A group of Vulcan delegates is hitching a ride with the Enterprise, including some of Spock’s childhood bullies who haven’t changed. Neither has the reaction of the other Vulcans (as in ignoring it). What’s new is that Spock has a captain/friend/boyfriend who’s not going to stand by silently.
“Captain, can I have a word with you before you go?”
Jim glanced back at Uhura, who beckoned him from the side, just as he was about to board the transport shuttle from the Space Station to the nearby planet of, Masque 2.
He exchanged a look with his first officer.
“You go ahead, Mister Spock. I’ll be right there.”
Jim headed back to where Uhura waited, arms crossed over her chest. He knew that look and really wasn’t in the mood, but he supposed he had no choice but to listen.
“I wanted to warn you not to embarrass Spock.”
“Embarrass Spock? What…”
“Listen, I know you won’t do it on purpose. But you’re a touchy-feely kind of guy and normally Spock is very all right with that. He even likes it. But you’re going to be on this transport shuttle with a bunch of other Vulcans and you can’t be trying to hold his hand or any of that other stuff. They’re going to be judging him and you.”
A muscle in Jim’s jaw ticked. “Do you really think I’d be stupid enough to start necking with Spock on the shuttle or something?”
She rolled her eyes. “Of course not. But this stuff is much more subtle. They’ll even be watching how close you sit. Just…pretend you two are not a couple and you should be fine.”
“All right, sure. Anything else?”
“No. Good luck. And try not to let your temper get the best of you.”
“I so don’t have a temper.”
He was tempted to stick his tongue out at her but that was definitely uncaptainly so he didn’t. He turned and headed back toward the shuttle.
As he bet down to avoid making a show of himself by hitting his head, he could hear the occupants already talking.
“I can hardly believe they chose someone as inadequate as you, Spock.”
“You have not changed much since you were a child. Your eyes are still far too Human.”
“That tainted blood—”
Jim pulled out his PADD and started typing into it even as he walked into the main area of the shuttle where they all sat.
Spock sat alone on the one side. He stared straight ahead, his expression carefully blank.
On the other side, separated from Spock’s three bullies, sat a Vulcan couple, who were clearly trying to ignore everything else going on. They were, Jim knew, the biologists chosen for the mission. He figured between Spock and them, he wouldn’t need any other interpreters or scientists.
The other three had been recommended, but with Jim ultimately in charge…
“Gentlemen,” Jim addressed them. “I’m Captain Kirk. It’s been determined that your services are not required, and you are excused to leave this shuttle.”
They all stared at him.
Finally, one of them, Solak, Jim believed, said, “Determined by whom?”
“By me, the leader of this mission. Your skills are…less than ideal for what is needed.”
“I do not understand,” said the Vulcan sitting next to Solak.
“Then let me clear things up for you. “Jim smiled his very human smile. “Your qualifications have been reviewed and are deemed lacking.”
“In what way?”
“In every way. The shuttle is getting ready to depart, you need to be off. Now.”
They blinked at him a few times, then all rose at the same time, somewhat stiffly. He recognized the anger in them they tried so carefully to hide.
They began to walk past him to the exit.
“Your lack of qualifications for this mission have been duly noted on your records with the Vulcan Science Academy as well. Have a safe trip back to New Vulcan.”
Jim tried not to grin as he watched them leave. He turned to see what reaction the biologists had, but they looked as serene and unconcerned as before.
“Ensign Connors to Captain Kirk.”
He pushed the button the wall. “Kirk here.”
“All clear to depart on your signal, sir.”
“Take us out, Connors.
Jim went over and sat by Spock.
“That was not necessary, Captain,” Spock said after a moment of contemplative silence.
Jim shrugged. “I deemed it to be.”
“I could have handled their being part of the mission.”
“You shouldn’t have to handle it, Spock.”
He shook his head. “I need team members who are high-level collaborators. They clearly lacked the skills in that.”
Spock didn’t reply to that, but Jim felt him relax his rigid stance beside him. “You will not find our collaborative team rather thin now that we are three down?”
“I have confidence the remaining members can pick up the slack without trouble.”
“You are…ever interesting, Jim.”
Jim allowed himself to show his private Spock smile. “I’m glad you think so, Spock.”
“One thing I have learned since the beginning of our association is that you are never boring.”
“Would that be when you stood before the assembly and accused me of cheating?” Jim’s smile widened. “That beginning or…”
“I was thinking of then, yes,” Spock said, quickly.
Jim knew that Spock did not wish for him to mention the beginning of their romantic association. Three months earlier and an explosion of unstoppable passion between them. On the observation deck.
“Did you really put some sort of notation on their records?”
He nodded. “I sure did.”
Spock stared at him until Jim turned to look directly at him.
“I hate bullies,” Jim said softly. “And they can go straight to hell.”
When the mission was successfully concluded, Jim would show Spock just how very precious and treasured he really was.
He was a little surprised when Spock slipped his hand discreetly next to Jim’s, touching their fingers. He didn’t comment on it or tell Spock what Uhura had said, but it felt good and…right.