The Ring

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Story Notes:
July 24, 2009
It’s a boring Tuesday during Alpha shift when Nyota notices the ring. Kirk is giving a debriefing from the recent visit to Nalapy IV, one of those with obvious details missing because he generally glances at the ceiling more when he’s omitting information from the official report. It’s a trait she’s noticed over the past three years, though she didn’t confirm her suspicions until she accompanied a landing party that resulted in a near orgy due to pollen, of all things. Kirk had reported all of the events except for specific things that were extremely personal to the crew members involved. Since he never seems to leave out vital data, she figures it’s not necessarily a bad attribute.

Today, however, he’s looking at the ceiling even more than usual, which is immediately suspicious. There’s also the matter of the ring that he’s wearing. Since Kirk often talks with his hands, she knows that she’d have noticed him wearing a ring before now. It’s obviously new. Only, it can’t be because she recognizes it as a Starfleet class ring. He certainly wouldn’t have bought one of those on Nalapy IV, considering the planet has only recently become a member of the Federation. He’s also smiling too much, which isn’t uncommon, but she’s going to be blind by the end of this debriefing from how often he’s flashing those pearly whites if he doesn’t stop.

As soon as the meeting is over, she corners Hikaru. “What happened on Nalapy IV?”

“What?” He blinks at her and looks confused. “The captain just finished the debriefing, Nyota. It was pretty boring, actually, even if they were happy to have us visit. After the last few times of nearly getting killed whenever we set foot on a new planet, it’s a welcome change.”

“The captain is happy,” she points out. “Too happy following what you even consider to be a boring assignment.”

“Thanks.” Hikaru rolls his eyes and straightens his uniform. “Maybe he’s in a good mood because we’re exploring again?”

She lowers her voice. “He’s also wearing a ring.”

“Really?” Hikaru’s eyes widen and he gets that gossipy expression on his face that usually precedes her finding out all the latest from the rumor mill. “What kind of ring?”

“A Starfleet class ring that he’s never worn before.” She glances up when Pavel approaches them. He looks curious, and she trusts him not to spread it around that she’s occasionally as much of a gossip as he and Hikaru. “Have you heard anything about him?”

“About who?” Pavel whispers, looking back and forth between her and Hikaru.

“The captain is wearing a ring,” Hikaru explains. “And he’s been very happy today.”

“Oh!” Pavel starts to smile. “He is wery happy. I noticde him smiling a lot.”

“I haven’t heard anything,” Hikaru tells her. “His reputation since he became captain has been really impeccable, you know? I assume he, uh, takes care of his needs off the ship, since no one talks about anything more than casual flirting.”

“The captain told Gaila that he is not interested,” Pavel informs them. “She tried shortly after our mission started.”

“Do you think it’s because he’s captain or do you think there might be another reason? One with a Starfleet class ring?” Nyota asks thoughtfully.

“A Starfleet ring?” Pavel frowns. “I have seen a ring like that.”

“I’ve seen a few people wearing them,” Hikaru says. “I even have one, but I keep it in my sock drawer. It might even be his, you know?”

“True.” Nyota makes a face. “Maybe I’m so bored that I’ve created a mystery where there isn’t one.”

“You could ask Spock. He was with the captain during the visit to Nalapy IV, even when the rest of us were separated from them and McCoy.” Hikaru shrugs. “It might not be anything, but it’s strange that he’d be wearing a ring suddenly, I think.”

“Doctor McCoy,” Pavel says, snapping his fingers. “That is where I have seen the ring.”

“McCoy does wear a class ring,” Nyota agrees. She worries her bottom lip and considers it. “You don’t think that Kirk and McCoy…”

Hikaru coughs and shifts his weight from one foot to another. “Well,” he says, dragging out the word into several syllables, “they are really close. And, uh, I thought I might have walked in on something once or twice, but I couldn’t be sure. There’s some tension there, at least.”

“It does not matter.” Pavel tilts his head slightly. “It is personal, is it not? If they are and wanted us to know, it would not be secret.”

“We’re their friends, Pavel. If they are, they should trust us enough to be honest, even if they’re not public,” Nyota says with a frown. Now that she’s thinking about it, she’s starting to put things together that she’s witnessed during the last three or four years. “How could Kirk ever keep such a big secret for so long? He’s the least subtle person I’ve ever met.”

The sound of a throat clearing stops their whispered conversation. Spock arches a brow as he steps towards them. “The meeting has concluded. It is illogical to remain in the conference room to have a discussion that is not related to work.”

“What happened down there?” Nyota asks him. It’s obvious that he’s heard enough to know what they’re talking about, and she knows that she’ll probably have to listen to a lecture about gossip and being too curious about things that don’t involve her, so it doesn’t hurt to ask.

“Down where, Lieutenant Uhura?” Spock regards her coolly, which causes some hesitation.

“On Nalapy IV,” she says, deciding to be professional despite the completely unprofessional nature of their curiosity. “We’ve noticed that Captain Kirk is behaving oddly, so we have concerns.”

“The captain seems perfectly normal,” Spock says simply.

“He’s smiling a lot,” Hikaru points out helpfully, giving Nyota a strained smile before he fidgets under Spock’s serious gaze.

“Should I arrange for him to be relieved of duty because he is in a good mood?” Spock arches his brow even more as he makes Nyota feel ridiculous in less than twenty words. It’s a great skill that he has, though it’s not normally aimed at her.

“Fine. I saw the ring and the whole good mood combined with that made our imaginations run wild,” she says, feeling like a scolded schoolgirl when Spock purses his lips. Maybe later she can play that part for him to make up for being a gossipy girl. That could certainly be fun, even if she’ll have to approach the idea of role-play in the most logical way possible.

“I am not at liberty to discuss the captain’s personal affairs,” Spock says. “I would suggest speaking with him directly.”

“It’s probably just his ring. Maybe he found it and decided to wear it,” Hikaru suggests.

Pavel nods. “That is a wery good explanation.”

Spock leans down towards Nyota. “You look flushed, Lieutenant,” he murmurs in a very knowing tone that makes her want to smack that aloof expression off his face. “Do you feel well?”

“I feel fine,” she mutters, glaring slightly when she notices his lips twitch in amusement.

“Oh, hey. Is there a party I didn’t know about?” Kirk asks, sounding curious and surprised as he steps into the room. His hair is disheveled, his lips are swollen, and she can see bare skin where his shirt has been pushed up at some point. He clears his throat and straightens his shirt. “I figured everyone would be out of here by now. Gone to lunch or back to work.”

“Damn it, Jim. I told you this was a stupid idea,” McCoy grumbles as he enters the room and glares at Kirk. Nyota can’t help but stare when she notices how pink and wet his lips are. There’s also a bite mark on his neck that the collar of his uniform shirt isn’t covering at all.

“Captain, Doctor. It would seem that some of the crew have become suspicious after the earlier debriefing,” Spock speaks up, which makes Pavel and Hikaru suddenly look at the floor like guilty kids.

Nyota raises her chin and stares at the men. “You’re wearing a ring and you were smiling too much after a routine boring mission. We were just curious.”

“In which curiosity is equated with gossiping, I assume?” Kirk asks, looking rather smug when Nyota shifts uncomfortably. “That’s not very professional behavior, Lieutenant.”

“I apologize, Captain,” she says tightly, staring at McCoy’s hands when he reaches one out to touch Kirk’s shoulder. It’s a gesture she’s seen them make hundreds of times since the academy, but she’s never noticed the way his fingers linger or how Kirk seems to sway into him. She’s certainly failed at being observant this time, it seems. She does notice, though, that there’s also no ring on either of McCoy’s hands.

“Spock, take these three to get some lunch. They look ridiculous behaving like guilty kids who have caught their parents making out,” McCoy grumbles. He smiles slightly as he leans into Kirk. “You can tell them about the wedding, since they’ve probably already figured it out anyway. Damn geniuses.”

“Hey, I’m a genius,” Kirk says, flashing those blinding white teeth as he looks at McCoy in such a disgustingly besotted way that Nyota doubts she can manage to eat anything. She really hopes that this isn’t how they’re going to behave around them all the time now that they know their secret.

“Spock, anytime now,” McCoy growls, which, alright, that definitely isn’t nauseating.

“Of course, Doctor. Do not let us intrude on the honeymoon,” Spock says matter-of-factly, but she can hear the underlying affection and amusement in his tone as he ushers them out of the room.

“I love weddings,” Pavel says with a happy sigh when the door closes behind them.

“They look really happy,” Hikaru says, grinning at them as he and Pavel walk ahead towards the turbolift, gossiping about weddings and happy captains and CMOs with lovebites.

Nyota glances at Spock and catches him looking at her. She leans up and whispers, “You can scold me later for being too curious and gossiping.” She starts to follow the boys and smiles mischievously. “Until then, you’re supposed to get us lunch and tell us stories. Were you the best man or the maid of honor?”