Mirror Universe – Kirk finds a gift in his quarters.
The celebration of the Massacre of Christ was fast approaching, and Captain James T Kirk of the ISS Enterprise was getting annoyed. He didn’t trust his crew at the best of times, and at this time of year they became particularly unreliable and violent. They drank too much, and followed the Christmas tradition of stealing from each other to ensure that the trees in their cabins were piled high with prizes on Christ-mass morning. Kirk’s solution, like that of many star ship Captains, was to find a quiet, out of the way place to fly the Enterprise in circles under the guise of star mapping, and hope the season would end quickly.
He ducked under yet another strand of poison ivy and agonizer tinsel in the mess and snapped at Spock, “I’m going to bed.” He had long ago given up hope that his First Officer would take the hint and follow him to his cabin… the Vulcan was a walking refrigerator. Kirk walked off to the turbo lift, his bodyguard preceding him.
Kirk stomped into his cabin behind his bodyguard, then froze. On the middle of his bunk sat a small package wrapped in gold paper, tied with a red ribbon.
Kirk’s bodyguard backed into him, “Sir!” he exclaimed, “Would you be expecting any gifts?”
“No.” Kirk’s voice was flat. He backed out of his cabin and warned, “It’s probably a bomb.” He palmed the intercom switch on the wall and said, “Security to Captain’s cabin, priority ultra.”
Ten minutes later Spock arrived on Deck Five to see an interesting sight. Security officers blocked the corridor on either side of Kirk’s cabin. A small robot was carrying something out of the cabin towards the vacuum disposal unit on the wall. Spock leaned close to Kirk, who was behind the security guards and asked, “Problem, Captain?”
Kirk sighed and leaned towards Spock without turning around, “We think it’s a bomb.”
“In your cabin?”
Kirk watched the robot lift the package up towards the disposal unit and dump it out the chute. There was a hiss, a clatter, then silence.
Sulu frowned, and checked the rear scanners on a nearby computer terminal, “Nothing, Captain.”
“That’s odd. Normally hitting vacuum triggers the detonation mechanism.”
Spock had a pained expression on his face, “It may not have been a bomb.”
Kirk turned and huffed a laugh at him, “Don’t be ridiculous, First Officer. What else could it have been?”
“May I?” asked Spock archly, and headed unperturbed towards his own cabin. Kirk shot him a dark, speculative look as he dismissed the security guards.
An hour later, Kirk was staring at the computer screen in his cabin. The encoded scanned image of the bomb spun slowly before him. Kirk’s eyes were puzzled at the image, but his mouth was still set in a grim line. The image that floated before him was undeniably beautiful. It was of a carving of a plump bird with short barred wings, a brick-coloured beak and intricate black and brown barring and patterns over its white face and down its chest. The computer informed him in large letters underneath that it was an Earth partridge. The carving continued to the branch upon which the bird sat, a smooth branch with glossy green leaves and two fat golden pears on it.
Underneath, every time the image rotated, though, Kirk could see the script in which the artist had carved his name. It was undeniably Vulcan.
Kirk’s eyes were cold as he looked speculatively towards the wall of his quarters, in the direction of Spock’s cabin. He walked over to the Tantalus device and fiddled with the knobs until an image of Spock came up, meditating in his cabin. The dark hair swung over the Vulcan’s face and the eyes were hidden, but as Kirk’s hand hovered over the button that would consign Spock to oblivion, he saw the Vulcan look up, almost as though he could see Kirk watching him. Spock’s eyes were ineffably haunted and sad, and Kirk realised that he was not looking directly at the hidden Tantalus camera, but at the wall of Kirk’s cabin.
The human hesitated, then closed the device down without pressing the button.
The next day after his shift ended, Kirk noticed that Spock fell into step with him to reach the turbolift at the same time. It was crowded in the lift, with the two officers and their bodyguards. Not a word was said until the doors swished open on level five, then Spock said, “Perhaps I should accompany you to your cabin, sir, in case of a repeat of yesterday’s incident?”
Kirk hesitated, then nodded. A dense Vulcan body between himself and harm could not be a bad thing.
Spock, to his surprise, turned and stopped their bodyguards at Kirk’s door, “Wait here.” Kirk nodded to his guard and followed the Vulcan through the door into the Captain’s cabin. Spock walked calmly over to the bunk and picked something up. When he turned around, Kirk saw the identical wrapping and spun to hit the intercom button, but Spock was quicker and held his wrist back from the button.
“Yesterday’s package was not a bomb, sir. It is therefore illogical that today’s would be.”
Kirk hesitated, then sighed and nodded. It would not do to show cowardice in the face of such cool aplomb from his first officer, he realised, “I guess you’re right.”
“Open it,” suggested Spock.
“No, this is your idea. You open it.” There were limits to bravado.
Spock raised an eyebrow and unwrapped the package with what looked to Kirk almost like reverence, then held up the small artefact, “Are they… turtle doves?”
The small sculpture was indeed of a pair of turtle doves sitting on a branch, in very similar style to the image Kirk had seen of the partridge on the branch.
“Do you recognise the artisan?” asked Kirk, silkily.
Spock had a faint smile playing around his lips as he turned the sculpture over to look at the maker’s mark. Kirk watched the Vulcan for any signs of guilt, but Spock merely said, “Vulcan. That is not surprising.”
“But it’s an Earth bird.”
“So, done by a Vulcan artesan who has visited Earth in the last two centuries,” said Spock, softly. His dark eyes swung up to Kirk, “I’d say by the ill-fated Sangel of Alpha Centauri, judging from the work.”
Kirk took in a sharp breath, “That would be priceless!” He couldn’t help but reach for the sculpture, which Spock handed over, not letting it go until Kirk’s hands were wrapped around it. Their hands trailed together for a moment, but Kirk was too preoccupied with the sculpture to notice Spock blink rapidly several times as it happened.
“Why would anyone give this away?” breathed Kirk. “And why to me?”
There was no answer from Spock, and Kirk looked up to find the half-alien giving him an intense look.
Spock seemed to shake himself, then said, “Obviously, it is not a bomb, or it would have exploded when I handled it. I will take my leave of you, Captain.”
Kirk watched him go.
Two more sculptures arrived the following day and the next. They were of three hens, and four songbirds which Kirk could not identify. He began to enjoy arriving back in his cabin each evening, to find the next sculpture.
On the fifth day it was jewellery. Nothing fancy or elaborate, just five plain gold bands linked together by tiny gold birds. Kirk tried them on his hand and found they fitted neatly on all his fingers. They did not restrict the movement of his hands at all, but when he wore them he felt an odd tingling in the base of his fingers. He remembered his fear that he might be being lulled into a false sense of security before being bombed, and took them off. Kirk frowned at them as he left his cabin the next morning.
Spock was waiting to enter the turbo lift, and asked, “Another gift, Captain?”
Kirk screwed his face slightly, “Yep. I think I preferred the sculptures.”
The next three evenings were not disappointing. No more jewellery arrived, but more bird sculptures came. Kirk was quite happy with his little collection, and lined them up along the top of the low cabinet against his cabin wall. The latest three sculptures were larger, he noticed, with more birds, including six geese and seven swans. The collection was by now well beyond priceless, and Kirk screwed up his face at his own stupidity for jettisoning the first one in the set.
They were all signed in the same Vulcan script, and Kirk, who had at first suspected that Spock was behind the supposed bombings, had realised that it probably wasn’t the Vulcan. Spock would have no reason to give him gifts. It was probably just someone trying to divert suspicion from themselves over the gift-giving by using Vulcan script on the bases, Kirk decided.
Spock that day on the bridge gave the odd impression of agitation. Kirk sidled up to him, being sure to give himself ample time to admire the Vulcan’s tight butt before speaking to Spock. “Anything new?”
Spock shot him a look. Star mapping of course constantly gave rise to something new. It’s just that the “new” referred to yet another dot of uncharted light in the deep blackness before them. Nothing that a Vulcan could get his analytical teeth into, so to speak.
Kirk stepped up onto the slight mezzanine around the edge of the bridge, and asked, “Is there something bugging you, Spock?”
“Gift-giving, Captain. It is a more complicated ritual than I at first surmised.”
“For your family?” asked Jim. Spock hesitated, then gave that small smile that did dreadful things to Kirk’s composure and made him want to find an excuse to drag Spock back to his cabin and ravish him. Spock said, after a moment’s thought, “Yes, for my family.”
Jim pursed his lips and perched on the console, “Well, there’s always the old fallback: whips and spurs and stuff like that.”
“Ah, the stocking fillers,” replied Spock. There was a strange light in his dark eyes.
“Exactly.” Then Kirk’s eyes lit with a mischievous light, “I always find that getting a gift like that fills my stocking.”
Spock chuckled, earning him a sharp, disbelieving look from Uhura. She looked away hastily after receiving the combined wattage of her Captain and First Officer’s glares, though, and shook her head. Surely, thought Uhura, she must have imagined that.
“Come to my cabin tonight and I’ll show you how to synthesize almost any kind of bondage equipment, Spock,” suggested Kirk with a wink.
Spock hesitated, then nodded.
That evening Kirk had a bounce in his step as he approached his cabin, and was crestfallen when there was no gift on his bunk. His shoulders fell and he was still pouting when his door buzzer sounded.
“Come,” he said, a little more sharply than he intended.
Spock stepped into the cabin, taking in Kirk’s downturned mouth and his gaze on the empty bunk. He smiled again and stepped up close to Kirk, lifting a long black whip with a simple Vulcan styled handle over Kirk’s head and around the human’s chest and pulling Kirk gently back against him.
Kirk turned to Spock, his eyes wide, as Spock said, “Do you think you could assist me in carving ‘seven maids a milking’ on this whip handle using the holodeck’s production equipment, Jim?” He let the whip trail down around Kirk’s ankles and gave it a tiny, expert flick that wrapped it around Kirk’s legs, pinning the human against him.
“Spock?” Kirk breathed.
“Of course, we could leave the gift-making for later if you have something more… interesting in mind,” murmured Spock and pulled the human into a terrifyingly powerful but controlled embrace that melted Kirk’s legs out from under him.
“It was you?” asked Kirk, looking at the row of beautiful artifacts along his shelf.
“The Twelve Days of Christ-mass,” explained Spock, but Kirk looked blank.
“It’s an old human tradition, meant to express deep affection for another by giving a series of gifts each day with increasing numbers of components,” explained Spock. “It is traditionally done during the twelve days leading up to the celebration of the Massacre of Christ and his followers.”
“So, we’re only up to seven?” asked Kirk, happily, “Do you have five more whip handles in your cabin for us to work with?” The Captain leaned into the strong embrace and tentatively explored Spock’s body with his hands, imagining where he would like to make green welts on that lean, hard body and how the Vulcan would gasp in pain. At least Kirk thought he would. He looked up into the dark eyes, and thought, then again, Spock might not cry out. That thought struck him as even more seductive, for some reason.
Spock answered, “I’m sure I have a few more items of bondage equipment, on which I can carve the requisite ladies, lords, pipers and drummers, Jim.” He leaned down and captured the human’s lips in a passionate kiss, then gave a tug on the whip which lifted Kirk off his feet. He carried the human over to his bunk and tossed him down onto it, covering his body with his own. Kirk struggled against the weight of the Vulcan and the restriction of his bound feet, but when Spock captured his lips again in a kiss, gave up struggling.