James T. Kirk was giving a party. This event was so unusual as to cause excited comment and wild rumor among the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise.
It wasn't as if there were never any parties on board the ship. As a matter of fact, parties were a frequent occurrence. Birthdays, promotions, anniversaries, and any other occasion that could be thought of, were celebrated by the crew as often and as riotously as possible. The Enterprise was a happy ship and parties were simply one way the crew expressed their feelings for their ship and their captain.
The startling fact however, was that this time Captain Kirk was giving a party at his apartment in San Francisco. All Enterprise department heads were invited, the command crew would all be there, and Lt. Uhura had agreed to act as hostess and she had agreed to sing too. Rumor also had it that Admiral Nogura would attend, and that (and this caused some jaws to drop) Ambassador Sarek and Lady Amanda of Vulcan would also attend. This last could not be confirmed. Thus far, no one had the temerity to ask Mr. Spock if it were true.
The Enterprise was to be moored at the San Francisco Space Dock Annex to have a badly needed refit of her warp engines. Chief Engineer Scott had finally convinced the powers that be that the refitting was absolutely necessary if the ship was to continue running at top efficiency levels. After all, Klingons and Romulans were not known for letting one get a head start in a chase. However, even with round the clock work schedules, it would take a full month's hard work to do the refit, and each of the 430 crew members would have a ten-day leave in three rotations. Emotions were running high, and moral had never been better. The San Francisco Bay Metroplex area was considered prime R and R country by all Starfleet personnel. As rapidly as possible, the families and friends of the crew were notified of the arrival of the Enterprise in space dock. Uhura's communication board hadn't been so busy since the Tribble crises.
"Lt. Sulu, bring us in to space dock, one-fourth c, and tell Fleet that the Enterprise is home. "
"Aye, Captain." Sulu's grin threatened to split his face apart as he glanced up at the Captain's smiling face. His sure hands glided over the helm controls. "We're sub light now, Captain, and we have our vector."
"Put it on the screen, Lt. I want to see her come in." Jim Kirk never tired of seeing his ship. Now, as she came gliding stately into the space dock, he saw her shimmering primary and secondary discs and her nacelles silhouetted against the San Francisco dock exterior stanchions that greeted incoming ships. The reflected light off the station made her look mysterious, bigger then ever. Then, Jim, watching the screen, saw her rolling slowly, once, twice, on her longitudinal axis, one victory roll and then one more.
"Mr. Sulu, belay that," Kirk said, trying to sound stern, but a faint smile was on his face.
"Aye, Captain." Sulu grinned, as he glanced up at the Captain's smiling face. "We're in sight now, Captain."
"Dockyard ready on main umbilical, Captain," reported Uhura.
"Good. Keep it on the screen, Uhura. Let's watch the docking procedure."
Instantly, the scene on the screen shifted to show the Enterprise as she looked to those watching from the orbital station. Through the giant maw of Starfleet Space Dock, she glided in slowly, majestic, serene, like some giant silvery bird homing in on her nest.
"She looks beautiful," breathed Sulu.
Jim nodded, his eyes never leaving the screen. No matter how exhausted, fed up, drained, or at the end of his commandetorial rope he might be, the sight of his great ship always refreshed and renewed him as nothing else ever could.
"Maneuvering thrusters, Mr. Sulu."
With a flick of his fingers, Sulu brought the ship silently forward until she was exactly at dry dock center.
Jim gave the order. "Engage the main umbilical." He waited, with the appearance of a calm he did not feel, for the all clear from the Star Fleet Ship Controllers and when it came, he flashed a grin at his beaming command crew.
Now the screen showed him the magnificent surreal beauty of the San Francisco orbital dockyard looking like a giant spider web shimmering and glowing in the radiant incandescent gold of the sun. It seemed to Jim that he had never seen anything so beautiful as that lattice-work of luminous metal. He sighed and relaxed, relieved and happy to be home.
"Lt. Uhura, tell Dr. McCoy's staff to begin posting shore leave schedules effective immediately. Have them check that the department heads and the command crew are in the first rotation for shore leave and have them make sure that relief personnel have their assignments. Also, tell Dr. McCoy to meet me in my quarters in twenty minutes," ordered the Captain.
Kirk rose from the command chair and stretched his cramped muscles. Lord, he was tired.
"All docking procedures completed, sir. All paper work is filed."
"Very good, Mr. Sulu. Spock, you have the con for the next 23 minutes."
"Yes sir." Spock slipped smoothly into the command chair, his face impassive as usual. But to those who knew him well, a quiet gleam of anticipation could be seen in the dark hooded eyes.
As Kirk stepped out of the turbo lift into deck 5, he was amused to see the number of excited crew scurrying about the corridors, greeting him absently. The ship was fairly humming with excitement and good cheer.
Good, he thought. The crew deserves this break. It's been a very tough six months and it's time that we all get to play a little. He walked to his quarters and thought of the letter he had received from his mother. He smiled to himself in anticipation, as he planned all the kinds of fun he would engage in.
In the dim light of the quiet oasis that were his quarters, Kirk saw that Bones was already there. He was reclining in the desk chair, feet up, hands folded over his stomach, eyes closed. Two glasses and a bottle of Saurian brandy stood prominently on the desk.
"Well, it's about time you got here Captain, sir," Bones murmured, eyes still closed. "I was beginning to think I was gonna' have to drink this expensive stuff all by myself." When he was drinking, McCoy's accent got more and more Georgian and his manner more and more avuncular with each drink. "Sit down, put your feet up and relax, my boy." He opened his eyes, grinned at his captain, poured out two dollops into the glasses and handed one to Jim. "Cheers and a happy shore leave to us all," he drawled and drained the glass in one swallow.
Kirk grinned and drank down the fiery liquid. His eyes watered as it slipped down his throat.
"It's a good thing you're a doctor, Bones, or else I'd think you were trying to kill me with this stuff at this hour of the morning. It's really too early for a drink." He pushed McCoy's large feet off his desk, and perched on the corner. "Are you packed and ready to go"?
"It's never too early for a drink, Captain, sir, and this whole damn ship's been packed for a week. I'll have you know that I've had several cases of shore leave anxiety attacks in the past two days. They were afraid we'd never make it to space dock without a red alert, a Klingon battle, an alien presence, or somethin' else."
Jim laughed. "I know just how they feel. I've had some anxieties like that myself." He swallowed the last of his drink, coughed and stood up. "Well, let's get this show on the road. The transporter awaits." He pulled McCoy to his feet and grabbed his duffel bag. "I've been packed for a week, too," he said slyly.
The eager command crew was waiting impatiently on the transporter platform. They were all fairly twitching with suppressed excitement, except for Spock of course; whose calm demeanor was as unruffled as always.
"Mr. Kyle, see you at the party tomorrow night," Jim nodded to the transporter chief and stepped up on the pad. "Energize."
"Aye, sir." Kyle smiled as he watched them disappear in the familiar silvery whine of transporter effect.
As the crew transported down to the Star Fleet central terminal, a small impatient figure detached his hand from the adult at his side and ran forward eagerly. "Uncle Jim, Uncle Jim, I'm here!" The child hurled himself at Kirk, who went down on one knee and hugged him hard.
The little boy's arms tightened convulsively around Jim and the fair head burrowed into Jim's neck. Jim hugged him again, savoring the warmth of the small body for a second longer, then stood keeping his arm around the child.
"Peter, it's great to see you." He nodded his thanks at the attendant who had brought the boy and blinked hard to clear the mist from his eyes.
"How's grandma and how was your trip?" he asked.
The child's eager face looked up at him. "Grandma's fine, she sent you her love and a letter; the shuttle trip was fun, only too short," Peter answered. "I like flying a lot, Uncle Jim."
Jim laughed happily. Peter looked wonderful. It has been a long six months since Jim had last seen him and close to a year since the death of his parents. Sam, Peter's father, had been Jim's older and only brother. He and his wife Aurelan had died on the planet Deneva, victims of deadly alien parasites that destroyed their victim's nervous systems. With the help of McCoy and Spock, Kirk had saved the planet. But it had been too late to save Sam and Aurelan. Only Peter had survived. McCoy had fought valiantly and successfully to save the little boy's life. Peter had spent a month on the starship with Jim on their way home, and together they had both worked through the grief and pain of their mutual loss. Peter now made his home on Earth with Jim's mother at the farm in Iowa, but Winona Kirk felt that Peter needed to spend some time with Jim, so they had arranged for the child to spend two weeks with Jim in San Francisco.
"Peter, you remember these people don't you?" He turned the child gently around to face the group.
With a shy smile, Peter nodded his head and shook hands with Uhura, Sulu and Chekhov who looked at him with delight. He surprised McCoy by giving him a hug which McCoy returned enthusiastically. The doctor had grown very fond of the little boy during the month he had been in his care.
"Aye, and he's a fine lad, Captain," said Scotty, as he shook the small hand. "He looks tae to me like he's grown considerable, and he's getting' to look more and more like yourself, sir."
Peter beamed at Scotty. He adored his Uncle Jim; and he could think of nothing better than to be told he looked like his uncle.
When he turned to Mr. Spock, Peter's face became very serious and dignified. He forced his hand into the Vulcan greeting. "Live long and prosper, Mr. Spock," he said softly. He liked this tall, gentle, quiet man, who was always at his Uncle Jim's side. On board the ship, he always seemed to have time for Peter, answering Peter's many questions about the ship and crew with patience.
As Peter turned back to his uncle, Jim saw Spock lay his hand gently on the shining, fair head. McCoy saw it too and raised his eyebrows at Jim, but said nothing. Well, well, thought McCoy, it seems that Spock likes the child. Wouldn't do to say a thing, though or he'll retreat behind the Great Wall of Vulcan and deny it completely.
"Uncle Jim, how's the Enterprise?" Peter shared Jim's passion for the great starship, and many a bedtime had been enlivened by Jim telling Peter some story about the Enterprise and her crew. "It's the best crew and starship in the Fleet," Peter told his envious classmates at school, and at every opportunity shared the letters he received from his Uncle Jim.
"The ship is fine, Peter. I'll take you aboard her in a few days and we'll see how the warp engines' refitting is coming along. Maybe Mr. Scott will come along and explain the whole procedure to you." He looked at the chief engineer who nodded smiling in response.
"Meanwhile….Peter, how would you like to go to a party.?"
Peter tore his fascinated gaze away from the myriad number of alien life forms that were a part of Star Fleet Central and looked up at his uncle.
"A party? What kind of party, Uncle Jim."
"An Enterprise party. Mr. Sulu, Mr. Chekhov, Dr. McCoy and Mr. Scott will all be there. Lt. Uhura has promised to sing, and help me out, and there will be lots of good friends and some good food there….and possibly cake!"
"Cake! I like cake! Will Mr. Spock be there too?" Peter gave Spock a side glance and a quick grin, a replica of Jim's own.
"Oh, yes indeed," answered McCoy. "Mr. Spock will be the life of the party. We never have a successful party unless Spock attends and adds hilarity, wit and sparkle to the evening."
"Bones!" Jim protested. He glared at the doctor. Sometimes McCoy went too far in his attempts to get a rise from the Vulcan.
"I will certainly be there, Peter," answered Spock, totally ignoring the doctor. "Also my parents will attend. My mother, particularly, will be most pleased to meet you."
"O.k." Peter gave a small wriggle of satisfaction. "I'll go, but…"
"But what, Peter?" asked his uncle quizzically looking down at the small face.
"Grandma didn't pack any party clothes for me. She just packed regular stuff and said if I needed anything more you would get then for me. I've been growing," he said proudly.
"So you have, Peter. I can see you're taller," Jim said gently, amused.
"Captain, if you'd like, I can take Peter shopping. I have to get party clothes too. I haven't a thing to wear," said Uhura.
"Ah, the age-old lament of the female, "said Mr. Scott, twinkling fondly at her.
"Uhura, I'd appreciate that more than I can say. Is that o.k. with you, Peter?"
The child nodded. He liked the beautiful Uhura. She had been very kind to him on board ship, and had even taught him to sing a couple of space chanteys that had enthralled his bemused grandmother.
"Good, that's settled then," Jim said relieved. He hated shopping in any form. "Uhura charge everything to me. Here's my credit chip."
"No thanks, Captain, my treat." Uhura smiled at Peter, "This will be fun for me too. Shall we go Peter? I see a shuttle marked 'Shopping Tour' over there." She grabbed Peter's hand and they ran for the shuttle. "Bye everybody. See you later at the apartment." She called back to them.
"Captain, I think Pavel and Hikaru and I will be getting' on too. We will leave our things at Sulu's co-op, then we'll be paintin' the town red, sir. I am plannin' to introduce these young gentlemen to some of the best recreational facilities this side of Wrigley's Planet," Scotty said. His eyes gleamed with anticipation.
"Carry on, gentlemen. I'll see you all tomorrow. See that you comport as officers and gentlemen," Jim said in mock sternness and saluted his men smartly.
All three returned the salute and hurried off looking suitably euphoric.
"Yes, well, we better get going too, " murmured McCoy to Spock.
Jim turned to his two friends. "Spock, Bones, I really would like it if you would both stay at my place. I have plenty of room. You two can share the guest bedroom, it has two large beds, and Uhura can use my room and Peter and I can bunk down in the library until Uhura leaves at the end of the week. How about it?"
"I'd sure like that, Jim," Bones said looking pleased. "It would surely be more fun and more comfortable than a hotel room."
"I, too, would be pleased to accept your invitation, Captain. The Vulcan Embassy is notorious for its drafty rooms and my parents will not mind," Spock said. "They have several political functions they must attend and will be quite busy until after the Federation Council vote on the Orion question."
Jim looked pleased. There were too few occasions when he could play host to these two, his closest friends. They were dear to him, and he savored the few times when they had been to his home.
It had been after his promotion to Captain that Jim decided it was time to buy a place he could call home when he was on Terra. The farm in Iowa was a haven, but it was his mother's. Jim wanted someplace that was totally his. He had looked around for a long time, in several parts of the world, saved as much of his salary as possible, and when the time came, he had finally decided on an apartment overlooking the Bay and the Bridge. True, it had been very expensive, but the view was spectacular, the complex had very good security, and most of his neighbors were Fleet personnel. He had contracted for cleaning services once a month when he was gone, and once a week when he was home. Occasionally, he had loaned his apartment to a friend, but for the most part it stood empty, ready for his annual furlough.