Fandom: Star Trek XI
Spoilers: Not really
Summary: Further to It Takes A Village, Birds Do It… and Faites Vos Jeux…: Spock contemplates the degree of levity often observable on Enterprise.
The Enterprise crew, perhaps surprisingly, given its origins, is excellent. Not without flaws, of course – perfection for Humans and, indeed, Vulcans, is a norm to which one must strive, rather than a practical state of existence – but generally excellent. Well-trained, competent, and intelligent. Spock does not regret his choice to serve under Kirk.
Spock has, of course, lived among Humans for a considerable length of time. Moreover, his mother was Human. He thus has always considered – perhaps erroneously – that he understood them reasonably well. But life on a starship seems a more concentrated form of Human life, and there is often behaviour he finds… puzzling.
“And the sodium molecule says, ‘guess I’ve been feeling a little negative lately’!” The group of Science officers bursts out laughing. Spock raises an eyebrow.
“I do not find that humorous,” he says.
For some reason, this results in further laughter.
“So,” says Sulu, propping himself up against the wall as Lt Jansen makes a repair to a faulty conduit on Deck 4, “how about you and I get some dinner together this evening?”
Spock passes them, and makes a mental note to reprimand Sulu for engaging in personal business whilst on duty. His opportunity comes later in the day, when he visits the mess in order to acquire a meal. Sulu is sitting at his usual table, displaying a black eye. He is accompanied by Ensign Chekov and Lt Uhura, the former laughing intemperately.
“Laugh it up, whizz kid,” says Sulu, clearly in no mood for such humour. “We’ll see how you like it next time.” Chekov continues to laugh, apparently unaffected by the implied threat. Uhura raises her eyebrow.
“I don’t know why you believed him. Everyone knows Jansen’s not into guys.” Sulu looks like he wishes to speak, and Uhura silences him with a look. “Hikaru, don’t be the guy who says he can change that,” she says, her tone reproving.
Later, he asks her what happened. She shrugs. “Chekov told him Lindsay Jansen had a thing for him, and he should go for it.” She shakes her head. “Honestly, sometimes I think they’re about twelve.”
Spock cocks his head. “I understood Lt Jansen to be homosexual. Is this incorrect?”
Uhura rolls her eyes. “No, it was a joke. Seriously: twelve.”
Spock lets it lie, but considers the fact that crewmembers’ sexual orientation has no bearing on their duties on Enterprise. He wonders when he began to note such things.
The Captain is bent double with mirth. “And then,” he says, gasping for breath, “and then, she says to Bones, ‘well, then, you’d better tell the Admiral that, cuz he’s standing right there!’” He now appears to be in respiratory distress, however Dr McCoy seems unconcerned.
“Oh, that’s hilarious, Jim.” His tone belies the statement, however, and Spock deduces that he does not find this story humorous.
Captain Kirk – Jim – beats the table with his hand. “Hilarious!” he gasps.
Dr McCoy quirks an eyebrow, a facial habit he adopts frequently. “Yep, you really set me up for that one. Hey, how ‘bout that time in the Zephram building when you…”
The Captain sobers up with an impressive alacrity. “Oh, we don’t have to go there,” he says.
“Yeah, that’s right, Jimmy-boy,” says McCoy, “you can dish it out, but you can’t take it!”
Spock has noticed that many of the dinners the three of them take together, as the most senior officers on Enterprise, seem to end this way. He is unsure how either Kirk or McCoy managed to graduate Starfleet Academy, when they seemed to spend much of their time playing pranks on each other.
“What about you, Spock?” says Jim one evening. “You got any good stories to tell from the Academy?”
“No,” says Spock.
“A goat! He thought I wanted to make out with a goat? How in hell did he…” Jim’s eyes narrow, and he glares at Uhura. “Oh, I see. Very funny, Lt.”
Uhura smiles sweetly. “Well, I know you’ve always been fond of farm animals, Captain. I may have made a translation error when telling Temar just how much.”
“I see I’ve underestimated you, Uhura.”
“It wouldn’t be the first time, sir.”
Spock and Uhura are alone on the observation deck later that evening.
“The distinction between ‘like’ and ‘love’ in Tellarite is very distinct,” notes Spock.
“Yes,” agrees Uhura.
“Your actions were not professional.”
Uhura gives him a look that in another woman might be considered a pout. “Come on. Someone has to give the captain a taste of his own medicine.”
Spock finds he cannot disagree with this statement.
Jim is flicking through the daily reports, and looks up when Spock enters the ready room.
“Hey, Spock. Did you know Ensign Mbeki has requested reassignment to Earth?”
“I did not.”
Jim looks troubled. “D’you think it’s something wrong on Enterprise?” he asks.
Spock raises an eyebrow. “I do not believe so. Her mother is very ill; it is likely she wishes to be closer to home.”
“Right. Good.” He frowns. “Well, not good. I think I’ll go and talk to her.” He’s halfway out of the door, when he pauses. “Hey, Spock?”
“Jim, Spock. How’d you know about her mom, anyway?”
Spock looks chagrined, insofar as is possible. “I- I am not sure.”
Jim grins. “Spock, you sly dog, have you been gossiping?”
“I would not term it thus,” replied Spock.
They both know it’s not a denial; Jim is gracious enough not to labour the point (then).
Ensign Mbeki is replaced by Ensign Dawson, who joins Spock, Dr McCoy and two Engineering crewmen on an away mission.
“It’s just not natural, having your molecules shot about the place,” complains McCoy.
“We are all aware of your prejudices, Doctor,” says Spock.
“It’s perfectly safe,” says Dawson, reassuringly.
Crewman Fernandez snickers. “Yeah, right,” he says. “Try telling that to Admiral Archer’s dog!” Crewman Ivanov and Dr McCoy join in the laughter. Ensign Dawson looks confused.
“Chief Engineer Scott attempted to beam Admiral Archer’s dog further than was advisable,” explains Spock. “It has not yet reappeared. The crew derives considerable humour from the incident.”
“I see,” says Dawson. She sighs. “This is worst part of joining a new ship, y’know? Figuring out all the in-jokes.”
Spock reflects, as he mounts the transporter pad, that he is aware of many of the ‘in-jokes’ on Enterprise. It is a novel experience. He is not sure how he feels about it.
“What do you think, Spock?” asks Jim, leaning forward in his chair, a frown on his face.
“I fear the worst,” says Spock, looking up from his scanner. “The asteroid belt appears to be heavily populated with dangerous spores. I suspect they could cause serious illness amongst the crew. Unfortunately, we have already entered the belt. It is too late to turn back now.”
Jim pales. “Shields to maximum!” he barks out.
Spock exhales audibly. “I fear that will do little good,” he says. “The only thing we can do is prepare for the worst. Doctor, I would advise you to prepare Medical Bay.”
“I knew it,” says McCoy, eyes wide. “Attacked in space by some damn putrid asteroid-dwelling spore! I knew this would happen! Should’ve stayed on Earth!” He looks around suspiciously, as if the spores in question might have already invaded the bridge. Spock does not smile.
“One minute, Captain,” he says, consulting the scanner again. He looks up. “I may have made an error.”
“An error, Mr Spock?” asks Kirk mildly.
“I believe my earlier judgement was incorrect,” says Spock. He looks penitent. “The asteroid belt appears to be devoid of any kind of spore.”
“Devoid of any…” Dr McCoy’s face approaches puce, and Spock watches, fascinated. “Why, you green-blooded…!”
“A joke, Mr Spock,” asks Kirk with a grin.
Spock inclines his head. “An honest mistake,” he says.
No-one is fooled, and Spock gracefully accepts the additional medical that McCoy insists is in the regulations.
Spock is not remotely gratified to find, on his next visit to the mess, Sulu and Chekov sitting at their usual table frantically trying to work out the odds of Spock playing another practical joke. Neither does he laugh at any future reference to Admiral Archer’s unfortunate dog. Nor does he develop any humorous stories of his experiences at the Academy. But he does feel like he understands the inhabitants of Enterprise a little better.