Title: Lasha (Precious Stone)
Universe/Series: Reboot
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek, and I do not make any money from this story.
Summary: Ambassador Selek gives Captain Kirk a kitten. Captain Kirk falls in love. Commander Spock is not impressed.

Jim stands in front of the transporter platform, trying not to bounce up and down in excitement. An ensign is operating the controls – not Scotty – and so he has to do his best to provide a good example. Ensigns are excitable enough without seeing their captain all super-hyper… Maybe Bones is right, and he should cut down on the sweets a bit.

His communicator chirps, and he receives a message requesting beam-up from the planet. Jim tries to tone down his smile as he gives the order to the ensign at the controls, but he cannot help but stare at the transporter pad in anticipation as a tall, thin form solidifies into view. He refrains from bouncing forward like an enthusiastic puppy – he is Captain James Tiberius Kirk, not a yellow lab.

"Ambassador Selek," Jim greets the older version of his first officer respectfully, with a welcoming smile. "I hope the negotiations went well?"

"Indeed, Jim," the Vulcan replies, stepping off the transporter pad - and shamelessly pulling the captain into a hug. Jim hugs back immediately, enjoying the contact. It has been quite a while since he has received any purely platonic affection from anyone but Bones – he misses it, sometimes. Especially since Bones refuses to cuddle, the old grouch.

"I have a gift for you. A souvenir, if you will," the ambassador informs him. It makes a warm feeling bubble up in his chest, knowing that his friend thinks enough about him to get him a gift.

"You shouldn't have..." he mumbles shyly, looking down and hoping that there isn't a blush dusting his cheeks. He doesn't blush – it is unbecoming a captain. Now, if only his skin would cooperate…

The ambassador turns to the ensign operating the transporter - the ensign who is shamelessly watching the interaction between her captain and the Vulcan ambassador. He raises his eyebrow, and the ensign quickly turns back to the control, beaming up his luggage.

His luggage - which includes a small animal carrier.

Which houses a small, bright orange... kitten.

"Aww..." Jim coos, trying not to act like a teenage girl. But he can't help himself, the kitten is just so adorable, staring up at him with bright green eyes. He wants to cuddle it close and never let go.

"He is genetically engineered for unique coloring and maximum affection. I know most felines can be temperamental, so I believed him to be a logical alternative to a natural-bred cat," the ambassador explains. "He will be an affectionate and loyal companion. I hope you find him suitable."

"He's perfect," Jim sighs, opening the carrier and gathering the warm bundle of fur into his arms. "Aren't you? Oh, yes you are. Oh yes, mm hmm..."

The kitten bats up at him playfully with its paws, squirming and climbing up just enough to lick his nose. Jim laughs at the rough tongue, the sensation it produces something like a tickle but not quite.

"What do you think I should call him?" Jim asks the ambassador with a smile.

The ambassador nearly smiles back - Jim can tell - but he only responds by telling Jim that the kitten is his pet to name as he will.

"Hmm..." Jim murmurs, staring down at his wriggling little gift. "How about Lasha?"

"Precious stone," the ambassador translates. "What is your inspiration, if I may ask?"

"His eyes," the captain says with a smile, bringing his face down to nuzzle the warm fur. "They are quite remarkable, aren't they?"

"Almost as remarkable as your own," the Vulcan agrees, and Jim uses Lasha to hide his blush this time.

He cuddles his kitten to his chest, refusing to put Lasha down, as the ambassador gathers his luggage and they walk toward his temporary quarters. It will take two days to return the ambassador to the Vulcan colony, and Jim intends to enjoy his time with the elder Vulcan while he can. They make plans to tour the Enterprise after dinner, followed by a game of chess. All the while, Lasha is purring contentedly in his arms - and Jim knows that he is smiling like a sap, but he always wanted a kitten when he was little, and his mother never let him have one.

She didn't think he was responsible enough, and Frank objected to having any "furballs" in the house. Jim knows that this alternate Spock must know this - and that giving him Lasha is an attempt to fulfill that childhood wish, making this kitten all the more precious.

Jim and the ambassador head for the mess after the ambassador gets settled. He considers dropping Lasha off at his quarters - but looking down at that adorable face, he just cannot make himself put his kitten down.

"Bones is going to complain that having animals around is unhygienic," he tells the Vulcan - and he is most definitely not pouting. Captains of the flagship do not pout – he cannot even imagine Christopher Pike pouting without breaking his brain. And it takes a lot to break Jim's brain.

"Lasha is hypoallergenic and genetically designed not to shed. He has been examined and received all vaccinations. There is no logical reason that he should not accompany us to dinner," the ambassador replies calmly – logically.

Jim cannot help but smile happily down at Lasha once more. Spocks always think of everything. Sometimes it can be annoying, but mostly it is just awesome. He is so lucky to have two Spocks.

They order their meals, and Jim orders cat food for Lasha. He does not want to know why it is on the menu - because as far as he knows, no other member of his crew has a pet cat. Perhaps one of his crewmen has an unusual palate and specially requested engineering to place it on the menu?

Jim and the ambassador seat themselves at an unoccupied table, and Jim places Lasha in his lap. He's not super hungry - so he feeds his kitten first, unable to keep from cooing as he offers spoon after spoon of cat food to Lasha, watching with pleasure as his kitten eats. It is a good feeling, to have someone depending on him. To take care of someone.

To have someone he knows will love him unconditionally. He's twenty-six years old, and he just received his first pet – Jim just cannot help but be smitten. He would love Lasha just because Spock gave him to him, if nothing else – it doesn't help that Lasha is just so… perfect.

After Lasha finishes his food, the kitten turns in a circle precisely three times before yawning and settling in for a nap. Jim cannot contain his "aww" as he finally turns towards his own meal.

When he looks up from his plate, he sees the ambassador looking at him fondly - like he is an adorable pet. Sort of the way Jim has been looking at Lasha. Jim thinks that if the ambassador was not quite so Vulcan he might even be cooing.

"Sorry," Jim mutters with a blush, looking down at his plate of food even as he continues to pet his sleeping kitten.

"Do not be sorry. I am... pleased that you so appreciate your gift," the ambassador assures him, and Jim flushes even more - eating a spoonful of rice so he has an excuse not to respond.

Selek kindly changes the subject to their after-dinner tour of the Enterprise, and Jim accepts the topic of his lady with enthusiasm. It is some time later when his first officer sits down beside him.

"Spock!" Jim greets with a smile. "How was your shift? The ambassador said negotiations went well. Do you see my new kitten? Ambassador Selek gave him to me, I named him Lasha. Isn't he adorable? Oh yes you are, aren't you? The prettiest little kitty..."

Lasha blinks up at him, unimpressed at being woken up by the vibrations of the bench when Spock sat down.

"Isn't he adorable, Spock?" Jim prods, gathering Lasha up in his arms and holding him out so his first officer can see him properly.

"His coloring is unique, and could perhaps be considered aesthetically pleasing," Spock replies, as unimpressed with Lasha as the kitten appears to be with him.

"Well I think you are the most cutest thing in the universe," Jim coos, cuddling Lasha to his chest and petting the kitten's head fondly.

"'Most cutest' is redundant, Captain," Spock informs him. "Also, as you have not seen all things in this universe, it is not accurate to make such an assumption."

Jim just sighs, cuddling Lasha closer and reassuring his kitten that Spock does not know what he is talking about - he is of course the most cutest, and he is sure the ambassador agrees with him.

"Right, Ambassador?" Jim asks with what he knows is a cute smile - it often gets Bones to melt, and that is no small feat.

"Indeed, I believe you to be a superlative judge of 'cuteness', Jim," the elder Vulcan replies in all seriousness - and Jim cannot help but shoot a smug smirk at Spock before settling Lasha back into his lap. The kitten sprawls this time, purring as Jim pets him.

"See? Cute," he prods Spock, but his first officer just nearly-scowls and ignores his comment.

"If you are finished with your meal, perhaps we can begin the tour?" Selek asks after a few more minutes.

Jim turns to Spock, feeling bad that they are leaving just after his first officer sat down.

"Do you want us to wait until you are done?" he asks.

"That is not necessary, Captain," Spock informs him. And well - that is that. Jim leaves with the ambassador and Lasha, ready to introduce his friend and his new pet to his beautiful ship.

The last stop of the tour is Jim's quarters, where he invites the ambassador in to play chess. Lasha sits calmly on his lap for the game, happy and purring as long as Jim pets him.

And the two days to the Vulcan colony pass entirely too quickly. Before Jim knows it, he is seeing the ambassador off at the transporter, Lasha in his arms and Spock and Bones on either side.

"I thank you for your hospitality, Jim," the elder Vulcan tells him.

"No problem," he replies with a smile. "And thanks again for Lasha. He is the best present I have ever received."

A smile nearly reaches the ambassador's eyes.

"As always, I endeavor to ensure your happiness, my t'hy'la," the ambassador murmurs softly, fondly - and then he drops a quick kiss to Jim's forehead, ignoring Bones's astonished stare and Spock's disapproving look.

Jim just smiles, doing his best not to blush as the ambassador steps back and nods to the ensign to begin transport.

"Jim... I swear, you are like Vulcan catnip..." Bones mutters, disbelieving. "He just... he just kissed you. On the forehead. Fondly. I... I may be hallucinating."

"I can't help it if I'm the second cutest being in the galaxy, Bones," he tells his friend with his best wide-eyed innocent look.

"Second?" the doctor asks. "You admitting you're not the most attractive thing ever? Who poked the needle in the balloon that is your ego?"

Jim holds Lasha so that the kitten is dangling adorably in his arms, eye-to-eye with Bones.

"Lasha, of course!" he says brightly. "How can you resist those eyes? I mean, really?"

Jim thinks that maybe he hears Spock mutter "I prefer blue", but that is probably just his imagination. Spock doesn't know how to mutter. And he can see Bones trying to scowl - but no, not even his grumpy best friend can resist Lasha's kitten eyes of cuteness. It is just not possible - his first officer appears to be the only being immune. And that is probably only because Spock has an awesome poker face – Jim knows that the Vulcan is cooing on the inside.

Truly. Crewmembers, male and female alike, have been crowding around Lasha (and by default, Jim) for the past two days, cooing over how adorable his kitten is. So Jim knows it is not just that he is so completely biased by his love for his little kitten.

"Well, at least he is teaching you some measure of humbleness," Bones tries to grump. Jim just smiles and holds Lasha close once again - he knows that he should probably let his kitten walk around some, but he just cannot help but want to hold him all the time. What if someone steps on him? Or what if he gets lost?

A starship could be a dangerous place for such a cute little guy, and Jim knows he would be heartbroken if anything happened to his pet. So maybe he coddles Lasha a little too much... but that's okay, he's sort of like a first time parent, wanting to make sure he does everything perfectly. And that's fine - he acknowledges it.

And he could put Lasha down if he wanted to. He could.

Two weeks later…

McCoy smirks at Spock, the Vulcan more tense than normal as Jim coos down at that damn bright orange furball on the bridge.


Everyone on the Enterprise - and every planet they have visited - knows that Spock is head-over-heels for the captain. It is kind of hilarious, in an 'I cannot believe that!' sort of way. And it is even more hilarious, seeing the Enterprise's oh-so-logical first officer driven batshit crazy jealous by a kitten, of all things.

Sometimes, McCoy loves his life.

"Jim, Lasha knows that you think he is the cutest thing in the damn galaxy. Everyone on the Enterprise knows. Don't you think you can tone down the gushing a bit?" he drawls, just to see Spock's spine stiffen even further.

Jim just pouts.

"The universe, Bones. Not the galaxy, the universe," he stresses seriously, as if the distinction is important. "And Lasha is like my baby. I need him to know that he is loved."

And that sort of melts McCoy - because damn, he knows just how much Jim wasn't loved as a child, and it might actually be the most adorable thing in the universe that Jim wants to make sure his kitten never feels the same way - unloved and invisible and neglected. How could he possibly grump about that?

"A feline is in no way similar to a human infant, Captain," Spock corrects stiffly. "If you are experiencing the need to procreate, perhaps you should first obtain a suitable mate. There are many who would find you a superlative partner."

And that might just be the most damn obvious opening Spock has ever left for Jim. But their captain is a bit distracted by the orange furball, and the comment sails right over his head. Sometimes, his genius best friend can be a bit of an idiot...

"But Lasha might get jealous," Jim just replies with wide eyes. "He sleeps in my bed, and he probably would not like to share. And what if the other person rolled over on him while he was sleeping? Then Lasha would be hurt. Hurt and jealous. No, I couldn't do that to him."

Uhura snorts from her station, and McCoy watches with amusement as Jim asks her what she finds so funny.

"James T-for-Tomcat Kirk is not going to bring any partners back to his bed because his kitten might get jealous? Pull the other leg, sir," the communication officer says sassily. McCoy always knew he liked that woman - she has nerve.

"I love Lasha enough not to want to hurt his feelings," Jim tells her seriously - and yes, McCoy might just burst a blood vessel holding in his laughter as he sees Spock stiffer so far his spine might snap. This is just... golden.

"If you say so, sir," Uhura replies, obviously dubious.

"Lasha believes me, don't you boy? Oh yes you do, oh yes. You know Daddy would never let anyone kick you out of his bed, don't you?" Jim coos down at the kitten drowsily lying in his lap.

McCoy sort of wonders what Spock would give to be in that kitten's place.

And then that thought is forgotten as Sulu informs Jim that their sensors spot a Klingon warbird. His best friend goes into full captain mode – except for the kitten, now silently curled up in his lap.

"Sulu, raise all shields. Uhura, attempt to contact them. Ask them why they are in Federation space," Jim orders.

The communications officer complies, professional as always when the situation calls for it. It only takes her a few seconds before she turns back to the captain to tell him the Klingons refuse to respond.

Jim scowls in response – sometimes McCoy wishes that he could read his mind, because he can see a plan forming behind those too-sharp eyes.

"Try hailing them one more time, Lieutenant," he orders. "Sulu, Chekov – prepare weapons. I have a feeling we are going to need to use them."

Jim's feelings are almost always right – and this time is no exception. The Klingons respond to their second attempt to hail them with phaser fire – and the Enterprise fires right back. It is almost like a lion fighting a housecat – the Enterprise is the flagship of the Federation, fully armed and retrofitted for battle after the encounter with Nero. She is captained by a strategic genius, with a pilot and navigator who can almost anticipate his every order before he gives it. And warbirds are really only effective in groups – it is unusual that this one is entirely alone in Federation space.

The battle is over in under five minutes – McCoy is sure Spock could give him the exact amount of time, if he asks.

Jim, as always, is merciful. He tells Uhura to hail the Klingons one last time – and this time, the bastards don't ignore them. The Klingon that fills the view screen – the captain, McCoy assumes – is young, about Jim's age, probably, though it is hard to tell. He is tall and muscular, and the scowl on his face would probably make a lesser man cower.

But Jimmy is anything but a lesser man – and everyone knows just who has the advantage, here.

"This is Captain James T. Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Identify yourself and surrender to Federation custody, and I will spare the lives of you and your crew," Jim informs him firmly.

The Klingon gives a little scoff – and then does a double take when he sees the furball in Jim's lap.

"Is… is that a kitten?" the Klingon asks, seemingly terrified – in the same voice McCoy would use if he saw someone cuddling a crocodile. "You… you keep a kitten on your bridge?"

Jim blinks at him, and then looks down at the thing.

"It's just Lasha," he says nonchalantly. "We do everything together. It would be silly to keep him off the bridge when I let him sleep in my bed."

The Klingon blanches – and McCoy realizes, quite suddenly, that the other captain is absolutely frightened out of his wits by a tiny little kitten. And that he thinks Jim is a psychopath for cuddling one close.

"I surrender, Captain James T. Kirk – your courage and strength must be mighty indeed, to tame such a feral beast," the Klingon concedes, cringing back from the view screen when Lasha gives a little yawn and curls up in Jim's lap, purring as Jim pets him.

Uhura takes over the connection to settle particulars, so the view screen goes blank, and Sulu and Chekov maintain battle stations – in case the Klingons change their minds and decide to attack again rather than surrender.

But McCoy cannot hold in his bark of laughter as Spock curls his hands into tight fists behind his back and mutters: "The captain is going to be incorrigible."

And the hell of it is, the green-blooded hobgoblin is right. But really, it is pretty awesome that Lasha scares the Klingons.

Later that day…

"You ever going to tell him?" McCoy asks seriously as he and Spock watch Jim set up a cat bed next to the treadmill, petting the kitten and cooing at it until it drowsily curls up. It doesn't go to sleep though - just watches the captain with sharp green eyes as he gives it one last pat and starts his daily run.

"I do not know of what you speak, Doctor. Perhaps you should endeavor to be more specific," Spock replies, emotionless as ever - the only thing that gives him away are his eyes. McCoy does not respond to that, just shakes his head in exasperation at the both of them as he wonders how Jim does not feel that possessive gaze on his ass.

Sometimes he wonders if Jim does know, and is just playing with Spock - because nobody can be oblivious enough to think that the first officer's protective, possessive actions can be explained away by simply duty, can they? Spock practically breathes Jim, he is so committed to the captain's safety and happiness. But McCoy knows his best friend enough to know that Jim is not cruel - if he had any idea about Spock's feelings, he would gently explain why a relationship between them would not work.

Well, that or return Spock's feelings. Sometimes it is hard to tell, with his oblivious captain. Most of the time Jim is not even aware of his own feelings, let alone those of anyone else.

Well, unless that anyone else is his kitten - then he is perfectly attuned. It is still pretty damn hilarious, the way the captain just melts and spoils the damn furball rotten. An outsider would almost think that "cutey-wootey little Lasha" is the actual leader of the Enterprise. Especially after the encounter with the Klingons – McCoy thought they were going to die when Jim brought Lasha down with him to the brig to visit the prisoners. So yeah, the furball definitely acts like he is the king of the realm, sometimes – and because he makes Jim so happy, everyone lets him get away with it.

The only exception is Spock, who McCoy thinks would probably throw the thing out of an airlock if he could - if he didn't know that would completely devastate Jim. McCoy is sure that Spock would never purposefully do anything to hurt their friend, no matter how illogically jealous he may get of a small fluffy little animal...

Well, he is pretty sure, anyway...

Two months later…

McCoy watches with trepidation as a beautiful Andorian leans against Jim, pressing her breasts to his side. The Enterprise's first officer is standing stiffly at his side - with his hands clenched tightly into fists behind his back. McCoy wonders if Spock will go over there - make something up to cockblock Jim and send him back to his beloved Enterprise. It definitely would not be the first time.

"How about we go somewhere we can be alone, handsome?" she says seductively, and he is pretty sure that Spock is mentally ripping her head off her shoulders, pacifism be damned. The way he is glaring... well, it is pretty damn scary. That Andorian better be damn careful.

Jim looks at the woman thoughtfully, his eyes drifting down to admire her cleavage. McCoy kind of thinks that Spock's spine is going to snap, he is so tense.

"How do you feel about cats?" he asks conversationally.

"Cats?" the Andorian repeats, unbalanced. "Um... they're kind of standoffish. Sort of like Vulcans. I'm more of a dog person, myself."

Jim frowns at this response - and then nods decisively.

"I understand," he tells her. "But I'm not into one night stands anymore, being all captainly and everything. And our world views are just so diametrically different, that I cannot see us working out. But you see my friend over there? The scruffy hot guy with the dark hair? Yeah, that's Doctor Leonard McCoy. He's mostly a dog person, too, I think."

And then the beautiful Andorian is walking towards McCoy, looking pretty confused. Jim does that to the best of them, of course, so he cannot blame her. And he definitely does not blame Jim - in fact, McCoy thinks, as the woman presses her breasts against his side, Jim is pretty much the best best friend ever.

And who knew Lasha could make such a good wingman?

McCoy lets himself be dragged out of the bar, watching with no small measure of satisfaction as Spock quickly glues himself to Jim's side - glaring at anyone outside of the Enterprise crew who looks like they might approach the captain.

And probably glaring at some of the Enterprise crew as well, just to be safe.

Damn possessive Vulcans, McCoy thinks - his last grump of the night as the Andorian female quickly diverts his mind to other thoughts.

The next night…

"Spock!" his captain calls, panic threading his voice.

Spock is across the room and through their shared bathroom in moments, stepping into his captain's quarters, drawing his phaser and quickly scanning the room for any potential threats. He does not ascertain any immediate problems, but it is logical to keep his phaser drawn in preparation for any eventuality. His captain is not visible, and is thus logically behind his sleep partition.

"Captain?" he inquires. "Why did you loudly state my name?"

"Spock, please come around the partition. There's something wrong with Lasha. I don't... I don't know what's wrong!" his captain states, and the human sounds close to hysterical. Although Spock holds no fondness for the feline, he will do his best to assist his captain. He does not wish to for the human to experience any distress.

His captain is sitting on his bed, clothed in nothing but a pair of bright red undergarments. The human pays no heed to his state of undress, however - his eyes are locked on the small feline lying on the bed, breathing rapidly and panting. Blue eyes look up at him pleadingly, as if Spock will have the necessary answers, before returning to gaze helplessly upon the distressed animal.

"Its okay, Lasha. Spock's here. He'll help you. He always knows what to do. And I called Bones, too. He'll be here soon. And I know he's a doctor, goddamn it, not a vet - but he'll help you. He has to," Jim whispers softly, voice shaking as he gently strokes the feline's fur.

The sight of his captain's uncertainty and helplessness nearly unravels Spock - but he steadies himself with logic. His captain is depending on him, and he must not fail him.

"Has your feline consumed any products deviating from the normal in the past 24 hours, Captain?" Spock questions calmly, trying to get the human's attention.

"No... no, I never feed him anything but cat food. And he rarely leaves my sight. I don't know... oh, wait! Scotty dropped some onion from his sandwich when he was walking down the hall, and Lasha ate it before I could stop him. But... but onion wouldn't make him so sick, would it? Look at him, Spock. Oh god, this is all my fault. Just... Bones will help him, right?" his captain asks, looking up at him with frightened blue eyes. Spock wishes to reassure him - to tell him that all will be well, and Doctor McCoy will of course stabilize the feline.

But Spock will not lie.

"Onions contain n-propyl disulfide, Captain, which breaks down red blood cells and thus prevents oxygen from circulating. With the feline's low body weight, a few ounces may be enough to cause such symptoms as rapid breathing, accelerated heart rate, and blood in the urine. Knowing the cause of such symptoms, Doctor McCoy will likely be able to synthesize an antidote," he informs the human.

His captain looks up at him with wet eyes, and then turns back to caressing and softly whispering to the distressed animal. It takes an additional 4.3 minutes for Doctor McCoy to arrive, at which point Spock explains the situation. The doctor does not curse, simply picks up the animal and uses the ship communicator to tell Engineer Scott to transport them to medbay.

Spock deduces that the feline's situation is critical. Captain Kirk is inconsolable.

"Spock... Spock, what am I going to do?" he whispers, looking down at the bed. "Lasha... Spock, how could I? Oh god, he's going to die, Spock."

"You cannot make such assumptions, sir," Spock states, though he knows that statistically the feline does not have a high chance of survival.

Blue eyes look up at him, lashes wet - and then Spock is being embraced by a warm, crying human.

"I love him, Spock. I love him so much. He's mine, and I'm supposed to protect him, and keep him safe. And he... he's such a little troublemaker sometimes, always getting into everything. But I wouldn't... I wouldn't trade him for the world. And he just looks up at me, with those... those beautiful eyes, and I just forgive him everything, and cuddle him close, and... I just love him so much, Spock. If he dies..." his captain Jim cries.

And though Spock will not admit such a thought out loud, he knows exactly how Jim feels - the same way Spock feels every time his captain is injured and his survival is not certain. Spock loves Jim, and wishes the human were his. He tries to protect him and keep him safe, but Jim is indeed a troublemaker. But Spock would not serve any other captain, and he cannot help but acquiesce to Jim's demands when his captain looks at him with those beautiful blue eyes. If Jim died...

Spock does not wish to think of it. Just as he does not wish to think of Jim's reaction - of Jim's pain - should the feline not survive.

"I understand," Spock states softly, carding his fingers through Jim's light hair. His captain just buries his face in Spock's neck, burrowing closer. And though Spock has received his wish - Jim is in his arms, warm and nearly naked, pressed tightly to his body - he is in no state to appreciate it. He would not wish anything that causes such distress to his captain.

"Let me... let me get dressed, and then we can go to medbay," Jim says after 5.3 minutes of embracing. "I...I'm sorry for crying all over you."

"You have nothing to be sorry for, Jim," Spock tells him.

The human gives him a watery smile as he pulls on a wrinkled uniform from the floor. Spock does not comment on the breach in dress code - his captain may appear as wrinkled as he likes, at this moment.

"You called me Jim," his captain says. "I don't... I don't think you've ever done that before. I... thanks, Spock."

Spock just nods, suppressing his shock when Jim reaches forward to hold his hand.

"Ok... we can go to medbay, now," Jim says softly, not looking Spock in the eyes.

Spock just tightens his grip, refusing to let the warm hand be parted from his own as he gently leads Jim toward their destination.

Spock sits with Jim in the medbay for precisely 1 hour and 34.5 minutes before Doctor McCoy emerges. It is 1 hour and 34.5 minutes of Jim holding his hand, and laying his head on his shoulder, and nearly sitting in his lap.

It would be paradise, if Jim were not pale and crying and shaking.

Jim jumps to his feet when he sees the doctor, and he immediately asks if his feline has survived.

"Well, your Lasha will be just fine, Jimmy. It was good that we knew it was the onion - let us synthesize the treatment. You are going to have to be really careful about what he eats for the next couple days, though," the doctor tells him.

Jim sags back against his chest in relief.

"I... don't worry, Bones - I'm not going to be putting Lasha down for a good long while. He is going to stay in my arms - and he is not going to eat anything that I don't put there," Jim says with a weak smile - and then reaches down to grasp Spock's hand, tugging him towards the room where Doctor McCoy indicates the feline is recovering.

He ignores the doctor's all-too-knowing look, and follows his captain - as he always does, and always will.

"Oh, Lasha," Jim whispers when they enter the room, dropping Spock's hand as he falls to his knees beside his feline's bed. He strokes his pets head gently, and the young animal opens his eyes, letting out a weak meow and licking Jim's hand before falling back to sleep. Spock cannot find it in himself to be jealous - not when he knows what it would have cost Jim to lose his beloved pet. "Oh, isn't he just the most beautiful thing you have ever seen, Spock?"

"Yes," Spock replies. "He is."

He is not speaking of the feline.

Jim raises his eyes, locking gazes with Spock - and the Vulcan knows that Jim realizes, in that moment, just what his Vulcan first officer feels for him.

"Are you a cat person, Spock?" the human questions seriously, continuing his gently strokes along the feline's head.

Spock stares down at the animal in the bed, knowing the answer Jim wants from him. But as always, he cannot lie.

"I will endeavor to be so, Jim. And as you may be aware, Vulcans descended from a race of felids," Spock tells him.

Jim lets out a small laugh, gazing down once more.

"Well, then I guess Lasha will just have to get used to sharing the bed. I think it might just be big enough for three," his captain says softly, looking up at him with serious blue eyes.

And Spock finds it a bit troubling that Jim considers it the feline who will share his bed with Spock, and not Spock who will allow his bed to be occupied by an animal - but he is being given his greatest desire, and now is no time to be arguing semantics.

The feline lets out another weak meow, stealing the entirety of Jim's attention as he soothes it, him with softly whispered words of assurance. Spock steps out of the room, after telling the captain that he will look after the Enterprise.

That gets him a smile of gratitude, before Jim devotes himself once more to his pet.

"Who knew that cat would bring you together, huh Spock?" Doctor McCoy asks as the Vulcan attempts to exit medbay. "A couple of times I thought you were going to shoot it out of an airlock."

Spock does not allow himself to be baited.

"I would not emotionally distress the captain in such a way," he replies evenly.

The doctor scrutinizes him, before giving a decisive nod.

"Good, because Jim loves that goddamn cat to death. Because he's Jim, and he has a heart of gold, even though he tries to hide it. But mostly because you gave it to him, even if it was that other you. Because you thought he was responsible enough, good enough, to take care of another life," Doctor McCoy tells him, acting as though he is imparting an important secret.

And perhaps he is.

"I will endeavor to protect Jim and all that he loves," Spock says in response, because it is only logical to return one such declaration with another.

"See that you do," the doctor says with a smile, before nearly physically pushing him from medbay.

Spock heads for the bridge, because one of the things Jim loves is the Enterprise, and he will not break his promise.