There was something enchanting and unique about watching hundreds of stars streaking across the sky at night while lying upon a traditional sleeping bag on Earth. Although Kirk had seen stars from a distance and dangerously close, to watch the Leonids shower at its zenith in the dead of night still took his breath away.
Arms tucked behind his head, he allowed a small smile play across his lips as his eyes dilated at every drop of a meteor over the great, dark canvas that was the sky. It was utter perfection, something that not even the observation deck on the Enterprise could emulate.
To watch it, lying upon the hard, firm ground of Earth in the wilderness reminded Kirk of his humanity and of all that humans and others alike could still achieve one day. It reminded him that what he’d explored, no matter how extensive, was only a small fraction of the known universe. It made his heart swell and fanned the embers of his boyish desire to explore the unknown into a conflagration.
Slipping a hand out from behind his head, he reached up toward the sky, admiring at how the stars continued to streak and evade his grasp. It was a childlike, illogical fascination that Spock remarked on as he continued to keep his hand out. Bones on the other side of him refrained from remarking, being astonishingly quiet for once. Kirk didn’t doubt that the Doctor was just as mesmerized as he was.
They continued to watch the shower for an indeterminate amount of time before the Vulcan’s next interruption.
“Captain...” Kirk didn’t look away, although he picked up Bones’s annoyed sigh at Spock’s endless need to ask questions. The captain didn’t mind so much, as his friend was forever the scientist.
“I believe I hear the approach of your earth creatures.”
“They’re probably just passing by, Spock. They won’t bother us.”
“They are approximately 5.7—”
“Goddamn it, Spock! Don’t you ever just shut up? There is a space phenomenon that only happens every 33 years happening and you’re listening to wildlife!” Kirk smiled tiredly, his mind no longer focused on the stars in the sky. Leave it to Bones to get impatient first. Lowering his hand, he turned to speak with Spock when he suddenly heard a...
“The hell—Jim! There are three bears tearing at our tent!” The captain sat up at McCoy’s exclamation and turned around to confirm that there were indeed shadows that looked like bears mauling their shelter. It confounded Kirk as to why the bears would be attracted to their tent of all the tends pitched in Yosemite, but then he remembered something.
“...Spock, you never did open that gift the guide gave us today, did you?”
“Should I have?”
“Oh for—of all the stupid, ignorant—” Kirk and Spock watched as the doctor drew out his phaser and fired at the three creatures to scare them off. As they did, the captain watched his impassive Vulcan officer’s face dawn with comprehension.
“There were extra food rations in those packets.” Kirk smiled and was about to make a remark when they suddenly heard a chorus of roars.
It seemed that McCoy’s ill-advised defense against the bears had woken up a whole pack of wild animals.
And this time, the good doctor couldn’t blame either Kirk or Spock as the famous triumvirate of the Enterprise ran for higher ground.
So much for a relaxing, uncomplicated shore leave.