“I don’t want to be the captain of the Enterprise anymore,” Kirk said. He looked around the table at the others inquiringly. “Like that?”
McCoy beamed. “Exactly like that.” The doctor picked up his glass and made a vague toasting motion with it, in acknowledgement of the captain’s quick comprehension.
Spock’s eyebrow inched up. “And the purpose of this rather esoteric activity is…?”
McCoy sighed. “It’s a game,” he informed Spock with exaggerated patience. “And a sort of a psychological exercise, too.” He scowled slightly at the Vulcan, who still looked unconvinced. “Look, we four think we know each other pretty well, right?”
Spock regarded Scotty, Kirk and McCoy gravely before he answered. “Yes,” he said cautiously.
“Well, this’ll show how well we know each other. You and Scotty and Jim, for instance, will all come up with a sentence that you think is exactly the opposite of what I would normally say. And then, I’ll try to top it with something even more opposite.”
Spock tilted his head and regarded the doctor solemnly. “It is not possible,” he told McCoy pedantically, “to be ‘more opposite.’ It is like saying that a thing is ‘very unique.’ It is either unique or it is not: there is no matter of degree in an absolute.”
McCoy rolled his eyes. “Yeah, whatever. All right, then, let me put it this way: I’ll try to come up with something even more outrageous than the three of you have said. It’ll show whether I know myself the best, or whether one of you does.” He shot a challenging look at Spock. “So what do you think?”
“I think” Spock replied slowly, “that if the object of the game is to generate an outrageous statement, you will most likely be declared the winner almost instantly.”
Scotty snickered and Kirk threw his head back and gave a hoot of laughter. “He got you again, Bones,” Jim told the doctor.
McCoy shot a disgusted look at the Vulcan, but decided not to waste time with a response. “O.K.,” he said to Scotty, in a businesslike tone. “Let’s start with you. We’ll all come up with something Scotty would never say. And then Scotty will try to top it. Let’s see…” He thought for a moment, shrewd blue eyes narrowed, and then suddenly brightened. “I’ve got one. Scotty would never in a million years say, ‘I’ve been kidding you all this time - I’m really German.’”
Spock’s eyebrow shot up, but he remained silent.
Kirk chuckled appreciatively. “Not bad, but I think I can top it.” He leaned back in his chair and studied the engineer with a playful smile. “Ye can have all the speed ye want, Captain,” Kirk burred, in a fair imitation of the Scotsman’s dialect. “Don’t worry about the bairns one wee bit.”
Scotty looked a bit abashed, but had to laugh.
There was an expectant silence as the three humans turned to look at Spock.
“Well?” McCoy finally demanded.
“This is most illogical.”
“C’mon, give it a try,” McCoy goaded. “What are you afraid of?”
Spock regarded the doctor with thinly disguised exasperation. “Very well,” he conceded reluctantly. He turned to Scotty. “The engines of the Exeter,” he intoned, “are vastly superior to those of the Enterprise.”
“What?” demanded Scotty, instantly incensed, and then fell back in his chair with a somewhat stunned expression. “Aye,” he growled, finally. “That was a good one,” he admitted to the Vulcan, lifting his nearly empty glass and taking a quick sip. “A verra good one.”
Kirk chuckled and laid his hand on Spock’s shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. “Good job,” he murmured to his first officer. “You’ve got him pegged, all right.” Spock looked away, both embarrassed and pleased by the captain’s praise.
“I don’t think I’ll have another drink tonight,” Scotty said slowly.
“Really?” McCoy asked, surprised. “Why not? It’s still early.”
Scotty flashed a triumphant grin. “It’s wha’ I’d never say.” He picked up his glass, displaying its emptiness to the doctor.
“Ohhhh,” Bones said, light dawning. He craned around and hailed the mechanical waiter. “Another round,” he told the multi-armed robot.
“None for me,” Kirk said quickly. “I’ve got alpha shift.”
“I too must decline,” Spock said.
“Yeah,” McCoy said dryly. “Wouldn’t want to get too much of that tea, would you? Next thing you know, you’d be swinging from the chandelier nude while belting out a couple of choruses of ‘Sweet Adeline.’” He turned back to the robot. “Just him and me, then,” he said, and laid a couple of credits upon the waiter’s payment tray.
Spock stiffened. “As you are well aware,” he informed the doctor coldly, “the tea of which I have partaken tonight is completely devoid of intoxicating ingredients. Therefore, the chances of my, as you say, swinging unclothed from the chandelier are…”
“…Slim to none,” McCoy interrupted him. “I know, I know. And let me just tell you that I think it’s a goddamn shame.”
Spock opened his mouth to reply, but Kirk broke in. “Gentlemen,” he chided. “Aren’t we forgetting our game?”
“Yeah,” McCoy said, willingly dropping the argument for once. He studied Kirk. “I’ve gotta admit, I think you’ve won your part of it already. I honestly can’t think of anything you’d be less likely to say than that you didn’t want to captain the Enterprise anymore.” He raised his eyebrows. “Scotty?”
The engineer shook his head. “Aye. The day I heard that from the captain, I’d know the whole universe had been turned inside oot.”
“Indeed,” Spock acknowledged hastily, privately relieved that he would not have to come up with an outrageous statement for Kirk.
“Well, why don’t we do mine, then?” McCoy said. “Scotty – you know me pretty well. You go first.”
“Aye,” the engineer said speculatively, and studied his friend for a moment. “Shoot first and ask questions later,” he finally offered, “and dinna worry about hae mony lives might be lost.”
Kirk nodded. “Well done,” he told the Scotsman. “I can’t imagine Bones ever saying that, under any circumstances.” He thought for a moment. “How about this one?” He grinned at the doctor mischievously. “I don’t really have an opinion either way.”
Scott snorted, and even Spock gave a tiny almost-smile. “Highly unlikely,” the Vulcan said dryly.
McCoy shook his head ruefully. “And I just can’t wait to hear what you have to offer,” he told Spock, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “I’ve got the feeling, though, I’m gonna be sorry I ever started this thing.” He picked up his fresh drink and took a slug of it in an effort to brace himself. “Well, go ahead – might’s well get it over with.”
Spock regarded him impassively. “Spock is always correct,” he said blandly.
All three humans hooted and pounded the table, even McCoy, who was hard pressed not to spew his mouthful of drink.
“Spock wins again,” Kirk told the others, when he could finally talk.
“Nae question aboot it,” Scotty agreed.
“Hmmph,” McCoy said gruffly.
Kirk smiled at him. “Admit it,” he coaxed. “Even you can’t come up with anything less likely than that.”
McCoy bit his lip and stared down at the table, torn between laughter and a scowl. Finally, he looked up, with a dangerous glint in his eye. “You know,” he said slowly, “I can’t. I honestly can’t think of anything more outrageous than saying that Spock is always right.”
Spock’s eyebrow disappeared beneath his bangs; Scotty and Kirk dissolved into laughter again. After the chaos subsided, Scotty asked, “And what aboot Mr. Spock? What would he never say?”
The three humans turned to regard the Vulcan speculatively. Spock found that he suddenly had to fight an illogical urge to squirm; he stared back at them stonily in an effort to hide his discomfiture.
“That’s easy enough,” McCoy said. “Dr. McCoy is always right.”
Kirk laughed softly. “Copycat,” he gently accused. “How about you, Scotty?”
Mr. Scott regarded the Vulcan with a twinkle in his eye. “This is too easy,” he boasted. “It’d have tae be somethin’ like, ‘I dinna give a rat’s ass aboot logic – let’s just do wha’ feels right.”
Kirk burst out in laughter, and instantly fell under the quietly reproachful gaze of Spock. “Sorry,” he murmured, shrugging apologetically. “There’s just something about the idea of you using the term ‘rat’s ass’ that I find a little hard to take.” He smiled at the Vulcan fondly, his eyes still twinkling in amusement.
“What do you think, Jim?” McCoy asked. “What would Spock never say?”
Kirk studied the doctor for a moment, and then looked at Spock, who sat as still as if carved out of marble. “There are lots of things Spock would never say,” he told the others quietly, while staring at the Vulcan intently. “He’d never say anything vindictive or dishonest, for instance.” He pursed his lips thoughtfully. “It’s funny,” he finally told Spock slowly. “I think I know you very well. But it’s hard to nail down just one sentence I’d never expect to hear from you.”
Kirk lowered his gaze to the table and fiddled idly with his empty glass. “I guess,” he said slowly, not looking at Spock again, “it would be something like, ‘I refuse to give you my all.’” He studied his glass as if looking for an answer at the bottom of it, and then finally nodded. “Yeah. That I think I’d never hear from you.” He looked up and smiled a little sheepishly at the others. “That’s my entry in the Spock category.”
There was a long silence, during which McCoy and Scotty, abashed at the suddenly serious tone the conversation had taken, found renewed interest in staring at their drinks. Kirk and Spock, meanwhile, subsided into conducting a thorough study of the top of the table.
McCoy finally broke the silence by clearing his throat. “What about you, Spock?” he asked. “Tell us what you’d never say.”
Spock hesitated, his brow slightly furrowed. He still appeared to be unduly fascinated by the pitted surface of the bar table; he traced his slender fingers over it for a few seconds before he replied. At last, he lifted his dark gaze to the doctor’s face. “I would never say,” he told McCoy, “that this activity serves any useful purpose, or that it should be prolonged any further.” He rose from his chair decisively. “If you will excuse me, I have several reports to complete tonight.”
“What?” McCoy sputtered. “You can’t leave now! You haven’t held up your end of the deal.”
Spock regarded him calmly. “But I have,” he said stubbornly.
The doctor glared, ready to erupt in indignant protest, but Kirk broke in. “You know,” he said easily, “he’s right. We shouldn’t prolong this any longer – not if Spock’s going to get his reports done, and I’m going to get any rest before I’m on duty.” He stood up and stretched elaborately, and then smiled down at McCoy and Scotty. “It’s been fun,” he told them. “I needed to unwind a little.” He clapped Spock on the back. “C’mon – let’s head on home.”
“You were a good sport tonight,” Kirk told his first officer as they made their way through the Enterprise en route to their quarters. He cast a sidelong glance at the Vulcan, who matched his captain stride for stride with a contemplative look upon his chiseled features. “And you really skewered McCoy. What you came up with for his outrageous statement was absolutely inspired.” He chuckled a little at the memory.
“Indeed,” Spock replied quietly.
They walked the rest of the way in silence until they came to the captain’s quarters. Kirk hesitated in front of the door, and then flashed a somewhat wistful smile at his first officer. “You know,” he said impulsively over his shoulder as the door swished open. “Someday I wish you’d tell me.”
Spock regarded him gravely, his hands clasped behind his back. “Tell you, sir?”
“What you’d really never say.” The starship captain opened his mouth as if intending to speak more, and then shrugged, dismissing the thought. “Well… Good night, Spock.”
The door swished shut behind the human before Spock had a chance to reply. He was left alone in the silent corridor. For a long time he stood there, contemplating the sealed entrance solemnly and thinking about the man who was on the other side. Finally, he reached out and touched the shut door lightly with his fingertips.
“I do not love you,” he whispered.
Challenge: Write a story with the first line, “I don’t want to be the Captain of the Enterprise anymore,” Kirk said.