Kirk’s head hurt.
They had arrived back in the city with just enough time to get to the meeting with some degree of decorum. But Kirk wasn’t sure if anyone would have noticed if they had been a few hours...or days late. The regent had been droning on for what seemed a lifetime, pausing only for an abundance of confusing rituals. The brass in Starfleet must be having a heyday over sending the maverick James T Kirk to these negotiations! He had convinced himself it was payback for all the grief he had given them over the years.
He glanced at McCoy beside him and was almost sure the doctor was dozing. He kicked him under the table, feigning a look of innocence when the doctor jerked his head up in surprise.
Uhura was doing her best to follow the rambling speeches that jumped from one subject to another faster than a terran horse in racing form. She had lost the general theme at least three hours ago and the captain had still not been invited to give his spiel on behalf of the Federation. Besides that, the liquid refreshment---a dark tea like beverage—was well overdue to leave her body.
Saavik sat to McCoy’s left with Spock on her other side, and she looked none to pleased with the seating arrangements. Still smarting over the public reprimand, Kirk wagered. What had that been about anyway? The captain studied the Vulcans from the corner of his eye. If there really was a romance brewing, would it survive that embarrassment?
Kirk wished he had McCoy’s ability to sleep sitting up, The Vulcans’ ability to concentrate, or Uhura’s ability to give a damn, but right now he didn’t have any of those abilities. He just wanted a nice quiet Derilian-free space where maybe—just maybe---his head would stop its throbbing.
He suddenly was aware that no one was talking now and all were looking expectantly at him. He rose from his seat, noting that he was getting too old to sit for so long and hoping that standing was the right response.
“Regent,” he began, “you honor us with your hospitality and grandiose oratory,” he lied like a diplomat.
Where were all the diplomats anyway? he wondered, again fuming at the apparent conspiracy in Starfleet that had saddled him with this impossible mission. Sarek would love the challenge, he thought, seriously considering having Spock send for him.
“The Federation offers our friendship, our aid and our protection to all of Derilia and..”
The regent was holding up his hand, interrupting Kirk’s long-practiced speech. Kirk felt his headache ratchet up a notch.
“Thank you, Captain,” the regent droned, “but the hour is late. Let us adjourn until a later time. Our friendship will certainly not suffer a short wait.”
Indeed it might, Kirk thought sourly but instead he flashed his best smile and held out his hands in a gesture of acquiescence.
“As you wish,” he said. “If you’ll inform my communications officer about the time and place, we will be honored to return at your convenience.” He almost checked to see if his nose was growing. Why would anyone want to do this for a living?
The regent made a small motion with his head. “We will be in touch,” he said noncommittally, “when the time is upon us.”
Kirk looked ready for a core breach but McCoy took hold of his arm to keep him from causing a scene.
“I think they just said they’d call,” he quipped.
The exhausted officers stumbled off the transporter pads, mumbled thanks to the operator there and made there way into the hallway. Uhura went straight to her quarters for a long shower while the captain and doctor headed for the mess hall for a late dinner. When they were alone, Spock walked up beside Saavik.
“Saavik-kam,” he said, “we must talk.”
Saavik was embarrassed. It wasn’t logical but it was so. Her temper had historically been a difficult thing to control, and once in awhile, she lost the battle. Spock had always been most patient with her. Until today. What had changed? And why did it matter?
Spock’s use of the familiar form of her name told her that he wasn’t that angry, but his face was unreadable and his stance too rigid. She didn’t turn toward him right away.
“I seek rest,” she said. “The day has been tiring.”
He stood still for some time then stepped in front of her so she would have to look at him. Saavik stared at him angrily. She wanted nothing more than to box his ears again, but that would hardly improve the situation. Nor would discussing personal issues in a public hallway.
“I am tired,” she repeated and purposely strode away from him toward the refuge of her quarters. He watched her go and tried to ignore the confused emotions in his own mind.