Kirk headed toward the empty lounge that he frequented so often that his Bridge crew had dubbed it Kirk's Lounge. He had recently begun using the piano that was tucked away in the corner of the room to help relax when he was feeling slightly stressed. He was pleasantly surprised to see that he hadn't lost the talent, despite not having touched the instrument in years. Eventually he was hoping to manipulate the replicator to add a guitar to the room.
Today they had received a shipment of medical supplies, and while they were being transferred, Kirk had needed to host the man overseeing the process. He was positive that the man was one of the most irritating people he had ever met, and he had met quite a few people in his life time. The man, who went by Mortison, was an arrogant, self-centered idiot Kirk had almost instantly decided.
Mortison had a nasally voice that had Kirk grinding his teeth with the first five minutes of meeting him. Also, the pompous idiot would not shut up for even five minutes, and had an opinion on everything from the amount of space between doorways to how Kirk captained his ship. He had really wanted to point out the fact that the man wasn't the captain of his own ship (thank god), and thus had no experience in captaining a ship. He had kept himself from doing so for the two and a half hours that Mortison had been aboard, but by the time the man had left, Kirk was at his limit.
He arrived at his destination, and entered the room with a sigh of relief. Here he was away from judging eyes, the pressure to do everything correctly the first time around, and the almost overwhelming expectations he knew people had despite their best intentions. The now-familiar sight of a large instrument greeted his eyes.
The ancient piano had been extremely out of tune when Kirk had first tried playing it, but several hours of fine tuning later, that problem had been fixed. He now cast a quick glance around the room to ensure that he would be alone when he began to play, then walked over and eased himself down onto the piano bench.
For several moments, all he did was run his fingers over the keys that had become familiar to him since he had become captain. He started by playing simple pieces that even a child could have easily done. The simple sounds allowed him to slowly let go of his irritation, and once he was fully relaxed, he felt ready to play whatever he felt like.
Kirk began playing using more and more complex patterns and changing his speed. He closed his eyes and allowed the music to sink into him. He had always loved music, and when he was seven had eventually just up and decided one day to teach himself how to play. It had taken him several months of trial and error to figure out the mechanics of the piano, but once he had, he had just continued to improve, and he had eventually branched out to other instruments as well.
It was something that had baffled his mother and was simply tolerated by his brother, Sam, whenever they heard him talk about music, or his love of creating it. Winona was definitely more of a logic and statistics person, and Sam was simply just not that interested. Kirk had reluctantly given up on them ever being able to understand the beauty and complexity of music. Music had a set number of notes that could be used, but the way they were put together- the pattern, the speed, the pauses, everything else- was pure complexity, mathematics, and emotion. Without any of those three, all you would have is sounds making noise, perhaps in a pleasing manner, but sounds nonetheless.
Music on the other hand is alive, Kirk had decided long ago. There is an infinite number of ways it can be put together, an infinite number of directions it could take. This sense of limitless possibility is what made Kirk's head spin, his heart pound, and his fingers play. This was the reason he loved music so much. He loved any kind of music; after all, every kind was based on the very principle he loved. However classical music held a special place among all the other kinds, and Kirk had to assume that was due to it being one of the more complex genres.
By this point, he had begun to emerge from his music-induced, meditation-like trance. The tempo of his song slowed, and the sensual sounds eventually ended softly. Kirk sat and listened to the near silence in a peaceful calm that was uncommon for him, listening to the gentle hum of the ship's engines that resonated from far below him. Opening his eyes, he let out a soft sigh and reached over to pull the lid down over the keys. He cast one more appreciative glance at the instrument then stood and turned to leave. And promptly froze.
Standing by the door, eyes wide in surprise and admiration, were most of the members of the bridge crew, Bones, and several people from around the ship that Kirk vaguely recognized. His gaze flitted back to the piano sitting quietly now, with no sign that it had even been touched recently. However when his gaze had returned to the people by the door, he could tell that they had been there long enough to hear his music.
They stood there looking at each other in silence for several moments, and in one of the few times Kirk could remember, he felt himself flush slightly. He lowered his gaze and dipped his head slightly as he cleared his throat, hoping to relieve some of his unfamiliar anxiety and tension. He had no idea why he hadn't just told his crew that he loved music so much. Maybe it was because he knew he would receive looks like the ones he was getting now. Hoping to escape the unnerving silence, he gave a brisk nod to the crewmembers, and began to walk to the door.
"Wait!" Uhura's voice stopped him in his tracks, and his shoulders tensed as he gave a hidden wince. He stayed facing the door, though he turned his head slightly to show her he was listening. "That was incredible! How long have you been able to play like that, and why did you never say anything?" At that, Kirk turned around fully in his shock.
"Yes," Chekov added in. "zhat was incredible. Which piece were you playing? Who taught you how to do zhat?" Kirk blinked several times in surprise at the string of questions the two had presented to him, before he ducked his head sheepishly and cleared his throat before responding.
"I taught myself how to play when I was seven, and I was just messing around a minute ago. I wasn't really playing anything, just letting the music flow." He then shrugged rather nonchalantly, despite his discomfort. "I didn't say anything because it never came up, and well, nobody I knew ever really seemed interested before, so I didn't see any need to."
"Hold up, kid." Bones said, frowning slightly. "You mean to tell me that that was just composed on the spot?" At Kirk's slight nod, his eyebrows shot up. Several people exchanged startled glances, and Kirk finally decided that he was done being uncomfortable. After all, since when was James T Kirk ever embarrassed about anything, much less the fact that he was a musician?
"Guys, it really isn't that big a deal. I love music, and none of my family shared my interest, so it was a personal project. I taught myself to play piano, guitar, violin, clarinet, flute, drums, and the basics of saxophone and trumpet because I happen to think that music is beautiful, complex, and infinite. Anyway, it is not as big a deal as you all are making it, end of story."
Based on the crew members widened eyes, they obviously had something more to say about that, and Kirk let out a mental sigh. They really were blowing this little incident way out of proportion. So he was a musician who knew how to play a variety of instruments well, so what? Deciding to forget it, he turned and continued on his earlier path out the door.
"Captain, may I request that you continue to play? I found the result quite… gratifying to listen to." Spock stated, interrupting Kirk's progress once again. He turned to look at his crew in slight disbelief, having expecting them to not share his interest like his family. Seeing their sincerity, an uncharacteristically shy grin appeared on his face.
"You really want to hear me play?" he asked, feeling only slightly childish at the question. At the answering nods, he looked over at the piano in the corner, and then back at them before making his way over to instrument that was the cause of the small confrontation a moment ago. He sat down, opened the lid again, and ran his fingers over the keys, feeling only slightly self-conscious as he saw his crew settle into nearby chairs to watch. Taking a steadying breath, he closed his eyes, smiled, and began to play.