Disclaimer: I don't own nuttin', not no way, not no how.

Author's note: Well, I'm back—again. Very sorry it's taken so long for me to finish this chapter: in the immortal words of W.C. Fields as Ambrose Wolfinger in The Man on the Flying Trapeze, "Things happened!"

There are links to online versions of the songs mentioned in this chapter in my profile under Music and Sources for Chapter 22. The pieces are divided up into two groups. The first is for music they perform, and the songs appear in the order performed, as opposed to when they're first mentioned in the story. The second group (much longer) is for music that's only talked about, and these pieces are listed in the order they're first mentioned, interspersed with links to various sources. There are also sample songs from the bands Jim rattles off at one point. As before, you don't have to know them or listen to them for the action to make sense, but it's all good music, so you might want to check them out if you have time.

Oh, and to get to my profile, click on the link for "WolfLibre," which appears at the head of every chapter, underneath the story title From This Day Forward.

Chapter 22. Impromptu

While the two officers were walking down the stairs, Jim tackled the first problem with their scheme: how to find the band. Calling to mind their clever name, he said to Spock, "We need to figure out where Jazz-Time Continuum is taking their break. They disappeared underneath the gallery when they left, so I'm guessing they went out that door into the hallway where the restrooms are. There's probably a place close by that the Embassy uses as a green room." The first officer interrupted with a puzzled, "A green room?" The captain laughed a little and explained, "Yeah, that's just what they call a room where performers wait before going on. Not sure why it's a 'green room' instead of, say, a 'blue room', but there it is. Anyway, let's head down that hall a little ways and see if we can find it."

They reached the end of the stairs and started navigating through the crowd on the floor, with the half-Vulcan edging slightly closer to his friend. Less willing than Jim to simply go poking around, he asked, "Should we not attempt to locate Ms. Laurent instead? Surely as the events manager, she would know where the musicians are." Kirk responded, "Yeah, if we happen to see her on the way, we can ask her. But the band's break will only be so long, and we might not even be able to find her before they go back on." Spock considered this for a moment and then said, "That is a reasonable plan, Captain," who smiled in response, saying, "Glad you approve, Commander," as if it were a military operation.

Jim then caught the attention of one of the circulating waiters, and they handed off their empty glasses and the napkin. As they resumed walking, they both scanned the crowd looking for Ashley Laurent. There was no sign of her, but Kirk did see Nyota in a lively conversation with Giotto, two Andorians and a Denobulan and not looking like she would be leaving anytime soon. He smiled to himself at that, glad that she would (probably) still be there to hear them perform (if the musicians agreed). He knew she liked music and that she sang herself, as he had heard her at Academy Choral Society concerts while he was a cadet. She had been president of the choral society and had also been one of the soprano soloists, having a quite beautiful voice.

They made their way to the door into the hall where the restrooms were located without being stopped by anyone and still without seeing the events manager. Jim paused to make a final sweep of the room before turning around and opening the door. The slightly nervous half-Vulcan followed him through it while the door closed almost silently behind them. They walked a few yards down the corridor before Kirk stopped, holding up one hand in a "quiet, please" gesture. The first officer then understood that the plan was to listen for the tell-tale sounds that would indicate the presence of a group of people, rather than to simply start opening doors at random, and he relaxed somewhat.

Standing still, at first they heard nothing but the muted sounds of the reception coming through the door into the ballroom. Then there was a muffled shriek from the ladies' room followed by a gleeful shout, "Oh no, you didn't!" The door opened when a lone woman exited the restroom, and they could then hear a number of voices talking excitedly all at once. The sound increased in volume as these women also came out the door to head back to the reception. The captain grinned to himself, thinking that Halaci was certainly right about women and group trips to the restroom. And knowing another bunch could appear at any time, he went a few yards on down the hallway to be further away from potentially boisterous sounds before stopping again, with Spock following close behind.

In the relative quiet that followed, the first officer's sensitive Vulcan hearing picked up the murmur of voices from a room some meters down the corridor. He was on the verge of alerting his captain when a burst of laughter and the sound of a guitar doodle from the room rendered that unnecessary. Kirk turned and grinned at him, saying, "Well, looks like we found them," and the commander nodded solemnly in reply. The captain then looked at his friend questioningly and asked, "Ready to do this, Spock?" The commander answered, "I am ready, Jim," and they walked toward the room side by side.

Once at the door, the first officer paused, suddenly uncertain but then his captain gave him an encouraging smile so he steeled his nerve and knocked. Three voices from within called simultaneously, "Come in!"and after taking a deep breath, the first officer opened the door and went through into the green room. Jim followed him and then shut the door behind them.

Four heads swiveled toward the two officers as the men came into the room. The musicians were all sitting down relaxing in a friendly group, with the guitarist in a straight-backed chair holding his guitar while the others occupied some of the comfortable-looking easy chairs around him. Between them were low tables with crumb-flecked plates and partially-empty glasses attesting to the remains of a meal from the generous buffet set up along one wall. Against another wall was a large table whose surface was mostly covered by a number of instrument cases.

The band members were clad in matching outfits of loose-fitting royal blue trousers topped by long jackets made of a bright spring green material shot through with gold, with high mandarin collars. The pianist was a middle-aged woman with mahogany skin, twinkling black eyes, and a mass of short graying hair curling in tight ringlets all over her head. She was the person who had announced their breaks and was evidently the leader of the group. The double bass player was a young human man with shoulder length wavy brown hair; he had removed his jacket, revealing the intricate tattoos that wound up from his wrists to disappear beneath the sleeves of his white t-shirt.

The drummer was a tiny but tough-looking Vulcan woman with her dark hair cut in a spiky Mohawk. In the lobe of each ear, in place of earrings, she had a diminutive stainless steel hex bolt secured on the back with an equally diminutive hex nut. In addition, she had three stainless steel safety pins piercing her left eyebrow, stepping up the slant of her brow like three tiny stairs. The guitarist was a man of indeterminate age whose features, coloring and straight black hair pointed to Asian or (Asian via) Southwestern Native American ancestry. At this close distance, with no milling crowd to block his view, Kirk could see that the man had surprisingly short stubby fingers, making some of the amazing guitar licks he had played even more amazing.

The pianist asked, "What can we do for you fellows?" When Spock hesitated, the captain realized that he should take the lead, and, though somewhat nervous himself, he answered, "Well, we, uh…we have something to ask you. But first, I want to tell you how much we've been enjoying your music tonight." She smiled broadly and said, "Thank you very much; that's really good to hear," and she then held out her hand to Kirk and introduced herself as Makayla Landsey. The captain shook the proffered hand and responded by introducing himself and his first officer. Landsey nodded solemnly to the half-Vulcan in lieu of shaking his hand; in the background, the guitarist murmured "I thought you guys looked familiar…"

Landsey then introduced the double bass player as Donal Porter and the drummer as Zhuksu Mu'Gahv. She turned to the guitarist, smiling as she said, "And last, but not least, this is my partner in crime as well as my partner in life, my husband, Billy Yazzie." Kirk grinned to himself, thinking this answered the ancestry question—definitely Southwestern Native American, Navajo in fact—and then there were various expressions from everyone along the lines of "Nice to meet you."

When they had all had their say, the band leader invited the captain and commander to sit with them, and after a quick glance at each other, the officers gratefully accepted (somehow, it would be easier to ask their favor sitting down...). Zhuksu and Porter then got up and pulled a couple of chairs around to face the ones the band members were occupying, and after every one was settled, with Jim and Spock next to each other (naturally), Landsey asked, "OK, now what did you want to ask us?"

At that, the captain's uncertainty kicked up a notch—damn! Was this really a good idea? Were they really going to do this? It was pretty brash, after all—and his brain partially froze up. So he fumbled a bit when he started, "Um, we...uh, Mr. Spock and I..." gesturing between the two of them before going on,"...we just discovered that we know this, uh, this song in common, and we, umm, we…" he trailed off while the human band members looked back at him expectantly and the drummer tilted her head slightly.

He then had the belated thought that it would probably be better for him to explain a little rather than to just blurt out their request, so he elaborated, "See, we didn't exactly, uh, hit if off from the beginning, but we've, uh, we've been getting to know each other better for awhile now…though for some reason, I never thought to ask him what kind of music he, uh, prefers. So that's why we didn't, umm…know anything about this until tonight…really just a few minutes ago…when we suddenly found out that there's this one song that, uh, we both really like a lot. Well, actually, I guess I like it, and he, uh…he appreciates it, ha, ha," finishing with a slightly awkward laugh.

Kirk paused momentarily to rebuild a head of steam after the slight digression, and then went on, "But anyway, I guess the main point here is that, uh, Mr. Spock knows the piano part and I know the vocal line, so that we, uh, we each know…half…" He trailed off again when he noticed the expectant faces beginning to look puzzled while the Vulcan woman's eyebrows momentarily drew together before she went back to her expressionless stare.

Jim simply stopped then, realizing he was making a mess of explaining. Why, when he was usually fairly articulate, did he have to be reduced to verbal flailing now, of all times? He was just opening his mouth to try to rescue the situation when Spock stepped into the breach and finished for him, using Kirk's expression from when they had discussed the idea in the gallery, "And we wondered if we could take over your gig for a little while," keeping his normal dead-pan expression and delivery. After a split second of complete silence, the room erupted into laughter—somehow, hearing a stone-faced Vulcan say "gig" in reference to a paid musical engagement was absolutely hilarious—and even the drummer's mouth briefly twitched upward by a hair. Landsey looked around at her band mates, who were all indicating their approval in one way of another. She then answered, "Now honey, how could we possibly say 'no' to that?" and she gave him a wide smile.

The first officer nodded gravely, intoning, "Thank you all very much," and Jim exclaimed, "For real? No shit?!" which he quickly amended to "Err, I mean, no kidding?" when his friend gave him a bit of a stern look. The pianist merely laughed and said, "Believe me, Captain, the first way was fine. Which makes the answer to your question, yes, for real, no shit," confirming what she had just said. When the human musicians were done laughing over this exchange, Kirk replied to the band leader, "Wow, thanks, man!" After a brief pause, he continued, "But you know, after that, I think y'all should probably just call me 'Jim'," and then the humans and Vulcans alike all agreed to call each other by their given names.

For Mu'Gahv, having lived among a relaxed community of human and Andorian musicians and artists for several years, it was no surprise to be calling someone she had met just moments earlier by their given name alone. And while it had become standard practice for humans to call Vulcans by their given names (the "second name" in the Vulcan naming system), even when initially introduced, in oh-so-proper Vulcan society, the name was always paired by an honorific such as "Mr.", "Ms.", "Dr.", "Councilor", etc. The reason for this compromise between formality and familiarity was purely practical: Vulcan surnames (the "first name" in their system) were often near-impossible for humans to pronounce, and even with names like "Zhuksu," which were not too difficult, the "honorific plus given name" practice generally held. But here, even that nod to ceremony was dispensed with and the given names stood alone, unencumbered by any sort of designation.

For the first officer, it was a revelation. He was, of course, accustomed to being called "Mr. Spock" or "Commander Spock" by humans and additionally had come to be on a given name basis with a few individuals over time. But despite earlier this same evening having called T'Pol by her given name upon their initial meeting (although only at her instigation and over the objection of his Vulcan half), it was still a novelty for him, and with a group of people...well, it was a completely new experience. A sense of wonder then filled the commander, in part because he was able to participate in this relaxed informality at all and in part because he was only slightly uncomfortable doing so (and by the end of their visit, even his initial awkwardness had vanished). He looked over at his captain, fully aware that this man was the sole reason he could do anything such thing, and he again felt his heart swell in his chest that he should have such a friend. A tiny Vulcan smile momentarily lingered on his face before his normal-neutral expression reasserted itself while Jim gazed back at him with a large grin, and then they both turned to focus on the assembled company.

Makayla then asked, "What's the song you want to do?" Spock answered, "We would like to perform Samuel Barber's setting of a poem by James Agee, 'Sure on this Shining Night'." The drummer shook her head minutely while the guitarist frowned a little, neither of them being familiar with the piece, but the pianist nodded and the bass player enthused, "Hey, I love that song! My wife did it at her senior recital in college. Great choice, dudes!" Kirk smiled back at him and answered, "Glad you approve, Donal." As a follow-up, Porter asked, "Are you a tenor, Jim?" When Kirk replied that he was, the bass player continued, "That's good, because I think that song works best for high voices—but maybe that's because my wife is a soprano," eliciting some laughter from the other humans.

Makayla looked from the captain to the first officer and then commented, "So, you just found out you both know this song, and now you're going to do it in front of an audience without ever having practiced it?" Reminded of the reality of what they were proposing, Jim nodded mutely, leaving Spock to reply, "Yes, Makayla, as…audacious as that sounds…yes, we are." At that, there were nods and admiring glances from her and from Porter, while Mu'Gahv raised both eyebrows. Yazzie whistled softly and put in, "Man, you guys have got some guts!" which had the captain grinning as he answered "Thanks, Billy!" Spock spared a quick thought for his own insides and the feeling of having "butterflies in his stomach," as Nyota would put it (such a perfect phrase to describe the sensation!) while giving a silent nod of acknowledgement.

Landsey gave her partner a smile and then said to the two officers, "I actually have a keyboard synthesizer with some great sampled acoustic piano sounds, if you want to run through your song back here. I almost always bring the synth to our gigs, but when we play at the Embassy, it usually stays in the green room unless we're doing something where I want to use other types of sounds; the Steingraeber here is such a great instrument that I prefer to play that when we just want piano. But anyway, you're welcome to use my synth if you want. I'd be happy to get it out for you," and she gestured toward the table bearing the collection of instrument cases.

Kirk raised his eyebrows at the commander, who considered a moment before saying, "I defer to your judgment in this matter, Jim." The captain nodded in reply—time to act captainly—and sitting up a little straighter he answered, "Thanks, Makayla, that's really kind of you, but you know, I think we're going to pass on your offer. We were prepared to go out there and do it cold, and I kind of suspect there's something to be said for the adrenaline factor in doing just that." The pianist considered that for a moment before saying, "I have to admit, you've got a point there, Jim, and I somehow suspect you'll do just fine," and the others voiced agreement. Kirk grinned and replied, "Thanks!"

Landsey then asked, "Is there anything else you both know? If you get much applause, it would be good to have something to do as an encore." Not having considered this possibility, Kirk stared at her for a moment before turning to his first officer to ask, "What do you think, Spock? I do know a couple of Barber's Hermit Songs, and I'm guessing that you know all of them,"—here the half-Vulcan nodded—and the captain then went on, "But it would be pretty risky to try those cold, or even after a run-through or two. They would need actual practice."

The commander replied, "Agreed. While I am not opposed to performing an encore, I do not think we should attempt anything as difficult as those pieces." He then tilted his head slightly and continued, "I am uncertain what else we might know in common that is straightforward enough to perform without our having practicing it first. But perhaps we can discover such a piece." His brows then drew together slightly in thought as he began trolling through his repertoire.

Remembering yet another song by the same composer, Kirk offered, "I think I know Barber's 'The Daisies' well enough to probably get through it." The half-Vulcan replied, "I have only heard the piece once and unfortunately, I do not know the piano score." The captain said, "OK, scratch that one, then," and he went back to thinking.

Spock then recalled a song he knew for voice and continuo—although it would work well with a piano—and he asked, "Do you know 'Bist du bei mir' by Stölzel?" The captain grinned at him and asked, "You mean the only love song what Bach ever wrote…that he never really wrote?" The half-Vulcan raised an eyebrow in appreciation that his captain should be aware of this historical detail—the song was assumed to be by J.S. Bach because for centuries, the only known instance of it was in wife Anna Magdalena Bach's music notebook—and he nodded before replying, "You are correct. Do you know it?"

Kirk looked doubtful as he said, "Well, not really. I could probably pretty much hum it, maybe, but I don't know the words at all beyond that first line. So I guess that one's out, too. But hey, I should probably learn it sometime, especially now that I know someone who knows the keyboard part…if you're up for it, that is." The half-Vulcan nodded again and managed to come out with a neutral-sounding, "That would indeed be…acceptable," while he concentrated on controlling his expression at the idea of learning this love song with Jim…no matter who wrote it. But then to prevent himself from becoming distracted by that thought, he focused on the surprising revelation that his friend knew this obscure fact about "Bist du bei mir" and decided it was something he would ask about—later.

It was now Kirk's turn to suggest something. Remembering Spock's reference to Fiddler On the Roof when they were in the grotto on Luna-gee, he thought it was at least possible that his friend would be familiar with some other musicals as well. So he switched to show tunes and asked, "What about 'On the Street Where You Live' from My Fair Lady?" The commander replied, "Regrettably, again while I have heard it, I do not know the piece."

Trying again, Jim suggested, "'You'll Never Walk Alone' from Carousel?" Spock hesitated but then shook his head and answered, "I have heard part of the vocal line, and while I recently obtained a piano reduction of the orchestral score and have briefly looked over it, I have not yet played it." Seeing several pairs of eyes regarding him questioningly (A Vulcan would want to learn that?), he felt he should explain, "I intended to learn the piano part to accompany a…friend who is very fond of the piece." The captain smiled at him and asked, "Lt. Uhura?"

The commander nodded, replying simply, "Yes." He then glanced around at the musicians and briefly elaborated, "Lt. Uhura is an exceptionally gifted xenolinguist who is serving as the chief communications officer aboard the Enterprise and who has become a friend in addition to being a colleague. She also has a quite lovely singing voice, and I thought it would be…agreeable to play the song with her. But, as I have not yet actually learnt it…" he trailed off, fighting to control his expression, remembering that it had only been six days before the Narada that he had discovered Nyota's fondness for the song…

Kirk briefly narrowed his eyes at his first officer, noting the almost invisible tension in the man's face and thinking I'd bet just about anything there's more to this story. But rather than raise the issue now, he kept his questions for another time and didn't press his friend for more details. Instead he replied, "OK, well I guess we can't do that one, either." He briefly looked regretful—damn! almost!—but then he brightened and said, "Hey, we're maybe getting closer to finding something," and the half-Vulcan's expression went back to complete normal-neutral as he replied, "Indeed."

The captain's look turned thoughtful as he suddenly took in the surprising fact that they kinda sorta knew, or at least knew of, several of the same pieces, even if they hadn't managed to find another one that they could actually do together. The first officer was thinking the same thing as he gazed steadily at his friend and commented, "It is rather remarkable, considering the sheer amount of vocal literature available, that we should even have heard of, let alone…appreciate some of the same compositions." Kirk nodded and replied, "It is really cool—weird, but definitely cool, like it's fate or something…" trailing off and feeling unaccountably awkward for a moment. He briefly thought, Jeez-Louise, what's with me tonight, anyhow? before he mentally shook himself and went back to thinking of songs he knew.

At his captain's words, the tips of the half-Vulcan's ears briefly darkened slightly (which a preoccupied Jim didn't notice), remembering again that Red Thread of Fate… Realizing it was best to move on—it would not do to let himself become too distracted by thoughts of Jim and Fate—he tamped down his reaction and slewed back around to finding something else they might both know. Casting about for any other things he knew that might be possibilities, he recalled something so unlikely that he hesitated to ask. But as it was for voice and piano (or more properly, the adaptation that he knew was scored that way), so he decided to inquire anyway. Fully expected a negative reply, he queried, "Do you know 'Mad Man Moon' by Tony Banks?"

While Landsey said, "Ooh, that's a great song, Spock!" and Yazzie and Porter agreed, saying "Oh, yeah!" almost in unison, Kirk's eyebrows shot up and then all he could do was gape at his friend: songs from musical theater were one thing, but this?! After a moment of being trapped in brain lock, he managed to ask, "From the Genesis album, A Trick of the Tail? That 'Mad Man Moon' by that Tony Banks?" When Spock nodded solemnly, Jim exclaimed, "Get out! No way! No fucking way!" which brought laughter from the human musicians while Mu'Gahv allowed one corner of her mouth to briefly rise ever-so-slightly (once again, obviously no apology was needed with these folks over his language…)

Tilting his head to one side, the commander gave a minute Vulcan shrug and replied, "None-the-less, I do indeed know a piano arrangement of the instrumental accompaniment. And although I confess that I have never played it with a vocalist, I am certain that I would be able to do so. Do you perhaps know the vocal line?" The captain frowned a little in regret and admitted, "Well, no…" He then brightened and went on, "But I do know the first three songs on that album, 'Dance on a Volcano', 'Entangled', and 'The Squonk'." His face took on a doubtful/hopeful expression as he continued, "Yeah, I know none of those would work as well with just piano, but still…" while looking at his friend questioningly (Maybe, just maybe…?).

Despite feeling some disappointment, Spock kept his neutral expression as he replied, "Unfortunately, I am completely unfamiliar with any of the other songs from that album, never having heard it. I only know one particular adaptation of 'Mad Man Moon' for voice and piano." Kirk sighed a little and said, "Oh, well…" before trailing off. He then focused again on the astonishing fact that the commander would know any songs from any rock album, even progressive rock, like this. He cocked an eyebrow at Spock, and after a moment asked, "I'm guessing you learned this one because of Lt. Uhura, too?" suspecting he already knew the answer, because really, who else could it have been?

The first officer flushed very slightly and replied evenly, "Yes, yes I did." Taking note of Spock's almost-not heightened color, the captain grinned at him thinking And I want to know the story behind this one for sure! Now with this other song to ask his friend about, he remarked, "You know, I think we're going to be due for a long talk after this is over, Spock."

The half-Vulcan looked steadily back at him and answered, "Indeed, I concur, as I have questions for you as well, Jim." Kirk's smile broadened into a grin and he replied, "Well alright, then! We can go back up to the gallery afterwards and have a nice long talk…err, make that a 'mission debriefing'," putting an official military spin on the idea. The commander instantly snapped off a salute (despite remaining seated) and responded with a very official-sounding, "Aye, aye, Captain!" and all the humans in the room laughed while the other Vulcan let one side of her mouth just tip up ever-so-slightly.

Jim chuckled a few more times and then said, "Anyway, getting back to it…" The commander put in, "I believe it is your 'turn'." Kirk nodded, frowning a little and trying to think of something that might be at all likely for his friend to know. Taking a shot in the dark, he said tentatively, "I know 'Come Again, Sweet Love doth Now Invite', 'Can She Excuse My Wrongs?', 'Awake Sweet Love, Thou art Returned', and 'His Golden Locks' from The First Booke of Ayers by John Dowland," saying the Renaissance composer's name as "Doeland" (do(e), a deer, a female deer), which was the currently-favored pronunciation. He added hopefully, "And there's probably been about a zillion arrangements of those for voice and keyboard instead of lute…" trailing off while raising his eyebrows at the commander.

After Bach/Stölzel, this bit of information was not as startling to Spock as it otherwise would have been (but it was still something he would ask his friend about—later). A slightly regretful expression briefly appeared on his face as he answered, "Again, unfortunately, I do not. While I have heard many of the songs from that particular volume of music, including those you just named, I do not know the lute accompaniment for any of them." Jim sighed and answered, "Well, those won't work then."

Yazzie had been listening and now asked, "Spock, do you play lute or guitar?" The first officer shook his head and answered "I do not, Billy, although I have considered learning," thinking that he was more likely to do so now that he was aware that Jim knew some lute songs. The guitarist replied, "I'm glad to hear that, and I hope you do. Because unlike me, you certainly have the fingers for it!" holding up one hand and waggling his short digits, and then he laughed brightly.

Ready for a distraction from the problem of trying to find something else he could do with his friend, Jim put in, "I notice that hasn't seemed to have stopped you, though!" Yazzie replied, "True, and I have my high school guidance counselor to thank for that, Jim. When I told him I wanted to be a jazz guitarist, he said that I'd never make it because of my fingers. Well, that made me so mad I practiced my ass off just to prove him wrong. And you know, I think that's what made the difference, why I stuck it out, the hard work and hours and hours of practice when all my friends were out having fun. So when I got my first gold record, I sent him an autographed copy of the album and a thank you note. He'd retired by then, but he remembered me and he was nice enough to write back saying he was wrong, that my fingers were the perfect length for a jazz guitarist." Kirk grinned at him and commented, "That was decent of him—belated, but decent. But like they say, better late than never!"

The guitarist replied, "Yeah, that's what I thought, too. So to thank him for that, I wrote back and we've been writing off and on ever since. Turns out he's a pretty decent guy. Life's funny that way—sometimes the person you think is your greatest enemy turns out to be a friend." At that, the captain and first officer shared an openly fond/almost-but-not-quite-openly fond look as the Navajo man gently placed his guitar on a stand. He then said, "Anyway, while you guys work this out, I'm going to get some more food since we'll have a little extra time before we have to play again."

Turning to his partner he remarked, "Ash really outdid herself tonight, Miki," and she agreed while reaching for one of the glasses on the table beside her. As she took a sip, he stood up and asked, "You want anything, áshįįh łikan?" She smiled and said, "No thanks, babe." He nodded and then looked at their visitors before inquiring, "Anything for you gents? It's all good stuff, the same food that you're getting at the reception and brought in fresh for our breaks. It's not the standard lukewarm pitcher of tea-colored water and platter of cheap sandwich-fixins left to heat up all evening in the green room."

The captain and the first officer both declined after thanking him. Thinking to prolong the distraction, Jim then asked, "You don't usually get the same stuff as the guests at a thing like this, Billy?" Turning slightly from where he was putting food on a plate, Yazzie replied, "Oh, hell no. The bean counters in the accounting offices don't want to 'waste' the good stuff on the likes of the hired help, but Ash makes sure everyone is treated right. She always has a portion of the food set aside for the people working at the event, which includes us. And tonight she's even put a bottle of good champagne aside for us; it's chilling in that ice bucket over there for after we finish our last set."

At hearing the name "Ash" for the second time, Kirk raised an eyebrow Vulcan-style and asked, "By 'Ash', do you mean Ashley Laurent, the Events Office manager?" Heading back to his seat, the guitarist answered, "Yeah. Do you know her, Jim? She's a real sweetheart." The captain managed not to scowl as he replied, "Yeah, I know her, and while I can think of a number of adjectives that I would apply to her, 'sweetheart' isn't one of them," his face darkening as he finished speaking.

Landsey put in "Ah, I'm guessing you ran into her 'won't take no for an answer' side." Kirk smiled a little grimly and without getting into particulars, said by way of explanation, "Yeah, there was something she wanted to do for the reception that I knew was a really bad idea, and it took some…uh, convincing for her to let go of it."

The pianist nodded and went on, "I have to admit, it's annoying when you're on the receiving end of that, which has happened to us a few times where it's come to playing requests from the audience when we've already played the damn thing they're asking for not 20 minutes earlier. After all, there are only so many times you can do even jazz arrangements of 'Ice Castles on Enceladus' or '(My Love Has) A Pair of Antennae' in one evening without losing your sanity," referring to a couple of recent #1 Hits! that had been over-played throughout the Federation. Everyone recognized the songs—both in their time had been inescapable—and humans all laughed in recognition of this truth.

(As if to prove the point, the earworm in Jim's brain woke up and started singing the chorus of the second song in a (potentially) endless loop, "My love has a pair of antennae, a pair of antennae, a pair of antennae / My love has a pair of antennae, and she's tuned right in to me! [Pause, Repeat] My love has a pair of antennae…" But before the worm could take over too much of his cognitive bandwidth, he went about putting it back to sleep by ignoring it and focusing on the conversation instead.)

The band leader continued, "But in spite of that, Ash genuinely is a nice person. And I can say that for a fact because we've gotten to know her really well in the 10 or 12 years we've been playing here. The type of jazz we do is wildly popular on Andoria, and we perform all over the planet. But we're based here in Laibok, which means we play at the Embassy pretty often, both for large shindigs like this one and intimate gatherings, too. So we've seen a lot of what goes on behind the scenes. She's known the name of everybody I've ever seen her interact with here, whether they're part of her department or not, and that includes the temp people hired just for the night. She's also calm and incredibly patient, and she's kind to everyone. And she just doesn't have any of that 'I'm better than you' attitude that's unfortunately prevalent among too many people, nor is she over-awed by those in authority. She sees everyone here as her social equal, worthy of respect and with an important job to do. And that goes for the people who refill the paper products in the restrooms and the cooks and waiters keeping the refreshments flowing at things like this, right up to the ambassador."

When the captain looked at her a little skeptically, Landsey added with a smile, "Now, she might still think, 'You're wrong, and I'm right,' about certain details, but it's not because she thinks she's better than anyone else. It's just that she thinks she has better ideas sometimes, which isn't really the same thing. But as it turns out, she's usually right, which is one reason Embassy events are always so fabulous and why the parties, especially blow-outs like this one, are considered The place to see and be seen on Andoria. And of course, if you can marshal good arguments in favor of your position—or, if you just push back hard enough—she will eventually give in." The band leader paused to take another sip from her glass and then looked thoughtfully into the dark red liquid within.

Jim considered Landsey's words a moment before saying, "True…" Laurent did throw a good party, and she had eventually agreed that they wouldn't have to stand in the receiving line when he'd really dug in his heals. He then had the belated thought that his refusal might have been easier for her to accept if he'd marshaled those good arguments and had been upfront about why he was saying, "No," that he was doing it to protect Spock. But if he'd done that, there wouldn't have been anything to prevent her from just asking the commander herself. The captain could, of course, have asked her not to, but she was not under his authority, not his to order around. And although he was less sure of this assumption now, at the time he had been absolutely certain that she would do exactly as she pleased when it came to collaring his first officer about being in the line. And since he hadn't wanted to drag the half-Vulcan into the argument in any way, shape, or form, he'd simply exaggerated his own relatively slight disinclination. Upon reflection, maybe it hadn't really been the best approach he could have taken, but it was the best he had been able to think of at the time…

Kirk was then jostled out of his reverie when Landsey went on, saying, "And I'm about 99.9% certain it's that mule-like stubbornness of hers that's responsible for this nice spread back here. I can't imagine that the people at the Embassy who set the budget for this kind of thing are any less obsessed with the bottom line than such people elsewhere. The difference is that she's willing to argue with them until they give in, so we get good refreshments here, which is a really nice perk, and, truthfully, one of the reasons we take gigs here whenever we can." Yazzie nodded enthusiastically as he chewed on a piece of spanikopita while Porter said, "You got that right!" and even Mu'Gahv inclined her head in agreement.

Jim was quiet, digesting this new information. After a moment, he turned to Spock and said, "Well, I guess this means I need to revise my opinion of her," and his first officer answered, "Indeed." The captain then had a sudden thought and he asked, "Umm, it just occurred to me: will our playing create problems for you with, uh, Ashley?"—he couldn't quite call her Ash—"because I really don't want to cause you any kind of trouble." The band leader waived a hand in negation and she shook her head, saying, "No, don't worry, nothing like that will happen, I'm sure. Pretty often, there are well-known musicians at Embassy parties, and at times we'll invite some of those folks to sit in on a number or two, using some of the spare instruments we always bring with us. And occasionally, there have even been people who've done solo pieces during one of our sets, too, so I'm certain your playing won't be a problem." The captain nodded with obvious relief, replying, "OK, that's good to know. I won't worry about it anymore," and with that, he put it out of his mind.

Jim then switched focus as he drew in a breath and sighed very slightly, saying, "Well, this has been interesting and enlightening, but it's probably time to return to the problem at hand…" He was about to toss out another (unlikely) suggestion when Zhuksu suddenly asked, "Do you sing, Spock?' He replied, "Yes, I do, Mu'Gahv. I am a baritone." She went on "In that case, do either of you know any rounds or canons?" Kirk looked at her in surprise, and the half-Vulcan raised an eyebrow, so she elaborated, "I was thinking that perhaps, for an encore, instead your playing the accompaniment while Jim sings, you could perform such a song together. Perhaps you know one common?"

The two officers looked at each other then, with Spock's expression reflecting cautious interest as he said, "I am familiar with a few such pieces." Jim responded with a smile, "Well, I'm 'familiar with' a fair number, although truthfully most of them are supposed to be sung with at least three people. But maybe we can actually find one we both know that would sound OK with just two..." and he trailed off, thinking. He began ticking through the rounds he knew and he was just about to suggest one to his friend when something that had started niggling at him earlier suddenly popped into the forefront of his brain, sprung free by the thought of three people singing together. Kirk's eyes widened and he turned to the commander, saying, "Spock, I've just had another idea: we could ask Lt. Uhura to sing with us. I've heard her, too, at the Choral Society concerts, and you're absolutely right that she has a beautiful voice. She'd do great at singing rounds, I'm sure, and then we could do three parts." He stopped with that, but there was, he thought, something else about one of those concerts that was trying to bubble up from buried depths…

And then he let out a happy bark of laughter when he remembered what it was. Seeing questioning looks, Jim explained, "I just realized that there's a three-part song that Lt. Uhura and I both know! And I'm sure of that because I heard her sing it at one of their concerts! She was the soprano in a trio with a tenor and a bass…" he trailed off. He almost started as another sudden vivid memory of the event came back, and he realized that he had actually encountered the half-Vulcan once, long before the Kobayashi Maru incident and the academic hearing, and it had happened at that concert. Kirk had not then known the man's name or what he did at the Academy, beyond the fact that his charcoal gray uniform marked him as an instructor, and so the captain had forgotten all about it until now.

He went on, a slow smile spreading across his face, "And I'm about willing to bet that you know the song, too, Spock, from hearing it if nothing else, because I've just now realized that you were there, too, at their Valentine's Day concert last year, in 2257. They were already some way into the program when I got there, so I just took the first open seat I found. That turned out to be across the aisle from this very proper-looking Vulcan whom I hoped I hadn't disturbed too much by running in late and then scooting out again before the intermission."

The first officer stared at his friend for a split second before a memory flooded in of the near-breathless cadet who had dashed into the performance late to sit across the aisle from him in the back corner of the Academy concert hall (a much more intimate space than the huge auditorium which had been the location of Kirk's academic hearing). Spock's eyes widened minutely as he finally, belatedly connected that person with the man who was now his captain. The sweating young cadet had been wearing a heavy jacket over gym shorts, and his hair, darkened and straightened by perspiration, had been plastered against his head. Consequently, the student had looked very different on that night, bearing little resemblance to the man who would swagger his way through a third attempt at the Kobayashi Maru exam more than a year later and would then stand opposite him at that hearing. The young man had behaved very differently, as well. Upon arrival he had whispered an apology for the disturbance, which the commander had acknowledged with a silent nod. The cadet had stayed, absolutely rapt, through only four numbers before looking at his chronometer and saying, "Damn!" under his breath. Then he had gotten up and had taken off again at a near run after shooting the half-Vulcan an apologetic look for the further interruption.

Once more surprised (but not shocked), Spock looked at Kirk with new respect (again) and replied, "You are correct that I was there, Jim. I now realize that you and the cadet who briefly sat across from me that evening are one and the same." His curiosity now piqued, he wanted to find out more about his friend's actions that night, but he recognized that this was another question for later. Refocusing on what was important about the occasion, he thought back over the program, and soon he had it: the trio had performed only one such composition while the cadet had been present, therefore… He took a breath and said, "I believe the three-part song to which you are referring is 'Ah Robin, Gentle Robin' by William Cornysh." At the mention of this piece, there was a soft appreciative noise from Mu'Gahv before she clamped her mouth shut, while the other three looked at each other and shrugged.

The captain positively beamed at his first officer and replied, "That's it! Uhura knows the melody and I know the other line, the one that gets sung as a two-part canon underneath, and if we're in luck, you know it too…" he trailed off hopefully. The half-Vulcan looked down briefly, remembering. He and Nyota had not yet begun their romantic relationship—that had been almost three months later—but her persistent efforts to get to know him as a person had succeeded in nudging them into friendship. Consequently, he had allowed her to play music in the lab during her breaks, and before a concert, she would sometimes listen to recordings of the choir's rehearsals. He therefore had heard the song often enough to be confident that he could sing it tonight…with Jim and Nyota.

He then looked up and was unable to keep both corners of his mouth from tipping up slightly as he answered, "We are 'in luck'. I do indeed know the part." The captain grinned back at him and said, "Awesome! Are we finally in sync tonight or what?" The commander inclined his head in silent acknowledgment, while that ghost of a smile still hovered on his face for a moment before being replaced with his Vulcan mask.

Jim went on, "Now we just need to convince the lieutenant to sing with us," and Spock answered, "Indeed." Makayla then put in, "You know, Jim, if she'll do it, you really should sing at least one more number with her, if there's any way you can. I have a feeling you're going to be really good, and I don't think the audience will be satisfied with just one song from the three of you—there might be a revolt if you stop after just one! And really, considering that you're going to upstage us anyway, you might as well do it good and proper!" and she gave him an encouraging smile.

Kirk looked at her in surprise and then blushed with pleasure at what she had just said—this talented musician, this generous woman obviously believed in them, sound unheard, and she believed in their ability to pull this off. He gave her one of his best smiles in response as he said, "Thanks, Makayla! That's incredibly kind of you. I'll see what I can come up with," and then he immediately started thinking of songs they might know in common.

After a moment, Jim's eyes lit up again and he said, "I've thought of a couple of things these guys are pretty likely to know, too. If they do, we could sing one as a second number for the trio, and if the audience wants an encore after that, we could do the other one, too." The band leader responded, "Great, sounds like a good plan," and the other musicians nodded. Turning to his first officer, the captain said questioningly, "'Sumer is Icumen in' and 'Dona Nobis Pacem'?" naming, respectively, the first ever known round in English, written down around the middle of the 13th century, and the well-beloved three-part canon.

Somehow preventing his tiny Vulcan smile from escaping again, the commander replied, "I do indeed know them, having learned them in a course on Western European music, and I am certain that Lt. Uhura knows them as well because I have heard her singing them." (When she had not been preparing for a concert, she had listened to a wide variety of music on her breaks, occasionally singing along softly with the recordings, and those two songs had been part of her repertoire...) And then his smile did come out the slightest little bit.

Kirk grinned back at his friend (he absolutely loved seeing a smile of any size on Spock's face) and replied, "Awesome!" He laughed a little before saying, "And we've gone back to Mu'Gahv's original suggestion, too,"—he bowed a "thank you very much" to her and she nodded back—"Just goes to show the enduring popularity of the round/canon form…and of those two songs in particular. But, anyway, how's this for a plan? If the lieutenant will sing with us, we're golden. But if she says, 'No'—which she very well might—if the audience calls for an encore after the Barber, maybe you and I can just sing 'Dona Nobis Pacem' on our own, since it's still pretty nice even with just two parts. Or maybe there's some round we both know, or failing that, I could even teach you one right on the spot. You'd pick up a song just by hearing me sing it through once, right?"

When the half-Vulcan answered that he would, Jim nodded and responded, "Good man!" Turning back to the musicians he said, "OK, we've got a plan for Contingency A, Contingency B, and Contingency C." Then using his best captain's voice, he quipped, "'Always prepare a back-up plan—and then prepare a back-up for your back-up'," sounding as though he were quoting a training manual. The band leader laughed and answered, "Well, one of those should work, anyway. It's good to see that your Starfleet training hasn't gone to waste!"

At that, there was more laughter in the room before Landsey turned to practicalities once more and asked, "Jim, do you want to be miked? You can use one of our headset mics if you want, but it's fine if you'd rather not. We can leave the mic for the piano off—I turn it off when we take a break so it doesn't pick up random crowd noises—and we can have the sound shell above the band lowered and reconfigured for acoustic performance. We do that sometimes, and it actually works really well." Kirk looked over at his friend questioningly, and Spock replied, "Again, I defer to your judgment, although I should mention that I have never played with amplification." The captain nodded, and turning back to Landsey, he said, "Well, I've sung with a microphone a few times but I don't know about Lt. Uhura, so I think maybe we'd better just go acoustic for this." The pianist answered, "That's fine, Jim. I'll talk to the sound crew and have the shell set up for you to do that," and he said, "Thanks, Makayla; that's good."

Kirk then turned to his first officer and asked, "OK, now that everything's as settled as it can be before we talk to Uhura, do you want to warm up at all? I'd probably better, even though I was singing the Barber piece earlier tonight, since it has some pretty high notes. We could maybe do a couple of vocal exercises together, if you want…" he trailed off a little uncertainly. (For some unknown reason, his heart had just started beating a little faster than normal, and (not for the first time) he wondered briefly, What the hell is wrong with me tonight, anyway?, before he again put the question aside for later.)

Even though it would only be vocal exercises, Spock felt a thrill go through his entire being at the thought of unexpectedly singing here, right now with Jim. While his human half thought, If I want? Hell yes, I want!, his Vulcan half retained control of his outward demeanor (somehow) as he answered evenly, "Yes, I would like to warm up, as well. Additionally, doing so will permit us to become accustomed to one another's singing voices before we take the stage." He ended there, keeping to himself his thought that hearing Jim sing for the first time would be a near heart-stopping moment for him, and it was best, he was sure, for that to happen here, in this small, intimate gathering of generous people.

The captain nodded and replied, "Yeah, that's true. And we can work on our blend, too." He paused very briefly before going on, "But you know, somehow I'm betting we're going to blend just fine right off the bat," and then he smiled broadly at the first officer.

Intuiting what this odd expression meant (there were so many of them!), the half-Vulcan gazed back at his friend, his mind clicking through the various meanings of "bat" at the speed of thought (stick for hitting (various shapes, see 'sports' (high-likelihood origin source for colloquial saying)); to hit; flying mammal…). To cover the short silence while he decided how best to play off this wonderfully ambiguous Terranglo phrase, he allowed himself to briefly look puzzled. But then he set his expression back to normal-neutral and replied with a straight face, "Indeed, I think we would by necessity be required to be 'off the bat', as I do not see how such a creature could possibly fly while attempting to carry a human and a Vulcan, both," using miniscule changes in inflection and timing to imply that perhaps, just perhaps, a bat could fly with only one of the two.

A moment of surprised dead silence followed this statement before all the human band members burst into laughter, the commander allowed one side of his mouth to tip up a little while Jim groaned and planted his face in his palm. A moment later he gazed sky-ward, sighing, "Once again, I'm playing straight man to a Vulcan..." trailing off and shaking his head, with the other humans laughing again. He then adopted a very put-upon expression and turned to the musicians while gesturing toward his first officer, saying, "See what I have to put up with?" Makayla puckered her brow in mock sympathy while she said, "Oh, you poor child; it must be so difficult for you," and he responded, "You have no idea…" letting out a deep sigh as he trailed off and lowered his head again. But when he looked up, he flashed an absolutely brilliant smile at the commander to show that he didn't really mind at all and in fact enjoyed the hell out of his friend's quirky sense of humor. Spock then felt his heart melt into a puddle in his chest and he let both sides of his mouth quirk up an additional miniscule amount for a second before he managed to regain his Vulcan expression.

Sensing that this would be a good time to move on, Kirk said, "OK, on that note, let's warm up," getting up from his chair. The first officer stood up beside him and the captain went on, "I'll sing a pattern as an example, and then we can both sing it. I'll begin in the mid portion of my range so we'll be able to start out in unison, and we'll work down chromatically from there. When I get to the bottom of my range, I'll start back up again. When that gets too high for you, you can drop down an octave; when I get to the top of my range, I'll start back down, and you can switch registers whenever you need to. Then we'll do the same thing with another exercise or two before we go out. Sound OK?"

The commander agreed that it did, so Jim continued, "Ok, now that we've got that settled, let's start." He then took a deep breath and sang the steps of the major scale in the pattern 1-3, 2-4, 3-5, 4-2, 3-1, 2-7-1, using the vowel sounds a-e-i-o-u. Spock's heart skipped a beat, hearing Jim for the first time (beautiful!), then it started up again as his mind objectively evaluated the sound: a good, pure tone, nicely supported from the diaphragm, well-placed within the oral cavity to balance the bright and dark elements of the sound, minimal vibrato, excellent pitch control…in short, a lovely vocal quality, exceedingly pleasant in every aspect…

And then it was time for him to come in, adding his rich baritone to Jim's tenor, and his friend briefly shot him another dazzling smile. As the captain had predicted, their tones blended near-perfectly, and they sang almost as one, going down to the lower end of Kirk's range and then back up until they reached the upper end of the commander's, where he dropped to singing an octave below his captain. They continued up to the top end of Kirk's range and then finished the exercise by working back to the pitch where they had started, here once again singing in unison. Through it all, Spock found himself fighting a strong urge to reach out and take Jim's hand (my best, my dearest friend…) until he eventually put his near hand behind his back.

When the two men finished the exercise, all the jazz musicians, Mu'Gahv included, burst into spontaneous applause. They had been listening with varying degrees of surprised appreciation, and Porter remarked, "Man, you guys are going to absolutely kill out there!" The half-Vulcan raised an eyebrow at that, but when his friend answered, "Thanks, dude!" the commander decided that "kill" in this context must be a compliment, and accordingly he replied, "Thank you for your kind encouragement, Donal." The bass player grinned at him and answered, "Hey, no problem, Spock. You deserve it—you guys sound great!"

After the others had likewise praised their singing and had been thanked, Jim said, "Spock, you have a really beautiful voice!" The first officer inclined his head in grateful acknowledgment and replied, "As do you, Jim," and the captain blushed a little as he said, "Thanks." After a slight pause, he continued, "I said we'd sound great together—and I was right, wasn't I?" The commander answered, "Indeed, you were quite correct when you stated that we would 'blend just fine right off the bat'," which brought laughter from all the humans. The captain then reached over and gave his friend's shoulder a friendly squeeze before taking them through another vocal exercise.

At the end of the warm up the two officers retook their seats and Kirk said, "OK, now we still to decide on the starting pitch for the Barber and the tempo and dynamics, too. So, how about this?" and he hummed a note. Maintaining his normal-neutral expression, the half-Vulcan gave a quick nod and managed to get out, "That is acceptable," just in advance of his throat tightening from the realization that it was exactly an octave down from the pitch his mother had preferred. But then he realized that his friend's chosen note was actually a good thing, as it also meant he could play the song in the key to which he was accustomed. His throat relaxed then and seeing his friend eyeing him a little suspiciously, he reiterated, "Yes, that pitch is quite acceptable." Kirk looked searchingly at the half-Vulcan for a moment, wondering about his friend's slight hesitation, but then he merely nodded, thinking that this was also something best pursued later.

Moving on, the captain asked, "Spock, do you want to pick the tempo?" The first officer complied, counting out a couple of measures and then stopping as his friend nodded and said, "Thanks; that's good." Kirk then said, "Now—dynamics …" and the two held a quick discussion of where they should be forte, where piano, and where the mezzo-s between the two.

While the two officers were warming up and settling final details for the song, the Vulcan drummer's face had been going through a number of minute changes in expression. When the men had finished, a tiny look of determination settled onto her features. After a deep breath, she unexpectedly spoke up, "Jim, Spock, in regards to your performance…I have a question and a somewhat…unusual request to make." The two men turned to look at her, and Kirk asked, smiling, "Sure, Mu'Gahv; what is it?"

She paused briefly and then said, "Do either or both of you know the round, 'Music Alone Shall Live'?" Spock replied, "I am not familiar with that particular round," but the captain answered, "Yeah, I know that one—it's actually one of my favorites." Zhuksu gave a brief nod and then said, "In that case, if it is not too much to ask, whether or not your lieutenant agrees to sing with you, would…would you consider doing 'Music Alone Shall Live', seeing as you would be required to teach it to Spock and potentially to Lieutenant Uhura as well, should the audience request an encore?" The other musicians looked at each other and smiled, knowing the story behind their band mate's request, while the captain stared back at her for a moment in surprise before saying, "Well…I guess so…," trailing off a little uncertainly. But then, because he was Jim—that nosey bastard, poser of the awkward question—without thinking a jot about Vulcan propriety and boundaries, he gave way to his curiosity and asked, "But, could I ask why you want us to?"

Spock shot him a look (ooh, probably shouldn't have asked/too late now…) and although her cheeks flushed slightly, Mu'Gahv otherwise took it in her stride. She gazed straight back at Jim and replied in an even tone, "When you mentioned teaching a round to Spock right on stage as possibility for a second number, it reminded me of a time when I was taught some rounds, including 'Music Alone Shall Live'…at a sing-along…and I began wondering…" she trailed off. She paused, hesitating for a moment, but with the other musicians smiling encouragement at her, she soon continued, "I was wondering…if you would consider teaching it to the audience…should you need to teach it one or both of your friends for an encore…so that the round can be done as a sing-along?" When she finished making her request, the Vulcan woman flushed a bit more but otherwise retained her calm demeanor.

Looking surprised—this wasn't exactly something he'd expect a Vulcan to ask—Kirk briefly thought it over. He'd never led a sing-along, but he'd been to some so probably he could fake it… He replied, "Well…OK…I suppose we can do that," pausing slightly before continuing with a grin, "But in exchange, you have to tell me the whole story here," guessing from the intensity of her expression (for a Vulcan) that something momentous and life changing had also happened at that sing-along.

The drummer regarded him closely for a moment but then gave another tiny Vulcan nod. She then took a deep breath and explained, beginning a little hesitantly, "The event…to which I am referring…took place at a joint human-Vulcan youth camp on Earth…31.3 years ago, when I was 18 years old. We were all gathered at a large camp fire, and…the counselors started us…singing by teaching us some rounds, all Terran, naturally, as this form of music is…currently all but unknown on Vulcan. Enough people were singing that we could have three or four parts for the rounds with ease. Among others, we learned 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat', which I believe is almost obligatory when singing around a campfire, 'Scotland's Burning', 'What a Queer Bird the Frog Are', and 'Music Alone Shall Live', which I considered to be the most beautiful of all of them.

"Learning the rounds was thoroughly…agreeable, particularly as I had never previously done anything similar; as you might think, Vulcan musical instruction and participation is generally a much more formal affair. However, what cemented the evening into one of the most important events of my life was what followed after the rounds, for it was on this occasion that I was first drawn to the power of the beat. People began singing folks songs, accompanied by two guitarists, a harmonica player, and a person playing a penny whistle. One young human male stood for a time just outside the main circle, beating out various rhythms on his torso and legs. Without warning, he suddenly stopped what he was doing and exclaimed, 'You need a drum track!'—'track' here being a recording term—before he hurried off.

"I watched as he went around the camp gathering what he needed, and then as he set up his 'drum kit' around a tree stump that was a good height to use as a seat. His equipment consisted of a pair of mismatched wooden spoons; a large plastic tub and two smaller plastic trash cans, all three of which he inverted and set against a heavy log which he had dragged into position with the intention of keeping the 'drums' more-or-less in place; a cookie tin with some marbles inside which he placed on a log that had been cut flat on both ends, making a stand of sorts; and the lids to a large and a small sauce pan, suspended by their handles from pieces of string tied to an overhanging tree limb. The young man then sat on the tree stump and played his 'drum kit' with great enthusiasm and a complete lack of self consciousness.

"It was the first time that I had been exposed to improvisation on such a scale, for it was not only the rhythm part that was improvised but additionally, the very means of creating those sounds. It was utterly fascinating, and it was additionally…enlightening because I had never before encountered a person who was so utterly…free. And I realized at that moment that what I…wanted in life was to experience…that same freedom myself. So…I decided to become a drummer. As I studied, I discovered that jazz seemed to offer the greatest opportunity for musical freedom in the form of improvisation, and I therefore decided to make jazz drumming my specialty."

Into the silence that followed her account, Spock asked, "Did you achieve your…desired sense of freedom?" (with Jim laughing a little to himself that anyone would have to ask a woman with safety pins through one eyebrow if she had found freedom). She again flushed slightly and replied simply, "Yes, yes I did," and then she ducked her head, as if trying to conceal her expression. When she looked up, the humans were all grinning at her and even Spock had abandoned his attempt to rein in his ghost-smile.

Porter remarked to the two officers, "Is that a great story or what!" and they readily agreed in their different ways ("Sure is!"/"Indeed."). Landsey then looked at Zhuksu with dancing eyes and asked, "So, you'd like to take part in another sing-along?" The Vulcan woman let a little bit of her excitement escape as she replied earnestly, "Oh, yes…please!" and she briefly almost-smiled a little more before the expressionless mask dropped back into place.

Seeing the others looking amenable, the pianist raised her eyebrows as she turned to the captain and the commander and asked, "Y'all up for this? I know you weren't bargaining on leading a sing-along when you came to talk to us…" After a quick glance at his friend, Jim laughed and answered for the two of them, "Well, you didn't expect something like Spock and me barging in back here, either, Makayla, so…yeah, why not? I kind of think this just might be fun!"

Landsey smiled broadly and replied, "Good; I think so, too!" After a short pause, she continued thoughtfully, "In any event, since your encore will be this round done as a sing-along—I'm betting here that the audience will demand one—I'm thinking you should just go ahead and do all three 'Ah Robin', 'Dona nobis pacem', and 'Sumer Is Icumen In' if the lieutenant will agree to sing with you. That will make your set a nice length, and then it won't seem like we're trying to rush you off the stage."

When the other musicians seconded this idea, Kirk looked at the first officer with raised eyebrows in a silent Shall we? The commander hesitated a moment before nodding agreement, and the captain turned back to the band leader, responding with a grin, "That works for us." He then glanced around at the others, saying, "Thanks, you guys!" and Billy answered for everyone, "Hey, you're welcome!"

Forging ahead, Makayla asked, "Now that we've got a plan for the music, how shall we do this? Should we give you about 15 minutes to locate your communications officer and see if she'll do it before we come out and find you?" Kirk looked to Spock for confirmation and then replied, "That sounds about right. We'll have our confab under the gallery, since it should be a little quieter there, plus, it should be less crowded, too, so when you come back in, it will be easier for you to find us. We can fill you in on what we're going to do, then we can go back to the stage and you can introduce us." She nodded and said, "That should be fine, Jim."

Her brow then furrowed briefly and almost as an afterthought, she asked, "By the way, how do you want me to introduce you? Just by your own names, or do you have something in mind as the name for your group?" The captain's eyes widened—he hadn't actually thought that far—and he replied, "Well, we don't have a name for our 'group', since it doesn't exactly exist yet. But maybe we can come up with something. I'll let you know." The pianist replied, "Works for me. If you don't have a group name, I'll just introduce you as your individual selves." Kirk grinned at her and said, "Great, sounds like we got ourselves a plan."

He then turned to his friend and asked, "Well, Spock, ready to go see if Lieutenant Uhura will agree to sing with us?" and the first officer answered, "I am ready, Jim." The two men then stood and captain looked around at the musicians, saying, "Thank you all so much for being willing to take a chance on us. I know it's really a pretty crazy thing that we're doing, and I wouldn't have blamed you at all if you'd said, 'No.' But you didn't…so, thanks!" The commander added, "Indeed, thank you all," and he bowed to them gravely. Then a twinkle came into his eye as he went on, "We shall try not to embarrass you—or ourselves." After the resulting laughter died down, Yazzie said, "Don't worry; you'll do fine," and the band leader added, "Of course you will! Just relax and have fun with it." Porter said, "I'm rootin' for you, dudes," and the drummer allowed one corner of her mouth to tip up slightly as she remarked, "As Goethe did not write, but perhaps should have, 'What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it / Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!'"

Jim laughed and said, "Thanks, Mu'Gahv! And you're right, Goethe never really wrote that at all! A lot of people think he did, but it's actually just from somebody or other's very loose 'translation' of Faust…" he paused, dredging up the name—Antler? Hamster?—"Oh yeah, some guy named Anster…anyway, it's still a great quote—and really great advice to boot." Feeling Spock staring at him, Kirk turned to look at his friend and asked deadpan, "What?" The half-Vulcan merely shook his head—really, by now he should not be so surprised that his captain would know something like this—and he replied, "Nothing. Nothing at all." Jim clapped him on the shoulder and said with a grin, "Well, alright then! Let's go do this thing!" Turning to the musicians, he said, "See you in about 15. And thanks again." A happy chorus of "You're welcome," and "See you soon," then followed them out the door.

The two men headed back toward the reception with the captain grinning and the commander maintaining his normal-neutral look. But then Kirk's expression turned slightly anxious as he asked, "Do you think Ny-chan will agree to sing with us?" going back to his nickname for her now that they were alone. He went on, "This is kind of a crazy stunt, after all…" trailing off as he looked at his friend. Spock considered briefly and replied, "You are correct about that. However, that said, Nyota is, after all, human, and as such has doubtless participated in a number of 'crazy stunts' herself. Therefore, I would put the odds at perhaps 80% that she will agree," and his eyes sparkled with amusement.

At that, Jim's smile was back and he replied, "Cool! I like the sound of those odds." All the while, his mind had been cranking along in song-hunt mode in the background (more possibilities=maybe more chance of talking Uhura into the idea) and his eyes lit up again as he remembered another that maybe, just maybe, was a possibility, besides those that he had already identified.

By now they were back at the door into the ballroom and they went through it to begin looking around for the lieutenant. The captain soon spotted her, still in conversation with Giotto, the Andorians, and the Denobulan, and he touched the half-Vulcan's arm to direct his attention toward the group. They nodded at each other then and both took a deep breath before turning to walk in that direction.

Nyota saw them approaching and waved at them cheerfully. As they joined the group, there were introductions and then the captain and the commander stood listening to the conversation for a moment. At the first lull in the talk Kirk interrupted, saying, "Lieutenant, can Mr. Spock and I talk to you about something?" She looked at them in surprise but quickly said, "Sure thing, Captain." Jim then said to the others, "Folks, we're going to borrow Lt. Uhura for a bit here," and Nyota smiled at Barry and gave him a kiss on the cheek before heading off with her two superior officers.

The captain led them over to the space underneath the gallery where it was marginally quieter. When his first officer looked at him expectantly, he understood that the commander was waiting for him to do the talking. Taking another deep breath in preparation, Jim began, "Ny-chan, how would you like to be part of a choral group with Spock and me?" Her eyes widened, and she couldn't quite stop herself from coming out with a (perhaps overly) surprised, "You sing?" (although she was able to keep her follow up No way! to herself).

Looking a little sheepish—yep, he was sure doing wonders for his bad boy image tonight—he replied, "Yeah, I sing tenor. And I've heard you sing, so I know what a great soprano voice you have." When she fixed him with a slightly suspicious look, he added hastily, "Not that I'm trying to butter you up or anything, I'm just bein' honest here," and she visibly relented. Relieved at that, Kirk went on, "And I found out tonight that Spock sings baritone, so…" trailing off and looking at her expectantly.

After brief consideration, Uhura answered, "Yes, I'd like to do that. Sounds like fun, in fact." Kirk grinned at her and said, "Awesome! OK, so here's the plan. First, Spock and I will do Barber's setting of 'Sure on this Shining Night', and then you'll join us for…." He stopped when she interrupted, "Wait. Do you mean here? Now? Tonight?" as her expression changed from amazed appreciation over the song to near-disbelief over the venue.

The captain looked at her slightly askance before realizing that he hadn't actually specified when, exactly. He then replied, "Oh, yeah, sorry; I guess I forgot to mention that. We went to talk to the musicians about doing the Barber tonight and they agreed to let us! Then the band leader suggested that we have something ready as an encore, if we needed it. We thrashed around for a while, unsuccessfully trying to find something else we both know, but eventually my sometimes-feeble brain made the connection that you sing and that you were here, too, which is how you came into the picture…" he trailed off as a small frown appeared on her face.

Uhura sighed a little and then said, "Honestly, I thought you were asking for sometime in the future; when I said 'Yes', it never occurred to me that you meant tonight…" trailing off herself, thinking. The whole scheme seemed so…impossibly impulsive, and not just the idea of including her, either. Cocking a skeptical eyebrow at the captain, she continued in a dry tone, "And you've practiced the Barber piece when, exactly?" He flushed a bit as he looked down and then he raised his eyes to hers again. He stood up very straight and answered almost defiantly, "Well, we haven't, actually, but we still think we can do it…"

She gave him a knowing look: wasn't he was always the person behind unexpected behavior like this from his first officer? Sounding a little exasperated in a fond sort of way, she said, "Alright, Jim…how did you talk him into this one?"

Kirk's eyebrows shot up and he sputtered, "Me?! I…I didn't…" before Spock cut in, "Nyota, this was my idea. Jim did not have anything to do with it." She gaped at the half-Vulcan as he continued, "The captain merely agreed to my suggestion, and then only after some initial…hesitation." The communications officer flushed and looked abashed as she offered, "Ooh, sorry, Captain; I just stepped in it again, didn't I? I'm really sorry—it's just…it's just that you tend to be more…recklessly impulsive than Spock, so I just assumed…" she trailed off again.

At that, Kirk threw his head back and laughed before responding, "'Recklessly impulsive'…I like that! And I think you really just pegged me, Ny-chan, so honestly, I can't blame you for thinking the impetus came from me." She gave him a relieved smile in return and said, "Thanks, Jim." She paused a moment to remind herself that Spock was changing fast before she narrowed her eyes at the half-Vulcan and asked, "Did chocolate figure into this equation, by any chance?"

Despite needing to suppress a flush from darkening his ears at the memory of his friend feeding him chocolate, the commander answered steadily, "Perhaps…but that does not mean that it is a bad idea or that we will not be successful." The lieutenant took in his openly earnest expression and conceded with a gracious nod of her head. She said, "Well, I have to admit you're right about that; if anyone can pull off something like this, it will be you two," finishing with a laugh. She then shook her head while commenting, "You two…" before she sobered, remembering that Kirk wanted her to join them.

A little apprehensive at this prospect, Nyota drew in a deep breath and asked, "So, you want me to sing with you tonight?" When they both nodded mutely—they had come to the hard part now—she sighed a little and asked, "OK, what did you have in mind to sing?" After a glance at the half-Vulcan, who nodded a silent, Go ahead, the captain cleared his throat and began, "You remember the Academy Choral Society Valentine's Day concert last year, the one where you did a bunch of Med-Ren romantic songs?" using the insider's abbreviation for "Medieval-Renaissance." She came near to gaping at him (You were there? Youknow that term?!) but she quickly recovered herself and said tentatively, "Yeesss…" He went on, "Well, one of the things you did was 'Ah Robin, Gentle Robin' by William Cornysh, and, well…long story short, Spock and I both know the canon that makes up the lower two parts and you know the upper part, so…we could actually do it."

Uhura blinked at him a moment and was on the verge of protesting that they'd never sung it together (or sung together at all, for that matter) when he preempted her objection, saying, "Yeah, I know—no chance to practice this one either. But it's pretty straightforward—no tricky entrances or rhythms—and it's so beautiful. I think we should try it because I really think we can pull it off. We just need to decide what pitch and how fast." He paused slightly then added a wheedle, "Pleeaasse?" Looking at his eager face, and seeing the first officer's minutely hopeful expression, she felt her doubts melting away. She looked from one to the other and shook her head again before saying, "Well…I probably need to have my head examined…but, sure…why not? I'll do it!" She then felt the beginnings of a fluttery excitement and she broke into a wide grin.

Kirk almost whooped, "Awesome!" while the commander put in, "Thank you, Nyota." Immediately tackling practical matters, the captain said, "The middle part comes in first, so I'll start us off. Tell me if this beginning pitch sounds OK…" and he hummed a likely note. The other two considered, going through the song in memory before the lieutenant agreed, "Yes, that's fine," while the first officer replied, "The pitch is satisfactory."

Jim responded, "Cool! How's this for tempo?" and he counted off a couple of measures. Nyota remarked, "Well, the Choral Society did it a little faster, but truthfully, I like it a little slower, so I'd say that's just about right." Spock answered, "The tempo is quite acceptable for me, as well," and the captain said, "Good; that's settled, then."

Kirk then had a sudden thought of a possible problem and he asked, "Umm, just checking to be sure, Ny-chan, but you do still have that part memorized, right?" The group of three soloists who had done 'Ah Robin' at the concert had not sung with printed music, but still, he thought he should confirm that she remembered it now. Uhura answered, "Oh yes, don't worry, I remember it, no problem."

She then cocked her head and asked in her turn, "How about you guys? Are you OK without sheet music?" glancing from one to the other. Despite that she had no doubt that Spock would remember parts he had learned years earlier, she included both in her question, not wanting the captain to feel singled out. The half-Vulcan replied simply, "Yes"

Jim put in, "Me, too. Turns out I have a pretty good memory for this kind of thing. Besides, as I told Spock earlier, I sang along with a recording of the Barber piece just tonight, while I was getting ready for the reception. And I think it's only been maybe a couple of months ago that I sang along with a recording of 'Ah Robin', so I'm good there, too." The lieutenant smiled and said, "OK, fine; no worries about that, then," somehow masking her surprise at this unexpected side of Jim. Here again was more evidence peeking through that there were hidden depths to this man, making Spock's feelings for him suddenly even more understandable.

Those questions now settled, Kirk said, "Now, when I told the band that we were going to ask you to join us on 'Ah Robin', they thought if you agreed, that we should do another couple of songs together." Uhura drew her brows together thoughtfully and answered, "Well, there's probably something else we all know—it's finding it that's going to be the trick." He responded, "Actually, that's not going to be a problem and we'll get to that in a minute. But first, I need to tell you one more thing: we have a request from the Vulcan drummer. Assuming we need an encore, she asked if we could do the round, 'Music Alone Shall Live'…as a sing-along with the audience, to end our 'set'."

When Nyota stared at him—Wait…what?!—the captain laughed a little and said, "Yeah, I know—I was surprised, too. The idea apparently started when I mentioned that I could maybe teach Spock a round if you didn't want to sing with us and we needed an encore. For reasons I'll let him fill you in on later,"—the half-Vulcan looked at her and indicated that he would with a nod—"the drummer turns out to be very keen on our doing this final number as a sing-along. And this one is a good choice since Spock doesn't know it, which means that I'll have to teach it to him, at least, and maybe to you, too?" he ended, looking at her questioningly.

Uhura tilted her head to one side for a moment and then replied, "I do know it, but it's been years since I last sang it, so it would be good for me to hear it again first as a reminder."

Kirk said, "Cool! Anyway, when I run over it for you guys, the drummer thought that I can also teach the audience, which is what will turn it into a sing-along. And I think the fact that I have to teach it to Spock actually works better from her point of view, because now there's a 'logical' reason for my teaching anybody anything in the first place, which you have to admit is a pretty Vulcan way to be un-Vulcan."

At that, Nyota nodded knowingly in agreement while she considered the drummer's surprising request. But then she reflected that this seemingly incongruous behavior was perhaps not so unexpected because this Vulcan, after all, was living on Andoria, playing drums in an otherwise-human jazz band, while looking for all the world like a punk rocker. To say that all that marked the woman as unusual was an extreme understatement, and when viewed in that light, the desire to have a sing-along then became unexpectedly charming. With that thought, the lieutenant smiled and said, "Well, OK. I'd be up for doing an audience sing-along."

The captain smiled broadly and said, "Great—thanks, Nyota!" and she gave a brief nod in response. Jim then continued, "OK, for other pieces for just the three of us, I've already thought of a couple of things that Spock knows, and he assures me that you know them, too. But before we just settle on doing those, I've remember another three-part song that I want to run past you first. Now, truthfully, it's probably a really long shot, but it's so beautiful I think it's worth bringing up. And we'll never know if I don't ask, so here goes."

He grinned a little—sometimes he couldn't help showing off a bit—and continued after a breath, "I know the duplum to the Petronian motet 'Aucun ont trouvé'." Dubbed "Petronian" after Petrus de Cruce, an innovative music theorist and composer who popularized the particular style of motet that bears his name, these were usually secular songs, generally for three voices, written about 1300. As was typical of other types of motets at that time, each of the parts had its own, independent melody—a style called "polyphonic"—as well as a different set of words, which could even be in different languages. In these songs, the upper part—the triplum—consisted of a long poem sung quite rapidly, almost like a patter song, the opening words of which provided the main title for the piece; while the middle part—the duplum, also called the motetus—had a shorter poem sung at a more leisurely pace; and the lowest part—the tenor—was made up of a slow moving chant sung over very long notes.

Nyota was unable to keep her mouth from dropping open and she glanced at Spock, who had managed to retain his normal-neutral expression, despite being somewhat surprised, all the recent revelations about his friend notwithstanding. After a moment of shocked silence, she answered in a near-disbelieving tone, "Jim, if someone had asked me to make a list of things I would never, ever, ever hear come out of your mouth, that would have been right up at the top."

The captain mock-huffed at her, "Hey! Why does everyone just assume that I'm an uncultured rube?" She thwacked him a little on the arm and mock-huffed back in self defense, "Hey yourself—I didn't say that! And besides, I'm sure there are plenty of highly cultured people who've never even heard of Petronian motets." At that, he couldn't sustain the pose and answered her with a grin, "Yeah, I know; I was really just messin' with you." After a slight pause (during which she came close to thwacking him on the arm again), he went on, "So, do you know the triplum for that motet?"

Instantly serious, Uhura shook her head and answered regretfully, "Well, no, I don't…but if I had, what would we have done for the tenor part? Because as knowledgeable as he is about Terran music, I really doubt that Spock knows it…" She again looked over at the first officer, who replied, "That is correct, I do not."

Kirk shrugged and said, "Well, that wouldn't have been a problem because I know the notes for the tenor part, too, and I could have used my fingers to signal Spock which scale step to sing when, and he could have just used whatever words he wanted."

Nyota nodded in appreciation at this simple solution, all the while wondering how much more there was that she didn't know about their captain. Tilting her head to one side, she remarked, "You know, Jim, most people who've even heard of those motets only know about them, me included, so…now I've just got to ask how it is that you actually learned one."

Jim answered with a grin, "Same reason a lot of guys would: I had a girlfriend who was really into early music. Before I met her, I thought the 20th and 21st century stuff I know and love counted as old music—you know, the Beastie Boys, Nirvana, Gang of Four, Adrian Belew Power Trio, Nigel Stanford—bands like that…well, except for that last, he was just one guy. But anyway, she opened up a whole new world for me. She introduced me to what she considered to be the best music from the past 1200 years, including those motets, the Barber song and 'Ah Robin', and I've got to say, it's enriched my life immeasurably. Even though we broke up years ago, I still listen to a lot of the stuff she shared with me, plus I've discovered some really cool things on my own since then, too."

Nyota breathed an internal sign of relief that this was most definitely an ex-girlfriend, and she nodded knowingly at Kirk's explanation but kept her Well, that sure explains it! to herself, out of deference for Spock's feeling for his captain. Standing next to her, the first officer somehow retained his carefully neutral expression, taking in his friend's disclosure. He remembered his strong sense during their talk up in the gallery that the person who had first taught Jim about this music had been someone immensely important to him and further, that this "someone" had not been Kirk's mother. The commander immediately realized that he should not be surprised to discover that it was a former girlfriend, nor that Jim had been motivated enough to put in the work to actually learn some of the music. Spock's human half then put in, Well, duh—what did you expect? The possibility of sex is always a powerful incentive for us monkey boys! and his Vulcan half had to acknowledge the simple primal truth of this assertion.

But even as he suppressed a sigh, seeing this further evidence of Jim's sexual orientation, he felt a surge of deep gratitude toward this young woman for imparting a love of good music to his captain. For despite that he was now utterly certain that he and Jim were destined to remain no more than best friends, wonderful music was still something they could share, and he intended to see that they made the most of the opportunity, starting with their performance tonight…

The commander was then brought back to the present when Kirk asked unexpectedly, "Say, did y'all get to either of the concerts the Boston Camerata gave when they were in town last year in October?" This premier early music ensemble had come primarily to perform at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, but they had also given a special "bonus" concert at Starfleet Academy because the son of one of the admirals was married to the artistic director of the group. Frowning a little at the non sequitur—why ever did he want to know that?—Uhura answered, "I went to the one at the Academy," and Spock remarked, "As did I." They had not gone together—they had been into the fifth month of their romantic relationship and had not considered it "safe"—but they had managed to sit in the same row in the Academy concert hall, just three seats apart.

An enormous grin spread over Jim's face as he said, "Well, then, you've actually heard her sing!" When they both looked at him a little blankly, he supplied, "My former girlfriend, Io Delgado," pronouncing the diminutive of Iolantha as "Ee-o," in the Greek way, rather than as "Eye-o" in the Terranglo. He then added, "She's one of the sopranos, a mezzo, actually, and she plays a bunch of stringed instruments, too." Belatedly connecting the nickname with the full name given in the program, the half-Vulcan briefly raised both eyebrows, while Nyota, having by now forgotten all of the singers' names, looked at Kirk in shock and practically squeaked, "Your former girlfriend is in the Boston Camerata?"

The captain laughed a little and replied, sounding slightly embarrassed (there went more of that bad-boy image), "Heh, heh, yeah. Remember that really beautiful woman with the black hair who was wearing a midnight blue dress? The one who also played a different stringed instrument almost every time she sang?" When his friends nodded, he said, "Well, that's Io."

Spock cast his mind back to the event, seeing and hearing the woman again in recall—yes indeed, an amazing musician and physically quite lovely as well—and he remembered the brief biographical information in the program. He then recited from memory, "'Iolantha Delgado was born in Eugene, Oregon and subsequently lived with her family in a number of Midwestern states, relocating as her peripatetic parents' wanderlust moved them. She was captivated by Medieval and Renaissance music at a very young age and she learned everything she could about it, primary on her own. Despite being largely self-taught, when she was in middle school and high school she won a number of state, regional and national competitions with exquisite performances of the vocal music of the period, typically accompanying herself on one or another of the string instruments in use at the time.

"'This brought her to the attention of Noah Greenberg, the director of the Center for Early Music at New York University, who encouraged her to apply to study at the Center upon graduating from high school. Due to her extensive performance experience and her knowledge of this music, she was accepted into the program with the approval of Bernard Krainis, the Director of Graduate Studies at NYU, despite that she did not have an undergraduate degree. After earning a Certificate in Early Music from the Center, she auditioned for the Boston Camerata and has been with the ensemble ever since, singing mezzo-soprano and playing a wide variety of stringed instruments, including lute, vielle, rebec, hurdy-gurdy, and Byzantine lyra.'"

Jim smiled and said, "That's Io alright." He then paused slightly, looking a little bit wistful when he went on, "She's as gorgeous as ever, but she's now engaged to another member of the group, so we really are ancient history." But then his face cleared and he smiled again as he said, "But it was still a trip, getting to hear her at the concert."

As soon as Jim had described her, Nyota had been able to picture Ms. Delgado quite clearly, since the soprano had had a very striking appearance (and for some reason, had looked vaguely familiar, too, although she hadn't been able to work out why). Her eyes then widened as a buried memory from just after the end of the event suddenly popped into her mind. The lights had come back on in the concert hall and she and Spock had filed out of their row and were walking toward the exit together (although sitting together had seemed too risky, walking out together had seemed harmless enough). Pre-Classical era music was going through one of its periodic surges in popularity and so the place had been quite crowded…

Blushing slightly, she now said, "You know, as we were leaving, I did think for a moment that I saw someone who might have been you some way up the aisle, but the man's back was to me, and before I could get a second look, I lost sight of him in the crush of people. And then I decided it wasn't you because, well, it wasn't exactly the, uh…milieu where I'd expect to see you, so…" she trailed off, her checks reddening further.

The captain laughed just a little and nodded before saying, "Yeah, I can understand that. As far as you knew, there wasn't anything to connect us, since the program didn't say that she'd lived in Riverside. Plus, you didn't know that I like any music other than what they play in places like the Shipyard Bar, so you can be forgiven for deciding it wasn't me."

She murmured, "Thanks, Jim," and then he nodded again, but a little distractedly this time, remembering that Nyota didn't know about his full taste in music because of his own action, or rather, his inaction. He'd had his reasons, of course, but in some ways, what he'd done—or not done—had been puzzling at the time and in fact was still puzzling. But now was not the time to think about it so he quickly went on, "So anyway, that's the story behind me and the Petronian motet, and while we can't do that, there are two other things that we do all know: 'Dona Nobis Pacem' and 'Sumer Is Icumen In." The lieutenant's eyes lit up and she said excitedly, "Oh, cool! Those are both really fun to sing, and I'd like to do them."

The captain answered with a grin, "Great!" And then he laughed a little mischievously and remarked, "You know, I'm particularly glad you're up for singing 'Sumer'. What with that line about calves and cows, it seems like a great song for us to do, considering that cows have been such a recurrent theme in my life lately."

Uhura then shook her head and remarked, "You and your cows…" Both of Kirk's eyebrows went up as he responded, "Hey, you're the one who started that whole farm-animal thing!" She sighed a little before admitting, "Yeah, I know…don't remind me!" and he laughed again.

Going on, the captain said, "Now we need to work out how we'll sing them. For 'Dona', we can either all start at the same time, with one of us on each of the three phrases, or just one of us can start at the beginning and the others come in in sequence." Uhura offered, "Well, if we do it the second way, the changing number of parts will give it a more varied sound and texture, making it more interesting, in my opinion." The first officer responded, "I concur," and the captain agreed, "Yeah, I think so, too; that's how we'll do it, then. So with that settled…would you start this one off, Ny-chan?" and after brief consideration, she said "Yes, I can do that." He nodded once and went on, "OK, I'll come in next, and Spock, you come in last. We'll all sing it the whole way through three times, I think, and on the last time, we'll each stop in sequence when we come to the end of that third phrase, going out in reverse order of how we came in." The commander replied, "Agreed," and Uhura said, "That sounds fine." She then asked, "How's this for a pitch?" and she sang a note; the two men looked at each other, nodding agreement—it was neither too low nor too high—and the first officer answered for both of them, "That pitch will be quite satisfactory."

Sensing they were on a roll, Jim asked, "Now, what about 'Sumer Is Icumen In'? Since it's supposed to be sung by more than just three people, this one may be a little tricky." He paused while they all thought it over and then he went on, "But, I think we can make it work anyway. OK, how about this: Spock, you come in first on the 'Sing cuccu' ground and then I'll come in second on that part. We can sing the ground pattern a couple of times by ourselves. After that, Ny-chan, you can come in with the verse and then sing it through once on your own while Spock and I keep singing the ground. Then, Spock, either you or I can switch to singing the verse as a round with the lieutenant. We'll sing it twice through like that, with two people on the verse and one on the ground. The two of us on the verse will each stop in turn at the end of their second time through it as a round and the person on ground will stop at the same time as that second person."

Uhura nodded slowly and then said, "Yes, that should work fine." Turning to the commander, she asked, "What do you think, Spock?" and he answered, "Agreed. Jim, unless you particularly prefer to sing the ground, I will continue on that part while you sing the verse with Nyota." The captain nodded and said, "Sure; I'm happy to do the verse." The lieutenant then asked, "Middle English words or modern Terranglo?" Kirk grinned and replied, "Oh, Middle English, of course!" while she rolled her eyes and remarked dryly, "Of course, what else? Why did I even bother to ask?" The captain frowned slightly and deadpanned, "I dunno—why did you?" In response, she sighed a little and then looked over at the commander while gesturing toward the captain and asking, "Is he always like this?" The half-Vulcan tilted his head from side to side, considering. He then answered, "Yeah, pretty much," deliberately sounding more like Jim than himself, causing Uhura to laugh and Kirk to grin and punch him lightly on the shoulder.

Almost as an after-thought, Jim said, "Oh, yeah—starting pitch," and he looked at Spock with his eyebrows raised, inviting his friend to pick. The commander selected a note he was certain would put the song in a comfortable range for Nyota and consequently, for Jim, and he sang it for them, just loudly enough to be audible over the crowd noise. Uhura nodded, saying, "Fine," and Kirk put in, "Sure, that will work."

Going on, the captain asked, "Now, what order should we do these in?" Uhura answered, "Well, I think we should start with 'Sumer Is Icumen In' because it's up-tempo and finish with 'Dona Nobis Pacem', since it's nice to end saying, 'Grant us peace'. So that automatically puts 'Ah Robin' in the middle." The captain nodded and said, "Yeah, I like that." He looked at the half-Vulcan and asked, "Spock?" who agreed that it was "a logical order."

Jim then asked, "Do you want to warm up, Ny-chan? Spock and I had a chance to do that in the green room, so we're good, but you might want to." The lieutenant thought a moment and replied, "Yes, I probably ought to. I can just hum a few vocal warm-ups I know while we're walking over to the stage. That should do it, I think." The captain nodded and responded, "Good idea."

After a slight pause he went on, "OK, looks like we're about ready to do this." He then had a sudden after-thought and added, "Oh, yeah—a name. What do we want to call ourselves?" Uhura offered, "Well, whatever we pick, it needs to include 'Impromptu' in it, don't you think?" His eyes widened and he answered, "Ooh, I like that…" before he trailed off, thinking. After a moment he added, "And 'Enterprise'; it should have 'Enterprise' in the name, too…" trailing off again. Spock's eyes lit up then and he said, "I have it: 'Impromptu Choral Enterprise', or perhaps instead, 'Impromptu Chorale, Enterprise'," shifting the accent to the second syllable of the adjective "Choral" to change it to the noun "Chorale," and expertly including the minute pause that put a coma between the last two words.

Kirk laughed and clapped him on the shoulder, saying, "Thanks Spock, that's perfect! I knew there was a reason I keep you around. Let's go with the second way: 'Impromptu Chorale, Enterprise' it is!" The commander looked back at his friend with a twinkle in his eye and said, "You are welcome, Jim. The name seems singularly…appropriate." Nyota added, "It's spot on! It describes the situation—and us—just right," and the first officer inclined his head toward her in thanks.

Looking toward the door into the hallway leading to the green room, the captain said, "All right—great timing! I see the band coming back in, and we're actually ready!" Noticing his companions' somewhat dubious expressions, he amended, "Well, as ready as three people who've never practiced together can be…" Nyota leveled a look at Spock and then rolled her eyes (See what you've gotten us into…) while the half-Vulcan gave a minute shrug and adopted a completely innocent expression. Kirk grinned at them as he lifted his hand and waved to catch the pianist's attention. As he did so, he glanced over toward the stage area, noting that the sound shell had indeed been lowered and reconfigured, and he nodded to himself in approval.

Makayla smiled when she spotted the officers standing under the gallery and she headed toward them with the rest of the band in tow. After quick introductions for Uhura and the jazz musicians, Kirk told the band leader what they planned to do, along with the name they'd come up with. She laughed when she heard it and replied, "That's a great name for you guys." She then looked at the captain and said, "Jim, there's one other thing I should mention. You saw the speaker that's within a long arm's reach of the piano bench, the one that we use for making announcements?" When he said he had, she replied, "There's a wireless microphone that fits into a bracket attached to the back side. The mic has an AI program that turns it on automatically when you remove it from the bracket on the back of the speaker and then turns it off again when you return it, which is nice because then you don't have to fiddle with turning the mic on and off manually."

Jim replied, "Thanks, Makayla; that's good to know, because I would like to use it. After you introduce us, I'm thinking that I should probably explain a little about our group here, and I'd like to say something about the songs we're doing, too." Turning to his fellow officers, he added, "While I'm doing that, Spock, you can go ahead and sit down at the piano, since I'm pretty sure you'll need to adjust the height of the bench. And Nyota, you can sit in Billy's chair, since you're not performing on the first number." Everyone agreed with this plan, and there being nothing else to discuss, they all started toward the stage, with the lieutenant humming through the first of her warm up exercises while she walked.

As Nyota came level with where Giotto was, still talking to the Andorians and the Denoblulan, she made a quick detour to fill him in on what they were about to do. He smiled broadly—he knew what a lovely voice she had, having also heard her sing at the Academy Choral Society concerts—and he gave her a quick kiss before saying, "You'll do great, I know you will, all of you!" She smiled and thanked him with another kiss before she hurried to catch up with the others, humming another warm-up as she went, with Barry following behind her to be closer to the action, after first saying goodbye to the people he had been talking with.

Nyota rejoined the group just as they got to the stage, and Landsey looked at the Enterprise people to confirm they were now ready. She then moved under the sound shell and picked up the microphone from its bracket on the speaker before turning to address the audience, "Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please!" The noise level in the room inched down as the people nearby stopped talking to listen. Hearing someone say, "Yea! You're back!" and then some applause, the pianist said, "Aw, thanks—that's sweet!" She then asked, "Did you miss us?" A number of voices responded, "Yes!" in a variety of ways, so she gestured apologetically with her free hand and said, "Well, I'm sorry that we left y'all without music for such a long time, but as you're about to see, there's a very good reason for that," and she gestured for the officers to come on stage.

As the three of them joined the band leader and turned toward the crowd, the volume in the room dropped further and Landsey went on, "Tonight we have some very special guest artists: direct from the USS Enterprise, Captain Kirk, Commander Spock, and Lt. Uhura as Impromptu Chorale, Enterprise." They each bowed slightly as they were introduced in turn, with Nyota waving a little to Giotto, who had found a nice spot a bit to the right of center stage (from his point of view), just a couple of people back from the front of the crowd. The pianist then continued, "If you've heard us play here before, you know that we sometimes have people sit in with us, but things are happening a little differently tonight. Because of that, there were some things that had to be worked out—hence the delay. But anyway, the preparations are all finished, and so…on with the show!"

At that, there was some additional applause, and she stopped briefly to let it become quiet again before finishing, "And now, please join me in welcoming Impromptu Chorale, Enterprise!" There was more enthusiastic clapping as the three officers bowed a little to the crowd. As they had agreed, Spock then went to sit down at the piano and Uhura took the chair normally occupied by the guitarist while Jim remained standing.

As the commander and the lieutenant were moving into place, Makayla handed the microphone off to the captain, whispering, "Good luck!" as she did so, and he gave her a rather tense smile in return. While she had been introducing them, it had suddenly struck him that they were really, actually going to do this and his slight underlying nervousness had just as suddenly ratcheted up at the prospect (What if we bomb? What if the audience doesn't like it? What if…). But then he had mentally shaken himself, realizing that he would just have to brass it out because there was no going back now unless he wanted to let Spock down, and that was something he definitely did not want to do.

Accordingly, he began giving himself a pep talk (We can do it, we'll do fine…)while the pianist exited the stage and went to join the other band members, gathered at the front off to his right. Feeling a little calmer, he let his eyes sweep over the expectant faces around them. Looking out, he noticed Halaci some distance away, standing next to her friend Diane. Then as he watched, the redhead began making her way forward through the crowd, with the human woman in tow. Kirk's eyebrows drew together in a slight frown but rather than allow himself to be further distracted by the Orion's action, his face cleared as he deliberately put any thought of her aside to focus on what they were about to do.

By now, more people had stopped talking to watch and listen. Covering his apprehension with a large smile, Jim turned on the patented Kirk Charm and said in a cheerful voice, "Hey, everybody. Are ya'll havin' a good time tonight?" and the audience responded with cheers and applause, which he took to mean, "Yes!" He grinned back at them and said, "Cool! Well, as Makayla said, we're Impromptu Chorale, Enterprise. It's entirely our fault that Jazz-Time Continuum was away for so long, so if any blame is due, it's due to us rather than them. But in any case, we'd like to thank them for being willing to take a chance on us and let us entertain you tonight, which we hope will make up for the delay.

"Now, I should warn you that we've never performed together before, or in fact, ever even…well, practiced, so…I can't guarantee how this is going to come out. But thanks to the excellent champagne and chocolate, our collective inhibitions were, uh…lowered to the point where we actually thought this was a good idea." At that there was more laughter from the audience, as everyone knew (or intuited) exactly what he meant, and he relaxed a little more, seeing so many smiling faces.

By now the room had become fairly quiet; the captain went on, "But anyway, it's too late to back out now, so…" he shrugged expressively. He then waited a moment for the laughter from that quip to die down before he said, ""The first piece we're doing is for voice and piano, and it was written by Samuel Barber sometime in the 1930's." Spock's brain automatically supplied 1938 but not wanting to interrupt his friend, he remained silent while Jim continued, "This is his setting of a poem by James Agee called 'Sure on this Shining Night'."

At the name of the song, there were nods of recognition and some applause from the audience, especially from Giotto, who knew the poem as part of a longer one titled "Description of Elysium," from Agee's volume of poetry, Permit Me Voyage. The captain smiled at the response, finishing, "We hope you enjoy it." He then returned the microphone to its bracket on the speaker before walking over to stand in front of the curve of the piano, positioning himself so that he could see his first officer fairly well while still more-or-less facing the audience. And while he'd managed to mostly calm his anxiety while he'd been talking, now that they were about to begin, his nervousness returned (What if my voice is shaky, what if I forget the words, what if…). Feeling his heart start to pound in his chest, he took a couple of deep breaths to try and steady himself before looking around at Spock to indicate that he was ready to start.

While Kirk had been talking, the first officer had first adjusted the piano bench and then had begun running over the piano score in his mind, silently moving his fingers just above the keys. Now, seeing that his friend was ready to begin after introducing the song, the commander nodded, confirming that he was ready as well. The captain softly counted off one measure to set the tempo, steeling himself to plunging in despite his anxiety. But then as Spock played the short introduction, Jim paradoxically felt his nervousness suddenly evaporate, and he knew it would be alright. Determined to do the very best that he could, he took another deep breath and then sang:

"Sure on this shining night
Of star made shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.

The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole.

Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder wand'ring far
Of shadows on the stars."

The captain was just a little tentative in the beginning, not having sung in front of an audience for several years. But as his friend played on in his effortlessly accomplished way (damn, the man was good!), Jim felt his confidence in his voice growing, skillfully building a crescendo to the forte on "All is health" and then nailing the piano entrance for "High summer holds the earth." Then a build in volume again to mezzo-forte on "Hearts all whole" before dropping to mezzo-piano on "weep for wonder," and continuing on with each phrase a little softer to the pianissimo that ended the vocal line. The commander then played the piano part to its quiet conclusion, expertly finishing out the song.

When Kirk first began singing, Spock felt his heart swell in his chest, just to hear his friend (so wonderful…). True, there was that slight hesitancy at the beginning, but Jim soon overcame that and sang "like a pro" as the commander's human half put it, sounding every bit as good as the half-Vulcan had anticipated from their singing in the green room. Without warning, he experienced a brief spasm of pain (Mother…), but then he took a deep breath and lost himself in playing again, for Jim, this time. Through it all, the first officer paid close attention to what his captain was doing, mirroring his dynamics, following his lead in the small variations in tempo a song like this invites, making sure they stayed together…

The audience had become quieter and quieter though the song until no one was talking, and at the end, there was a moment of complete silence before the crowd erupted into wild applause. The members of Jazz-Time Continuum joined in enthusiastically, with Porter leading a cadre calling, "Bravo!" Jim looked over at Spock with a huge smile—they had done it—and they'd done really good! The commander gazed back at him with the tiniest of Vulcan smiles, and Kirk motioned for his friend to come join him. The clapping increased in volume as the half-Vulcan obligingly got up from the piano bench and moved to stand beside Kirk on his right-hand side. The captain leaned toward the first officer and said with a grin, "And the crowd went ape-shit!" causing a slight added uplift of one corner of the man's mouth. The commander regained his normal-neutral expression but when his friend went on, "You were great, Spock!" that tiny smile was back. He replied, "Thank you. And you as well, Jim—you sounded truly wonderful," which got him a grin and a blushing, "Thanks!" from the captain.

As the applause continued, Jim said, "We should bow. Follow my lead, Spock, and do as I do." He then crossed his right arm over his mid-section and bowed from the waist, with the half-Vulcan exactly copying his movements. Kirk said softly, "Hold for the count of three…one, two, three…up," and they straightened in unison. Hearing applause from behind them, they turned to see Nyota on her feet, clapping enthusiastically. She called, "You guys were fantastic!" and then she beamed at them as they both nodded their thanks.

Eventually, the crowd became hushed again, and it was time to do on to the next number. Realizing that he should be close to the speaker for easy access to the microphone, Jim exchanged places with Spock, who then shifted over to his left to make room for Nyota. The lieutenant got up from her seat and came out to join the two men for the next song, standing between them at center stage with Spock on her left and Jim on her right.

While these rearrangements were happening, Kirk looked out at the crowd again and saw Halaci pushing forward through the audience once more. Diane was still with her, looking slightly embarrassed and trying unsuccessfully to stop the redhead while the people around them shot irritated glances in their direction. The Orion paid no head and simply kept going until she managed to claim a spot in the first row directly in front of the captain, with her friend stopping beside her. Giving Jim a sultry look, Halaci stood with her well-endowed figure positioned in what she obviously considered a most alluring way.

For a moment, Kirk's attention was indeed caught by her amazing chest (he was, after all, a humanoid, and a male one at that). But with surprising ease, he soon looked up and made brief eye contact with her before letting his gaze slide away. In the short time they regarded one another, he saw her expression change from anticipatory desire to angry frustration. Nearly every man in her vicinity was now trying to get closer to her, so he knew she must be putting out pheromones like crazy, but for whatever reason, they didn't seem to be working on him tonight. This was puzzling, but it wasn't something he could think about right then, so he let her slip from his awareness until she simply became just one more face in the crowd, and he mentally prepared himself to go on to the next song.

Feeling ready, the captain shot his two friends a wide smile and then retrieved the microphone, saying, "Thank you very much! Lt. Uhura is joining us for the rest of our little program. We're now going to sing 'Sumer is Icumen in'," and some of the audience responded with eager applause. Kirk nodded in recognition before resuming, "The song was written down about 1250 and is the first known round, or rota, in Middle English—or in any kind of English, for that matter," he finished to laughter from the crowd.

He went on, "It's all about spring and growing things and ewes and lambs and cows and calves and so forth, so it's pretty lively. Now, ideally, we should have at least three more people for this song, but, it's something we all know, so…what the hell—we're going to do it anyway!" and there was more laughter from the crowd. Kirk grinned in response and said, "So without further ado, here is 'Sumer is Icumen in'." He put the microphone back on the speaker, glanced at his two friends to confirm that they were ready, and then nodded at Spock to begin.

Starting on the pitch they had agreed on earlier, the commander sang the ground, "Sing cuccu, nu …", and Jim came in at the beginning of the pattern as the half-Vulcan started into the second measure, "sing cuccu." Uhura waited through two repetitions of the complete ground and then began the verse:

"Sumer is icumen in
Lhude sing cuccu
Groweþ sed
and bloweþ med
and springþ þe wde nu
Sing cuccu

Awe bleteþ after lomb
lhouþ after calue cu
Bulluc sterteþ
bucke uerteþ

murie sing cuccu
Cuccu cuccu
Wel singes þu cuccu
ne swik þu nauer nu"

Nyota came to the end of the verse and started over, and the captain switched to singing that with her as a round, leaving Spock on his own on "Sing cuccu nu, sing cuccu…" They went through the verse twice like that, and then ended the song as planned.

As soon as they began the ground, the half-Vulcan looked at Jim like he could scarcely believe something so simple could be so much fun, and so…satisfying. Kirk gave his friend a wide smile in response, and then when the lieutenant came in with her sure soprano, the captain thought he might break something, trying to contain his grin, but he somehow managed to keep singing none-the-less. He'd been right: he'd thought they'd sound really good together, and they did…

All too soon, the song drew to a close, and the audience again rewarded them with loud applause; after a moment, the three officers took a bow. As they straightened in unison, by chance the crowd parted in front of Jim as a waiter went through collecting empty plates and glasses, and he spotted Ashley Laurent across the hall, standing somewhat off by herself. He noticed with a bit of alarm that she looked unusually solemn, actually fairly down even, and he wondered briefly if she disapproved of their being on stage. But then he saw that she was clapping enthusiastically along with everyone else, so if there was something wrong, it apparently wasn't related to their performance.

Maybe it was something to do with her responsibilities in making sure everything ran smoothly? As if to confirm that speculation, her attention was captured at that moment by an agitated-looking member of the Events staff touching her elbow and saying something to her. Laurent gave a short reply and gently patted the woman's shoulder while her face assumed a reassuring expression. She listened a little longer before calmly nodding and gesturing for the staff member to lead the way to whatever the problem was. She then started off with the woman without a backward glance and Kirk watched her retreating form for a moment before his view was blocked when the opening in the crowd finally closed up again.

The captain's eyebrows went up a little when he considered this evidence in favor of the band members' opinion of "Ash" as they called her: bullheaded on occasion, but otherwise calm, patient, kind and competent. Despite how he had ended up feeling about her after their difference of opinion (spelled "argument") over the receiving line, he now found himself hoping she wasn't having to deal with too serious a crisis. But rather than let it distract him unduly, he then shrugged mentally—he'd likely never know what it was all about anyway—and he refocused on the audience as the applause stuttered to a close.

When there was quiet again, the captain moved the few steps to the speaker and picked up the mic before saying, "Thank you; thank you very much." He took a breath and went on, "For our next number, we're jumping ahead about 250 years. We're now going to sing a piece that was written by William Cornysh around 1500 or so, called 'Ah Robin, Gentle Robin'." There was again some applause at the title, with Mu'Gahv joining in (albeit in a quite restrained manner) and Jim smiled broadly, saying, "Thanks!" He then continued, "It's a conversation between two men when one asks after the other's 'leman', which was a term for 'mistress' or 'lady love'. The first guy is lamenting his lady's unkind ways, but the second praises his lady's faithfulness, so they have these, umm…different views on women. And now, 'Ah Robin, Gentle Robin'."

The captain returned the microphone to its holder and then rejoined the lieutenant and the commander. He counted off one measure and started on the pitch they'd agreed on earlier, with Spock and Nyota coming in on their parts when it was time, singing:

"Ah, Robin, gentle Robin,
Tell me how thy leman doth
and thou shalt know of mine

My lady is unkind I wis,
Alack why is she so?
She lov'th another better than me,
and yet she will say no.

Ah, Robin, gentle Robin,
Tell me how thy leman doth
and thou shalt know of mine.

I cannot think such doubleness
for I find women true,
In faith my lady lov'th me well
she will change for no new.

Ah, Robin, gentle Robin,
Tell me how thy leman doth
and thou shalt know of mine."

As they began the song, Spock felt he would nearly burst from the deep pleasure of singing these stunning harmonies with these two people, his former romantic partner (and still very good friend) and his best friend. He experienced another strong desire to take Jim's hand and he was suddenly very glad that Nyota was standing between them. He then focused all his attention on the song and soon the objective observer in him took over. He noted with satisfaction how well they sang with one another, achieving a seemingly effortless blend, their voices balancing each other near-perfectly. His captain's instincts had been good indeed, to suggest that the three of them sing together…

At the end of the piece, there was a collective sigh at the sheer beauty of the song, and then more wild applause with more shouts of "Bravo!" mixed in, particularly from the band members. Uhura blushed a little, seeing Barry clapping and looking at her as if he could hardly believe that he was lucky enough for her to love him, and she gave him an extra-special smile. The three singers then bowed again as the applause continued.

After a third bow, the captain stepped over and picked up the mic again, waiting for the clapping to die down. When it was quiet, he smiled and said, "Wow, thank you—what a great audience!" eliciting agreement from the crowd in a variety of ways. He went on, "For our last number, we're going to sing the three-part canon, 'Dona Nobis Pacem'." At that there was again scattered applause, the song still being widely known. Kirk responded with an appreciative nod before continuing, "The words mean 'Grant us peace' in Latin. Now, at one time in Western Europe, pretty much everybody and their dog wrote music for these words,"—more laughter—"and so this canon has been attributed to everyone from Michael Praetorius to Mozart. But no one really knows who wrote it, and quite possibly none of the attributions are right. But regardless of who did or didn't write it, it's a fine piece of music, and a lot of fun to sing. And so now, 'Dona Nobis Pacem'."

Jim replaced the mic again and went back to where Nyota and Spock were standing. The half-Vulcan was maintaining his normal-neutral expression while the lieutenant was doing a fairly good job of containing her surprise (Michael Praetorius to Mozart?! This side of Jim was going to take a little getting used to…). But then she nodded at the captain (Yah done good!) while smiling broadly. He murmured, "Thanks!" and gave her an answering grin. He looked at Spock to confirm that his friend was ready for the next song and then he signaled Uhura to begin.

She centered herself, took a deep breath and started on the agreed pitch, singing "Dona nobis pacem…" At the end of the first musical phrase, the captain came in at the beginning while she moved on to the second phrase. Then the first officer added his voice to theirs at the beginning as Uhura started into the third phrase and Kirk began the second. They each sang through the entire piece three times, dropping out one by one until the commander was left to finish the song by doing the last phrase on his own.

The audience responded with thunderous applause; the humans in the jazz band then took the lead in calling, "Encore! Encore!" and they were soon joined by a number of other voices. The captain grinned at his friends and then they all bowed together. They stood soaking up the continuing applause for a moment before they bowed again. The clapping went on and after glancing at each other, they bowed one more time. Still there was loud applause, with the calls of "Encore!" becoming stronger, and Jim looked at his friends with eyebrows raised in a silent, "Shall we do one?" Spock nodded and Nyota responded, "Oh, yeah!"

Looked toward the band while he was heading over to the speaker, Jim caught Makayla's eye and winked at her as they shared a conspiratorial smile over the round-to-come. He picked up the microphone again and then headed back toward the middle of the stage to stand by his fellow officers while the crowd noise decreased, with the room soon became quiet once more. He said, "Thank you, thank you! You guys are terrific!" A voice called, "We sure are!" followed by some laughter and a bit more applause before Kirk went on, "So, y'all want us to do an encore?" The response was immediate and enthusiastic—"Yes!"—and he answered, "Well, OK, but we've already sung everything we know that we all know. So…to do an encore, we're going to have to get into something that we don't all know…which means that we'll need you guys to help us out. Will you do that?" Getting another loud "Yes!" he replied, "Alright! Now, here's what we're going to do. I have to teach this round to Commander Spock so…I'll can just teach all of you at the same time. Are y'all up for that?" At that, there were more calls of "Yes!" and "Let's do it!" The captain smiled broadly and said, "I think the 'Ayes' have it," to more laughter.

He had put some thought into how to do the song, and so he was ready to outline his plan. He resumed, "OK, the way we'll do this is, first I'll say the words and you'll repeat them after me. Next, I'll sing it for you and then we'll all sing it together until you think you've got it. Now, this round works great in three parts, so for singing it for real, we'll have you guys split up into three sections. Lt. Uhura will stay here at center stage and she'll lead all ya'll in the middle," which had Barry and Nyota smiling at each other that he would be in her section. The captain then went on, "Mr. Spock and I will move to the edges, and everyone over on that side of the stage…" he gestured to his left, "… will be in the commander's section."

Pointing to his right, Jim continued, "Then everyone on this side will be in mine. My section and I will start it off, and then Lt. Uhura's section will come in with her when it's time, followed by Commander Spock and his section. Each group will sing the round all the through four times, since it's fairly short, and then quit, with my group stopping first, followed by the lieutenant's and then the commander's. Does that sound like a good way to do it?" When the audience responded in various ways that this would be fine, Kirk smiled again, saying, "OK, looks like we've got that figured out." He then glanced appreciatively over the crowd—they really were a great audience—catching in passing Halaci's unhappy pout (doubtless because she realized she would no longer be right in front of him) but he just shrugged mentally and went back to ignoring her.

Watching Jim acting as a spontaneous master of ceremonies, Nyota smiled to herself, thinking what a natural role it seemed to be for him (well, he was a captain, after all). Kirk glanced over at his friends—so far, so good!—and then went on addressing the audience, "The name of the round I'm going to teach you is 'Music Alone Shall live'. I think it was originally a German folk song, but we're going to do it in Terranglo. Now, repeat after me:

"All things shall perish from under the sky (All things shall perish from under the sky)
Music alone shall live (Music alone shall live)
Music alone shall live (Music alone shall live)
Music alone shall live (Music alone shall live)
Never to die (Never to die)."

At the end, the captain said, "Good job, everybody! Now we just need to get the tune. I'll sing it through twice on my own, and then we'll all try it together. Are you ready?" When the audience answered with a loud, "Yes!", Jim smiled, saying, "I like you guys' enthusiasm—give yourselves a big round of applause!" and they promptly complied.

When it was quiet again, Kirk instructed, "OK, just listen for now," and he sang into the mic so that people could hear him more easily:

"All things shall perish from under the sky
Music alone shall live
Music alone shall live
Music alone shall live
Never to die."

The captain went through the song a second time and then smiled at the crowd as he said, "And that's how it goes. Sing it with me now…" leading them into it, with Spock and Nyota joining in as well. The half-Vulcan had the tune perfectly just from hearing it, and the lieutenant, having sung it before, had no problem with it, either. It took twice more through before everyone else was largely comfortable with the song, but then Jim thought they were ready (pretty much, anyway…). He said, "Well, all right! You guys sound great! Now should we try it as a round?" and enough people returned an enthusiastic, "Yes!" that he thought they could go ahead. Nodding, he responded, "Alright, let's do it, then! And let's hear it for everybody's lowered inhibitions!" eliciting laughter and applause from the crowd.

Belatedly realizing that he hadn't said where the second and third parts should begin, Kirk said, "Oh yeah, I guess I need to tell you guys when to start. Lt. Uhura and her section will come in after my section has sung the first phrase, 'All things shall perish from under the sky'. Then Mr. Spock and his section will likewise start after the lieutenant's section has sung that first phrase." He glanced quickly at his fellow officers to see them both nodding, confirming that they had understood. But when he refocused on the audience, he noticed some concerned glances, so he spread his arms in an encompassing gesture, reassuring them, "But y'all don't need to worry about keeping track—just follow your section leaders," and he noted with approval that the worried looks now disappeared.

Jim then reiterated, "Remember, you folks over on this side of the stage are in my section, and we'll start first. You guys in the middle are in Lt. Uhura's, and you'll be second. Finally, those over on the other side are in Commander Spock's, and you'll come in last. Each group will go through the whole song four times and then stop, going out in reverse order from how we came in. And that will be it."

Kirk turned to look at his fellow officer and after verifying that they were ready, too, he signaled to the commander to move to his left toward the edge of the stage. As Spock complied, the captain turned to head toward his own designated spot. In passing he glanced out at the audience just in time to see a very determined-looking Halaci pulling away from her friend's restraining hand, her slightly exasperated-sounding "Don't try to stop me, Diane!" clearly audible over the murmur of the crowd. The human woman gave up then and remained where she was, looking even more embarrassed, while the redhead began to follow him, with a few of the men she had attracted following her.

Jim then very deliberately looked straight in front of him for his walk across the stage, as much to avoid really looking at her as to not run into the speaker. But he could still see her in his peripheral vision, aggressively making her way through the front of the audience to keep pace with him, although thankfully, the men who had been chasing her soon gave up trying to get through the dense crowd. The captain paused at the speaker to replace the microphone and Halaci stopped, too, but as he fully expected, when he moved on she began shadowing him again. He then suppressed a sigh as he walked: he just knew she wasn't going to quit until she'd managed to plant herself directly in front of him again, never mind that she'd have to literally step on some toes to do it.

When Kirk stopped at the edge of the stage where the sound shell ended, she was closing in on his position, only needing to dislodge the one person who was currently occupying the coveted spot right in front of him. But here the Orion's plan hit a snag, because her "rival" turned out to be a very large, very matronly-looking human woman who stood her ground and simply would not yield her place. Halaci then leaned this way and that, looking around to the other side of this human blockade to see if she might be better placed on the woman's left. Apparently deciding that she would be, she skirted around behind the matron to resurface on her left side, easily displacing the meek-looking El-Aurian man already there. The move put the Orion only marginally closer to the captain than she would have been had she remained on the woman's other side, but she smirked openly at her "rival" none-the-less. The matron returned this non-verbal insult with a quick look of annoyance, but the redhead paid no heed, instead turning back toward Kirk and giving him the eye while thrusting out her chest, just for good measure.

Understanding that Halaci's various maneuvers were designed to get and keep his attention, Jim felt some distaste at her intrusive persistence, although he was careful not to let it show in his expression. He briefly puzzled over his response to her actions, as normally he would have been flattered and, quite truthfully, only too happy to look at her body, despite not liking her very much. But now his primary feeling toward her was one of irritation, which was pretty weird…and something else he'd have to think about—later.

He put the question aside as he looked away from the Orion without visibly reacting to her, consequently missing the near-outraged disbelief now evident on her face. Focusing his attention on the crowd instead, his gaze swept past the El-Aurian man and fell next on Mu'Gahv, standing almost motionless off to his right. She was at the front of the crowd, a few people away from Halaci, with the rest of the members of Jazz-Time Continuum. The drummer's eyes were alight, her body language communicating intense but controlled anticipation. Kirk took in the stark contrast between the Vulcan and the Orion and he smiled to himself, realizing that when he looked in this general direction, he could focus on the woman with the Mohawk instead of the woman with the cleavage (which would annoy the latter no end, he was pretty sure, but at this point he didn't care).

Now ready to begin the round, Jim raised his voice to compensate for not having the mic and said, "OK, here we go…" before he started his section off singing:

"All things shall perish from under the sky…"

When all the parts had come in, the pleasant harmonies made by the round filled the hall, and soon even the people who weren't singing were smiling and nodding in time to the music. When it was over and the last sounds had died away, Jim said, "Wow! That was terrific! Give yourselves another big round of applause!" The audience did as he suggested, adding laughter and some cheers to the mix. Glancing to his right, he looked at Mu'Gahv. She met his eyes and gave him a near-invisible Vulcan smile before she mouthed, "Thank you!" and then for a brief second she smiled for real before her expression settled back to her own normal-neutral. The captain smiled back at her, glad that she had made that odd request, because this had been seriously fun.

As he then looked out over the crowd, his gaze drifted past Halaci again. She was leaning forward and displaying even more cleavage than normal (if such a thing were possible), and he felt his irritation with her increasing (and how weird was that? Later, later…). But since he didn't think scowling at her was the best course of action, he decided to basically ignore her and instead turned his attention back to the audience in general. Once again the Orion made a show of anger, stamping her foot in frustration, her mouth a tight unhappy line, but he missed it all, swept up in the enthusiasm around them as the crowd went on clapping and cheering.

Jim then looked over at his two friends for a moment with a wide grin before he began moving back toward center stage and gesturing for the first officer to do the same. This time, Halaci made no attempt to follow the captain, although she watched his retreating back with obvious exasperation, apparently having worked out that she might as well have just stayed put where she had been previously.

Once the officers were all back together, they took a bow. As the applause continued, they bowed again and were into yet a third bow when Makayla approached the stage with a small bouquet of daisy-like flowers with golden petals and vivid blue floral heads in their centers which she had rounded up from somewhere. When the Enterprise people straightened up again, Landsey handed the bouquet to Nyota, who took it with a laughing, "Thank you!" After that, the communications officer first bowed to the commander and gave him one of the flowers, and then she did the same with Kirk.

Jim smiled broadly as he took the flower and bowed to her in return. She then curtsied to him, holding the remaining flowers in one hand while she used the other to pull out the bottom edge of her dress uniform jacket on one side, as if it were a skirt. His smile turned into a grin at that, and he transferred the flower to his mouth, holding it by the stem, as he curtsied back, complete with pulling out the bottom edge of his jacket with both hands. The two of them then took turns bowing and curtsying to each other, much to the delight of the crowd.

A wave of affection swept through Spock as he watched his friends playing to the audience. His eyes then settled on the captain, and the thought came unbidden to his mind, Jim, my dearest… And all at once, his carefully constructed mental barriers holding the truth at bay collapsed, and he recognized in an instant the full measure of his feelings: he was in love with Jim, deeply, madly, head-over-heels in love with Jim. Since the night they had spent curled up together on Luna-gee, when he had realized that he was sexually attracted to his captain, he had been able to keep himself from delving too deeply into his emotions and so had been able to convince himself that "attraction" was as far as it went. Beyond the deep friendship and great affection he already felt for Jim, there was now additionally this extremely powerful desire—however, there was no more to it than that, he had been telling himself. But now he could no longer deny what he truly felt. The sudden insight struck him to the core, and he knew his expression must be reflecting at least something of some new awareness, but he simply could not help it, his feelings were too strong.

After a moment, the commander was able to more-or-less regain a Vulcan-neutral look, although he suspected that it was still not quite normal…and that, too, could not be helped. For as he continued to gaze at his friend, he experienced that dizzying uplift of joy that comes from knowing to the depths of one's being that one is really in love for the first time. And with that he finally understood the difference between loving someone and being in love with them, for while he knew he had certainly loved Nyota, and in fact, had thought that he was in love with her, he now realized that he had not been, for it had never felt like this. And somehow, it did not matter that his romantic love for Jim was unrequited, and would remain so; for right now, he simply gave himself over to feeling it…

While the attention of the rest of the audience was on the lieutenant and the captain, Giotto's eye had been caught by Spock, standing absolutely still and looking at Jim over Nyota's head. Then as Barry watched, a subtle change came over the half-Vulcan's face, and while the difference was not likely detectable to anyone who did not know the man well, to Giotto it was unmistakable. The commander's features slackened a miniscule amount and his mouth opened by a fraction while his eyes went wide—for a Vulcan—as if he had just realized something extremely important. He then blinked a few times and swallowed before he appeared to tune back in to his surroundings, his features very nearly returning to his normal impassive expression but for a remaining inner light which seemed to suffuse his entire face as he went on looking at his captain.

Barry sucked in a breath, understanding what he had most likely just seen: he had just, he was almost certain, had the incredible, amazing privilege of witnessing the exact moment when Spock finally realized that he was in love with Jim. The security chief glanced unobtrusively about, wondering if anyone else had noticed. Everyone within view seemed to be watching the other two officers clowning around…except for the human woman standing a couple of yards or so to his left and very slightly in front of him. Throughout the evening, he had been keeping an eye on the crowd (as always), and he had noticed her with the Orion who was (sometimes literally) running after Jim. Barry then remembered that the redhead had called her friend "Diane" when she had pulled away to follow the captain for the round. Diane had remained behind, and she was now watching the half-Vulcan intently, a small frown between her brows, the wheels obviously turning… After a moment her eyes widened as she, too, seemed to be putting two and two together.

Perhaps feeling Giotto's eyes on her, Diane turned her head to look him square in the face, her own expression now unreadable. She held his gaze for a moment before glancing around at the commander again. But then she swung her eyes back to the security chief, smiling a little as she raised one index finger and placed it vertically across her pursed lips in a clear gesture invoking silence on a shared secret. He nodded solemnly in return to show that he understood (he would tell Nyota, of course, but no one else) and the woman smiled a little more before turning away to face the stage once again.

Giotto wondered a bit at her acute perception, but without any information to go on, it would have to remain a mystery. He then glanced around again, checking the crowd's reaction, but no one else seemed to have taken note and with Diane offering to keep the secret, he relaxed on the half-Vulcan's account. He watched her again for another moment before turning his focus back to the stage and to the very important thing that had just happened. He smiled to himself, knowing that the commander's recognition of his feelings for the captain was a necessary step on the way to the two of them (finally!) getting together. Judging from Kirk's behavior, the security chief was next to certain that the man was still utterly clueless. He held out hope that the experience of making music with Spock would spur their captain on to a realization as well, though only time would tell. But since Barry wasn't ready to intervene yet, there was nothing to be done about his superior officers' conundrum at this point. So he turned his attention to his own love, and he smiled from ear to ear, just seeing her having so much fun…

As the clapping and laughter from the crowd began to die away, Nyota and Jim bowed/curtsied to each other a final time before he removed the flower from his mouth. He then went over to the speaker and picked up the microphone with his other hand, saying, "We want to thank Jazz-Time Continuum for letting us do this—it's been unbelievably fun! And thank you for being such a wonderful audience! It's been really great singing for you and with you. And now we're going to turn the stage back over to the band—enjoy the rest of the party!" Someone shouted, "Don't worry, we will!" bringing more laughter mixed with more applause.

Makayla then stepped back onto the stage while the rest of the band remained clustered respectfully in front of it. The pianist smiled broadly as she took the microphone from the captain and she turned to face the audience, asking, "Has this been fun or what?" The crowd responded with gusto while both Porter and Yazzie gave them a thumbs-up and Mu'Gahv inclined her head in agreement, not bothering to conceal the light in her eyes. Landsey's smile then got even bigger as she said, "Let's have a big hand for Impromptu Chorale, Enterprise!" She led the band and the audience in another enthusiastic ovation while the officers took a final bow.

While Makayla replaced the microphone on the speaker, the rest of Jazz-Time Continuum joined her and the officers onstage, and there was a general round of congratulations on a job well done, with a general round of thanks in return. Jim then stepped back to let Nyota precede him off stage before he started off as well. Although his action appeared gentlemanly on its face, it was in fact motivated by a desire place himself next in line to his first officer so that he could help ease any stress the man might feel at the prospect of being surrounded by the crush of the audience once more.

Trailing, Spock thanked the band leader again and then impulsively gave her his flower. (Although he appreciated Nyota's generosity in giving it to him, he did not particularly wish to continue holding it, but nor did he wish to simply discard it.) Landsey smiled as she took it, saying "Thank you!" and he replied, "You are most welcome" before he continued on to his way. The first officer then heard a bit of laughter from the crowd and he briefly glanced back to see that she had put the blossom behind one ear, which he decided was the perfect place for it. He almost-smiled himself and he felt his heart swell again, this time in appreciation for her generosity in sharing the stage and making this a truly special evening.

Uhura and Kirk had stopped to wait for Spock so that they would all be together before going back into the crowd. As the first officer caught up with them, Jim gave him a quizzical look, wordlessly asking if he was ready to deal with the mass of people. No longer terribly surprised by this sensitivity, the commander nodded his answer, and they all went forward together, with the half-Vulcan sticking close to his captain.

They were coming off stage near to where the Orion had been standing during the rounds, and Kirk felt an odd surge of relief when he saw that she had been drawn a few yards away by a paunchy balding man who looked human but who was in fact Argelian, a race well known for their pleasure-loving ways. The Argelians were also well known for their ale, and the man appeared to have had enough of it to think himself completely irresistible. Suspecting that this was not, in fact, the case (at least where Halaci was concerned), the captain silently wished the man his best, thinking that the portly fellow would need all of his luck to interest the redhead.

The matronly woman who had refused to move for the Orion was still standing where she had been during the performance, putting her very close to their exit point, and she was now looking toward them and was just opening her mouth as if to speak to them. But before she could do so, she was interrupted by an apparent acquaintance who came up to her and claimed her attention, allowing the officers to move on unimpeded to the cluster of well-wishers who were lined up a few yards further from the stage. One after another, these people now approached, telling them how wonderful and how enjoyable their performance had been before politely moving on to make way for those waiting behind.

After this first crush was over, they walked on to where a grinning Giotto was standing, as he had considerately stepped back so as not to hinder the approach of any fans. He now claimed Uhura with a hug and a kiss before telling her how fantastic they had sounded (and her in particular). Grinning back, she blushed and thanked him, adding another kiss as she looped one arm around his waist while holding the flowers in her other hand. Watching them, Jim briefly experienced a slight flutter of lingering jealousy (Cupcake, you lucky dog…), but he quickly brushed that aside and smiled at them, genuinely glad that they were so happy together.

But then Kirk's expression froze as he saw Halaci now slowly swaying toward him, apparently having shed her erstwhile suitor. She was looking at him with bedroom eyes (no surprise there!) and she was languidly stretching out a hand to take possession of him. He felt a sudden overwhelming reluctance to let her touch him (and what was that all about?! Later, later…), and before he could stop it, he found himself tensing in preparation to pulling his arm away from her reach. But he was saved from being excessively rude to her twice in one evening when the matronly woman, now free herself, moved in at a slow ooze and slid her considerable bulk between them, completely blocking the Orion's way yet again. The older woman had quite a wide girth and was fully as tall as Spock, with her elaborately-done graying brown hair making her seem even taller. She had a long face with rather equine features and she was dressed in an evening gown made from a reflective material of indeterminate color, with a gold lamé shawl around her massive shoulders.

Grateful that she had (once again) succeeded in keeping the redhead away from him, Jim immediately gave her one of his best smiles. Bestowing a self-satisfied smile upon him in return, she intoned in an upper-crust British accent, "Captain Kirk, I am Mrs. General Anthony Cecil St. Hoggmanay-Melchett,"—eliding her surname to "'Sinaugmanelchett'" in true English fashion—"head of the Terran Music Institute of Andoria," and she held out a plump hand to him. He grasped it gently, figuring that she was also likely a musician of some sort, and replied, "Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Sinaugmanelchett," pronouncing her name as she had with no clue as to how it was actually spelled, and giving her hand a small shake before releasing it.

Spock had remained beside him (naturally), standing quietly with his hands behind his back, so Kirk then introduced her to his first officer, and he was grateful that she was socially conscious enough not to offer her hand to the half-Vulcan. She continued by telling them that while they were "only talented amateurs, of course," she none-the-less had quite enjoyed their performance, as much for its sheer bravado as anything else. Spock regarded her with an impassive look and inclined his head in acknowledgment. Kirk managed to keep himself from gritting his teeth at her comment (it was true after all, but even so…) and instead gave her another smile—although close-lipped this time—and then responded smoothly, "Thank you, that's too kind of you." Completely oblivious to any underlying irony in his statement, she said in all sincerity, "Oh, you are most welcome," causing Jim to briefly compress his mouth, stifling the snarky reply that nearly escaped his lips (Deep breath, Kirk, be a grownup, remember you're a Starfleet captain…)

The band was now back in place and they had tuned up, but there was a continued lull while the sound shell was being reconfigured. Taking full advantage of the relative quiet, the matron then began a discourse on Medieval and Renaissance composers and performance practice of the period, including what Impromptu Chorale, Enterprise should do the next time they were on stage.

Off to one side of Mrs. St. Hoggmanay-Melchett, the captain could see Halaci trying to get his attention, and off the other, a number of people who obviously wanted to talk with them. If it had merely been the Orion who was waiting, he would have been happy to listen to their "instructor" for the rest of the evening (well, probably not really, but if it would keep him out of the redhead's clutches, it would be OK…which was really pretty weird…later, later). As it was, though, he didn't want to let this woman completely monopolize their time but he was uncertain how they could escape gracefully because she simply talked on and on, barely pausing for breath. Sooner or later the band would start up again but until then, unless he wanted to be rude to her, it was looking like they were stuck (although truthfully, he wondered if having to compete with music would make any difference in her outpouring of information).

Nyota and Barry were still close by, having been stopped a number of times by more people offering congratulations. Throughout that whole process, they had largely been able to hear Mrs. St. Hoggmanay-Melchett's discourse, since she was using her best instructor's voice. As they parted from the last of the lieutenant's well-wishers, they looked at each other and by unspoken agreement headed over to (unobtrusively) intervene in their superior officers' predicament. Kirk shot them a thankful glance and then managed to interrupt the matron long enough to introduce his other two friends. By way of "congratulations," she more or less repeated what she'd said to Jim and Spock. Ever the professional, Uhura smiled and murmured, "Thank you so much, Mrs. Sinaugmanelchett," while Giotto maintained a neutral expression and nodded to the woman, despite having a strong desire to tell her what he thought of her "compliment."

The music institute director was drawing breath to resume her discourse to the captain and the commander when Nyota astutely distracted her with a question about Palestrina, a prominent Renaissance composer the woman had mentioned earlier during her lecture. In response, the matron shifted her focus to the two newcomers and launched into the answer.

Having heard some of this information from her already this evening (and knowing a lot of it anyway from Io), Kirk very soon found his attention wandering and his eyes along with it. Their initial positions had changed somewhat when the security chief and the communications officer had joined them, and he had ended up partially facing the stage. He now looked at it more fully, wondering why Jazz-Time Continuum hadn't started playing yet. Glancing up to the space above the band, he noticed the visibly unbalanced and awkward arrangement of the sound shell and thought it likely that something had gone wrong with the software or hardware that controlled it.

As if to confirm his guess, an Andorian woman in orange coveralls with a tool belt around her waist approached the stage. Apparently part of the technical crew, she briefly conferred with the band leader before going back the way she had come. Makayla then swiveled around on the piano bench to retrieve the microphone from the back of the speaker and announce, "Sorry, folks. We're having a little trouble with the sound shell, and the technicians need to fix it before we start up again. They have to come out here with ladders, so we're just going to stand out of their way, which means no music for a while." At that there were various sounds of disappointment until she soothed, "I know, I know, but it can't be helped…still a few bugs in the system," invoking one of the everlasting truisms of modern industrial/post-industrial life, with the audience laughing in response.

The pianist then went on, "But, you know, all this really means is that we'll just play longer into the evening. Are y'all down with that?" The crowd answered with general applause while some of the more vocal among them added cheers and enthusiastic whistles to the mix. She responded, "Alright! I'll take that as a 'Yes'. In the meanwhile, go get yourselves some more food and another drink," and someone in the audience called, "Oh, don't worry, we will!" to some laughter and more applause. Makayla smiled and finished, "Thanks for your patience" and then she replaced the mic in its bracket on the speaker before getting up and walking over to stand at the back of the stage with the other band members.

The Andorian technician soon came out again, joined this time by a Denobulan man and an Antaran man. Obviously all part of the same crew, they were wearing identical-looking coveralls topped by compact tool belts, and they each carried a tall folding step ladder. Jim observed the mixed crew with interest, knowing that the latter two were members of former enemy races, all too many of whom still despised each other (especially on the Antaran side) despite that active hostilities between them had ceased long ago. But here, the two seemed perfectly able to work together under the sure direction of the Andorian woman, who was apparently the crew boss. She did a quick visual assessment of the misaligned parts of the sound shell and then pointed out where the others should put their ladders, taking the bit that was highest off the ground (and likely the most difficult) herself. After a few careful moments of maneuvering the ladders around the piano and the drum kit, they had everything set in place and were climbing up to work on the uncooperative mechanism of the shell.

When the band leader first started speaking, Jim glanced over at Mrs. St. Hoggmanay-Melchett and when she flicked her eyes in the direction of the stage he brightened hopefully, thinking Maybe she'll stop now? But after a minutely longer pause than normal, she simply went on again in a louder tone of voice, talking over the announcement, only dropping down to a slightly more reasonable volume when it was over. He sighed internally, having just had his suspicion confirmed that music was unlikely to make her stop, either…but in any case he supposed he could put up with it a bit longer before he simply interrupted her.

His attention soon wandering once more, the captain glanced around again and saw to his relief that Halaci's friend Diane had rejoined her and looked to be in the process of introducing her to a sleekly-handsome young human male in a tuxedo that fit far too well to be a rental. The Orion's back was now to the captain, so he couldn't judge her reaction to the young man, but at least he was looking at her with obvious interest. Seeing that, Kirk's sense of relief deepened at the possibility that this person might distract his pursuer from her pursuit. But then he felt a small jolt of surprise that he should be positively relieved instead of jealous; here again were more weird feelings which he would have to think about…later.

Kirk let his eyes travel further and he saw that the flock of people waiting to talk to them had thinned considerably as nearly everyone had simply given up and moved on: no one, it seemed, was willing to simply interrupt so formidable a presence as Mrs. General Anthony Cecil St. Hoggmanay-Melchett. Only four stragglers remained: a human woman, an Orion woman, and two human men. They all shared a certain sharp and hungry look, although otherwise varying greatly in physical appearance, and they were apparently engaged in a fierce argument, hissing at each other in low angry voices. All four seemed grimly determined to hang on until the bitter end, and Kirk stared at them for a moment, wondering what they could possibly want and further wondering if he would get a chance to find out in this lifetime…

The captain then looked over at Uhura to see how she was holding up under the torrent of information. After a second, she met his gaze and made one quick motion to the side with her head, signaling, Now's your chance to escape! Kirk's eyes lit up at the idea and he discretely mouthed back, "Thank you!" (he wasn't about to argue with her). Though his first inclination was to grab Spock by the arm and make a break for it, to just git while the gittin' was good (Run Away!), he thought better of it, deciding instead to risk becoming entangled again by letting the matron know they were going to leave. He waited until she took a breath, tapping her elbow to get her attention during the miniscule pause. Speaking with as much sincerity as he could muster, he then thanked her before saying it had been lovely meeting her; with the first officer then adding his own thanks, it was clear they were leaving.

The director tilted her head back and looked down her nose at Kirk for a moment in apparent disbelief and then protested, "But Captain, there's so much more I should tell you!" Jim stared back at her, thinking Is this woman for real?!, but Nyota came to the rescue once again, saying smoothly, "Mrs. Sinaugmanelchett, you can tell me and I'll convey your information and advice to Captain Kirk and Commander Spock." When the matron frowned slightly and looked set to continue her protest, Jim considered simply walking away with a cheery wave and a light, "Well, goodbye then." But she had kept Halaci away from him, and accordingly, he really didn't want to be rude to her, even as overbearing as she was being. So instead, he offered, "Don't worry, ma'am; you can trust Lt. Uhura to pass on whatever you tell her. After all, she's our chief communications officer, and she won't leave anything out or get the details wrong."

At that, Mrs. St. Hoggmanay-Melchett seemed somewhat mollified, but when she began visibly gathering a head of steam to voice another objection, the captain had a sudden inspiration to sweeten the deal. Bowing slightly, he then held his flower out to her—a quick glance at a nodding Uhura as he extended his hand confirmed that she was fine with that—and he said, "I would like you to have this as a token of my appreciation for your interest in our little choral group. Not many people know as much as you do about Medieval and Renaissance music, and it was kind of you to take to time to…enlighten us."

Kirk immediately felt like kicking himself for his audible pause before "enlighten us," revealing his semi-lie as it did (it was only a semi-lie because she had, after all, given them some useful tips). But she appeared not to notice. Instead, to his surprise, she blushed and tittered like a school girl, momentarily holding one hand up over her mouth. She dropped her hand and after the briefest hesitation, she took the flower from him and said, "Why Captain, how sweet! I accept! But it's a good thing that my husband, The General, isn't here tonight, or he might be calling you out!" and then she laughed quite heartily.

Jim looked at her with a frozen smile on his face and answered with a rather weak high-pitched little laugh, "A-heh, heh, heh, heh, heh," thinking That's all I need, to have some general gunning for me, assuming I was flirting with his wife when I was actually just trying to get away from her… She then sobered a bit and added good naturedly, "Captain, I'm really just kidding you. No, in fact he'd more likely pay you to take me," and then she laughed again.

Not quite sure how to respond to that, Kirk raised his eyebrows at her and after a moment came out with an inelegant, "Uh…" before she interrupted again with another laugh and a smile, saying, "Dear me, but I do seem to be full of beans tonight, Captain! Forgive me, I'm joking again. The General and I actually trot along quite nicely together, which is a good thing because he's retired now and home on Andoria most of the time. At the moment, though, he's off on his yearly fishing trip back to Earth with some of his retired military cronies, otherwise he would be here tonight."

Hearing that, Jim couldn't quite stop the look of alarm that briefly flashed across his face before he realized he was being ridiculous and was able to squash it. The matron noted his fleeting expression and she patted his arm while saying. "But had he been here, The General really wouldn't have been upset at your giving me the flower, not at all. In fact, he is always quite pleased whenever I receive what he considers to be proper recognition, so there's no need for you to worry." The captain responded with another tiny smile before saying, "Thanks for the reassurance; I appreciate that." and she patted his arm again.

Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Uhura and Giotto doing a (fairly) good job of concealing their amusement over this exchange. He frowned at them a little, making the lieutenant almost lose it for a moment, as he thought Hey, no fair laughing! but his face soon cleared when he realized that it was pretty funny, imagining himself and this woman as a potential couple. And then he had the comforting thought that even she had found a mate, someone who valued her and apparently liked her just the way she was, so maybe there would be a second chance for him, maybe there was hope for him yet…

Pushing that thought to the back of his mind (no good getting distracted), Kirk focused on the situation at hand and decided that now was the time to make good their escape. He was opening his mouth to say goodbye to Mrs. St. Hoggmanay-Melchett a final time, only to see that her attention had been caught by something or someone across the room. Following her gaze, he looked over to see an astonishingly handsome blonde man in white tie formal evening wear who was surrounded by a cluster of mostly female admirers, one of whom was pulling down the lower lid of her right eye with one hand while making a "Look here" gesture at him with the other.

Frowning a little in her turn, the matron said, "Oh dear. Lt. Uhura, I do apologize, but I find I need to cut this short as I see that I must go rescue my younger brother. With the General away, he's my escort tonight, even though, bless his heart, he'd rather be at home reading. You see, he's an actor, and he's played an heroic and adventurous doctor in a long-running series of movies here, so he is widely recognized. Unfortunately, some people seem to ignore the fact that he's not an actual doctor, and when I see them pointing at body parts and urging him to take a closer look, well, that's my cue to intervene."

Jim somehow kept his eyebrows from shooting up again in surprise that this literally movie-star-handsome man should be the music institute director's brother (talk about the old genetic shuffle!). Looking across the ballroom again, initially it didn't seem to Kirk that the actor needed "rescuing," as at first glance, he appeared to be enjoying the attention. But then the captain was struck by the forced nature of the man's smile and he wondered if the older woman hadn't called the situation correctly after all. Maybe, he thought, this was one of those classic examples of a person who was quite shy and retiring in real life being reluctantly thrust into the limelight as a result of playing a daring popular hero on the screen.

After another apology from Mrs. St. Hoggmanay-Melchett, they all exchanged a quick round of farewells and then she swanned away, gliding off with surprising grace on her mission of mercy. The captain looked after her just long enough to see relief flood the actor's face at the approach of this forceful woman who would take charge of the fans surrounding him, confirming that for all her insensitive obliviousness when it came to interacting with strangers, the music institute director was apparently attuned to the people in her family. Jim then briefly marveled once more that these two, so different in appearance and behavior, were really and truly brother and sister.

With the matron now safely away, the officers turned to look at each other. The humans all shared wry expressions while the half-Vulcan supplied the eye roll (a move he had by now perfected), causing the others to laugh. And then Jim had to chuckle a bit more over the irony of the whole situation: despite all their maneuvering to facilitate his and Spock's escape, Mrs. St. Hoggmanay-Melchett had left them instead. But, at least she was gone now and they could get on with the evening.

After a quick look back at the sound shell to track the progress of repairs—the technicians now had their ladders set up in new places, which could either be a good thing or a bad thing—he turned away and started leading his friends further from the stage. Glancing around as they walked, he noted with some relief that Halaci was nowhere in sight. But this feeling was short-lived as the four people who had been determined to outlast the matron for a chance to speak to them now followed and pressed in around them, halting their progress and causing Spock to edge a little closer to his captain.

All of these people started talking at once, making it impossible to hear what anyone was saying. Seeking to bring order from chaos, Jim held up his hands and said in a loud voice, "Ladies and gentlemen, one at a time, please!" Startled, the humans and the Orion fell silent, glaring at each other, and then the match came down to a competition between the two women as the men visibly retreated a little, seeming to recognize that neither of them would win this particular fight.

On the face of it (considering that a male would be making this decision), the contest shouldn't even have been close. The human woman was a hard-looking, rail-thin bottle blond whose dark roots were just beginning to show through where her hair parted. She was wearing a very plain black dress of modest cut and plain black flats, while in contrast, the Orion was fully as voluptuous as Halaci and was dressed in similarly revealing clothing in an eye-popping shade of red, with a pair of red stiletto heels to match. She shook her lush dark auburn mane and batted her long eyelashes at Kirk, angling to be the person he picked to say their piece first. He was sure she was going full bore pumping out the pheromones, judging from the number of men of several races gathering nearby who were practically drooling. But for whatever reason, he himself wasn't falling into her chemical trap, which was yet one more weird thing to add to the growing list of weird things he'd experienced lately.

True, Barry didn't seem to be affected by the curvaceous temptress either, but that was understandable given that he was with Nyota (there really being no question in the captain's mind as to which of those two women was the more attractive). But in any case, Jim resented this blatant attempt to manipulate him, so he gestured to the thin woman instead, saying, "OK, you can go first." The Orion stared at him with surprise and unconcealed anger showing plainly on her face for a moment before she was able to control her expression and go back to looking (or at least trying to look) alluring.

The not-really-blonde smirked a little at her bested competitor and then, giving Jim an oily smile, she said, "Captain Kirk, I am Evangeline Chadband with Summerson and Dedlock Artistic Representatives, Limited." She was holding a small gold-toned case in one hand which she now opened to extract a business card, saying, "Please, take my card," as she handed it to him.

Despite all the various electronic ways people now distributed their personal information, these printed cards had never completely disappeared, perhaps because they served as a physical reminder of a contact, which could be a great advantage in the business world. But in the captain's world, they were fairly unusual, and he took a second or two to examine it, feeling the heavy paper stock and running his thumb over the embossed printing. He stuck it in a pocket, thinking Well, I can probably use it as a toothpick if nothing else and then he nodded to Ms. Chadband to continue.

In response, she broadened her unctuous smile and gestured toward Uhura and Spock to include them in the conversation, saying, "I couldn't help but overhear what that woman was saying to you about 'your need to improve your performance authenticity'," here doing a fairly good imitation of Mrs. St. Hoggmanay-Melchett. She then went on in her normal tone, "And while she might be right about that, I don't know and don't much care because I know a hot act when I see one. Let me set you up with one of our top coaches and I can guarantee I'll make you rich and famous because I know I can get you a fabulous recording contract and bookings to match throughout the Federation. Resign your commissions and sign with me—you won't regret it!" she finished with a triumphant glance at her rivals for getting her pitch in first.

Kirk stood simply looking at her for a moment, his expression a curious mix of Are-you-serious?!, and Hell-no-not-in-a-million-years! He then started to reply, "Well thanks, but I really don't…" when she interrupted, "And when I say 'rich', I mean 'rich beyond your wildest dreams'." At that, Spock raised an eyebrow at her and put in, "And naturally, you would take a…modest percentage of those riches 'right off the top' as the saying goes, would you not?" Chadband's smarmy look intensified and she shrugged slightly while spreading her thin fingers apart, replying, "But of course. That's how the business works."

This exchange was seemingly too much for one of her human competitors, a shortish man with a gray crew cut who was wearing an expensive-looking suit that—perhaps by no accident—was just slightly too small for him, as it emphasized his muscular build. Ignoring the Orion and her pheromones (the scent of a sweet deal was apparently much more tempting to him), he burst out at the commander in a loud voice, "Don't listen to her! Sign with me instead! I'll cut you a much better deal, I guarantee!"—there was that near-meaningless "guarantee" again—-and he surged toward the half-Vulcan with a hand extended as if to grab his arm.

Three things then happened almost simultaneously: Spock shrunk backwards a little to avoid this human male, putting him even closer to his captain, although he stopped just short of making actual contact; Jim experienced a sudden flood of anxiety that he knew was not his own (only later would he puzzle over how, given that his friend wasn't touching him at the time); and he reflexively threw his arm out to physically block the man from getting any closer to his first officer, his hand palm-outward in a "Halt!" gesture while he barked, "Stop!" in his captain's voice.

The would-be agent instantly complied, apparently recognizing Kirk's plain tone of command (which was a good thing for him, as Giotto was already moving to restrain him, only stopping when he saw the fellow freeze in his tracks). Speaking at a more reasonable volume, the man then said to the commander, "Sorry about that; I forgot," looking vaguely chagrinned and sounding almost sincere. Spock nodded acknowledgment/acceptance of the brief apology while Jim felt a distinct lessening of the tension in his gut. But it didn't completely dissipate, and he realized that he needed to get his friend away from the crowd sooner rather than later. They'd just deal with these people and after that, they could escape to the gallery again…

Kirk was brought back to the present when the man zeroed in on him and declared, "But really, Captain, you should consider my offer. I'm Augustus Stiggins with the Pickwick and Weller Talent Agency. Here, let me give you my card, too…" and he reached toward a back pocket for his own supply. But before he could complete the action, Jim interrupted, "Now, hold on just a minute," and he looked at the other members of their ensemble to see what they thought before he finished answering. Spock shook his head "No," while Uhura shrugged noncommittally. Jim turned and addressed Stiggins again, saying, "Yeah, well, thanks, but that's not really necessary. I don't think any of us are going to be leaving Starfleet anytime soon, so…" he trailed off and shrugged expressively to convey, "Don't bother."

Rather than backing off, Stiggins frowned a little and objected, "But you took her card," tipping his head in Chadband's direction, who smirked back at him, clearly gloating. He went on, "And you never know, you might want to get out sooner than you think. So it's only fair that you take my card, too." Hearing this, the Orion woman and the other human, a middle-aged man wearing a bad toupee and a suit that had seen better days, both began clamoring, "Ours, too! Take ours, too! It's only fair!" Kirk sighed audibly in response, thinking Gods! Are these people in kindergarten or something? Well, he knew how to handle this situation. He quickly pulled Chadband's card out of his pocket with the intention of handing it back to her, thinking This should piss them all off equally, and then none of them can accuse me of being unfair!

Watching him, Nyota guessed what he was about to do and further guessed that it would likely result in an escalating argument, with all four agents voicing strong objections and impeding the departure of the captain and first officer. She knew from the minute amount of tension in Spock's face that he needed to get out of the crowd, preferably with Jim beside him. So to forestall a possible delay of one or both of her friends, she said in a soothing tone, "Captain, I can take their cards, and if you want to give me the one in your hand, I can keep track of everyone's contact information—just in case we ever reconsider." Their leaving Starfleet for a musical career was, she knew, unlikely in the extreme, but hopefully the slight-slight-slight chance would mollify this school of sharks and allow both of her superior officers to get away in short order, with no more fuss.

Kirk hesitated momentarily—damn but he kinda wanted to piss these people off!—but then he decided to follow Nyota's lead in the matter and be diplomatic, because really, that was probably the most expedient way to make their escape. Accordingly, he handed Chadband's card over to the lieutenant with a sincere "Thank you!" and she then collected the others. The two who had not gotten a chance to introduce themselves both started talking at him, but he held up a hand to cut them off, saying, "Sorry folks, but Mr. Spock and I are overdue for a serious debriefing, so I'm ending this here."

The Orion and Toupee Man both opened their mouths to object further, but the captain stopped them with a commanding "Don't even think about it" look. He then went on, saying by way of clear dismissal, "OK, thank you all, we've got your contact info. If we change our minds about staying in Starfleet, we'll be in touch." Chadband sighed and spoke for all of them when she said, "Alright, I suppose that will have to do," and Kirk nodded again while thinking Damn straight it will have to do. Sheesh!

After a slight pause during which she let her frustration at this situation show in her compressed mouth and angry eyes, she mastered herself and continued, "Well, adieu, Captain. Should you ever reconsider…" she trailed off. Thinking Not bloody likely, he finished for her, "…we know how to reach you; good-bye, Ms. Chadband." After nodding to the others, she walked away and melted back into the crowd. The Orion said her farewells next and then moved off with her heels beating out a hard staccato of disappointment, away from Impromptu Chorale, Enterprise and away from the gaggle of waiting men, some of whom were nearly tripping over their own feet in their rush to follow her. The other two agents then said their own goodbyes and drifted off.

Kirk looked at his fellow officers and breathed a sigh of relief, remarking, "Whew! Glad that's over with!" and the others all agreed in various ways. He turned to Spock and said in an official-sounding tone that would not have been out of place at a conference with Starfleet admirals, "Commander, having successfully completed our mission, we shall now proceed to our debriefing." The first officer straightened his already-straight back even further, adopted his best Vulcan-formal face and replied in his best Vulcan-formal voice, "Aye, aye, Captain." His expression softened and his posture relaxed as he added, "And thank you, Jim," in a much gentler tone.

Kirk smiled back at him and answered, "No problem." He then turned to Uhura and Giotto to say, "Thanks for everything, you guys! Spock and I are off to the gallery for our tal…I mean, our mission debriefing now. See ya later." The security chief nodded and replied, "Right-o, Captain," while the communications officer answered, "You're welcome, Jim. And thank you! That was great fun!" He agreed, "Yeah, it was, wasn't it? We should do it again sometime," and she responded, laughing, "You're on!" Knowing her, he was sure she would find a way to make it happen and he smiled, thinking of singing with his friends again at some point in the future.

As he turned back toward the commander, the captain took note of the still-thick crowd around them and he worried a little that some of these people might try to follow them as they made their way to the gallery: he did not want anyone intruding on their tête-à-tête (err, mission debriefing), dammit! But then he heard the clatter of metal hitting metal from the direction of the stage and he looked around to see the technicians walking off, carrying their now-folded ladders. This, he knew, meant that the sound shell was either fixed or unfixable, and he thought it was likely (hopefully) the former possibility, as the shell looked to now be in a more normal configuration.

A moment later the band members confirmed his guess when they moved to retake their places, with Makayla stopping at the speaker and picking up the microphone. She then announced, "OK, folks, we're back in bidness! Let's have a round of applause for the sound crew!" The audience responded by clapping and cheering while the technicians stopped briefly and waved back in acknowledgement before moving on to disappear through the door under the gallery.

After the noise died down again, the band leader went on, "We just need to check our tuning and then we'll get going again." The crowd greeted this information with more happy applause as she replaced the mic and went to sit at the piano. While the guitarist and bass player verified that they were still in tune, Kirk took a deep, relieved breath, thinking that a large portion of the audience would now get back to dancing. And hopefully, that meant that most people would forget about a certain Starfleet captain and first officer, consequently leaving the two of them alone for their debriefing (hopefully).

After making sure the other members of the band were ready to start, Landsey counted off with two quick bobs of her head, leading them into "The Blueshift Boogie," an up-tempo number by a popular Andorian jazz composer. As almost everyone around the officers focused on the music and started dancing, the captain nodded to himself that his guess about the lure of the dance floor was right. He then gestured across the room toward the broad stairway leading up to the gallery, asking, "Shall we?" and the first officer inclined his head in acquiescence while replying evenly, "We shall."

Smiling in response, Kirk placed a hand on his friend's shoulder to move them forward, with his fingers buzzing very softly at the contact. After a moment, his gut relaxed as much of the residual tension he'd been getting from the half-Vulcan faded away at his touch. Spock inhaled deeply twice before turning to look at the captain and giving a brief nod to indicate that he was alright now. Nodding in response, Jim dropped his hand, with the vibrations in his fingers continuing for a few seconds before stopping. As they walked on side by side, he experienced a deep sense of satisfaction at the realization that he really could help this dear friend who had come to mean so very much to him. A moment later though, below that feeling, he became aware that there also seemed to be something else, something that stirred vaguely in the depths just beyond his grasp, like a shape seen in peripheral vision that vanishes when looked at straight on…

But Kirk soon shook himself mentally, pushing such things aside, for now was not the time to let some unknown (and seemingly unknowable) thought or emotion distract him. There were questions to be asked and questions to be answered, and Jim let his smile broaden into a grin of anticipation as the two of them made their way toward the stairs to the gallery and their long-awaited mission debriefing.

Author's notes:

There are various sources of info online about all of the stuff I talk about here, and most of these topics have their own pages on Wikipedia. Since I often do use that source—it's a great place to find basic (and sometimes quite extensive) information on a vast array of subjects, in articles that are often thoroughly referenced, with bibliographies—I'll just say this once up front and not keep mentioning it over and over. I will, however, attribute a source when it's from something other than Wikipedia. Links for those can also be found in my profile, under Music and Sources for Chapter 22. Notes occur in the same order as these things come up in the text, rather than some of them being separated into a "performed music" group.

By now you all know I like to create characters that are often somewhat (or very) contrary to "type," hence my punk-rock-looking female Vulcan jazz drummer. I named her Zhuksu Mu'Gahv in honor of Viola Smith, who was one of the first American female drummers who got any notice. "Zhuksu" means "smith" in Vulcan, which is perfect, and "mu'gahv-kur" is the Vulcan word for "violet"—literally, dark (mu') amethyst (gahv) color (kur)—which also pretty much works since "viola" is Latin for "violet." The Vulcan words are from the Vulcan Language Dictionary, linked in my profile. Leaving off the "kur" suffix yields "Mu'Gahv" meaning "Dark Amethyst" ≈ "Violet." Not quite the same, but hey, it works well enough to get the idea across. What's really amazing, though, is that by a fun coincidence, both the first and last names of this particular woman have Vulcan equivalents, and how cool is that? There's a link in my profile to an interview of Viola Smith done in 2012, just before she turned 100 years old and still going strong. As of 2014, she was still alive at 102!

Samuel Barber wrote "The Daisies" when he was a seventeen-year-old student at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. The poem is by James Stephens. There's a link to a lovely version in my profile.

"Bist du bei mir," long assumed to be by J.S. Bach, is actually an aria from the otherwise-lost opera, Diomedes, oder die triumphierende Unschuld by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel. To be fair, though, it's probably more accurate to say that the song is of mixed authorship, as the melody and words were written by Stölzel, while the continuo accompaniment that almost everyone uses today was written by either J.S.B. himself or by his wife. I first heard the song decades ago, but I didn't know this fact about it until I started researching it for this story, as the whole thing was thought to be by Bach until 2000, when a score of the original aria was rediscovered. (Since the entry in Frau Bach's notebook is in her handwriting, one would think that it would have been assumed to have been by her instead of her husband, but nooooo. I'll give you three guesses why—and the first two don't count.) My original idea was to have Jim know "Bist du bei mir" as the only secular love song that Bach ever wrote, but that had to change when I discovered that he didn't actually write the melody or the words. A version of the song with organ accompaniment is linked in my profile.

My Fair Lady is a musical by Alan Lerner (lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music) that premiered in 1956. Based on the 1913 play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, the plot follows the progress of Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle as she is being trained by phoneticist Henry Higgins in speech and manners, with the goal of having her pass for a lady. The musical was adapted as a movie in 1964, with Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle (sung by Marni Nixon), Rex Harrison as Professor Henry Higgins (sung by Rex Harrison), and Jeremy Brett as Eliza's gentleman-suitor, Freddy Eynsford-Hill (sung by Bill Shirley). (BTW, and apropos of nothing whatever in this story, in my opinion Brett also played the best Sherlock Holmes ever in the long-running BBC TV adaptations of the Holmes stories.) There's a link in my profile to a clip from the movie where Freddy sings "On the Street Where You Live"; it starts with short lead-up to the song, with the music beginning just after one minute in.

Carousel is a musical with music by Richard Rodgers and words by Oscar Hammerstein, first produced in 1945. Based on a much bleaker play by Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár titled Liliom which was set in Budapest, Carousel takes place primarily in 1870s Maine and follows the ups and downs (mostly downs) of carnival barker Billy Bigelow, mill worker Julie Jordan, who becomes his wife, and their daughter, Louise. The musical was adapted as a movie in 1956 staring Shirley Jones as Julie Jordan, Gordon MacRae as Billy Bigelow, and Susan Luckey as Louise. The song is performed twice in the musical: once with just Cousin Nettie (Claramae Turner) singing to Julie and then again with the whole cast singing during the real tear-jerker of an ending. There's a link in my profile to a clip from the movie that features the first iteration of the song. SPOILER ALERT: start the clip at 1:11 in if you don't want to see a spoiler in the form of the action immediately preceding the song.

A Trick of the Tail is an album released in 1976 by the progressive rock band, Genesis. It was the first album they put out after Peter Gabriel had left the group and it features drummer Phil Collins now also singing lead and backing vocals, with Steve Hackett on guitars, Mike Rutherford on guitars and bass, and Tony Banks on keyboards and backing vocals. It's one of my favorite albums ever, so I had to work it into this story. There's a link to the whole album in my profile.

By the way, it's not actually so far-fetched to have Spock know about "Mad Man Moon." In the novel (but not in the movie) young Spock is familiar with at least some rock music, as he correctly identifies a song as being by Lennon and McCartney.

John Dowland (1563-1626) was an English composer and lutenist during the Renaissance (~1400 - ~1600) who wrote songs for voice and lute as well as a large number of pieces for solo lute, among other compositions. It's likely that his name was pronounced "Doeland," as he once wrote a piece titled Semper Dowland, semper dolens, meaning "always Dowland, always doleful." A lot (but by no means all) of his music was on the doleful side, as melancholy music was quite popular then, reflecting the general mood of deep sadness bordering on despair, called "melancholia," that permeated European culture at the time. Melancholia was also considered to be one of the four temperaments or bodily humors, the balance or unbalance of which was thought to cause health or disease. There are links in my profile for the songs that Jim knows from The First Booke of Ayres, "Come Again, Sweet Love doth Now Invite," "Can She Excuse My Wrongs," and "His Golden Locks."

I choose "áshįįh łikan," the Navajo word for "sugar," for my made-up term of affection that Billy uses with Makayla, since I couldn't find a real Navaho endearment that I wanted to use. Printed and online English-Navajo dictionaries (there's a link to one of these in my profile) listed a few endearments, but they seem to be reserved for the bedroom, which didn't really seem appropriate in this context. So I decided to make one up instead, and "sugar" was a logical choice.

"Ah Robin, Gentle Robin" was written by William Cornysh the Younger (the name is sometimes spelled "Cornyshe" or "Cornish"), another English Renaissance composer who lived from 1465 to 1523. He was the son of a man who was also named William Cornysh who died in 1502. Some sources list the song as a canon or round, but it's only a partial one because the round only involves the two lower parts; the top line is independent from them and doesn't conform to the pattern in the lower two. The song is linked in my profile in the first group of songs at the beginning of Music and Sources for Chapter 22. Here's a version in more modern English:

Hi, Robin, gentle Robin,
Tell me how your girlfriend is doing,
And I'll tell you about mine.

My girlfriend's really mean,
Oh, why is she like that?
She loves someone else more than me
And yet she says this isn't so.

I haven't seen such deception
for I find women to be honest.
My girlfriend really loves me,
And wouldn't leave me for someone new.

"Dona Nobis Pacem" is a traditional (meaning authorship unknown) canon or round found in any number of hymnals and song books. There's a link to it in my profile, likewise in the first group.

"Sumer is Icumen in" was written in the Wessex dialect of Middle English, the alphabet of which included the letter þ, representing the "th" sound and called the thorn. It was also part of the Old English, Gothic and Old Norse alphabets, and it's still used in modern Icelandic. The link for this one is also in the first group of songs in my profile. Here's a modern English translation:

Summer has arrived,
Loudly sing, Cuckoo!
Seeds grow and meadows bloom
And the forest springs anew,
Sing, Cuckoo!-
The ewe bleats after the lamb,
The cow lows after the calf,
The bullock jumps, the billy-goat farts,
Merrily sing, Cuckoo!
Cuckoo, cuckoo, well you sing, cuckoo;
Nor will you ever stop now.

"Row, Row, Row Your Boat" is a children's song and perennial favorite of campfire singers everywhere. The words were first written down in 1852, but they weren't printed with the tune we use today until 1881. Even though I think most people know this song, I decided to include a link in my profile to a too-precious version sung by Kirk, Spock, and McCoy in the TOS movie The Final Frontier, in a scene set around a camp fire, no less. (Believe it or not, I'd completely forgotten about this when I came up with my own singing-around-the-campfire bit.)

"Scotland's Burning" is a nursery rhyme and round which dates back to 1580 in one form or another. A later variant is "London's Burning," a reference to the Great Fire of London in 1666. My profile has a link to a great, informal version of the round.

"What a Queer Bird the Frog Are" aka "The Frog Round" aka "What a Queer Bird" is a poem that dates back at least to the 19th century and which can be sung as a round. There's a link to a version of the round in my profile.

"Music Alone Shall Live" is a traditional German folk song and round that every Girl Scout of my generation learned pretty much by osmosis. A link to a sublimely lovely rendition is in my profile, in the first group of songs for this chapter (the ones they actually perform).

And once again, the web comes through! I thought the quote "What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it / Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!" would be a perfect send-off for Jim and Spock, but I wanted to be sure I got it right, not wanting to misquote something as well-known as this couplet by Goethe (or so I thought). So I started researching it, and lo and behold, it's not really by Goethe! John Anster was a poet and an Irish professor of law during the 19th century who did a translation of Goethe's Faust. The Goethe Society of North America has a web page, linked in my profile, where they give the whole story of this oft-quoted misattribution—including why people think it's by Goethe himself—in which they describe Anster's version as a "very free translation" of the original.

Petrus de Cruce was a composer and music theorist in the Medieval period (~1150 to ~1400). He was active in the late 13th century, making important contributions to the development of the musical notation system used at the time. Called mensural notation, it employed the five-line staff still in use today and featured square and diamond-shaped notes which could accurately portray the duration of the notes in relation to each other. In this system, the note values were the double-long, long, breve, and semi-breve, with the breve being the unit of the beat. Before de Cruce, the breve was only ever divided in either two or three semi-breves, but he pushed the envelope here by divided it into as many as seven. This innovation let song-writers break away from the restrictive set of expected rhythms and write music for their tripla which would allow the words to be sung in a way that more nearly matched the rhythms of natural speech. Additionally, due to the greater number of semi-breves, the poems used in the tripla could be sung more rapidly and so could also be longer, creating a greater contrast to the slower-moving inner parts.

However, the change to so many semi-breves was not without its problems, and this is where de Cruce's other innovation came in. At that time, all of the parts of multipart vocal music were generally written individually in parts books, instead of being recorded all together in a score arrangement as we do today, with every singer having a copy of all the parts. Parts books used way less paper than full scores—paper was an expensive resource in the Middle Ages—but it created difficulties for people trying to figure out how de Cruce's large number of semi-breve divisions were to be sung with the other parts. To solve this coordination problem, he developed a system of grouping the semi-breves between dots to make it clear where they were meant to equal one breve. The dot-division system fell out of favor when dots were later also used to indicate extended time values for notes, but by then, it had been rendered obsolete anyway, as other developments in notation had made the grouping dots unnecessary. Motets with these new features are called Petronian motets, whether or not de Cruce actually wrote them. There's a link to "Aucun ont trouvé" in my profile.

I'm assuming pretty much everyone knows about The Beastie Boys; their song, "Sabotage," from their 1994 album Ill Communication, is what's playing in the 2009 Star Trek movie during the scene where 11-year-old Jim steals the car and runs it over a cliff. There's a link to that song in my profile, along with a link to what was one of their biggest hits, "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)" from their 1986 album, Licensed To Ill.

Likewise, I'm assuming everyone knows about Nirvana, one of the bands that started the whole Seattle-sound grunge thing, which was the perfect antidote to the over-slick, over-produced music of the big-hair bands of the 1980s. Their classic, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" from their 1991 album Nevermind is linked in my profile, as is "Heart-Shaped Box" from their album In Utero, released in 1993.

Gang of Four was a terrific post-Punk band—and definitely one of the most political—when they were formed in 1977 with Jon King on vocals, Andy Gill on guitar, Dave Allen on bass guitar, and Hugo Burnham on drums. Over the years, the band has been through numerous changes in personnel and even ceased to be a band a couple of times for several years. But they've reformed time and again and are active today, although Gill is now the only original member, and their music style has shifted more toward the funk-dance-punk side of things. The original line-up got back together from 2004-2006, and I was lucky enough to hear them in at the Fillmore in San Francisco in May 2005. There's a link in my profile to a couple of my favorite songs of theirs, "It's Not Made by Great Men," from their 1979 debut album, Entertainment! and "Muscle for Brains" from the 1982 album, Songs of the Free.

Adrian Belew Power Trio is an alternative rock band founded by Adrian Belew, a monster guitar-god who's played with the likes of Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Talking Heads, King Crimson, Nine Inch Nails, etc., etc. since 1977. He's also had a very successful solo career. In 2006, Belew did a series of master classes at the Paul Green School of Rock in Philadelphia and subsequently formed a power trio with two of the students he met there, brother and sister Paul and Julie Slick on drums and bass, respectively. There are links in my profile to a couple of their songs from a 2008 live performance on the German TV music program, Rockpalast: "Dinosaur" originally recorded by King Crimson in 1995 on their album Thrak and "Three of a Perfect Pair," also recorded by King Crimson in 1984 on their album King Crimson. As a bonus, the video for "Three of a Perfect Pair" includes a short interview with Belew in which he talks about meeting Paul and Julie Slick and forming the Power Trio with them.

Nigel Stanford (also called John Stanford, from his middle name) is a New Age and Ambient music composer and film maker from New Zealand who has done some absolutely incredible music videos. There are links in my profile to a couple of his things. The first, from the 2009 album Solar Echoes, is "CYMATICS: Science Vs. Music" where he plays around with cymatics, the physical manifestation of different sound waves through various media, like fine particles, oil, water, and fire. The second is "Crystal Skies 4K," from the stunning time lapse movie TimeScapes by Tim Lowe, released in 2012. And yes, Stanford's music is a lot more tranquil than that of the other bands, but hey, even hip-hop-grunge-punk fans have to take a break from the hard-edged stuff once in a while!

The Boston Camerata is an early music ensemble that has been around since 1954 and is still going strong today, so I'm having them make it all the way to the 23rd century. There's a link to their web page in my profile, as well as links to two of their recordings. The first is a Spanish Christmas carol titled "Riu, Riu, Chiu," written around 1550, possibly by Mateo Fletcha the Elder, a Spanish composer and music teacher. The second is "Fas et nefas ambulant" (in English, "Right and wrong they go about"). This is one of the quite secular poems found in Carmina Burana, a Medieval manuscript written mostly by Goliards (a type of travelling cleric or clerical student) from the 11th through the early 13th centuries, and recorded by the Boston Camerata on their album of the same name. Many people will be familiar with the settings of some of these poems by 20th century composer Carl Orff. However, the musical settings used on this album are quite different, having been reconstructed by Boston Camerata director Joel Cohen, along with members of the ensemble, using their collective knowledge of the music of this time period to augment the scant clues found in the original manuscript.

The Center for Early Music at New York University was founded in 1980, and the Center really will accept people without an undergraduate degree into this graduate program, if they have sufficient performance experience. A link to a web page about the Center is included in my profile.

Noah Greenberg was a largely self-taught American choral conductor and native New Yorker who, with recorder player Bernard Krainis, co-founded the New York Pro Musica (originally named the Pro Musica Antiqua) in 1952. So I'm paying tribute to the two of them by making them, respectively, the Director of the Center for Early Music and the Director of Graduate Studies at New York University. Greenberg is credited with sparking interest in the US in pre-Classical era music—Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque—through the New York Pro Musica's concert performances and many recordings. Tragically, he died of a heart attack in 1966 when he was only 46, although the group continued another eight years before disbanding in 1974. Would there have been a Boston Camerata and a Center for Early Music at New York University without the ground-breaking work of Greenberg and Krainis and the New York Pro Musica? Maybe, but then again, maybe not. There's a link in my profile to one of the Pro Musica's recordings, "Lirim Bililirum" by Ottaviano Petrucci (1466 – 1539) from their album Petrucci, First Printer of Music. The singers use more vibrato than would be typical of a group recording this today—it's now thought that vibrato wasn't much employed with this music when it was originally performed—but it's still a nice version.

I think everyone knows who Mozart was, but fewer people will be familiar with Michael Praetorius. He was a German composer who lived from 1571-1621, straddling the Renaissance and Baroque (~1600-~1750) periods of music. He wrote a huge amount of chorale music, primarily for the Lutheran church, and he also wrote secular pieces, although these are all lost save for a large collection of dances called Terpsichore. His other very important contribution was that he meticulously documented the standard musical practices of his day in a series of treatises, which became an invaluable resource during the Early Music revival of the 20th century, when people were figuring out how to best perform this music. One of Praetorius' best known pieces is the harmonization he did for the hymn "Es ist ein Ros entsprungen" (in English, "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming") in 1609. There's a link to a version of this sublimely lovely piece in my profile.

If you're a Blackadder fan (there were four Blackadder series and a Christmas special on BBC TV which followed the misadventures of Edmund Blackadder (played by Rowan Atkinson) during the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the time of King George III, World War I, and the far future, respectively), the name of the large matron who collars Jim after their performance may sound familiar. That's because I stole most of it from one of the characters in the World War I series, Blackadder Goes Fourth: General Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett, brilliantly played by Stephen Fry. The character is a completely blockheaded and totally ineffectual general who is also an officious prig, with a name to match (apologies to any real Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchetts out there). I decided to up the snob factor of the name even further by adding the "St." and sticking an extra "g" in "Hogmanay" and then hyphenating that to "Melchett," which overall, accomplishes my aim quite well, I think. And I couldn't resist having the matron pronounce her surname as "Sinaugmanelchett" in the same wonderfully smushed-up British way that turns "St. John" into "Sin-gin" and "Worchestershire" into "Wustasher," and where people can say things like "'Mapledurham' pronounced 'Mum'" with a(n almost) straight face. (This last example is from the very funny P.G. Wodehouse story, Strychnine in the Soup.)

By the by, "Hogmanay" is a real word; it's Scottish for New Year's Eve and the accompanying all-night/day-plus celebrations. Oh, and I know that a general's wife (probably) wouldn't really introduce herself as Mrs. General His-full-name, but that was the only way to really make the joke work. Just think of it as artistic license.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was an extremely prolific Italian composer during the Renaissance who lived from about 1525 to 1594. He left behind a large body of work, and while much of it is sacred music, he wrote secular pieces as well, including nearly 150 madrigals, and he was fortunate enough to have been famous and well-respected while he was alive. Like de Cruces and Franco of Cologne, Palestrina wrote in the polyphonic style, with each line having an independent melody, all of which weave together to form the harmony (although by now, all lines sang the same set of words). Palestrina's music is considered to be quite representative of late Renaissance polyphony. There's a link in my profile to one of his masses, Missa sine nomine.

I took the last names of my sharkish talent agents—Chadband and Stiggins—from the last names of the smarmy Evangelical preachers in two of Charles Dickens' books, Bleak House and The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, respectively. In Bleak House, his description of the Reverend Mr. Chadband, a self-serving hypocrite crop full of false piety, is wonderfully funny; for an excerpt from this part of Bleak House, see the link in my profile. And in Pickwick Papers, Dickens also skewers the behavior of Reverend Stiggins, a lazy, drunken clergyman at a temperance church—supposedly totally opposed to drinking any alcohol in any quantity—who has no qualms at all about sponging off of a poor family. In another nod to these books, I took the names of the talent agencies from the last names of some of the principal characters of the two novels: Esther Summerson and Honoria, Lady Dedlock in Bleak House and Samuel Pickwick and Sam Weller in Pickwick Papers.

I think that's it for the notes for this chapter. Again, apologies for taking so long to finish it. Hopefully, it won't take me another year and a half to get the next one out the door. Speaking of the next chapter, there are more revelations coming up about things touched on in this chapter, as well as the first of two important insights for Jim (he won't tumble to the other one for another couple of chapters or so, I think).

And belated thanks, thanks, thanks for all the wonderful reviews of chapter 21! I'm really glad people are enjoying this story.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading, everyone!