum safety and minimum annoyance for him.
Still, they were ungrateful felines and no happier that he was. They missed their 'Mommy' almost as much as he did. He had things he could be doing. He'd piled up his possible activities, neatly and organized, of course, on his desk. There was a treaty he needed to review, a programming update for the Federation Emergency Ops he assured Christine he'd complete while she was gone, and a paper, recently submitted to a scientific journal for which he was on the review committee, that required vetting. He could feed the cats, clean their litter boxes, then sit and hold the beasts for the hours they demanded. They would like that, but he wouldn't get anything accomplished.
He selected the PADD with the programming problem and the longhaired, gray cat, because it would sit quietly while he worked, and settled down in the living room on the long camel-backed couch for a quiet day of programming. Alone. It would have been better if he'd just stayed alone with the cats.
Spock eased the skimmer in front of the establishment Kirk pointed out. "Valet parking," Kirk insisted was the only choice in this popular zone. After exiting the brilliant black vehicle, Spock reluctantly gave his keys to a young humanoid not much older than Kirk's nephew Peter's son did. Kirk paid the valet and they headed in.
"That's ridiculous, Spock," McCoy responded to Spock's complain. "Peter's son is only seven years old. That kid has to be in his early 20s"
Kirk ignored them both. "Lori liked this place. We used to come here regularly."
McCoy stared at the bright lights and loud noises. "Jocelyn and I had a spot like this in Atlanta, back before Joanna was born. Back when things were good."
The both looked expectantly at Spock. He thought for a moment. "There is tea house Christine and I frequent. It is next to a vegetarian restaurant that serves very well prepared food."
You could almost hear them sigh and say, "Vulcans" in that mock sarcastic way people often use.
Noise that only pretended to be music and flashing lights blasted out from club entrance. Bright tubes, whirling with neon colors arched above the entrance, culminating in a grotesque orange, pink and yellow palm tree and the whirling club logo. The Vulcan paused. He could still get in a few good hours of programming this evening if he just turned around and left.
He felt Kirk push at him gently. "Come on. McCoy and I can find some women to dance with. You can, well, you can do something." Spock followed, Kirk leading the way, jostling the early evening partiers out of his way. As they reached their destination, a small table with a reserved sign on it, sitting in the middle of the confusion. Kirk looked back at him, staring at the empty personal space surrounding the Vulcan. Behind Spock, people jostled the Doctor at every step.
"Here we go!" Kirk grabbed the reserved sign and flipped it down. Spock noted the neat writing on the card – Jamms D. Kurk. Not only was the place noisy and disquieting, the people could not spell.
They pulled out three of the four chairs tucked under the table, then sat down on the trimly upholstered in fake black leather seats. A couple of drink menus sat on the round, glass-covered surface, leaning against the snack menu in the middle of the table.
"You need a drink, Spock," McCoy declared, as he craned his head around, looking for a now absent waitperson. A futile action at best, the mass of partiers on an early evening formed a nearly impenetrable mass.
"Tea or Altair water would be fine, I think," Spock said, craning his neck almost as much as McCoy, but in a much more dignified manner. He looked back at his friends. The mass of flesh shaking and dancing disturbed him more than he realized.
"Nope. A real drink, Spock."
The waitperson, a rapidly moving young woman with a quick smile and fast fingers on her order PADD suddenly appeared. "What will you have, gentlemen?"
"Mint julep. Make it a double, pretty lady," McCoy dipped his head in a gentlemanly fashion.
"Shot of Jack, straight up." Kirk ordered.
"Altair water." Spock did not share his former captain's opinion.
"Get the Vulcan a black sombrero," Kirk corrected the order.
"I do not think that a hat is necessary, Captain."
"Not a hat, Spock," Kirk explained. "It's a drink."
"Jim . . .," McCoy warned, but Kirk surged ahead as he always did.
Three black sombreros, two chocolate martinis and a large glass of chocolate coconut milk later, Spock could not remember much but his dignity and that he'd had an autopilot installed in the skimmer for a very different reason.
The skimmer settled in front of Spock's house at two ayem, the autopilot having brought the three of them safely back. The dark house lit up at their approach. Warm lights glowed in the windows. Strip lighting came alive along the path to the front door. Spock touched a hidden pad and breathed his full unpronounceable Vulcan name. The door swung open by itself and the three of them trudged through the house, looking quite unlike the finest command team Star Fleet had ever seen and the brilliant physician who kept them together and settled in Spock's well used kitchen.
Kirk, only slightly inebriated, lugged a large black bag. He dropped onto the kitchen chair and pulled the bag open.
"So, you've got to see this thing I got for Peter's kid from that guy from the shop next to the restaurant. He bet against us in the race and I got this!"
Kirk pulled out a large, well maybe smaller, sphere filled with coalescing black rivulets against black and coruscating with metallic rainbows and its matte black base. He sat the base on the well-worn counter and carefully balanced the ball on the base.
"Well," McCoy said, "that's interesting." He poked at it with his finger, and then spun the orb in its frictionless base. "What is it?"
'I believe," Spock said, "it is called a 'Turbulent Orb'- a fairly simple, and very old, device filled with a fluid and particulates. It is used to teach small children about the general circulation of planetary atmospheres." Spock stopped it from spinning and rolled it gently. "I've never heard of one quite this color before," he finally said.
Spock made a more general comment or two about the ball and its unusual rainbow effect as he pulled out the teapot and three mugs. Christine would approve. He'd learned much about casual entertaining during their relationship. The three men, sitting at the kitchen table, must constitute casual entertaining at its highest.
Kirk ignored the conversation and dug deep into his bag again, pushing the dark fabric sides around as if he were chasing a small animal. He pulled out a small package with degree of triumph that Spock found excessive. "And this!" he declared, his voice full of slurred achievement, "is for those damnable cats of yours."
Spock sat the teapot and mugs on the table. "They are not 'damnable cats,' Jim," he replied, defending Christine's little beasts. "They are esthetically pleasing domesticated terrestrial felines who are amiable, though highly independent, companions. Christine is quite fond of them."
"Like I said, 'damnable cats,'" Kirk repeated for emphasis. He opened the package and shoved it under his own nose, and inhaled deeply. "This is supposed to be the best catnip in the Federation." He sneezed then coughed violently.
"Better see a doctor about that cough, Jim," McCoy muttered.
"Shut up, Bones," Kirk said, handing the bag to the Vulcan. "It's from the Caitian homeworld. M'Ress, you remember M'Ress" – a statement, not a question – "M'Ress says they took terrestrial catnip and turned it into something stronger. Kind of like a good bottle of whiskey or Romulan ale."
"Where are those cats?" Kirk asked no one in particular. He started looking around. He might have been asking the universe or himself. Spock mumbled something about a cat cage.
Kirk closed up his big, black bag and set it on the table. "Be right back."
Spock followed him with fading eyes. With less chocolate in his system, he was certain that he would not have agreed to the drag race or Caitian catnip, but, at this moment, his logic is uncertain.
Kirk came back in the kitchen, a struggling feline tucked under each arm. "They're not very co-operative, Spock."
McCoy snapped before Spock could respond, "Whaddaya expect when you carry the cat like bag of potatoes. McCoy grabbed the tabby, while Kirk readjusted the tiny orange kitty.
Spock reached down to pet the third cat that trailed behind Kirk and the other two kitties. The long, gray beast, secretly Spock's favorite of the lot, yowled loudly certain that it was going to miss out on some wonderful cat treat.
Kirk peeled the package open. He pulled out a small handful and sprinkled the dried green herb on the backs of all three cats. The beasts stopped moving almost immediately as the catnip weighed them down like oversized sacks of sand on the backs of freight handlers in a hardware store. The tabby shook itself, sending the powdery substance flying across the kitchen floor. The gray one, with its belly sunk against the floor, pushed its nose against the dust and inhaled deeply. Spock didn't think he'd ever seen one of the cats sniff in quite that manner before. It jerked back up, flehming, and stood motionless. The little orange one buried its face in the back of the gray, licking the long fur.
"Well, that wasn't quite what I expected," Kirk said as they watch the three cats wander off in the direction of the living room.
Just moments later, a great yowl and a crash erupted from the living room. Balls of fur and claws ripped through the kitchen, white paws only touching the floor long enough to rip at the linoleum Chris hated. One ball bounced off a short edge of the counter and took a turn across the surface. It barreled into the black orb, sending the globe careening to the floor as a second cat followed the path of the first. The turbulent orb bounced once, then made a second bounce before Jim could rescued it. It shattered in the middle of the Caitian catnip, leaving a black tarry mess all over the middle of the kitchen floor.
"I don't think it's going to come up, Jim." McCoy nudged at the gooey mass that was slowly hardening into something with the surface texture of an obsidian rockslide and the hardness factor of natural diamonds with his shoe. "Christine isn't gonna to be a happy person when she finds it."
"It'll come off. I'm sure of it." Kirk squatted down and shoved at the edge closest to him. "Hey, Spock, hand me a table knife. I used to scrape all kinds of weird stuff up off the kitchen floor with a table knife when I was a kid."
The Vulcan retrieved the requested item and handed it to his former captain. Kirk shoved the knife under the goo and lifted. The stuff did not move. The knife did not move, but it did seem to melt into the blackish mass.
Kirk stood up, his boyish grin replaced by the same sort of look he'd give the Klingons or the Romulans when they invaded Federation space. "Got a phaser?" he asked hopefully, "or hydrochloric acid?"
"Not in my kitchen, Jim." The Vulcan was adamant that neither weapons nor uncontrollable chemical warfare was appropriate for his food preparation area.
The trio just stared at the blackness. The knife Kirk had poked it with was slowly dissolving.
"I don't understand this," Kirk said finally. "It's harmless stuff. I scanned it."
"After you were drinking, Jim?" McCoy scoffed with little credulity.
"You have a tricorder, Jim?" Spock inquired. Kirk pulled his bag up and dug around again, this time pulling out a model of tricorder Star Fleet had retired years before and handed it to the scientist.
Kirk shrugged. "It still works," he said as he handed the device to Spock.
Spock made the black brick hum, chirp, and click as only an artist could. He frowned slightly and reset a few parameters.
"Maybe we could clean it up with good old soap and water, "McCoy said. The physician grabbed a wet cloth and soap.
Spock waved the device over the goo again and pulled in a breath. It wasn't a sigh because he was a Vulcan. He grabbed the doctor's arm and stopped him before he could wet the substance. "That would be a serious mistake, Leonard. "
"What?" said the doctor.
Spock released his arm. "The contents of the turbulent orb and the catnip combine to form a compound banned by both the federation and the Klingon Empire. There are rumors that the Romulans attempted to develop it and lost and entire planet to the attempt. The addition of liquid water to it causes it to expand until all of the moisture molecules are absorbed and not just the ones to which it was initially exposed. ALL the water molecules. It is a class A felony to manufacture or even possess the compound"
"Nothing's ever simple with you, is it, Jim?" McCoy grumbled, catching a cat just before it sneezed on the black goo of death.
Kirk pulled out his personal comm unit and tapped it. "This is Admiral James T. Kirk. I need a Level 6 hazmat team at Ambassador Spock's house. . . . No, the Ambassador is fine. . . . His wife is out of town. . . . Uh huh. . . . No. . . . It's not Vulcan. . . . Spock, what did you say it was again? . . . Did you hear that? . . . No, we're not going to let it get wet and I did not manufacture it on purpose. Just get the Hazmat people over here before this stuff consumes the Ambassador's entire house and maybe the planet."
Kirk dropped his personal comm back in his pocket. "They're on their way. I don't think we'll be arrested. At the very least, Spock has diplomatic immunity.
Moments later, the kitchen comm unit beeped. In keeping with Christine's antique décor, the unit was built into a warm, oaken box. The Vulcan touched the screen. "Spock here," he answered crisply.
"Hello, darling." Christine Chapel's dark hair and sparkling blue eyes appeared.
"Beloved. I was not anticipating your communication." Spock really didn't want to explain what had happened. "Is there not a presentation concerning something you characterized as 'arcane, bizarre and trivial' right now, with a question and answer session?" he asked.
"The last speaker at the conference took ill, so we let out early. I'm catching the low-orbit jumper. I'll be home in a couple of hours." She made that warm, welcoming face over the com that reminded him why he missed her. "Can you meet me at the port?"
"I will be there, Adun'a." he said.
Christine had known her Vulcan too long. He had a shaggy look about him that she could see, even over the small kitchen comm screen. "Is there something going on I should know about?"
"No, my wife," Spock replied. "I attempted to work on my programming project when Jim and the doctor came for a visit. I am most pleased that you are on your way home. I will be waiting for you." He cut the communication, checked a couple things concerning her flight and then turned back to his friends.
"Christine's flight will arrive in 1 hour 47 minutes. It will take approximately 53 minutes to collect her things and return home. I would like you to ensure that 'this,' he pointed to the mess, "is gone."
"Look Spock. It's early morning. Take the woman out to eat. Here's a great place between your house and the jumper port. Kirk found a piece of paper and scribbled a name and address. "It's Lori's favorite breakfast spot. Food's great. They have vegetarian options, and it's really popular, so it might take a while."
"Trust me, Spock. I'll get it fixed." The admiral gave Spock his best 'Trust me. I got this.' expression. Spock responded with a doubting eyebrow and the slightest shake of his head.
"He'll even get you a new floor," McCoy, who was now holding two struggling cats. "You got someplace we can put these critters to keep them from trying to commit suicide?"
"We have a feline containment unit at the end of that hall." Spock collected the remaining kitty and started down the hall. He turned back for just a moment.
"And, Jim, if it's not fixed?" Spock asked Kirk.
Kirk pondered the question for the briefest of moments, then shrugged. "Lie."
"Spock?" Christine Chapel called out to her husband. She could hear him drop her bags, the ones that he was taking upstairs for her, and his footsteps towards the kitchen.
"What's this?" She pointed to the large dark mass that still occupied the center of their kitchen floor and the total attention of the half-dozen workers.
"Jim and the Doctor came for a visit while you were gone. There will be flooring people over later today to replace the old linoleum that came with the house." He pointed at the kitchen implements stuck in the sides of the mass. "Take care not to touch it. It is sticky. I have moved the cat dishes and have confined them to their structure until the floor is replaced."
"Spock, honey. Those men in there are not with a flooring company. I recognize at least one of them as having done a stint in Emergency Ops a couple of years ago. I know for a fact he still works for Earth Gov. And that man putting my floor tiles in a bio-containment unit – he's with one of Federation Science labs on Mars.
Almost on cue, a couple of men wearing what were obviously Earth Gov hazmat suits pushed past them.
One of the men stopped. "Sorry, Ambassador," he shook his covered head, the blue of the hazmat suit moved as if it were part of the man's body, "but you and your wife can't be in here while we take up the floor."
"What happened?" Christine asked.
Spock tilted his head ever so slightly, a surprisingly guilty expression crossing his face. He made his decision. With full reason. Calmly. With nothing but pure logic. He decided to take Jim Kirk's advice and lie.
"It is classified, my Adun'a. I cannot tell you as you do not have the proper security clearances. But you will have that new floor you wanted."