5 things Spock learned about Jim Kirk and one he already knew
V. Don't make me call the flying monkeys
Jim Kirk hates monkeys. Spock, being a Vulcan, does not find this is amusing. Well, maybe a little amusing.
They had been bonded for three months when Spock began to suspect this predilection. In retrospect, there had plenty of evidence but Spock had failed, as Dr. McCoy might term it, to put two and two together. Jim's aversion to all forms of primates started to become clear when they were visiting the personal games park of the premier of a planet that was requesting membership in the Federation. Jim looked with interest at the felines that resembled Earth tigers, was appropriately impressed with the animals that looked like giraffes and elephants had mated, and was positively effusive over the bears that could have been polar bears. However, when they arrived at the primate enclosure, Jim excused himself and promptly disappeared. He was waiting on the path at the far end of the enclosure, rejoining the entourage to complete the tour.
Several weeks later, it was time for the traditional showing of Wizard of Oz aboard the Enterprise. Watching that particular movie had started out as an annual tradition and then evolved into a quarterly one. Nobody could say why exactly they watched it so often but everyone looked forward to seeing it when it appeared on the Movie Night schedule. Except the Captain. When it was an annual tradition, he made his excuses and not an appearance. Once it was quarterly, it was harder for him to find a valid reason not to be at Movie Night. After the visit to the premier's park, Spock could not fail but notice that when the Wicked Witch of the West was about to release her flying monkeys on the heroes, Jim decided it was imperative that he refill their popcorn bowl. The second time the flying monkeys were on the screen, Jim was out hunting up more Pepsi to go with the popcorn.
Not long after Wizard of Oz night, they were on assignment to transport a group of refugees from their devastated planet to a resettlement area, and among them were 24 children of various ages. Apparently the traditional toy for these children was a stuffed animal Spock learned was a "sock monkey." The Captain, to no one's surprise, was very good with the children and they all adored him, following him around and talking to him at every opportunity. As much as he enjoyed their company, he did everything possible to not touch or hold one of the monkeys. He would carry a child carrying a monkey but someone else would have to pick up the monkey if the child dropped it. When it was discovered that one had been left behind after the refugees were resettled, he asked his yeoman to remove it from the rec room and put it some place "safe," which his yeoman interpreted as in the garbage shoot.
His aversion to primates was in full evidence when Sulu suggested they watch Pirates of the Caribbean during Movie Night. All three of them. Jim could barely sit still whenever Captain Barbossa's monkey was on the screen. In fact, he left during the second movie and didn't return. Spock finally found him in their quarters, taking a shower. From the amount of steam built up in the bathroom, he'd been there for some time.
"Jim?" Spock asked, standing just outside the shower.
"Hey," Jim responded, turning off the water. When he opened the door, his cheeks were flushed red and Spock was pretty sure it wasn't due to the hot water under which he'd been standing. That he would not meet Spock's eyes reinforced the fact that he was embarrassed by his actions.
"Why are you scared of monkeys?" Spock asked, handing him a towel.
"I'm not scared of them, exactly. I just hate them," Jim corrected.
Jim shrugged, wrapping the towel around his waist.
"You don't know? Or you don't wish to tell me?" Spock asked gently.
"It might be because we have tornados in Iowa," Jim said with another shrug.
"You worried that you too would end up in Oz being chased by the Witch and her minions," Spock guessed.
"I think so. But it's not just the flying monkeys that freak me out. Not that I'm really freaked out. I hate monkeys. They're loud and quick and look like they are always up to something."
"They are unpleasant," Spock agreed.
"I know it's stupid. But…"
"I understand. May I offer you a distraction from having seen one so recently?" Spock requested, removing the towel and kissing Jim breathless.
"I like the way you think, Commander."
"I live to serve, Captain."
IV. Musical Theater is Not For Everyone
It wasn't that he didn't enjoy it. He didn't not enjoy it. He was simply bored by it and would never seek it out by himself.
Spock learned of Jim's utter indifference to musical theater quite by accident. They were on yet another planet that was requesting membership in the Federation, and were being honored at a very special performance of their greatest theatrical masterpiece – something they called "Islands of My Mind." It consisted of what appeared to be puppets performing acrobatics on the stage while another group of puppets sung about…something. The universal translator couldn't keep up with all of the lyrics which made the muddled singing even more indistinct. The Enterprise officers were in the box of the planet representatives, the seats providing the best view of the performance.
An hour and half into the presentation Spock glanced over at Jim who had his chin resting in his hand, sound asleep. He touched the Captain's thigh, transmitting a warning that he needed to wake up before disaster could strike.
Jim showed remarkable composure as he woke, sending silent thanks to Spock for the rescue.
//I know that you are bored,// Spock said in sympathy.
Jim shrugged at that, staring with determination at the action on the stage in an attempt to pay better attention. //Is there some sort of plot, do you know?//
//Not that I have been able to discern. Although I am under the impression that the largest purple bird is in charge of the other puppets. I could, of course, be mistaken.//
//It's not like it especially matters,// Jim said, glancing at the others in the box. Uhura looked mesmerized, Sulu looked mildly interested, Scotty seemed to be looking for an escape route. //How much longer do think it will last?//
//I am uncertain. Half an hour?//
//I hope that's all,// Jim said, shifting slightly and watching the puppets with a convincing display of enthusiasm. //Surely there will be an intermission.//
//One would hope,// Spock returned, his focus completely on the performance as he tried very hard not to notice Jim's growing restlessness.
After another 45 excruciating minutes that tried Jim's patience, the musical came to a crescendo, Jim applauding as loudly as everyone else, except his enthusiasm was for the fact that the ending had finally come.
Following that experience, Spock sympathetically tried to spare Jim from as many musical theater performances as he possibly could, often times failing. Jim would invariably put on his best diplomatic expression and smile his way through, but it wasn't especially easy on him to sit through them.
"Is there one particular aspect that you find…troublesome?" Spock asked one night as they lay curled together in bed after they had attended an especially long musical.
"No, not anything in particular," Jim said thoughtfully, running his fingers through Spock's hair, enjoying the fact that it was no longer laying perfectly against his head. "I just think it's kind of…mmm…well, I guess I just don't get it. I mean, I like Shakespeare. I like regular plays. I like music. It's when they are jammed together that I want to sleep through it." Jim shrugged, unable to explain it any further.
"Is it perhaps because there is signing in Wizard of Oz?" Spock suggested.
"Maybe. I never connected it. But that might be it," Jim said with a yawn.
"It is of no importance, t'hy'la. Sleep now."
"Mmm…" Jim sighed, instantly asleep in Spock's arms. That would have made a perfect musical theater moment, one Jim would have missed by being asleep in the audience.
III. Excuse me. Do you have the time?
For all his acknowledged brilliance, Jim had no sense of time. None. It was bad enough on Earth where the sun gave him some vague idea. At least he knew when it was day and when it was night. Being in space negated even those clues.
"What time is it?" Jim asked Spock one day before they were bonded as they were working on repairs in one of the Jeffries tubes.
"23 minutes before the hour, sir," Spock responded.
"3, sir," Spock said, accepting another wrench from the Captain while studying him curiously.
"So it's 2:37," Jim said with a degree of uncertainty.
After that brief exchange Spock realized that the Captain never knew the time. It became a habit for Spock to tell Jim when it was time for lunch, when shift was over, when it was time for dinner if he was somewhere close by.
Spock mentioned his observation to Dr. McCoy one day in passing, learning he was not the only one who had discovered this quirk.
"I had to make sure he got to class. 'Cause he'd be in the library studying and completely forget to go. Or I'd have to go find him because the library was about to close and he still had his nose in his books."
"Does his lack of time-sense concern you?" Spock asked.
"Not at all. He can tell time. He just doesn't have any idea what time it ever is. Just one of those things," McCoy said with a shrug.
"Why does he not wear a chronometer?"
"He tried. He'd break them or loose them or more frequently give them away to someone who admired it. He finally just gave up," McCoy said.
Spock nodded and decided to redouble his efforts to make sure the Captain did not suffer due to his time deficiency. After they had bonded, Spock sent him timely reminders as often as possible. Jim appreciated having his own personal clock and for the first time in his life, he knew what the time was.
II. Yes, all 52
It was a slow day on the bridge. They were in between assignments, traveling from one star system to the next where they would not arrive for another 24 hours. Jim was reviewing the pile of reports his yeoman had brought him, or at least he pretended to study them. Spock was doing several things all at once, which Jim did not try to sort out because he knew the effort would make his head hurt.
Sulu and Chekov were quietly chatting at their stations, telling ridiculous jokes and laughing at their own cleverness.
"So then he says – 'what did you do next'?" Sulu said to Chekov.
"And?" Chekov prompted.
"He says 'what's the capitol of Maine?'" Sulu responded.
"Huh?" Chekov said, confusion etched on his face.
"Bangor!" Sulu announced triumphantly.
"Ohhhh…" Chekov said in realization.
"Augusta," the Captain said without looking up from his stack of padds.
"Sir?" Sulu said, turning to face him.
"Augusta is the capitol of Maine," Jim said, returning three of the padds to his yeoman with his signature in place.
"Are you sure, sir?" Sulu asked.
"Yeah," Jim responded, asking his yeoman to bring him a cup of coffee.
"Oh," Sulu said. "Minnesota?"
"Saint Paul," Jim said, turning to talk to Uhura.
"Louisiana," Sulu said to which Jim responded "Baton Rogue" without even thinking about it.
Spock had watched the by-play with interest, wondering why Jim knew those facts which were not of any real importance. //Do you know them all?//
//Yeah,// Jim said with a mental shrug.
//I have no idea. Why are you even asking?// Jim asked.
//I find it fascinating that you should know the names of the seats of all governmental units.//
//Yeah. I know the capitols of all the countries too. That's just as hard to believe,// Jim admitted.
//Did you memorize them intentionally? Or did you simply absorb the knowledge over time?//
//I guess I learned them as I went along. I never made a conscious effort to remember them.//
//Yet you never know whether or not it is time for lunch,// Spock said with a wave of amusement.
Jim shrugged at that, accepting the cup of coffee. "Is it time for lunch, Mr. Spock?"
"It is 11:45, sir," Spock said, watching Jim sip his coffee and seeing the enjoyment reflected on his face.
//Yeah, more than you love pizza,// Jim admitted.
//But not more than you love me,// Spock said.
//It's close,// Jim laughed, laughing on the outside as well when Spock snorted at him. //What if I make it up to you after lunch?//
//Will that not constitute dereliction of duty, sir?//
Jim shrugged and gave him a wicked smile which convinced Spock that some things were worth risking being court martialed for. And Jim was definitely one of those.
I Is the Pen Mightier Than the Sword?
Of all the things Spock discovered about Jim after they bonded, he thought that perhaps the most surprising of all was the fascination Jim found in fountain pens – actual ink-in-the –barrel-down-to-the-nub fountain pens. Whenever the opportunity presented itself for Jim to hunt through a shop that looked like it might have a secret stash of pens, he would patiently search through the miscellanea, triumphantly holding up the treasure if he were lucky enough to uncover one.
His fountain pen collection was kept in a small wooden chest that securely latched, only so it wouldn't open during turbulence and spill its precious contents. At the time Spock first was privileged to peer inside, there were 11 fountain pens of various types, colors, and ages waiting patiently for their call to duty. And they were not merely decorative to Jim, or a reminder of a long forgotten era. Jim used them to write actual letters on real paper. The pens were too often used for the sad task of writing letters of condolence to the families of crewmembers Jim fought to save but could not always do so.
Jim also used his pens to write notes of appreciation to members of his crew who preformed exceptionally well or went far above the call of duty. These notes were cherished by the crew, kept safe and shown to friends with pride. It was generally agreed by the crew of the Enterprise that a hand-written note from the Captain was almost better than a promotion from Starfleet.
Spock had been the frequent recipient of such notes even before they had admitted their feelings for each other. He had always appreciated the effort that Jim shown by writing to him, taking the time to describe the particular excellence of Spock's work that had prompted the note. Jim's words were invariably professional yet warmly and appropriately personal, and always cherished, even by Spock.
After they acknowledged their feelings for one another, Jim wrote Spock notes that were loving and intimate in nature, notes Spock cherished even more. To see the words that Jim wrote, describing his feelings for Spock, was a true gift.
Spock never asked Jim about his love of the antiquated writing instruments. He suspected that Jim had no real idea why he enjoyed using them so much. And Spock treasured the notes he had received, the ones written just for him by his t'hy'la.
And the one thing that Spock knew about Jim beyond a shadow of a doubt
The planet had made urgent contact with the Enterprise, pleading for assistance to control the massive flooding threatening to destroy one entire landmass. After assessing the situation with the planet leaders, Jim assigned the work in rotations, making sure that his personnel toiled only five hours at a time in the challenging conditions prior to returning to the ship. The area of the flooding was in the northern hemisphere, the inhabitants explaining that it had been caused by the spring thaw of the unusually heavy snow which had fallen during the cold months.
The crew worked tirelessly to evacuate those in the most danger, building dykes out of any available materials, and searching the debris for additional victims. Four days after they arrived, everyone was exhausted and cold and always wet, even after they returned to the ship to put on clean, dry clothes. They still felt the all pervasive wetness on their skin.
Jim remained on the planet the entire time, directing traffic, assigning newly arrived crewmembers, making sure everyone ate and drank and warmed up at frequent intervals. But no one thought to look out for Jim. Spock remained aboard the Enterprise to organize the efforts with Starfleet and Dr. McCoy was needed in sickbay. The rest of the Command Crew was on the planet but they were so absorbed in their own duties, they neglected to keep a close enough eye on their Captain who insisted he was fine and would eat as soon as everyone else was done.
In retrospect, Scotty knew they should have been more watchful. They should have stayed with him to see that he ate and drank and slept. Because a week after they arrived, Jim simply collapsed, passed out cold. Scotty requested emergency transport directly to MedBay where Dr. McCoy yelled at him mostly because yelling at Jim while he was unconscious was a waste of time.
"And didn't you know?" McCoy demanded of Spock when he arrived soon after the Captain.
"We have remained separate, Doctor. In order to concentrate on the job at hand," Spock explained, holding Jim's very cold hand as he lay way too still on the biobed.
"I know," McCoy sighed, his anger draining away. "Can you reach him?"
"Yes. He is not dreaming. He is not frightened. He is hungry and cold."
"Understandable," McCoy agreed. "Can you stay with him? He'll be better off with you here."
Spock looked concerned by the request, as concerned as he ever did.
"I'll go to the bridge, sir," Scotty offered.
"Thank you, Chief," Spock agreed, Dr. McCoy also thanking him.
When Scotty had left, the doctor helped Spock undress Jim and put him under a warming blanket, slowly raising his core body temperature. Bones also started an IV to replace the fluids Jim had lost from not drinking sufficiently, and to give him precautionary medication.
"Thank you," Spock said as Bones walked away, telling Spock if there was anything at all he needed, he only had to let the doctor know.
It was 2 hours and 12 minutes later that Jim stirred, frowning before slowly opening his eyes. "Hey," he said, his voice low, his mouth and throat parched.
"Captain," Spock responded, hard black eyes studying him.
"I know you're mad," Jim whispered, closing his eyes to block out Spock's all too obvious disapproval.
"I never should have allowed you to stay planetside for so long without me," Spock informed him.
"I'm not a child, Spock," Jim protested, trying to take back his hand. Spock would not allow it, holding even tighter.
"Yet you do not care for yourself. You neglect your health. You neglect the very basics of survival. How can I trust that the next time I won't lose you?" Spock demanded.
"You can't," Jim conceded. "It's my job."
"No. It is who you are," Spock said more gently, leaning over to kiss Jim very softly. "You can no more stop being the person that you are, the one who cares more for others than for himself, than I can…."
"Than you can what?" Jim asked with a tiny smile.
"No more than I can stop loving you," Spock assured him, affection, understanding, and faith in the words, all reinforced by the kiss they shared until McCoy came to scold them, neither of them at all concerned by his anger, much more sound than fury.