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First Contact


Claire Gabriel

Author's Preface - First Contact


This story appeared originally in 1977, in Connie Faddis's extraordinary fanzine Interphase 4. I felt privileged that Connie accepted the story, and I was proud of it.

I still am. But in re-reading it before it was reprinted here, I realized that there are some things that need explanation.

I wrote "First Contact" in 1975, when I had only seen "Where No Man Has Gone Before" once, almost two years before. Frankly, I had forgotten that Spock was not the First Officer at that time, and also that McCoy was not Chief Medical Officer. More important, I had completely forgotten the shouting, smiling Spock of those early episodes.

And so I wrote the story as you see it here. Mark Piper does not appear, and Gary Mitchell is not yet a member of the Enterprise crew at the time "First Contact" takes place. McCoy is the ship's doctor, Spock is its First Officer, and I characterized him as he became later on, after Leonard Nimoy's artistry had led him to Spock as we all learned to know him.

When I realized the mistakes I had made, I was tempted to rewrite "First Contact" so that it would conform to 'the canon.' But I decided against it. If this isn't how it 'happened,' it's how I believe it should have happened. If I were writing the story for the first time today, having seen the first season shows twice within the last four months, I might write it differently. Or I might not write it at all -- because it was the Kirk-Spock relationship as I depict it here that generated "First Contact" in the first place.

One final thought. The penultimate scene in this story will strongly remind most fans of a very similar scene from 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I have no explanation for this.


Claire Gabriel

Omaha, Nebraska

May, 1987


The space station hung in blackness, buzzing with activity although the universe seemed to have gone silent around it. Looking out of the huge window in the observation lounge - literally gazing into space - Commander James Kirk was aware only of the silence. Behind him the lounge was darkened, for it was the middle of the day, Station Time, and most of the personnel were busy at their jobs. Outside he could see only stars, unusually clear and shining, like bright candles in the sky. Black space and shining stars. The sight he longed for was denied him, for the Enterprise was in standard orbit around the station, thousands of kilometers away.

He knew that he was being foolish. The ink was scarcely dry on his new assignment - his first as the commander of a Federation starship - and his promotion had not even come through yet. Officially he was still Commander Kirk, First Officer and helmsman of the U.S.S. Yorktown, late of the U.S.S. Farragut. But that was his official status. Back on the Yorktown, also in orbit around the station, his gear was packed and the door of his quarters standing open according to the Starfleet custom when a senior officer was leaving the ship. He was literally between lives, in limbo between command and almost-command. And the feeling of being in limbo was compounded by the irrational desire to actually see the Enterprise - his ship - as she lay in orbit, her lights winking among the stars. She was just another ship, he told himself sternly - just another starship like the Yorktown and the Farragut and all the others, and he had seen one or the other of them from a shuttlecraft many times. If he could bring himself to tell anyone - Gary, or maybe Cris - how he felt, maybe it would go away. But this way, just thinking about it, he was beginning to feel a bit obsessed. Or perhaps even ... possessed?

He shook his head and sighed. It was nonsense to stand here, mooning out into space, when at least two of his friends were eager to spend time with him during their coincident stays on the space station. Gary had insisted that they work out together this afternoon - their only time to see one another since Gary was the duty officer in Rec. Division that week and Kirk had plans for dinner with Cris Pike. ("The orderly transfer of command," Cris had explained lightly, "is best accompanied by bending the elbows. So let me buy you a drink, and I might even feed you.") In fact he was already five minutes late for his meeting with Mitchell.

He permitted himself one more long look in the direction in which the Enterprise might or might not be at the moment, sighed again, and went to work out with his friend.

An hour later, the two of them sat side by side on a bench in the station's gym, both breathing hard and sweating profusely. He and Gary were pretty evenly matched still, and when you tangled with Gary Mitchell, even in fun, you could feel it in all your muscles afterward. If anything, it seemed to Kirk that Gary was more competitive than usual today.

"Well," he said now, glancing around the room to be sure that there was still nobody else there. "I think I'll slip out to the showers for a minute." Kirk nodded, and as they both rose and began to walk toward the shower room, he again toyed with the idea of confiding his need to see his ship, whole and straight on, to someone else, thereby distancing that need and getting it in perspective.

"Y'know, I've got this crazy --," he began. But Mitchell had begun to speak at the same time and seemed not to have heard him.

"I have to admit I envy you, James."

Giving up his own train of thought with difficulty, Kirk glanced at his companion almost apologetically. "You'll get a command someday. It's just a matter of time."

"Yeah. Well, we can't all be boy wonders, can we?" Mitchell smacked him lightly on the shoulder, and there was affection in the gesture as well as in his voice. But there was something else there too - something thin and taut that Kirk could not quite identify. "Thing is, it wouldn't mean the same thing to me as it does to you."


"'Duty and Responsibility.' It's written all over you already."

"Oh, come on --"

"No, I mean it." Gary grinned at him. "I bet you were awake half the night last night thinking about all that Duty and Responsibility waiting for you out there in standard orbit."

Kirk began to feel uncomfortable. "How did you know?"

"I'm psychic." Gary winked and jerked his head toward the showers. As they moved on, he went on lightly, "You were always just a wee-bit hard-nosed, you know." Now openly teasing: "There were times when I thought Finnegan had a point someplace besides the top of his head."

"Let's not ... talk about Finnegan." They had come to a shower stall, and Kirk made his move suddenly, taking his friend by surprise. The shower went on automatically as soon as he shoved Gary under it, and in one second flat, Mitchell was soaking wet, clothes and all. "I'll Finnegan you," Kirk declared, now grinning as Mitchell stared at him in astonishment. But in a moment he had recovered himself. And in another moment, Kirk was soaking wet, and both of them were laughing.

When they had disposed of their wet sweat suits, showered and dressed, Kirk asked, "What would command mean to you, Gary?"

They had entered the gym again, walking toward the center of the great room. Mitchell's pace slowed, and Kirk, moving on a bit, turned to face him: decent, clean-cut, competitive Gary Mitchell, with his brown eyes suddenly serious.

"Power," he said. And he was not smiling.

It wasn't until they parted an hour later, having spent the rest of their time discussing the ethics of command, that Kirk realized that he had never even come close to telling Gary how much he wanted to see his ship.


"Have you ever worked with a Vulcan, Jim?"

They had had two drinks apiece, and Kirk was beginning to relax. But it seemed to him that Cris had something on his mind; he was his usual pleasant, quiet self, eager to answer all Kirk's questions about the ship and her crew - questions that Kirk had somehow kept asking rather than pausing to tell Cris his crazy idea - Cris, who should understand better than anyone else.

"No," he answered. "Uh - yes, as a matter of fact, I have, actually. My lab partner the last year at the Academy was a Vulcan. Soben." He thought of Soben, of whom he had not thought at all since he had last seen him, standing impassively with his impassive Vulcan parents after the graduation ceremony, all three of them looking as though the whole thing were no more 'interesting' than a soccer match. And yet Soben had been one of the most dedicated cadets that Kirk had known - dedicated and brilliant. They had worked well together, but had achieved no personal rapport at all. "Why?"

But his subconscious had already yielded up the probable answer. Only that morning he had been scanning the crew roster of the Enterprise, and now the relevant information began to roll across his consciousness without his even summoning it: Spock. Rank: Lieutenant Commander. Serial number ...

"What did you think of him?" Cris was asking.

"Think ...? Oh, Soben. Well -." Kirk smiled a little and made a shrugging motion with his hands. "Brilliant mind. I'd trust him to solve any problem - possibly faster than I could solve it myself. But ... " He shrugged again.

"Go on." Cris seemed to be sitting back, waiting for Kirk to commit himself to something.

"I like to feel that I know the men I work with, Cris. I never got to know Soben, even though I spent two hours with him every day for a year. I couldn't tell you anything about him. I don't even know if he was married. And I would have felt funny asking. They don't encourage personal contact of any kind, do they?"

"'They'?" Chris asked softly.

"All right." Kirk sighed. "You've got something to say. Say it. Is it about Spock?"

"Uh-huh." But Cris sat silent for a moment. "He's different, Jim. But I wish I could tell you what I meant by that. He's been my science officer for eleven years, but I can't claim that I know him." Another thoughtful silence. "He's changed a lot."

"In what way?"

"Every year he's gotten more dignified, more - 'logical'." Kirk could not repress a faint grimace, but now Pike did not seem to notice. "He's an enigma to me, and somehow I wish he weren't. Every once in awhile you get flashes of - something I can't define, like a dream that you can't quite remember after you wake up. I never really got to know him in all this time, and I wish I had, that's all."

"Well, as long as he's a good First. You've given him quite a dossier."

"He's the best First Officer in the Fleet," Pike said quietly.

Kirk let out his breath in a slow whistle. "That's quite a statement, Cris."

"I know that." Their gaze held, and then Kirk asked,

"What is it you want me to do - draw him out?"

"I don't know. That's something you'll have to figure out for yourself. I don't know if anyone can draw him out, but - well, somehow it seemed that I never found time to try. And I regret that very much." Then he smiled wistfully. "But she's your ship now, skipper."

They talked for a little longer about other matters, and then parted, Pike wishing his successor a hearty good luck. As Cris Pike walked away from him down the narrow corridor of the space station, it came to James Kirk that, for the second time that day, he had failed to mention to a friend the thing that was uppermost in his mind. And he wondered why.

Restless and at loose ends as to what to do with himself until it was time to turn in for the night, he wandered the space station until he came at last to the shuttleport - quite similar in design to those on starships of the Enterprise's size, but much larger. Yet, as he had expected, the huge cavern was empty but for one starship's shuttle that was just arriving as Kirk looked out over the floor. The Enterprise and the Yorktown were the only large ships in orbit, and the station was engaged in maintenance operations on a rather impressive scale: several of the shuttles were being overhauled elsewhere, and the one that was not was constantly in demand. One would-be Captain with his heart set on a short pleasure cruise was just out of luck, as he had already discovered. But still, as soon as the inside of the room was re-pressurized, he entered purposefully and approached the attendant.

"Commander?" The man looked at him with thinly veiled resignation; Kirk had been there three times in two days.

"I ... don't suppose you'll have a shuttlecraft available tomorrow, Ensign?"

"No, sir. I'm sorry, sir."

"Very well. Carry on."

"Yes, sir."

The attendant moved away, and Kirk stood staring at the floor, pondering what he might do with the rest of his evening. He had tried without success to contact Leonard McCoy, the Chief Medical Officer on his new ship, whom he had met several times on one starbase or another; McCoy was pleasant to drink with, and he felt the need of pleasant companionship. But by the time he had contacted the Enterprise, shortly before his dinner with Pike, McCoy had already beamed down to the space station ...

"Captain Kirk?"

The voice behind him did not startle him, even though it had interrupted his thought without warning. It was not loud enough to startle him - not even loud enough to raise an echo in the huge, empty room. And yet, he froze for just a moment before turning. For the first time in his life, someone had addressed him as Captain Kirk, and the experience was decidedly unsettling, for all its pleasurable side effects.

He turned then, and his first subliminal reaction to the blue-shirted figure who stood before him, hands clasped behind his back, was Mister, you are underweight.


"Spock, sir. First Officer, U.S.S. Enterprise." Cool. Impassive. Vulcan. He did not salute, for Starfleet officers did not salute one another except in ceremonial situations. But somehow Kirk had the impression that he had been saluted anyway.

"I'm ... happy to meet you, Mr. Spock." But he couldn't help staring. The Vulcan stared back, expressionless but intent; Kirk had the impression that he was being turned inside-out and examined under a microscope, and the sensation was not pleasant. But the Vulcan had called him --. "How do you know who I am?"

"You were pointed out to me, sir. Last evening in the mess hall, Second Concentric." Kirk had the impression that the Vulcan was about to tell him the time of the incident down to the last tenth of a second, but was managing to control that impulse. "You were asking the attendant about the use of a shuttlecraft." It was not a question, and Kirk realized that Spock had been the pilot of the shuttle that had been landing when he arrived, had disembarked while he was talking to the attendant, and could not, with his Vulcan hearing, have avoided overhearing the conversation.

"Ah - yes, I was." His gaze wandered over the Vulcan's shoulder. Galileo: NCC-1701/7. "Uh - Mr. Spock -." At that moment he wanted the Galileo so badly he could almost taste it. But how could he explain to a Vulcan why he wanted to see his ship from space? And then it hit him: with a Vulcan, he would not have to explain. If there was one thing Soben had completely lacked, it was curiosity about his lab partner's human emotions. "Do you plan to return the Galileo to the Enterprise this evening?"

"Yes, sir." Briefly and concisely, Spock explained which part of the shuttle's engines needed to be repaired, what piece of equipment lacking on the Enterprise but present on the space station was needed to effect the repair, and how long it would take to effect it. What he did not explain was why he had not delegated this miniscule errand to a subordinate; had he not been Vulcan, Kirk would have suspected that he just wanted a change of scene. Kirk himself had on occasion been stuck aboard the Yorktown while the Captain was ashore on an isolated space station. It was the dullest watch imaginable.

"I don't suppose that I could go back with you, and then beam down to the station?"

As soon as he said the words, Kirk knew what the answer would be. He had not yet been ordered aboard the Enterprise, and so he was still unauthorized personnel. And he was talking to a Vulcan.

"I regret, sir, that it would be against regulations."

"Yes. Yes, of course it would." Kirk turned away slightly, trying not to show how disappointed he was. At least he hadn't gone out on a limb and told this First Officer of his why he wanted to go floating around in space.

"May I ask why you wish to come aboard at this time, Captain?"

Kirk was overcome with a sense of unreality. Vulcans were well known to be sticklers for regulations, and this one was no exception. Yet he was calling Kirk 'Captain' - something that moved him more than he cared to admit - even though he was not yet a Captain and had not yet taken over the ship. And no Vulcan Kirk had ever met would give a damn about why he wished to come aboard at this time.

"I want to see my ship," he answered, still not looking at Spock. "The whole ship. From the outside. From space. It's ... only human, Mr. Spock." There was neither sarcasm nor irritation in Kirk's tone, but only a vague wistfulness. How ironic that he could so easily bare his soul to a Vulcan, who could not possibly understand, when he had not been able to say the same words to Cris, who might have.

The Vulcan did not move, or make any sound.

Finally, Kirk said, "Dismissed," turned to his First Officer and smiled.

The Vulcan did not smile. Kirk had the fleeting impression that there was something more he wanted to say. But that impression passed quickly.

"Very good, sir." Spock began to move away.

"Oh - ah - Mr. Spock, you wouldn't happen to know where I can find Dr. McCoy, would you?"

The Vulcan turned back to him, one eyebrow climbing. "McCoy?"

"Yes," Kirk answered patiently, "Leonard McCoy, Chief Medical Officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise. You do know him, don't you?"

"Indeed." For a moment, Spock looked more like a surprised pixie than the impassive First Officer. "I believe that the doctor and Mr. Scott - the Chief --."

"Yes, I know."

"Dr. McCoy and Mr. Scott had planned to spend the evening in the officers' lounge here on the space station." Spock closed his mouth firmly, and it was clear that he did not approve of what the doctor and Mr. Scott were planning to spend the evening doing.

"Excellent." It might not be such a bad evening after all. He did not know Scott, but McCoy had always been good company. "Thank you, Mr. Spock. Carry on."


When McCoy looked up to see Jim Kirk approaching the small table where he and the Chief Engineer were making themselves more than comfortable, he was obviously startled. "Jim! Uh - I mean Cap - well-."

"Jim's just fine. Good to see you, Len." Kirk put his hands on McCoy's shoulders and gently forced him to sit down again.

The Scot, once he got over the fact that the man who sat across from him would soon be his commanding officer, proved to be most convivial. Kirk had not been there an hour when the Chief Engineer, by now well lubricated, was explaining how it was that the new Captain had been pointed out to the First Officer.

"He was that curious, sir," Scott explained earnestly. "Asked the doctor here twice if you were in the hall."

"Curious?" Kirk asked incredulously. "A Vulcan?"

"Aye," Scott assured him, while McCoy muttered,

"A Vulcan like this one, you have never seen. He is unique."

"How so?"

"Uniquely ... ssssssuperiorly indifferent to the finer sensibilities of the human race." McCoy peered intently at Kirk as though he could not quite see him.

"You mean that he doesn't appreciate you," Kirk interpolated, pulling a solemn face. Scott snickered quietly into his glass.

"He doesn't appreciate me," McCoy agreed dryly and poured himself another drink.

Still later, Kirk began to suspect that it was time for him to turn in. The next day, at 1200 hours, he was due for his promotional physical, and he needed a reasonable amount of sleep. But neither McCoy nor Scott showed any signs of flagging, even though their conversation had long since begun to ramble. And he had to admit that he did not really want to leave them just yet. The drinks he had had with Pike, followed by those he had had here in the lounge, had relaxed him to the point where, for a few short hours, his two companions were not two of the four hundred thirty crewmembers whose lives he would soon be responsible for, but simply two very pleasant friends; he sensed that this might be a rare occasion in that regard, one that he would remember wistfully many times in the years to come. And he did not want that rare occasion to end just yet.

But finally the lights in the lounge began to dim and brighten rhythmically, amid groans from every table. McCoy, who, like Scott, had had three drinks for every one that Kirk had nursed along, offered gloomily, "I used to know a guy who did that job." He made a grand sweep with his arm, indicating the fluctuating lights. "He did that. An' he was a friend o' mine too." He rested a heavy hand on Kirk's shoulder and continued slowly and thoughtfully, "He usta call me 'Bones'." Then he cracked up, and Scott along with him.

Realizing that he was about to join them in their merriment without really knowing what he was laughing at, Kirk stood up, mildly surprised that he was still steady on his feet, but not too surprised to discover that his head ached. "Time to go," he suggested persuasively. "Come on. Up. On the double." Grinning now: "That's an order. Mr. Scott - " Scott rose, saluted and made a low bow that almost ended with his face on the table. "- Good night," Kirk finished, and turned to the doctor who had not yet risen and seemed disinclined to do so. "Good night -." Kirk paused, still grinning, moved by a mischievous impulse that he did not try very hard to quell. "Good night, Bones."

"Hey - !" McCoy made another sweeping gesture and then seemed to forget what he was trying to say.

Resigned, Kirk grasped him by the arm and steered him purposefully out of the lounge, wishing they could all get some really fresh air. Scott drifted along behind them, smiling happily. But by the time they reached the transporter station used by officers returning to their ships from the lounge, both the Chief Engineer and the Chief Medical Officer seemed able to navigate on their own.

McCoy regarded the attendant and his console with a frown. "Infernal machine," he muttered. "There's some advantages to being drunk." But he mounted the platform docilely enough, and then turned to face Kirk, grinning crookedly. "That Vulcan should see me now." The grin spread.

"Good night, Bones," Kirk repeated gently, this time with more affection than intent to tease. "Sleep well."

He watched them disappear and then headed for his bed, trying to remember exactly how many drinks he'd had, failing miserably, and hoping his headache would be gone by morning.


At 0800, he was awakened by the insistent buzzing of the vidphone next to his bed.

There were, he was sure, at least a dozen very small men with pickaxes chopping away at his skull - the inside of his skull. Very carefully, so as not to disturb any of the little men lest they decide to attack en masse, he reached for the 'phone, intending to activate only the audio. But his coordination was not good, and the face of Spock, First Officer, U.S.S. Enterprise, appeared on the tiny screen.

They stared at each other for a long moment. Then Spock asked expressionlessly, "Are you well, sir?"

"As well as can be expected," Kirk answered tiredly. "What is it, Spock?"

"I have obtained clearance for you to visit the Enterprise this morning, if you still wish to do so, sir." The Vulcan's face remained expressionless, almost as though he were announcing that breakfast was served. "Since you expressed a desire to travel by shuttlecraft, I have also made arrangements to have the Columbus pick you up in the space station's shuttleport at 0900 hours."

Kirk stared. The little men chipped away at the inside of his skull, and somehow he could not think of anything coherent to say except, "When - did you say?"

"0900 hours, sir." A slight hesitation. "If that is not convenient - ."

"It's convenient, Mr. Spock. Thank -."

"Very good, sir." And the screen went blank.

Kirk fell back on the pillow and lay staring at the ceiling for several minutes before he pulled himself together and made for the shower.

In the next hour, he showered, shaved, dressed, collected a shot from one of the station's medics and three cups of coffee from one of the mess halls. He was in the shuttleport's observation lobby at 0858, but the Columbus was already entering the vacuum chamber. Somehow he was not in the least surprised when its pilot was First Officer Spock.


They sat in the two forward seats, Spock watching the instruments while Kirk watched Spock.

"You intended to offer me the use of the shuttle today when you approached me."

"Affirmative, Captain."

"Why didn't you?"

Spock turned his head slightly. Impassive, expressionless innocence. "You dismissed me, sir."

"So I did." Spock turned back to his instruments, but Kirk continued to watch his face. "But you went ahead and got clearance anyway. Why?"

There was a long silence, and it seemed to Kirk that the Vulcan's face changed - although he could not have described in what way it changed.

"It is ... it's difficult to say, sir."

The English idiom, complete with unVulcan contraction, was obviously a belated attempt to disguise the fact that "It is difficult to say" was the literal truth. After a moment's thought, Kirk decided not to press further. One could not, after all, expect a Vulcan to say I know how you feel ...

"Thank you, Mr. Spock."

The Vulcan inclined his head but did not answer, his eyes still on his instruments although Kirk was sure he could have piloted the Columbus blindfolded.

At the moment the Enterprise came into view, Spock decelerated until the shuttle seemed to hang in space, barely moving, giving Kirk a very stable view of his ship.

He had been a little afraid that he might choke up and disgrace himself. But now that the moment had come - the moment, it seemed, that he had been waiting for all his life - he was not in the least choked up. He was, in fact, more relaxed than he had ever been. He never knew how long he sat there, examining her every curve and angle as though he were a lover viewing the body of his beloved for the first time. He only knew that he would soon be where he belonged in the universe - a privilege given to few men.

He became aware that Spock was watching his Captain's face with something like the same intensity with which Kirk had watched his only a few moments before. It crossed his mind that no Vulcan would care this much, and he turned to meet Spock's gaze. At that moment he could have sworn that the Vulcan smiled, even though his expression did not change.

"No speech, Captain?" he asked softly.

For a moment longer they studied one another, and a trace of Kirk's characteristic grin passed across his face.

"No speech, Mr. Spock."

Apparently satisfied, the Vulcan turned his attention to his instruments, and the Columbus continued on its way toward home.


Aboard the Enterprise, Spock excused himself and turned Kirk over to a young lieutenant whose name Kirk could never later remember. For an hour the youngster tagged him relentlessly as he went over the ship, wishing that he could be alone. But finally, when his guide became engaged in conversation with two technicians in Engineering, Kirk slipped away from him. Using the ladders as well as the turbolift, he went on with his tour unguided, telling himself that this was just like any other starship of the same class, and that there was nothing new he could see. Yet somehow, everything he saw was new.

Finally, climbing down one last ladder, he arrived in the corridor outside the Captain's quarters. It was deserted, and Pike's door had been left open even as Kirk's had been aboard the Yorktown - a silent symbol of the fact that all things change. He walked on down the corridor almost on tiptoe, for the silence seemed to lend a new solemnity to the ceremony of the open door. He was opposite Pike's quarters before he realized that he was not alone there.

The departing Captain's gear had been packed and stowed neatly; all that remained was that it be transported to the space station, and from there, to Pike's new command. But a few pieces of sporting equipment stood unwrapped in one corner, and the jacket of the Captain's dress uniform still hung on the back of the desk chair, awaiting the yeoman who would see to its being sealed in Plastishield for the trip.

Between the door and the desk chair stood the First Officer, his back to the corridor, his hands at his sides. At first it did not completely register with Kirk that Spock was actually in the room; there was no sound, and the Vulcan stood so still that he seemed to be scarcely breathing. But then, as Kirk paused, uncertain whether he should acknowledge his presence, Spock extended his right hand toward the jacket on the back of the chair and lightly touched the shoulder. It was almost the touch of farewell on the shoulder of a friend.

Horrified at himself for his unintentional violation of his First Officer's privacy, Kirk made a quick movement before he could think the better of it. But he was not quite quick enough. Now returned from whatever far place he had been in when Kirk first approached, the Vulcan heard him shift position and turned to face him. Again Spock's expression did not appear to change. But again there was a change in the eyes, and this time it was not a smile.

"I'm sorry," Kirk said softly, and even though it was scarcely more than a whisper, he knew that all he felt at the moment was in his voice, and in his eyes.

I know how you feel ....

At the end of the corridor, the turbolift doors swished open and the young lieutenant who had been Kirk's guide stepped out. "Oh, there you are, sir!" But almost immediately the boy's relief changed to puzzlement and concern. "Commander - is there somebody in the Captain's quarters?"

"No." Kirk answered without hesitation, his eyes still meeting Spock's. "There's nobody here, Lieutenant." And he turned and walked briskly down the corridor, meeting the startled young lieutenant more than half way. "Sorry I slipped away from you, but I wanted to be on my own a bit." He gave the young man his most dazzling smile, and by the time the lift doors closed, the lieutenant had forgotten all about having a momentary but very strong impression that Commander Kirk had seen unauthorized personnel in the quarters of the departing Captain Pike.

After the lift doors closed, the First Officer moved slowly into the corridor and stood looking at them for a long time. Deep in his eyes there was again the shadow of something that a human observer might have called a smile.


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