Series Title: Moments in Time - Arena
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers and missing tag scene for Arena, nothing more
This Chapter Word Count: 1956
Series Summary: To re-acclimate myself in this fandom, I'm doing a slow episode rewatch, and will be doing a drabble or ficlet that is a missing scene or tag to each episode as I watch them. They will not be in chronological or any particular order, just in that which strikes my fancy.
A/N: Somewhere I vaguely recall a meme prompt asking for Spock to find Kirk sleeping at Spock's desk or something like that, so this is an answer to that prompt, though I have no idea of its location. If you requested it, here it is; if not, enjoy anyhow. :P
It has been a very long day.
The sentence's sheer illogicality itself, and the fact that it even crossed his mind as such, are clear indications that the tension of the day's events have crossed a mental boundary, and he is in need of what the humans call 'unwinding,' or at the least meditation and/or a time apart from ship's business. A decided inconvenience, this half-human component of his physiology; and yet, to deny what exists in the form of his mind's demands is hardly logical.
It is for that reason that he accepts the captain's request for a chess match this evening. Their discourse has been slightly strained since the closure of their encounter with the Metrons; not exactly awkward, but somewhere beyond the cold silence that tends to fall when they have had a serious disagreement. Captain Kirk is a brilliant commander, of that there is no doubt; but he is stubborn, impulsive – both traits which can be simultaneously brilliant strengths and desperate weaknesses.
Spock may not be impulsive, but he is equally stubborn. They make a command team to be feared across the galaxy, but the casualty of such a symbiotic relationship is the occasional instance when they disagree over a command decision. Spock's clear deference has never been in question; but it is that very knowledge, the knowledge that in the end, he will follow James Tiberius Kirk off a cliff if the man asks him to – it is that very knowledge that sometimes sets the captain off in irritation at the very loyalty upon which Kirk so relies.
It is a most illogical state of human emotion, one which he has learned the hard way to deal with; namely, with extreme caution.
Jim's eyes had apologized for his reactions on the Bridge, quiet though his reprimand had been; Spock had just as silently acknowledged both the apology and the somewhat-deserved reprimand itself. And yet, there still exists that slight tension which is probably obvious to no one but them, which indicates that they have, however awkwardly, crossed yet another hurdle in this strange embarkation of interspecies cooperation.
Kirk had informed him when he accepted the position of First Officer that he wished Spock to be comfortable telling the captain when he disagreed with his command decisions, if the consequences of those decisions might be disastrous for the crew. Spock had, in this instance, done so; and in doing so, had created this void between them. He had been in the right, and they both knew and know it; however, that knowledge does not mend a fissured relationship, and so he accepts Jim's olive branch of a chess game in the spirit in which it is meant.
Now, he pauses in the doorway of his cabin, and regards the scene before him, feeling all remaining irritation with this most illogical of humans melt away in an inexplicable feeling of warmth somewhere in the vicinity of his chest.
Months ago he had finally caved under the pressure of Kirkian charm (and the fact that he was growing weary of his commanding officer standing outside his door hollering cheerfully at him whether or not he was coming to breakfast and for heaven's sake how long does it take a Vulcan to brush his teeth, anyway) and simply told the captain to enter his cabin at will. If he required privacy, he would engage the command override, and the door would not open at Kirk's approach. This has worked well for all concerned, especially the much-amused gamma shift crewmen on either sides of their respective cabins.
Apparently, Jim has taken advantage of this permission this evening, because he sees that the captain's much-loved wooden chess board is carefully in place on the table, pieces arranged on the Tri-D tiers so that he begins as white (Kirk insists Spock play white, because if human ingenuity wins against Vulcan logic Kirk wants to say he did so without advantage). Two cups of Vulcan spice tea stand at the side of the table, one half-empty and the other just beginning to stop steaming. The aromatic fragrance of the spices fills the room, soothing and welcoming as the intent is behind the therapeutic drink.
And apparently, the scents are relaxing enough to put a man to sleep, because Jim's limp head is pillowed upon his arms resting on the table. Soft, steady breathing indicates he has been asleep for some minutes, obviously exhausted from the events of the day and fully at ease in his surroundings.
Spock feels strangely gratified at this; no one else, he is aware, has ever even wished to remain in his cabin for longer than is strictly professionally necessary. But Jim Kirk, from the moment he tripped and fell flat on his face in front of his CSO the first time, exclaiming in surprise over the increased gravity and dry heat, has somehow maneuvered himself so neatly into Spock's private life that Spock really has no idea how he surrendered a battle he never knew he'd begun.
The sound of his placing a stack of data-padds on the desk in his work area rouses the drowsy human. Kirk lifts his head with a yawn, blinking owlishly in the warm light, and then suddenly realizes where he is and what he was doing, blushes slightly in what must be human embarrassment.
"Sorry," he mumbles, hastily drowning the words in a lukewarm mug of tea.
"Apologies are illogical, Captain. Are you certain you are in condition to test your wits against mine tonight?"
"I could be drugged on Bones's best meds and still beat the pants off you any day, Mister."
"That rather obscure scenario has obviously never been tested, and therefore its credence is highly in doubt, sir."
Kirk's grin nearly blinds him, so brightly does it flash his direction. "So you're not still mad at me, then."
"I am not, as you humans term the emotion, 'mad,' in either its colloquial or original linguistic sense, Captain."
"Well, you're a better man than I, Mr. Spock." All amusement is gone from the tone, like sunshine vanishing under a storm cloud. It is a most disquieting phenomenon. "As events today proved so obviously to everyone concerned."
Spock leans against the desk behind him, knowing his relaxed posture is a language all its own to this perceptive human. "Sir, I believe you humans have a saying: what is done, is done. The equivalent Vulcan proverb is Kaiidth; what is, is. To spend time wishing things were not so, is illogical."
The corners of Kirk's mouth twitch slightly, though the lines of tension around his eyes have slightly eased. "In other words, I need to just forget what an idiot I was today?"
Spock seats himself opposite the human in a fluid gesture, and nudges a pawn out into a very general opening gambit. "I believe the human expression is, 'you said it, not I.'"
The snort of laughter he receives is well worth the tension of the last few hours, and they spend a very enjoyable two more endeavoring to best each other in a game of wits and mental ingenuity. Kirk is somewhat restless as they play, however, and before long it distracts him from his fight to best the incorrigible human's utterly illogical playing style.
"Are you in pain, sir?" he asks at one point, when Kirk shifts uncomfortably in his chair. The faint color that rises in the human's face indicates the truth, and he frowns slightly. "Did you not see Dr. McCoy following our removal from the Metrons' star system?"
"I did, Spock, I promise. The Metrons returned me to the ship and cleaned me up, you saw that; they just didn't really patch up the injuries I got during my face-off with the Gorn." The human rubs his side with a rueful grimace. "Bones said I had a fractured ankle and pretty nasty bruising, almost all the way to the bone, down my hip and leg. Patched the ankle up right away with the bone-knitter, though, so I'm fine. Not even twenty minutes in Sickbay; that has to be a record."
Spock moves a knight to the second tier of the board, and raises an eyebrow at his opponent. "You did not see fit to have the doctor heal your more minor injuries?"
Jim grins at him, a rueful gesture and one full of equal parts amusement and embarrassment. "When I was eight, Spock," he says, and Spock does not react to the abrupt change in subject, "Sam was thirteen. He talked me into helping him build a homemade phaser in the barn, and we blew a hole straight through the hayloft and roof."
Spock's eyebrows climb even higher, because this sadly does not surprise him in the least, and when did he become so tolerant of a human's idiocy?
"A couple of support beams came loose and swung down, broke Sam's left arm and banged me up pretty bad as well." The captain grins even wider, and shakes his head ruefully, moving a bishop into position three squares away. "Mom had a dermal regenerator in her home first-aid kit, but she wouldn't heal the nasty scrapes I got to the side of my head. Said I needed to learn a lesson, and maybe yowling with pain every time I had to wash my face might make me think a little harder when I wanted to do something stupid like that again."
Ah. Spock sees the correlation now between the Past and the Present self-inflicted reminder, and wonders anew at how very different their childhoods had been, worlds apart. That two so different beings should come together out of all combinations in time and space…he does not believe in Fate, but the evidence to support such a belief is more compelling as time passes. At the least, he counts himself fortunate to have met such a human who so embodies the concept of IDIC, despite occasional lapses like the human had today regarding the Gorn species. That is the danger of being ruled, partly or completely, by emotion; and it is his contrast to that volatile part of Jim Kirk's personality which makes them such a force to be reckoned with by their enemies.
That also is why he has to work so hard to beat this most frustrating human in a game which should by all rights be his without undue effort. There is no logic behind Jim's chess strategy (if he indeed has one, which Spock doubts), and yet he finds himself unable to fully counter the tactics.
It is, in a word, fascinating.
In the end, Jim loses, but that is mostly because he begins yawning again halfway through the last hour and very obviously starts making mistakes due to weariness and lingering discomfort. Spock's victory is in name only, as he has not been forced to make an effort to bring the game to a close; he has done so with ruthless efficiency only because Kirk's exhaustion and concurrent lapse of attention are seeping through his stubbornly proud expression.
The human is still berating himself for his conduct of earlier, unbefitting a Starfleet officer and unworthy of one who is such a staunch supporter of Spock personally, alien or half-alien or otherwise. Jim is better than he behaved today, and Spock can see he is thoroughly ashamed of his actions, and evidently unable to move past them without some sort of absolution.
"I think I deserved that," the captain observes softly, as his king topples from the top tier of the board.
Spock's hands are under the piece before it strikes the desk, and in one gentle movement he replaces the black king in its original starting position.