When the chime of the door disturbed his meditation, Spock found himself disoriented. He knew he was in his quarters, but his time sense was disjointed. He should be aware of the time. He always knew the exact passage of time. Except now, he had no idea how long he had been meditating.
It took a moment to sort out the extra limbs and rise to his feet. He would never admit to the near fall he took half way up. With eyes that felt oddly gummy and a mind that felt far too leaden for the length of time he had been meditating, Spock stumbled to his desk and hit the button that would open the doors.
His eyes were fixed on the chronometer he never used as the doors opened, letting the warm air of his quarters escape. He had one hour before his shift began on the Bridge. And he still had to meet with Dr. McCoy. How had he so lost track of time?
“Spock?” Nyota's soft voice came from the corridor. He saw a pile of blue and black fabric in her arms. “Are you all right?”
“I am adequate,” he said. Not a lie, per say. “Were your endeavors successful?”
“Quite.” A smile lit up her face as she finally entered the room. “Computer, temperature settings to Federation Standard. At least I think so.” She held out a black thermal shirt. “Why don't you try this one and make sure.”
Spock repressed a shiver as the ship quickly decreased the temperature in his quarters and accepted the shirt with a small sense of relief. Pulling the shirt over his head, the loose flap of fabric in the back slid between his wings with a minimum of distracting sensation. Reaching behind himself he found the seals at the waist were easy to manage. “Acceptable.”
Something in her expression changed, but Spock could not identify exactly what in his still muddled state. “I'm glad,” she said simply, offering a blue shirt and setting the other two shirts on his table. “Now that you're decent, would you join me for breakfast?”
“I am afraid that is not possible,” he said, quickly settling the blue shirt over the thermal. The seals under his wings worked just as smoothly, and did not bulk too badly against his feathers.
“Why? We have an hour, and we always have breakfast ...”
“I must visit Dr. McCoy before my shift.” Spock took a quick glance in the mirror to ensure his hair looked adequate. “I have already delayed far more than I should have.” He did not mention, though he thought of it, that he would have felt quite improper walking through the corridors without a shirt of any kind.
He moved quickly to the door but paused as it slid open, remembering his mother's lessons on human etiquette. “Your assistance is greatly appreciated,” he said, turning back to look at Nyota and nod formally. Then he left.
“Lieutenant Uhura really came through on the sewing,” Jim commented as he and Spock left the Bridge the next day. Except for the wings, from the front Spock's uniform looked unchanged.
“She did acceptable work,” Spock replied.
Jim turned to his first officer with a raised eyebrow. “Just acceptable?” he said archly. “I'd say that rather undervalues her.”
“How would you prefer I describe the situation?” Spock asked. His voice was oddly stressed on the second word, and Jim caught sight of a crewman passing by with his hand outstretched. The captain glared at the enlisted man until he looked appropriately sheepish.
“That she did good work, exceptional work, above and beyond the call of duty,” Jim said, waving his hands widely with each additional description. But he kept his hands carefully away from Spock. He didn't want to be the cause of Spock enduring any further stress. The rest of the crew being unable to keep their hands to themselves in the corridors was bad enough.
“If you say, then it must be so,” Spock replied dryly.
Jim chuckled. “Cute.”
Spock turned his head, his eyebrow raised to 'query' level. “I do not understand your amusement. It was an accurate statement in relation to human expression. You are far more experienced in such things than myself.” There was that odd stress again. Jim glared around the corridor for a moment before processing Spock's words
“You … you,” Jim stuttered. One of these days he was going to get Spock to admit to his dry wit. The half-Vulcan understood humanisms far more often than he admitted, Jim was certain. “Bones still determined to turn you into a living pin cushion?” he asked, changing the subject since he knew Spock wasn't going to be making any such admissions today.
“I am uncertain as to the accuracy of your colloquialisms,” Spock said, “but he does require I return for a full physical twice a day.”
Jim winced. Bones had been required to hunt Jim down with a hypo of sedative in order to rope him into his last two physicals. He wasn't quite sure why he hated them so much since he spent plenty of time in Sickbay for injuries, but hate them he did. Twice a year was bad enough. Jim would be going mad at twice a day. “Let me know if you need me to order him to back off,” he offered.
“Dr. McCoy outranks even you in medical matters, Captain,” Spock pointed out.
“For the sake of your mental health, I'll challenge even Bones,” Jim said, slapping Spock lightly on the shoulder before leaving him at the door to Sickbay. Jim felt bad leaving Spock to face Sickbay alone, but he also didn't want to be nearby when the doors opened. There was always a chance Bones would decide to drag Jim in for something.
Spock was more inclined to accept the captain's offer to talk to Dr. McCoy for him, illogical though it was to think the captain could do anything on the matter, by the time he escaped from Sickbay. While the process of completing each physical was becoming quicker as he and Dr. McCoy developed a rhythm for the tests, it was still unpleasant. Doubly so because there was nothing to report after each session. Spock was in perfect health, just as he had been before the transporter malfunction.
If Spock had let himself, he could have been quite irritated with the doctor's continued insistence on tests. He understood there was a logical reason to continue, but that did not mean he actually desired to visit Sickbay twice daily. Especially since the doctor was highly amused by the new chinks in Spock's emotional control and was more than happy to dig at them each time they met.
Another irritant was that the percentage of passing crewmen making contact with his wings was higher on the walk from Sickbay than it had been walking to Sickbay. The only variable that Spock could identify as different was the captain's presence. That the percentage had also been higher walking from his quarters to the Bridge before his shift than after it seemed to confirm the hypothesis that Captain Kirk's presence limited the actions of the crew in the corridors. Fascinating.
The feeling of arousal pooling, yet again, in his stomach at each flash of sensation through his wings was far less fascinating.
Spock would have been more than happy to escape the crew completely, though he had not, and would not, admit as much to the doctor. However, he still had duties to perform. Though he had not told the doctor that when he left Sickbay. There was much to be done if they were to be ready to leave orbit of Sardina III on schedule.
The isolation and decontamination protocols were well laid out and preparations did not require his observation. This evening he headed to Stellar Cartography, to check on the observations of Sardina, the local star. It had a unique spectrum that had kept the science team busy for weeks before their arrival. Several of Spock's personal hypotheses had been confirmed since he last checked in and he was preparing the sensors to check another when he was interrupted by a hand on his shoulder.
The hand, and the body it was attached to, were placed at an angle to avoid his wings, which he appreciated. However, few of the crew were willing to brave his personal space under normal circumstances, and this usually held true even now, as long as he was not in the corridors. That meant that this was most likely either Nyota or Captain Kirk.
“How may I assist you, Lieutenant?” he asked once he identified the dark skin of Nyota from the corner of his eye.
“You weren't in your quarters,” Nyota said. A tray with two vegetarian entrees moved into his peripheral vision. “I brought dinner since you skipped lunch.”
“I appreciate your assistance, Lieutenant,” which was not quite a lie, “but I am not hungry at this time.” This was also not a lie. Curious.
The fingers on his shoulder tightened to an uncomfortable degree, and Spock turned to look at Nyota. Her brow was furrowed and she looked displeased about something. This assessment was confirmed when she spoke next, this time speaking in Vulcan rather than Federation Standard.
“Our breakfasts together have become irregular, and it has been two weeks since we had dinner together,” she snapped, her temper blurring her usually crisp accent. “I accepted that you were busy preparing for this mission, but that does not explain why we have had such limited relations for as long as we have.”
“I do not understand your concern,” Spock admitted, replying in Vulcan. He knew that some of the science team knew Vulcan, but be believed none were on shift at this time.
“We haven't had sex in two months,” Nyota said, her eyes flashing. “You won't even slow down and have dinner with me now, even though you should be on light duty since the accident.”
“The transporter malfunction has not inhibited my ability to perform my duties in any way,” Spock corrected.
Nyota's hand moved from his shoulder and brushed lightly against his feathers. Spock could not refrain from flinching away from her touch and letting out a small hiss. It took a moment to smooth his features from the frown that developed as he tried to analyze her intentions.
“You are not yourself,” Nyota said.
“And yet you seem quite interested in me behaving so,” Spock snapped back before he could restrain himself. He could still recall the feelings he had received when he touched her last night. Her feelings of curiosity mixed with arousal were quite vivid in his memory. He was displeased to note that her touch, though over feathers rather than directly to skin, had informed him that, despite their current argument, she was still quite aroused at the idea of spending time with him like this.
Her eyes widened and her hand moved completely away from him, much to his relief. “So I'm curious,” she said. “A lot of people are. But I'm the one you're dating. Why shouldn't I be curious?”
“I am not here to slake your curiosity,” he replied. He buried his displeasure deep, but something else was forcing its way to the surface. “I apologize that our relationship has suffered in recent weeks. We have both been busy. I was under the impression that such lapses were expected when we both accepted posts aboard the Enterprise.” She looked away at that comment, her cheeks darkening with a rush of blood. “I had expected that you knew me well enough to understand that in this particular instance I would wish to deal with the situation on my own, so I did not express so explicitly. Consider this occasion my correction of that error.”
It felt as though a bubble were building in his chest, pushing aside the organs that usually lived there in a sharply painful manner. The last time Spock had felt this way, the bubble had burst and he had almost strangled Captain Kirk on the Bridge. This time, Spock stood and strode from the room. Better the rudeness of an unexpected departure than risking another such emotional show.
Jim bounced into the transporter room that had caused Spock so much trouble. He had tried Engineering first, but the crew there had told him Scotty was overseeing the work personally. “So, what has my miracle worker discovered?” Jim called playfully. He could be formal when he had to, but Scotty seemed to appreciate a lighter note between them when those of higher rank weren't around to disapprove. After all they endured the day they met, let alone the years since, Jim considered Scotty as much a friend as a crew mate.
Unfortunately, today it seemed Scotty was in no mood to play after all. “Nothing,” he snarled, looking as though he were ready to throw a punch at the wall panels.
Actually stopping to look, Jim noticed four engineers digging into the computers and wiring embedded in the room's walls. They were the four best transportation engineers Scotty had been able to beg, bribe, and steal from the other ships in the Fleet.
“The logs are clean,” Scotty said. “We're tearing the physical systems apart for a connection by connection check now, bu' tha' could take two days ta finish.”
“Two days?” Jim protested.
“It's no' a simple system, Captain,” Scotty countered, his finger beginning to beat a tattoo on the console beside him.
“What if it's not the wiring?” Jim asked, his eyes drawing to the rhythmically tapping finger.
“Then we check the programs from the top down,” Scotty replied.
“Unless we find somethin' obvious, five or six days, minimum.”
It took a minute, but Jim finally recognized the beats as matching that of the old air, “the Scottish Soldier.” Scotty had introduced the command crew to traditional Scottish piping over the last years when the journey had been slow. If Scotty was tapping out traditional war songs,the situation was worse than he'd imagined. “And if it wasn't the transporter alone?”
“Could be weeks.” Scotty spat out the words as though they felt as nasty in his mouth as they felt in Jim's ears.
Jim let out a deep sigh. “The Delgasians are going to love that. They hate allowing shuttles to land.” Of course, that wasn't Jim's real first concern. He was worried about Spock. But Spock wasn't his only responsibility. At least Bones said things were looking good. Dragging the mantle of captainship back over his shoulders, Jim said, “Do what you have to,” and slapped Scotty supportively on the shoulder. “Just keep me in the loop.”
Arriving at his quarters was an indescribable relief to Spock. The random reaches for his wings as he traveled through the corridors had added to his emotional turmoil rather than allowing him to sooth his mind as he needed.
As he had noticed with Nyota, he was receiving more and more telepathic insight with each contact made to his wings. Therefore, besides the increased arousal he was restraining constantly, Spock was also struggling to sort through and repress a strange collection of stray thoughts.
Apparently the crew found his wings either arousing, symbolically sacred, or sometimes both. Additionally, the medical crewmen were tracking an odd STD outbreak amongst the Engineering crew, the science ensigns were gossiping about a romantic triangle, and several members of the security staff were concerned about their promotion chances.
Spock lit his fire pot. He would meditate until he had settled all these extraneous thoughts and emotions and dealt with his own. He should report his increasing emotional state to Dr. McCoy as a side effect of the transporter malfunction. However, he did not wish to. The doctor had been annoying enough to date that Spock had no desire to feed the man additional ammunition. The problem would likely subside within the next few days as Spock learned to manage his new appendages.
Of course it would subside.
It had to.
“You're hormone levels are getting higher,” Dr. McCoy said the next morning. He was glaring at his tricorder as though the machinery were somehow at fault.
Rather than respond quickly, Spock took a deep breath and let it out slowly first. He had found this technique helped him retain emotional control as a child. He was distressed to be so far out of control to need to use it again, but his meditations last night had not helped him as much as he had hoped. “From what you have said, they are within Vulcan standard fluctuations,” Spock finally said.
“And you've had days like this,” Dr. McCoy admitted. “But the numbers have been climbing every time I check, rather than the usual random fluctuations.”
“You have never taken twice daily readings of my hormone levels,” Spock said. “How can you know they do not normally climb for a few days before dropping back off?”
Dr. McCoy harrumphed but set the tricorder down. “I'll ignore it for now, but I don't like it. You sure you haven't noticed anything unusual?”
Closing his eyes, Spock fought off a blush that threatened to stain his ears green. “Given the crew's behavior since the transporter malfunction, I am not surprised to be experiencing a higher level of arousal.”
“Don't like hearing they're that bad,” Dr. McCoy said. “They should have gotten over it by now.”
“It has been forty-nine point three hours since the malfunction,” Spock said. “Given the size of the crew and the number of hours I spend on duty or in my quarters, it is conceivable that there are still several members of the crew who have not taken the opportunity to touch.”
“You saying you think this is almost over?”
“Hope you're right.”
Spock did not express just how much he held the same hope.