“Her outfit does not meet Starfleet regulations, Captain.”
Jim unwillingly dragged his eyes away from Zoe Heriot and her shiny catsuit to glance sideways at Spock. He didn’t give a damn about Starfleet regulations at the moment, and he couldn’t believe that any red — or green, as the case may be — blooded male would actually bother to point them out when someone like Zoe was standing in front of him in a skin tight one piece.
Part of him honestly believed that his first officer was enjoying a private joke at the expense of the rest of the world, seeing how far he could push them before someone finally realised that he wasn’t being serious. (The other part knew that Spock was just a ridiculously stoic hobgoblin of a … hobgoblin. His friend had a sense of humour, if you could call it that, but it didn’t stretch to laughing at official protocol. Not yet.)
“I know, Spock.”
“Section 3-52 of the Starfleet uniform code states that all personnel must …”
“I know, Spock. But she’s new. And she’s a scientist. She’s just eccentric.”
Spock gave him a quizzical glance.
“The human concept of ‘eccentricity’ is often associated with high levels of intelligence. However, I do not believe this is an adequate reason for her to remain in an improper state of dress.”
With a slight shake of his head — and one final, brief search for the nonexistent sarcasm in Spock’s eyes — Jim turned his attention back to Zoe. She was currently discussing mathematics with Chekov. It was impossible to tell if she was having a conversation with him or simply talking at him, though, because the young ensign seemed to be finding it very difficult to respond. Spock was right. She couldn’t continue to wander around the bridge in that catsuit.
It was his job — his duty, even — to get her out of it.
“I didn’t realise that Starfleet captains made a habit of buying drinks for their new crewmembers.”
They didn’t, of course — not unless the new crewmembers looked like Zoe and the captain was Kirk — but he wasn’t about to tell her that. It had been hard enough to coax her into leaving her equations and coming to the recreation room in the first place.
He should have guessed that a brilliant young scientist — especially a brilliant young scientist with degrees in astrophysics and astrometrics and half a dozen other things that sounded equally complicated — would be a bit cold. She was as fond of logic as Spock. There was a certain iciness about her, but, well, he liked a challenge.
He liked a challenge and he loved her outfit.
“We do things differently on the Enterprise.”
“I know, Captain. Your record speaks for itself.”
If he hadn’t known better, he’d have assumed she was teasing him. As it was, she looked perfectly serious. It was nice to have a bit of notoriety — he was apparently the captain of the most accident prone ship in the Federation — but he had a feeling Zoe wasn’t all that impressed by it.
“So does yours. What exactly is parapsychology, anyway?”
“It’s a very interesting discipline,” she said, in what was probably her most enthusiastic voice, “It involves the investigation of psychic abilities using a purely scientific method.”
She nodded, smiling at him over the rim of her glass.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the pioneers in the field,” she continued, “Including Doctor Thomas Syme. He experimented with enhanced emotional detachment in order to emphasize a person’s natural ability with facts and figures.”
“That sounds more like brainwashing to me.”
It sounded pretty Vulcan, too, actually, but it just wasn’t natural for a human. He suddenly wasn’t surprised that her crewmates on the Wheel — the ones he’d spoken to during their brief sojourn there, anyway — had referred to her as a human computer. Her senior officers had pumped her full of facts and figures until all her feelings were pushed aside. Starfleet might have a few faults, but at least the academy allowed people to learn that other things were just as essential as numbers.
“There are more important things than logic,” he added, finishing the statement off with one of his trademark grins when it occurred to him that he was probably being a bit too serious. He didn’t have a set seduction plan, but that probably wasn’t the right path to take.
“Logic just enables a person to be wrong with authority,” she agreed with a smile that was far more open that her previous smiles. It took Kirk by surprise.
“That’s pretty good. I’ll have to try it on Spock.”
“I think an old friend of mine said it to me.”
James Tiberius Kirk had a feeling that he was a little bit drunk. Not the sort of drunk that would make it difficult for him to get out of bed tomorrow, but possibly the sort of drunk that would have him waking up Bones for an early morning pick-me-up.
Zoe Heriot, her head falling absently against his shoulder as they wound their way through the corridors of the ship, wasn’t quite as inebriated. It had been hard to get her to drink anything, actually. She’d quoted figures about the effects of alcohol on the body every time he’d tried to top up her glass.
“You know,” he said, as he leaned forward to press the button on the turbolift, “You’re really not supposed to wear something like that on board a Federation vessel.”
“Something like what?”
Smiling, he ran a finger down her arm. “Like this. It’s against regulations.”
“I’m sorry, captain.”
“Oh, believe me, you don’t need to be sorry …”
“I had to wear a uniform on the Wheel,” she continued, acting as if she hadn’t heard him, “But I’m afraid I’m still waiting for my Starfleet uniform to be provided.”
Should he have rushed that through?
“And this is all you had?”
“This was all I felt comfortable in. Don’t you think that the short skirts are a little …”
“Impractical,” Zoe concluded, raising her head off his shoulder to look him in the eyes. She was smiling again. She had a nice smile, when it stopped being logical and started being natural. She could feel, but it didn’t come easily to her. The Enterprise was going to be a learning experience in more ways than one.
“I didn’t pick them,” he said with a shrug. He’d probably have shortened them by a few extra centimetres if he had.
“You didn’t protest either, did you?”
Jim laughed delightedly. “When I meet with Starfleet command, I have more important things on my mind.”
“Things like avoiding court marshals?”
Her expression was impassive. Maybe she was having a joke at the universe as well? (The parallels between her and Spock were starting to scare him, although he had a feeling that his first officer wouldn’t look anywhere near as good in a tight silver material.)
“I think you’re going to fit in just fine here.”
“Thank you, captain,” she said, “You are aware that you’re leading me towards your quarters rather than mine, don’t you?”
“I am? Isn’t that … careless of me?”
”Is it? I thought it was a rather transparent seduction attempt, myself.”
He stopped in front of his door, pressing the panel and leaning against the frame.
“Has it worked?”
She stepped past him, reaching for the zip of her suit, and that was the only answer he needed.
“I see that Ensign Heriot has decided to select a more appropriate outfit for her time on the bridge.”
Resting his elbow on the arm of his chair, Jim leaned forward to watch Zoe cross the bridge with a stack of folders in her arms. His lips curved into an easy grin as she walked past him in the blue mini dress of the female science officers. It must have been waiting for her in her quarters when she finally managed to return there.
“I just taught her a bit about life on the Enterprise.”
There was that infuriating quizzical look again, and even Zoe — who seemed to have heard him — glanced sideways at Jim, smiling in a way that fell just short of being demure.
“Your dedication to the Starfleet uniform code is admirable, Captain,” Spock remarked, and Jim’s grin widened. If the uniform continued to involve miniscule blue skirts, he’d happily defend it until his dying breath.
Zoe caught his eye before disappearing into the turbolift. He was always happy to help a crewmate in need. She was beautiful and intelligent and it was crucial for her to learn to let go of logic.
“Hey, I’m always pleased to do my duty, Spock.”