There was only a moment of silence before the door pinged and slid open to reveal the good doctor hunched over his PADD. He did not look up in greeting. "Yeah, whaddya want."
Spock stepped forward to stand at rest in front of the desk. "Good evening, Doctor. I trust you are aware that all Starfleet office furniture is ergonomically designed to prevent prolonged periods of subpar posture." Perhaps it was not wholly logical to antagonize someone he needed a favor from, but then again, it would be strange if he had refrained, as such interactions had come to be considered normal between them.
McCoy blinked up at him and scowled. "What?"
"I said that I trust you –"
More scowling, now accompanied with a dismissive wave. "No, no, I heard ya the first time. I meant, why in blazes did you come all the way to my office just to give me health advice. I'm the doctor, dammit, which means I only listen to my own medical suggestions. Just ask Chapel."
After successfully suppressing a smirk, Spock raised a brow. "I do not believe a second opinion, while certainly conforming to the standards of scientific rigor, is necessary in this instance." McCoy narrowed his eyes and seemed both tempted to protest and unsure whether or not he'd just been insulted, but Spock forged ahead. "However, giving you medical counsel was not the purpose of my visit. In fact, I was hoping to seek your input on a matter of personal importance."
The desk chair creaked as McCoy leaned back and crossed his arms, brows high on his forehead. "Now wait a minute. Are you sayin' you've come to me, an illogical human, for advice? Is this some sort of trick? Did Jim put you up to this?"
Spock expressed his exasperation by blinking at him. "Vulcans do not play 'tricks,' even at the request of their commanding officers." And no matter how they may be tempted to comply. "It is on a human matter, which makes you an ideal source of knowledge. You are, after all, extremely…human."
"I honestly can't tell if you're insulting humanity or me or both." He paused, but since Spock was not about to answer that it was the second, McCoy harrumphed and continued. "Well, if it's not medical, which I'm guessing it isn't, why don't you just ask Nyota? Unless…" He squinted at Spock, who merely twitched a brow at him and hoped McCoy wasn't straining himself. "This is about Jim, isn't it?"
It would seem even the doctor was capable of reaching a logical conclusion on occasion. Spock inclined his head. "You are, surprisingly, correct, Doctor –"
"—you were the preferable option, given your longer standing history with the Captain, though I would have asked Nyota had you refused." This was not a complete truth. In fact, in the first microseconds of realizing he needed a human opinion, his thoughts had turned, as they always had…before, to his mother.
McCoy grumbled under his breath that he hadn't not refused, but Spock opted to let the interruption and the double negative slide.
"It has come to my attention that it would be beneficial to the working relationship I have with the Captain to extend a reciprocal gesture of goodwill. Since you know him best, I was hoping you had some insights as to what might be suitable."
While he'd been speaking, McCoy's signature scowl had slowly been replaced by poorly concealed mirth, which made Spock tense. He was unsure what he had said that the doctor could find so amusing. For a moment, he was reminded of his early academy days when he was frequently on the outside of or, even more frequently, the subject of a Terran joke, though he quickly suppressed the memory and his reaction. McCoy was not, despite Spock's constant suggestion to the contrary, an ignorant cadet.
The grin McCoy had been "hiding" now broke free. "Spock, I know you'll correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you just asked me what kind of friendship present you should get Jim."
Spock's jaw tightened before he forcibly relaxed it. "You are indeed incorrect. The gesture does not need to be materialistic in nature. The captain…" His eyes fixed on a point past McCoy's head as he took a breath. "Jim took it upon himself to learn Vulcan, ostensibly for my sake. It would be negligent of me not to do something in return, to express my gratitude for his effort." He refused to meet the doctor's gaze but could see peripherally that his features had softened upon hearing this explanation.
"Yeah that sounds like Jim. Didn't even tell me he was doin' it so I'm guessin' he wanted it to be a surprise. Kid's always had a knack for…well just about everything if I'm honest – though don't you dare tell him I said that – so I doubt it was that difficult for him."
Spock inclined his head. "That is what he told me. However, that does not mitigate the gravity of the gesture, especially considering the many duties of a starship captain and the limited practical use the language now serves."
The doctor's expression turned solemn. "True enough." There were a few seconds of silence before McCoy seemed to return to the matter at hand, thankfully letting the subject of Vulcan drop. "So, you want to do something nice in return huh? And apparently something outta human culture. Let me think…."
Though he stood there waiting patiently, the mirth that had returned to the corners of McCoy's eyes left Spock feeling somewhat wary.
After only a few moments, McCoy smiled with something like triumph. "I got it. It's a pretty ancient custom, but still used sometimes today as a token of respect and admiration between close friends. I take it that's what you're going for?"
The words "ancient custom" made Spock straighten imperceptibly with interest. "That does sound suitable." He would have requested an explanation had he not been able to tell that McCoy was purposely attempting to build up suspense. There was no need to encourage him.
McCoy grinned. "Great. So, the custom entailed the giving party making an item of jewelry, usually a bracelet, for themselves and the other person. It's important that they're hand-made, not bought, and that they match somehow. Then you just give him his. And be sure to wear yours when you do so he understands the significance, since it's not all that common nowadays."
For a moment, Spock considered the logistics involved, then nodded. "I see. Fascinating. And you are certain that this is something that Jim will appreciate?"
"Oh, he'll definitely appreciate it, don't you worry."
Spock raised a brow at him. "I assure you, I am not worried."
"Yeah, yeah," he said, waving a hand. "Did you need anything else or can I get back to my paperwork?"
"You may. Thank you, Dr. McCoy, for your assistance." Without waiting for a reply, he turned to leave. Before the door slid shut behind him, though, he heard McCoy grumble something about not being "a damn marriage counselor," but dismissed this as further human illogic.