I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues

by Cheryl and David Petterson

(Standard Year 2252)

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Go to Part Two

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"Don't wish it away, don't look at it like it's forever..."

"The duty roster is indexed according to rotation points and..."

"We discussed the system before its implementation."

"Right. I've got the files coded by..."

"I am aware of your procedures."

"Yeah, of course you are. Well, I reorganized the records..."

"Because logical arrangement made too much sense. I have kept back-ups in the previous alphanumeric codes."

"You really don't need this briefing, do you?"

Commander Spock allowed a rare smile to cross his features. "Not really, my wife. You have been an excellent Chief of Sciences."

Commander Ruth Valley tried to scowl. "And you've been a nosy, busy-body captain."

"I have kept informed, yes."

"Well, I suppose I was trained right."

"Thank you, Miss Valley."

"I've only got seven days left. Call me Mrs. Zentem-whatever, okay?"

"Lady Xtmprosqzntwlfd."

"Mrs."

"As you wish."

"I wish to stay here with you."

"That is not possible."

"Then I wish you to come with me."

"That, too, is an impossibility."

"Aren't you the one who always says there's always possibilities?"

"Perhaps I was in error."

"Well, shit, why'd you have to pick now to be wrong?"

*****=*****=*****=*****=*****=*****=*****

"Here's the crew complement for the Drake." Captain Sulu looked up from his desk as a set of tapes were tossed down on it.

"Since when are you a yeoman, Jer?" he asked.

Commander Jeremy Paget shrugged. "Tara and I finished with our briefing, and I'm not on duty yet. I like to be useful."

Sulu grinned. "Only took you a week?"

"One bunch of dumb red-shirts is pretty much like any other. She told me which ones needed special attention, and I introduced them to the business end of my boot." Jeremy shrugged again, then leered. "It left us plenty of time for personal consultation."

"I'll bet it did."

"Where's Lady Jilla? I expected her to be attached at the hip every waking, sleeping, and any other moment."

"She's trying to say goodbye to her engines," Sulu returned. "Scotty keeps pointing out to her that soon she'll have 'wee bairns' of her own, but I don't think she trusts Redford to take over for her."

"And all this is her way of avoiding having to say goodbye to you."

Sulu frowned. "Don't remind me. It figures that just when I'd love to have plenty of free time to spend with her, I have to prepare for taking command of a destroyer, which if I wasn't doing, I'd have all the free time in the galaxy but wouldn't need it."

Jeremy put a sympathetic hand on Sulu's shoulder. "I wish I could help, babe."

Sulu sighed. "You do, Jer, just by saying so."

The Ter-African leaned down, close to Sulu's ear. "No, I wish I could help ," he reiterated sensually.

Sulu snorted. "Damned obnoxious."

With a rueful smile, Jeremy straightened. "Can't blame me for wishful thinking."

The smile was returned, full of affection. "I never have, Jer."

*****=*****=*****=*****=*****=*****=*****

"You're certainly back into the swing of things," Dr. Jade Han commented from the doorway to the Captain's office.

"Spock has made the transition very smooth," Jim Kirk said without looking up from his paperwork.

Jade stepped fully into the room. "You don't sound particularly happy."

"It isn't that, it's just..." Jim sighed, stopping his work. "It doesn't feel right. There are too many changes happening - because of me. Ruth and Spock are being separated. Sulu and Jilla are being separatedÖ.Ē

"That's hardly your fault. The Nests need Valjiir. This would have happened even without you."

"I suppose so. I simply don't like feeling responsible, even though I know Iím not." He looked up at Jade. "And, Doctor, I can't help feeling I'm being blamed, even though they know I'm not responsible."

"No one blames you, James. Of course it's a difficult transition for them. Spock's wanting to 'surprise' everyone gave them only two weeks to prepare for changing their whole lives."

Jim scowled. "Yes. What in god's name was he trying to do?"

Jade shook her head. "Be one of the gang, I imagine. Trying to do what he thought was a Human thing. He's been working very hard to make up for..." Jade stopped abruptly.

"For what?" Jim asked.

"It's not really important now, James."

"I'd like to know none the less."

"It would probably be best to talk to Spock about..."

"You were here his first year as Captain."

"Well, yes, but..."

"If it affects the way the crew is going to respond either to him as First Officer, or to me as Captain, I do need to know, Jade."

"Really, talk to Spock," Jade said as she backed out of the office. "I can see you're busy..."

"Jade..."

"...so I won't take up any more of your time..."

"Jade..."

"...and I just came in to see how you were doing..."

"Dr. Han, you sound just like Ruth Valley."

"I do not!"

"Then explain."

"Talk to Spock."

Jim stared at Jade. Jade stared back, having regained her composure. Finally, Jim backed down. "Alright, I will. But if I still have questions, Iím coming looking for you."

"Well, of course," Jade replied. "I am your doctor."

*****=*****=*****=*****=*****=*****=*****

"McCoy, will ye stop sayin' 'just like old times'?" Scotty asked, a little brusquely.

Leonard McCoy bounced on his heels, surveying the Bridge as Scott concentrated on his board. "I can't help it, Scotty. I feel like this is just the new beginning everyone around here needs."

"Then it's not 'just like old times' and I wish ye'd stop sayin' it was."

McCoy raised an eyebrow. "What's eating you?"

Scott turned to him. "Have ye not realized, McCoy, that you'll be losin' your Ruthie?"

McCoy blinked. "Oh. Well, maybe for a year or so..."

"And then what? She'll be made Science Chief on one of the new beauties for sure. What makes ye think you and I won't be sittin' on this very Bridge for the rest of our careers?"

By the blank look on McCoy's face, it was obvious he hadn't thought of that.

"And have ye thought of what Spock'll do without her? How damned Vulcan will he turn without his lass? Jim, for all that Iím glad to have him back, doesn't know just how Vulcan Vulcan can be. We do. Are ye anxious for that?"

"Well, no, but..."

"And I've got to say goodbye to little Jilla and watch her try to leave her husband. Do you know what that'll do to her, McCoy? Have ye no thought at all for any of them?"

"Alright, Scotty, you've made your point. I guess there will be a lot of changes."

Scott nodded. "Aye, that there will be. You and Jim and Spock standin' around on the Bridge tellin' each other what ye know - without Valjiir - won't erase the last five years. And no amount of 'just like old times' will make it so."

*****=*****=*****=*****=*****=*****=*****

The week went quickly. Ruth and Jilla were kept busy with the specs and blueprints sent from the shipyards. Sulu memorized detail after detail of the Drake's crew and her history. Jim reviewed the Enterprise with the same fervor, with Spock's frequent contributions. Jeremy spent as much time with Sulu as he could manage without taking up time that Sulu could spend with Jilla. Final reports had to be made, though all admitted that, with the exception of Jilla's, it was pretty redundant. The future First and Science Officer knew everything the former First and Science Officers could possibly report. With hours until the Enterprise docked at San Fran, all that remained was...

...tearing apart what's left of the life it took five years to build, Ruth muttered to herself. She entered the rec room for a cup of coffee, wanting to delay the inevitable as long as possible, hoping to find someone cheery to talk to. Unfortunately who she found was Jilla, sitting all alone, her own cup of coffee untouched before her.

"You all packed?" Ruth began, hoping there was a jaunty tone to her voice.

"Yes," came the elaborate response. Ruth tried again.

"It'll be kind of fun, sharing quarters again, huh?"

"Yes."

"At least we'll still have each other. Roy's goin' out to the Drake all on his own."

Ruth immediately realized this was the wrong thing to say, but all Jilla said was, "Yes."

Ruth bristled. "Can't you say anything other than 'yes?"

"No."

"Very funny, Majiir." Ruth scowled over her cup at her Indiian friend. She tried not to notice that Jilla's eyes were slate-rimmed, indicating she'd either been crying or was holding tears back. Ruth didn't like that. It made her own tears that much harder to keep at bay. "Come on, it won't be that bad..."

Jilla looked up at her, the skepticism plain.

"Okay, so it will be that bad. There's nothing we can do about it, so we might as well make the best of it."

"There is a 'best'?" Jilla questioned.

"Sure," Ruth replied as brightly as she could. "We could be headed for a Klingon base, or an Alconian one."

"Hardly likely."

"Okay, it could be that time of the decade."

Jilla shuddered. "Spock would know that," she whispered. Ruth thought it politic to refrain from mentioning she hadn't been referring to Spock.

"I've got a house near Berkeley, so we won't have to endure Base food."

"In other words, I will have to cook."

"I thought it might help keep you busy when you weren't sleeping with your engines,"

"Very thoughtful of you, Ruth."

"Listen, Iím trying to help. If you want to mope around and be miserable..."

"Yes, I would like that very much since I am miserable!" Jilla snapped.

"Well, so am I!" Ruth snapped back, within seconds, they were both weeping silently.

"How can I leave him?" Jilla whispered.

"A whole year - maybe more," Ruth returned, her voice as quiet.

"He is captain of a destroyer - I am working on heavy cruisers."

"He has to play sidekick for Bwana - for how long?"

"We will be apart forever."

"What if Jim isn't ready to command a Nest?"

"We cannot get a dependency posting. We are not legally wed. We cannot be legally wed."

"They'll give me an assignment on a Nest, just like Spock and I asked for - but if he can't leave Jim..."

"I will have to serve on a Nest, as Chief of Engineering. With only one year's experience as Captain, he could not be given a Nest to command. Would he be offered a demotion to serve as a First Officer? With how much that would distress him, how could he accept?"

"We'll be apart forever! Jilla!"

"Ruth!"

They threw their arms around one another and gave in to the prolonged bout of shared despair.

*****=*****=*****=*****=*****=*****=*****

Jim had forgotten just how much he hated paperwork. It seemed the supply was never-ending, so much so that he hadn't had time to talk to Spock about the obvious stonewall everyone seemed to be doing concerning the Vulcan's captaincy. He had asked Spock to come and talk with him when he had time. He hadn't. Which Jim understood. But it still frustrated him. Now, with the Enterprise having completed her docking at the shipyards, Jim resigned himself to having to remain ignorant for a while longer. Spock's voice, therefore, was completely unexpected.

"You wished to see me, Captain?"

Jim looked up from his desk. For an instant, the deja vu was so strong he could almost believe that it hadn't been two years since they had been in these relative positions. He found himself tempted to tell his First Officer about the very strange dream he'd had: '...and then I was sent to Jude for a year to regain my sanity. Stresses of command must be getting to me, 'ey, Spock?'

He shook it off, as he had for many similar situations in the past two weeks. He took a moment to re-center himself, knowing Spock would wait patiently, hands clasped behind his back, head tilted slightly to one side.

"Yes," Jim said. "I've been hearing quite a few references alluding to some difficulty during your first year at command. I'd like to know if there's anything you need to tell me."

Spock straightened. Jim wondered if the cause of the Vulcan's surprise was the directness of the inquiry, or Spock's own sense of deja vu. Then he wondered if he had ever been that direct before.

"The situation was, naturally, far from ideal," Spock replied after only an instant's hesitation. "There was the expected amount of difficulty with the transition."

"But no more than expected?"

"That is dependent upon the nature of the transition."

Jim frowned, recognizing the deliberate obtuseness, "Given the nature of this particular transition, Spock."

"I found the difficulty commensurate with its nature, Captain."

"Did the crew?"

"As you are aware, sir, one cannot speak of the crew as an entity in this case," Spock replied, and Jim realized the Vulcan was avoiding his gaze. "Each member reacted according to his or her own nature and abilities, and so, I am sure, found the difficulties either more or less disturbing than did I, in accordance with that individual's nature and abilities."

Jim tapped his fingers in the desk. Alright, Spock, we'll play it your way. "Were you aware of any particular difficulty involving any particular crewmember?" he asked with what he thought was admirable calm. Before Spock could issue another non-answer, the door chime sounded.

"Come," Jim and Spock said together.

The look that was exchanged was full of unspoken emotion; chagrin, concern, regret. Jim added a touch of resentment, and was ashamed when the tips of Spock's ears greened slightly.

ďIím sorry," Jim murmured.

"My mistake, Captain. A habit I will conquer."

Jim nodded, then looked to the door to see who had asked for the captain's attention.

Jeremy Paget stood in the doorway. "Captain," he said, looking directly at Jim, "your new Assistant Engineer has beamed aboard. He said he wanted to see you before reporting to Mr. Scott."

"Very well, Mr. Paget," Jim replied. Out of the corner of his eye he caught Spock's sudden stiffening. Paget, staring straight ahead, appeared not to notice. Then Jilla Majiir's replacement stepped into the office.

"Lieutenant Commander Noel DelMonde reportiní, Captain," he said.

"Welcome back, Mr. DelMonde," Jim returned.

"Aní to you, Captain. I glad to be serviní wití you again."

Jim grinned. "Even if we pulled you off Nest detail?"

"I sure th' experience would be gettiní - complicated, sir."

"Oh?"

DelMonde, like Paget, stared straight ahead. "Yes, sir. I assure you, I do my best not to let - " he paused, his voice catching, " - th' past - interfere wití my work."

"The past, Mr. DelMonde?" Jim asked.

DelMonde's jaw tightened. "Th' past, sir," he repeated, and his gaze flickered to Spock.

Jim, too, glanced at the Vulcan. Spock's face was set in his most unemotional mask. Jim took a breath to ask for an explanation, but was interrupted before he could begin.

"Can I go, Captain?" Paget said. "There's a lot to be done in Security with the transfers."

"Of course," Jim answered. "Dismissed, Mr. Paget."

"I be likiní to get my gear stowed," DelMonde broke in abruptly. "If I may, sir?"

Jim frowned. There was definitely something going on here. "Of course, Mr. DelMonde. Welcome aboard."

"Yes sir." DelMonde followed Paget out the door.

"I would also take my leave, Captain. With Miss Valley about to disembark..."

Jim nodded. "Understood, Spock. But we'll finish this conversation later."

"Yes, Captain."

As the door closed behind his First Officer, Jim sighed in frustration. He'd forgotten. Nobody ever tells captains anything.

*****=*****=*****=*****=*****=*****=*****

"Why you not tell me he in there!" DelMonde hissed in Jeremy's ear as they walked down the corridor.

Jeremy glanced back over his shoulder, seeing Spock leave Kirk's office and head for the nearer turbolift. Jeremy had deliberately walked toward the far end shaft, knowing N.C. would follow, as he had deliberately met DelMonde at the transporter. This was one surprise he was glad Spock had decided on, and was glad to help the Vulcan with. The last thing Ruth needed was to have to deal with Noel DelMonde. It made him that much more respectful of former Captain Spock. Considering that Del was the person Ruth had had an affair with back when Spock wasn't telling anybody anything, the last thing Spock must have needed was dealing with Noel DelMonde. Yet he did it to spare the woman he loved. That kind of protection Jeremy could relate to. "Hey, how was I to know?" he asked. "You were the one who insisted on seein' Kirk."

"To avoid seeiní him !"

Jeremy shrugged. "Get used to it. You're gonna be servin' with him for the next year or so."

"I not know that when I agree to this damn transfer," DelMonde mumbled.

Jeremy scowled skeptically.

"I never thought he let her go to San Fran alone!" Del elaborated vehemently.

"Not exactly alone, N.C.," Jeremy reminded.

It was Del's turn to scowl. "Yeah, she got th' Ice Queen wití her.Ē

Jeremy bristled. "Leave Lady Jilla out of it."

"'Lady', it is? What happen to I-love-him-an'-I-never-have-him-an'-he-happy-wití-someone-else?"

Jeremy grit his teeth. "Nothing. But she's his Lady nonetheless."

Del smiled, a very unpleasant showing of teeth that reminded Jeremy of Spike at her worst. "Too bad he goiní to th' Drake, non? Wití his 'Lady' gone, who know what might..."

With sudden ferocity, Jeremy grabbed Del's tunic, pushing the engineer against the bulkhead. "Don't you ever even think anything like that again!" he hissed.

"Hit too close to home, mon ami?" Del rasped.

"You wanna see what hittin' too close to home will do for ya?" Jeremy snarled.

"You lie to me ?"

"Then drop it! Nothin' I can do, nothin' you can do and you and I both know it, so just fuckin' drop it!"

Jeremy let go, continuing down the hall. Del shrugged his tunic back into place, following. "You tell me how, Doctor Paget," he muttered.

"She won't be here."

"He be."

"Ignore him. He'll ignore you."

"He real good at that."

"Drop it, N.C."

Jeremy became aware that Del had stopped walking. He turned, meeting the dark gaze. "You watch out foí me, Cobra." Del's voice was filled with pain and fear. Jeremy sighed, relenting.

"Don't I always?" He stepped back, placing an arm around Del's shoulders. "Come on. Let's get you settled and hidden away till you-know-who beams down." Before Del could open his mouth, Jer added, "And no, you don't really want to catch just one glimpse of her. Believe me."

Del swallowed hard, but said nothing. Understanding and wishing he didn't, Jer walked with him to the turbolift.

*****=*****=*****=*****=*****=*****=*****

Ruth was furiously unpacking as Spock entered their quarters, throwing her belongings around the room, only vaguely aimed at their usual positions.

"Iím not going!" she cried at him. "There's no use talking about it, Iím simply not going!"

"Ruth," Spock began.

"No, no, no! I won't go! You can't make me!"

"My wife..."

"I couldn't go even with Terry and I certainly can't go alone and..."

Spock crossed the room, ignoring the piles of clothes and tapes. She stood, staring at him, trembling, the cloud tapestry that had hung over their bed now hanging from her arms. He took her into an embrace, and she started sobbing, the woven cloth slipping from her hands. Abruptly she was clinging to him, burying her face against his shoulder. They stood that way for a long time.

Beloved, do you not know that I will always be with you - here? He mentally caressed her temple.

It's not enough!

But better than nothing.

I don't want 'better than nothing'! I want you - real, solid, to hold and to hold me!

The time will pass quickly, Ruth. Your work, mine...

The nights won't.

Remember Jith, Dei'larr'ei.

Ruth lifted her head. "What?"

"The mental union without the physical is possible for us," Spock replied aloud.

Ruth blinked. "Yes, but... you said you still needed..."

"And so I will." Spock's eyes softened in a smile. "But the nights will pass quickly."

Ruth's tear-streaked face fought a brief, unsuccessful battle with a grin. "I can be a real bitch when Iím horny."

"Your crew will then have an incentive to finish the installation of the computers ahead of schedule."

"Spock," Ruth began, then bit her lip to stop a fresh flood of tears, "how can I leave you?"

Spock again embraced her. "You have the strength, my wife."

"Says who?"

Spock's eyebrow rose. "You have always asserted so, Ruth."

"So Iím a better actress than I thought."

Spock's smile was gentle. "You will have Jilla for company."

Ruth snorted. "Some company. All she'll do is mope around over Roy which I'll pick up which'll only make me more miserable which she'll pick up which'll make her more miserable till we end up drowning each other in giant pools of tears like some demented Alice in Wonderland which she won't even get and I'll have to explain which she still won't get and I'll say 'never mind' and she'll say 'I never do' and it's not fair that we can do Valjiir routines even when we're both so damned miserable."

"You will cope," Spock assured. He gave her slender frame one last embrace, then stepped away from her.

Ruth stared wistfully up at him. "There really isn't any way to get out of this transfer, is there?"

"Not unless we wish to resign from Starfleet."

"Could we consider...?"

"And reside on Vulcan with my parents?"

"Never mind."

"I never do."

"Womprat," She sighed, then bent over to pick up the tapestry. Handing it to Spock, she said, "Help me re-pack."

Spock took the cloth, only to set it over the desk chair. "I came to enjoy a farewell, my wife," he said softly. "I assume a year of celibacy will be easier to bear if one begins it with a memorable, sustaining experience.Ē Again Ruth bit her lip as tears of joy welled in her eyes.

"I love you, Spock."

"As I do you, Dei'larr'ei."

*****=*****=*****=*****=*****=*****=*****

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