Crème Fraîche K,S,M,U [PG]
Image courtesy of Anki
Disclaimer: Paramount owns Star Trek. I only own my fantasies.
A/N: Crème fraîche is the kind of cream you could happily eat off a spoon. Its texture is smoother, more velvety, and more like custard than sour cream. In terms of taste, crème fraîche is tangy the way sour cream is tangy, but its tang is more subtle, more refined.
Kirk looked up wearily from his data padd, acknowledging the insistent buzzing of his door. Since only McCoy would be so bold as to practically lay on the button, Kirk was not surprised to see the good doctor bound into his quarters. The CMO marched up to Kirk's desk and leaned over to ensure he had his captain's complete attention.
"Dammit Jim, you can't just change your mind like that! Tell Spock to ease up and let the crew keep voting. You know better than to back out on something like this--they're all counting on you. I mean, you know, once you're in, you're in; and anyways, it can't be so different from last year, except now we've got a title to retain," McCoy spluttered in rapid-fire indignation.
Kirk waited, nonplussed by McCoy's diatribe, but he knew the doctor would have to come up for air sooner or later. As McCoy paused for effect, Kirk asked the inevitable question, "Bones, would you please tell me what you're ranting about? I have no idea what you're accusing Spock or me of doing."
"The contest, Jim! That damn pretty-boy--what's it called--crème de la crème--tom foolery. I know it's risky to put yourself out there like that, but you did so you can't go and get cold feet now!"
Kirk felt the blood drain from his face and the bottom of his stomach drop out at McCoy's words. A waking nightmare from a year ago took his memory hostage and tortured him with terrible déjà vu. The Crème de la Crème was an unsanctioned *beefcake* contest where each ship, station, or installation could submit an image of their candidate to represent them in the unofficial "Mister Starfleet" competition. Gary Mitchell had secretly entered a picture of Kirk in last year's contest--and to his horror--he had won!
And to add to that horror, he had only found out about it when Admiral Nogura called to ream him out for participating in something that was considered 'inappropriate behavior for senior officers, much less the captain of Starfleet's flagship.' Yes, he would never forget the dressing down that had accompanied his new title. Kirk remembered how he had pled ignorance to Nogura's charges. He had stared, dumbfounded, as the admiral flashed onscreen a picture of Kirk in his own shower, looking up with limpid eyes as he was caught in the act of running his hands through wet hair. His biceps were wet and bulging, his smooth chest glistening in the spray and the hair below his navel obvious before airbrushing hid details even Gary felt needed to be hidden in the *steam*.
At the look of disbelief on Kirk's face, Nogura had shook his head in disgust before resolving into something akin to pity. "Dammit, Kirk, I can tell you didn't enter this thing voluntarily, but to be frank, I don't know what ticks me off more: you winning, or you winning while not even trying. Nevertheless, I think we both know exactly who planted that 'corder in your shower. Now the question is do I let *you* handle Mister Mitchell, or do I? It's not like
I'm feeling comfortable right now about who's really running that ship," Nogura finished with a very pointed look.
Kirk had assured Nogura that he had far more ammunition to achieve revenge--er, instill discipline--against Gary than slapping him with a fine or restrictions. No, merely running him out of the service would not begin to pay him back for this little escapade. The decision of who to send along as a Federation observer during a three-month expedition to the Verdactian mining colony of Geb Four, an ice planet similar to Andor, suddenly made itself known. He had held off on accepting the request by the colony because of its harshness toward a crew not acclimated to such cold, but that was before he had a convincing reason. Gary may not have excelled in Physics at the Academy, but he did know his Geology... .
"Jim--Jim! Come back, son. I don't know where you beamed out to just now, but I need you to call Spock and tell him you've changed your mind." McCoy looked at Kirk suspiciously, snapping his fingers in front of Kirk's dazed face.
"The crew's morale is at an all-time low, Jim. We've been banged up, shot up and stood up for months. Honestly, their excitement about voting in this silly contest is about the only thing I've seen grab their attention. I've tried to get us a medical shoreleave but HQ isn't listening right now, so I guess you get to be their diversion," McCoy tried for a kindly grin, but it came out more like a smirk.
"Bones, if you're telling me I'm entered in *this* year's contest, then you've been too close to the chemicals again," Kirk tossed back in confidence he hardly felt.
"Well, somebody entered you," McCoy bellowed. Walking around and flipping on Jim's terminal, he called up a screen announcing the contestants for Crème de la Crème, 2267. In bold print was Kirk's name, listing him as defending champion and the glorious representative of Enterprise, NCC-1701. As Kirk shook his head in vehement, but silent, denial, McCoy called for the image submitted to be displayed.
A strangled "Oh My God!" escaped Kirk's lips as a picture of him ghosted onto screen. He recognized the setting immediately; several months back they had taken shoreleave on Beta Aquataine and during the last night he had attended a luau with most of the others finishing their leave. He had worn a pair of low cut khaki shorts and an unbuttoned tropical shirt in keeping with the spirit of the party. However, the image before him showed a man with a deep, hungry look walking out of the darkness and into the orangy glow of the firepit to one side of him. The flames burnished his cheek and brow with golden kisses while capturing his pecs and abs in stark relief. He was immortalized in mid-stride, the long, lean movement evoking the essence of a stalking predator.
Who had been taking pictures that night? Most of his memory regarding the luau was vague--rum had that effect on him. Who had he been looking at like that? That scared him more than being in the contest again. Had he really been stalking someone or was it merely a play of the light as his eyes transitioned from the darkness?
"Oh My God is right. So now do you believe me?" McCoy challenged as Kirk just sat there in silence. "And who in the Hell were you looking at? If I could turn it on like that, I'd never be lonely," McCoy sighed in jealous dejection.
"What? Well, I see my picture and my name, but I didn't enter the contest nor authorize anyone else to do so for me." Kirk shook his head, studiously ignoring McCoy's second question while trying to recall that long ago night.
"Doesn't matter now; if you're in--win is all I can say! Hell, even Nogura will accept 'in for a penny in for a pound' logic," McCoy offered brightly. "No, who we have to convince now is Spock. If you didn't tell him to shut it down then he did it on his own in an effort to protect you--"
"Good, I'm glad he had sense enough to put a stop to this," Kirk replied as he attempted to gain control of the situation.
"No, Jim, it's not good. I wasn't kidding about the crew needing a morale booster. It might not be as wonderful as a signed peace treaty with the Klingons, but it's all we got. Now call that pointy-eared wet blanket and tell him to back off. Tell him it's for the sake of morale--something he doesn't understand--but I say needs rejuvenation," McCoy groused in his unique mixture of medical expert and hyperbole.
At Kirk's sigh of capitulation, McCoy grinned in victory. He patted Jim on the shoulder as Kirk started to toggle the comm in an attempt to call Spock. The captain stopped in mid-gesture, clearly annoyed as he looked up at the CMO who had just used Kirk's own weakness toward the crew as a bludgeon to get his way.
"Doctor, I can handle it from here. Please don't make it any more painful for me than it has to be," Kirk bit out crisply.
McCoy started in surprise at being dismissed, but quickly realized Jim was not about to let him witness how he was going to convince Spock to change his mind.
"Oh, gotcha' Jim, just let me skedaddle," he drawled in barely suppressed humor. He hated missing *that* conversation but was ecstatic Jim had listened to reason. Now, if only the Vulcan would.
Kirk asked Spock to come to his quarters, not wanting to have this discussion over the comm channel. Now, as he waited, he sat in silence and stared at the damning image of himself. If he pushed all thoughts of what the picture represented: the contest, Nogura's upcoming reprimand, the soon to be overflowing mailbox of crass humor headed his way from friends and colleagues--he had to admit to himself that it *was* a remarkable picture.
Kirk's own eyes seemingly looked right through him, as if they could consume him and become the reality. The play of light against shadow captured the detail of his physique while appearing surreal by their very contrast. A ghost of a smile toyed with the corners of his mouth, screaming seduction for all who would glance his way. Who *had* he been approaching with such an invitation? He had come stag and stayed stag--as he demanded of himself at such crew functions--but the expression staring back at him was anything but captainly. Further admiration was interrupted as his door chimed once again. Kirk acknowledged the request and watched as Spock entered with quiet curiosity.
"You require my assistance with something, Captain?" Spock asked in the beginnings of concern when Kirk did not immediately state his reason for asking Spock to come to his quarters.
"Ah, yes, Spock, I do. Please come in and sit down." Kirk stalled for time, trying to find the right words for such an embarrassing topic. Finally, he decided there was no good way, so he just barreled right into it.
"Spock, Doctor McCoy has told me you have forbidden the crew to vote in the Crème de la Crème contest," he began awkwardly.
"No sir, I have not. I have merely put a block in the program tabulating votes for you. I have cancelled the ability for *anyone* to vote for you, thus effectively withdrawing you from the competition. The crew is quite capable of voting for anyone else if they so choose," Spock clarified helpfully.
"You've blocked me...from all votes?" Kirk asked in disturbed confusion. Wasn't he thankful to be out of it? Wasn't that the answer to his prayers? Then why did he suddenly feel like someone had stolen his candy?
"Yes, sir. I knew you had not sanctioned your entry into the contest, just as you had not the previous year. Last year I did not interfere because of Mister Mitchell's involvement. However, this year, in order to protect your dignity, I attempted to access the contest computers and withdraw all reference to you. Unfortunately, the most I was able to accomplish was write an external block to the tabulation programs," Spock finished softly, his tone one of quiet pique at being bested.
Succumbing to a hint of gloat at Spock's admission of less than success, yet trying to stay above the pout he felt like having, Kirk chose his next words carefully. "Yes, well, Spock I deeply appreciate that you would go to such lengths to protect my honor. Although, since I am still on display and seemingly still a participant, might I submit to you that it is far more humiliating once entered to then--lose?"
Spock quirked a brow at Kirk's view of the situation but tried to consider it within the realm of logic. "Do you wish me to remove the block I installed on the tabulation program?"
"Yes, Spock, in this instance, I do. I wholeheartedly agree it's undignified, but McCoy says the crew needs something to improve morale and he thinks this will do it," Kirk answered in quiet commiseration with the dismayed Vulcan. Yet, why did he feel giddy all of a sudden? Where did that tingle of competition come from?
Spock sighed just a bit, a sure sign he was at a loss to understand the situation. "Very well, Captain, I shall go and make the necessary changes."
As Spock turned to walk out the door, Kirk stopped him with an apparently casual question, "Spock, just out of curiosity, do you know where I was ranked before you blocked the voting?"
Spock turned back and faced Kirk, now answering with calm surety, "First, of course, your picture *is* the most aesthetically pleasing image submitted to the competition. It is gratifying to discover Miz Uhura took my instruction on still photography seriously--"
Fade to black ;-)