Jim looks down at the weird splodge of doughy mess on his plate and prods it gingerly with his fork. He eyes the plates of the officers sharing his table. Their pancakes all look relatively normal, and enviably edible. His own, however, is a different story. An odd rhombus-esque shape, it comes equipped with two prongs at the bottom and three similar protrusions at the top, next to which is a bizarre tumour-like appendage.
Spock evidently notices his look of confusion as he regards the captain with his trademark blank-and-yet-somehow-telling expression. Jim likes that expression. He thinks it's the most human thing about his First Officer and it's completely endearing, the one trait from his mother that Spock couldn't quite paste over with Vulcan etiquette.
"Is today's breakfast not to your liking, Captain?" he questions. Jim fixes him with a blank stare.
"It's not so much that today's breakfast isn't to my liking," he responds. "It's more that my own breakfast is, quite frankly, borderline offensive. It looks like a parasitic species we once picked up in a galaxy not far from Kronos."
Spock looks down at his own plate. If Jim weren't sure that Spock were above such things, he'd swear he almost looks embarrassed. He feels guilty now. He doesn't want Spock to feel embarrassed around him, although he recognises that Spock will never feel exactly the way Jim wants him to.
"I may have requested that your meal differ slightly from that of your officers," Spock states.
Jim narrows his eyes in suspicion. He can't really think of any reason why his First Officer would want to poison him via the medium of a grotesque pancake. It's quite upsetting when he stops to think about it.
"Why?" asks Jim.
Spock meets his eye and Jim swallows. His gaze is always disconcerting. It's a myriad of other things too, of course, but Jim doesn't often let himself think about that.
"It's Valentine's Day," he replies, simply. At that, he pushes his chair out from the table and stands up. As he leaves, Jim tries to work out what just happened. It's Valentine's Day? How did Spock know? Do Vulcans even celebrate it? What's that got to do with doughy pancakes?
He doesn't think he'll ever understand Spock. He puts it down to tentative inter-species relations and takes Spock's untouched pancake from his plate instead. Spock won't mind.
A few hours later, when Jim is getting his monthly check-up from a very bored Bones, he remembers the incident at breakfast. He wonders if Bones will better understand Spock's motivations. Despite his apparent dislike of all things Vulcan, he can't deny that Bones is pretty much a walking encyclopaedia of the customs of other species. He's not sure why.
"Bones," he says, as Bones shines some weirdly bright light into his eyes, making him squint unattractively. "You were there at breakfast, right?"
Bones looks at him strangely, puts down the optical light thing (Jim makes a mental note to actually ask what sort of tests Bones does to him) and folds his arms.
"Yeah," he replies, carefully. "What's your question?"
"Just want to know what the hell Spock was playing at, really," he says. "I mean, what does Valentine's Day have to do with breakfast? Vulcan's don't even celebrate it, I thought."
Bones puts his head in his hands and groans.
"For the love of God, Jim," he says. "Did you never study Vulcan biology during your training at all?"
Now Jim is really confused. He shakes his head.
"Couldn't tell their ass from their elbow," he replies, cheerfully. "But how is that linked to pancakes?"
Bones looks like he wants to murder someone. Probably Jim. He stands up and goes to the bookshelf behind him, and it only takes him a few seconds to find the book he wants, despite the fact that they don't seem to be arranged according to any system that Jim knows. He walks back over to Jim and shoves a rather old blue book into his hands. Jim reads the cover; 'The Vulcan Vascular System'. He raises an eyebrow and regards Bones quizzically.
"Just read chapter two," Bones sighs impatiently.
"Fine," says Jim. "But if this doesn't actually answer my question, I'm making you perform only rectal examinations for a month."
Bones raises an eyebrow.
"It will," he states.
It does answer his question, and the answer is definitely not what Jim was expecting.
There, on page thirteen, chapter two, is a diagram of a Vulcan heart. It doesn't look overly dissimilar to a human heart at first, Jim thinks, until the eye is drawn to the three large arteries at the top, above the larger chamber, and the two slightly smaller arteries at the bottom.
He groans. He realises that he's been a complete idiot and resolves to commit suicide as soon as he's smoothed things over with his First Officer.
Then he realises what this means and he decides to grin stupidly instead of killing himself. This means that Spock actually does have the emotional capacity to care for people other than his parents, for a start. That's a nice revelation. Jim holds onto it for a few seconds before moving onto the next one.
This means that Spock feels at least similarly to Jim. He might not have all the same reactions to Jim that Jim does to Spock – for example, he probably doesn't look at Jim's hands and imagine holding them while running through a meadow picking dandelions – but he was at least driven to actually interfere with Jim's diet plan, which says something. Jim isn't entirely sure what, but it's something he'd like to explore more.
Jim looks at his watch. The officers of the Bridge are due to take their lunch in half an hour. Spock will be amongst them.
He sets off down the corridor at a sprint. He only has thirty minutes to memorise the shape of the human heart and bribe the cook.