The Ship's Cat
Paramount, its heirs and assigns, own Star Trek. I make no profit therefrom.
Quotes are from:
T.S. Eliot, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats
"The name that no human research can discover-
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name."
Jim Kirk hated cats. They made him sneeze and break out in hives. They left hair and whiskers and feces wherever they pleased. They didn't mind.
As a child, Jim had dogs. His favorite was Tabasco, a red tick hound who was his best friend. Tabasco followed him patiently around his family's farm in Iowa, always ready for a game of catch and a handout. He knew all of Jim's secrets, listened to his dreams and nightmares, for eleven years. Jim's mother Winona always said that dog raised Jim far better than any human.
The cats on the farm were relegated to the barn. Every once in a while, there would be a litter of kittens that Winona would try to sneak in the house. After Jim had to go to the emergency ward twice, she never tried again.
Jim had to admit; at least barn cats had a job. They were adept at keeping the rodent population down, though Jim could have done without their regular gifts of a mouse or rat, neatly decapitated and left on the back porch. And of course, with all the dust and debris in the air, a barn cat really couldn't be blamed for setting off an allergy attack. So long as they didn't spook the horses, he guessed they were all right.
Except for Monster. Monster was a one eyed twenty-pound mouser of great skill, which had wandered onto their farm when Jim was ten years old and spent the next four years terrorizing him. He would lie in wait in the rafters above the horse stalls and pounce on Jim at the most indelicate moments. Usually, Jim was under his old quarter horse, Mango, picking out his feet. Mango was pretty steady but with twenty pounds of cat landing on his back, very capable of kicking. Jim had a few bruises from that. Then there was the time he and Paula snuck into the loft to make out when Jim was fourteen. Monster not only wound up breaking them up but moving out and into Paula's house. Jim swore he smirked, as he was loaded into the carrier. Since Paula seemed to like Monster better than Jim, it was a deal breaker.
When Jim finally escaped Iowa and went to Starfleet Academy, he assumed there would be no more cats. Unfortunately, his roommate, Leonard McCoy had other plans. 'Bones', as Jim called him, was cranky, coarse, and curmudgeonly. Almost no one got along with him, which is how he wound up being Jim's roommate. Bones also was an incredibly soft touch. When Priscilla, a mangy Siamese, was hit by a car behind a bar in San Francisco, Bones was there, half in the bag but willing to spend his monthly spousal support at the veterinarians to put her back together.
Naturally, Priscilla's convalescence occurred in their dorm room. Being roommates with a doctor did keep Jim's allergies under control but couldn't prevent him from being unnerved every night when Priscilla woke him up, sitting on the edge of his bunk, staring at him. Every night.
Jim was so grateful when Priscilla was re-homed to Bone's young daughter, he might have cried. He vowed he would never again live with another cat.
"For he will do
As he do do
And there's no doing anything about it!"
Captain James T. Kirk stepped onto the Bridge of the Enterprise full of confidence and vigor. He looked around expecting to meet the eyes of his adoring crew, prepared to acknowledge them with a manly nod and get on to the business of leaving Space Dock Central.
It wasn't that they were being disrespectful or ignoring him. Their attention was elsewhere. To a being, they were focused on the center seat, Jim's command chair and the creature sitting in it.
It was a cat. More precisely, it was a brilliantly hued flame point tabby. He was gorgeous. He sat in the middle of the seat, gazing over the Bridge as if he owned it.
The Captain was on the Bridge.
For he isn't the Cat that he was in his prime;
Though his name was quite famous, he says, in his time."
No one really knew how the Captain had come aboard the Enterprise. Some said Chief Ramsey had brought him on to police the inevitable kitchen pests. Some said he was Keenser's pet, or friend, or lunch perhaps. Doctor McCoy denied he was a therapy animal, though he did use him from time to time. It was a mystery. Since there were no regulations against cats on board due to the history of cats on old sailing vessels, he stayed.
The Captain earned his name by commanding the attention of every being he came in contact with. He was beautiful, friendly, and had green gold eyes that seemed to see and know everything. He acted like he owned the Enterprise. There was no place forbidden and if there were, he'd charm his way in.
He was also famous for his nightly sojourns around the ship, much like the Enterprise's actual Captain. Between the two of them, they roamed almost every inch of the ship, rarely missing a night. Neither stopped to chat much, simply a rub on a leg or a hearty pat on the back. They never met on their tours, but ultimately would arrive at the same destination: The Mess.
"With Cats, some say, one rule is true:
Don't speak till you are spoken to.
Myself, I do not hold with that —
I say, you should ad-dress a Cat.
But always keep in mind that he
It was late Delta shift and Jim Kirk was exhausted. Still, he had stopped by the Mess for a last cup of coffee and a surreptitiously acquired oatmeal cookie. Chief Ramsey baked daily and usually set one aside for the Captain. It was their secret.
Jim noticed Spock sitting alone, snacking on something green and drinking that odorous tea he was so fond of. He grabbed his cup and cookie and sat down across from Spock with a smile.
Spock looked up from his PADD, frowning faintly.
"You are early, Captain."
Jim dipped his cookie into the steaming coffee, losing part of it as it sank to the bottom. He looked heartbroken for a moment. "Why does it always do that? You would think that . . ."
Spock interrupted. "The porous nature of the cookie, due to the addition of ground and processed wheat, in combination with . . . "
Jim looked up from his coffee cup and grinned. "Mister, that was a rhetorical question."
Spock merely raised an eyebrow and resumed eating without comment.
"Why did you say I was early?"
"You are twelve minutes and forty-six seconds earlier that your usual appearance."
"You're keeping track? Do you have a bar graph posted somewhere?"
Spock sighed and put his PADD down. He acknowledged that there was eighty-three point six percent likelihood that Captain Kirk would engage him in human conversation if he ate in the Mess. Although loathe to admit it, Spock enjoyed Captain Kirk's company most of the time, when he wasn't making some irrelevant observation, or he wasn't throwing himself in front of an enraged alien on an away mission or shore leave or . . .
Spock suddenly realized that unless the Captain was silently playing chess, his company left something to be desired. It wasn't that he thought poorly of the man, on the contrary, he had a tremendous amount of admiration and yes, affection for him. He was intelligent, honorable, capable, and courageous to a fault. Spock just had a constant desire to . . . fix him.
Jim flicked a crumb from his cookie at Spock and raised both eyebrows.
Spock didn't have a bar graph, though one might exist on Chekov's personal PADD. He did have a most illogical desire to brush the remaining crumb off the Captain's lower lip. He settled for offering him his napkin.
"Sir, no graph of any kind exists that I am aware of. Your nocturnal habits follow a definite pattern, however."
Jim grinned and wiped the errant crumb from his face. "Why, Spock, I didn't know you cared. Now, if I . . ."
Jim didn't have a chance to finish the sentence. He was interrupted by a flash of cream and red as the Captain jumped up onto the table and made his leisurely way over to Spock. Spock greeted him with a stroke behind soft ears. The Captainacknowledged him with a deep contented purr. He sat down in the middle of the table, studying Jim intently.
Jim frowned. This was unsanitary. "Shoo!" He made flapping motions with his hands, which were completely ineffective. The Captain just stared. Jim noted it wasn't like Priscilla's stare, it was, well, almost human, as though the Captain was analyzing him and finding him wanting. A cat judging him. Great.
Jim pinched the bridge of his nose. "Get. Him. Off. The. Table. Mr. Spock."
Spock complied, picking the Captain up in his arms. Jim watched as the cat nuzzled Spock's neck. He watched as Spock, in turn, rubbed his cheek against the Captain's face. The purring was deafening.
"Oh, for God's sake, Spock. Get a room!"
Spock's eyes had closed briefly in contentment. With a sound of apology, he gently placed the cat on the chair beside him and looked up at Jim, raising an eyebrow.
"Is the Mess insufficient?"
Jim leaned forward, "You know what I meant."
The Captain hissed. Both looked with surprise at the irritated cat. He pinned his ears and narrowed his eyes. Jim suddenly felt like prey.
Spock's hand quickly dropped to the Captain's neck.
"Fascinating. It appears the Captain is displaying displeasure."
"All right, Spock. I've had it with that cat. I've put up with him wandering all over the ship. I've tolerated him sitting in my command chair. I've even turned a blind eye to him trying to sleep in my bunk. But I will not eat with him at a table as if he is a sentient being. This stops now."
The Captain had been watching Jim's face closely and hearing his voice rise, growled.
Spock looked with alarm between Jim and the Captain.
"That's it. I want that cat off my ship at the next opportunity. In the mean time, keep him out of my sight!"
Spock bit back many responses, deeming this not to be the most opportune time to correct his Captain. He might be half Vulcan, but the human side of him had been naughty enough as a child to know when to stop.
Spock gathered the now acquiescent Captain into his arms, murmured, "Yes, Sir!" and departed the Mess with alacrity.
Jim leaned forward, resting both arms on the table and rubbed his eyes. He knew he had upset his First Officer. He knew he'd upset the damn cat. He was simply tired. Tired and had a head ache the size of the Marianas Trench. He'd make it up to Spock later.
His thoughts were interrupted by McCoy who swung into the seat next to him and slammed down a large plate filled with pork chops, greens and grits. Jim eyed the plate thoughtfully and considered it wasn't even tempting.
"Jim, why did I just see Spock fly out of here with the Captain like their tails were on fire?"
Jim grunted and closed his eyes, fighting sudden nausea.
"You know that cat is good for him. Probably the only friend he has on this ship other than you and Uhura. Seems like he's with . . . "
McCoy stopped suddenly, dropping his fork with a clatter. "Jim? JIM! What the hell!"
Jim's head had slipped down, forehead resting on his arms. McCoy noted he was flushed and feverish as he called the med team to the Mess.
Jim would spend the next four days in Sick Bay with the Agerian Flu. Two beings rarely left his side; Mr. Spock and theCaptain.
Fevers are funny things. They distort reality. They make one's body ache. They create dreams.
Jim's fever hovered at about 104 degrees F. for several days. Doctor McCoy monitored him carefully but wasn't terribly concerned. Sometimes a fever was a good thing.
Jim slept through most of it. When he was awake, he was aware he wasn't alone. There was always a warm presence next to him, comforting him when he awoke from nightmares.
The fever dreams were mostly horrible. Jim dreamed that he and his brother Sam were being chased through the family's cornfields by a giant snail. Later, he relived Vulcan's demise, only this time; Spock never made it back to the Enterprise. There was also a plague, ripping through the ship making everyone act drunk. They plunged into a star in that one.
As disturbing as those dreams were, there was one that repeated, as though on a loop. He was standing with Scotty at the Transporter controls, Spock at his side. They were beaming up a diplomatic group. When the tall humanoids arrived on the platform. Jim and Spock stepped out to greet them. As Jim offered his hand and Spock the Ta'al, one of the aliens reached into his robe and drew out a Klingon disruptor. With a smile and without saying a word, the alien trained the weapon on Jim, then on Spock and depressed the trigger. In the dream, Spock screamed as he disintegrated.
Jim woke up moaning several times from that one. Spock was there every time, grasping his arm, reassuring him of his presence. The Captain curled up next to him, his purring lulling Jim back to a more restful sleep.
When the fever finally broke, Jim woke to a warm weight on his chest. As he opened gummy eyes, an out of focus cat appeared. The Captain. The cat blinked at him slowly several times and began to knead his chest. Without thinking, Jim's hands came up and stroked the cat. The Captain purred his pleasure and continued his ministrations.
McCoy and Spock stood in the doorway and silently marveled. McCoy turned to Spock and whispered, "Told you they'd get along. Best therapy cat in the Fleet."
Spock just nodded and after a moment, walked over to Jim's bedside and sat down, his hand joining Jim's in the Captain'ssoft fur.
"A Cat's entitled to expect
These evidences of respect.
And so in time you reach your aim,
And finally call him by his name."
Jim Kirk hated diplomatic missions. They were boring. They were fraught with ideological pitfalls he just wasn't confident negotiating. The only time he was even slightly enthusiastic was when he had help. Good, sound diplomatic help in the form of Spock Prime, that wily old Vulcan from another reality who went by the name of Selek in this Universe.
The Enterprise had picked Selek up at Star Base 10, to be a diplomatic escort. At Warp 3, it was a four-day journey to Kaios V, where they would rendezvous with the Kaiosian diplomatic team. The planet was close to the Klingon border and the Federation was rather desperate to tie them down with trade agreements, so lucrative they wouldn't give the Klingons a second glance.
Jim admittedly loved working with Selek. He was Spock. He was Spock squared. Initially, there had been some tension between the two, Spock, in particular, didn't appreciate comparisons and Selek occasionally seemed impatient with the younger version of himself. After a few diplomatic missions though, they had found an equilibrium. Jim wouldn't say things between them were relaxed but they no longer took logical pot shots at each other, much to Doctor McCoy's disappointment.
Selek was busy during their journey to Kaios V. There wasn't a lot of time to socialize. And yet, everyone wanted to talk to Selek. It wasn't much of a secret who and what he was. That ship had sailed the minute they'd arrived on Earth and been debriefed after Nero.
The Bridge crew had the most opportunity to interact with him, a privilege they took advantage of. Chekov and Sulu both fought to ask his opinion on experiments or research they were running. Uhura didn't say much but never seemed far away, smiling at him gently. Jim swore he saw Selek smile back several times, rather wickedly, he thought. Jim actually had to tell Scotty to leave him alone though. Scotty had a million theories he had to run by him. Jim recognized that Selek had particular difficulty saying no to him.
The night before they were to make orbit around Kaios V, Chief Ramsey prepared a formal dinner for the Ambassador and Command crew. The food was amazing; he'd prepared dishes from many of the Federation worlds. The wine, port, and brandy flowed freely. Jim noticed with amusement that his Spock was far more likely to indulge than Selek.
At the end of the evening, everyone was full and a bit tipsy. As the dishes were cleared, Jim noticed something odd, a notable absence. There was a table, there was food, there were people, where was the cat? He rarely missed a meal. Jim silently praised Spock for keeping the animal corralled. It wouldn't do for him to make an appearance at the formal reception for the Kaiosians.
Just as he turned to thank Spock for keeping the cat away from the Ambassador, the Captain sauntered into the conference room and, as if on cue, jumped up onto the table. He sat at end of the table and arrogantly surveyed the Enterprise'scommand team. Gold green eyes made contact with each being, finally resting on Selek's face.
Selek raised an eyebrow and tilted his head to the side, a mannerism Jim knew well. The Captain stretched bonelessly, tail twitching. His pupils were black as he stalked toward the elderly Vulcan. Jim frowned, suddenly concerned that the cat might attack his old friend.
When the Captain reached his destination, he sat, tail still twitching, looking up at Selek. Selek, to his credit, didn't seem concerned and reached a gnarled long fingered hand to stroke behind the Captain's ears. The minute he touched the cat, they both stilled. After a few moments, the Captain reached up with a paw and gently batted Selek's cheek.
Selek drew in a breath, almost a gasp. His eyes went wide. The Captain mewled and jumped off the table, racing out of the room, tail high.
The table erupted into somewhat embarrassed conversation. As the voices ebbed and flowed around them, Jim watched Selek's expression carefully. His face had closed, his eyes shuttered. Jim didn't know why his friend had retreated behind his Vulcan mask but he knew it had something to do with the cat.
Quietly, Jim murmured, "Selek, what's wrong?"
Selek shook his head and resumed a forgotten conversation with Uhura about the Kaiosian's language. Jim let it go.
"The Pekes and the Pollicles, everyone knows,
Are proud and implacable, passionate foes;
It is always the same, wherever one goes."
The next morning found the Captain of the Enterprise standing beside Mr. Scott at the transporter controls awaiting a signal from the Kaiosians that they were ready to beam up to the ship and begin negotiations. His First Officer spoke quietly with Ambassador Selek as the transporter began to hum.
Three humanoids appeared on the pad, heavily cloaked. It was difficult to discern their expressions; their faces were smooth, unlined, and blank. Jim stepped forward, offering his hand. Selek joined him, offering the Ta'al.
There was something off about this. Jim had the feeling of déjà vu, as though he had done this many times. He wasn't surprised when one of the Kaiosians reached into his robe and pulled out a Klingon disruptor and pointed it at him. The Kaiosian bared his teeth and turned the business end of the weapon toward Selek.
Jim's heart stuttered. This was his nightmare. Spock, not his but another Jim Kirk's, was going to die. Suddenly, he heard a hiss behind him and a ball of cream and red launched itself from the doorway, hitting the Kaiosian assassin square in the chest. The shot went wild, giving Jim and Spock sufficient time to push Selek to the ground and take the Kaiosian down.
It was chaos for a while. Security was called. The Kaiosians were marched to the Brig for interrogation. Jim looked around the room for Selek and found him bent over the Captain in the corner of the room. The cat lay motionless on the floor.
Jim felt like an idiot calling a medical emergency for a cat but he did anyway. By the time McCoy arrived cursing with a stretcher and a veterinarian, Selek was sitting cross-legged by the Captain, petting him and talking to him softly.
McCoy sent Jim a worried look and then gently moved Selek aside to work on the Captain. Jim drew him away from the cat's still form. He looked like hell.
"Selek, do you know what just happened?"
"Not precisely. There is something unusual about the Captain. We seem to be drawn together."
Jim attributed the nonsequitur to shock. "He seemed to know you were in danger. Has anything like this happened before?"
Selek took a deep breath. "No. Not in this Universe at least."
McCoy and the vet loaded the Captain onto a small gurney. "I'm sure he'll be fine."
Selek frowned. "Fine is a very subjective term. You will excuse me, Jim. I require a few minutes, then we can discuss the diplomatic situation."
Jim watched Selek follow the Captain out of the transporter room and turned to Spock with a frown. "What the hell is going on?"
"I might ask you the same question. You seemed to anticipate the Kaiosians' treachery. How did you know?"
Jim rubbed his face tiredly. "Remember when I had that blasted fever? I had a recurring dream about what just happened, almost exactly. The only difference was, in my nightmare, they shot you and you died. God, Spock."
Spock pulled Jim's hand away from his face and gave his wrist a shake. "Jim, I am here. Selek is alive. It is over. But it is interesting. Have you had dreams of precognition before?"
Jim gave Spock's hand a squeeze and let it drop to his side. "No, but who knows. I don't remember half my dreams. What's really odd is the Captain. He pulls that stunt with Selek last night and then mysteriously shows up to rescue him today. It's like he knew it was going to happen."
"Jim, you are aware the Captain was with you almost the entire time you were ill. He lay on the bed with you. He slept with you while you dreamed."
Jim barked a disbelieving laugh. "No way. No way my logical First Officer just suggested a cat shared a dream with me."
Spock quirked an eyebrow. "Not shared, sent. Humans have lived with cats for thousands of years. They have been worshiped as gods. Magical powers have been attributed to them. Yet they remain a mystery. Who knows what they are truly capable of? And you must admit, there is something quite unusual about the Captain. He seems almost human."
"I don't buy it Spock and don't get all anthropomorphic on me. He's just a cat. Come on, let's sort out the Kaiosians."
As Jim left the transport room, Scotty who'd been standing there patiently, caught Spock's eye. "He doesn't see it, does he?"
Spock almost smiled. "No, but then, he's not the one that needs to."
By the time they had returned to New Vulcan to drop off Selek, the Captain had made a full recovery. But he had been changed by the incident with the Kaiosians. He didn't tour the Enterprise as he once had. He didn't reign over the Bridge from the Command chair; he didn't visit Jim's bunk at night.
Instead, he spent all his time with the good Ambassador. Everywhere Selek went, the Captain was at his heels. When he sat at a conference table, the Captain was either on his lap or splayed out like a pillow in front of him. When Selek ate, theCaptain sat beside him politely, watching. No one doubted that the Captain had moved into Selek's cabin, as they appeared every morning and disappeared every night together.
Spock should have been a bit put out by losing his feline friend, but Jim noticed that every time he saw them together, his lips would curl in that Vulcan half smile. Jim honestly didn't miss the cat. He spent so much time with Selek in the aftermath of the diplomatic disaster; one could say he spent even more time with the Captain than usual.
When it came time to beam down to New Vulcan, Jim wasn't surprised by Selek's request to take the Captain with him. Initially, Jim was thrilled, another bothersome cat re-homed! It was a perfect solution. When he thought about it more, he realized that he would miss the damn cat.
Jim and Spock escorted Selek and the Captain to the Transporter Room. As they said their good-byes, Selek picked up theCaptain and held him close. Spock stroked the cat's fur one last time and stepped back. Jim looked at Selek, then down at the Captain and grinned.
"Don't know why you like that mangy beast so much but I'm glad you've found a companion."
Selek smiled slightly. "More accurately, I have found him again. I would recognize him in any form."
Jim looked puzzled as he stepped back from the pad. "You met the Captain before?"
As the transporter hummed and just before they disappeared, Selek replied, "By this name and another, Jim."
"But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover-
But the cat himself knows, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name."
Let's be honest. We all hate the image of Spock Prime being left alone in the Reboot universe without Jim. This is my solution to the problem! Please read and review. I hope it made sense.