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Diamonds Aren't Forever - But They Get Close

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"Now, it isn't much, of course," said Bones, in his particular half-shy, half-gruff manner, "But three years married isn't nothing, as I am well aware, and. . . well. . ." He shoved a gift bag across the mess table in Spock's direction, "Best I can do for you, ya' goblin."

Spock suppressed the impulse to grin and snort at McCoy's snarky blustering empathy, and wordlessly emptied the contents of the bag onto the table next to his empty plate. The bag was full of several sheets of iridescent filmy plastic, and a handful of foil confetti stamped into the shape of horseshoes, but he paid these fripperies no heed, instead focusing on the remarkable object they concealed.

"A book," he said, with his usual bland tone, knowing it would provoke Bones into further carping.

"A book?," Bones growled, as predicted, "That's a genuine paper, hardback-bound, twenty-first century-edition, interlinear translated printing of the Canterbury Tales! It's a hundred and fifty years old if it's a day - likely the first printing made with the Headley preserving process, and worth a pretty penny, if I do say so myself. A book, indeed."

The rest of the table held back laughter at this tirade - their colleagues were also well used to Bones' hard-edged generosity by now. Doubtless, the entire lunchtime crowd in the officer's mess was highly enjoying their banter.

"I felt the fact warranted stating, Doctor," he said, paying just as little heed to McCoy's manner as he had the gift's wrapping, "Given that the title of the book is not immediately clear, considering its. . . unusual covering."

The book was encased in an intricately carved leather-work book jacket, and was held closed with a shiny brass snap. The entire piece was covered in delicate scroll work, leaves, flowers, and birds - and on the front was a large "N" and "S" elaborately intertwined.

"One would think," Spock continued, allowing a slight modicum of a teasing tone to enter his voice, "That the title of the work was "NS" or some such vague nonsense. . ." He ran his thumb across the heavily patterned spine. It was an interesting texture, and quite obviously excellently well done.

"Yeah, well. . . you're welcome, by the way." Bones groused.

"I was not aware that you were capable of fine leather-work, Doctor.

Surprise, annoyance, pride, embarrassment, relief, and a little smirk that seemed to say "touché, my friend" all passed swiftly across the doctor's features, before he settled back into his usual scowl.

"Yeah. . . well. . ." he said again, "It keeps up my surgical reflexes without me having to cut into anything living. It's replicated leather, just in case that matters. . ." he finished hastily.

"I assumed so."

Bones smirked, "How'd you figure that I made it, though? Thought I'd kept that part pretty well to myself."

"You did," Spock said, flatly, refusing to elaborate.

"Aw, come on, now," McCoy leaned forward coaxingly, "What did I say?"

"It is what you did not say, Doctor. You mentioned interlinear translation, but you did not say a word about the hand-carved leather book jacket? There could be only one of two reasons for this. Either your faulty Human brain managed to forget the fact, or else, you deliberately did not mention it out of a personal belief that stating a high worth for your own accomplishments would have been unmannerly. I assumed the latter, and, as you see, I was right."

"You smug Vulcan bastard," McCoy said, admiringly.

"Logical, not smug, doctor, and, as I have often informed you, my parents were married at the time of my conception."

The rest of the table had been silent for most of the exchange, but this final riposte was too much, and they all laughed aloud.

"And here I thought watching you spar with Kirk was fun!" Sulu drawled as he stood to clear is plate, "This is much better."

Spock nodded in Sulu's direction, then leaned forward and said quietly, "I fear that in all this I have not thanked you properly, Doctor. You may expect a handwritten note at some point within the next three days."

What Bones' response to this would have been he never knew, for at that moment, Nyota entered the mess hall, followed by two engineers carrying large trays of highly festive looking glassware.

She surveyed the room with some relief, "Oh good, I'm not too late. Champagne for everybody!" she called out loud. There was an answering cheer and a general rush for the trays. Nyota managed to rescue three glasses from the melee, and brought them over to the table which was now empty except for him and Bones.

"Real glass!" she said, cheerfully, as she sat down and slid a drink to each of them, "I've spent the last three days down in Engineering programming the replicator especially. What do you think?"

Spock held up his glass flute, the foot and stem of which was made of pale blue and metallic silver glass ribbons twisting about each other. They made an artistic tangle at the point where it supported the base of the cup, and the cup itself was a clear cranberry red. It was full of a pale pink sparkling liquid that smelt pleasantly of strawberries. He took a sip.

"Excellent," he said. "And the use of our wedding colors was inspired."

"And pink-hirat sparkling wine, don't forget that part!"

"Indeed not. After all - "Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote, The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote, And bathed every veyne in swich licour, Of which vertu engendred is the flour-"

"Spock, why are you speaking in Middle English?"

"Because your present tastes of spring, Nyota. And this," he held up the doctor's gift, "has reminded me exactly how nuanced and expressive English can be."

Nyota smiled, but said nothing more, sitting back to enjoy her drink, and watch everyone else enjoy theirs.