As the landing party, consisting of the captain, the first officer, and all three original security team members, materialized on the transporter pad, Dr. McCoy sighed.
“Jim, how is it that you manage to rip your shirt every time you get attacked?” He eyed the captain’s sweaty and glistening chest.
“Doctor, the frequency with which the captain’s tunic is damaged is more accurately represented by the figure of 63.149%,” Spock corrected.
McCoy spared a momentary glare for the Vulcan’s irritating insistence upon complete accuracy before scanning Captain Kirk for serious injuries. “No major injuries, but you’ve got a concussion and a dislocated shoulder that’s going to hurt like hell for a few days.”
“Tell me something I don’t know, Bones,” Kirk muttered, reaching his left hand over to cradle his injured arm.
“Come down to sick bay. We’ll pop that shoulder back into place.”
“Captain, if you have no objections, I will retire to my quarters to prepare my report,” Spock said.
“Spock,” McCoy started before Kirk could reply, “you’ll need to come with us.”
“Spock’s a busy man, Bones,” Kirk said, weariness evident in his voice. “What do you need him for?”
“Someone is going to need make sure you get back to your quarters and get some rest. Now I could confine you to sickbay, but I know you. You’ll go stir crazy if you have to stay there for more than an hour. I also happen to know that doctor’s orders to rest aren’t likely to keep you from working.”
“So you’re asking him to babysit?” Kirk protested incredulously as the three stepped from the turbolift.
Before McCoy could snark back, Spock said, “I am amenable to the doctor’s suggestion, Captain. It would be prudent to rest in a comfortable area where we could discuss the mission reports and discard your ruined tunic."
Kirk sat on his bed and watched Spock search through his wardrobe.
“This should be sufficient,” said the First Officer, holding up a wrap-around command shirt.
“Spock,” Kirk whined, “why do I have to wear a shirt? My arm feels much better in this sling. You’re not going to make me move it, are you?”
Spock took one look at the pathetic pout on Kirk’s face and sighed, “Very well, sir.” He replaced the shirt in the wardrobe.
“Is it really 63.149% of the time that my uniform is ruined?” Kirk asked idly as he lay back against his headboard.
“No, sir,” said Spock, taking a seat at the captain’s desk. “If you will recall, that percentage referred to damage done to the upper portion of your uniform. Your trousers seem to be much more effective at remaining intact.”
“Thank goodness for that. Why do you think that is? Structural integrity of the material? Or maybe-“
“Captain,” Spock cut in, “perhaps we should discuss the mission. If you would like, I will retrieve a data PADD so that you may begin your report.”
“Oh, Spocky,” Kirk sighed, “relax.” He closed his eyes with a dopey smile on his face.
Spock raised an eyebrow. “It would seem that the doctor’s dose of pain medication has begun to affect your nervous system and brain function.”
“Mmhmm,” he hummed, snuggling back into his bunk and rubbing sleepily at his chest.
Spock’s eyes were not drawn to the movement.
One hour later, the captain lay sleeping on his bed while Spock contemplated the mission. He had begun composing his report, but he hadn’t forgotten about his earlier conversation with the captain.
Certainly the captain’s concern with his uniform’s “structural integrity” was fed by his injured brain’s lack of focus, but thoughts of Kirk returning to the ship with tattered trousers showing off glistening strips of skin on his buttocks or thighs were swirling around Spock’s consciousness with images of shining chest and back flesh peeking through the torn fabric of command shirts. Sparing a glance toward Kirk’s peacefully sleeping form, Spock opened the captain’s wardrobe. He had been involved in a number of hand to hand conflicts beside his captain, but his clothing had never suffered from the amount of damage that Kirk’s had.
After retrieving an undamaged uniform shirt from Kirk’s wardrobe, Spock picked up the remains of his shirt from that afternoon. A thorough examination uncovered a troubling problem. Some of the seams of both shirts seemed to be weakened. Intrigued, he took the two shirts to his own cabin, where he took a science blue shirt from his own wardrobe. Comparing Kirk’s uniforms to his own, he found that the reinforced seams on his shirt were only single seams on Kirk’s.
Spock entered the Materials Reclamation Facility, the epitome of formality. He reminded himself that he was here in an official capacity, that it was his duty as First Officer to ensure the safety of his Captain. A wardrobe malfunction could serve as a detriment to Kirk’s safety.
He approached the young blonde ensign who was serving as the Gamma shift quartermaster.
“Ensign Cartworth, I request a moment of your time.”
Cartworth swallowed nervously, rising to stand at attention.
Spock had never spoken to her directly, and he was quite a formidable presence. He knew that he would be more likely to get information from her if she felt at ease, so he relaxed his posture by 1.347%.
“Of course, sir,” she replied. “What can I do for you?”
“It has come to my attention that Captain Kirk’s uniforms have sustained some structural damage that renders them more prone to being destroyed during physical altercations.”
Cartworth’s jaw dropped. “I... don’t... know what you mean, Commander.”
“Ensign,” Spock began patiently, “it is clear that you are prevaricating. Your rate of respiration has increased, your face is becoming flushed, and your visage has taken on the appearance of what I believe is known on Earth as a ‘deer in headlights.’”
“Oh,” she whispered.
Spock took pity on the young lady despite himself. “Please be honest. No disciplinary action will be taken. This discussion is ‘off the record.’”
“I don’t know when it started, but when I joined the crew a few months ago, I was told that Captain Kirk’s uniform laundry and repair was to be handled separately. I figured it was maybe because of his stripes. Later I found out that the seams on his shirts were being deliberately weakened.”
Spock nodded. “I had suspected as much. What is the purpose of this practice?”
Cartworth reddened. “Haven’t you ever seen him when he returns to the ship after fighting and having his shirt ripped?” A soft smile appeared on her lips, and her eyes seemed to focus on a distant memory. “His bronzed skin glistening in the ship’s light, his muscular chest inviting stares from the crew...” She sighed.
A slanted eyebrow rose as Spock thought back to that afternoon, cresting that hill on Koa’harn to see Kirk rolling in the grass with his opponent, running down the hill to aid the captain only to find that the fight was over by the time he reached Kirk’s side. He’d helped the captain to his feet, steadying him while allowing his eyes to memorize the sight of the sunlight on Kirk’s sweaty chest.
A soft gasp startled him out of his reverie. “Forgive me, sir,” Cartworth hastily said. “I will instruct the department members to repair the captain’s uniform shirts.”
Spock thought for a moment. “That will not be necessary, Ensign. Carry on.”