Kirk announced to the crew that there was to be a social within the next week and turned the responsibility of it over to Sgt. Tina McElroy, head of Human Resources. He authorized Sgt. McElroy to inform the crew that they could dress down for the event. He learned that the ship’s barber shop and beauty salon were booked solid in a matter of hours after the announcement. The ship’s stores flourished with activity. Everybody was excited and actually ceased their extracurricular activities to concentrate on their duties.
One evening on the bridge, he remarked to Spock, “You’d think that I authorized shore leave, with the way everyone’s behaving.”
“They have something to look forward to, Captain. Everyone agrees that this particular mission is particularly tedious and any break in the routine is welcome.”
“You’re not thinking of changing your mind about attending?”
McCoy tittered. “Mr. Spock, you could do with some fun in your life.”
“Fun is illogical, Dr. McCoy. Vulcans have no need of fun, which does not have a substantive definition to meet with my satisfaction.”
McCoy smirked. “Still and all, Spock, you need to cut loose once in a while. I bet that you’d be the life of the party.”
Spock stared at McCoy in a way that Kirk had come to think of as his ‘You’re a dickhead’ look. He tried not to laugh.
“That would be something to see indeed,” Kirk said and turned to Yeoman Rand, who handed him a PADD to review.
Since their mutual decision was made, they didn’t try not to spend time together. They were still careful about being seen entering each other’s quarters. They were going to have a late repast in Kirk’s quarters. Uhura entered first and went into his bathroom to wash up. They all worked a double shift on the bridge that day and she was tired. Spock never got tired, but Uhura knew that Kirk was fatigued as well.
She removed her uniform and put on one of Kirk’s T-shirts, and then went to sit on his bed and brush out her hair. She moved without thought, brushing as she stared into the ceiling mirror.
Spock entered the room. “Nyota?”
“Are you all right?” She had been unusually quiet all day.
He sat beside her, took the brush and began to brush her hair. She closed her eyes and put a hand on his knee.
“What do we have left, two more days? The social is tomorrow night.”
“That all depends on when Jim intends to inform Admiral Pike.”
Kirk entered the room, divesting himself of his gold tunic. “I’ll tell him the following morning. After that, I’m going to inform Bones and Scotty.”
“We don’t know what Pike is going to say,” Uhura said, closing her eyes.
“Sure we do,” he said. “However, if Spock and I are to be relieved immediately, Scotty and Bones need to know why, as they’ll have to assume command of the Enterprise.”
“You seem calm about it,” she said.
“He has merely accepted the inevitable, Nyota,” Spock said. “As have I. You have not.”
“No,” she said. “Not yet.”
Kirk knelt in front of her, putting his hands on her knees. She grabbed Spock’s hand and kissed it, then kissed Kirk’s fingers.
“I want you both to know that you have made me happier than I’ve ever known. The past six months have been the best of my life. I wish…. I never knew that I could love like this, that I could be loved like this.”
“It’s not over yet, Nyota,” Kirk said. “And when we get fired, we’re just going to go to the same place, wherever that may be.”
“I think that she is unconvinced that will actually happen, Jim. The latter, that is.”
“Considering how much of our lives were invested into becoming Starfleet officers, how can it? We’re going to end up hating each other for the life we gave up.”
“Do you think so, Nyota?” Kirk asked.
She let her tears fall. “I don’t know. I just don’t know. I want you, I want Spock and I want my career! This isn’t fair! This is not fair! Our working relationship has not changed! And it hasn’t affected how the bridge is run! Why does Starfleet even care?”
“Our ability to compartmentalize is the true issue,” Spock said. “And Starfleet has standards to uphold.”
“Even though they’re outdated, hypocritical, and stupid?” she snapped.
“You’re just upset,” Kirk said. He decided to change the subject. “Spock, I’m going to need you to help me chaperone tomorrow night.”
“Why are you chaperoning? We’re adults, Jim.”
“Due to the excess energy Spock spoke of, I just want to make sure no one gets too drunk to the point that they can’t report to duty the next day. Besides, I’d like to see the crew together one last time before I give up the command chair.”
“You’ve really accepted this, haven’t you?”
Kirk pressed his face into her stomach. “I have. I’m not willing to give you up. I won’t accept that.”
“Am I really worth more to you than the Enterprise?”
“Do you remember what I said when I asked you to let me win your heart? That I promise to cherish it? What kind of man would I be to change my mind at this late date just because we were found out?” He began rubbing her thighs. “It took me five years to get you to fall in love with me. It took me three years to become a starship captain. You do the math. I’m not about to throw that away.”
Spock stopped brushing her hair. “I told you that I wanted you enough to accept you on any terms. This qualifies, Nyota. We have all agreed that our relationship was nothing less than illogical. I, too, would not choose my command over you. It would be irrational to turn back now.” He began to massage her shoulders, pressing his face into her neck.
Uhura groaned, sliding her hand up Spock’s thigh. Kirk began kissing her. She wove her fingers into his hair, choking back her sobs. “Jim, you and Spock can’t possibly be thinking about sex at a time like this! I’m trying to think about the future!”
Spock’s hands went under her shirt and around to caress her breasts. “There will be time for that, Nyota.”
“The only future I’m concerned with is the immediate one,” Kirk said, pressing his face between her legs and kissing the crotch of her panties.
After a few moments, she moaned, “I…guess…dinner can wait…”
They lay together in a tangle of sheets. As usual, Spock was awake. He lay next to Kirk, who snored with his head against one of Spock’s shoulders, and Uhura was sprawled across both of them. He stroked her hair, meditating, looking up into the mirror at their entwined bodies. There was a great deal to mediate on.
Fact 1: The imminent exposure of his intimate relationship to Starfleet.
Fact 2: That he would accept whatever consequences came of Fact 1.
Fact 3: Sarek’s disapproval of Nyota as an adequate mate.
Fact 4: His Ponn Farr was coming.
Fact 5: How Kirk and Uhura would respond to his Ponn Farr needs. They were very specific.
It was a lot to consider. Facts one and two were actually very easy compared to facts three through five. He could acknowledge that he had committed an irreparable act by choosing to form a triad with the Enterprise’s award-winning captain and gifted chief communicator. He could acknowledge that the enormity of his feeling for Uhura and his growing intimate connection with Kirk could not justify his decision to willingly wreck his promising career. But leaving them, leaving her, was not an option. He sacrificed much to even admit that he loved her. He forfeited much to accept her on any terms. Her heart and her love were worth the sacrifice. Even Kirk was coming to be an integral part of his private life. They had saved each other’s lives many times and he had come to appreciate the captain’s brash nature; it was a complement to his sedate one.
Uhura and Kirk once made a passing reference to Ponn Farr, and while Spock went along with them, it was a subject he did not care to discuss or elaborate on unless he had to. He had already tapped into the base nature of the tradition when he was courting her. Spock was able to keep his head then, but he would not be able to when it was his time. Fortunately, he had a mate. Not so fortunate was the fact that Jim could not be present, especially if he was in the plak tow. Spock knew that he would be outside of himself, out of his mind, and that Kirk was going to be viewed as a threat, regardless to their personal relationship. Would Kirk allow him to have that time alone with Uhura?
He needed to have this conversation with them, no matter how distasteful it was going to be. But compared to the fact that he was about to be fired from Starfleet, he thought it would be considerably easier to handle. Or so he hoped. He was not entirely sure that Kirk would be willing to give up any time with Uhura after having sacrificed his career for her.
His father would not approve of the disgrace brought upon his family. But his mother once told him, “No matter what you choose to be, you will have a proud mother.”
Uhura stirred against his chest, turning her head. She slid her outstretched fingers over his pectoral to his shoulder and curled it against his muscle.
“Nyota,” he murmured into her hair. Suffice it to say that she had been his undoing from the moment he first saw her back in the Academy.
Uhura didn’t want to attend the social. She just wasn’t in the mood to be gregarious.
She was in the long-range sensor lab, listening for deep subspace transmissions. They were in such a random, remote part of the galaxy that she was ninety percent sure that she would never hear anything. She had not heard anything worth reporting in weeks. Part of her would be relieved to be rid of this inane assignment.
Her PADD blinked. There was a message from Dez, asking her if they could meet in the ship’s commons. Uhura was tired and wanted to go to her room and she asked Dez to meet her there instead.
When she got to her room, the Bajoran was waiting for her. Since being back on board the Enterprise, Dez had gained weight. She was not yet on full duty, but she was working part-time shifts in the chemistry lab. Spock approached her about working in the science department shortly after they left Veridian III, and he had done so without Uhura’s knowledge. Dez wore a modified Starfleet pant uniform as she had scars that she didn’t want anyone to see. Captain Kirk agreed to allow her to wear it.
As always, when they saw each other, they clasped hands and pressed their cheeks together. Uhura was grateful that she had such a close relationship with another female on board the ship. Once inside, Uhura made tea and they sat in her small sitting room, drinking it.
“I know you’ve pulled a twelve, so I won’t keep you long. Do you know that some of the crew members are betting on who you’re involved with?”
“Yes. To my understanding, there are nearly one hundred and fifty people who suspect that you’re having an affair with either the captain or with the commander.”
Uhura closed her eyes. This was getting worse by the minute.
“I overheard a conversation between some co-workers in chemistry; there’s a pool with over 2800 credits in.”
“What? A pool?”
“Yes. And you know what’s so funny?”
“First, let me tell you that I wanted to know more. So I asked Gia about it, and she said that if I wanted to put a bid in to see Koko in Life Sciences. So I did.”
“Did you place a bet?”
“No. I just wanted to know what Koko and the others knew. They don’t know anything. It’s all vapors, really. There’s no direct evidence that anyone has to tie you to either man. Koko says that people just think that you would be with either one. When she asked me for my bet, I told her that I wanted to think about it.”
“Yeah. I asked her how in the world did it even come about, and she told me that Tina from HR said that she saw you in the hall one day and thought you were in love. You had that look.”
Uhura sighed. It was probably after a night of superb intimacy. All this was her fault. She was so damned transparent.
“The funny thing is, Nyota, when I asked Koko if she found such a relationship inappropriate, she said no. She then said that all of the people who placed a bet felt pretty much the same way. Of course, there are those who don’t, but for the most part, she said that people don’t care.”
“Yeah, but that doesn’t do me any good, Dez. Besides, they suspect only half the truth. They really have no idea.”
“I know. I just wanted to tell you.” She finished her tea and got up. “Oh, by the way, they’re tied. Team Kirk and Team Spock have 74 bids each. It makes a whole lot of sense, considering.” Dez patted her on the shoulder and walked to the door.
Uhura didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “Team Kirk and Team Spock?”
“Yes. Koko showed me the board.”
She shook her head. “I would laugh if I could.”
“Nyota,” Dez said, “you’ve got to be more resilient. There’s no way in this universe that you will be able to please everybody. Someone’s going to be upset with you no matter what you do. All you can do is try to live your life with no regrets and accept the consequences of your actions. You can’t live for anyone else other than yourself. There will always be disapproving, trigger-happy people no matter where you go or what you do. If you intend to stay in your relationship, you must know that. If you love those men to the extent that it’s worth losing your career, then you’re going to have to have a bulletproof soul. I’ll see you later.”
Uhura sat back and drank her tea. Dez always had a way of putting things in a tight perspective. She wished she could be as unflappable. She wished her soul was bulletproof.
* * *
In the ship’s lounge, Kirk stood off to the side, greeting crew members and chatting with them. The party was in full swing. He was enjoying himself. Spock stood next to him, hands clasped behind his back, taking in the whole of the scene. Kirk asked him to supervise with him and he agreed to do so for a little while. He was not fond of such events. People were everywhere, laughing, talking, eating and drinking. Keenser was leading a bunch of crew members in the limbo.
Scotty came over, holding a bright blue drink in a tall glass. “Cap’n! Why are ye not dancin’? Why are ye not havin’ a wee bit of fun? Mr. Spock,” he said by way of greeting.
“Mr. Scott,” Spock said.
“I’m having fun watching my crew have fun, Scotty. They’re having a blast,” Kirk said as he watched Keenser struggle to limbo under the pole. “What in the world is that you’re drinking?”
“Aye! Keenser says ‘tis called a blue muddafucca, and ‘tis verra good, Cap’n! Ha’e some?” Scotty offered him the glass.
Kirk had to chuckle. “No, Scotty…one of us has to be sober enough to make sure that things don’t get too crazy.”
Scotty nodded. “’Tis a good idea, Cap’n. Well, I’ll be leavin’ ye now as me dance card’s full.”
“Fascinating,” Spock said.
“Really? Who are you dancing with, Scotty?”
“Aye, I’ve got a bevy of bonny lasses lined up. They cannae resist me.”
“Of course not,” Kirk said. “You’re the man. Go on and enjoy yourself, Scotty.”
Scotty strode off sipping the electric blue drink, catching the arm of a pretty brunette.
Chekov started a conga line.
A few minutes later, Dr. McCoy stopped by. He was nursing a Scotch.
“You’re not dancing, Jim?”
“Not tonight, Bones. I’m on duty.”
“So’m I, but I’m still taking the time to let my hair down. I’ll be busy enough later handing out hangover hypos. This was a great idea, Jim.”
“I’m glad everyone thinks so.”
“Spock,” Dr. McCoy said. “Thought you weren’t coming?”
“I shall be leaving shortly, Doctor.”
McCoy nodded. “Jim, I had an interesting conversation with Nurse Chapel.”
“It appears that there is a trend in my head nurses, no disrespect to the memory of Brenda. Nurse Chapel has the hots for you.”
Spock raised his eyebrow.
“Chris likes you, Jim. She asked me if you were seeing anybody.” McCoy took a drink and calmly gazed at his friend. “I informed her that it was an inappropriate thing to ask, and that it was best she focused her attention on someone else.”
Kirk accepted McCoy’s look. “Thanks, Bones.”
“No thanks required, Jim.” He nodded to his friend. “Well, I’m off. Sgt. McElroy owes me another drink. Try to enjoy yourself, Captain. We don’t do this often. Spock,” he said, tilting his head.
McCoy knew that Kirk understood his message. He was going to support him in whatever ways he could, no matter what. McCoy wasn’t bothered by the fact that his friend was currently involved in a relationship so scandalous that Starfleet would have to create a new regulations manual called the Kiruhurock Standards if it ever came to light. There were entirely worse things to consider.
McCoy never told Kirk that he had seen him in bed with Spock and Uhura. He kept that information to himself. It was nobody’s business who the captain was involved with, and he was sure that his friend was well aware of the repercussions of his actions. Kirk had not shown the least bit of sexual interest in any woman since hooking up with Uhura. McCoy was actually happy that his friend had indeed found someone to tame him. If ever a man needed the love of a good woman, it was James T. Kirk. McCoy found it harder to reconcile the idea of Spock needing to be tamed. But apparently the Vulcan had the same needs too. It was highly amusing to find that out. He entertained himself for hours on end thinking about it.
Some members of the crew began doing the electric slide. Over at the bar, Cupcake was encouraging other crew members of Security to chug…chug…chug! A bunch of females from Social Sciences challenged the women from Science to a dance-off, which interrupted Chekov’s conga line.
When he left, Spock said, “I suspect that Dr. McCoy’s comment to you meant more than the words that were spoken.”
“He knows that I’ve been in love with Nyota for a very long time. In fact, Bones was the one who told me to go after her.”
“So he is fully aware of the illogicality of your relationship with her?”
“Yes. You know, I haven’t seen her here at all. I thought she would at least show her face.”
“I think that she intended to make a brief appearance, but it appears that she has changed her mind.”
“She is understandably distressed over what will happen tomorrow.”
“She’s not the only one, Spock. I mean, I’m nervous too. It’s not every day that you give your boss a concrete reason to fire you.”
Two drunken crew members, a male and a female, began fighting over Sulu. Sulu enjoyed the moment before breaking it up. Scotty was having a hard time keeping up with his dance card and McCoy was making a pass at Sgt. Tina McElroy. It was starting to get loud. Kirk could not help but laugh.
Spock nodded. “I shall leave now, Jim. I cannot take the rising volume.”
“All right, Spock. Go check on her, will you? I’ll try to get by tonight, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to. I’ve got my hands full with this.”
He found her in her quarters, lying on her bed.
“Are you well?”
“I’m fine. I’m just tired. I didn’t feel like going to the social.”
He sat on the bed and placed a hand on her hip. “That is understandable.”
She turned to face him. “Spock, I don’t mean to keep worrying about this, especially when we’ve agreed on it. But I can’t help it. I’m scared. I’m a coward. I care what people think about me!”
“You are not a coward, Nyota. You are scared, yes. However, it is illogical to seek the approval of others when determining the course of your own life.”
She blinked. “What?”
“I told you that I do not believe in fate. I believe that you choose your path. I have chosen my path, as have you, as have Jim. We chose this course the moment we became intimate. Where it may lead is unclear.”
“That’s what bothers me. I have had complete control of my life ever since I went to college. I ordered my steps and planned my future. I knew exactly what I wanted. I knew that I planned to fall in love and to get married at some point, but I didn’t…plan…this!”
He raised an eyebrow. “Even I understand that things do not always go according to plan, Nyota. That is the way of the universe.”
“It’s just that I lost control at some point and…and I don’t know how to get it back.”
“I do not believe that you ever lost control. It was you that united us. It is you that leads us. You are fearful of the unknown and that is what upsets you.”
She looked at him, her eyes shining. “You know me so well.”
“We are connected. Although I do not hurt, I am disconcerted when you do.”
Uhura sighed. There was just no point in trying to argue with Spock. “How is the social going?”
“The captain finds it highly amusing. I suspect his entertainment was in the form of watching our crew members try to move about while inebriated. The volume became too much for me.”
She chuckled. “I know everyone’s having a ball.”
“It was a very good idea, Nyota.”
“Lie down with me, Spock. Hold me.”
He did so, stroking her hair. “Jim may be unable to see you this evening. He is quite occupied at the moment.”
“He is concerned.”
“It will work out.”
“You’re so sure?”
“In my experience, it always does.”
“Then,” she said, swallowing, “if you aren’t worried, then I won’t. I trust you.”
“It is logical to do so, Nyota. I am rarely ever wrong.”
* * *
The next day, Kirk sat in the command chair, staring out at the star field. He didn’t know how much longer he would get to enjoy the view, but he was going to appreciate the opportunities he had left.
“Lieutenant Uhura, contact Starfleet and get me Admiral Pike. Patch it through to my ready room.”
He got up. “Mr. Spock, you have the conn.”
“Good morning, Captain Kirk.”
“Admiral Pike. Good morning.”
“How goes the star-mapping mission?”
“It goes, Admiral. We have mapped three-fourths of this quadrant. There is a large contingency of red dwarfs and brown dwarfs, and no M-class planets as of yet. Mr. Spock says that this part of the galaxy is very, very old and he is fairly certain that we will not find any planets capable of sustaining life.”
“I have been reading your reports. The pace at which your crew is working is nothing short of superb. Excellent work, Captain.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, what can I do for you?”
“Permission to speak freely?”
Kirk took a deep breath. “I really don’t know how to say this, Admiral.”
“Just say it.”
“I am going to have to tender my resignation.”
“I’m going to have to resign from Starfleet.”
“I’ve fallen in love.”
“I’m in love. And as regulations say that I cannot be, then I must resign my command of the Enterprise.”
Admiral Pike blinked. “I’m sorry, Captain. Are you telling me that you’re going to leave Starfleet because you’ve fallen in love?”
“The regulations don’t say that, Captain. And that’s ridiculous anyway. You’re human. Starfleet understands that people fall in love. They make allowances for it.”
“But that’s not it, sir. You see, I’m in love with Lieutenant Uhura, my communications chief. It’s against regs for us to be involved, as she is my subordinate.”
“Well, that doesn’t surprise me. Who else would you fall for, Captain? She’s gorgeous. And everyone on that ship is your subordinate, so the problem is…?”
Kirk took another deep breath. “Mr. Spock is also intimately involved.”
“You heard me, sir.”
“Commander Spock is involved…how? Wait, don’t answer that. I’m not sure I want to know.”
“Suffice it to say that Lieutenant Uhura is also in love with him.”
“Hold on, I’m confused. Are you telling me that you are in love with her and she is in love with him?”
“What I am saying is that she is in love with both of us. And we are in love with her. Commander Spock and I accept each other in that. We are in a…love triangle.” He sighed. That was putting it mildly.
Admiral Pike closed his eyes and shook his head. “I haven’t even had my coffee yet, Captain Kirk, and you hit me with this?”
“We decided that it would be better not to hide it from Starfleet and that we would accept whatever disciplinary measures came of it.”
“Well, Starfleet appreciates your honesty, Captain. However, you have experienced a serious error in judgment. And so have Commander Spock and Lieutenant Uhura.”
“It couldn’t be helped, Admiral. I’ll resign and so will they.”
Pike closed his eyes again, muttering under his breath.
“I’m sorry, Admiral. I know that you recruited me with the intention that I would be an asset to Starfleet. I have tried my best to merit your expectations. But I’m man enough to acknowledge that I have violated Starfleet regulations and man enough to own up to it. I am ready to turn over control of the Enterprise to Lieutenant Commander Scott and I’ll submit my formal resignation when we return to base.”
“And you’re saying that Commander Spock and Lieutenant Uhura will do likewise?”
“Yes. We feel that strongly about each other.”
“Never in a hundred years would I have expected to hear this from Starfleet’s most promising young captain.”
“I’m sorry to disappoint you.”
Pike reached over and pushed a button on his desk. “Jim, let’s talk off the record.”
Kirk ordered the computer to cease recording. “All right.”
“Personally, I don’t care who you’re involved with. These things happen. I understand what you are telling me and what you are willing to do. And honestly, I am not even sure if Starfleet regulations specifically address a relationship like what you’re describing, but I must report this to the council. Your liaison may actually establish a unique precedent, and if it does, then I do not see a need for you to resign. That is, unless you are unable to compartmentalize your relationship and show favor to the commander and to the lieutenant.”
“I do not believe that I do, Admiral. Of course, I’m not in the best position to say.”
“You are an excellent captain, Jim. I honestly do not believe anyone can do any better in commanding the Federation flagship. I was extremely proud to turn her over to you. And Mr. Spock is a superlative science officer worthy of service to the Enterprise. And she also requires the unique skills of Lieutenant Uhura, as records indicate that her sensory abilities are nothing short of exceptional. My duty is to the command of that vessel and I believe that she is well-served with the crew she has.”
“I feel a ‘but’ coming on.”
“But I am not the one who will rule on this, Jim. However, because you were honest and frank with me, I will do this for you: I will have a team of researchers comb through the necessary Starfleet regulation manuals to find the verbiage that is related to your issue. If there is no precedent, then Starfleet will have to use yours as one. Starfleet will demand an investigation and you may be suspended for the duration of it. I will have to interview your command crew, bridge officers, and department chairs to find out if there is favoritism among the three of you. I’ll need to review your ship logs. I’ll have to have depositions. In other words, to defend you, I will have to have evidence that your affair does not adversely affect the command of the Enterprise. If I am able to compile the proper evidence, then Starfleet will have very little to investigate. And maybe, just maybe, you will be able to keep your jobs.”
“There are some members of my crew who won’t approve of my relationship, Admiral.”
“Of course there are. There will always be those who don’t approve. But that didn’t stop you from becoming involved with them.”
Kirk nodded. “No.”
“I’ll also have to speak with Commander Spock and Lieutenant Uhura. I will go to bat for you on this, Jim. You saved my life. I am grateful. But the council will decide your fate, as well as that of the commander’s and the lieutenant’s. I cannot say what their decision will be.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Pike turned his recorder back on and Kirk did the same.
“I’ll report this to Starfleet—”Then he paused to look at a flashing light on one of his computer screens.
“What is it, Admiral?”
He sighed. “I’ve just received word that there is something strange is happening on Altair IV.”
“The fleet is scattered around the galaxy. The Enterprise is the closest vessel to Altair IV.”
“You are hereby ordered to head to the Altair system and check it out. Handle the situation as you see fit and report back to me immediately. In regards to this other matter, I will keep you informed. Please check in with me regularly.”
“I hope they’re worth it, Jim.”
“Admiral, I wouldn’t have done it if they weren’t.”