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Fic: Observations, Ch 190
Star Trek
anon_j_anon

We ordered our meals and turned our attention back to the conversation.

“So Pavel, how’d you feel tonight?  Feeling good?” Jim asked.

“No pressure, lad.”

“I think I am playing well.  They say the person to beat is Yl’Tomromoj,” he shrugged.  “I am not so sure.  Yl’Tomromoj is wery good, but Pindarus is quiet player, wery calculated.”

“I’d keep my eye on the Orion rookie, Guilu.  He’s surprised me with some shrewd bluffs,” Christine said.

“What, no Klingons in the running?” Leonard asked.

“They’re good players, but I’d be surprised if they won,” she answered.

“Okay okay okay, guys,” Sulu tapped his fork against his glass.  “Let’s set up some ground rules here—no talking about work.  Poker is technically work, and we’ll be debriefing later anyway.”

“Ewery time we are relaxing you are wanting to put limits on what we cannot talk about.  First it is theoretical physics, now poker.  You are a tyrant.”

“Some of us don’t like to live and breathe our missions,” Leonard replied.

“Said the man who lives and breathes medicine.”

“Har har Chris, very clever.  I like things other than medicine.”

“Really doctor?  Enlighten us.”

Leonard sat back in his seat.

“Every now and again I like to read a little French literature.”

“Woah, Bones.  When’d you start doing that?”

“I stopped right after the divorce—that was something me and my ex-wife shared.  But I’ve been starting up again, looking over bits and pieces of my favorite books.  What about you, Jim?  Any odd hobbies that we don’t know about?”

Jim opened his mouth to say something—

“And don’t say Spock.”

“Damn.”

Everyone laughed.  I raised an eyebrow.

“I haven’t really had time for stuff like hobbies.  I used to tinker around with machines a lot.”

“Did you ever consider the engineering track, Jim?” Scotty asked.

“I thought about it, yeah.  I figured if I failed command school, I could go for engineering.”

“Can you imagine?” Christine smiled.  “James Kirk as an engineer.  I think you’d be just as crazy as Scotty.”

Ya soglasno.  Keptan’s job would not be changing the effect of Kirk-force.”

“Now that’s a slander against my character if I ever heard one!  He’s the one who makes the unreasonable demands—I follow the madman’s orders.”

“Um, beaming Archer’s beagle?” Sulu said.

“That was a legitimate experiment on my theory—”

“Those 535 sandwiches you made for the Federation Council?”

“There’s nothing wrong with corned beef sandwiches for such a fine body of half-arsed politicians—”

“Or the best one yet, remember when he modified the engines and we almost broke warp ten?” Nyota said, taking Scotty’s hand.

Jim shook his head.

That experience was certainly memorable.

“Sorry Scotty, the jury has made its werdict.  You are crazy.”

“Only as crazy as the people around you,” Leonard nodded.  “I’d say that’s a good place to be.”

“What did you do before coming on the Enterprise?” Christine asked.

“I thought we were talking about hobbies,” Sulu said.

“Well, it seems like no one really has much time for hobbies anymore.  It makes more sense to talk about what we did before the Enterprise became the center of our lives.”

“She is right, Hikaru.”

“Maybe you don’t have hobbies, Pash, but I do.”

“You all know that I spent a few cold years on Delta Vega—miserable place, that—but the facilities were quite spacious and I could work on anything I wanted.”

“Don’t tell me—you invented communicators,” Jim smiled.

“Don’t I wish I did.  Whoever’s holding the patents for those is filthy rich right now.  No, it’s a little embarrassing, how I spent a lot of my time on that icecap.”

“What?  What did you do?” Sulu asked.

Scotty looked Nyota, who smiled, amused.

“I played an awful lot of pong.”

“Pong?” Christine laughed.  “What was your high score?”

“I am not understanding.  What is pong?”

“Only one of the first videogames to be invented by humans,” Sulu answered.  “You played pong the entire time?”

“Not the entire time, but a good chunk of it was, uh, shall we say frittered away.”

“You should’ve at least played the 3d version.”

“It’s not the same, Jim.  The 2d’s old and outdated, but it’s got its own charm.”

“Explain this pong thing to me,” Leonard said.  “I heard you, it’s a videogame, but what do you do?”

“It’s very simple, actually,” Christine answered.  “It’s like ping-pong, with two players who bat a virtual ball back and forth.  The goal is to return the ball and have the opponent drop it.”

“The 3d version’s way better,” Jim said.

“Wouldn’t it be exactly like tennis?  The 3d version?” Nyota asked.  “Why not just play tennis?”

“No, there’s all kinds of cool effects with the 3d one.  It’s completely different.  I thought you played videogames.”

“Only a few times with friends.”

“Say there, Pavel, where’d you learn to play poker like that?” Scotty asked.

Pavel shrugged.

“I haf been playing a long time, many different kinds of poker.  It was something we did in school, that is all.”

“What kind of stakes did you play for?” Christine leaned forward.

“When we were children, we are wagering things like dares.  Some credits maybe, or new gadgets.  If someone had new datapad, they might bet that.”

“Wait, how’d you determine the value of stuff like that?” Jim asked.

“Actually, we used a similar system when we were kids.  You’d play with fake credits set at a certain value, and you paid off your bets with objects everyone thought was worth that amount,” Christine answered, then looked at Pavel.  “We didn’t do dares though.”

“They were wery silly.”

“Come on, now you’ve got to tell us,” Sulu said.

“You will like this one, Hikaru.  One was a dare to steal the neighbor’s shuttle plane and fly it around the world.”

A pause as everyone gathered looked at Pavel with varying degrees of incredulity.

“Did they do it?”

“I was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when highway cops are finding me.”

You did that?”

“How old were you?”

“Thirteen?  Da, mnye builo let thrinadsat.”

Jim was grinning widely.  It seems there are more commonalities between him and Pavel than he originally thought.

“What the hell are you kids doing in Siberia?”

“Stupid things, doctor.  We were all wery bored and wanting to move around in the winter.  Environmental controls are not the same as real Russian summer.”

“Did any of them include vodka?”

Pavel looked at Scotty strangely.

Koneshno.  Of course.  This is Russia.”

“Y’all’re a little underage to be drinking that.”

Pavel turned his strange look to Leonard.

“I am Russian.”

“Don’t give me that look.  Do you know what alcohol does to brain cells of kids as young as that?  I don’t get how you’re still a genius if you started drinking when you barely hit puberty.  It’s a goddamn miracle to me you’re not an alcoholic.”

Christine was smiling and shaking her head.

“It’s a cultural thing, Len.”

“I don’t care!”

“All right, back away from the medicine talk,” Sulu said.  “We said nothing about work.”

Nyet.  You said nothing about work.”

“I think those’re our dishes.”

The waiters and waitresses laid our plates down, refilled drinks.

“Jim, of all the things you can get at this fine establishment, you got a hamburger,” Scotty shook his head.

“You got curry,” Jim said, dipping one of his gourmet fries in ketchup.  “You can get curry anywhere too.”

“This isn’t curry, Jim, it’s a dish from Betazed that I haven’t had since I was a cadet—”

“Looks like curry, smells like curry.  I’d say it’s curry.”

“The man’s hopeless,” Scotty shook his head.

“I’ll say,” Leonard said, slicing into a filet mignon.

“Maybe keptan wants something familiar.  He is always dining with dignitaries and trying their food.  I don’t see what is wrong with a hamburger.  I am hafing borsch.”

“Thank you, Pavel.  See?  I’ve got reasons why I do these things.”

“It’s funny.  We all ordered comfort food,” Christine said, looking at everyone’s dishes.

“Your comfort food is a plate of sashimi?” Leonard raised his eyebrows.

“The Tellarite version of sashimi, actually.  I had it all the time when I was a teenager.”

“I’ve had some of that before,” Sulu said.  “It’s an acquired taste.”

“Oh, I couldn’t get enough of it.  This was after we moved away from your neighborhood—one of my best friends, I think her father was a Tellarite, but she always had it for lunch, and she absolutely hated it.  We traded lunches every day.”

“Spock, you’ve been quiet,” Leonard turned his attention to me.  “Cat got your tongue?”

“I enjoy listening to the conversation.”

“What’ve you got there?” Scotty asked.  “Something Vulcan?”

“Something vegan, that’s for sure.  Can I still kiss you after I’ve eaten meat?”

I raised two fingers.

“I meant the human way,” he pressed his fingers into mine.

“It hasn’t come up before?” Nyota asked.

“We’ve been in pretty public places most of the time we have meals.  Mess hall.  Diplomatic mission.  So no, hasn’t really come up.”

“You should not haf been asking, keptan.  Now there will be a rule.”

“Rules are negotiable,” Jim smiled, mischievous look on his face.  He leaned in to kiss me.

This man.  I raised an eyebrow.

“Guess not, Jim,” Sulu laughed.

Jim sat back in his chair and took a bite of his hamburger.  I pressed my lips very briefly to his temple, then returned to my meal.

“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” Leonard pointed his steak knife at Jim.

He chewed, swallowed, took a drink.

“I wasn’t going to.”

“Lad, are you sure you want to have Saurian brandy with borsch?  It doesn’t appeal to me as a very appetizing combination.”

Pavel rolled his eyes.

“I am not sewenteen.”

“He meant that alcohol can enhance the flavor of your food if it’s well chosen,” Nyota explained.

“It really depends on tradition and setting, though,” Christine added.  “For example, Jim—”

“Stop picking on my food, guys.”

“He could have his burger with beer, but he’s having it with red wine.”

“Wasn’t in the mood for beer.  I’m in a tuxedo.”

“I know what you mean,” Sulu nodded.  “Any chance we could go somewhere less formal later?  I’ve heard crazy things about the nightlife here.”

“Nyota and I are planning on checking out some clubs the night before the final rounds,” Christine said.  “We should all go together.”

“I think we might pass,” Jim shook his head.  “Unless you guys feel like dealing with the paparazzi.”

“Our absence may make us more conspicuous.”

“You don’t have to make a decision right now,” Christine replied.  “It was a suggestion.”

“I think I might have to pass on that one too.”

“Aw, Doc, come on.  It’ll be fun.”

“I’m a country doctor, not a party animal.”

“You say like it’s a bad thing, Len.”

“It’s not my scene.  There’s a few comedy clubs I’d like to check out.”

“Are you okay with that, Pavel?” Nyota asked.  “That we’re not all going to be there every night you play?”

“It is no problem to me,” he nodded.  “I do not really think about you when I am playing poker.”

“Do you feel any kind of pressure sitting at the table?”

Nyet, Scotty.  It is fun.  I enjoy it, or I would not be doing it.”

“Great,” Jim said.

“Ladies, gentlemen, I’d like to propose a toast,” Scotty smiled and raised his glass.  “To Pavel Andreyevich Chekov, the craziest Russian genius I’ve had the pleasure of working with.  And to his first round against the galaxy’s best card players.”

Pavel turned slightly pink as we all raised our glasses.

“To ‘wictory’!” Scotty laughed.

“To ‘wictory’,” Jim said beside me.

“To victory.”

--

“Captain Kirk, I demand a meeting with you!”

Jim turned in his seat and looked at Mr. Baris.  The crew were looking at his intrusion with cool politeness and some hostility.  We were in the middle of desert.

“Excuse me, this is a private dinner,” Nyota said pointedly.

“I am the Undersecretary of Agricultural Affairs in this sector and there is a security threat to a top priority Federation project that Captain Kirk refuses to acknowledge!”

I raised my eyebrow.

“If I recall correctly we asked that you file a report with Lt. Giotto aboard the Enterprise.  Has he ignored your request?”

“He posted two guards for the storage lots.  Two!  I have thirty metric tons of quadrotriticale and there’s an infestation of Klingons at this station and your deputy posts two guards!”

“You know,” Leonard drawled.  “I’ve never questioned the orders or the intelligence of any representative of the Federation.  Until now.”

“Mr. Baris, I trust Lt. Giotto’s judgment on this.  He’s an expert on security and he’s been on the job for more than seven years.  Our security guards are also highly trained and there’s no situation you can’t throw at them where they won’t respond quickly and efficiently.”

“But the Klingons—”

“I highly doubt that the Klingons will storm the granaries, Mr. Baris,” I replied.

“They’re trying to sabotage my plans!  This project is extremely important for the future of the Federation and if you won’t take this threat seriously, I’ll report it to my superiors.”

Jim and I rose from our seats simultaneously.  Mr. Baris stepped back.

“You guys keep eating.  We’ll take care of this.”

“Captain—” they began protesting.

He shook his head.

“Mr. Baris, if you’ll follow me this way,” Jim motioned towards the bar.

We followed the esteemed undersecretary to another part of the restaurant.

“Yeah, a beer for me, whatever’s good, and Mr. Baris?  Anything for you?”

“A Klabnian firetea.”

I declined to take any drink.  Jim did not touch his beer—I suspect it was merely for the purpose of ordering a drink for Mr. Baris.

“I need you to explain what’s going on from the beginning, Mr. Baris.”

“You didn’t get a brief from Starfleet Headquarters about this classified project?”

Jim smiled, the expression tight.

“No.”

Mr. Baris inflated with his own sense of self importance.

“Well, that’s perfectly understandable.  Undoubtedly they thought it was too sensitive to be transmitted and wanted me to inform you personally of the details.”

This man truly has no conception of how Starfleet operates.

“I’m sure.  Now that we’re in a more secure,” the word was laced with sarcasm.  Anyone who so desired could eavesdrop on this conversation, “location, can you give me some more details about this project you’re in charge of?”

Jim was being amazingly patient with Mr. Baris.

“As you probably didn’t know, Captain Kirk, quadrotriticale is the only grain that grows on Sherman’s planet.”

“I was under the impression that certain strains of Denobulan cousva were successfully planted on Sherman’s planet.  And while the soil may not be ideal for grain, it is suitable for Tellarite scitrus trees, malovantia, and Rigelian rhargibs.  In addition—”

“Commander, you’ve made your point,” he touched his hand to mine.

He just gets more pissed off when you do that, Spock.

That is not our problem, captain.

“That grain represents a substantial Federation investment in the development of Sherman’s planet.  It’s imperative that it stay safe from an attempt at sabotaging the success of this project.  The security of the Alpha Quadrant depends on it.”

I could see Jim resisting the urge to put his hand to his forehead.

“Mr. Baris,” Jim smiled.  “We don’t even own Sherman’s planet yet.”

“The grain must be guarded!”

“Sir, I’m sorry, but in the absence of more evidence—proof that this grain is threatened—I can’t do anything more than what Lt. Giotto’s already done.  Placing a security detail in a grain storage compartment when there’s no clear threat is an inefficient use of my resources and preemptive too, since we don’t know the outcome of this poker game.  No one’s been eliminated yet, and it’s going to be a couple of days before we even know who the finalists are.”

“What more evidence do you need?  There are Klingons here!”

Jim looked incredulous.

“Excuse me?”

“The Klingons want Sherman’s planet and will stop at nothing to get it!”

“Then do you suggest that we place a guard on every single Klingon in K7, Mr. Baris, when official diplomatic relations between the Federation and the Klingon Empire are not hostile?  Such an act would be perceived as an insult and would do nothing to improve the relations between our governments.”

“I was a diplomatic aide to Ambassador Ramamurthy and I know—”

“Yet you are not a diplomat and clearly do not understand anything of the nuances of diplomacy.  As far as I can discern, you have based the entirety of your suspicions on stereotypes and an unfounded distrust of Klingons.  The fact that their interests run contrary to our own does not immediately imply that they are willing to break the rules of interstellar diplomacy for the sake of a few tons of quadrotriticale, especially when the conditions of Sherman’s planet naturally favor Klingon plant species.”

Spock, stop ripping into the guy.  He’s not worth it.

Jim

Yeah, I know.  I’d rather deal with Koloth than him, but it doesn’t matter.  He’s an idiot.  There’s lots of them in the world.  Just, let it go.  I didn’t get to finish dessert.

“If you hear something new, let us know asap and we’ll look into it.  We’ve made our take on this situation clear.  So if you’ll excuse us, Mr. Baris.  I’d appreciate it if you didn’t interrupt us again.”

Mr. Baris began sputtering, but Jim simply walked away.  The bureaucrat decided it was a prudent idea to follow us.

Jim stopped.

“This discussion is over.”

“But you haven’t—”

“I’ve asked you once, I won’t ask again.  You’ve got two choices—leave, or get dragged out of here by the host,” Jim nodded to the maître d’.  “We’re done here.”

“My sincerest apologies, Captain Kirk.  If you’ll follow this way, Mr. Baris,” the maître d’ motioned.

Mr. Baris stomped out, radiating anger and humiliation.

Jim leaned into me slightly.

“I’ve got a headache.”



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Heh. Baris is a horse's ass no matter the universe. Very lovely.

Nothing like putting a bunch of colleagues and friends in an unusual environment to bring out all sorts of pesronal stuff, including favorite comfort food... In retrospect, I like how you take your time to build Christine's part in the arc.
I wonder what *your* comfort food may be...

Love Jim and Spock's confronting Baris (especially their parallel internal conversation and Jim's scolding Spock's impatience). Little details like Jim's ordering a beer so Baris would order a drink are exquisitely character-building.




I don't blame Jim for having a headache. Ack, Baris is such an annoying little man.

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