Title: Recapture (2/?)
Fandom: Star Trek TOS
Summary: An innocuous tour lands Kirk, Spock, and McCoy in deadly territory.
Previous Part: 1
A/N: I’ve really got no excuse for this story except that I need the mcspirk fluff in my life right now.
“If I had a dime for every time…” came the low mutter.
“Doctor, I believe I have mentioned on numerous occasions that it is illogical to make an outdated reference when in fact it has no relevant bearing on the parameters by which we operate today.”
“Oh shut it, Spock. Can’t you see I’m busy here!”
Jim leaned against the doorjamb, watching the two silhouettes in the low lighting of the room. Their bickering was more good-natured than it appeared. Bones and Spock, in his humble opinion, argued like two prickly children on a playground; not because they disliked each other but simply as a way to make certain that they had each other’s undivided attention. Of course, some would call that silly but Jim thought it amusing. And more importantly, their interaction—whether gentle, harsh or otherwise—soothed a worry of his that his closest companions shared no mutual interest at all. He knew without a doubt that he could not juggle two separate relationships. The effort would never succeed, and the three of them would inevitably find themselves in a miserable position.
But watching Leonard and Spock tonight he knew no such problem existed. Leonard counterbalanced his sharp remarks with surreptitious touches to Spock’s forearm, and Spock’s dark eyes held a glitter that meant he was enjoying himself.
Jim was loathe to interrupt the pair but it seemed his presence had not gone unnoticed.
Leonard angled his head in the man’s direction. “Finished?” he asked.
“It’s all yours,” Jim replied, stepping from the bathroom’s entrance.
Leonard bumped his shoulder into Spock’s as he moved past the Vulcan and manuevered his way around their luggage. Jim waited until the last second before he deliberately stepped into Leonard’s path.
Leonard paused, then, to study him. “Something you want, Jim-boy?”
Jim smiled. “Don’t be long, Bones. I’ll miss you.”
“Jim…” Leonard rolled his eyes. “Rein it in for a night, would you? Some of us have other priorities.”
“Dinner,” supplied the ever-helpful Spock.
Jim cut his eyes at the Vulcan with the silent accusation whose side are you on?
“Exactly,” agreed Leonard, blue eyes twinkling. “Dinner.”
Jim turned away. “I don’t know why I bother with you two.”
“Because you know you’re lucky to have us. Now hop outta my way, Jimny Kirk, before I move you myself.”
Jim was half-tempted to make Bones follow up on that threat, but he decided it was wiser to concede the small battles so that Leonard was more inclined to let him win the bigger ones.
“Jimny?” Spock questioned, coming to stand beside Kirk as Leonard disappeared into the bathroom.
“It’s a play on a character’s name—Jimny Cricket, from the tale of Pinocchio.” As Spock inquisitively raised an eyebrow, Jim promised, “I’ll read you the story later.”
Turning his attention back to the closed bathroom door, Spock folded his arms and said, “I am certain I will find it most interesting.”
Jim couldn’t help it. He laughed.
Yes, he thought, this was definitely the only place he wanted to be.
“What do you mean ‘it isn’t here’?”
Casta lifted her hand as if to strike the face of the one who had offended her, but she remembered in time to restrain her anger and reluctantly lowered her hand.
For once, her companion had no sharp rejoinder. With his back facing her, Casta could not discern his expression. This irritated her.
“It should have been here,” she heard him mutter.
Casta pressed her mouth into a thin line and closed her eyes briefly. “This one task… I entrusted you to do this one, simple task and yet you failed. I suppose I should not be surprised. You are a heretic.”
He whirled around and his arm snapped forward as if to shake her. “How dare you!”
“Find it,” she ordered, unafraid of his rage, “before I think to take the price of your incompetency from your skin.”
His eyes bugged. “You wench, it isn’t my fault! Not even a Vedek would carry that thing in plain sight aboard a Federation-sanctioned vessel. It is the crewmen of this ship who are incompetent, not I—they who cannot discern the owner of a single package!” At this, he kicked the nearest object, a chair, and sent it toppling across the tiny room.
Casta flicked a cold glance at the frustrated male. “I don’t want your excuses, Ves. I want the Orb. Never forget that without it, you and I are both dead.”
She watched him clench his fists and knew, as he did, that he could not argue the point with her.
“Find it,” she reiterated, and left.
A brown-haired man lifted his head high, straining to see over the crowd of the dining room.
“He’s loading up his plate—I just know it!” Leonard gripped the top rung of his chair and tried to lengthen his spine another quarter of an inch. “Blast it, he’s going to get indigestion, and then he’ll whine all night.” The man pursed his mouth. “Well, you know what I’m going to say then? Suck it up, Jim!”
Leonard held out for a moment longer before slumping down into his seat and turning around to face his companion. With a disgruntled expression, he picked up his fork. The Vulcan across from him had not ceased to calmly eat in the meantime.
“If it is important to you to select his food choices, should you not have gone with him?”
“I may care about Jim’s health, Spock, but it’s not my place to pick his food for him like he’s a little child.”
“You do not seem to follow that philosophy on the ship.”
“That’s different. I’m his physician then, not his lover. Besides, somebody has to step in when he’s stressed. Otherwise he would eat himself into a stupor.”
“Ah.” Following a pause, Spock inquired, “Why is it only Jim’s diet with which you choose to concern yourself?”
Leonard gave a slight snort. “Because you’re sensible. He’s not.”
“Why, thank you, Dr. McCoy.”
Leonard froze with his fork in mid-descent towards a small mound of pasta salad and raised wide eyes to Spock. Then he flushed abruptly and changed his expression to something less surprised as he hastily corrected, “I mean, you’re sensible sometimes.”
Spock made a noise of agreement and, unprompted, transferred a spoonful of food from his plate to McCoy’s.
Leonard looked down at what was one of his favorite desserts from the dessert tray and narrowed his eyes. “Are you trying to pull a psychologist’s trick on somebody with a degree in psychology?”
“Of course not,” demurred the Vulcan.
“Hobgoblin,” Leonard muttered. He turned his plate, slid it closer to him so that the dessert was within easy reach, and scooped it up warily but ate it nonetheless.
Spock watched him with a pleased look in his eyes.
Nearly blushing, Leonard wiped his mouth with the napkin from his lap, shoved his plate away and then pushed himself from the table. “Going to the bathroom,” he murmured to Spock, and left.
It was not long after Leonard’s departure that Jim returned to their table bearing a plate in one hand, its tower of food stacked so high that it wobbled. He sat down, retrieved an utensil and began stirring things while taking a surreptitious glance around the main dining room. “Where’s Bones?”
“He excused himself to find a restroom. I suspect however that he forewent the nearest facilities in favor of our quarters so that he might also pick up some medication given the possibility of indigestion.”
Jim seemed to understand whose indigestion Spock meant and gave a small smile. He ate a piece of fruit about to fall off the side of his plate, then poked at something that looked like a fat, grey noodle but was in fact a slug considered to be a delicacy only to a few races. “I really don’t want all of this.”
Spock said nothing and resumed his meal.
Several minutes passed with the scraping of silverware until Jim said, “I think he’s been gone too long.”
Spock lifted an eyebrow. “Jim, I know you have attempted to explain this behavior to me before, but I feel I do not fully understand it. Why must one of you preoccupy himself with the doings of the other on such a frequent basis?”
Jim propped his elbows on the table and laced his fingers as he leaned forward. “Because Bones is nosy, and I’m possessive.” He smiled. “We’re not perfect, Spock.”
“I am aware of this… yet I would contend that neither are you flawed.”
Jim’s smile reflected the warmth in his eyes as he suddenly reached across the table. He stopped short of touching Spock though, letting his hand hover in a silent request. Spock closed the remaining distance. They held hands for a long time, no words needed between them.
“Gone for a second,” said a voice out of the crowd, “and already you two are putting on a public display.”
“We’re not doing anything much,” Jim argued in their defense, even as he straightened and pulled his hand from Spock’s.
“Oh, c’mon, Jim. You and I don’t know enough about Vulcan hand hanky-panky to fill the page of a book, and Spock’s not telling.”
“I have shared the basics with you.”
“So what’s hand-holding symbolize on Vulcan?”
“I assure you the meaning is quite innocuous, Doctor.”
“That’s Leonard to you.”
“Gentlemen, gentlemen,” Jim interrupted. “We can have this discussion later. Let’s eat.”
Leonard stole Jim’s fork out of his hand and gave it to Spock. Then he took a position by Jim’s shoulder. “Let’s see what’s on your plate first, Jim.”
“You’re such a martinet.”
Leonard ignored him. “You don’t need that cake. It’s full of sugar. And what are those fried things?” The man gasped. “My god, is that a Denebian slugworm? You can’t digest that!”
Jim ran a hand up Leonard’s back. “There’s a salad on the bottom.”
Leonard stared at him. Then he broke into a grin. “You’re something else, Jim Kirk.”
“I could say the same of you, Leonard McCoy.”
Spock folded his hands on the top of the table. “Jim, your tactic for flirting is fascinating but also quite wasteful.”
“I’m fairly certain the slugworms are replicated. They’re too expensive for this outfit to buy them fresh.”
“Damn,” remarked Leonard. “The only thing I liked in the brochure was the promise of replication-free meals. What’s a man gotta do to get organic food matter on this rickety boat?”
“Promises or not, we’re in the far reaches of space,” Jim replied, amused. “It’s never likely to happen, Bones. You know that.”
Leonard crossed his arms. “Well, this is why I said we should wait until we were close to Earth.”
“Which was two, possibly three months out.” Jim dropped his hand down to the table. “The crew needed the break now.”
The doctor’s expression softened. “I know, Jim. I meant for us.”
Tapping a finger on the tabletop, Jim was silent for a moment, then admitted, “Maybe I needed this time. To be with you.”
Leonard glanced at Spock, and they shared an unspoken agreement. Then Leonard uncrossed his arms and took his seat.
“Can’t complain about that.” He sniffed as Spock returned the stolen fork to Jim. “I guess you can have the cake—but not the fried things.”
Jim laughed, sat forward, and dug in.
Tap. Tap tap.
Captain Kirk had no shame. He flaunted his happiness in front of everyone, as if it were seemly for a commanding officer to be intimate with his subordinates.
And another one of Kirk’s flaws.
The fingers stopped tapping in order to lift a wine glass with only a mouthful of drink left. A waiter slipped by the table, lifting up an empty plate with a deftness that spoke of years of practice.
The glass was drained, and the tapping resumed.
Perhaps it was time to begin. There were still hours left in the evening for a surprise.
When on vacation, Leonard tended to slow down his normal pace by half and it was only the foolish who tried to speed him up. By contrast, Jim had boundless energy to expend—with the exception that he preferred not to move much after a large meal. Thus at the moment he was content to amble alongside Leonard through the main thoroughfare of the ship, leaving Spock to shorten his stride to match theirs. Earlier they had made a brief visit to the Recreation deck but agreed unanimously that any leisurely activities of the variety offered by the cruise liner could wait until the following day.
Truly, there seemed to be all the time in the galaxy to get where they were going. None of them were inclined to hurry.
“Just another day in paradise,” said Jim.
One of his companions snorted. “Yeah, to some. For the rest, it’s sunstorms and disease and religious uprisings—or don’t you read the news?”
“What about all of the new scientific wonders, the medical advancements and altruistic acts of our neighbors? Or don’t you read those parts?” Jim countered.
Leonard rolled his eyes.
“I review the daily feed in its entirety,” Spock offered.
The two humans exchanged slight smiles.
Leonard said, “I’m sure glad we have a Vulcan in our midst.”
“Thank you for the compliment, Leonard. It is most unfortunate that I do not have a treat with which to reward you.”
“AH-HA!” Leonard cried. “I knew you were trying to make a monkey of me!”
“Do I want to know?” Jim asked.
“I figured out Spock’s master plan. He’s tryin’ to train us to be good little humans.”
“It is not Jim who requires training.”
Jim burst out laughing as Leonard sputtered.
“Fine. Wonderful. Keep on laughing. When’s our first portside dock?”
Jim reined in his amusement and huffed. “We just boarded, Bones. You can’t be that antsy to get off.”
“Have you ever known me to like being on a ship, Jim?”
“You tolerate the Enterprise fairly well,” Jim pointed out.
“Only ’cause nobody will cough up my retirement check yet.”
Jim placed a hand over his heart. “I’m wounded. Are you saying Spock and I aren’t incentive enough to stay in space?”
Leonard mumbled something.
“It seems that Leonard has a preference for living together on a farm in Georgia.”
Leonard scowled at Spock. “Tattle-tale.”
Smiling, Jim slipped an arm around Leonard’s waist. “I wouldn’t mind that. But you know,” he added slyly, “Iowa has better farmland.”
Leonard reached over and pinched the inside of Jim’s arm, to which Jim responded by dragging the man closer until he stumbled a little and fell into him.
“Jim!” said Leonard indignantly. “Spock, tell him to let me go!”
“Jim, perhaps you should release Leonard.”
“Bones likes being in my arms.”
“No, I don’t!”
“Of course you do. Spock, join us, won’t you?”
“At this time I prefer not to.”
“Look, it’s fine. Nobody cares—ow!” Jim let go of Leonard and backed up with a grimace. “You kicked me.”
“Darn right I did,” said Leonard, glaring at him.
“You kicked me, Bones.”
“When a grown man wants you not to grope him in public, you oughta listen.”
“I wasn’t groping you! I was massaging your back!”
“Your hands weren’t high enough for that!”
Spock stepped between them. “We are drawing attention.”
Leonard immediately quieted. His shoulders curled inward in discomfort at the perceived interest of others.
Jim stepped forward to lay a hand on his arm. “Sorry, Bones,” he murmured.
Leonard patted his hand. “It’s all right. You know I don’t really mind, Jim. I guess it’s just hard for me to shake the mindset from the usual one… being discreet ‘n all.”
Jim nodded. “I understand.”
And he did. While they had all agreed that they would not deny it if someone asked them directly, they didn’t advertise the fact that they were in a relationship. Not aboard the Enterprise; not when on duty. Most days, Jim had to be a captain first.
That was why he needed his time with them so badly.
Spock broke the contemplative silence by saying, “Should I stop by the service desk to acquire a docking schedule?”
The anxiety in Leonard’s eyes began to fade away.
Jim said, “That would be great. Thanks, Spock. Could you pick up the itinerary, too, for the constellation viewings?”
“Only you,” Leonard complained to Jim as Spock turned around and went back the way they had come, “would want to stargaze on a honeymoon.”
A sharpness entered Jim’s gaze. “Is this a honeymoon?”
“Well it’s not like we ever had one.”
The man made a rumbling deep in his chest. “Bones, you are too much of a romantic.” He touched Leonard’s cheek before pulling back and beginning to walk along the corridor. “Besides… there’s nothing wrong with looking at the stars.”
“Not for people who don’t sail around in starships every day.”
“This is a tour of the Lorenti Cluster. What else are we supposed to do?”
“My god, how can you ask me that? I thought the only reason you planned this thing was to…” Leonard trailed off as Jim cut a sideways glance at him.
Jim chuckled. “Is it wrong to like a little pleasure too?”
“Jim,” his companion sighed but there was an undercurrent of amusement in the sound. “Never mind.”
“If you’re worried, I promise to give you all the attention you desire.”
Leonard brushed shoulders with him as they walked. “Some things I don’t worry about.”
“Good,” replied Jim. “Which deck are we on?”
“You shouldn’t have sent Spock away. You know I don’t remember things like that.”
They entered a lift at the intersection of two corridors and Jim pressed their key card to its touchpad. It would deliver them to the correct floor. They spent the remainder of their time in the lift teasing each other.
A ship full of tourists was always bustling. Jim and Leonard passed a few couples in the hall and a family whose kids pelted ahead and nearly mowed them down in their excitement. Then there was a woman, head lowered, who rushed to squeeze past them and the little kid who had unerringly attached himself to Jim’s leg. Jim appeared torn between detaching the octopus-like boy and staring after the stranger with a puzzled expression on his face.
Finally they rounded the corner nearest their room, slightly rumpled and mostly unmolested. Jim glanced ahead and abruptly slowed.
Leonard looked ahead too and had to double-check the room number above the door. He cursed. “What in blazes…?”
“That’s our room, Jim! What happened?”
Their door stood partially ajar, as though its sliding mechanism had become stuck in the process of opening and closing. Then he noticed the digital pad beside the door, black around its edges, and the odor in the air.
Electrical fire, he thought.
Jim stood eyeing the door for a long time before he moved forward and ran a hand along its steel edge. He pushed against it and muttered, “Jammed.”
“Jim,” Leonard said, swallowing, “if this is what it looks like—”
Jim shook his head slightly.
Jim laid a hand on Leonard’s shoulder and squeezed it in a wordless command of stay here. Then he slipped one leg through the opening and then another into the dark, eerily silent interior of the cabin beyond.
Leonard had the sudden desperate urge for a phaser. Too many times since the start of their five-year mission had they walked into dangerous situations poorly armed or armed not at all; and every time it scared him that one of them would be cut down before anyone could react.
Leonard didn’t voice his concern, however. Jim was trained for this, as was he.
He moved into the room on Kirk’s heels and heard a soft snort. Jim had probably expected him to do no less than disobey the command to stay put. Leonard gave his eyes a moment to adjust to the dim emergency lighting before he branched out slightly to the left.
Jim whispered, “Careful.”
Whoever had been in their cabin was gone, it seemed, but he had left behind plenty of damage in his wake. All of their travel containers had been upended onto the floor. Leonard could make out bits of his medkit from the bathroom strewn across the coverlet of the bed.
Jim prowled to the far side and the closet, which stood open and empty. Leonard turned towards the bathroom.
“Jim?” a voice called as a shadow filled the open entrance to their room. “Leonard?”
“We’re fine, Spock,” Jim said in a hushed tone. “Looks like a break-in.”
Spock hesitated a moment, as if he fought the urge to look them over for himself, but at last took a step back into the hall to study the locking mechanism.
Leonard’s fear had tapered off but a sense of unease stayed with him. “Jim,” he said quietly to gain the man’s attention. Then he pointed to the bathroom.
Jim came to stand beside him and looked from the closed door to him and back again. If they had interrupted a crime in progress, the criminal would certainly hide there, having no other option. Jim looked at Leonard again.
Leonard shook his head slightly, meaning that he had no intention of leaving Jim to open it alone.
Jim’s thinly pressed mouth quirked at one corner before he motioned for Leonard to take a position on the right side where he wouldn’t be in the line of sight.
Leonard held his breath as the door registered Jim’s presence and slid open. Light spilled into the room without the usual flash, which meant it had already been engaged inside the bathroom.
But luckily nobody came dashing out alongside the light.
The change in Jim’s expression had Leonard moving to his side in a heartbeat. Once he saw what Jim saw, he pushed past Kirk and dropped to his knees beside the humanoid figure stuffed between the toilet and sink.
Spock appeared behind Jim, saying, “The door was forced after an electrical charge of significant voltage was delivered to the keypad, but I cannot tell if—” He stopped speaking as soon as his gaze fell upon their discovery.
“Bones?” Jim questioned, his voice tight.
Leonard looked up at the man who was his lover, friend, and captain. “He’s dead, Jim.”