Saavik did her best to center her mind as she rode the turbolift to the bridge. She had almost succeeded when the doors opened to a very angry Captain Kirk. He was standing near the center seat and had turned to face Uhura who had just taken her station moments before.
“He said what?” the captain thundered.
Uhura took a deep breath before answering. “The regent informs us that we shall meet in the month of Ba’lek, before the rising of the third moon.”
“And when is that?” Kirk demanded.
“Next year,” Uhura answered evenly.
The captain turned back to the viewscreen where the pristine planet slowly rotated. He punched a fist into the opposite hand. “Damn the brass,” he muttered.
“Sir?” Uhura questioned.
He turned back to her and tempered his frustration. “Thank them for the invitation,” he said, biting his words. “And put us on the dance card.”
He turned back to the forward screen with an exasperated sigh.
“Set a course for Earth,” he told the navigator, then turned to Spock. “I guess it’s time to get you back to your own command,” he said.
Spock swiveled his chair to face him. “There is no hurry, Captain,” he said. “Starfleet predicted a less brief mission here. I am not due back for four point five Standard weeks. “
“In that case,” Kirk said, brightening a little. “Let’s take the scenic route. Navigator, set a course...somewhere.”
“Pick a direction, Mister,” Kirk grinned. “At your discretion.”
“Yes, Sir,” the man answered uncertainly, but did as he was told. Saavik crossed the bridge to relieve the confused officer and noted that the course he had chosen passed very near Vulcan. She considered that it might be wise to ask for a short leave there.
Spock had turned back to his station and was busy analyzing the data from the tricorders that he and Saavik had taken to Derilia. For a time the only sound on the bridge were the beeps and whirls from the various stations. Finally Spock spoke up from the science station.
“Lieutenant Saavik,” he said, “please assist me here.”
With the course locked in there was little for her to do at navigation, but she paused anyway before complying. Kirk watched her closely as she moved across the bridge to stand beside Spock’s chair. He stood to allow her to sit.
Good move, the captain thought and hoped that Vulcan females appreciated chivalry. He turned at the sound of the turbolift and saw McCoy amble onto the bridge.
“I heard we didn’t get a second date with the Derilians,” he drawled.
“All’s fair in love and war,” Kirk quipped and angled his eyes toward the two Vulcans. McCoy raised an eyebrow and slowly moved to the other side of Kirk’s chair so he might eavesdrop better.
“I think they’re speaking Vulcan,” he whispered after a moment.
“Then activate your Universal Translator,” Kirk prompted. Most everyone had the subdermal devices these days, but for what ever reason the cantankerous doctor often turned his off.
“Nah,” McCoy declined, glancing again at the Vulcans who were turned away from him. “I think they’re just talking shop anyway. Nothing too interesting.”
Kirk glanced back and noticed Spock’s hand rhythmically drumming on the console.
“Are you sure he’s not in pon farr?” he asked the doctor with a touch of concern.
McCoy glanced back too. “He says he’s not,” he said in a low voice. “I don’t think he’d lie about something like that.” He rubbed his chin and addressed the captain seriously. “Just in case, keep him away from any ahn’ woons.”
Kirk rubbed at his throat in memory of the weapon. “You saw what those two did to each other with just their bare hands,” he said. “Maybe I should get Spock back to Earth sooner rather than later.”
McCoy glanced back again and saw that Spock had stopped the tapping and was gazing at him as if he had heard the whole exchange. Which he probably had.
“Nah, cut him some slack,” he told the captain. “He’ll figure out this brave new world one of these days.”
Spock turned back to his station and the task at hand. He had actually not been aware of his hand on the console until Jim’s comment about pon farr. He searched inward for the third time in as many minutes and noted that there was no indication that he was beset by the fires, now or anytime soon. But he was unusually distracted and realized with alarm that he had not been listening to Saavik’s explanation of her latest theory.
“Pardon me, Lieutenant,” he interrupted her. “Perhaps we should continue this research at a later time. I am unusually....fatigued,” he said. “Can you meet me in the geology lab at 07:00?”
She swiveled the chair to see his face. “Of course, Sir,” she answered formally, rising to return to navigation. He watched her go with some regret then settled back in his chair to focus his mind yet again.
Saavik tried not to look at Spock as she walked past him back to her station. He seemed tense --in a rather intriguing way-- and she wondered if Uhura was right after all. Her own nerves were also erratic and she hoped there would be other crew in the lab tonight. It would be too awkward to be alone with him in this state of mind.