Intermission 9: Tell Me of Vulcan
Disclaimer: Aaack, okay, ParaBorg wins. They own everything. Thanks to T'Thelaih for once again beta reading at the speed of email :O)
This story is part of the Intermission series, which are basically scenes from a TOS episode told by one or more of the characters. It is not necessary to read the stories in order, which is a good thing, because this story is slightly out of broadcast order.
Summary: From "The Man Trap," where Uhura asks Spock about Vulcan's moon.
Rating: PG, TOS, 1/1
It's deadly quiet on the bridge. And it's making me nervous. Very nervous. It's probably what Chris Chapel calls "spacer's sense," the intuition that anyone develops who lives out in space.
I look over my shoulder at Spock, who is also nervous, though he hides it well. We're nervous for the same reason, he and I: on a ship notorious for "routine" missions that are anything but, our captain is on the planet below…for a routine mission. Medical exams of an archaological expeditions aren't exactly known for their danger. But we are on the Enterprise.
Right now, Spock is going over the end-of-the-month reports, the reports the captain would willingly dump out the nearest airlock if they weren't required by regulations. It's tedious work, peppered only by the occasional bickering between the departments. Medicine wants this piece of equipment, but Engineering "can't afford the drain on the parts bank." I hear it all, but fortunately, I only have to deal with my own department.
Spock doesn't have that option. As First Officer and Science Officer, he has to handle it. The bickering between the various departments isn't too tough for him solve; it takes a man like Dr McCoy to willingly argue with him, that's for sure. But the reports still have to be compiled for the captain's signature, and that's what Spock, for lack of anything more interesting to do, is doing now. "Miss Uhura," he says now, "your last subspace log contained an error in the frequency column."
I remember that report. It had taken me two days, multiple cups of coffee and one massive headache to get it done. Starfleet was testing a new communications chip in my console, and they needed a full review of its performance. "Mr Spock," I say, coming to stand beside him where he sits uneasily in the captain's chair, "sometimes if I hear 'frequency' once more, I'll cry."
The look of alarm that flits across his features almost makes me laugh. Poor soul, he doesn't quite get it. "Cry?" he asks.
I laugh slightly. "I was just trying to start a conversation."
He returns his attention to his report, then looks back at me. "Well, since it is illogical for a communications officer to resent the word 'frequency,' I have no answer."
"Oh, you have an answer," I say wryly. "I'm an illogical woman who's beginning to feel too much a part of that communications console." He breathes out, considering. How confusing this all must be for him even now, a lone Vulcan on a ship full of illogical humans. We've bantered like this before, in the Rec Room, but some perverse impulse---and probably the extreme boredom of a routine mission---makes me continue. "Why don't you tell me I'm an attractive young lady, or ask me if I've ever been in love. Tell me how your planet Vulcan looks on a lazy evening when the moon is full." I watch as he nervously runs one finger around the collar of his uniform shirt. No, he doesn't get it at all.
Finally Spock looks at me, the seriousness of his face belied by the twinkle in his eye. "Miss Uhura," he says slowly, "Vulcan has no moon."
"Mr Spock," I say, grinning, "I'm not surprised."
The incoming hail whistles, breaking the mood. I've got a bad feeling about this; an incoming hail so soon after beam-down is never good. "Enterprise, landing party returning. We report one death."
Spock punches the button on the captain's chair. "Bridge, acknowledged."
Just like that, a man is dead, and it could be anyone. Our routine mission has, once again, turned deadly. And Spock sits there like a statue. I turn back to him. "I don't believe it."
"Explain," he says, and the clipped tone of his words is a warning.
"You explain," I reply. Damn him, how can he ignore this? "That means someone is dead, and you just sit there. It could be Captain Kirk and he's the closest thing you have to a friend."
His head turns slightly, and I know my comment hit home. An illogical comment, surely, and one I shouldn’t have said aloud. The fear is one we all face every day we live out here, that one random accident will kill or maim a friend or a lover. But I shouldn't have made him face it here, on the bridge. And I can't call the words back now. "Lieutenant," he says, "my emotional reaction will not change what has happened. The transporter room is very well manned and they will call me if they need my assistance." His words are flat, the kind of clipped phrasing I've heard only rarely, when Dr McCoy has pushed him too hard.
As I have just done. I turn away, kicking myself for what I've just said. What did I truly expect, that he would react as a human would? That he would show grief or fear or unease? He's not human, not fully, and I wouldn't have talked that way to Captain Kirk.
Maybe I'm the one who doesn't understand.