Disclaimer: Never owned it, never will. Written for love. Money, we don't have that in this century. At least, I don't.
A/N: Yowza. This is the longest anything I've written in forever. I know, it's not even 3000 words. For some of you that's a microbe in a universe. Hopefully, this is a sign that my writing brain is coming back and I can move on to something plotty. Coz, plotty ain't happening here. Just fluff. Non-explicit SLASH, but IMPLICATIONS OF SEX and some phrases that might put some people off. If unsure, TURN BACK NOW! I really hope nobody takes offense at this – it was an idea that came to me from seeing various pictures of The Shat through the years, so it's canon, right?
Reviews are made of bacon. MOAR BACON PLS?
"Jim, when you got the Enterprise back, you looked like death warmed over. You practically were death warmed over," Chief Medical Officer Leonard H. McCoy started in his usual, blunt manner.
"Ouch," his patient winced in mock pain, "Can't you pull a punch just once in a while, Bones?" James T. Kirk, youngest Admiral in the 'fleet and the only one currently in command of a starship was certain he knew what was coming next.
"Returning to command was what you needed, I'll be the first one to say that, and you know it," the doctor continued.
And Jim did know – knew McCoy had argued with the Old Man himself, and anyone else who would listen. Told Nogura not to promote Kirk to Admiral, backed it up with data showing that starship command was where Jim belonged. Jim had been hurt by his friend's actions at the time, but later realized the self-proclaimed country doctor had understood what he hadn't, and what the powers that be didn't care to understand. Hell, they probably did understand - it just hadn't mattered to them. They'd wanted Kirk where they could use him. Poster boy for Starfleet. Oh, his title and position were legitimate, but only an excuse to keep him where he could be useful for public relations, because the public genuinely liked James T. Kirk, apparent worker of miracles, savior of Earth a few times over. Jim could be political if he had to be – and he'd been able and quite willing to use the aftermath of V'ger to right the wrongs that had been done against him by his superiors. He'd gotten back his ship. His home. Things were as they should be, or well on the way to it.
"But..?" Kirk prompted.
"Jim, there is a reason that the CMO has control over the nutritional intake of the crew. Including the captain, Even if he's an admiral."
"Bones, what the devil are you talking about? I know I've put on a few pounds, but you said yourself, I needed it. And I'm not circumventing your restrictions on my meal card, if that's what you think. I've been a good little captain," Jim countered. "Good little admiral," he corrected himself, nodding his head once for emphasis.
"So you're not having a member of the crew, say, someone, or several someones, with no dietary restriction, use their cards to get you what you're not supposed to have? Pulling rank on them? Or asking one of your groupies?"
"I'm serious, Jim."
"Me, too. Terribly serious. Now, tell me...do I really have groupies?" he grinned, trying to change the subject.
"Get off it, Jim - you know you do, and you know the pointy-eared president of your fan club has a habit of capitulating to your every whim, sometimes even before you have the blasted whim. He indulges you and you damn well know it."
Kirk dismissed the doctor's diatribe with a wave of his hand and a shake of his head.
"What's your point, Bones? Honestly, I'm not getting food from anywhere or anyone beside what I get with my meal card." He tapped the doctor's chest to emphasize his next point. "With the restrictions YOU put on it. And really, Bones, I'm at the same weight now that I was on our first five-year mission. More or less."
"Whatever. I'm in great shape, get regular workouts. The reason I've gained weight is that I'm eating. What I'm supposed to, and on a regular basis. When I was a desk jockey, I had no appetite. None. If my secretary didn't remind me to eat, I didn't. And I was so busy, I barely had time for any exercise. And of course, Spock was…" he trailed off, lost in thought for a moment, then shook it off and looked McCoy in the eye. "You know why I wasn't eating. That situation has been resolved. And you have your answer."
"Okay, Jim. Yes, I suspected as much. But, you're actually a few pounds over what you were at the end of the first mission. This is the most you've weighed in your life. Granted, it's mostly muscle," he admitted, "Now. It's mostly muscle now. But you know full well that you know you are predisposed toward being heavier, genetically, and as people age … Jim…do you want to end up with love handles?"
Jim stifled a giggle. It would have been a manly giggle, of course, but he stopped himself.
"Oh." Kirk smiled gently at his friend. "You're serious"
"Damn right, I'm serious."
"Bones," Jim said softly. "Bones….make whatever changes to my diet you think are necessary…I won't balk. And I'll try to fit in an extra workout each week. Happy?"
The doctor grinned widely and bounced on his toes.
"Spock, would you mind if we didn't play chess this evening?"
The first officer nodded deferentially to his commanding officer and friend. "Of course, Jim. Do you require an extended period of rest tonight?"
"Not at all, Spock, not at all. Actually I was hoping we could spar physically rather than mentally this time. It's been a while since you and I went at it," his eyes twinkled. "In the gym," he added, with a wink. "You could say it's…doctor's orders. He thinks I'm going to get love handles."
"Love handles." His head tilted slightly to one side, Spock studied Jim's expression. The eyebrow lifted slightly. "A most…curious term."
"Indeed." Jim laughed in reply, taking Spock by the elbow to nudge him along. "Come on," he jerked his head in the direction of the recreational facilities down the corridor. "Let's hit the gym."
"The good doctor believes your health to be in danger? That is his reasoning for insisting on these changes?" Spock questioned as he easily threw off Jim's frontal attack, throwing him to the mat. Jim tucked and rolled onto his feet, then paused to rest his hands on his knees and catch his breath. The Vulcan seemed to view the doctor's assertions as a personal attack on his own abilities to keep watch over his captain's well-being.
"He didn't insist, Spock. I suggested it myself. And I'm fine. Really. Stop going easy on me. I won't break. I need to work up a sweat." Jim stood up straight and brazenly gazed at his friend, eyes bright and mischievous, grin lopsided.
"Come on, Spock, make my heart pound. I'm sure you agree with Bones on this, at least. You don't want me to end up with love handles. Do you?" Jim's grin widened into the room-illuminating smile that was only seen by a fortunate few. He chuckled softly.
Spock let out the breath he hadn't realized he was holding, in what was most definitely not a sigh. He hadn't succeeded in getting Jim to break a sweat or increase his heart rate, and yet his own heart was pounding in his side.
And Spock could not think of anything to say.
"Now, look, Jim. You've gained another ten pounds in the last quarter. I know you're working out, and I'm monitoring your meal card. This shouldn't be happening. You should have hit a plateau and stayed in that general area. I'm not saying you're fat – but you are most certainly headed in that direction. Just come clean. Who is it? Do I need to get that pointy-eared hobgoblin to ride your ass about this?"
Jim desperately tried to hold in a laugh – a genuine guffaw – but failed. McCoy rolled his eyes at him and let out an exasperated sigh.
"Dammit, you know what I mean. Are you twelve? Keep that stuff in your cabin. I really don't want to know," McCoy sputtered, but Kirk already had his shirt back on and was on his way out the Sickbay door. The doctor, suddenly in a playful mood, taunted him as he exited.
"Maybe the two of you can think of some OTHER activity to burn up calories?"
"Spock," the name slipped out the way it always did – the way it nearly always had – barely more than a whisper. "Spock, I need to figure out what's wrong with me. Bones is going crazy over this, and dragging me along." The first officer had entered his captain's quarters only a few moments earlier. Jim had immediately begun explaining the doctor's concern over his health, and more specifically, his weight. "He's done test after test and come up with nothing that could be the cause, so he thinks I'm coercing a crewmember into getting me snacks. It's…ludicrous." He threw his hands up in irritation and resumed the pacing that Spock's entrance had interrupted.
Kirk stopped mid-stride, lifting his eyes to his companion. His name on Spock's lips, so reverently. A prayer. But, the expression on Spock's face. In his eyes. Nobody else would have seen it, but…Jim shook his head slightly, squinted and refocused his gaze. He frowned.
"You, Spock? You...how?" But, he could guess the answer to that one easily enough. The food replicators are computer controlled. Spock speaks their language. Adjust some parameters, change the nutritional value of selections.
So. More importantly…
"All right, Spock…" His mind was threatening to reel. "...why?"
The Vulcan glided across the space separating them, seemingly without taking a step. How does he do that? Jim thought, distractedly, then forced himself back to the moment. Spock's face was fully open, vulnerable. He displayed no emotion, but neither was there the mask of control. His words were soft, reassuring…tender.
"Jim. I assure you, your health is in no danger and you are as fit as you ever have been. Do you trust me?"
"Spock…you know I do. Implicitly, and with my life. I'm only trying to.."
"Jim, please understand. I have only your best interests in mind."
"The doctor's concern over what he called "love handles" prompted me to consider some…possibilities."
Oh. Did it, now? Kirk's eyebrow did a passable imitation of his Vulcan, but he said nothing.
"Dr. McCoy means well, I am certain, but he errs on the side of being overly cautious, sometimes to the extreme. And he is rather prone to…the melodramatic. Captain, I have calculated, through my observations of you, and analysis of yours and your family's medical histories, the weight range that is acceptable for you." Spock seemed to be treading delicately, choosing each word with care. "Taking into consideration, naturally, the physical demands of your…position…"
"Oh, naturally. My position"
"When we began this five-year mission, you were decidedly underweight. And…your tendency to…" Spock seemed unsure of himself. "..to become…when you do not have sufficient caloric and carbohydrate intake to achieve satiety on at least a somewhat regular basis, there is a tendency for you to become…I believe the term is…grumpy?"
"I do not get grumpy."
"As you wish." Spock pointedly ignored the glower emanating from the compact force of nature standing less than a meter away. "My analysis determined an optimal weight range that will not only allow you to meet the physical demands of your duties, but also to maintain an almost continually pleasant demeanor."
"Are you…serious? Your calculations show that if I'm chubby, I won't get snippy with the crew? This is…this is fabulous." Jim chuckled. "Anything else? Might as well spill all the beans while you're on a roll." Kirk shook his head at himself when he realized his tendency to use food-related idioms. He sighed and looked back up, his hazel eyes met Spock's, Jim's breath caught in his chest.
Spock met his gaze, unwavering, allowing amusement at his captain's own merriment to dance in his eyes as he diminished the remaining zero point seven nine meters that were between them. They would have been breathing the same air, but for the fact Jim had stopped breathing.
"Jim." Again, a prayer. Spock's hand – when did he move it there? – was under his chin, tilting his head back slightly as Spock moved to meet his lips. Gently, reverently, hesitantly, as if asking permission for this act of worship. Jim answered with equal gentleness, lips lightly brushing his, not yet ready to allow Spock to be finished explaining himself.
"Spock, I know you – there's more to tell, isn't there?"
Spock sighed. A genuine sigh that he might actually acknowledge as a sigh…only to his captain. Ever and only to Jim. He was fully confident in his research, his analysis, his conclusions and his actions. Explaining them to Jim, however…he was uncharacteristically hesistant.
**Three months prior**
Spock had been intrigued by Jim's revelation after the quarterly physical, and quite understandably curious about the phrase Jim had mentioned in the gym.
Curiosity is not an emotion. It is acceptable for a Vulcan to be curious. If commendations were given for curiosity, Spock would be well commended, indeed.
Of course, after their workout, he had made inquiries of the library computer. When he'd heard the results, he had experienced an emotion – relief. Spock had been overwhelmingly relieved he'd decided to conduct his research in the privacy of his quarters. Having a fellow crewmember – even having Jim – hear the computer speak out loud the explanation of "love handles" might have lead to Spock being the first Vulcan to die of embarrassment.
He coupled this newfound knowledge with what he already knew of his captain – his history, health, disposition, appetites – and Spock took his own proclivities into consideration as well, and came up with a plan.
"You have got to be kidding me."
"I assure you, I am not."
"No, no, 'course you're not. It's…completely logical. And, surprisingly, Mr. Spock, I am not upset with you in the least. I suppose that means your plan is working, doesn't it? No grumpy here. Not a bit." He stretched up to meet Spock's lips, to demonstrate his complete lack of grump.
"So, Mr. Spock," he pulled away and did a full turn, arms held wide. "Are you pleased with the results of your little project? I don't quite have love handles – and I am not going to, mister!" He shook a finger at the other man, "but there is more of me to love." He smirked, then seemed to realize something and dropped his arms. Jim looked thoughtfully at Spock. "It just occurred to me – I've never seen a…let's say…chubby…Vulcan. Is that even…possible?"
Spock looked slightly uncomfortable. "Yes, although it is extremely rare. In those cases it is always due to a genetic mutation that brings dire health problems as well. There is a small percentage who develop a bulky musculature, but on the whole, Vulcans, despite their great strength, unfortunately tend to be exceedingly thin. I believe humans use the phrase, "Skin and bones?"
"Ah..." Jim considered what he'd heard and what his intuition whispered to him. "And now we come to your true motivations."
"Don't 'captain' me, now, mister! Besides, it's Admiral. And I've got you figured out!" Jim confronted his friend, punctuating each syllable by poking his index finger into Spock's chest. Kirk was…fascinated, and couldn't stop himself.
"Capt…Admir…Jim...I did explain…" Spock just stopped talking, gaping at his captain. He straightened visibly, eyes wide open. "You do?" There went the eyebrow.
Jim thought Spock looked rather nervous, not completely unlike a small boy who's been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. (Really? Another food idiom? I need to watch that.) Spock suddenly looked like he was all made up of awkward, bony, angles and edges and hard surfaces. Of course.
Of course. Perfectly logical.
"Yes, I do, Mr. Spock. I most certainly do. Only my best interests in mind? Yes, of course, but not quite only that, my dear, dear friend and lover – and don't try to deny it! The reason you decided to make a project of me – it's so obvious now! You wanted..." Kirk was beaming, "… more cushion for the pushin'!"
Spock said nothing. He merely calculated the amount of time remaining before either of them were to be back on duty. Finding the quantity sufficient for his purposes, he eliminated the gap separating him from his captain, and with the smile that was ever and only for his captain, took the next logical step.