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Beth Hallam


James T. Kirk looked up as his First Officer entered his day-cabin. He indicated the other chair.

"You have the duty-roster and the leave-due list, Mr. Spock?" he asked unnecessarily; it was unthinkable that the Vulcan would come without them.

"Yes, sir. 'B' watch is on standby, so 'A' and 'C' watches can go on immediate leave, 'D' can follow 'B' on duty. Is that compatible with your plans, Captain?"

"That will do fine, Mr. Spock. There are just one or two changes across watches that McCoy is recommending for compatibility reasons. Now seems an advantageous..."

They went on planning the arrangements for the upcoming 'R and R' on Rigel III, also updating the personnel assignments to watches. Leave time was always useful for cross-watch swapping. The changes all made, Kirk asked to see the 'special-leave' requests. There were four. Ensign Pavlov had been born on the main moon of Rigel IV, and according to the custom of that scientific colony had been bond-fostered by a native Rigellian family; he wanted permission to spend his leave with his fostermother. Kirk granted his request. He refused permission to Lieutenants Riley and Mitchum to attempt an ascent of 'Adnabba', Rigel III's highest peak, which was very inaccessible. The fourth name on the list gave him a shock. He looked quizzically at his First Officer.

"Commander Spock, requesting permission to spend leave off-world?" He looked at Spock questioningly. "Where?" "Vulcan," came the taciturn reply.

"Vulcan?" Kirk was incredulous. "That's half-way across the sector, how could you get there and back in ten days? No, Mr. Spock; I'm sorry, I can't grant that - it's impossible!"

Kirk thought about his First Officer's request. Spock, in true military style, had risen respectfully to his feet while his own case was being considered. He made no attempt to argue his cause.

"Sit down, Spock," Kirk muttered testily. "You're not a recruit asking for a twenty-four hour pass." The Vulcan sat and regarded his commander. "Now, tell me why you want to go home? Knowing you, there's some pressing reason."

"I have home-leave due, sir, and I can make the journey in the time; I have worked out a route." He handed Kirk his electronic clip-board. It showed a time-table of interconnecting space transports that would get Spock to Vulcan in three and a half days. The return journey was also planned; the trip, there and back, took seven days, leaving Spock three days at home.

"Agreed, but you haven't answered my question," Kirk insisted. "Why?"

Spock looked away from Kirk's eyes, then back. He did not answer; it was obvious he was not over-anxious to give his reasons. Kirk knew Spock by now; he ought to - they had served together almost seven years. The Vulcan's expression was no longer a uniform blank to his eyes, but a subtle indication of reactions and intentions. Now he was showing embarrassment, although to the casual Human observer he appeared to be completely unmoved.

A sudden idea struck Kirk; he had known Spock ask for home-leave once before. But it seemed unlikely; the time was too short, and the Vulcan did not appear nervous or tense in any way, merely embarrassed.

"Spock." Kirk sounded fatherly, rather to his own surprise. "You're not...?" He left the question unfinished, unwilling to offend against Vulcan etiquette.

"No, sir, I am not." Spock's voice held a hint of amusement, whether at the question or at Kirk's paternal manner, was not clear. "It's Amanda, my mother!"

"Yes?" Kirk urged.

"She is sixty-five years old next week, and she expressed a wish to see me." It all came in a rush. "I know it is not logical, but..."

"But you want to go home," Kirk finished.

"Yes sir, and as you see, it can be done."

"It can be, Spock, but at what cost, physical and financial? It's a long, complicated journey." Kirk didn't want to say a downright 'No!'. It was obvious Spock wanted to go, and his reason, though not logical, was one Kirk could understand.

"Sir, I do not need shore-leave as you do. My needs are different from yours. And you know well enough how little opportunity we have to spend our pay." This was true, Vulcan and Human needs were different, but both valid. Starfleet paid its Command Officers well, and Spock had no vices on which to spend his salary.

"Very well, Mr. Spock, permission granted." Kirk grinned. "But if you're late back, I'll...!" He couldn't think of a thing he would do. "Just don't be late, that's all." He paused before adding, "Do you want to leave tonight, get a start on those connections?"

"No, sir." Spock was adamant. "That would not seem fair to the rest of the crew."

"Fine, Mr. Spock, you can leave first thing in the morning. Goodnight."

As Spock left Kirk wandered into his bathroom, musing, So Spock isn't as unfeeling as he likes to make out.

* * * * * * * *

Transporter Chief Kyle was somewhat taken aback to discover that the first person awaiting beam-down for leave was Mr. Spock. As he said to De Salle over coffee, "Spock never goes on leave!"

A harassed Captain, entering the rec. room for a hasty mid-morning drink overheard the tail-end of this conversation, and grinned to himself as he selected an empty table. One of the advantages of being Captain was that someone always brought you your coffee, he thought, as Dr. McCoy dumped a cup in front of him and sat down.

"Well, Jim," he boomed cheerfully. "Which leave party are we joining?"

"You can work out your leave with your own staff, Doctor," Kirk sighed. "But you can count me out."

"What?" McCoy was horrified, "But you must have some leave. You need it."

"I will, Bones, I will. Scotty'll spell me for a while, but I don't know quite when yet." Kirk hadn't had time to discuss this with the engineer.

"Scotty? What about Spock? He usually does half a duty for you, and half for Scott," McCoy pointed out. Regulations only allowed half-substitutions for Command staff, except under emergency conditions.

"Well, this time, I'm doing half a duty for him, and Scotty is doing the other half. Isn't that right?" Kirk asked Scott as he joined them.

"Oh aye. I agreed, couldna do much else, he's done it for me in the past. Though I dinna ken why he wants off." Scott grinned at McCoy, a sly twinkle in his eye. "He's no' in an interestin' condition is he?"

"No!" McCoy was indignant. "At least, he's not been near me if he is. Where is he, anyway?"

"Gone." Kirk took a bite of the sticky bun he was having in lieu of breakfast. "Left at 0600 hours this morning, and it's none of your business why. So you'll just have to contain your natural curiosity, gentlemen."

"Do you know, Jim," McCoy asked casually, but Kirk knew that trick and ignored the question, licking sugar off his fingers studiously.

"Oh aye, he knows," Scott agreed. "Stands to sense he'd no' give permission to go spacing off to Vulcan wi'out bein' given a good reason."

Kirk grinned at the two faces regarding him with rampant nosiness. "Command Privilege!" he said enigmatically, and getting up, left the room.

"Vulcan?" McCoy asked speculatively. "I didn't notice any signs, did you?"

"No." Scott shook his head. "I was only joking, Leonard. Spock's no in 'Pon Farr', he was fine when he asked me to do half his duty. He even said 'Thank you'!"

"I should think so too," McCoy said indignantly. "It's a bit much, leaving you and Jim in the cart after boasting that he doesn't need a rest."

Scotty laughed. "He'll no get a rest, if he's goin' to Vulcan and back in ten days. It's a four day journey each way!"

"Um." McCoy was not going to be put off. "Well, I think it's very inconsiderate, going off like that, without a word to anyone!"

Scott grinned; if Spock had refused leave McCoy would have grumbled. The Vulcan just couldn't do anything right in the Doctor's eyes.

* * * * * * * *

The object of their conversation was indeed trying to get some rest as he lay in the shuttle between Rigels III and IV. He had spent half the previous night programming the computer to deal with the shore-leave arrangements. This would ease the Captain's work load while he was without a First Officer. Another two hours packing and re-packing a kit-bag for the journey, abandoning half his luggage in favour of travelling light. At 0300 hours ship-time he had snatched an hour's sleep, leaving his cabin at 04.30 to check the bridge. Sulu was dozing in the Command Chair, having spent the evening celebrating his leave. He required waking and reprimanding. By 0600, when it was time to beam down to the space-port, Spock was tired.

Rocket-shuttle was not Spock's favourite form of transport; he considered it expensive, inefficient and slow, but it was the only facility available to get him to Rigel in time to catch the express passenger liner to the edge of the Eridani system. "Acceleration-sleep, sir? Sorry, Commander," the steward added as he noted the sleeve-rings on the Starfleet uniform. Spock nodded acknowledgement of the apology, fastened his safety-harness and decided to use the two hours he must waste tied to the couch in catching up his lost sleep. His internal timing mechanism must have been confused by the disturbed night for he was still asleep when the stewards checked the couches for non-wakers.

"Hey, Mike!" one shouted across, "there's one here. Good gracious! It's a Vulcan!"

"0h, that must be the Starfleet Commander. Well, would you believe it?" Mike chuckled. "I know these fellows have a reputation for being tough, but to sleep through acceleration without a hypo! Hey Commander! Commander! Wake up, you're here!" He shook the Vulcan gently.

Spock was awake immediately, and aware of his circumstances, his mind registering the fact that he was late. With a bound he was out of the harness and off the couch. Grabbing his hand baggage he made for the gangway at top speed, leaving behind two astonished Humans, mouths agape.

The unusual sight of a Vulcan - running - caused quite a disturbance in the space port; several Human tourists were severely surprised, and a Tellerite matron came over quite giddy!

Spock made it - just! The liner had been held up due to trim difficulties, but they were expecting him. The ship was crowded, filled to capacity. Being a short-haul vessel - that is, one that hopped from star-system to star-system - it was much smaller than a starship, but capable of carrying twice the number of passengers plus crew. Passengers were allowed to wander about once open space was achieved, but were expected to stay in their seats through planet atmosphere.

Being the last passenger aboard Spock had no choice where he sat; there was only one seat left. He lowered himself into it, still breathless, and fastened the safety belt. Leaning back he employed 'K'tan-ias-moatu' to control heart-beat and breathing. Within a few moments his respiration was normal, He opened his eyes just as lift-off started. Space-liners were strange craft, capable of landing on a planet but, only equipped with warp-engines, they were towed out of planet atmosphere by small impulse-driven tugs. They were then sent straight into warp-drive. The sensation of being towed through atmosphere was an odd one! Many people were sick, or at least felt sick. Spock looked around him; his attention was caught by a moan issuing from the seat to his left. It was occupied by a very pretty blonde, not that Spock noticed that - he was just in time to push her back as she fainted heavily against the safety-harness as the ship entered warp-drive. It seemed strange to Spock, who was passing in and out of warp-drive every day of his life without even noticing, that the simple process could have such a disastrous effect on his fellow passengers.

"The ship is in warp drive, you'll be all right now," he assured his reviving neighbour.

"Oh, I do hope so!" she whispered, her eyes closed. She was obviously feeling most unwell. "Oh!" She screwed her eyes even tighter and grabbed for his hand. He let her take it and did not protest when she squeezed it painfully. Gradually the effect died down and she allowed the fear to drain out of her. Slowly she opened her eyes and found herself staring closely into a pair of Vulcan eyes.

Deb Salter was completely speechless. She had not seen many Vulcans in her life and had been introduced to only one. She knew little about them, as a species, but what she did know led her to suspect that they didn't encourage strange women to hold their hands.

"Are you recovering?" he asked gently, reclaiming his hand.

She found her voice, but it sounded breathless - she hoped he would put this down to her recent travel-sickness. "Yes, thank you. I shall be quite all right now. I'm always ill in space-ships," she added, by way of explanation.

"That I can understand," he said, remembering a certain incident when he had felt quite nauseous travelling in a land vehicle.

"Oh?" She was willing to be diverted. "Are you space-sick too?" He did not answer, but glanced down at his Starfleet uniform. She followed the direction of his eyes. "Oh no, of course, you wouldn't be!" She looked down and counted his sleeve rings, attempting to discover his rank. "Commander?"

"Spock," he said. Whether he deliberately misunderstood her question she never did work out, but just for a moment his answer puzzled her.

"Oh, I see." She smiled as realisation came to her. "Deb. Deb Salter." She held out her hand to him, then remembered, belatedly, that Vulcans were the ones you didn't touch; one eyebrow rose slowly as he put his hand up in salute, Vulcan fashion. She thought, fleetingly, that he was amused, but Vulcans were also reputed to have no sense of humour. She returned the salute hoping she got it right; it wasn't easy.

"Why are you travelling in a space-liner, Commander? Instead of aboard a ship of the line," she asked for something to say - the conversation was keeping her mind off her stomach.

"I'm going home," was the simple reply.

"Vulcan?" she asked curiously.


"Are you on leave?" She felt she was being a little intrusive, but he didn't appear to object.

"For ten days. My ship is in orbit around Rigel III," he told her, attempting to keep her attention away from her rebellious insides; she looked decidedly green, which wasn't a sign of health in a Human.

"The starship... Enterprise!" She smiled again, pleased at recalling the information. "Rigel to Vulcan and back in ten days, that's a long way, Commander."

"That is just what my Captain said." The words meant little to Deb, but she could swear there was a twinkle in that slanted dark eye. They chatted in this fashion for some time, each discovering an interest in the other's life and culture. She was intrigued by the matter of fact way he answered her questions or turned aside those he did not wish to answer. It did not take her long to realise that the Vulcans had been slandered; he certainly did have a sense of humour, if you acknowledged that there is no necessity to smile when amused. He found her air of sophisticated innocence fascinating, and somewhat unusual in a Human female.

After some time Spock became aware that he was hungry, very hungry. He politely asked Deb to join him for a meal, a thing he had never done before in his life. Asking a woman to dine is a very human ritual. A Vulcan merely assumes that if a woman wants to eat, she will do so.

"Do you think I ought to?" she asked him. "I'm hungry but I don't want to be sick again."

"I believe," he answered solemnly, "that it is simply a matter of eating the right things."

"0h, all right, but if I'm sick, it's your fault," she stated hotly.

"But of course." He stood and indicated the direction of the restaurant. She rose to walk beside him, tucking her hand unselfconsciously into his arm. He was surprised, and at first a little alarmed, but discovered that the sensation of warm flesh gripping his sleeve, and even the tiny tickle at the back of his mind, were not too unpleasant. Spock also rather enjoyed buying a meal for her, it made him feel - protective? As the meal progressed their conversation became less restrained, more intimate. She told him of her job, her ambitions, her dreams that were speeding her across the Galaxy. He found himself talking of home, of his parents, of the reason for his visit. She was instantly interested, with a woman's enthusiasm for family celebrations.

"What have you bought her?" she asked.

"Bought her?" He was puzzled. The idea had just not struck him.

"0h, Spock!" His name sounded strange, yet right, when she said it. "You sit there telling me you want to behave as a Human son would. And you HAVE!" she laughed. "You've forgotten to buy her a present!"

She sat thinking for a moment. "When we change, you for the Vulcan shuttle, I for the connection with the 'Benecia Queen', have we any time to spare?"

"I have one hour, thirteen point nine seven minutes, allowing time for boarding procedures; you probably have somewhat longer."

She suppressed the desire to giggle. "Then," she said, "as we shall be at an Earth colony there is something that can be done!"

So it was that Commander Spock of the Star ship 'Enterprise' was seen off on the last stage of his journey to Vulcan. He was clutching the largest bouquet of Terran-type flora he had ever seen, all packed in freeze-sealed transparent cover, and decorated with a large knot of gold ribbon!

* * * * * * * *


Surprisingly enough Captain James T. Kirk did not find that leave period as hectic as he had expected. Certainly the discovery that Spock had programmed the computer to cope with the duty and leave rotas eased his burden considerably. He was momentarily confused by Lieutenant Sulu's surprise at being granted leave; why should Sulu expect to have his leave cancelled? He was not senior enough to be left in sole charge of the ship.

In fact even Kirk himself actually got four days and two nights off. He found the most irritating thing about the ten days was the actual physical absence of his First Officer. This was, he knew, irrational, but he had grown so used to Spock's being there to comment to or to agree with, or disagree with as the case might be. Even McCoy had been heard to comment that coming on board the 'Enterprise' didn't feel right with no pointed ears about.

Kirk's irritation turned to apprehension, then to worry, as the time for Spock's return came and went. Kirk had given his First Officer the full ten days' leave but he had expected his return in the late afternoon of the ninth day, planet time. The next day was the last full day of the leave; all leave parties were due aboard by 10.00 hours the following morning. The 'Enterprise' was to quit planet orbit at 12.00 hours bound for Deneva and a medical mission. By 09.55 everyone was on board, except Spock. At 10.30 the ship still had no First Officer and the Captain was fuming; he vented his anger and worry on the Chief Surgeon. When at 11.30 Kirk had to face a call from Base Commander Peterson asking if he had all personnel aboard, and if he were ready to break orbit, the Captain's temper was not improved by Peterson's obvious disbelief of his excuse for delaying leaving orbit by an hour or so.

"How the hell can I tell him my First Officer's not reported back yet?" Kirk demanded of an amused McCoy.

At 11.50, when Kirk was preparing to beam over to the base and explain his dilemma personally and confidentially to Peterson, Uhura received a signal from a vessel approaching at warp speed, A few moments later Chekov had a sensor report of a small deep-space scout, coming up on the 'Enterprise' fast. The unknown vessel was hailing Kirk - personally - asking for a visual contact. Kirk delayed his departure until he had dealt with the matter.

Soon it was possible for the on-rushing vessel to be shown on the starship's screen. She came racing toward the 'Enterprise', her approach trajectory much too close. Kirk felt fear rise inside him; the starship was not yet under power, he could not manoeuvre her out of the path, he had to rely on the ability of the scoutship's pilot. His already seething temper boiled over.

"Slow down! You bloody stupid...!" he shouted into the inter-ship comm-unit. His order was answered by a fruity laugh as the small ship banked into a racing turn and matched orbits with the 'Enterprise', a very impressive piece of clever piloting. Kirk was furious that anyone should dare to endanger his ship and crew just in order to show off.

"Who the hell do you think you are?" he demanded of the fancy flier. As he said it the screen lit up with a face, and he answered his own question. "Harry Mudd!"

"Why Captain, how flattering that you remember me," said James T. Kirk's favourite bete noire.

"Remember you? How can I ever forget you? But I've got you this time, Harry. I'll arrest you for dangerous manoeuvring close to an inhabited planet. And I'll impound your ship!" Kirk threatened, his anger overcoming his usual caution.

"I'm sorry to disappoint you, Captain, but I was not controlling this vessel's approach!" Mudd was surprisingly cool; if Kirk had not been so angry he would have noticed and been wary because of it, but his temper was already out of control.

"If you weren't I'd like to see the idiot who was."

"Certainly, Captain." Mudd adjusted a button on the console in front of him, and the camera aboard his vessel swung around in an arc, finally coming to rest at Spock's impassive countenance. Kirk was struck dumb, his breath completely taken away.

"Request permission to come aboard sir," Spock said formally, Kirk didn't answer him, but turned to his intercom.

"Transporter room, beam the First Officer aboard, and keep him there till I come." He turned to face the screen and watched Spock sparkle out of existence. "Thank you, Mr. Mudd, do not let us detain you."

He was up and on his way to the transporter room before even Harry Mudd could think of a reply.

* * * * * * * *

The Captain entered the transporter room at a clipping stride; without pausing for breath he said, "Thank you, Chief," and indicated the door. Kyle threw a sympathetic glance at Spock, and left hurriedly. Kirk strode over to the console and checked the chronometer, then turned to his First Officer, who was standing stiffly at attention.

"Commander Spock," he said. "You are absent without leave two hours fifteen minutes. You are also fifteen minutes late reporting for duty. Have you any defence to put forward for this behaviour?" His tone indicated that there could be no defence.

"No, sir."

"Therefore you will have no objections to my taking summary action?" he demanded harshly.

"No, sir."

"Then after you have completed this duty period, you will be confined to quarters, except when actually on duty, until further notice. Is that clear?"

"Perfectly, sir."

"Good, dismissed!"

As Kirk watched his delinquent First Officer march out of the transporter room, most of the anger drained from him.

* * * * * * * *

The atmosphere on the bridge had been building for some time, matching the Captain's mood. It was not to improve until Kirk, who had been silent all watch except for issuing orders, rose to his feet with a curt, "You have the con, Mr. Spock," and left the bridge without waiting for the customary acknowledgement. As he went the whole bridge crew heaved a sigh of relief. Spock did not take the Command Chair but continued working at his own console.

After a few moments Sulu screwed up his courage to say what he had to say. He was helped to this decision by the information, just imparted to him in whispers by Uhura, that the First Officer was confined to quarters. "Sir?"

"Yes, Mr. Sulu?"

"May I have a word with you, sir?"

"Of course, Mr. Sulu." Spock swung his chair around to face the navigator.

"Privately, please, sir." Sulu was aware that the bridge had gone quiet; they were all agog with curiosity.

"Miss Uhura, please cover the navigation console," Spock said quietly, He rose and headed for the elevator followed by Sulu, who was replaced at his panel by Uhura.

It had become a custom aboard the 'Enterprise' that any private conversation, anything from a tete a tete to a telling off, took place in a stopped elevator. Sulu hopped nervously from foot to foot as the lift settled, by Spock's order, between the bridge and deck one. The Vulcan turned to face the navigator, a look of polite enquiry on his face.

"Sir," Sulu began resolutely, "falling asleep on duty is a court-martial offence."

"Yes, Mr. Sulu."

"The Captain has not taken any action over my... my... mistake the other night."

Spock raised his eyebrows in mild surprise. "Perhaps, Mr. Sulu, that is because he does not know about it."

"Doesn't know about it, sir? You didn't tell him?" Sulu was incredulous - Spock was always so correct in his application of regulations.

"No, Lieutenant. I did not see the Captain following your... mistake... before leaving the ship. Neither did I record a log. I do not think the present would be an auspicious time to tell him, do you?" Spock's voice showed just a hint of amusement.

"No, sir," Sulu breathed, trying to picture Kirk's reaction in his present mood. "As I do not anticipate a recurrence of the event, I suggest that we forget the matter, Mr. Sulu."

"There will be no recurrence, sir," Sulu assured him. "And thank you, Mr. Spock."

"There is no need to thank me, Lieutenant." Spock raised an eyebrow in the manner which indicated he was about to make a rare confidence. "Vulcans are well-known to have a logical and healthy regard for the preservation of their own skins, Mr. Sulu."

The navigator grinned. He felt strangely honoured. It was the first time Spock had ever treated him to a glimpse of his inner self.

* * * * * * * *

The Captain looked up from his viewer as the buzzer to his cabin sounded. "Come," he called. He could not concentrate on his paper-work anyway. "Hello, Bones," he sighed as McCoy entered. What would he have to say?

The Doctor stood before Kirk's desk, waiting; the Captain indicated the chair opposite. "What can I do for you, Bones?" he enquired, wanting to get it over.

"I hear you've confined Spock to quarters, Jim," McCoy ventured, his voice carefully neutral.

"How the hell do you know that?" the Captain demanded. "I've told no-one, and I don't suppose Spock has."

McCoy chuckled. "You can't keep a secret on a starship. Probably it's just conjecture, but it's obviously true. Can I go visit him, Jim?"

"No, Bones, you may not," Kirk snapped. "He's there for punishment, not to receive visitors."

McCoy waited a moment; then re-opened his attack. "Have you had lunch, Jim?"

Kirk looked at him, suspicious of the sudden change of subject. "Yes, but I don't... "

"Spock hasn't," McCoy interrupted him. "And arriving from a long journey, in a hurry like that, he probably hasn't had a meal for hours." The words hung in the air for a second.

"Hell! Bones," Kirk expostulated. "I'm not trying to starve him into submission. You know that!"

"Yeah, I know that." McCoy agreed. "Look, why don't you let me take him some lunch. I can over-ride you on that anyway, if I think any crew member's health might suffer from inflicted punishment."

Kirk sighed. He'd been outmanoeuvred again. "Okay, Bones. But you just take him a meal, and leave. No stopping for a quick game of chess!"

"Jim! You know I never play chess with Spock," McCoy protested. "I hate being beaten!"

* * * * * * * *

McCoy buzzed the First Officer's quarters and immediately received the answer, "Come."

He entered through the open door, balancing a tray on one hand. There was no sign of Spock, though a strange humming sound seemed to be issuing from the bathroom across the sleeping area from McCoy.

"Spock?" he asked.

The Vulcan appeared in the doorway. He was dressed in trousers and vest only, his hair was wet, and he was drying his hands on a towel. McCoy was surprised; Spock never allowed anyone to see him deshabille, but he seemed curiously unconcerned now.

"I've brought you some lunch," McCoy said, placing the tray on the desk. "I thought you might be hungry."

"I am, Doctor." McCoy was even more surprised, never before had he heard the First Officer admit to any bodily need. "Does the Captain know you're here?" Spock turned to throw the towel carelessly into the bathroom and closed the door behind him.

"He gave me permission," McCoy assured him, all the time keeping him under careful scrutiny. Spock nodded and came toward the Doctor, pausing in front of the mirror to straighten his black hair to its usual smooth perfection. It was the first time McCoy had even suspected Spock owned a comb, let alone seen him use one.

Spock sauntered over to the desk. McCoy noticed there was a strange kind of swing to his gait, making it appear that each step jarred slightly. As he passed from night to day cabin he seemed to sway a little, as if drunk, grabbing hold of the partitioning to steady himself. McCoy was truly puzzled; had Spock been Human he would have suspected an over-indulgence in alcohol to drown his sorrows, but the Doctor couldn't see a Vulcan even thinking of turning to the bottle.

Spock had regained his balance, and was now standing looking down at the meal on his desk. His eyes wandered to the seat, and he hesitated, seeming reluctant to sit down. Then he took a deep breath and a firm hold of the leading edge of the desk and lowered himself carefully into the chair. McCoy, intrigued, sat down uninvited opposite him, completely forgetting the Captain's admonition. Spock pulled the tray toward him and began to eat hungrily. McCoy had shared a meal with the Vulcan many times; never had he known him show more than a passing interest in his food, even after several hours' fast.

"When did you last eat, Spock?" he asked, curiously.

Spock paused for a moment, then answered. "It must have been the day before yesterday, no, the day before that, at home, but they did give me a drink at the..." He stopped abruptly, suddenly realising he should not say whatever it was he had been about to say. McCoy looked closely at him, seeing that under the elaborately relaxed air there was underlying weariness. He drew out his medi-scanner, adjusted it to Vulcan frequencies, then held it out. Spock's hand shot out to enfold it. McCoy removed the hand and looked at the readings. His eyes opened wide in disbelief at what he saw.

"Right, Spock," he ordered, "finish your meal and then I want you to lie down on the bed. I'm going to examine you. You're in a bad way!"

* * * * * * * *

After McCoy had left him, Kirk returned to the bridge. It was very quiet when he got there; Scott was occupying the Command Chair, and rose to his feet immediately the Captain entered. Kirk seated himself in the chair, and turned to the Chief Engineer, hovering beside him.

"Yes, Scotty?" he asked.

"Sir, I'm havin' a wee bit a trouble with computer circuit seven A. I was wondering... "

"No, Mr. Scott!" Kirk said firmly, amused despite his anger. "You may not go down to ask Mr. Spock about it."

"Oh!" Scott replied, surprised that his ruse had been penetrated. "Thank you, sir," he continued stiffly, then marched to take up the Engineering station, studiously checking computer circuits as he settled in his seat.

Kirk watched, unsure whether to laugh or vent his exasperation.

Uhura's voice brought him out of his quandary. "Communication, sir. It's the Superintendent, Base Hospital, Sector Three - asking to speak to the Captain or First Officer."

"Put him on the screen, Lieutenant."

"Yes, Sir."

The screen lit up to show a fatherly man with a beaming smile. "I'm sorry to disturb you, Captain, but I have a patient here who won't rest until she has spoken to someone in authority aboard the Enterprise."

"0h! What can I do for her?" Kirk asked, intrigued.

"Well, I'll let her speak for herself. Miss Deb Salter, this is Captain... I'm sorry, I wasn't told your name, Captain."

"James Kirk," said the pretty blonde whose face replaced the Superintendent's on the screen.

"How do you do, Miss Salter." Kirk smiled pleasantly. She was certainly a very attractive girl, in spite of the black eye. "I'm afraid you have the advantage of me."

"Oh, we've never met, Captain." She flashed him a dazzling smile. "It's really your First Officer I want to speak to."

Kirk stiffened. It was beginning to get on his nerves. Normally nobody ever went out of their way to socialize with Spock, now suddenly he seemed the most popular person on board. "I'm afraid Mr. Spock isn't available at the moment," he said, non-committally.

"Oh." She looked very distressed. "He isn't that badly hurt is he? When I heard that he'd walked out of the hospital, I was so worried."

"Walked out of the hospital?" Kirk questioned, wondering if he were hearing things. The screen flashed back to the Superintendent. "The Commander was admitted here this morning, Captain, a casualty of the rescue party - the crash of the 'Benecia Queen' - but he discharged himself soon after arrival. As soon as he regained consciousness, in fact. We were quite worried about him, he was still under treatment."

"I understand that." Kirk spoke carefully, aware of his bridge crew's eyes upon him. He felt very hot under the collar. "I can assure you that Commander Spock arrived back here safely, and is now under the care of my Chief Surgeon. Is there any message I can give him?"

"Yes, please." It was the girl again. "Tell him I hope he gets better quickly, and say 'Thank you' to him, for rescuing me, and dinner, and everything."

Kirk swallowed. "Thank you for rescuing you, and dinner?" he questioned, unsure he had heard, what he thought he had heard.

"And everything! Yes, and tell him I'll see him next time you put in at Benecia."

Kirk nodded, not trusting his voice to speak.

"Thank you, Captain. Good-bye."

"Good-bye Miss Salter, Superintendent. Enterprise out." Kirk sat in his chair for a moment as the screen blanked. He felt stunned, drained of reaction. What had Spock been doing these last ten days? Why the hell hadn't Spock told him? But deep down he knew why, remembering his own anger, and Spock's almost pathological pride. Oh, God! What had he done? What was he going to say to Spock? He'd better call McCoy, have Spock medically examined. The Superintendant seemed to think the Vulcan was badly hurt. He turned and rose, heading for the elevator, but stopped to address Uhura.

"Lieutenant, call Dr. McCoy... " But he never finished the order, for following the direction of the Communications Officer's eyes he saw McCoy. The Doctor stood on the gallery above him. Kirk had never seen him in such a towering rage. McCoy's temper was always short, irascible, but now he was angry, justifiably so, Kirk acknowledged.

"I am formally requesting permission to remove Commander Spock from his quarters to Sickbay, Captain. Furthermore," he continued without a pause, "I am informing you that should you refuse permission, I will exercise my right as Chief Medical Officer to over-ride you."

"Bones... " The Captain couldn't think of a suitable reply, not in front of an avidly watching bridge crew.

"Well?" McCoy demanded, his eyes blazing.

"Permission granted," Kirk said, sweeping the furious Doctor into the elevator. "What's more, I'm coming to help you." Once the lift doors had closed and they were on their way, Kirk turned to his angry friend. "I know, Bones, I'm wrong. Now that we're out of ear-shot, for goodness sake shout at me and make us both feel better."

McCoy opened his mouth to speak but suddenly, like a pricked balloon, the anger was gone from him. "I'm sorry Jim, shouldn't have spoken to you like that in front of the crew. But I was damned angry. I've just been examining Spock!"

"Is he bad?" There was a whole world of concern and guilt in the Captain's voice.

"Two cracked ribs and a broken collar-bone. That's not the problem, he's had some treatment. The collar-bone's been set, but whoever did it stuffed him full of Bio-considinate E. I ask you - a Vulcan - he's as euphoric as hell, that's what'd kept him going all this time. He'd have collapsed hours ago without it, but it makes him damned hard to constrain."

"That explains the fancy flying!" Kirk exclaimed as enlightenment dawned. The elevator doors opened to deck five and cries of,

"Mr. Spock, no! You'll hurt yourself!"

Kirk and McCoy ran for the First Officer's quarters. Spock was standing up on his bed, weaving about precariously. He seemed to be trying to catch an imaginary insect above his head. Nurse Chapel sighed her relief at the arrival of her boss and the Captain.

"He's terrible, sir," she said. "He won't do a thing I say."

McCoy took one look at the situation and ordered sharply, "Get down, Spock!" Spock looked at him, one eyebrow raised.

"No!" was the only reply he gave.

"Cadet! Stand by your bed!" Kirk's imitation of the Company Drill Sergeant at the Academy was Galaxy famous. He didn't know if Spock had been scared of 'Sarge', but if not he was the only cadet who hadn't been.

"Yes, sir!" The Enterprise's First Officer stood firmly at attention beside his bed, then he began to sway from side to side; finally he turned to his Captain and said plaintively, in Vulcan, "I feel very ill, sir," before collapsing quietly into Kirk's arms. They laid Spock gently on the bed and McCoy leant over him, trying to assess how much damage his recent behaviour had caused.

"Does it always make them act like this?" Kirk asked, grinning.

"No." McCoy was deadly serious. "Usually it sends them into acute depression and they die! Spock's lucky, his Human half will save him. But I'd like to get my hands on the misbegotten product of an Earth medical school that gave it to him. Why do they let these people out into Space so bloody ill-equipped? Basic non-Human biology, that's all they need!"

Kirk could see the real anger in McCoy: anger at the stupidity of letting ignorance have authority; at the self-importance of a Humanity that allowed its doctors to treat other races without adequate training. He understood how McCoy felt, both the professional rage at incompetence, and the personal rage because it was Spock who had been endangered. There was nothing Kirk could say; his own burden of guilt was too great at the moment.

"There," McCoy stood up. "He's gone into a healing trance - he'll be all right, if we watch him carefully enough." He glanced over at Christine, who nodded and pulled up a chair to sit beside the bed.

The two strolled out of Spock's cabin and along the corridor towards the Captain's quarters. McCoy was still venting his annoyance.

"That's probably all he was doing when they pumped him full of B.C.E. - but the medic didn't even know enough to recognise the trance. Panicked when the life indicators fell, thinking Spock was dying, and used the wrong stimulant; easy enough I suppose. But, hell! Jim, it's one of the basic tenets of space medicine, never give the green-blooded races any of the 'sidinate' drugs!"

He sighed as Kirk touched his sleeve. "Hey Bones, how about my giving these two red-blooded Humans a dose of the drug alcohol? I could do with it." The events of the last hour had made the Captain feel dizzy.

* * * * * * * *

They sat down in the Commander's cabin, a bottle of brandy and two glasses on the desk between them. After he had drunk half a glass Kirk asked, "He is going to recover, isn't he, Bones?"

"Sure, it took him the right way," McCoy answered cheerfully. "He'll be fine as soon as we bring him out of the trance. A bit tired, but fine!"

"Good, because I'd hate to have to tell that girl the truth." Kirk was filling up their empty glasses.

"What girl?" McCoy queried.

"Didn't you know? The one he got hurt saving." Kirk grinned and leant forward, in a gossipy mood. "I don't know much, of course, but - she's real pretty, Bones, I mean it, even with a black eye... "

"A black eye?" McCoy protested.

"Yeah, even with a black eye she was quite an eyeful!" Kirk drew a shapely female figure in the air before him. "Blonde, blue eyes, and Spock took her out to dinner!"

"Never!" McCoy was incredulous.

"That's what she said. 'Tell him Thanks for dinner and everything'. And - " the Captain paused for dramatic effect - " he's made a date to see her again."


"Next time we call in at Benecia," Kirk nodded sagely. "So there!" he finished triumphantly.

"When are we next calling at Benecia, Jim?" McCoy asked, expectantly.

Kirk's face fell. "Year after next, routine colony census check."

"Oh!" McCoy's face was disappointed, then a thought struck him, and he did some rapid calculations on his fingers. "Jim, do you realise that would coincide with the next time Spock's... "

"Yeah!" interrupted the Captain, a look of sheer delight on his face. The intercom beeped. It was a routine call from...


LATIN VOCABULARY (for non-classicists)

Causa - cause
Casus - chance, accident, calamity
Crastinus - that which belongs to tomorrow


Copyright Beth Hallam