Series: Moments in Time - Obsession
Characters: Kirk, Spock, various
Word Count: 1950+
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers for the episode in question.
Summary: Missing scene for the evening after the episode Obsession, usual episode wrap-up, etc. In which there is loose chess metaphoria and stream of consciousness.
A/N: So, hallo. It's been over six months, but I had a reason, lol. I had a house fire back in mid-May that destroyed everything, including all of my electronic devices, and needless to say it's taken me a while to get back on my feet and replace things.
I have been exceedingly busy with real life of late, but I have still very much appreciated those of you who for some reason are still reading my silly scribbles and taking the time to comment – so much love to all of you. I did have most of my work backed up online, so I didn't really lose anything writing-related (relax, Insontis peeps) and eventually I will get back to writing, I promise! In the meantime, have a missing scene that was waiting in the wings while I figure out where to jump back into the more major WIPs. Love!
It has been cathartic, in a way, and while he does not intend to allow it regularly for fear of the appearance of favoritism, he thinks it might have done the young ensign some good as well. Garrovick is a good officer, and with a little more training could become an exceptional one. Certainly, the ensign's survival alone on two such dangerous planetside missions speaks well to his abilities, and while his behavior may have been rash, as captain, Kirk has to give the young man points for at least attempting to perform his duty as a Security officer on Tychos IV. It is not the average of the boys in red who would so foolishly risk his posting in raising his hand to a superior officer, good intentions or otherwise. The man needs to learn more stealth, and a few more lessons in specialized combat would not be amiss; but audacity he certainly does have, and that in spades.
"Remind you of someone, does he Jim?" McCoy had drawled innocently, after having had enough of his complaining a few hours ago, all while booting him out of Sickbay with a mild headache reliever and positively evil laugh.
Remind him, the young man does; and interestingly enough, not just in the area of audacious rule-bending. Garrovick also seems to be a budding tactical genius, something Kirk notes for later discussion with the department heads. He is not a man to waste his people's potential, one reason this ship still flies at the peak efficiency he demands even after the things she's seen.
And it is not an average crewman who can beat him at chess, which is why he rarely plays against anyone but his First Officer.
"If I didn't know better, I'd think you let me win, sir," the young man says frankly, eyeing the board with a narrowed gaze. "I've seen you and the Commander play. Stole a few of your moves myself, truth be told, in the last tournament below decks."
"I told you, you would get no special treatment on this ship, Mr. Garrovick, and that would certainly mean off-duty as well," he replies, somewhat ruefully. He can handle a blow to his pride when needed; but just the same, he's quite humanly glad there are few people in this lesser-used Rec Room tonight to witness his inglorious defeat. "I wish I could say my mind was not on the game, but unfortunately it very much was."
His crewman chuckles briefly, fidgeting with a captured rook.
"Your skills are considerably under-used in Standard Security if you are able to strategize like this, Ensign. Make sure you are working with Giotto to develop yourself if you intend to stay with us for the entire five-year mission. There are ongoing projects in the Tactical and Ops departments which might be better fitted for your skill set, if you are interested."
"Aye, sir." The young man sets the rook back on the table. "I'll give it some thought, Captain. And I've no intention of going anywhere for the rest of the mission, unless I'm transferred."
"Well, Ensign, if I wouldn't do it for your…exploits, today, then I daresay you'll be safe for the remainder."
Garrovick has the grace to look chastened, but entirely unrepentant. "It's the job of Security to make such decisions in the moment, Captain. I'll accept whatever reprimand you put in my file for it, but I won't apologize."
"Good. If you did, then I would tell Giotto to transfer you."
A startled flicker sparks in the young man's eyes, fading after a moment. Before he can respond, the rec room doors open.
"Good evening, Commander."
Spock nods in greeting to the ensign, though his attention is turned elsewhere. "I apologize for the intrusion, Captain; however, you requested an immediate status update from Medical once Doctor McCoy had verified the incoming inventory for Theta VII has not been unduly affected by our delay. It has not. However, the detailed report does not require your immediate review."
"It's fine, Mr. Spock."
"And I don't think this requires any further immediate review," Garrovick says lightheartedly, glancing between them. His head tilts in question. "Unless you wanted a redemption match, sir?"
He laughs, jerking a thumb toward the door. "Get out of here, Ensign."
"Yes, sir." Garrovick scoots his chair back with a nod. "Good night, sir. Commander."
Spock inclines his head in acknowledgment, watching as the young man weaves his way through the room back towards the doors. He then turns back, and raises an eloquent eyebrow at the nearly-empty board.
Kirk sighs, the façade vanishing like a wraith in smoke. In the absence of any other crewman, he does not pretend that this day has been anything resembling one of his best. "Don't even start, mister."
"I said nothing."
"You said everything. Will you...?" It's a more hesitant question than he wants it to sound, almost strained. He nods at the empty seat, and is more relieved than he wants to admit when his XO takes it with no hesitation.
"You're surprised," he says, half-smiling as dark eyes flick over the board.
"Well, thank you for that." The laugh isn't forced, this time; Vulcan reality checks may be harsh at times but something he's come to rely on as an almost comforting, steadying force.
Spock's eyebrows are the closest he'll ever get to a sigh of exasperation. "Ensign Garrovick scored higher in the Tactical portion of his Starfleet Academy exams than did 94.8% of the other applicants for this voyage."
"Not too shabby."
"I think he has a lot of potential."
"I just…" He toys with the black king for a moment, thinking. "What kind of a captain am I, Spock, that it takes a day like today for me to notice?"
"I should know my people better than that."
"Jim, you are only one man."
"And not a very good one, if today was any indication."
"I believe there are many aboard this vessel who would disagree with that assessment."
He half-smiles, but can't really even feel anything more than mortification that of all people, a Vulcan is having to pull out all diplomatic stops to smooth over the ugly truth.
"I note you didn't say there are a majority who feel so, Mr. Spock."
A minute inhale, the only expression of exasperation his XO will ever show in a public space, and he is the recipient of a very pointed eyebrow. "I was unaware such specificity was required, sir. I had thought your…uncertainty, regarding your command, to have been resolved earlier today in your quarters."
"You can say paranoia, Spock. Or haven't you been sent the same medical report from our beloved Chief Medical Officer?" he asks dryly.
"Doctor McCoy's concerns were, and are, not ill-founded. Your assumption that his performance of his medical duties stems from anything but concern for your well-being, however, is."
"Not pulling any punches tonight, are we." The black king settles back onto the table with a small clink, shivers for a moment on its base.
His First reaches out to steady it, the raised eyebrow – and the symbolism – all too clear in the silence.
"Can I ask you something, Spock, off the record?"
"And an honest answer, mind."
"Without the sir, preferably."
"You have my word, Jim."
He absently pokes the black king, scooting it off-center just enough to bother both of them before moving it back to the precise center of the square. "Out of pure curiosity. What exactly would it take for you to relieve me of duty? Because if you wouldn't today…"
Spock is silent for a moment, but only that. "You are making this inquiry off the record?" he ventures at last, a pointed question in the words.
It's a distinction, but an important one. "Well, I suppose on the record as well."
"You may rest assured that I have no compunction whatsoever with removing you from command should you ever prove either incapable of assuming command, or capable of endangering this ship and her crew. My loyalty to the Enterprise and indeed to you, dictates that my actions be such."
"I would expect nothing less."
Just the same, it's reassuring to hear. People wonder, he knows, how they function together so well as a command team, human and Vulcan. But that cold, hard logic is so reassuring a constant in the uncertainty of the void, a compass point which does not shift so much as a degree as a human's moral compass might. His own star to steer by, as the old poem says, and one he has come to rely upon perhaps more than he should, at times.
And days like today? When he toes the line far too closely, perhaps is given too much leniency from his senior command staff? It is on days like this, that he needs the reassurance it is his perception that has changed, not Vulcan judgment.
"But off the record, Jim…" Dark eyes glance up from the Tri-D board, simple sincerity in them.
"There is very little which I believe would be sufficient cause for such drastic action."
One thing he's learned: when in communication with a Vulcan, what is unsaid is far more important than what is.
He takes neither lightly.
"Careful, Mr. Spock. One could make the argument that such sentiment is quite illogical," he replies, hiding his amusement behind the board as he begins a cautious opening gambit, the board reset in a few brief seconds between them.
"One could." Spock counters the move in his usual fashion, deliberately and immediately, yet without any seeming haste. A practiced grandmaster's motion, graceful and elegant.
He raises a skeptical eyebrow as he moves his queen to the lower tier.
"One could, if one wished to rapidly lose the second game of the evening in fewer than fifteen moves. Sir."
"That's more like it. Fifteen, hm?"
"I do not believe I suffered a speech impediment."
"Every time you spend more than two hours in Medical, you come back with this attitude, Mister." He drops a bishop smack in the middle of the white playing field and grins. "Perhaps if I win, I should make you do it more often. What do you have to say about that?"
A white knight plucks his bishop out of thin air. "Check. Mate in seven."