Well, we're not sure exactly where the idea came from, but in the midst of one of our more interesting email exchanges (though they're all interesting, and frequently filled with digital glitter), Problematique and I determined that it would be fun - nay, EPIC - to write a fic together.
So, here is the result of our collaboration - or at least the start of it. Our plan for this 5+1 is to each take either Spock or Jim's POV in each chapter - though we don't know at this point whether or not we'll keep the same one throughout the fic, or swap back and forth from one chapter to another, because we both get a kick out of writing Jim AND Spock. (I'd be willing to bet that any of you who regularly read us both will be able to guess who wrote whom for this chapter.)
And because there wasn't room to type this in the summary, here's your warning (or your promise, depending on how you look at it): This piece is slash at heart all the way through, and will eventually become slash in every other way as well. If you were looking for a friendship/gen fic, this ain't it - and if you're at all familiar with either my work or Problematique's, that will come as no surprise whatsoever.
We're having a blast so far, and we both hope you'll enjoy it!
The First First Date: Nyota
"You understand, Nyota - or at least you claimed to understand when we originally began our relationship - that Vulcans do not, as you put it, 'date.' We do not engage in activities of a social nature without a specific reason for doing so; it is simply not logical."
Spock notes as he speaks that Nyota seems to become increasingly agitated - an observation which is validated as she places her teacup back in its saucer on the end table with far more force than would be considered necessary. The sound is unnaturally loud in the usually calm surroundings of her Starfleet-issue apartment.
"You know you've got your 'professor voice' going, don't you?" Nyota's eyes flash with what Spock is coming to recognize as irritation - a human emotion that seems to be directed at him with far greater frequency in the past 7.2 weeks since they have returned to Earth.
They will be on-planet for an extended period as their starship undergoes repairs; they had narrowly survived a run-in with a rogue Romulan, and the red matter singularity that destroyed the Romulans had nearly claimed the Enterprise, as well. As it stands, they lost their warp core in a desperate but ultimately successful escape attempt, and the ship's structural integrity was significantly breached. Had they been forced to rely on impulse power alone to travel, it would have taken them over 16 years to return to Earth; even with the help of another Federation vessel essentially towing them back, it had taken nearly four Terran months to make the return trip. Now it will be, Starfleet Engineering assures them, at least an additional three months before the ship will be intact again and ready to resume its mission.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise's crew has been scattered to assignments in a variety of locations across the planet, but the core Command crew has remained at Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco - most of them serving as adjunct faculty members at the Academy, helping to teach the tragically few remaining cadets who remain after the encounter with the Romulan Nero.
"As I am in fact now serving as a professor at Starfleet Academy," Spock observes, "it does not seem unreasonable that I might use, as you put it, my 'professor voice,' Nyota. However," he continues, raising one mildly inquisitive eyebrow, "I find it likely that you meant that not as a simple observation but as a veiled insult."
Nyota blows a wisp of hair away from her face with a sudden, exasperated burst of breath. "If that's what you want to think, Spock, then sure. Fine - I'm insulting you. But how about if you look at it another way - like, maybe it's exhausting for me to try to communicate with you when you respond like this? Sure, Vulcans don't date - but half-Vulcans in romantic relationships with humans might need to… oh, I don't know. Maybe… compromise? Step just a little out of the comfort zone?"
Spock watches her silently, pondering her words as she speaks. He realizes that his earlier assessment of her emotional state was very likely correct - Nyota is visibly agitated, and seems poised to become more so.
One of the many attributes that had attracted him to her in the beginning of their relationship - now nearly a Terran year ago - had been Nyota's even temper, her aversion to distasteful displays of emotion. This trait has not been nearly as much in evidence of late, and Spock wonders whether Nyota has indeed changed with the passage of time, or whether she had in fact been more willing back then to adapt her own behavior to conform more closely to his own standards. He suspects, upon consideration, that the latter is more likely to be the case.
However, he has to concede her point; even if she might no longer feel that way, she had been willing to sublimate her own desires to better suit his needs, and he has made very few concessions to her more emotional human requirements. As little as he cares for the idea, it seems that compromise is indeed called for in this situation, just as a matter of fairness.
"Very well, Nyota." His words seem to bring her up short, and he inclines his head slightly to acknowledge his agreement to her suggestion. "You wish for us to go on a date, and I do not object to doing so. However, you must understand that it is not a concept with which I am familiar; I will, therefore, count on you for guidance in this matter."
Nyota, somewhat surprisingly, seems a bit nonplussed at his sudden acquiescence; Spock wonders briefly whether she might be disappointed to lose the opportunity to express righteous indignation at his seeming intransigence. It would be entirely illogical - but Spock has had the opportunity to observe that although Nyota is by far the most intelligent human female of his acquaintance, even she is capable of extremely illogical behavior.
He has, in fact, begun to keep a chart of this behavior - a scientific endeavor he undertook when he first realized that there seemed to be a monthly pattern to some of Nyota's more alarming fluctuations of mood. He wonders if he should mention this to her - after all, she has always been interested in his research - but thinks better of it, and refrains.
"You really don't know about a date? Well, I guess that's understandable - it's not as though teenagers on Vulcan ever went to dinner or to a movie." She sighs quietly. "And it's not as though you and I ever went on dates for those first six months when we were at the Academy together - after all, we had to sneak around to make sure nobody knew about us while I was still a cadet."
"Indeed." At the time, the "sneaking around" had seemed scandalous - and oddly stimulating at the same time. It occurs to Spock that, illogical as it seems, he misses that feeling of excitement that had come from breaking regulations by even a small amount. "But in the interest of compromise, I am willing to attempt this human ritual - if you will explain to me how it is done."
"Tell you what, Spock - maybe it would be easier this first time if we went on a double date."
"Double…" He pauses, confused. "I do not understand the terminology."
"Double date," she repeats slowly and clearly, as though speaking to a child. "It's when a couple goes out with another couple to do something together socially. We can call a couple of our friends - maybe Scotty and Ramona - and do dinner and a movie or something."
"Lieutenant Commander Scott has traveled to Riverside to oversee construction of some of the new warp core components for the Enterprise and will be away from San Francisco for at least a week," Spock replies evenly.
"Damn - they'd have been fun to go out with." Nyota's perfect eyebrows come together in contemplation. "I can't think of another couple right off the top of my head; give me a minute, and I'll come up with something."
Almost before he consciously realizes he is speaking, Spock hears his own voice. "What about Captain Kirk?"
Ignoring Nyota's blankly shocked expression, he continues. "I understand from discussions among colleagues at the Academy that he has recently become involved in a relationship of a romantic nature - though I am unaware of the identity of his new partner, perhaps she and the captain would be able to join us for a… double date."
Nyota looks as though she might want to argue the wisdom of such a choice - but having opened her mouth as if to speak, she closes it again, nodding uneasily instead.
"If that would make you more comfortable," she says tersely, "then so be it - we'll double with Jim Kirk and… whoever."
"Very well," Spock replies. "I will discuss it with the captain tomorrow when I see him at the Academy." He is glad to let the discussion end there; the idea of participating in human social rituals, quite frankly, makes him somewhat uncomfortable to think about.
As it turns out, Spock discovers that Jim is surprisingly receptive to the idea of joining Nyota and himself for a double date - he, of course, had not required an explanation of the concept. In fact, Jim seems eager to set up the event, asking Spock to call Nyota immediately to see if the following evening would be a mutually agreeable time to go to a restaurant and possibly to see a film after dinner.
Nyota is in fact free tomorrow night, and a quick exchange of text messages ascertains that Jim's partner (whose identity, somewhat puzzlingly, is still unknown to Spock) is also available.
"Leave the details to me, all right?" If Spock ever allowed himself to feel flattered, Jim's eagerness to go on this double date with himself and Nyota would be gratifying. As it stands, it makes things much easier for him to allow Jim to make the arrangements.
"How about Mancini's? You ever been there?" At Spock's silent shake of the head, Jim continues. "It's Italian, and just phenomenal - big variety of vegetarian stuff, too, so you ought to be able to find something you like."
Grinning wickedly, Jim pokes him lightly in the chest with an elbow. "Romantic, too - we get a nice, dark corner table, couple bottles of red wine, and who knows? Maybe we both end up getting lucky, yeah?"
Spock is so far out of his own depth at even the thought of discussing "getting lucky" with Jim Kirk that he finds that he can only stand and stare uncomfortably at the wall over Jim's shoulder - well aware that he must look like a complete fool even as he does so.
To his credit, Jim realizes quickly that he has made a faux pas. "Shit, Spock - I'm sorry. I know you don't like to talk about, well… you and Nyota." He smiles wryly. "Though, gotta tell ya, if I were hittin' that, I probably wouldn't talk about much else."
He stops again, and to Spock's surprise, suddenly strikes himself in the face - hard - with an open palm. "Idiot!" It is clear that he is addressing himself with the insulting epithet. "There I go again - I really am sorry. And I won't say anything stupid like that when we go out - I promise I won't. Because I just can't tell you how much it means to me that you even want to do this - I think it's awesome. I mean, like…"
He pauses, a suddenly uncertain look in those vivid blue eyes that Spock has never seen there before. "…it's something friends would do, right? And I know we didn't get started on the best foot, but I really would like to be your friend, Spock."
"I am of a similar opinion, Jim." For the second time in as many days, Spock hears himself in the almost unimaginable position of saying something he had not been aware that he was going to say. The scientist in him notes that both times, James Tiberius Kirk has been involved.
For now, Spock chooses to ignore his inner scientist - and tries with less success to ignore the sudden brilliant smile on Jim's face.
"Until tomorrow, then?" Spock nods a brief farewell, turning to head back to his own office.
Jim's voice follows him down the corridor. "Tomorrow night, Mancini's, seven thirty - dress nice!"
It is 19:00 hours sharp when Spock appears at Nyota's apartment, a bouquet of flowers in hand. ("Know you're not used to this date stuff, Spock," Jim had texted him earlier. "So I'll tell you right now - flowers. Bring her flowers, and you will SO get lucky tonight. Besides, I'm bringing flowers - don't want to make you look bad.")
The look on Nyota's face when she sees the flowers gives Spock a strong impression that Jim is correct - though she also seems exceptionally impressed by his own attire. He had taken the advice to "dress nice" to heart, and had done some quick research on what was typical Terran dress for an evening out such as this one. The result - khaki pants, a thin cashmere sweater in dark red over a light blue shirt with a navy blue blazer - is not something Spock would typically wear, but he finds that it is not uncomfortable, and if it meets with Jim's - with Nyota's - approval, then that is what matters.
He shakes his head briefly, as if to clear a sudden unwelcome thought, and notices Nyota watching him quizzically before taking the flowers from his hands with a broad grin.
"Thank you, Spock!" She sounds genuinely delighted. "And look at us - we match, and everything." She is correct; the fitted scarlet dress that she has chosen to wear this evening is nearly the exact shade of red as his sweater.
"That color is highly flattering, as is the style of your dress, Nyota. You look exceptionally lovely this evening." (Another of Jim's texts had come without warning later in the day: "And for God's sake, don't forget to tell her she's beautiful. Don't pull some weird shit like 'you are esthetically pleasing' or whatever the hell it is you usually say. Tell her she's gorgeous, or something GOOD.")
Her eyes glow at him, and Spock is glad that he has been able to take Jim's advice; he is obviously a mentor worth having in such situations.
"I wonder who Jim's bringing with him?" Nyota's question echoes Spock's own thoughts at the moment; he has wondered on more than one occasion today as to the identity of Jim's new romantic interest.
"I suppose we shall find out soon enough, Nyota," Spock replies calmly, offering her his arm as they leave for the restaurant.
Jim is waiting alone for them when they arrive - he has his own bouquet of flowers resting in the crook of one arm and a slightly anxious look on his face, but smiles brightly as Spock and Nyota come through the door. Spock notes that Jim's attire - a charcoal-gray suit with a tie that seems almost calculated to bring out the blue in Jim's eyes - is exceptionally flattering to him as well; Spock is fairly certain that he is not called upon to remark upon this, fortunately.
"Wow." Jim shakes his head appreciatively. "Both of you - wow. You might be the two most attractive customers this place has ever seen - maybe they'll end up giving us dinner for free just because you make 'em look so damn good." He looks them both up and down briefly. "I knew you'd be stunning, Nyota - after all, you always are - but, damn, Spock." Jim laughs a little. "Who knew you'd clean up so well?"
Spock, initially interpreting Jim's statement as an aspersion upon the normal state of his personal hygiene, is briefly offended until a nudge and a significant look from Nyota gets the point across to him that this is yet another of those Terran turns of phrase that makes little actual sense. He relaxes again, but he finds that something in Kirk's frankly admiring expression makes it impossible to reply.
"Where's your sweetie, Jim?" Nyota's smile glosses over the potentially awkward moment. "For that matter - who's your sweetie?"
"I think that's my cue," says a low, mellow voice, as a handsome dark-haired man joins their conversation, leaning forward to kiss Jim briefly on the cheek. "Those for me, big guy?" Smiling, he takes the flowers from Jim - whose suddenly beatific expression leaves no doubt that this is, in fact, the "sweetie" of whom Nyota had just been speaking.
"Gary Mitchell." Nyota, at least, seems able to find her voice at this time - which is certainly more than Spock can seem to do. "It's been quite a while."
She holds out her hand as if to shake his, but he lifts it instead to his lips. "You're even more beautiful than I remembered, Nyota - and I didn't think that was possible."
She forces a smile, and Spock wonders if he is the only one among them who notices that it does not reach her eyes. "And you're every bit as full of the blarney as you ever were, Lieutenant Commander." She pointedly removes her hand from his grip. "I still have not-so-fond memories of your, shall we say, 'hands-on' teaching style when you were my flight instructor at Starfleet Houston."
Gary Mitchell has the grace to blush at that. "You're right, of course - I was a bit of a tomcat in those days." He smiles again, though, as he puts an arm around Jim, who has been watching this interchange with what Spock thinks might be some degree of discomfort. "Guess it just takes the right guy to tame the tomcat, doesn't it, Jimmy?"
Now it is Jim who is blushing - though Spock and Nyota exchange a private look of amazement that he does not seem to object to the frankly ridiculous nickname.
After that, it is just as well that the conversation consists mostly of inane discussion of goings-on at the Academy and elsewhere throughout Starfleet, because Spock finds that he is almost completely incapable of even listening to the exchange, much less participating himself.
Jim Kirk, he thinks again and again, is romantically involved with a man.
It is a man who is making him blush, and smile in that way - a man who is causing Jim's voice to lower in a way that Spock has not previously heard. Spock has no issue with same-gender relationships - obviously, he realizes that it is a good thing that not all relationships are homosexual, simply for the sake of procreation, but he has no moral issue with anyone who prefers someone of his or her own gender for a sexual partner. He has simply always assumed that Jim - with rather the "tomcat" reputation of his own - is strictly heterosexual, and it comes as rather a shock to so suddenly be proven wrong.
Jim Kirk is romantically involved with a man.
True to his word, Jim has seen to it that the wine has flowed freely before and during dinner - and though Spock himself is unaffected by alcohol, he notes that all of his companions are beginning to behave in a way that Nyota has described in the past as "tipsy." Her cheeks are beginning to flush slightly, and her voice is just a bit louder than her typically well-modulated tone. Jim, on the other hand, has become somewhat quieter, and is leaning embarrassingly close to Gary Mitchell on their side of the table, watching him with shining eyes and an expression that Spock finds he does not care for.
Just then, the sommelier brings another bottle to the table, and Jim is suddenly animated again. "Hang on, everyone - we need to fill our glasses again." He pours wine back into all four stemmed goblets, placing the bottle down on the table with a broad smile. "I've got a toast for us." He raises his glass, eyes even brighter than before.
"Here's to friends old and new, love always true - and to the best first officer a brand-new captain could ask for." Jim touches his glass to Spock's, those blue eyes focused intently on Spock's own as he continues. "You're making me look like some kind of an idiot, holding the post open all this time for you, man - don't make me wait anymore. Say you'll come back and be my XO on the Enterprise."
Spock is not entirely sure how to respond to this unexpected entreaty of Jim's - but finds the matter taken entirely out of his control as Mitchell suddenly jumps to his feet, shocked indignation written plainly on his face as his chair clatters loudly to the floor.
"What? You want that fucking Vulcan for your XO? What the fuck are you even talking about?" If every eye in the restaurant had not been drawn by the noise of the falling chair, Mitchell's outburst claims their attention now. The room has gone silent around them, and Jim's face has now turned markedly pale.
"Of course I do, Gary," Jim sounds confused, hurt. "I thought you knew… I mean, everybody knows that I've always only wanted Spock for…"
"I didn't know any such thing, Jimmy-Boy." Gary Mitchell's voice is dripping scorn, and Nyota is clutching Spock's arm under the table. "Why the hell else do you think I'd - shit. You mean - I did all this for fucking nothing?"
Jim is silent for a long moment, then seems to find some vestige of his lost dignity again. "Looks like you did, Gary. I wanted you for a lot of things - but first officer wasn't one of them. Not ever. And since that's all you seem to have wanted from me… well, I think you'd better go, Gary."
Mitchell is seethingly angry now, and directs his glower at Spock. "You're welcome to him, Gremlin. Smug, self-important little bastard - I wouldn't want to serve under him, anyway, so you might as well do it. Maybe if you're lucky, he won't make you fuck him for the job." He laughs bitterly. "Not that I managed to get the job that way, did I?"
Finally, Spock finds his voice. "I believe that no one here wishes to hear any more of your opinions, Mr. Mitchell."
With that, Gary Mitchell goes over the edge, and launches himself toward Spock - at which point, two unexpected things happen. First, Jim throws himself in front of Spock to deflect any blow that might be coming his way. Then, almost at the same instant, Nyota grabs Jim by the arm and yanks him off-balance so that Mitchell's access to Spock is clear.
Just before restaurant security arrives to defuse the situation, Mitchell drops like a rock after having received a Vulcan nerve pinch, and Spock stands looking down at him on the ground as though he is a particularly distasteful animal dropping.
"I knew he'd do that," Nyota whispers to a stunned Jim. "But it was nice of you to try, all the same."
Jim drops back into his chair, staring vacantly ahead as security drags Mitchell's sagging form out of the restaurant to be dealt with by law enforcement. Finally, he takes a deep breath and turns a remorseful look toward Nyota and Spock.
"I'm so sorry," he chokes out. "I can't imagine how awful that must have been for you both - and here we were supposed to be having a nice date and everything." He looks down at his clasped hands, his face still alarmingly pale. "I guess it's not worth a lot at this point for me to say that I had no idea that he… that he'd…"
Nyota's dark, slender fingers reach over to cover Jim's. "Don't you dare take the blame for him, Jim. Don't you dare. You're right - you had no idea. And he… well. I don't want to bash him, because I know you cared about him, but…"
"Thanks, Nyota." Jim sounds as though he is swallowing around an obstruction in his throat. "I appreciate it." With a forced smile that Spock finds difficult even to look at, Jim stands up again. "Now that I've ruined your date, I think I'd better let you two find at least something pleasant to do with your evening." He nods briefly to summon their waiter before handing over a credit stick. "This one's on me - only seems fair."
Pushing in his chair somewhat unsteadily - as though the wine has suddenly hit him even harder - Jim gives them the grimace of a smile again. "I'll see you both around the Academy - I'm going to go find some more serious alcohol before I go home. Seems like the thing to do just now, I think."
Spock barely registers that Nyota is bidding Jim goodnight when he hears his own voice saying, "Do not go, Jim. You should remain here with us."
He looks over to see Nyota's shocked (and yes, probably angry) expression, and does not understand why she does not want Jim to stay as well - after all, he has been through a traumatic experience, and Spock, rightly or wrongly, feels some portion of the blame for Jim's situation. Had Jim not asked Spock to be his first officer in Mitchell's presence, this ugly scene would have been avoided - and Jim would not be suffering now from what humans illogically refer to as a "broken heart."
Spock feels sorry that Jim has been betrayed by the man whom he seemed to care for - and feels oddly guilty that Mitchell seemed to make Jim want to choose between himself and Spock.
That Jim chose Spock over Mitchell is something that Spock finds himself unequal to contemplating at this time.
The three of them sit at the restaurant for another hour, somehow finding the appetite for dessert after Nyota assures Jim that nothing can cure heartbreak faster than chocolate. (Spock is reasonably certain that she is not serious.) The conversation between them is quiet, friendly, sometimes even somewhat lighthearted - and Jim seems truly grateful for their company and friendship. Nyota does not seem surprised when Spock asks if she would mind if he got her a taxi home - feeling obligated to see Jim back to his quarters himself, given Jim's inebriated and emotionally compromised condition.
She gives both men a soft kiss on the cheek as she departs, and her "goodbye" has an unusually subdued - almost resigned - sound to it.
The gossip mill at the Academy runs wild for the next few days with the stories of Professor Mitchell's public meltdown and Captain Kirk's humiliating heartbreak. The whisper a few days later that Professor Spock's romance with Lt. Uhura has ended as well doesn't seem nearly as exciting - but it is true, all the same.
It strikes Jim possibly sometime between the turbolift ride and them entering his quarters… Spock is awesome.
He already knew that Spock was badass and really smart and a great guy and brave and strong (yeah, the strong part he could attest to first-hand) and all around pretty amazing, but the truly awesome part strikes him with particular clarity when Spock does the modern equivalent of 'holding the door open for him', which is actually to type in the entry code and then wait for Jim to stumble inside his own room before following him in.
"Aw Spock, such a gentleman," he croaks, half-heartedly trying for a charming grin and knowing he hasn't quite managed it. Spock stares at him, pitying, and Jim wants to curl up in a little ball and stew in his defeated and humiliated misery, but he also sort of wants Spock to stay and ask him about crazy Human customs like why eating chocolate is traditional when one's heart has been unexpectedly carved into a soup of bloody confetti-sized pieces…
Not only is Spock awesome, but he's an awesome friend.
"Told you you didn't have to," Jim repeats, letting his knees give way and slumping down onto the bed. He's not gonna change his suit. He's just gonna slip under the covers and sleep it off. Tomorrow he'll be gross and hung-over and the suit will be crumpled and ruined but that's nothing a shower, a replicator and some coffee can't cure. It'll be even better if he can get to Bones and beg for a little helpful remedy-hypo.
"You are both inebriated and, forgive me, emotionally compromised. I believe that leaving you to find your way here by yourself would have been irresponsible."
"Uhura wasn't stone-cold sober either, and she's your girlfriend," Jim points out helpfully. Spock is definitely an awesome friend but on the boyfriend scale he doesn't really seem to be scoring too many points. "I could have gotten a cab-ride back."
Spock looks at him for a moment with an inscrutable face, but if Jim had to guess he'd say maybe Spock's a bit worried.
"She was not emotionally compromised," he says finally.
"But she's your girlfriend," Jim repeats. "You don't see how that changes things?"
"It is not relevant."
Apparently deciding on dismissive, Spock ignores Jim's incredulous snort and proceeds to program Jim's alarm for the next morning to wake him an hour later than usual.
"Sleep now, Jim. I believe it will help. Are you... do you believe that your present condition will have improved tomorrow?"
Jim can't help some bitterness trickling into his response. "It sure will. I just wasn't expecting sudden and inevitable betrayal so early into the evening, that's all."
"I regret that you had to experience that."
He looks up at Spock, a bit startled. Spock's looking down at him very seriously.
"I'll be fine, Spock," he says. And then he realizes he fully means it.
"Very well." Spock nods curtly. He doesn't look reassured, though; in fact, he looks pretty unchanged despite Jim's words.
"You worried 'bout me?" Jim asks, unable to conceal the delight in his tone. "Don't be, Spock. I'm a big boy, I can take care of myself. Should'a seen it coming is all."
"There is no reason why you should have predicted Mr. Mitchell's lies."
Something hard and cold stabs Jim's stomach at the memory.
"I should have known better," he grits out, because it's the truth. "I was being stupid."
The vehemence in Spock's voice surprises him.
"Do not... burden yourself with any guilt because of Mr. Mitchell's deceit."
"You know, you keep calling him Mr. Mitchell but Gary's actually a Lieutenant Commander."
Spock blatantly pretends Jim didn't point that out. "Do not assign even a fraction of the blame to yourself," he commands.
Jim's pulse quickens as he looks up at the man he wants to make his first officer, as though the alcohol in his system has suddenly decided to make a comeback.
Spock is so awesome. He looks... he really does look amazing in those clothes, somewhere between disconcertingly casual and formal, but his eyes are hard and decisive as he assumes responsibility while Jim is out of commission because his heart got trampled on unceremoniously until it was nothing more than squishy scarlet pulp.
"Be my first officer," he says again. In that moment there is nothing he wants more; not even for Gary's cruel act somehow not to have been real.
"Go to sleep, James Kirk."
His full name out of Spock's lips sounds a bit weird and a lot good. Jim feels a reluctant smile pull at the corners of his mouth even as his eyelids abruptly droop, obeying Spock's words.
Yup, feels like the momentary sobriety was just that, momentary.
"Okay. But only cause you asked so nicely."
Spock doesn't answer.
"You could... I mean, if you won't wanna go all the way back to your rooms, I guess you could stay if you wanted."
He doesn't quite understand why he's saying that, mumbled into his pillow like an afterthought even though it's really not, and he half-wants Spock not to have heard it, except of course he will have.
"I don't have beds. I mean I have bed, but not more than one. Not plural beds, get it? You could... actually I could sleep on the floor, it wouldn't be a first or anything, promise..."
"Jim. I shall see you soon," Spock interrupts gently. Jim opens his eyes again and finds the half-Vulcan looking at him kindly.
"But you still haven't answered my question," Jim protests, a bit bratty because he's drunk and drunk people get away with sounding a little bratty after their hearts have been crushed to the point of rupture and then soaked in a vat of acid so that all that remains is sticky red goop with floaty meat bits.
"Be my first officer."
Spock walks to the door and it hisses open.
"That is not a question, Captain."
Unfortunately Jim is too brain-muddled to notice the fact that, for the first time since they got back from Nero, Spock didn't use any variation of his name.
Three days later find Jim wandering the halls of the central building of the Academy with as much dignity as he can muster. He still has quite a few things that must be set in order before the Enterprise leaves, and approximately ninety-nine percent of them are paperwork, which he certainly doesn't enjoy, but they need to be done. He's already decided that he won't be hiding from Gary or from the mutterings and sideways glances his presence draws (they weren't alone in the restaurant by any means, and Gary had been... loud), and he's already grown pretty accustomed to them over the past couple of days.
It's Yeoman Rand, a pretty blonde thing with a fiery attitude who will be assisting him as a kind of secretary, or so Jim has more or less been able to infer.
"There's a couple of signatures I need from you and the paperwork on Mr. Scott's pardon for his, uh, failed experiment has finally come through." Jim takes the PADD from her hands and squints down at the writing so that he can see exactly what he's authorising. It's mostly transfer requests, though.
"Also the admirals are really pushing for you to choose your first-"
"I've already chosen my first officer. I'm just waiting for him to say yes."
She gives him a bit of an exasperated look. "But what if he doesn't?"
Jim is... trying very hard not to think of that right now, and gives her back the datapad without replying.
"Is there anything else?"
Her eyes take a turn for the more serious and personal and that's when Jim knows the story has finally reached everybody.
"I..." she must read something in his face, however, because she doesn't say it. "No, Captain."
"Okay. Thank you, Yeoman, I'll see you later."
Jim starts to walk away and then hears his name called again.
"Captain Kirk! Actually sir, there is one more thing!"
Rand walks quickly up to him. "Sorry, I forgot... Mr. Spock asked to see you in the science labs at four."
Jim's mood lifts a little at that prospect and he gives her a proper smile. "Great. Okay, thanks."
She smiles back and rushes off.
Jim glances at his watch. It's way too early-at least two hours too early, but hopefully Spock will already be there and Jim can surprise him. Maybe. Otherwise he can hang out with McCoy at the Sickbay, which isn't far from the labs. Either way, he now has a plan.
The labs are weirdly quiet, and soon Jim learns why; there's a practical going on and entry codes are restricted. So okay, Spock can't be there.
And then Jim remembers Spock has an office. Aha.
He's never been in it before but he knows of its existence and it doesn't take him long to find. A couple of right turns and there is Spock's name on a plaque in boring, stark black capital letters... just "Commander Spock", no last name. Don't Vulcans have last names? No, Jim doesn't think they do, but their first names are long. He should ask Spock what his full name is. Pike has 'Admiral Christopher Pike' by his door.
He actually stands in front of the door for a full ten seconds before he realizes it isn't opening automatically, so either Spock isn't in or he's locked himself in. He probably isn't in. He's probably doing other important stuff or hanging out with Uhura or something.
There's a noise from inside.
Okay, so Spock's in. He probably wants privacy, though, which is why he locked the office. He could be having sex with Uhura on his desk for all Jim knows, even though that seems pretty unlikely and completely out of character for Spock. It's probably wrong that Jim even thought about that, but what can you do?
Either way, Spock probably doesn't want to be disturbed. So Jim should just go and come back later.
He types the buzzer.
There's some more muffled noise from inside and then a decidedly female voice, and for a crazy second Jim is actually terrified that Uhura will open the door with kiss-swollen lips and her hair all messed up from all of the hot Vulcan sex she and Spock are having-
It is Uhura who opens the door, but her hair is perfectly tamed in its tight ponytail and her lips are pursed in a thin line.
"Oh for God's sake," she says when she sees him. And then she calls over her shoulder; "Jim's here, darling."
The endearment sounds weird coming from her, and especially directed at Spock like that. Jim doesn't understand what's going on.
"Uh... this is a bad time," he says awkwardly. "Sorry, I can come back."
Spock appears in the doorway Uhura didn't seem to have any intention of letting him through, and gives him a nod.
"Hey," Jim says, the corner of his mouth pulling up in a small, confused smile. Spock looks pleased to see him, but Uhura rolls her eyes exasperatedly.
"I'm right here in front of you," she says. Jim is... very confused.
"Yeah, we can see that." He turns back to Spock. "Look, I'm sorry I intruded; I'll come back at the time you said, okay?"
Uhura rounds on Spock, her hands clenched into fists tightly by her sides, her whole body vibrating with coiled tension.
"Are you telling me you asked him to come here?"
"Captain Kirk and I have many matters to discuss. I asked to meet him later today," he tells her, like that comes even close to a satisfying explanation. Uhura clearly doesn't think it does.
"Oh, you have many matters, do you? Did you estimate the approximate time and duration of our talk and then ask to see 'Captain Kirk' right after?"
Jim is really starting to wish he was anywhere else, right now.
"...Yes," Spock replies. Boy, was that the wrong move.
"Uh... I'll leave you two to it, yeah?"
"No way." Immediately Uhura's hand reaches out and rests on his arm; not clutching it or anything, but still holding him carefully rooted in place. "I'd love for you to hear this, too, it's important."
"I do not think it appropriate that Jim be-"
"Appropriate?" Uhura narrows her eyes. She hasn't raised her voice at any point, but something about the way she speaks suggests that if she could, she'd be yelling at them both right now. "You want me to start on what's appropriate, Spock? How about making plans with other people when your girlfriend asks to talk to you?"
Jim knows butting in is probably the worst thing he could do right now, but what Uhura's saying is pretty unfair. "Hey, he only asked me to come over in a few hours-"
"Don't you start," she snaps tightly.
"Then let me get out of here and you two can talk about this if you want," he shoots back, starting to become annoyed.
Spock is looking at them both, eyes flitting from Uhura one second to Jim the next.
"Perhaps Jim's idea has some merit, Nyota-"
"Of course it does," Uhura says bitterly. "Of course."
Then suddenly it's as if the anger drains out of her. "You know what? It's okay. I'll just... I'll just go. We can talk some other time when you're not being completely insensitive and James Kirk isn't the most important thing on your mind." She snorts a little with laughter, like she just made a joke neither Jim nor Spock can understand.
"Goodbye, Spock," she says tiredly, and shoulders her way past Jim and out.
In her defense, Spock doesn't even make a token protest or move to stop her. Then again, Spock doesn't make 'token' anythings.
"What was that?" Jim asks, astonished.
Spock steps aside to let him into his office and rather vacantly locks the door behind them once it's hissed closed.
Jim's dirty mind immediately jumps to all the sex on the desk everyone will assume is happening and then remembers that other people probably don't immediately leap to that conclusion when they see a locked door.
"I am not certain," Spock admits. He looks rather puzzled. "Nyota's conduct is sometimes... complex and unpredictable. I find your illogical Human outbursts are rarely caused by a rational, logical reason."
"Right. But you're telling me she didn't offer any possible explanation?"
Spock pauses to walk behind his desk (his large, sturdy desk! Jim's mind echoes. If it were anatomically possible, Jim would roll his eyes at it) and sits down.
"She did. However it, too, seemed rather illogical."
Jim bites his lower lip. "Uh... you wanna talk about it?"
"That is, in fact, the reason why I called you here. Although my timing was not ideal, I do acknowledge that."
"Wait... what?" Jim feels disappointment settle in his stomach even as he sits down across from Spock. "You called me here for... relationship advice?"
"I suppose that is an acceptable interpretation of my intentions," Spock admits, if seemingly a bit reluctantly. "What did you think I called you here for, Jim?"
Jim had tried not to let himself hope, but he had... he had the crazy hope that Spock was finally going to say 'yes'.
'Yes, James Kirk, I would love to be your first officer and work closely with you for the next few years!' or, well, failing that, some sort of 'I would not object to accepting the position since you have been asking so repeatedly and insistently'.
It would have been epic.
"Nothing. Sorry, I'd be happy to help you out."
And then it registers. Spock trusts him enough to want to see him and ask for his thoughts on romantic... things. That means something, right? That's actually... pretty epic in and of itself, isn't it? They're becoming more than friends; they're becoming close friends.
Jim's smile becomes genuine (it might even be considered a beaming grin). "Anything at all, man."
Spock nods in acknowledgement. "I thank you. Nyota wishes me to exhibit more... Human aspects that I am neither fully comfortable with nor knowledgeable about, and I cannot consult anyone about them other than you, but she is... displeased with you at the moment, and I do not know why."
Jim tries to think back, but can't for the life of him figure out when he'd had time to piss Uhura off since they arrived on Earth.
"Uh... okay. Keep going."
"I do not wish to lie, so if she asks I tell her it is you who recommended certain actions. She was not displeased with the action at the time, merely with the fact that I have needed to consult you about them."
"However, you are my friend."
They both share a brief, warm look, and Jim's grin makes a quick return appearance. "Yeah."
"And if I inform her of the fact that, given that I am not Human, I need to acquire a Human friend's perspective, she is also displeased."
Jim digests this. "Well, if it's not who you are, this is kind of a no-brainer."
Spock quirks an eyebrow. "A... no-brainer, Jim?"
"It's simple. You don't need to use your brain." Spock opens his mouth like he's going to protest this statement but Jim shushes him before he can. "It's an expression-anyway, it's simple because while I think it's okay to make certain sacrifices to help a relationship work, none of those can include changing who you are. And if those kinds of gestures Uhura wants don't come naturally to you, then I don't think it's very fair to ask you to come up with them by yourself anyway, because that's not who you are."
Well, well, just you look at him. James Tiberius Kirk, Relationship Advisor. Clearly his spotless and excellent record with relationships is aiding this process wonderfully.
Spock steeples his fingers. "I have attempted to argue this point. She seemed to understand and accommodate it at first, but of late she will not accept it."
"Uh... so maybe you guys should talk about it more."
"I was attempting to do so today, yet you saw the consequences for yourself."
"Hey, maybe I should talk to Uhura," Jim suggests. "I kind of wanna know what the hell I did to make her so mad, and if she and I are going to be working together in one spaceship for the foreseeable future it seems important to me that we sort of, get along."
"I... do not think that is a wise decision," Spock says.
He doesn't offer up any more than that.
"Why not?" Jim asks, more curious than anything. "You don't think she'll tell me? Uhura doesn't strike me as the type of woman to have trouble expressing herself, Spock, especially if it's about something I did wrong."
Spock's face becomes a bit more withdrawn. "It is not a wise decision," he repeats, a bit more forceful. It strikes Jim that maybe he's becoming a bit too involved for Spock's liking.
"Whoa, dude I am not going to try and hit on your girlfriend. Again," he says. "I swear."
"That was not my concern," Spock replies, looking a bit surprised. Huh.
They look at each other for a moment.
"So that's settled then?"
Spock nods slowly. Jim stands up.
"Well... how was I?"
"My advice. What do you think? Was I good?"
There's a tick in Spock's cheek that betrays him, and Jim's mood soars. "You helped, Jim. I thank you again."
"It was my pleasure. I'd suggest you guys talk about it some more, though."
"Yes, of course."
"Okay then. I guess I'll see you around. Unless you wanna just say yes now and save me a whole lot of paperwork for later?"
To Jim's dismay Spock's expression sobers at his words. "Jim, I realize I have not yet informed you of this, but... I am sorry for the distress my potential candidacy to the position of first officer of the Enterprise caused in your personal life."
Jim is very proud of himself for not even flinching, despite the fact that three days ago his heart went through a meat grinder and came out all gross and in multiple pieces.
"You know it's totally illogical to apologize for something that's entirely my decision, right?"
Spock looks up at him from under his lashes. "Nevertheless-"
"Don't be ridiculous, Spock. It was always about you." O-okay, that came out a bit weird. "That, the, the first officer thing... it was never gonna be anyone else. There is never gonna be anyone else."
Aaaand still a bit weird. But true. Totally true.
Spock blinks at him, face clear of emotion as usual, but Jim thinks maybe there's a pleased glint in his eye. Maybe.
"So I would appreciate an answer hopefully not five minutes before the ship actually takes off."
"I shall take that into account, Jim."
Jim rolls his eyes. "Thanks. Means a lot."
But he's grinning again by the time he leaves Spock's office.
Poor Spock. That first date didn't go so well. And poor Jim - having his heart trampled by that jerk Gary Mitchell.
Wonder what will happen next? Stay tuned - and in the meantime, we'd love to know what you think!