Spock was sly, Jim would give him that, but Jim was slyer. Spock probably thought he had everybody fooled, and, to be fair, he probably had the vast majority of the crew completely hoodwinked, but Jim had spent the better part of the last year and a half majoring in Spock 101. Hell, he'd even written the volumes "Interpreting the Eyebrow: Anything Above Half an Inch and Run", "The Many Uses for the Adjective 'Fascinating'", and "Vulcan Standard to Terran Standard 101: How You May Be Insulted and Not Even Know It", otherwise known as captain's personal logs stardates 2260.104, 2260.120 and 2260.134. He had studied, and stared and plotted and longed and had reached a point where he had Spock's mannerisms down better than Spock, himself.

Bottom line: he knew his Spock, thus he knew, unequivocally, that Spock was sick (and being rather shifty about it).

It was there in the thin lines of redness around those brown, brown eyes. There in the slight, very slight, so slight you had to squint to look, dip in his shoulders, there in the way he stood less rigid than normal, which for Spock, the Vulcan equivalent of the poster child for Post's book of etiquette and posture, was saying something.

All signs pointed to Spock's human half discovering the joys of the common cold. The poor bastard.

But of course Spock wouldn't report said illness to Bones, showing up for his shift instead, of course not. That fell under Jim's Spock encyclopedia volume 4, otherwise known as "Things Vulcans Say are Logical When In Fact They're Not". If it wasn't life-threatening, nor hampered Spock's performance in any way, he let the illness run its course. If called upon it, Spock would probably claim he could meditate all of the symptoms away that night or something, and, while Jim knew enough about the universe to know not to question the power of 'Vulcan Voodoo' as Bones would call it, he had his doubts.

If colds could survive hundreds of years of human medical advancement without fear of a cure being discovered, Jim was sure the virus wasn't exactly quaking in fear of Vulcan mind over matter.

And Jim hated to see Spock suffer, even a little bit. An extremely inconvenient side effect of being secretly in love with the stubborn ass.

So fine, then. Jim would take care of Spock. And he'd be subtle about it so Spock wouldn't even cotton on that he was doing it. That way he could save Spock's pride (volume 5 "Understanding Your Vulcan: Half Human Vulcans Named Spock HATE to be Coddled") and work to alleviate some of Jim's growing concern.

The first part was rather easy. He did his research on Vulcan cuisine, found their equivalent of chicken soup, and programmed it into the replicator. That he made the mistake of tasting said creation after programming it Spock need never find out.

Jim didn't know what in the galaxy a Plomeek was, nor did he really care, what he did know is that someone took day-old oatmeal, a dirty sock, and mold (the latter ingredient added for texture) and orange food dye, and blended it together, then took out any remnants of taste that might have survived the combining of such a mixture, thatwould describe Plomeek soup.

But whatever, it wasn't for him, and if Spock could weather Jim's pre-chess game beef jerky binges, then Jim could survive the blandest concoction ever to call itself a soup.

He did need a professional opinion on whether he had got the mixture right though, so he put together a tray and carried it to sickbay (trying desperately not to smell it the entire way there) and confronted the only human he knew, other than the late, great, Amanda Grayson, to have lived on Vulcan and survive their fascinatingcuisine.

"Dr. M'Benga, my man, I'm in need of your Vulcan expertise. I just added this Vulcan recipe to the replicator and am unsure if it turned out authentic. Could you try this for me and let me know if it's at all close to what it should be?" Jim smiled at the surprised doctor, who, to his credit, recovered quickly and eyed the bright orange goo Jim held before him, the dark lips forming a large grin.

"Plomeek soup."

"If you want to call it a soup, that's your business," Jim teased, his own smile growing as the doctor laughed.

"It takes a little getting used to," Geoffrey admitted as he reached to take a spoonful and brought it to his lips.

Jim had to give the man credit, he didn't so much as wince as he tasted the neon goop.

"Yes, that's very close to what I remember," the doctor confirmed, eyeing his captain with a decidedly amused twinkle in his eye. And the same smile Bones got whenever he wanted Jim to know that he wasn't fooling anybody anywhere.

Bones was obviously a very bad influence on his staff.

"It's very thoughtful of you to add this to the ship's databanks for Commander Spock," M'Benga stated knowingly. A little too knowingly for Jim's comfort. But there was nothing that could be done about it. Jim trusted Bones' staff to be discreet, they always were, and if the only resident expert on Vulcan (other than Spock, himself) knew that Jim was actually just one big softie who sort of had it bad for his second in command, well, it wasn't necessarily a bad thing exactly.

So he simply replied, "Yeah, well, don't let it get out, reputation to uphold and all that," and bid the doctor thanks and adieu, wondering how long it would take Spock to notice that the soup had been added.

The next step in his grand plan of easing Spock's discomfort involved him arriving to the bridge before Spock the next day, which, considering Spock made arriving early for every shift an art form, was a huge pain in the butt.

But needs must, so Jim dragged his tired ass out of bed at 'too early to be alive, let alone cognizant' in the morning, showered, dressed, consumed mass quantities of the pre-shift prerequisite caffeine, and managed, undoubtedly just, to arrive before Spock.

"Computer adjust bridge settings to increase ten degrees Fahrenheit," he commanded, thanking his lucky stars, perhaps for the first time since the damn avocado green wrap tunic that passed itself off as regulation had waltzed into his life, that it had a generous v-neck… at least he wouldn't completely die of heatstroke during alpha. Certainly it'd be a close call, Jim didn't do excessive heat well, never had. But he could definitely hang on until shift's end like the stalwart captain he was, especially when it served a greater purpose.

Damn he really was a hopeless schmuck in love. If it wasn't him the one being the schmuck, he was positive he'd be nauseous at the over-the-top sentimentality of it all.

It was common knowledge that Vulcan had been a Very Hot Planet, and, having been in Spock's quarters for their bi-weekly chess extravaganzas, Jim knew that Spock like to recreate that particular climate whenever remotely possible, so it was fine. Really. Jim could easily suffer a few shifts sweating bullets if it made Spock more comfortable during his time of need. And if it cost him three bottles of Scotty's finest to ensure that Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura didn't complain about the suddenly balmy condition of their workspace, so be it.

It was all worth it to see the look of quiet relief that flashed across Spock's face as he entered a toastier bridge that shift.

It was obvious to Jim after a few days of Spock's cold remaining stagnate that Spock needed a way to de-stress. The Vulcan simply worked himself far too hard, which, any fool knew, wasn't at all conducive to the whole getting better aspect of a cold.

The problem? Spock wouldn't know the meaning of taking it easy if it came and bit him on the ass, then tapped danced in front of him, singing a chorus of 'take it easy' to the tune of the Vulcan national anthem… if the Vulcans had a national anthem that didn't involve the big gongy things that Jim had seen used for every other Vulcan ceremony. Jim needed to look into that.

Thus Jim would have to make him. And did so, verbally excusing Spock from the bridge and assigning him to inventory with Bones.

Both Sulu and Chekov had looked at Jim like he was crazy when he'd done it. Uhura simply smirked.

99.9% of all encounters between his two best friends, the Vulcan and the CMO, ended in open hostility. Jim had learned some of his more creative insults just by listening to the two of them go at it; he wasn't ashamed to admit it. But what he, and apparently Uhura both knew, and that the rest of the crew obviously hadn't figured out yet, was that Spock and McCoy absolutely lovedit. It was a patented Spock and Bones special brand of brotherly bonding and Jim might be a little concerned at this slightly sadistic side to the personalities of his two favorite people in the entire universe if it wasn't all so blatantly amusing.

Five minutes after Spock's temporary reassignment Bones called the Bridge. As expected.

"Jim, are you under the influence of alien spores again? The hobgoblin here told me you assigned him to me for the afternoon!"

Another cool, collected voice rang through the ships communications system.

"It should be obvious, doctor, that the Captain gave the order. If, by some miraculous twist of circumstance you can somehow manage to utilize a minimal degree of the deductive reasoning often associated with your profession, would you honestly consider that I would report to you of my own volition?"

"What do you mean 'manage to utilize a minimal degree of deductive reasoning? I'll show you deductive reasoning!"

At that, Jim cut the comm, struggling all the while to contain his mirth, the sight of Uhura's knowing grin lighting his way.

Jim was certain that the last thing Spock was pondering at this moment in time was how horrible his illness made him feel.

Spock got better without pomp and circumstance and Jim, to the delight of the rest of the bridge officers, returned ships environmental controls to normal.

And that was that.

Or so Jim thought until he returned to his quarters after shift that evening to find Spock standing in the center of them.

If it were anyone else Jim might have been a mite bit peeved that someone had entered his quarters without some kind of forewarning, but he had long since given Spock an open invitation and truthfully, the sight of Spock before him, whole, and well, and happy in the subtle Vulcan way, would never get old.

"Is there something I can do for you Mr. Spock?" Eagerly curious as to what it was Spock wanted despite himself.

"Yes, I wanted to - thank you," Spock replied, dark eyes, as always, calmly assessing. There was a time when Spock's never wavering gazes used to unnerve Jim a bit, but at this point, and with everything Spock was to him, it touched a part of him he hadn't been aware existed before he'd met Spock.

"For what, Spock?" he asked, because denying all knowledge of his efforts to ensure Spock's comfort while he was sick seemed like the thing to do.

The edges of Spock's mouth twitched in the way that Jim knew Spock was amused. And serious. But then, Spock was almost always serious.

"We are neither of us addle minded."

"No," Jim agreed, because it was an accurate statement.

"Then you should know that I am grateful for your - assistance during my illness and that I accept."

"Accept what?" Jim asked. He may not be addle minded, this was certainly true, but he was also quite certain that he was losing track of this conversation. And the fact that Spock was slowly edging closer to where Jim stood definitely wasn't helping the matter of clear thought perception any.

"I accept the regard you have for me and return it unto you tenfold," Spock answered.

At last Spock came to rest before him, mere inches away, and Jim felt his heart race to a dizzying tempo.

Jim smiled, uncertain of what else to do to convey the significance of what this all meant to him, at a loss of whether to proclaim his love, jump into Spock's arms, or attempt a dozen cartwheels, just to be thoroughly cliché. He was a poor schmuck in love, after all; isn't that what the deliriously happy did, physically capable or not?

He settled, instead, on inquiring, "Is that your way of saying I know you love me, but I love you more?"

"Yes," Spock replied, eyes lit in humor and passion possessed.

"I seriously doubt that," Jim challenged, closing the distance between them and kissing Spock's retort away before it could be uttered.

Jim didn't like to lose, in anything, but, with Spock at his side, he didn't think he'd ever have to.

The End!