V. Every Color of the Rainbow
The first time he noticed was on shoreleave. He and Spock were strolling through the village market and Spock decided to buy Uhura some roses. Apparently Spock had done something that he had upset her, before they had ultimately broken up, and Jim told him that flowers never failed to make up for a world of hurt. Spock decided it was worth a try, as illogical as it was to present someone with plants with such a limited lifespan. They stopped by an old fashioned cart festooned with roses in every variety and color. The vendor was delighted to provide a dozen long stem roses in red and pink and white. No yellow, Spock had requested. The woman had naturally agreed, handing him the bouquet tied with a beautiful bow, wishing him all health and happiness.
After the roses, Jim noticed that Spock never ate yellow food. No corn, no squash, no pears, no bananas, no yellow tomatoes, no yellow Jell-O that may or may not have qualified as actual food. Chekov was the only person Jim ever saw eat it.
On a later away mission, they had been about to attend a ceremonial dinner in honor of the treaty they had signed. Their hosts brought to them several ceremonial robes of various colors and Spock chose the red one before consulting with Jim about his preference. Jim in fact didn't really care and dutifully put on the yellow robe, Bones wearing the purple one with no complaints.
Jim remarked on these and other such observations to Bones one night as they were drinking too much and gossiping too much. Bones allowed as how Spock was an odd one at any rate and why was Jim paying so much attention to what colors Spock may or may not prefer. What did he care? Jim either couldn't or wouldn't answer that question. He wasn't sure why he had noticed which is what stopped him from being able to answer.
Jim finally decided one day to simply ask Spock about his apparent aversion to the color yellow.
"It is illogical to prefer one color of the spectrum over another," Spock admitted, not meeting Jim's eyes as he said it.
"But you don't like yellow, do you?"
"I do not," Spock conceded, knowing it was a ridiculous admission to have to make.
"Do you know why?" Jim asked kindly, not pushing, suspecting that there was more to the story than he was getting.
"I believe the reason is from my childhood," Spock said quietly.
"What happened?" Jim prompted.
"I was engaging in a youthful art experience and I included a yellow sun in my composition. My father informed me that Vulcan's suns were not yellow and therefore it was illogical to include one in my rendering."
"Oh," Jim said in realization. "You were drawing a picture of Earth."
Spock nodded at that, meeting Jim's eyes. "I felt as though I was not allowed to appreciate anything that was yellow since I associated it with my mother's planet."
"I was unaware of my aversion to the color until Nyota pointed it out to me. She is partial to yellow flowers and wondered why I never purchased her flowers in yellow."
"Did you explain?" Jim asked, knowing full well it wasn't in anyway his business.
"I may have provided an explanation but not this one," Spock admitted.
"Oh," was all Jim could think to say in response to that.
"Dude!" the Captain said in utter astonishment. "You've never had pizza???"
Spock could almost hear the excessive question marks at the end of the question, so incredulous was Jim at his confession. "I have not."
"Oh no. That's something we have to change right now," Jim said, practically dragging Spock down the street to his favorite pizza joint from his time at the Academy. They were in San Francisco to attend the semi-annual Federation Conference. Jim had been invited as one of the key-note speakers, a fate he would have preferred to avoid. But when Chris Pike contacted him and personally requested his presence, it was much harder to say no. The conference had ended for the day, prompting Jim and Spock to go into San Francisco to find some regular food, not of the banquet type that was being served. It was then that Jim discovered that Spock had never had pizza, an abomination that could not stand. "I can't believe you've never had pizza."
"There are many Earth foods I have never consumed," Spock pointed out as they entered the hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant that smelled of a delicious combination of garlic, tomatoes, and basil.
"Yeah. But pizza?" Jim spoke the word "pizza" in a voice one generally reserved for speaking of one's deity or omnipotent higher power.
When they were seated at a booth near the back of the restaurant, Jim ordered a beer while Spock requested water. "Okay. So we'll get a vegetarian pizza," Jim told Spock. "No yellow peppers. Mushrooms okay?"
"Mushrooms are fine," Spock said, watching the animation on Jim's face as he studied the menu with great intensity.
"Okay. Cheese okay?"
"Good. I'll make sure they use only vegetarian marinara," Jim said, looking up at the waitress when she returned with their drinks.
"What can I get you?" she asked, studying Jim with more than a little interest in her eye.
"A large vegetable pizza. Extra cheese. No peppers. Everything else is okay. And please make sure they use vegetarian marinara," Jim requested with a nod.
"Of course," she agreed, lingering an extra minute before reluctantly turning and going to put in their order.
"Would you like that waitress to go?" Spock asked in a low voice making Jim laugh.
"No thanks," Jim said, sipping his beer. "I can't tell you the number of times Bones and I came here for dinner and left more than a little drunk."
"I can imagine that the two of you made quite an impression," Spock said mildly.
"That's one way to put it," Jim laughed. "I'm glad he got to go to Atlanta."
"It is a rare occurrence," Spock acknowledged.
"Yeah. One he deserves. I'm glad that shrew of an ex-wife agreed him to let him see Joanna."
"Surely she would not refuse."
Jim shrugged at that. "Who knows with her?"
That continued to chat casually until the pizza arrived, steam rising from it, bringing with it the alluring and unmistakable aroma of hot pizza. The cheese was nearly liquid, threatening to escape the confines of the crust. "Thanks," Jim said when the waitress had placed it on their table along with plates and extra napkins. "Be careful," Jim warned as he served Spock the first slice. "You don't want to get pizza mouth."
"Pizza mouth?" Spock repeated as he waited for his serving to cool.
"If you eat pizza when it's too hot, it will scorch the roof of your mouth. It's a tradition but can be annoying," Jim laughed. He touched his own slice before taking an experimental bite. "It's cool enough."
Spock nodded, picking up his slice in the same manner that Jim had used. He took a somewhat tentative bite, his entire body becoming completely still, his eyes widening a little.
"You don't like it," Jim said in some disappointment. Not that it was a matter of any importance.
"On the contrary," Spock finally said quietly, almost reverentially. "It is…incredible."
"Really?" Jim asked in delight.
"Really," Spock agreed, eating more. When the entire pizza was devoured, Jim ended up ordering a second one which also disappeared. From that time on, whenever they had time on the planet they were visiting, they would hunt up a restaurant that looked likely to serve a reasonable facsimile of a pizza, Spock obviously enjoying the experience each and every time. And their adventure as well as Spock's pleasure remained their secret.
III. Swear Like You Mean It
It started at a poker game. Spock wasn't playing as usual, but he was almost always present for the games played by the command crew. If he weren't so Vulcan, they would have said he enjoyed being with them, the lively conversation, the gossip, being in each other's company.
Scotty lost a hand on which he had bet more cookies than he really should have, going bust and leaving the game under much protest. It was the form of his protest that amused his friends so much – Scotty used more profanity than any one of them knew existed in Standard. His exhibit of colorful language turned into a challenge, all of them trying to get in the last vulgarity.
Spock listened as they attempted to top each other until they began to wind down. Only then did he make his contributions. To the astonishment of all those present, he used words that they had never thought of using, may have heard at some time but never thought to use again, had no idea existed but didn't doubt when he said them. He was crowned undisputed Ruler of Rude Language.
Later, Jim had to ask Spock where he had learned so many terms that were not used in "polite society." Spock said he had made a study of profanity, which probably began as a way to do something of which is father could only disapprove.
Jim laughed and shook his head at his explanation before requesting private lessons. He thought it would be useful to be able to swear like a sailor.
II. Not Everyone Can
Jim was under strict orders not to leave his quarters for another 36 hours. Stupid flu. McCoy was good enough to release him from MedBay but only after he had Jim's solemn vow that he would stay in his quarters and rest.
He was sure he was about to go stir crazy when Spock came in to save the day and his sanity. After inquiring after the Captain's health, he asked about what it was that the Captain was doing. Jim explained that he was playing a form of solitary and that it could be played by two if Spock was interested in joining him. Spock naturally agreed, both to help keep the Captain occupied, and in order to remain in his company which he found he enjoyed far more than he was willing to admit even to himself.
"I'm going to get a cup of tea," Jim decided, handing Spock a brand new deck of cards. "You shuffle these and I'll show you how to play when I get back. You want some tea?"
"Yes please," Spock agreed absently, opening the wrapper that protected the cards.
Jim went to his replicator, requesting cinnamon tea for himself and Vulcan tea for Spock. When he returned, Spock was still holding the fresh deck, studying them with an intensity he normally used for an alien specimen he found fascinating.
"You didn't shuffle them yet?" Jim asked as he sat back behind his desk, watching Spock.
"I…" Spock stopped and set the cards down, picking up his tea instead.
"You don't have to stay," Jim assured him, hoping he was able to hide at least some of his disappointment at Spock's sudden lack of interest in the cards.
"I do not intend to leave," Spock responded.
"Then you don't want to play cards?" Jim asked, trying to puzzle out what was bothering his friend.
"I have no objection to that activity."
"Oooookay," Jim said, drawing out the word in utter confusion. He sipped his tea, studying Spock over the rim, trying not to make his curiosity obvious.
Spock, with his version of a sigh, sat his cup on the desk and picked up the cards. "I am not able to shuffle them in the manner that is generally used," he finally admitted.
"Oh," Jim said, struck by the fact that it was the first time Spock had ever said he couldn't do anything. "Lack of practice?"
"No. I attempted several times to master the skill. However, I still cannot shuffle appropriately."
"What happens when you try?" Jim asked still trying to absorb the idea of Spock failing at anything, anything at all.
"The results are what others have referred to as 52-pickup," Spock said with his almost shrug. He carefully put the cards back on Jim's desk, treating them as though he fully expected them to attack him at the slightest provocation.
"Your manual dexterity is better than anyone I've ever met," Jim said, wondering where the problem lay with Spock's shuffling.
"Yes," Spock agreed, the response not sounding as arrogant as it would have from a Human. It was the truth and to deny it would be ridiculous. "There is some aspect of the activity which I am unable to either comprehend or master."
"Well. It hardly matters. It's not likely to be a requirement in any diplomatic negotiations," Jim assured him, casually reaching across and quickly shuffling the new deck before returning them to Spock. "Is that why you won't play poker?"
"Not entirely. I prefer to observe rather than participate," Spock said, accepting the well shuffled cards.
"If you want to play, we can skip your turn to deal," Jim suggested.
"That would necessitate an explanation."
"Not if I said you weren't dealing and that was that. They might wonder why but they won't ask. You know that."
"True. I will consider it," Spock said.
"Okay. If you want me to pull rank, I will," Jim assured him with a laugh that turned into a cough from which he quickly recovered. He explained the rules of double solitaire, a game he promptly lost to Spock four times in a row. And he didn't mind in the least.
I. Who's On First?
He discovered it quite by accident. Spock was on Jim's computer for some reason. Jim was using Spock's computer and could not resist clicking on the file that said "baseball." Why would Spock have a file about the old Earth sport? When Jim opened it, it was to discover that it was in fact a recording of the classic comedy routine by Abbot and Costello - "Who's On First?" Jim watched the entire recording, not able to stop from laughing. He supposed he laughed louder than he thought because the next thing he knew, Spock was back in his quarters, watching Jim watch the two men say the same words they had for centuries.
When it was over, Jim looked up at Spock, still laughing. Spock had an unreadable expression on his face which Jim didn't think was anger.
"I'm sorry," Jim said automatically, still smiling at the humor.
"There is no need for you to apologize, Jim," Spock said, moving a little closer.
"Can I ask why you have it?"
"It serves as a classic example of humor enjoyed by Humans," Spock said, failing to address the actual question.
"Yeah," Jim agreed, waiting to see if Spock would explain any further. He watched the thoughts barely register on Spock's face until he finally spoke.
"I find that I am unable to resist the…amusement generated by their conversation," Spock said reluctantly as though he didn't really want to admit it but to refuse was unthinkable.
"You think it's funny," Jim said, hoping he managed to keep all the surprise out of his voice.
"Yes," Spock agreed with a nod.
"It is hysterical," Jim confirmed. "You know that…"
"I trust this will remain…"
"I'm sorry, Spock," Jim said when they spoke over each other. "Go ahead."
"I trust you will not repeat this to anyone," Spock said, already sure of the answer.
"I won't tell a soul. You have my word."
Spock nodded and returned to Jim's quarters. They never spoke of it again but Jim knew it stayed on Spock's computer. And Spock knew he knew and didn't seem to mind.
Yeah, Like I Didn't Know
Spock was in MedBay, victim of an accident in one of his science labs. The experiment he had been monitoring was going exactly as expected until the centrifuge began making a strange noise. Before Spock could do any more than shove the ensign assisting him out of the way, the machine flew apart, the largest section impacting Spock's skull and knocking him unconscious. Bones told Jim that Spock would be fine after he had rested and emerged from his healing trance.
"How long?" Jim asked as he sat next to Spock's bed, watching him lay unmoving, barely breathing.
"M'Benga said 3 to 6 hours," Bones said, a hand on Jim's shoulder. "If you want to go get some sleep, I'll contact you just as soon as he wakes."
Jim shook his head, reaching over to lay his hand over Spock's. "No. I'll stay."
Bones nodded, certain that would be Jim's response. "Alright. You want anything? I have some of your Pepsi."
"No. I'm fine," Jim assured him, looking up at Bones, undisguised concern in his eyes.
"He'll be fine, Jim. You have my promise," Bones said, trying to ease his mind.
Jim nodded, turning to watch Spock, wishing there was something constructive he could do to help Spock. All he could do was sit and wait, for as long as it took for Spock to open his eyes.
When his eyes did open, they searched momentarily until they lighted on Jim's face, a face that was graced with a somewhat worried smile. "You okay?" Jim whispered.
"Other than a headache, I believe I am unharmed," Spock said, his eyes never wavering from Jim's too-blue eyes.
"I sure am glad," Jim said, his hand still on top of Spock's. Spock turned his palm up, gripping his fingers around Jim's hand and holding on as Jim stood to better see Spock.
"There is something I need to tell you," Spock said quietly. "Something I should have told you well before now."
"And what is that?" Jim asked with a smile.
"This accident has served to reinforce that the friendship I have for you is in reality something much more."
"You love me," Jim confirmed.
"Yes," Spock agreed, not surprised that Jim wasn't surprised.
"Yeah. Like I didn't know that," Jim said, smiling in relief and utter happiness. "You know how I know?"
"Because you feel the same," Spock said, receiving confirmation through their entwined fingers.
"Yep," Jim said, leaning down to very gently kiss Spock's mouth. "I have since about the time you ate your first slice of pizza."
Spock nodded carefully, staring up at Jim. "I love you more than pizza."
Jim laughed at that. "That's good to know. Because I know how much you love pizza."
"Just one more reason I am grateful that you are a part of my life," Spock said with his own version of a smile, a smile that would have meant the whole world to Jim. Except that Spock had just confirmed that he was Jim's entire world.