Author’s note: Holidays, professional issues, poster sales: I’ve been busy, busy, busy. I finally had time to devote to this story, so I got up this morning and did not let myself watch TV or check email until this chapter was in shape to post. So, enough with the yada, yada, yada… we continue.
The next morning, Spock stood stiffly in front of the door leading to the hearing room. He was wearing his dress blue uniform; in disciplinary proceedings, such as these, it was expected. He should have known that Kirk would do the unexpected.
“Captain?” he said, his eyes traveling over Kirk’s everyday gold utility tunic.
“Look, Spock,” said Kirk sighing tiredly, “I get it, I really do; but—.”
Kirk paused as a few curious crew-members passed them in the corridor. He then led his first officer over into a quiet alcove and lowered his voice accordingly.
“Do you really want to go through with this? I’m sure Uhura knows that what she did was wrong and is beating herself up about it more than we ever could. But an actual formal disciplinary hearing—I don’t think it’s the right move to make in this situation.”
Spock, avoiding Kirk’s eye, merely stared straight ahead as he replied.
“We will need two additional officers above the rank of lieutenant to sit on the tribunal. Since I am the officer involved, I must recuse myself from the proceedings in order to give testimony. You may choose to summon those officers of sufficient rank from the following list: Lieutenant-Commander Montgomery Scott, Lieutenant-Commander Andrew Carstairs, Doctor Leonard McCoy, Doctor Anne Mulhall…”
“Spock,” interjected Kirk, cutting off the flow of names he was perfectly familiar with, “I don’t think you’re hearing me.”
“I beg to differ, Captain, my hearing has always been excellent.”
Kirk took a step forward.
“All I’m saying is, if you do this, your relationship with Uhura may never—what am I saying—it will never recover.”
Spock said nothing and just stared off into the middle distance and Kirk got the sneaking suspicion that this was just what his first officer had in mind.
“Oh, sheesh, Spock! Don’t do it this way—not this way—not–”
He was cut off by the approach of a security officer escorting Lieutenant Uhura. She too was attired in her dress uniform. Kirk pressed down the front of his gold tunic, knowing that he was under-dressed for the occasion.
“That will be all, Flanders.”
Ensign Flanders beat a hasty retreat, glad that she was not required to standby and watch the carnage unfold.
The three officers now stood facing each other. Uhura looked beseechingly at Spock, but when he made a point to avoid her direct gaze, she turned her head slightly in order to look from the first officer to the captain. Kirk, sympathetic and doing a terrible job of hiding it as he should do, looked from Uhura to Spock.
Spock, wanting to avoid the emotion that the two humans were exuding, pivoted smartly and was the first to enter the room. He seated himself on the opposite side of the table and glanced up and watched the others slow entrance.
When the door shut itself behind them, Spoke spoke in a low, deep voice. “Shall I summon the other officers myself, Captain, or will you?”
To Kirk, the timbre of Spock’s voice registered in his brain as superior nonchalance. Kirk’s patience finally left him.
“No! Listen Spock, this is how we are going to play this: I am going to sit down and mediate this conflict–because that’s just what this is: a conflict–not a matter to drag Starfleet rules and regulations into, all right? First, I will hear your side of the story and then I will hear Uhura’s side of the story and then you two kids are going to kiss and make up!. Do I make myself clear?”
Uhura had the good sense to actually look ashamed. The Captain was correct: this was a conflict more personal than professional and she silently berated herself for the thousandth time for using her private relationship with Spock to try to influence him for her own professional gain.
Saving the entire communications archive, in hindsight, was rather ridiculous. She could have simply accomplished the very same thing by requesting the back-up logs from the Starfleet vessels that passed within range of the station for the last six months. Yes, more tedious work to reassemble it all, but the less dangerous option both in body and soul.
“Lieutenant Uhura committed a serious breach of Starfleet regulations by not following a direct order. She endangered herself, the success of the mission, and she callously disregarded the position she placed the both of us in.”
“OK, Spock, I get it,. Just come out and say it, will you: you’re angry with her.” Kirk turned to Lieutenant Uhura, who had remained on the periphery of their discussion, silent, mortified, and watchful. “Help me out, will you! He’s your boyfriend, for goodness sake and I’m sure you’ve made each other mad lots of times before this. You have to know the sort of thing you need to say.”
To Uhura, this was uncharted territory. Previous disagreements were usually minor and all on her side. She and Spock had had differences of opinion before, but Spock always took the high road and kept himself above it all. Deep down inside of herself she knew that this time she had definitely gone much too far.
“I am sorry, Spock, I really am.” She wrung her hands, but seeing it and knowing that they could see it too, she quickly placed her hands on her lap.
“You know how I can be—retrieving that archive pushed every single one of my buttons. I will not let myself get so carried away again; I promise.” She then lifted her right hand from her lap and reached for his hand that was stretched out on the top of the briefing table. “I put myself in danger and I know that the occurrence down on the planet reminded you of the day that your mother was–.
Spock looked up sharply in anticipation of all she might say in front of Kirk. He immediately snatched his hand away.
“Lieutenant Uhura,” said Spock, his voice cool and disapproving, “Might I remind you that you are the one who is on review today and not myself. Please refrain from entering information into evidence that has no bearing in today’s proceedings.”
“I only wanted to—I thought—yes, of course, Commander.” She looked away.
Kirk, even though he knew that the Lieutenant was not the type to burst into tears while on duty, could sense, just by the bewilderment in her eyes, that she was struggling valiantly to keep her emotions in check. Other than his own mother, Uhura was the strongest person he knew and it ticked him off a little to see how easily she was growing upset.
“Spock,” he said, his voice tight, “This is mediation only, no evidence will be taken at all.”
Spock said nothing in reply and Kirk found this stoic indifference of his in this instance just as irritating as if his order had been questioned.
“As a friend,” he turned and looked pointedly at Uhura to reassure her of that fact, “to both of you, this is what I am going to suggest: Make an appointment to talk to the ship’s counselor.”
He saw Spock’s slow blink, the only outward sign of his distaste for such a suggestion.
“I think the only problem we have here is two people who need to re-evaluate the boundaries of their personal and professional lives. You two kids have been doing well in keeping your interactions separate up until now. What remains to be seen is why now; what has happened to cause Uhura to disregard a direct order. And I’m not saying you did it to be mean or disrespectful. I know you, Uhura, this is not you.”
Uhura nodded; she knew it wasn’t her either.
“Good, I think we’re done here, then.” Kirk flicked his wrist. “Right, dismissed.” Kirk arose and walked towards the door, only to recollect something and double back. “Oh and Uhura, you are no longer confined to quarters.” He then did an about face and smiled. “And you really need to come to the rec room tonight. McCoy and Scotty whined like babies all night long and kept urging me to release you so you could come sing for us all.”
Uhura stood, smiled slightly, and quickly glanced at Spock, before saying, “May I take a rain check, Captain?”
Kirk nodded; he understood.
“Very well, then. Only next time,” he said pointing straight at her, “I want to hear all my favorite songs. No one can sing in Altairian better than you.”
She smiled a little more broadly. “Putting in your requests, now, eh, Captain?”
“Let’s just say, I’m getting them in early, Bones and Scotty have already decided between themselves what your repertoire will be. What can I say, they missed you.”
“It’s only been one evening.”
“Well,” he said laughingly, “Stay out of trouble and none of us have to be deprived again.”
Spock, who had been sitting and listening quietly, had heard enough of their lighthearted banter. He stood abruptly. His voice was uncharacteristically hard.
“Since neither of you choose to take this matter seriously, it leaves me with no other alternative. It has become increasingly clear to me that colleagues can not give one-hundred percent to their duties upon a Starfleet vessel, while giving one-hundred percent to a personal relationship and maintain an efficient, cohesive, and productive association upon that same vessel. Therefore, from this moment forward, I would like it known to you, Captain, that my personal relationship with Lieutenant Uhura is hereby at an end.”
Uhura’s heart and eyelashes fluttered wildly. It had so come out of left field, that she was having difficulty in comprehending just what Spock was saying.
“I believe I made myself perfect clear, Lieutenant. I do not wish to remain in a personal relationship with you. The nature of our dealings with each other, you must agree, has always been teetering upon the brink of the illogical and the unsuitable.”
“What? What do you mean, Spock?” said Uhura, clutching at her heart as if that would keep it from pushing out of her chest.
And, as if requesting a plate of food at a restaurant, Spock continued on matter-of-factly.
“I am a Vulcan. I require a much more suitable mate. Nothing remains to be said. I must go.”
Kirk said nothing, he simply stared at his friend in a state of complete loss.
Uhura now panicked and utterly confused, walked around the table, reached out to him, and gripped his arm.
“Wait a minute, Spock. What do you mean? We’re going to talk about this, right?”
“The time for talking is over; the time to return to duty his here. If you will excuse me, Captain, Lieutenant,” said calmly, carefully extracting his arm from Uhura’s grasp, “My presence is required in the lab.
And with that, he briskly walked pass the two stunned humans, through the door, and out into the corridor. And Kirk and Uhura, perplexed and unblinking, stared after him, long after the door had whooshed to a close.
Author’s footnote: Many of you were upset with Uhura after the last chapter, and I warned you that you would most likely be singing a different tune after Chapter 7. So, the question remains: are you now angrier with Spock? 🙂