“Damn it! I’m a doctor, not a nanny!” - raged Leonard McCoy at the end of his tenth circle around the bodies on the biobeds. Those bodies, actually, belonged to the brave Captain Kirk and his irreplaceable First Officer Mr. Spock. Both officers were unconscious at the moment, which under the circumstances could be considered a plus. At least, that’s what the poor Miss Chapel thought, who at the beginning of McCoy's eleventh circle was still trying to blend into the environment in a hope to escape the doctor's wrath.
“All it takes is to leave them alone for a while and there you go! Isn’t that great!” McCoy quite irreverentially prodded the captain’s chest with a tricorder. If Kirk was supposed to react to the gesture, he probably preferred not to. “I don’t have a slightest idea why they aren’t coming to their senses.”
“Maybe they’ve got sunstroke?”
The heavy gaze of the Doctor directed at Christine persuaded her at once that his last phrase was not intended as a question, so she’d better continue blending into the interior with her mouth closed. McCoy had already conducted all the research possible to discover why the two senior officers of the Enterprise had been thus incapacitated and had come to the conclusion that in this particular case, science was powerless. Less scientific methods were still under consideration.
“Mmmm,” to the utter joy of the Nurse, Jim groaned and opened his eyes. The scorching gaze of McCoy at once changed its object of silent reproof. “Where am I?” rasped the Captain.
“Guess at one try”, grinned McCoy. “Anticipating your question, I’ll say at once - he’s alright, but still unconscious.”
“Who?” Christine quietly gasped as this apparently was the wrong answer. Leonard McCoy ominously loomed over Kirk, scanning his head.
“My ship has three hundred and forty crewmembers. Not counting the women and you, there’s a choice of three hundred people,” Jim Kirk proudly announced, not guessing how he had just aggravated his already lamentable situation.
“Let’s try again”, the doctor expectantly peered at the man who was now undoubtedly his patient.
“Scotty?” - Kirk hopefully asked. He didn’t like the doctor’s reaction. “Chekov? Sulu? Lt. Leslie? Mr. Kyle?”
“Listing crewmembers by name won’t help you, Jim”, - McCoy would have crossed his arms or put them akimbo, but holding a tricorder narrowed down the list of possible indignant gestures to angrily flailing them in the air. “So leave your tricks for Starfleet Headquarters. My duties do not include nursemaiding you and I warned you from the beginning that you’ll have to handle pon farr without me”.
“Pon farr?” The captain’s eyes radiated with sincerity untainted by the adversity of life. “I don’t know what pon farr is.”
That was a perfect moment for one more dramatic whimper from an emotional Miss Chapel which wasn’t to happen as the icy “I do!” killed it at its birth.
The voice sounded from the next bunk. Its owner looked pale, though the angle of his eyebrows visibly demonstrated to McCoy he had made a critical mistake. However, the question that followed showed that it wasn’t by far the doctor’s main problem.
The Vulcan, unburdened by tricorders, managed to cross his arms. “Doctor, what are your reasons for divulging my confidential information to a total outsider?
McCoy was saved from lengthy contemplation by Miss Chapel’s nervous whimper, which got to escape after all.
“An outsider?” Christine managed, flinging her arms in the air. “Mr. Spock, don’t you recognize the captain?”
“Exactly,” McCoy backed the appeal of his colleague, strongly suspecting that the universe had presented him with one more test of will and character. “Isn’t he your best friend, kindred soul and all that?”
“Best friend?” Spock repeated, his eyebrows having just set another speed record on their way to the bangs.
“And all that?” Jim echoed, wide-eyed.
Two patients, who now finally came to their senses, peered at each other attentively. McCoy traditionally peered at them both, though, in thirty seconds of visual contact it became obvious that expecting them to suddenly get enlightened was overly optimistic.
“I have not seen this person before,” Spock’s conclusion didn’t bring any reassurance. “Doctor, are you sure he is permitted to be on board?”
“By the way, I command this ship”, Jim Kirk didn’t hesitate to retort. “We have yet to discover your identity.”
“Silence!” the doctor commanded, contemplating when he last treated his senior officers for amnesia and wondering whether any long-term effects could have made a sudden appearance. “For starters, tell me what you have been doing on the planet surface.”
“Doctor, if you suppose we were together…”, Spock started.
“It isn’t true”, Jim, as Captain, had the last word.
Both patients looked sideways at each other a bit more, to maintain decency.
“Well. What each of you was doing on the planet totally and completely alone?” McCoy’s voice was filled with resignation.
The chorus of “I was on a shore leave” and “I gathered samples of ground water” fell into the silence of Sickbay. The patients went back to intensely peering at each other. Under the weird man’s steadfast gaze Spock didn’t feel like himself. At least he now was aware why it had been hard to admit that the human was a starship captain. Having returned from a shore leave, he looked like a typical resort dweller in a crazy colored shirt and shorts of a no less crazy cut, clumsily decorated with pineapples. Carefully moving his eyes to his own form, Spock discovered a similar form of attire, though, his skinny legs stuck out of shorts covered with a more sophisticated pattern: merry ponies cheerfully galloping among multicolored apples. Trying to save at least a minimal amount of dignity, Spock continued to study the man he didn’t remember. Somehow, it made him calmer.
“Correct”. McCoy hurried to return the patients’ attention to his own person, before Jim, who was no less struck by the Vulcan shorts, managed to earn himself a squint. “First you were supposed to select the samples for Mr. Sulu’s research, and after that you had the shore leave and, I hope, the pon farr.”
“Bones, why do you keep mentioning this pon farr? What is that, a holiday?“ Jim instantly regretted opening his mouth as Spock’s face, if it were possible, had become even more unreadable. The captain at once figured that starting off on the wrong foot with Vulcans he couldn’t remember was a bit of a risky move. “I love holidays”, Jim decided to clarify. He smiled wholeheartedly, but the unfamiliar Vulcan didn’t reciprocate. Instead, he gave a long sigh.
“Doctor, I assure you, my life cycle has not yet entered this period”, Spock added dispassionately, mechanically smothering out wrinkles on his shorts and feeling vague uneasiness as Miss Chapel’s wailing along the lines of “How can that be?” went on in the background. “Moreover, if I was expecting the onset of pon farr, I would be on Vulcan, not on the edge of the quadrant in a company of a stranger who is unable to comprehend the difficulty of my situation.”
Pure logic, in Spock’s opinion, should have cooled the fires of Leonard McCoy’s anger, but he just sarcastically grunted. The Doctor decided not to bring the attention to the fact that after a certain memorable trip to his First’s home planet Jim Kirk had taken all the measures necessary to find himself in seven years as far as possible from Vulcan, Vulcans, Vulcan matriarchs and especially the sly Vulcan brides and their shameless Vulcan lovers. Perhaps McCoy would even have supported his friend in his desire to obtain simple human happiness through such unconventional means, if the main source of that happiness had already gone through pon farr, preferably outside of habitat of sane people.
“So, no symptoms?” - McCoy asked with a frown, pondering if it’s best to seal just one deck or to go big and declare a red alert all over the ship. His simple trail of thought had already brought him to the only possible conclusion: if pon farr hadn’t yet occurred, it soon would. It’s only that both supposed participants of this mystical act weren’t exactly anxious to share the joys of bodily love with each other.
“So,” the captain drew some undoubtedly brilliant conclusions from the Doctor’s somber state, “what does he have? Is it contagious?”
“Trust me, it would be better if it were a contagious disease. Those can be treated”. McCoy informed him with a sad sigh, earning another condemning stare from the Vulcan.
“Doctor, you will not elaborate on this topic!” Spock stated, his voice chiming with Vulcan disapproval. “If you would remember your professional ethics...”
“Screw that,” responded Jim Kirk. “I’m the captain and I decide what Bones does. Bones,” the captain unflinchingly crossed his hands, “Report all the available information to me now”.
It was entertaining and even a bit flattering to be the central figure in an epic confrontation, but McCoy had a gut feeling that somehow in the end he was going to be made a scapegoat.
“Fine! Here’s all the information!” The Doctor loudly clapped his hands and gestured desperately to the Nurse. Despite being close to a nervous breakdown, Christine did what was necessary of her quickly and in a second she was already half-heartedly peeking out from behind the doctor’s shoulder.
“Doctor! You are not entitled to...” Spock sprang to his feet, obviously about to prevent a leak of personal information, but a forcefield hindered his attempt to reach McCoy.
“Mr. Scott deserves a commendation, his idea to set up a forcefield in sickbay was brilliant”, Jim knowingly nodded from his bunk, evidently enjoying the Vulcan shorts fussing around the perimeter of the barrier. “Well, Bones, let’s go to my office, there we’ll…” the Captain in an attempt to leave the isolation area was thrown back right to the Vulcan’s clutches.
Spock let go of the thrashing human in a moment: a broken neck would serve as an adequate restraining factor for uncontrolled spreading of confidential information about pon farr and presence of equines on the elements on his clothes. Although he had to admit that killing a being with signs of at least some intellect was against his moral standards.
“Hey! What the hell?” Jim Kirk tried to break through the barrier again and again with no success. “Bones, I demand an explanation!”
“As CMO of this ship, I prescribe you and Mr. Spock treatment in sickbay.” For a second it might seem that the doctor felt a certain satisfaction, but of course it wasn’t so. “No way!” Kirk was bursting with indignation. “Bones, let me go immediately!”
Spock sighed inwardly; the day was going to be long. If he had to use a nerve pinch on his neighbor, would it look like self-defense? The sight of Jim Kirk kicking a forcefield persuaded him it wasn’t likely.
“Jim, you have asked for information. Both you and Mr. Spock will soon receive it. I’ve forwarded your personal files to your computers,” an unyielding McCoy informed, actively typing at the sickbay console. “Maybe that will help you remember.”
“Doctor, your actions are not logical”, the Vulcan tried to appeal to Leonard McCoy’s reason again. “Instead of applying to us your dubious methods of memory recovery, would it not be sensible to begin with ascertaining the reason of our state?
“One doesn’t cancel out the other,” McCoy snapped, making a mental note to keep out of lengthy discussions with Spock. He wasn’t going to specify that actually, while he didn’t care much about how exactly the Captain and his First Officer managed to pick up more trouble, he was concerned about the perspective of explaining Jim Kirk the fascinating peculiarities of Vulcan procreation by immediately exposing him to the process. “I will listen to that exciting story with pleasure, but only after you remember it yourselves. Perhaps instead of touch-free procedures you’d prefer to meld with the captain?”
“To meld?” Intrigued, Kirk stopped punishing the forcefield for a while. An unfamiliar Vulcan term sounded very promising, one could even say exciting. “Yes, if we don’t have to stay confined, Mr Spock, I won’t object if you do that certain something to me.
“I am ready to give consideration to the proposal with personal files,” Spock hurriedly responded before the situation got to the point of no return. If Jim Kirk produced such a dismaying impression on the outside, it was hard to imagine what a contact with his inner self could reveal.
“That’s a good Vulcan,” the doctor concluded, not trying to hide the victorious grin. “Now go and read.”
“Fine,” Jim proudly jerked up his chin, “Tell Scotty I need to have a talk with him about his unsanctioned modifications of the sickbay equipment!” Having kicked the forcefield for the last time, he rushed to his computer. To Spock’s taste, such behavior was totally ineffective, but dazzling, unique and virtuously challenging.
Several minutes passed in bleak heavy silence, disrupted only by clicking keys and periodic snorting from the captain.
“Well?” asked McCoy when he realized the pause was drawing out for too long. “Do you now believe that you know each other?”
“This data could be falsified,” the still doubtful Jim Kirk drawled, “aliens are full of guile. It is even possible all this happens inside my head and none of you are actually here.”
Actually, Jim wasn’t eager to admit that this engaging Vulcan in playful shorts was solely a product of his imagination, but the captain’s duty required that he consider all the possible options.
“Fascinating,” Spock let out a heavy sigh, “I find it difficult to believe I served under a person in possession of such evidently paranoid traits.” It seemed the Vulcan wasn’t very excited about the Captain’s commitment to his duty.
“It’s fascinating that I was in command over such a cold fish devoid of even a trace of intuition,” Jim Kirk retorted, offended by such a short-sighted approach.
“Oh, please don’t doubt that for years you were “over” and “under” and found it mostly charming,” Dr. McCoy hurried to make a point.
Two unreadable stares came in response. McCoy rolled up his eyes; acting bluntly didn’t help. Though there was no other course of action as the threat of a violent Vulcan deep in hormonal psychosis on his hands was becoming more real with every passing minute.
“Well,” McCoy made a second attempt, “anything outstanding in your personal files?”
“It is said here we have been serving on one ship for many years, but no information is available as to how we met”.
Jim couldn’t contain a smile. Undoubtedly, this question had a logical subtext - something like first impression being as persistent as the smell of a Klingon’s dirty socks - but to Jim, the Vulcan suddenly seemed quite sentimental.
“Believe me, Spock, even the computer does not remember that. Anything else?” McCoy, practical to the point of being a nuisance, broke the magic of the moment.
Both hapless patients again stared into their monitors. To be exact, it was only Spock who stared, the captain’s eyes sneaked from time to time to the Vulcan and his bare legs. His own bare legs were obviously seen by Jim Kirk as something natural.
“Until now I was under the conception that I was serving under Captain Pike…” Spock began, but he didn’t have the opportunity to finish the sentence.
“Oh really?” The captain in a very peculiar manner let everyone know he just discovered something noticeable about his First, his bare legs notwithstanding. “You’re the Vulcan ambassador’s son! A harsh man, that Sarek!”
Spock could add that those who had the honor of meeting his father at least once remembered that day till the end of their life and had little success in attempting to forget it.
“It appears you have established the first contact with the Gorns,” Spock added politely to keep the small talk going. He, in turn, remembered the Gorn captain who was no less “harsh” than Sarek despite wearing nothing but a toga, but Spock decided to abstain from further comment.
“Yes, it seems I have never been hugged that hard,” Jim snorted, continuing to study the list of Spock’s services to humanity. The doctor mumbled something incoherently. Spock suddenly felt an illogical tinge of pain. Due to their physiology the Vulcans were well advanced in the art of strong hugs and theoretically Spock could hug this person to death, but, having rationally decided that was no reason for bragging, he went back to reading, though the suddenly attractive thought lingered at the edge of his mind. Spock loved hugs, it’s just that no one knew about it.
“What is ‘kolinahr’?” the captain finally asked, having discovered one more blank in his dictionary and therefore in his memory. “It says in your file that you returned to the ship because you failed to complete it.”
“I was not able to complete it because the crisis with the transformed probe occurred,” Spock’s offence grew even more. “After that, it was meaningless to continue.”
McCoy stifled a nervous laugh. He could recall a completely different reason for changing life priorities. Tender stares, clutching hands... and all that indecency in his sickbay!
“Really, Jim,” said the doctor, meaningfully raising his eyebrows and rubbing one palm against another for more effect. “Spock came back to the ship because he took a simple decision because of a simple wish to serve as a simple First Officer with a simple captain.” The doctor’s eyebrows went even higher and his palms locked together. “You know, even simple Vulcans have simple feelings unavailable to a mutated probe”.
A trace of worry crept into Jim Kirk’s eyes:
“Look, Bones, it’s not that I’m hinting at something, but perhaps you’d consider taking a simple pill against simple nervous breakdown?”
“From now on I request that you hold your insults concerning “simple Vulcans” to yourself,” demanded Spock, who, actually, listed himself amongst the most unique Vulcans, but, feeling a certain solidarity with his race, was duty-bound to protect its other representatives.
“Bones, you take all the joy out of reading,” obviously, Kirk exchanged his displeasure for mercy and now was peering at Spock openly. The Vulcan was catching those stares from under his downcast eyelashes, continuing to smooth out his already impeccably ironed shorts. It seemed those two on some mental level managed to conspire against the healing power of sickbay and its senior staff. Taking into account the impending pon farr, that would come in very handy. Though, the sunshiny mood would hardly hold on for long if Kirk suddenly found himself sprawled on a bunk under a crazed Vulcan. McCoy decided with a certain grim satisfaction that he wouldn’t hurry to the Captain’s rescue, should that be the case.
“Well, ain’t that my forcefield up and running’,” Montgomery Scott, courteously supporting Lt. Commander Uhura by her hand, stepped into the sterile vault of the sickbay ward. “I was thinking, why wouldn’t I drop in to check it?”
However, the careless tone of the Chief Engineer hadn’t tricked the doctor into dropping his guard. One glance at Scotty’s curious companion was enough to reveal the true reason of the Chief Engineer’s sudden interest to his own innovations. Undoubtedly, all the crew from the bridge to the engineering were speculating over the cause of the Captain and First Officer’s bizarre state, so Uhura, of course, out of pure virtue volunteered to get to the concentration of most crucial information.
“So that’s why you needed the communications officer?” McCoy taunted, figuring how to get rid of unwanted guests more quickly. The evening definitely promised enough entertainment without extra spectators.
Scotty turned scarlet, but didn’t back down.
“You never know where ye’d need a set of extra hands,” he said, looking around, “and perhaps we could be of some help here?”
His offer naturally found the most enthusiastic response behind the forcefield.
“Of course you can, Mr. Scott,” a firm voice with soft, but persuasive intonations sounded. McCoy knew he’d hear that phrase, but expected Jim Kirk to be its source. Though, Spock turned out to be quicker in using sudden chances for freedom. “I respectfully ask you to disable your forcefield so that we, as sentient beings, could discuss recent events outside its confines.”
Scotty turned a haunted stare on the doctor and McCoy replied with a look which could only be described as “Don’t you dare!” The doctor wasn’t able to convey the delights of communication with a mentally unstable Vulcan which would follow ignoring that simple order, but Scotty had already realized on his own which side would be safer.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Spock,” he made a helpless gesture, “but this setup is experimental and not yet completed.”
For several seconds everyone present at sickbay tried to figure what was the basic idea in Scotty’s announcement, how big was the element of truth to it and what was said in order to please the doctor, and, most importantly, what consequences would ensue.
“Am I correct in my understanding that you have installed a forcefield without a possibility to deactivate it?” Spock, as the most stress-resistant person present, finally managed to voice everyone’s thought.
“Yes, for now,” Scotty nodded. “I was thinkin’ the important thing is that the forcefield’s there if you need it, the controls could be handled later”.
“So you concluded that the premise where an energy barrier without a deactivation option would be most useful is the sickbay?” The Vulcan’s eyebrow went up, conveying that the Chief Engineer’s logic escaped him.
“But it came in handy, did it not?” Scotty disarmingly smiled and swayed on his heels not without pride. “Actually, only biological objects cannot get through. So if you wanna receive a package, that will not be a problem.” Spock had already opened his mouth and raised his index finger to produce a brilliant counterargument, but found himself unable to put all his thoughts on the matter into words. Meanwhile, as the First Officer was researching the possibility of a bold but doomed escape attempt, the Captain himself chose a smoother tactical maneuver.
“Uhura, sweet Uhura,” a smile, “you look amazing,” a mysterious nod, “isn’t that a new hairdo?” A smile again. “Suits you wonderfully,” a slight tilt of the head so that the light would outline the expressive, undoubtedly heroic cheekbones of the captain.
“Oh, don’t give me that!” Uhura laughed softly, reflexively brushing strands of hair out of her face, “you’re flattering me.”
“Hey!” an indignant Scotty stepped up to hide a flushed Uhura behind his broad back, “leave my woman alone, you have…” - “your own” perhaps hadn’t been pronounced aloud, but the meaningful gesture encompassing the area on Kirk’s right from the blue slippers to the smooth black cap of hair had been quite eloquent.
“Just so you know, Uhura doesn’t know how to turn off the forcefield,” he added in a voice a bit calmer when he realized that his angry escapade hadn’t shamed the Captain, but only made him perplexedly rub his chin.
McCoy looked reproachfully at Scotty who had ruined his method of gradual memory recovery by means of personal files. Though, he had to admit the Chief Engineer’s innocuous lie about the forcefield could be the starting point for trying out a new theory.
“Well, let’s make a tactical change,” he said, with all possible seriousness looking at the upset prisoners behind the barrier, “you wanted to get out of the sickbay and get out you will”. Preventing the untimely excitement, he hurried to elaborate: “But only if you cooperate with each other”.
“What kind of cooperation are you talking about?” Spock apprehensively asked, unsure he really wanted to know.
“Oh, I see,” the captain’s face lit up. “Bones wants us to find a way to switch off the forcefield. Is that the idea, Doctor?”
McCoy had only to marvel at such insight. Jim Kirk had always had a penchant for establishing close contacts in a working environment. Outside of it, too, but such detail could easily be omitted at the moment. Actually, joining efforts for a common goal could easily prove more effective than reading in reviving forgotten feelings.
“Mr. Scott, I would like to request specifications of your invention.” Spock, as always, approached the newly-arisen problem in a businesslike manner and comfortably positioned himself on the biobed, trying to keep his eyes away from the Captain’s frivolous exterior. “Please provide information on the source of the power supply, the voltage in the generating coils, the frequency of calibration and the degree of active phase modulation.”
Jim Kirk whistled delightfully.
“You’re a wealth of knowledge, Mr. Spock. Though, I suggest a more effective solution to this problem. We can easily open the bulkhead and cut the wires.”
“Captain, Mr. Spock, perhaps you won’t crash the ship?” Scotty moaned, looking in terror at Jim Kirk positioning himself near the bulkhead.
“What a barbaric idea,” Spock was indignant, “of course I have no intention of crashing anything. As representatives of technically advanced races we will use tricorders.”
“Belay tricorders. Why spend time and effort on calculations?” Kirk put his arms akimbo and even stood up from his bunk. “You and I, Mr. Spock, are going to open that bulkhead immediately!”
Spock, summoning all the remaining patience to help him deal with his impulsive neighbor, raised his eyes to the panel looming high above, under the ceiling.
“That will be a problem. You will not achieve your goal even if you stand on the bed.”
“That’s why I need you!” gladly agreed Jim Kirk. “I will stand on your shoulders and…”
“Who am I in your opinion?” Spock raised his chin, his Vulcan loyalty immediately disappearing in depths of indignation. “I will not permit you to use me as a ladder. I am strongly opposed to inflicting bodily injuries upon fellow officers.”
Perhaps Spock wouldn’t be as categorical if Jim Kirk proposed a diametrically opposite approach. In his opinion, the captain’s wide shoulders and broad back would make a great prop for a slim and lithe Vulcan, but that idea for some reason had evaded Jim Kirk. Therefore, Spock decided he had a full moral right not to support the captain’s barbaric stunts.
“In that case we won’t get out anytime soon”, Jim Kirk concluded, looking at the unreachable panel ruefully. His brilliant plan fell apart for lack of opportunity to act on it.
McCoy gave a plaintive sigh, as he had already done countless times today. Definitely, cooperation hadn’t proved to be a factor stimulating enough to restore missing memories. It was time to resort to drastic measures. Visual demonstrations held more persuasion than words in Jim Kirk’s case, the doctor suspected all the Starfleet chiefs would second that.
“Forget the panel,” he ordered with a sigh. “Mr. Sulu,” McCoy said, pressing the intercom button, “please come to sickbay. Bring lirpas and, if possible, Mr.Chekov.
“Lirpas?” Spock repeated in sacred horror. “Why would lirpas be on the Enterprise?”
“On our ship you can replicate whatever you want, even lirpas,” Kirk didn’t hesitate to point out the undeniable advantage of a starship. “By the way, what are those?” he asked Spock after a pause, obviously having decided that getting answers on Vulcan terms from McCoy would be fruitless. However, Spock chose to keep dignified silence whilst McCoy turned out to be more talkative.
“You’ll know soon,” the doctor promised to the captain, hiding an evil grin. “Pon farr, lirpas, kolinahr, pon farr again. So connected, all this.”
McCoy considered that for a while, trying to find words for further more colorful descriptions of cause-and-effect relationships between these concepts, but his thought process was interrupted by Sulu and Chekov’s arrival.
“Are the captain and Mr.Spock not finished yet?” asked Sulu, peering from behind McCoy’s shoulder at his senior officers clad in exotic attire.
“Or they decided to fight again this time?” Pavel Chekov ingenuously added.
“Again, Lieutenant?” It seemed Spock abandoned all hope of sticking to affirmative sentences. “I do not intend to fight with Captain Kirk.”
“Right,” Jim supported the Vulcan. “You can easily kill with these things.” The giant spade-like attributes of Vulcan culture were far from harmless, even in the hands of his senior crew.
McCoy brushed that off. He would say seven years ago that had been the idea, but decided not to traumatize the worried audience with shocking claims and instead of that studied the surrounding space. If he moved the table and got rid of one bed, that would be it. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to have other attributes of the memorable event, such as a couple of pointy-eared extras with some bells or a gong, but hard times called for hard decisions and allowed a certain part of improvisation.
“So,” McCoy clapped his hands when minimal preparations were over and the panting Chekov and Sulu slumped on chairs, “now we are going to reenact the events from seven years ago!”
“Cool!” Pavel shifted in his chair in anticipation. “I’ve always wanted to see how it really happened.”
“Yes, I wish I had brought popcorn,” Sulu voiced his regret.
“I called you here not so that you would stuff yourself with some junk! Come on, hurry!”
“Um, I’m sorry,” in a manner of a shy first-year cadet Hikaru raised his hand, “the navigator and I haven’t been there, this will be an impossible task for us, I’m afraid.”
The doctor rolled his eyes.
“Less words, more action. Gossip ran all over the ship, and you, the big loudmouths, surely know the full version of events better than me. Anyway, I’ll prevent any deviations from reality.” As a confirmation to his words he directed the spearheads of the lirpas towards the silent Sulu and Chekov, who found themselves powerless against such an argument.
“Dibs I’m the keptin,” Pavel, having sprung up on his legs, clutched the lirpa’s pole.
“Huh! What kind of a captain you are? You’re as close to being the Captain as Moscow is to San Francisco.“
A flattered Kirk grunted with satisfaction, McCoy rolled his eyes again. As for Spock, he for the last eight minutes had been contemplating the urgent necessity of acquiring the superpower of walking through walls or at least seeping through the floor.
Having looked over himself with a critical eye, Pavel Chekov concluded Sulu actually was right.
“Yes, I need to tear my shirt.” With fervor peculiar to Russian lieutenants, he yanked the cloth on his chest.
“That is much better,” Sulu expertly approved.
“Just fight already!” McCoy yelled through his palm which practically clammed to his forehead.
There followed a focused sniffing, sounds of sticks hitting, legs scuffling and the doctor’s disappointed verdict, “No! It was nothing like that!”
"Down, both of you! You should roll around on the floor! More passion, Sulu, you want to kill him! Well… perhaps not exactly kill him. Get on top of him!”
“Do I have to throw up my legs?” the diligent Chekov panted from somewhere under Sulu.
“Yes you have to!” McCoy unhesitatingly confirmed. “Higher! That’s it! Good! Well?” McCoy turned to the silent audience. “Does that seem familiar?”
“Well, I’m not sure…” the captain was the first to break the silence, still observing Pavel’s leg creeping up towards Sulu’s waistline, “did we do that a lot?”
“I hoped you would tell me that!” McCoy yelled, starting to lose his patience.
“I don’t know, it’s all still kind of vague...” the captain made a helpless gesture and, having sprang from the bed, paced towards the Vulcan, “perhaps if Chekov and Sulu could show what happened next…”
“I protest!” Spock darkened. “This performance portrays the Vulcan ritual in the wrong light.”
“Come on, Mr. Spock. It’s so exciting.” The captain flopped on the bunk near his First and gave him a radiant smile. “You don’t mind if I sit here? It's a better view from this side.”
Spock would tell him it’s not logical to ask for permission after the action, but came to a conclusion that a person whose interest to Vulcan rituals is based solely on the unprecedented plasticity of Pavel Chekov would not be receptive to rational arguments, so he kept his objections to himself.
“So you want to see what was next,” in the meantime McCoy continued, intently observing the couple huddled together on the bunk. “Then so be it. Sulu, Chekov, get up from the floor! Stand one behind the other.”
“Oh!” Sulu gave an excited sound, shaking off the dust from his red uniform. “That very scene!”
“What does that mean?” Spock inquired, starting to experience unaccountable anxiety connected to a very intense sensation called “foreboding”. “If you want to portray me in the wrong light again…”
“Don’t worry, Mr. Spock,” Pavel Chekov tried to reassure him, having taken the correct position behind Sulu’s back, “It’s the wonderful moment of your reunion with the captain after the fight, since then it has become a ship’s legend!”
Spock wouldn’t say this declaration cheered him up, but he was prepared to accept his fate with proper Vulcan dignity, so he almost didn’t flinch when Lt. Commander Sulu with a joyous scream of “Ji-i-i-m!” threw himself upon Chekov, who had appeared from behind his back, and clutched the Russian’s shoulders in a hard grip.
“How expressive of you!” Jim Kirk whistled, suppressing an urge to nudge his First with an elbow. “I would never imagine Vulcans are capable of that.”
“Obviously this is nothing but artistic fiction,” Spock refused to have anything to do with the events behind the forcefield. “Such a scene is highly unlikely to happen. Why would I commit an act that uncharacteristic?”
“That’s what I thought - why would you?” McCoy chimed in.
“Well, so what happened then?” Captain Kirk almost jumped up. The bunk under Spock was noticeably shaking.
“Then off you went to take care of business!” McCoy answered with an innocent look.
“Business, Doctor?” Spock instantly regretted the words that came out of his mouth.
McCoy made a helpless gesture as his voice acquired a high-pitched tone: “You know better. You didn’t tell me anything more about your further activities.”
“How imprudent of us,” Captain Kirk sincerely complained. The story seemed to provoke an unhealthy curiosity in him. “Perhaps if we ourselves tried to participate in the reenactment, the effect would be more significant?”
Spock recoiled in disapproval as not every day one could see human eyebrows performing acrobatic stunts, putting the ancient Vulcan eyebrow control art to shame.
“I think I’ll abstain,” Spock commented the Captain’s suggestion drily. The presence of the Captain on his bunk was strangely disquieting, although the immediate proximity of fabric pineapples to apple ponies was still somewhat premature.
“We could carry out the reenactment in solitude, so that nothing would distract us from the process of memory recovery.” Captain Kirk’s last words were spoken affectionately, accompanied by a guileless smile of a hungry python in front of a motionless rabbit.
McCoy rolled his eyes again.
“Why everything with you is so far from human norm?” he asked, cherishing the dream to find himself in another place, preferably equipped with a bar and devoid of any means of communication with the outside world. Well, if it came to that, he could do without the bar.
“Perhaps because I am not human,” Spock logically supposed.
“A point to Mr. Spock, Bones,” the captain grinned, practically breathing his First in the ear. ”Do not be upset, there is always a way. After so many years as my best friend you shouldn’t believe in no-win scenarios.”
“Really, Doctor, try to think logically,” the Vulcan added rigidly, meanwhile trying to calculate in how many seconds he will fall off the bed if he continues to move away from the Captain at the same rate. “I strongly urge you to provide help as soon as possible.”
Otherwise, the Captain would need it. Spock didn’t say it aloud, but the message was more than obvious. Unconscious, the Captain would hardly be attractive at the height of pon farr. McCoy shook his head. If logic suggested something to him, it was that trying to handle this alone was a bad idea. He critically looked over the mixed company who gathered in sickbay. Well, if he finally wanted to get somewhere it was time to rely upon additional human resources, specifically, upon those who were right in the head at the moment.
“So,” McCoy said, demonstratively ignoring the captain and his First, “who has got a brilliant idea on how to make them remember each other?
“Perhaps,” Sulu mused, “you could try to recreate a life-threatening situation.”
“Oh yes,” an inspired Chekov chimed in, “those always make you think clearer.”
Spock, who up to that moment had intended to communicate only to his inner self, couldn’t help interfering: “I will ask you to refrain from extreme measures. As a last resort, I am ready to undergo pharmaceutical treatment.”
“I am not,” the Captain was offended. He didn’t expect such treachery from his newfound friend.
McCoy actually didn’t care. Without a twinge of conscience he would employ all the advancements of contemporary pharmaceutics, but at the moment, humanism in him still overpowered fear.
“For now, I wouldn’t call that a good plan,” he said, with regret brushing away the idea to pump the Vulcan full of tranquilizers and perhaps familiarize the Captain with the wonderful world of sedatives to keep him company, “it should be something simple.”
“But significant,” Christine Chapel shyly added.
“Something that connected them for many years.” Scotty was rational as always.
“And repeated from day to day.” Uhura supported the Chief Engineer.
Everyone was silent for a moment and then simultaneously let out a delighted “What if…?” McCoy couldn’t contain a grin. That was what he had been waiting for - a ray of insight to pierce the darkness of desperation.
“Why don’t I like this silence?” Jim Kirk, however carried away he was by watching his neighbor, felt the mood of the audience change at once. “Bones, perhaps you will enlighten me and Mr.Spock on your idea”?
McCoy absolutely wasn’t going to do so as the effect of surprise was a part of his plan.
“Chekov, Sulu, go and replicate everything necessary,” the doctor ordered, glowing with enthusiasm, “just be careful and don’t miss with the size!”
The helmsman and the navigator cheerfully left and returned in several minutes with a load of clothes. There was a yellow and a blue uniform of old design hanging upon Sulu’s right arm and a couple of black flared pants upon his left. Chekov gently held against his chest two pairs of boots, black as well, with dandy heels.
“Jim, you wanted to participate in the reenactment. Your wish is soon going to come true.” McCoy attentively inspected the attributes of the next scene.
Of course it was a risky move. Remote diagnostics wasn’t among McCoy’s basic skills, so visual assessment of Spock’s proximity to pon farr presented substantial difficulty. It remained unknown how the Vulcan would react to increased amount of the human’s naked body parts in visible range. However, if Spock indeed was experiencing an uncharacteristic spike of emotion at the moment, it was definitely not caused by a sudden amorous attraction toward the captain.
With a warning of “Ladies, please turn away”, Jim rapidly pulled down his shorts. A second later the gaudy shirt followed.
McCoy decided not to comment on what he had seen. Spock, for one, was openly shocked by Kirk’s recent actions. Having hidden behind the privacy screen from the onlookers, especially from one certain quite naughty pair of eyes, he pulled on the rare uniform in solitude, listening to his indescribably rich senses. The familiar fabric, structure and color made for only one obvious conclusion, specifically, that Mr. Sulu’s assumptions about size had been drastically wrong.
“I won’t be able to sit in this,” he complained innocently, as if anyone could possibly care.
“You won’t have to,” McCoy reassured, his medical tactfulness as present as ever.
“The pants are too big, two of me could fit in these!” It seemed such occasions were not frequent in Captain Kirk’s life, as his voice was filled with genuine excitement.
“You can keep them as a souvenir when all this is finally over,” the doctor sarcastically replied. “Enough preening your feathers, now. Get out!”
There was nothing left but to disregard shame and comply. With a bit of creaking coming from tight seams, Spock, sidestepping, abandoned his shelter behind the privacy screen. In the center of the area surrounded by the forcefield, Captain Kirk was showing off his new outfit to the people crowded in front of the barrier. With a squeak of the uniform Spock shrugged. Be it pineapples, yellow uniform or oversized trousers, in all of those Kirk undoubtedly looked good, but barely any more recognizable.
Kirk, too, set to studying the Vulcan intently. Some of the changes were particularly striking: free-fitting shorts with ponies and pineapples had held at least some understatement and intrigue, but all that disappeared for good in tight black uniform trousers. At the moment, Kirk couldn’t agree more with the saying that one couldn’t hide true beauty, but the Vulcan had been an unfamiliar Vulcan and that he still remained.
The gleeful anticipation on the faces of sickbay visitors started fading into routine working concentration.
“It didn’t work…,” Pavel Chekov whispered resignedly.
“No way,” Sulu echoed.
“Perhaps we could give a kilt to Mr. Spock?” As a devotee of freedom in all its manifestations, Scotty felt sorry for the Vulcan.
“If they won’t remember each other soon, I’ll have to put them in stasis,” McCoy threatened.
“Hey,” Jim Kirk flailed his arms indignantly, “stop that, would you? Actually, Bones, it’s about time I returned to the bridge, to my own chair.
“I am inclined to support Mr. Kirk,” Spock disliked the idea of keeping them in stasis in the same proportion as the Captain, “while you contemplate techniques of your next inhuman experiments, Doctor, my time could be spent more efficiently at the science console.”
McCoy was ready to elaborate on the prospect of the Captain and the Commander going to the bridge over his dead body, but a sudden thought made him cast aside the sacrificial mood.
“Captain’s chair, science console…” McCoy squinted, again looking over the sickbay interior, “what did Uhura, Scotty and Chapel say about simple, significant and connecting over the years?” The image of the unconventional working atmosphere with Kirk and Spock on the bridge immediately appeared in his mind’s eye. Since he couldn’t banish that picture even with aid of multiple alcoholic infusions, in the minds of the Captain and his First it had to be ingrained on a level as deep as rudimentary body reflexes.. “Come on, Jim, go back to your bed. You, Spock, please stand behind the computer. Imagine you are on the bridge with hours of meticulous work ahead of you.
“I do not understand how that would help,” carefully moving to the indicated point, Spock listlessly protested. At the moment the behavior of his clothes concerned him way more than the doctor’s irrationality. It seemed the stitches and the fabric of his trousers were moving toward a complete and final break-up, and it depended only upon Spock himself how soon that fateful moment would ensue.
“No offence, Bones, but my chair is way more comfortable,” Jim couldn’t refrain from taunting the doctor once more, but nonetheless perched himself on the bed and even crossed his legs for more plausibility. “What is my next move?”
“Just stay there,” McCoy gave a predatory grin, anticipating a close resolution, “as for you, Spock, bend over more deeply so that the captain would see how utterly captivated you are by the scanning process. Jim, give him an order.”
“Sensor data, Mr. Spock,” Kirk obediently uttered, registering a smooth downward movement from the corner of his eye.
“Yes, Sir,” Spock supplied, feeling an illogical desire to turn around and see for himself what exactly was occupying the Captain at the moment
That was the moment of truth! The Captain’s attention moved away with effort from the First Officer’s body part closest to him and focused on his face. Though, the Commander’s eyes had already found the Captain’s on their own. Time seemed to stand still as everyone was holding their breath; nerves of the audience were as tensely strained as Spock’s trouser fabric. The First Officer suddenly stood up while the captain, with a yell of “Spock!”, dashed toward the Vulcan and enclosed him in a manly embrace. The answering “Jim!” was not colored with emotional overtones, but lively illustrated by movement of eyebrows and a greenish tint of ears. A sound of ripping fabric, several relieved breaths and a noise of a falling body followed as Miss Chapel and Spock’s trousers turned out to be the weakest links in the story.
“Ain’t that dandy,” a flushed Scotty uttered, dragging the poor Nurse to the nearest biobed and averting his eyes from the excited Captain rocking his no less joyous First Officer in the air, “it seems my and Miss Uhura’s task here is completed.”
“But, Scotty, what if this is only a short-term effect?” Uhura protested, not able to move her eyes away from the emotional scene which literally stripped away her commanding officers’ self-control.
“There’s that new warp coil I’d like to show you,” Scotty gently ushered the communications officer out of sickbay, taking her under the elbow, “ye will surely find it more interesting than the previous four...”
Meanwhile, the Captain and First Officer’s reunion continued. Pavel Chekov inconspicuously wiped his eyes with his sleeve. The people behind the forcefield were incredibly happy, though not fully clothed: the baggy trousers turned out to be the next victim of the uncontrolled emotion outburst and, conforming to gravity law, fell to the floor.
“Spock!” Suddenly a distinct note of rage manifested itself in Kirk’s voice.
“Jim?” The Vulcan questioningly intoned and jumped away at once as far as possible from Kirk.
“You! You! Liar!” with a menacing poke of his finger Kirk was closing on the Vulcan with the inevitability of a tidal wave. “A treacherous cheat!”
McCoy didn’t like this at all. He had almost believed in a possibility of a calm quiet evening not burdened by problems of pon farr and he had no desire to let go of that belief.
“Jim, I will not allow violence in my sickbay!” McCoy fussed in front of the biobeds, having decided that no one cancelled the presumption of innocence, so the Vulcan, no matter what he’d done, shouldn’t suffer bodily harm. At least not around the doctor expecting shore leave. “If you do something to him, I won’t cover you up.”
Jim Kirk momentarily froze in the middle of sickbay, short of covering just two meters to Spock who was motionless in front of the privacy screen. The reproach in Bones’ words seemed to have triggered a devastating blow to his innermost heart-strings.
“I am not going to do anything to him,” the captain said in a tone of offended innocence. “It’s he whom I expected to… and eventually,” a heavy pause made the involuntary spectators freeze with their mouths open, “nothing!” Jim concluded, having assured that McCoy, Sulu and Chekov fully appreciated the drama of the moment, but hardly understood anything.
“Nothing?” McCoy warily repeated, solving the moral dilemma whether he should switch off the forcefield to come to the Vulcan’s rescue or his intervention into the couple’s private affairs could yet be postponed.
“Exactly!” For extra weight to his words Jim aimed a menacing stare at the Vulcan. “I was waiting for it to start for a whole day, and nothing happened. Two days passed - nothing still, and then three days, and again, nothing. Naturally, I had to turn to a last resort.”
McCoy wondered if the hapless lovers had hit each other on the head with something heavy during a heart-to-heart talk, but the truth turned out to be less trivial.
“Jim, I warned you that forcing a link could lead to unexpected consequences,” Spock tried to cut in, but fell silent under one more threatening glare.
“How convenient!” Jim was outraged. “Then I’d never find out you’re a treacherous cheat.”
McCoy shook his head reproachfully. Jim Kirk evidently found it hard to come up with colorful epithets in a state of anger, but the overall story anyway was starting to get clearer. Evidently, Jim Kirk, not being able to wait until the start of the love festival, in a feat of jealousy made Spock establish a link between them with his own mental efforts, which led to the memory loss crisis.
“Um, we’d better go, take the lirpas out of harm’s way,” an alarmed Sulu whispered into McCoy’s ear.
“They could use a glass of milk with honey,” a compassionate Chekov offered, “or perhaps tea with mint, to calm down the nerves.”
The doctor saw the senior officers off the premises, mentally retorting that the purpose would be best achieved by means of something stronger, preferably with ability of cleaning scum from tile surfaces.
“Jim, your accusations are illogical. I see no reason why I would search for another partner while being party to a mutually fulfilling arrangement,” the Vulcan, having taken a defensive position, appealed to the Captain’s common sense.
“Tell that to the Romulans with whom you stayed for a whole month!”
“It was a diplomatic mission,” Spock didn’t give up.
“And a greatly successful one, wasn’t it?”
“Doctor,” Spock began, trying to preserve his dignity even in such a situation. “I am prepared to subject myself to medical tests, as I am assured there is a way to prove my innocence.”
If this was the doctor’s hour of triumph, it obviously happened at the wrong time of day. Jim Kirk narrowed his eyes. “Since when you and Spock are such close friends that he is expecting you to rescue him?”
The smell of trouble was in the air. That was when McCoy realized that a forcefield in sickbay was no less than vital. It was a pity that in addition to it Scotty didn’t rig up an electric shocker, because McCoy would gladly try it out on the captain right now. Perhaps at least that would put his head straight.
“It is beyond all logic that you could have thoughts of such nature about me and…” a sulking Spock managed to get out of the corner. The last declaration outraged him more than McCoy himself, which was actually outrageous, too. “Would you sit down and behave accordingly to your age and rank, otherwise…”
“Otherwise what,” Jim almost rose on his toes to stand level with Spock and look him in the eyes, “I am going to get nerve pinched?”
Spock left the nerve pinch as a last resort and decided to limit himself to verbal forms of persuasion for now. Although, he became aware of a growing desire to secure the Captain to the bed, depriving him of all possibility to doubt his untainted Vulcan loyalty.
“Here is a padd and a pen device,” Spock said, “now let us calculate the time period together. With all due respect, Jim, I am afraid your mathematical skills leave much to be desired at the moment.”
Jim cast another suspicious glance at the Vulcan but decided to cease arguing. In silent reproach he moved to the bed and activated the padd. Spock warily sat at his side, content at lowering the degree of tension to a level which allowed for productive work.
McCoy, haunted by the ever present question of why the universe was so cruel to him, decided not to look for trouble and to wait out the storm leaning against the door.
The sickbay sunk into uneasy silence again.
“You see, Jim,” in several minutes of calculations Spock poked the screen of the padd with a pen device, “for three weeks I was in a state of cryogenic stasis and my biological processes were suspended”.
“But after the Klingon incident we jumped into the future for a month,” Jim at once found a flaw in that brilliant theory.
“Hadn’t we spent two months in the past before that?”
“Exactly,” Jim added another figure to his column. “I remember that pretty damn well.” With a feeling close to righteous indignation he looked the Vulcan in the eyes. Spock cut the unvoiced incrimination short with a fair argument: “Nevertheless, there are still cases that you do not remember.”
“Let’s then find someone who remembers them,” Jim retorted.
The Captain and the First Officer simultaneously peered at McCoy. The cruelty of the universe had just progressed to a whole new level. Sacrificing his nerve cells to save the crew from a potentially violent Vulcan was one thing, but taking on the job of a family therapist… Even in his worst nightmares he couldn’t have dreamt of it. He was starting to regret the effort he put into restoring the memory of those ungrateful beings.
“Perhaps you’d consider the cases I don’t remember? Or Scotty? Or Mr.Kyle,” McCoy sarcastically responded, all the more assured of himself being the only sane person in sickbay. After so many adventures together, it was high time for the pioneers of the galaxy to drop the calculations. One is crazy when in love, they say, McCoy just hoped the feeling wouldn't bring Kirk and Spock to chronic mental disability.
“Your idea has merit,” Spock readily agreed, feeling the blood in his veins run quicker, “if we assume a probability parameter, we will be able to determine…”
But it seemed Jim Kirk’s sanity had a limit.
“So, it was a Romulan, after all,” the Captain said in a tone of a fallen hero. The padd and the pen device at once flew to the bed, marking the end of the productive phase of discussion. “Now there’s only one thing I want to know! The name!”
“James Tiberius Kirk!” slowly articulating each word, Spock pronounced, feeling heated blood rush to his face.
“Ha!” The owner of the name sarcastically laughed. “Of course it means I am your one and only and you never cheated?”
“No!” unexpectedly responded Spock. “It means I have given the best years of my life to a relationship with a selfish person who is accustomed to having his every whim catered for while he couldn’t care less about my words! My father was strongly opposed to my decision to join Starfleet. I only wish I had listened!” Spock fatefully sighed. “You know what?” The Vulcan clutched the padd with unfinished calculations and with a spectacular gesture which would make most dramatic actors envious flung it into the wall with all his strength. “I’ve had enough!”
The padd couldn’t bear such disrespect and fell into pieces with a crash.
“Uh-oh!” McCoy lost his temper when the pen device followed the padd into the wall, piercing it like a dart. Everyone in this room knew from first-hand experience that if objects were seen flying around the room, it was either due to the gravitational field gone awry or a Vulcan entering pon farr.
However, it was not safe to dwell upon the topic for long, especially for Kirk, who was behind the forcefield. The Vulcan was closing upon the captain with a painfully familiar stride of a killer robot, flames roaring up in his eyes. McCoy was fussing in an attempt to remember the access code to the forcefield control panel. Knowing Scotty’s habits there was no doubt that the code was a name of some alcoholic beverage. In this case the extensive expertise was useless – McCoy’s ample knowledge in that area would enable him to spend hours or even days trying to figure out the code. He couldn’t bring himself to go looking for the chief engineer, as that would imply abandoning his best friend in the face of somewhat aroused danger. In a second the outraged Vulcan could get down to his favorite pastime in such a state, specifically, to suffocating whoever was irritating him.
“Oh, Spock!” Not so frightened by this turn of events, Jim reverently wrapped his arms around the tense Vulcan’s neck. “You didn’t lie to me.”
McCoy, at a loss for words, tried to explain Jim with gestures how wrong exactly he was and to point out his only option for safety, namely, hiding under the bed. Nevertheless, his advice went unfollowed as Jim pressed himself closely to the Vulcan, exhibiting an absolutely inappropriate desire for a hug in the face of impending death. McCoy closed his eyes, expecting to see the breathless captain fall onto the floor right into the pile of his own clothes left there earlier, but he had to witness a different, though no less shocking, sight. Spock’s arms twined round Jim possessively, hands proceeding to a location which could be very vaguely identified as lower back.
“Bones, it’s about time you left us,” the Captain hinted quite undiplomatically. “Tell Scotty he has the conn.”
“Indeed, Doctor,” Spock added impatiently. “We do not require medical help anymore.”
McCoy raised his eyes. Exile without the least bit of gratefulness - he should have seen that coming.
“We will discuss all that in a day,” he promised, calculating how to transport the still unconscious Nurse Chapel out of sickbay. “I can assure you, you won’t enjoy it!” However threats, as well as advice, were rudely ignored.
“In two days would be better, Doctor,” Spock made an important correction and moved his hands to a spot on the Captain’s body which no liberal assumption could qualify as lower back.
That was where McCoy decided to draw the line at his participation in the Captain and his First’s intimate moments. Safer for the psyche that way, you know. Having scooped up Christine, McCoy hurried to the exit, getting the moral of the story through his head. Like that of most stories about the Captain and his First, it was pretty straightforward – no matter what Kirk and Spock started with, pon farr would inevitably bring them together at the end.