Nothing much had happened between Jim and Spock since New Year’s Eve. Jim wasn’t sure if Spock genuinely was attracted to him, or if he’d just been indulging him with that midnight kiss...or maybe it was all the hot chocolate. But it was all Jim had been able to think about for nearly a month and a half.
“Why don’t you just ask him out already?”
Bones’s voice snapped him out of his reverie. Jim lifted his chin from his folded arms, which were resting on his desk as he dreamily stared off into space. “Huh?”
Bones sighed patiently. “Kid, I don’t know exactly what happened to you over break, but your mooning over that Vulcan has only gotten worse. So do us both a favor and get on with things, huh?”
Jim blushed. “It’s not that simple, Bones.”
“Oh please, it’s simpler than pecan pie. You’re ga-ga for him, he’s ga-ga for you—as much as a Vulcan can be ‘ga-ga’—and this Wednesday is Valentine’s Day. What could be simpler that that?”
“It...it is?” Jim checked his calendar. Bones was right. It had crept on him. “Well, I doubt Vulcans even celebrate Valentine’s Day anyway.”
“They don’t celebrate Halloween or Hanukkah either. That didn’t stop him,” Bones pointed out. “Look, it doesn’t have to be a lovey-dovey affair. You invite him over to watch a movie, maybe a little chocolate’s involved-”
“NO,” Jim said quickly. “ No chocolate.” He had learned from that mistake. “Look...m-maybe I’ll ask him if he wants to hang out that night. You know, as a casual thing.”
“Right,” Bones rolled his eyes as he headed out the door for his first class of the day. “Well, make sure you use condoms during your ‘casual thing’. Don’t wanna pick up Vulcan STIs.”
“ Bones! ”
“Whoops! Man, you’re such a klutz, Kirk!”
Jim, keeping his temper under control, huffed in frustration as he bent to pick up the books that Finnegan had knocked out of his hands. Then suddenly he felt a foot shove his backside, pushing him to the ground. His glasses clambered off of his face.
“Wow, Kirk, you’re clumsy today!” snickered Finnegan.
Jim grit his teeth. His hands curled into fists.
“Mr. Finnegan. Do you not have class at the moment?”
Jim looked up. Spock had appeared. His arms were crossed, and his gaze was cool and stoic as it always was. But there seemed to be a hint of something in his deep brown eyes: anger? Protectiveness?
Finnegan straightened, trying to pull himself up to Spock’s height, but he couldn’t quite manage it. “I’ve got the rest of the day off. What’s it to you, Spock?”
“It is nothing to me, but I would suggest moving along to another part of campus, somewhere you will not disturb those attending their classes.”
Finnegan scoffed, turning his ugly sneer toward Jim. “Aww. You’re so much of wimp that you need your boyfriend to fight your battles for you?”
“Screw you, Finnegan,” Jim grit his teeth, getting to his feet and getting up in the other man’s face. “I’ll fight you any day you want.”
“That would not be wise on school grounds, Kirk,” Spock said, purposely keeping his voice impartial. “As we already know, Mister Finnegan already has disciplinary strikes against him for in-school fighting. It would be a pity if he were expelled entirely for further transgressions.” He raised an eyebrow at him, barely threatening.
Finnegan glared daggers at him. Finally he let out a flippant puff of air, knowing he was defeated. “Fine. Whatever. Kirk’s too much of a runt to waste the muscle on anyway.”
Tail between his legs, Finnegan stomped away. Jim immediately began squinting at the ground, but then he felt Spock touch his shoulder. “I have your spectacles,” said the Vulcan.
“Thank you,” Jim chuckled with relief. As Spock handed them back to him, their hands brushed very briefly, and Jim was reminded again of their Vulcan kiss on New Year’s Eve. He felt his ears heat up and hoped they weren’t too noticeable. He slipped his frames back on, and the blurry figure before him resolved into his dear friend. Jim smiled. “Much better. Hey there, handsome.”
Spock looked like he might blush, but he maintained his Vulcan composure. “Are you alright?” he asked, letting a hint of concern invade his steady baritone.
“Yeah. Thanks, Spock. I was trying not to pick a fight with Finnegan, didn’t want to get into trouble-”
“But he made it physical when he pushed you to the ground,” Spock finished. “Do not think that I don’t believe you could challenge Mister Finnegan in an altercation. But I wished to save you the trouble of suffering consequences.”
Jim grinned. “Or you just didn’t want me to bruise my pretty face up.”
Spock really did blush this time, turning bright green in surprise. His mouth dropped open and his angular eyebrows rose toward his straight bangs.
Jim laughed. “Just teasing you, Spock. But seriously, thank you.”
Spock smiled faintly. “You are most welcome, Jim.”
“I was actually just on my way to return all these to the library,” Jim said, gesturing to the books scattered on the ground. “Want to come with me if you’re not busy?”
“I would like that very much,” Spock nodded. “On one condition.”
“You will allow me to carry half of them.”
Jim chuckled. “You’ve twisted my arm. Okay, mister, you’ve got yourself a deal.” The two men bent and gathered up the detritus, then headed for the library side by side.
But to Jim’s surprise, the worker at the check-in/check-out counter was none other than Carol Marcus. “James!” said the blonde girl in surprise.
“Oh! Carol! Hi!” Jim said, blushing. The last real time he’d run into her was Gary’s disastrous Halloween party. “I’m just turning in these books real quick.”
“I’m just ending my shift,” said Carol, picking up her purse and swinging it over her shoulder. “But I’d like to talk to you, if you can stay for a second.”
“Ahh...” Jim looked at Spock. He’d almost forgotten he was there. Spock blinked at him ambivalently. “Sure,” Jim said, turning back to Carol. “What’s up?”
Carol came out from behind the counter. “About Gary’s party...”
Jim groaned. “I’d kind of just like to forget that ever happened. It was easily one of the worst nights of my life.”
Out of his peripheral vision, Jim sensed Spock deflate slightly. Jim wondered briefly what was wrong, but then Carol caught his attention again.
“I know Gary set you up for that prank, and I wanted to let you know that I wasn’t in on it. Most of us weren’t. I think it’s horrible what Gary did to you--I didn’t stay for very long after that.”
“Really?” said Jim. “You mean...you don’t think I looked totally stupid?”
“No!” Carol said. “In fact...you were actually really cute in your bunny costume.”
Jim grinned, crossing his arms over his chest. “Oh yeah? You liked that, huh?”
Carol’s cheeks turned a charming shade of pink. “Listen, I was wondering...you know it’s Valentine’s Day this Saturday...and I was thinking...maybe we could have dinner. I know this nice Italian place just off campus...if you’re interested.”
Jim was so surprised, that the word “sure” was tumbling from his lips before he could even think.
Carol grinned delightedly. “Great! I’ll send you the address. Meet me there at 1900 hours. I can’t wait.” She leaned over and kissed his cheek, then strode out of the front doors.
Jim looked at Spock. “I don’t believe it,” he said in amazement. “I was dying to ask that girl out, but she just did it for me.”
Spock was standing ramrod straight, not meeting his eyes. “Congratulations.”
“Spock? Is something the matter?”
“Not at all. I just remembered that I...needed a science book from here.”
“Do you want me to help you find it?” Jim said.
“That is unnecessary. I can find it for myself. Have a good day, Jim.” Spock turned on his heel and walked away so quickly, Jim would have sworn he was running.