Author’s note: This chapter was a delight to write. As I said before, it was originally chapter 8, so it has been written for a quite a while. I had to make a few revisions to it over the last few days, so that is what took so long before it was posted. Enjoy…
During their nearly week-long journey to Haven, Spock took great care to keep out of Lieutenant Uhura’s way. On the occasion when her glance had caught his eye across the bridge, he found it effective to simultaneously calculate the spatial displacement of the Enterprise at the speeds of sub-light, impulse, and warp five as a way to block out the unsettling ruminations of his mind resulting from the disquieting expression in her eyes.
However, these particular equations, he rapidly estimated, merely engaged one-forth of his brain, leaving the remaining three-quarters open to outside influences.
He soon realized that he could easily fill this portion with the exercise of recalling each crew-member’s name, rank, and serial number, although he became thoroughly dismayed with his lack of control when he found himself pondering a certain persons name when he reached the “U’s”.
He soon recollected that he could turn his mind to his interest in botany, only to sink further under the weigh of disappointment when he suddenly remembered how Uhura delighted in the roses that he had cultivated in her honor.
He finally found some relief in turning his mind exclusively to mentally cataloging all the holo-images that the geology department had taken since the start of their five year mission.
However, as much as these contemplations occupied his senses, he found it quite troubling that both the captain and the doctor continually hinted around the subject of his former relationship, with the Captain doing all the hinting and the doctor feeling it quite unnecessary to hint at all.
“Sheesh, Spock, it’s been a week,” snapped McCoy, continuing their contentious breakfast conversation in corridor just as they both exited the mess hall. “Don’t you think you’ve made the poor girl suffer enough.”
Spock said nothing and turned right at the end of the hall just as McCoy turned the usual left as if making his way towards the bridge. It was after walking several paces that McCoy realized that he was quite alone. “Son of a–,” he spat, before turning around to catch up with the first officer, picking up his rant exactly where he left off, his Georgia patois getting more marked the longer he talked.
“You know, I never knew that Vulcan’s could hold a grudge for so long. Where I come from forgiveness is the better part of valor or didn’t they have time to teach you that when you were learning calculus at the age of two?”
Spock stopped abruptly.
“Vulcan’s do not generally make a practice of offending others whereby the need for forgiveness would ever be required.”
“And they say that Vulcan’s never lie either; well here’s proof,” said McCoy, his voice dripping with sarcasm. McCoy gestured towards him with an exasperated wave of the hand “I’m tired of trying to figure out what your problem is.”
“Problem doctor?” said Spock, evenly, raising an eyebrow. “I do not believe that I currently have a problem.”
“I stand corrected; you’re right; you don’t have a problem, that’s because you are the problem! You green-blooded, selfish, unfeeling–”
“Excuse me doctor, but I need to check in with the geology lab before the start of duty.”
Spock turned to enter one of the labs while McCoy turned back, mumbling silently to himself all along the way.
At the sound of the door swishing open, Lieutenant Rawlins glanced up and grimaced when he saw the first officer enter his lab. It seemed as if Commander Spock was making the geology department his own special project in recent days.
Several of the technicians glanced up from their work as well, all wishing they could make some sort of escape.
“Mr Spock,” said Rawlins, both his jaw and voice tight. “How may I help you this morning?”
Whether or not he could sense the lieutenant’s impatience, Spock didn’t show it and merely carried on as he would any other day,
“Lieutenant Rawlins, I believe that I have discovered a flaw in your filing system.”
“Upon review, I have discovered that two of the holo-image files have been mislabeled.”
“Oh?” Rawlins furrowed his forehead while rolling his chair from his desk towards another work station. He punched in his access code to bring up the appropriate screen. “Which?”
“File 77452-AG8-DD994 and file 77452-AG8-DD995. I believe the images have been reversed.
Rawlins keyed in the numbers manually, bringing up both images on the large central viewer screen. Both images were virtually identical: two different images of a sandstone rock formation with the time-stamp clearly stating that second image was taken three months ago at 1:52 pm in the afternoon and the first image having been taken exactly three seconds later.
“I see what you mean, sir. I can’t image what could have possibly happened,” said Rawlins, doing everything in his power to keep his eyes from rolling.
“See that it is corrected immediately.”
“Yes, of course, sir.”
Spock thought he heard a chuckle from the other end of the room and upon turning he saw crew-members Juko and Spinelli studiously looking through their microscopes.
Rawlins knew exactly who had laughed. Spinelli had been making insensitive comments for the last several days about Vulcan overachievers and their need to get laid. Rawlins knew he should put the crewman on report, but, having witnessed Spock’s displeasure with Lieutenant Uhura firsthand and thinking him unduly harsh to her, he didn’t have the heart to check Spinelli and actually agreed with him wholeheartedly.
“Was there something else, sir?” said Rawlins, shooting a quelling look down the room.
“No, there is nothing more. Carry on, Lieutenant.”
With one more glance down the line of workstations, Spock exited the lab. And when he rounded the corner that would take him to the turbo-lift, he ran right into Lieutenant Uhura.
Attired in her dress uniform, she was standing before the turbo-lift doors, her head head bent down as she read something on her computer tablet. He straightened his body automatically and came to stand slightly behind her to wait for the lift.
He said nothing but he couldn’t help but smell her perfume. The aroma of rose and orange had somehow reached out to him as if they were tentacles of a multi-armed creature, wrapping around him, enfolding him, and beckoning to him like that of a siren’s song.
He closed his eyes momentarily to center himself and when he opened them he found her looking at him. When she quickly turned away he had not realized that he had also tightened his fists behind his back until he felt the loss of sensation in his right hand. He immediately began calculating the stress and load factors of the dilitium matrix at warp one.
At last the lift came, and to his dismay it was empty. He had at least hoped for other occupants as he knew full well that the lieutenant would use their few moments of privacy together to make her case for forgiveness once more and his hypotheses proved true as soon as the doors had closed on them.
Each night alone in her quarters had been sheer agony. She thought of ways to make it right, replaying the scenes from the planet that fateful day over and over again, and she was tortured endlessly over all the things that still remained unsaid. Before going down to Haven that morning, she saw this as her final chance.
“Won’t you talk to me,” she said softly.
Spock hardened his heart and if possible, stood up even straighter, yet when he spoke his voice was composed.
“You will address me as Commander, Commander Spock, Mr. Spock, or Sir. You will not address me so casually again. Is that understood, Lieutenant?”
His tone–that cool, calm, collected tone of his–she more then anyone knew what was really behind it. She reached out and pressed the ALL-STOP button.
“Spock, I get it, you’re still angry with me.” Desperate, she stepped forward. “Believe me; I’m angry with myself. I understand exactly what I did wrong and why it upset you so much. If there was a way to go back in time and do it all over again, I would. I would give anything for your forgiveness. Spock, will you please forgive me? Please.”
Tears streamed down he cheeks throughout this confession, She had even reached out and touched his chest, hoping that in feeling her touch, he would take her into his arms like he always did, and comfort her.
However, the only thing Spock did was to step away and release the ALL-STOP button.
Uhura’s face crumpled but she knew she had to keep it together for within seconds she would be on the bridge. Wretched, she looked down at the floor. She had one final thing to say. She lowered her voice.
“I figured out what you wanted to talk about the other night. You were going to ask me to marry you, weren’t you?
She had her answer in his silence. She bravely continued, her heart breaking.
“I would have said yes.”
Kirk was handing over the daily fuel consumption report when, upon the opening of the lift doors, he noticed the two of them stepping off of the turbo-lift together. McCoy, who was standing slightly to the rear of Kirk, turned around himself. For a fleeting moment, both men thought that finally, the two had come to some sort of armistice, but it was not to be. Spock’s face was as stony and impassive as ever and Uhura’s eyes were red, just as they had been every single day that she had come on duty.
As Uhura moved to the Communications station to give a few last minute instructions to her replacement, Spock moved to stand alongside the Captain’s chair.
Kirk did not acknowledge his first officer. In fact, he was right sick of Spock at the moment. Spock could stand there and wait for an eternity for all he cared. However, Kirk did have a plan to carry out and carry it out he must.
Back home in Iowa, Kirk remembered his uncle’s method for teaching him a lesson and in his estimation Spock needed someone to “learn him.”
Spock, obviously feeling that he had stood in silence at the captain’s chair long enough, finally spoke.
“Any final instructions, Captain?”
“Ah, yes, Mr. Spock, there you are. As I am going to be down on the planet for the next few days, there are several little things I want done in my absence that must be completed before we host the reception on board the Enterprise in three days time. I know you want to go down to the planet and visit your father, but I’m afraid that must wait a few more days. This is very important. I have made a list.”
Without looking, Kirk extended his left hand and his yeoman placed a computer tablet there. The tablet contained a list of twenty tasks… twenty completely useless tasks. This he handed to Spock.
Spock studied the list for several seconds before bringing disbelieving eyes level with the captain’s.
“This first item…” Spock tilted his head to pose a question. “You wish me to re-inspect every single one, Captain?”
A small, smug smile graced Kirks lips as he blinked once and only once.
“Is there some… difficulty, Mr. Spock?”
Clearly amused, Doctor McCoy snorted softly to himself.
“No, Captain. However, this third task will require me to climb through every Jeffries tube throughout the ship and only after, I might add, the engineering staff disengages the thermal coupling from each individual capacitor from the console on the engineering deck.”
“And this is a problem because–?” said Kirk, bemusedly.
“Captain, there are forty-five capacitor’s on deck two alone.”
“Then there is no better time than the present to get started. Bones,” exclaimed Kirk as he swiveled smartly in his seat to face the doctor. “You ready?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be, Jim.”
Kirk stood up from the command chair and turned to his chief engineer.
“Mr. Scott! I believe that Mr. Spock is going to be rather busy for a while; you have the bridge.” He slapped Spock smartly on the arm. “I’ll be sure to give your father your best. Bones, Uhura, you’re with me!”