For once, it wasn't just Spock getting into it that caused them to wind up on the floor. Not that Jim was quite sure about this at first - his head wasn't quite on straight at the moment - but when the alarms started up and the flashing lights tinted his dimly-lit quarters red, that seemed to imply that it was more than just Spock's talented fingers that had made the world shake. Spock, too, understood the danger, and was already pushing himself up from atop where Jim was lying flat on his back on the floor. Jim smacked his palm against the floor, hard, in frustration. Of all the times...
"Captain!" Sulu's voice, tense, rang out from the terminal. "A unknown vessel - practically out of nowhere, I think it was hiding behind the third planet in the system - just zoomed up behind us, it's fired upon us once already!"
"I noticed," Jim muttered, using the table to pull himself upright. He was a little dazed. "I can assume shields are up?"
"Shields are up, sir."
"Prepare to take evasive maneuvers - I'll be there in a minute." As fast as he could get there when he was already winded. "First priority is staying alive, second is identifying that vessel."
"I'll raise Mr. Spock, sir."
"That won't be necessary," Jim told Sulu. "I can raise him myself. Kirk out." In fact, he'd already 'raised' Spock once tonight, and it appeared his effort would go to waste, because Spock showed no signs of arousal already, as he started for-
"Spock!" Jim exclaimed. "Put some pants on first!"
"The Enterprise is under attack by an unidentified hostile force," Spock said, perfectly calm despite the fact he was standing there by the door, completely naked, with a definite bedhead. "Personal modesty is of relatively little importance at such a time."
"At least cover your, ah, dangly bits with something before heading to the bridge - that's an order, Spock." Jim was already digging through the tangled sheets. "Where... is my underwear...?" Spock didn't seem to have the same problem - he was already pulling something on. "It can't have gone too far..."
Another crash made him stumble, pulling the sheet from the bed as tried to catch himself. "We don't have time for this-"
"Shall I go ahead, captain?
"No, I'll only be a second, I just need to... honestly, where is my..." He found his answer when he looked to Spock. "Spock, you're wearing my underwear."
Spock lifted an eyebrow. "Again, the matter is of relatively little importance in context."
"Fine, fine," Jim sighed, and just shook out the sheet. Spock's underwear was not immediately in evidence, so he simply wrapped the sheet around himself. It probably hid his state of half-arousal better than his underwear would have, at any rate. "To the bridge."
The corridors were always bustling during red alert, full of crew rushing to battle stations, checking vital systems, and so on. Everyone aboard had their tasks to perform, and they would perform them.
If they would stop gawking at the captain and first officer running for the turbolift dressed in a bedsheet and underwear, respectively. "Stop rubbernecking and get to your station!" Jim barked at more than one ensign along the way. Did they really want to lose the ship because they were more interested in what the two highest-ranking officers aboard had been doing moments before?
On the other hand, it occurred to Jim that if they didn't lose the ship, he was going to have a lot of questions to answer. But it would certainly be worse for the Enterprise to be blown to smithereens, only to have the last recordings found weeks from now by another starship, who would play them back only to see...
Jim would take answering the questions any day.
Upon reaching the bridge, Spock headed immediately for the science station, Jim for the chair. "Uhura - any transmissions?"
Her mouth was open very wide, but she managed to say only "Nothing's come in on the usual channels, sir - I've been broadcasting a request for identification on all frequencies, but they're not responding."
"Keep at it." Jim sat down, glaring at the image on the main screen. "Damage report?"
"No casualties reported, but some structural damage in engineering, and Mr. Scott says that first hit knocked our warp down to fifty percent," Sulu replied. "Impulse is a little sluggish too, but I've been..."
His voice trailed off as he looked over his shoulder to address the captain directly. The captain went from glaring at the screen to glaring at his helmsman. "Eyes forward, Sulu, and continue."
"Er, yes, sir. So far I've been able to compensate manually for the unsteadiness."
"Any ideas as to who this ship belongs to?" Jim asked.
"I'm running scans now," Spock informed them, and Jim turned to... be somewhat distracted by the way Spock was bending over the equipment. "It is a small, utilitarian craft, clearly designed for speed rather than power. Conical in shape, approximately thirty-five meters in length, seven meters in diameter. It is equipped with minimal shields - all that is necessary for such a small craft - and an energy-based weapon similar to our phasers - which I expect they are about to fire again, based on energy readings."
Sure enough, there was a flash of light, and a beam crashed into the ship, jolting it again. "Thanks for the warning," Jim said dryly. "No idea who it is that's attacking us?"
"The design is unknown," Spock replied. "Scanners indicate an atmosphere similar to our own on the interior, which hardly narrows down our - firing again."
There was another flash, and this time one of the consoles off to Jim's left erupted in a shower of sparks, tossing the lieutenant who had been monitoring the defense mechanism screens to the floor. "Dr. McCoy to the bridge," Jim paged hurriedly, before leaping to his feet to assist the young man. He was slightly scorched and unconscious, but seemingly otherwise unharmed. "Someone put that out!" Jim shouted at the nearby ensigns, waving at the flames still burning inside the panel.
Bones arrived almost instantly, and his eyes widened at the sight of the man lying on the floor of the bridge. "What happened?" he asked, kneeling to scan the lieutenant.
"Console explosion," Jim explained.
"I figured that out based on the fact that he's burned and there's a fire right behind us," McCoy muttered, pulling out a hypo. "I know what to do with him. I meant, why are you naked?"
Jim looked down in surprise. "...I guess that would be because I dropped my sheet," he said, trying to sound nonchalant as he stood to recover it.
"Then my next ques..." Jim watched as McCoy's eyes followed him, then went right past to Spock, who was standing there in his underwear. Or rather... "Jim, why is Spock wearing those boxers I got you as a joke for Christmas?"
"Actually, doctor - Mr. Spock also happens to own a pair of boxer shorts with smiley faces printed on them," Jim replied. For some reason, Bones didn't look convinced. "What's that ship doing out there, Spock?"
"At the moment, it appears to be circling. Perhaps seeking a more vulnerable target."
"Shields are down to sixty percent," Sulu put in. "Whatever that is they're firing, it packs a punch."
"Return fire," Jim ordered.
They tried. "It's too small and fast," Sulu reported. "Makes for a terrible target."
"Wide dispersal pattern," Jim suggested. "Light it up out there."
Still the small ship dodged. "No good," Sulu complained. "Unless we can slow that thing down, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. Or more accurately, a single minnow in a lake."
"Then we'll just have to slow it down," Jim stated, as the ship turned and fired again. He reached out to steady himself on the guardrail. And then reached down to grab the sheet, which had fallen again. "Turn on a tractor beam - just sweep it across until it snags that ship."
"We can't, sir," said one of the ensigns who had been working on putting out the fire. "Not from here, with this station out. We need manual control for that kind of maneuver, and it's not working."
"Shields at fifty-five," Sulu reported.
"If I may make a suggestion," Spock said, turning from the scanners, "the environmental controls have suffered no damage, and are currently on automatic. The tractor beam controls could be patched into that console, if some of this console's wiring was to be rerouted."
Jim headed back to the captain's chair and the intercom. "Scotty, never mind what's going on with the warp drive right now - get up to the bridge, we've got a job for you." And in the meantime, "Uhura, any luck getting through to that ship?"
"Still no response, sir."
"Let's try being a little more direct, shall we?" When he'd heard the chime, Jim spoke up, loud and firm. "This is Captain James T. Kirk, of the U.S.S. Enterprise. You are firing, without any known provocation, on a Federation starship, and the description and specifications of your craft have been recorded. We recommend you cease fire at once and identify yourselves, as well as any grievance you may have against us, that we may come to a diplomatic resolution. Continued hostility will result in retaliation - not only between our two ships, but in any further encounters you and your people may have with the Federation."
"Broadcasting message, sir." Another chime, and Uhura waited.
"Firing again, captain," Spock spoke up, as the ship turned to face them on the main screen. Sure enough, there was a flash, and the Enterprise rocked again.
"Captain, we're receiving a reply!" Uhura said in surprise, straightening again as the ship stabilized.
"Let's hear it - put it on audio."
She did so, and suddenly the bridge was filled with a loud sputtering sound.
Jim looked at Spock, whose eyebrow was raised, and at McCoy, who looked completely baffled. "Uhura," Jim began, turning back to her, and she looked just as puzzled. "Do you have any idea what kind of language that is?"
"I could be mistaken," she said thoughtfully, "but I believe they were expressing a... universal sentiment."
"What kind of universal sentiment?" Jim asked. Uhura stuck out her tongue and blew. "...Oh."
The turbolift doors hissed open, and Scotty practically leapt out, toolkit in hand. "Ah, there she is - ye'll be wanting me to get that console goin' again, is that it?" he asked, heading for it without even glancing over the rest of the bridge. "I knew somethin' had shorted out, but I didn't know it was so bad as that. It'll take a wee bit more time than we have before the shields give out, though."
"I know we don't have time to get it working," Jim informed him. "I need you to reroute some controls - the tractor beam, specifically - from that console to the environmental control console, which is still operable."
"Aye, that's as easy as flippin' a switch down there, if ye know which switch to flip. Which I do." Having knelt down to have a look inside the access panel, already open due to the firefighting effort, Scotty looked over his shoulder to give the captain a confident nod - and then did a double-take. "What the devil?! Cap'n, what're ye wearin'?"
"A bedsheet, Mr. Scott," Jim stated, seeing his chief engineer's eyes flicker past him to something beyond and anticipating his next question. "And yes, Mr. Spock is wearing boxer shorts. Any further questions before you reroute those controls?"
"Not a one," Scotty told him, turning back to the panel, reaching inside. "Closin' me mouth, sir. Just... gimme a moment to reroute me brain before I can reroute those controls. ...Ach."
"Spock, what's that ship doing?" Jim barked. It was moving almost too fast for the screen to keep it in view.
"It appears to be flying circles around us," Spock replied, "and I have no guesses as to why."
"Done!" Scotty declared, the upper half of him emerging from inside the panel, his face smudged with soot. "Tractor beam's ready, ye just have to use these buttons here."
"You know how those controls are hooked in, so you do it," Jim ordered him. "Aim that tractor beam out in front of us. Frontal view on screen." The monitor stopped trying to follow the ship's motion and simply watched as the small ship whizzed past. "Time its movements, Spock - tell Scotty when to turn on that tractor beam."
Spock nodded, clearly concentrating as his eyes followed the ship's streak across the screen. "...And... now."
Scotty engaged the tractor beam, and just as planned - the ship flew straight into its path only milliseconds later, sticking. "Got 'er, cap'n!"
"Excellent work, Scotty," Jim told him, beaming. "You too, Spock. Now..."
"We're getting another signal!" Uhura told him abruptly. "The ship's hailing us!"
"That answers the question of what to do next," Jim observed. "Put it on the main screen."
Uhura paused. "Visual as well as audio?"
"Yes, of course - is there some reason why we shouldn't?"
"Well, sir..." She gestured vaguely at him. "...You and Mr. Spock are... well..."
In all the excitement of capturing the ship, Jim had almost forgotten. "...Right. But on the other hand, I am the captain, and we must know who this ship is and why they attacked us. Spock, do you mind?"
"As I stated previously, the safety of the Enterprise is a much higher priority than the personal modesty of its crew." Though it might have been just Jim's imagination, but the color in Spock's cheeks made it look as if he might be blushing, just a little.
"Main screen," Jim repeated, though with somewhat greater reluctance. He shifted the sheet a little higher up on his torso as the screen flickered and changed to ship-to-ship visual.
The three beings who appeared on the screen were squat humanoids dressed in wild, brightly colored apparel, their skin somewhat pinkish in tone, with large dark eyes which were glaring at them indignantly. "We demand that you release us at..." the one in the center began, but then its head tilted oddly. "You... are a Federation starship's crew?"
"Yes - I am James Kirk, captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise," Jim replied. "Why did you-"
"You are the captain?"
"Yes, I am. Why did you attack my ship?"
Instead of replying, the aliens looked at each other, and suddenly burst out laughing.
"Listen, you," Jim demanded. "I want some answers - who are you, and what excuse do you have for attacking a Federation starship?" The aliens just kept laughing, and in fact the roundest of them rolled right off its seat. Jim looked to Spock. "Can you tell me who they are?"
"I do not believe there is any record of this race among the Enterprise's files," Spock replied, coming to stand at Jim's shoulder. "This sector is seldom travelled - it may be the first time they have been encountered."
"Perfect time for a first contact, isn't it?" Jim muttered.
The aliens were laughing even harder now. "Look at the Vulcan!" one of them howled.
Jim could sense Spock stiffening, just behind him. "Easy, Spock..." he murmured, then addressed the aliens again. "I see that you find us amusing. Although we would prefer for our first meetings with unknown races to be filled with merriment rather than anger, you did fire upon our ship. We would like an explanation, if you please."
"Yes, yes, an error on our parts, I believe," said the alien in the center, wiping its large eyes as it settled down. "We had heard tell of your Federation, from beings who visit our planet. Uniforms and regulations, formal talks, full of boring, boring, boring. You even count the most boring Vulcans among your membership. We come from a people who place great value in fun, in excitement, in humor. We do not welcome the presence of boring in our territory."
"Yet you and your ship do not appear boring," put in the alien to his left. "For a captain to take the bridge, nearly naked!"
"And even your Vulcan seems to be unexpectedly uninhibited," the center alien continued, beginning to giggle again. "Perhaps the reports of boring were mistaken?"
"...Well..." Jim began, not knowing quite what to say. "I... will admit that the bureaucracy in the Federation can be boring - quite boring indeed. There are many rules and regulations, guidelines for etiquette... However, that is the bureaucracy, the... overseeing of the Federation. For those who serve aboard a starship like ours, life in the Federation is anything but boring." He glanced up to Spock. "Wouldn't you say so?"
"My race is indeed known for a distinct lack of excitement," Spock observed. "However, I have found that serving aboard the Enterprise has greatly... enriched my life in that area. Whether that is as I would have it or not," he added in an undertone.
"Quite true," Jim affirmed, daring to crack a smile. "Perhaps our new friends would like to hear about the time you and I danced a jig together."
Even putting forth the idea was enough to make the aliens start laughing all over again. "This is a story we should like to hear, yes!"
Spock did not look particularly pleased at the prospect, but Jim nodded. "We have many stories we could share, to illustrate just how non-boring the people of the Federation can be - if it would help to promote peace between our races. Would you care to come aboard? We can have a few drinks, get to know each other..."
Arrangements were swiftly made, and communications halted while preparations began. "Thank you, everyone, for your fine work and cooperation," Jim told his crew. "If any of you would like to change into non-boring attire for this little party we're throwing for our new friends, feel free."
"Er, speaking of attire, Jim," McCoy spoke up. "I think you and Spock have some explaining to do."
Jim and Spock exchanged glances. "...I don't suppose you'd believe us if we said we'd anticipated this encounter with... light-hearted, fun-loving alien beings, and had prepared appropriately."
"Nope," McCoy said flatly, crossing his arms.
Now that all the excitement was over, the entire bridge had a moment to stare at the two of them, and stare they did. "So," Uhura began curiously, "you two are..."
Sulu was unsuccessfully trying to hide a smirk. "Looks like I called at a bad time, didn't I?"
Spock shifted. "If you'll excuse me, I believe I will go and change into more appropriate attire."
Jim was also feeling significantly more naked than he had only moments ago. "Perhaps I'll join you."
"Beggin' yer pardon," Scotty pointed out, "but from their reaction, I bet these new aliens would rather ye didn't. Though... I cannae say the same for myself." He shook his head, his expression distinctly disturbed as he turned away, towards the turbolift. "I think... I'll go make sure the transporters are ready."
"Mr. Scott does have a point," Spock admitted, though with obvious (at least to Jim, who could read Spock rather well) reluctance.
Jim sighed. "I suppose I can find a pin or something, to fasten this more securely..."
"So how long has this been going on?" McCoy asked. "I'm wondering just how many times you've lied to me in sickbay about the origins of your mysterious minor aches and pains... Not to mention certain recurring issues with your lower digestive tract."
"Well, I'm not going to find a pin on the bridge," Jim said brightly, getting up from the captain's chair. "Why don't you come and help me have a look, Spock?"
Spock was practically at his elbow at once. "If my assistance would be welcomed, by all means."
"Remember, you've got a party to attend," Sulu teased. "Don't spend too long in your quarters!"
"And I'd like to hear exactly how and when this started," Uhura told them.
"That," Jim stated as the turbolift doors began to close behind them (and an uncomfortable Scotty), "is a very non-boring story that I am most definitely not going to tell at this party."