"And, upon the medical recommendation of Dr. McCoy and with the sanction of Starfleet Command, the Enterprise has been granted forty-eight hours' shore leave at Starbase 47-A during the time allotted for restocking and personnel transfer," Spock continued, reading methodically through the briefing for the sake of the log computer. "Due to the expected drop in crew efficiency the last four weeks, the time for rest and relaxation will be evenly divided among the crew in sixteen shifts, beginning with those most needed for the restocking procedures."
A chorus of affirmations acknowledged his report, and he continued.
" The U.S.S. Nova is approaching Starbase 47-A with a medical emergency and will require our departure precisely as scheduled to assume our position in orbital dock. Please inform your departments that any tardiness in returning to the ship before undocking procedures commence will result in that crewman being left behind and thereby transferred to another posting, as we will not be returning this way for at least a year. Lieutenant?"
"Already compiling the leave charts, sir, in collaboration with Dr. McCoy's staff," Uhura reported, busily working on a spreadsheet and roster. "Those deemed in direst need of a break will of course go first, right after you and Dr. McCoy and our little Captain Sunshine."
Everyone stared as their impeccably Vulcan acting captain did something so utterly human as to actually drop his stylus.
"I beg your pardon, Lieutenant." In a tone which obviously meant to everyone in the room that he did absolutely nothing of the kind.
"Sir, it's standard procedure -"
"Lieutenant, I assure you I have no plans for this time period save to engage in a futile attempt to accomplish the backlog of paperwork which has begun to accrue most alarmingly during the captain's temporary incapacitation," Spock said severely. "What human activities Dr. McCoy chooses to do with his young charge during this brief shore leave are none of my concern."
Sulu leaned over. "Why is it the kid's McCoy's when he's being a little hellion, and Spock's when he's behaving himself?" he asked in an undertone.
Chekov was only partially successful in muffling his snort of laughter, judging by the glare he was given by his Vulcan superior.
"Aye, sir." Uhura didn't look happy about the clear order, but as a secondary babysitter for their hyperactive little captain she understood possibly better than the others that Spock most likely desperately needed a little child-free time to retain his Vulcan sanity.
"Put me down for a bit o' shipside peace and quiet too, lassie," Scott spoke up from across the table, raising both hands defensively when the Comms chief scowled pointedly at him. "I swear, nothing but a bit o' light reading in private! I've seen 47-A before, and let me tell you the place is cram-jammed with so many species this time of the shipping cycles, it's a veritable zoo. No thank ye."
Uhura sighed elaborately, making a show of crossing yet another name off her list, but winked at the flustered Scotsman over the top of the data-padd.
Spock was pointedly ignoring any and all human interaction, in favor of scrawling his signature across a few reports which had just popped up from Ship's Stores and Requisition, seeing that they needed to be forwarded to the cargo holds on the starbase immediately. "Are there any other points of business regarding this brief shore leave, gentlemen?
A murmur of negation rippled around the table.
"In that case -" Spock was interrupted by a sudden scuffle outside in the corridor, the excited patter of small running feet which they all recognized too readily by now.
Chekov would have sworn the Vulcan's eyes flicked in calculation at the door lock panel before deciding reluctantly against the action, visibly bracing himself against the onslaught.
The door slid open, sending Jim skidding over his own feet and tumbling into the room as the automatically-powered durasteel evidently was still too slow for an energetic five-year-old.
Spock reached down and gently set the child on his feet again, handing him the small padd he'd dropped in his tumble. He received a beaming smile for his efforts. "Jim, we have discussed running in the corridors, have we not?" he admonished sternly.
The entire command chain hastily hid their attention in their datapadds as Jim immediately straightened up into a somewhat sloppy sense of attention, hands clasped behind him in a mimicry of Spock's usual stance when reporting.
"We have," the little one intoned solemnly.
Uhura's muffled coo of delight received a withering Vulcan death-glare that had absolutely no effect on her whatsoever.
Jim fidgeted, bouncing slightly onto one foot, and then the other, then back again, biting at his lower lip all the while. "But Spoooock!" he whined at last, tugging impatiently at the Vulcan's trouser leg when Spock read a report instead of paying attention to him.
"Jim, I am in the middle of a very important briefing -" a swift look of cooperate-with-me-or-I-shall-make-your-lives-logically-miserable around the table quelled the rising denials, "and besides, were you not supposed to be in the care of Dr. McCoy at this time?"
"We're playin' hide-n-seek!" Jim jumped up and down in an attempt to see over the top of the table. Then the child's voice lowered to a very loud conspiratorial whisper, as he stood on tiptoe, one hand cupped around his mouth. "He thinks I'm not big enough to run the tur…turrberliff by myself. But I am!"
The whisper had morphed back into a near-yell with the last sentence, though unfortunately the child had not suited his distance to his volume and in result nearly deafened his acting captain. Spock winced, gaining him a brief look of sympathy from the amused command crew.
"Jim, you must not cause the doctor concern regarding your whereabouts," he admonished finally, noting in his periphery that a grinning Scott was already composing an internal instant message to tell the physician their little escapee had been found.
"But I hadta see you b'fore we go down to the Starbase!" the child exclaimed. At Spock's inquiring eyebrow, he found Jim's datapadd slapped unceremoniously down on his lap. "Lookit!"
"Very well. Look at what, precisely?" he asked, with what Chekov thought was remarkable patience.
"Thisa net site for the 'Base!"
"Spock, loooook!" the child protested, pointing a small finger at the screen.
The Vulcan's look of refined horror was enough to make the rest of them curiously pull up the Starbase's galactic net site in an effort to discover what Jim could have found under the child-safe search protocols that would instill such a look of dread on a Vulcan's face.
"Oh, dear," Uhura murmured, hiding a smile.
"Someone's gonna die for showing the kid how to use a search engine, I bet you two hours' shore leave," Sulu whispered.
"I do not bet on so sure thing," was Chekov's sage rejoinder.
"Jim," Spock began, only to be interrupted by a veritable torrent of excited chatter.
"Is a 'musement park, Spock! With roller coasters an' ice cream an' rides an' a big wheel where you can see forever an' popcorn an' corn dogs onna stick an' -" Spock was beginning to turn slightly green, "an' loop-da-loops an' a rock climbin' wall an' cotton candy an' -"
"And Vulcan meltdown in three…two…"
"One," Chekov joined his helm-mate with a grin, as Spock's eyebrows finally vanished into his hairline.
"You an' Bones gonna take me, right, Spock?" Jim pleaded, huge eyes fastened on his dismayed mentor's face. "He said I gotta ask you first. Please Spock please?"
Spock blinked slowly, refusing to engage in the appealing human action known as sighing. "Jim, I have no issue with Dr. McCoy taking you to such a place of amusement," he said diplomatically.
"But Bones frows up inna transporter sometimes - he ain't gonna ride anything cool with me!" the child declared with a hilarious amount of disdain. "You hafta come, Spock!"
"I do not have to do anything, Jim," the Vulcan replied coolly, shifting slightly in his chair. "And I have much work to do aboard ship. I am certain that Dr. McCoy will be happy to accompany you wherever you wish in this…amusement park."
Four pairs of eyes looked up at him incredulously.
Jim's lower lip wobbled dangerously. "Pleeeeease, Spock," he pleaded, turning a woeful little face upward, large eyes blinking sadly. "Is not the same without you!"
Spock briefly pinched the bridge of his nose, an entirely human action spurred into being by the judicious application of an extremely manipulative little expression of innocent dejection.
"Very well, Jim," he finally sighed, mentally bidding farewell to all hopes of a relaxing first twelve hours of leave. "But only if you promise to obey the dietary and health restrictions set upon you by Dr. McCoy," he added with haste, foreseeing a traumatic day filled with far too many unhealthful foods and rapid-motion park rides.
The child's beaming smile lit up the whole room as he hugged the Vulcan's legs, the only part he could reach from his position beside the briefing table. Then he belted it for the door, padd tucked back under his arm and shouting fit to wake the dead over his shoulder as he ran.
The door slid open at Jim's approach, whereupon he crashed headfirst into their CMO's legs in the corridor outside.
"Kid, I swear to God, you're gettin' a microchip," McCoy growled half-heartedly, collaring the child by his science blues before he could scamper away. "And tell me, Acting Captain, you didn't just promise this little devil what I think you did?"
Spock looked vaguely mortified. "His arguments were…most persuasive, Doctor," he answered evasively.
Montgomery Scott inhaled the remainder of his coffee, dissolving into a rough hacking cough that did nothing to hide Chekov's fit of giggles.
"I'll just bet they were," McCoy answered dryly. "You got a word in Vulcan that means sucker, Mr. Spock?"