“I mean, who the heck does he think he is!?” Jim slammed down his chess piece harder than necessary, rattling the whole board.
“I am sure he believes he is the chief medical officer, as well as your friend.”
“It was a rhetorical question, Spock.” Jim rolled his eyes. He couldn’t even complain to Spock, because he’d have to pause and explain everything he was saying. You shouldn’t have to do that in a rant. “It’s just…where does he get off saying we have bad dynamic? He’s the one who’s always picking fights with you…ugh!”
Jim wasn’t even sure why McCoy’s comment bothered him so much. It wasn’t exactly wrong. He and Spock were in a strange situation now. Spock took the chance to tell Jim every time he disagreed with a decision, which was a lot. But then again, he never went behind Jim’s back and did things his own way. Spock was loyal, almost painfully so. That was the part McCoy didn’t really know about.
McCoy also probably thought that most nights Spock and Jim were doing paperwork, which is what they’d started out doing, before it evolved to chess, and more often than not, just talking. The first time it happened, Jim did think it was suspicious that Spock offered to help him. But with Spock’s input, Jim was able to completely restructure his paperwork schedule to get it all done in a third of the time it usually took. That left a lot of free time, and he wasn’t too keen on having Spock leave just yet. Luckily, the Vulcan seemed to feel the same, so their evenings usually only consisted for working for about an hour before they relaxed with a game of chess.
“You find the doctor’s comment insulting?” Spock asked.
“Of course! Don’t you?” He didn’t even know why he was asking. If Spock didn’t get offended by the things McCoy said directly to him, then he wasn’t going to get offended by some off-handed comment.
“I do not, but I find that the comment was made in haste, with little evidence behind it.” Spock said this casually, but Jim could tell he really meant it.
“Right.” He grinned. “See? We get along fine…mostly. We have great dynamic. We should prove it to him.”
“How do you mean?” Spock had been contemplating his next move this entire time, but he now glanced up for just a moment. They locked eyes, and somehow, the answer came to Jim.
“We should date.” He grinned wider, trying to pass it off as one of his trademark charismatic schemes, but inside, his stomach felt like he’d missed several steps going downstairs.
Spock didn’t comment right away, he just looked up at Jim for a moment, completely abandoning his focus on the game. The piece he’d picked to move now fiddled between his fingers, and Jim decided to watch that instead of Spock’s face.
“You are referring to beginning a romantic relationship?” Spock asked after a moment. Jim looked up and saw an almost softness in his eyes, that was quickly replaced with the fascinated sort of look he always got in the labs. “What purpose would it serve?”
“A lot of purposes…” Jim knew he’d have to pitch it, and he was already ready, considering he’d tossed around the idea in his head practically every night –hypothetically of course. “For one, it will show everyone that not only are we a good match in command, but our personalities are a good match as well.”
Spock looked as if he were contemplating it deeply. His brows were knitted together as he stared down at the board, his chess piece now abandoned. Jim’s heart seemed to pound in his chest harder with each silent second. He was just thinking he should laugh it off and say it was just an advanced human joke, when Spock finally looked up.
“I agree to this arrangement.” He said with a nod.
“…You do?” Jim blinked in surprise. He really hadn’t been expecting that to work. Looking back, it was such a feeble argument.
“I do.” Spock looked down at the board long enough to move his piece. Jim glanced down to, and saw he was checked. He didn’t really care at the moment, though.
“Well, uh, alright then.” He chuckled nervously. “I guess it’s official.”
“It is.” Spock nodded.
“We’re dating…” Jim reaffirmed. “Starting right now…”
Jim really couldn’t believe this was happening. Spock just sounded so calm about it, as if it were the most logical plan he’d ever heard in his entire life, instead of a lame half-assed thing Jim had just made up.
“Alright then.” Jim looked down at the board, but couldn’t make himself focus on the game anymore.
“Perhaps we should finish this game at another time.” Spock said, standing up. “I have some other things that require my attention.”
“Okay.” Jim was secretly relieved. There was no way he’d be able to play at his optimum efficiency, and he didn’t need Spock seeing how much he was already effected by their arrangement. He was sure he was going to be permanently blushing from now on.
“Goodnight, Captain.” Spock started towards the door to their shared bathroom.
“Wait.” Jim looked up from putting away the chessboard. “If we’re dating, you have to call me by my first name. At least when we’re not working…” It’s something Jim had been trying to instill in Spock for months, with little luck, but hopefully the fact that they were not on a slightly more intimate level would do it.
“Very well, Jim.” Spock nodded before leaving Jim alone with his thoughts.
Jim was on autopilot for the rest of the night. He showered and brushed his teeth, all the while glancing at the door to Spock’s quarters. What the heck was he doing in there? He didn’t have any work that Jim knew of, unless he was meditating. That was probably it. He was probably meditating and mulling all of this over…wondering how he got himself into this situation.
Well, whatever, Jim thought to himself as he climbed into bed that night. Spock already agreed, and there was no going back now. Plus, those reasons Jim listed actually did make sense. He and Spock were a great team, just because they didn’t agree on everything didn’t mean they didn’t have good dynamic. What did McCoy know anyways?
❖ ❖ ❖
Spock stood in the middle of his quarters for a long moment. Normally, he would have completely set the mood for meditation prior to contemplation, but he found he did not have the focus. He was feeling very…emotional.
His heart was beating very fast and his hands were shaking ever so slightly. The previous conversation with Jim felt like it did not truly happen, as if it were a dream.
One does not just meet their T’hy’la without knowing it. On some level, he’d know the moment he watched the smug cadet beat his simulation, but he did not fully come to accept it until the moment he walked back onto the Enterprise.
It was something he carried with him always, the knowledge that he and Jim could be something more. Lately, he was worried it was starting to effect his performance at work. Just this morning, he stood at his station for almost a full minute just watching Jim. He could always tell when his captain had opted for a water shower rather than a sonic one, as it left his hair looking especially soft.
He could not continue on like this. He knew all of these feelings, those he had long since stopped trying to deny and suppress, would all come out in some sort of fashion. He just assumed it would be in a more dramatic way. Perhaps he and Jim would touch hands during a game of chess, as it happened every so often. Their eyes would lock…Jim would smile that infectious smile of his…
Well –it wasn’t as if he spent multiple hours thinking about it or anything.
No, his entire reason for agreeing to Jim’s proposal was exactly what the captain had said. It was to prove how efficient their dynamic was. Any chance to treat Jim in a romantic fashion was simply an added perk, and if Jim happened to return his romantic affections as a result, well, that was just their good dynamic in play.
Spock did not lie to Jim when he said he had work to be done. He did have a sudden influx of research that required his attention. It was something he’d never tried to understand before, but it seemed suddenly very important. He was sure he could find a great many things online about human romantic relationships and how to properly act now that he was in one.
❖ ❖ ❖
“Checked your email this morning, Bones?” Jim asked as he dropped his tray down by his friends the next morning.
“No, why?” He didn’t look up from his food.
“Because, I sent you a back all those things that needed my approval…and you said you weren’t expecting any of it back until tonight. That’s called efficiency.”
“Really?” McCoy looked up at Jim as if examining him. “You didn’t stay up all night to do it, did you? That’s not healthy, and coffee can’t replace sleep.”
“No.” Jim couldn’t keep the grin off his face. This was exactly the sort of bait he was hoping for. “My new significant other helped me do it all last night. We have very efficient dynamic.”
“Oh, God.” He recoiled, and Jim knew he was probably thinking of something along the same lines of the people he’d dated back at the academy; relationships that never lasted long enough for Jim to know much more than their body, let alone their minds to know if they were really compatible.
“What the hell are you doing, leading around some lower ranked girl?” McCoy dropped his voice and fixated Jim with what he dubbed as the serious doctor look. “It’s a bad idea…not to mention they are rules against fraternization like that.”
“Yeah, I’ll remember that the next time I see Uhura stopping by med bay for the fifth time that day…” He grinned, knowing he was hitting a sore spot. McCoy reddened in the way Jim had expected, but did not drop it.
“It’s not like that, and you know it. She isn’t some kid sucked in by the novelty of the captain’s attention.”
“Are you saying my significant other is only attracted to me because of my rank?” Jim asked incredulously. His friends previous comment that started it all, the one about he and Spock’s dynamic, seemed to rise fresh in his mind. What the heck was with his friend saying such rude things?
“No, I’m saying it’s gotta be someone of a lower rank…” McCoy said.
“Not much lower.” Jim mumbled under his breath.
“ --And, I just don’t wanna see any drama because of a break-up.”
“Hey.” Jim slammed his fork down. He hated to get angry at his friend, but he was really pushing it. “It’s not like that. I really care about this person, for more than just their body. We work well together, both on and off the bridge. Our minds are like this…” He laced his fingers together.
McCoy just stared at Jim with an almost scrutinizing look, as if he still didn’t really believe him. Jim glanced over McCoy’s head and saw Spock approaching their table. Jim grinned and waved him over.
“If you care so much, why don’t you talk to my new significant other yourself?”
Jim moved down in his seat just as Spock sat down next to him close enough that their hips touched. To Jim’s surprise, Spock reached for Jim’s hand that was on the table and held it in his own. Jim looked up and gave McCoy a smug look.
“Oh, dear god. Is this real!?” He looked between them as if begging them to reveal it all as a joke.
“Yep.” Jim squeezed Spock’s hand in his and felt as if his heart was trying to climb out of his throat. He hoped his hand wasn’t too sweaty.
“I believe congratulations are customary, Doctor.” Spock said.
McCoy just looked between them for a second longer before picking his tray up and going to a table across the room the join Uhura and Scotty.
“Well, I didn’t ask for your approval anyways!” Jim shouted after him. “…I can’t believe it.” He inwardly prayed that Spock didn’t let go of his hand now that they were alone. “He was being such a…jerk. He’s never really like that…he was saying all this stuff to me like I’m taking advantage of my rank and stuff.”
“And he did not offer congratulations.” Spock looked over to the table McCoy had left them for. He was now talking to Uhura and Scotty, and Jim could see them all glancing over at where he and Spock still sat pressed together.
“Well, there goes the rumor mill.” Jim turned his attention back to his food and attempted to eat with his left hand, as Spock was still holding his right. “This will be all over the ship in by the time our shift starts.”
“How should we go about our behavior?” Spock asked. “We are both wishing to convey a sense of realism to this relationship, as well as not to let it affect our work.”
“Right. If we let it affect our work, then I’m basically proving Bones’ point about our dynamic…as well as any opinion he has about my ability to stay professional.” Jim found himself gently stroking Spock’s hand with his own as he contemplated. “Let’s just wing it.”
“Wing?” Spock was staring down at where their hands touched, and Jim stopping his stroking in case he’d somehow crossed a line.
“It means we’ll improvise.” Jim explained. “Just do what feels…right.” He couldn’t help but think how right this whole hand-holding thing felt.
“Then you are giving me permission to continue this…” Spock was still looking down at their hands.
“Sure.” Jim smiled, feeling his heart pound again as Spock stroked the back of his hand in the same way Jim had done. “Good instinct by the way…”
“Holding hands is a common sign of romance in humans.” Spock said. “According to the internet.”
Jim found himself laughing unexpectedly. He saw McCoy and Uhura look over from their table, so Jim made sure to lean closer to Spock so that their shoulders touched. If they wanted to stare, he’d give them something to stare at. With immense satisfaction, Jim saw Uhura lean in towards the others and whisper energetically.
❖ ❖ ❖
Spock attempted to focus all of his attention on work today, but found his focus slipping more than ever before. He had stayed up in his quarters researching romantic relationships so that he could properly show Jim affection. He had been in such a state of anticipation for today, that he did not sleep well.
In addition to suppressing the urge to yawn, Spock found that his hand still tingled from his earlier extended contact with Jim. He’d never touched Jim for so long before. It was listed as a common sign of affection, as well as something Spock had observed in his time on Earth, but he had not been prepared for just how it made him feel. The mix of nerves and hyper-awareness would usually tire him out, but this had been quite…wonderful.
Jim was right that the news of their relationship seemed to be everywhere now. The eyes of every crew member seemed to be on him as he went throughout his day. His sensitive hearing also picked up everything that the others whispered about him on the bridge.
“It was obvious.” Sulu whispered to Chekov. “I see Spock staring at Jim all the time…”
Spock stiffened and tried not to listen. Surely, he’d never been that obvious? He’d have to reduce the time he spent looking at Jim…No, actually he didn’t have to. He and Jim were romantically involved now. Spock could look at him all he wanted.
As if to prove this point, Spock looked over at Jim now. Jim was mostly upright in his seat, reading something on the console intently. Spock admired the way his eyes looked so intense, and the way his hair looked…he’d definitely opted for a water shower the night before.
Jim glanced over at Spock now. Spock’s breath hitched in his throat as their eyes locked. Jim now knew he’d been staring. But Jim did not look away. He just gave Spock a small smile and turned back to his work. When Spock did the same, he found his heartrate had increased slightly. It did not return to its normal resting rate for several minutes.
Spock chose to sit across from Jim that evening at dinner. Not only would it let them more easily look at some work, but Spock found it the optimum arrangement for looking at Jim as much as he wanted.
“Maximum efficiency…” Jim smiled to himself as he scrolled his signature across something before returning to his meal. “No one can say we aren’t working hard now.”
“Yet, I found my performance slacking today.” Spock admitted.
“Me too…” Jim gave him a soft smile. “I guess I just couldn’t stop thinking about other stuff…oh, here comes Bones.” Jim reached for Spock’s hand across the table.
Spock watched as Dr. McCoy went to the replicator and a moment later left the dining hall with a drink. He had observed the doctor’s tendency to spend the evenings in his office, but he knew Jim had been hoping his friend joined them.
❖ ❖ ❖
Jim paced his quarters that evening, actually bored that he didn’t have any work to do. Usually when he wasn’t working, his first instinct was to go see what McCoy was up to. Even if the doctor was busy, there was something comforting about watching McCoy fuss over patients. It was like a reassurance that he really did have not only the best CMO in the Fleet, but the best friend as well.
It was weird to be in a fight with him, especially because for the first time in their friendship, Jim was certain he was right and McCoy was wrong. Maybe McCoy was onto something when he assumed Jim was just having a fling with a subordinate, but when Jim had corrected him, he should have realized how serious Jim had been being.
He glanced towards the door as someone requested entry. Could it really be McCoy, free from work and wanting to knock back some illegally acquired booze? Jim let him in and felt his heart jump for a different reason when he saw it was Spock.
“Good evening, Jim.” Spock stepped inside.
“Oh, hey.” Jim smiled and felt majority of his woes melt away. “Why didn’t you use the back entrance? Won’t it look weird for you to come in this way?”
“On the contrary.” Spock said, making himself comfortable by assuming his ordinary cross-legged position, this time on the bed. “I purposely entered this way so that people would take notice. Those in romantic relationships frequently visit one another after work. In addition, I believe I should stay here tonight…for authenticity.”
“Yeah, okay.” Jim hoped he didn’t sound too eager as he tried to keep himself from grinning. “You wanna play chess or something?”
“I memorized the position of the board yesterday. We could pick up where we left off.”
As they played, Jim noticed Spock watching him. He’d noticed the same thing on the bridge and again at dinner. It was kind of adorable, but Jim tried not to read too much into it. He noticed Spock’s hand was on the table now instead of in his lap. Jim was contemplating taking it. Would it be weird, considering there was no one around for them to show-off to? He was just about to reach out when the door chimed again.
“Hold on, Spock. I’ll be right back.” Jim went to the door. “Well if it isn’t the good doctor…”
“Can I talk to you for a sec?” McCoy asked, and then looked over Jim’s shoulder at Spock. “Out here?”
Jim contemplated telling him that anything he had to say could be said in front of Spock, but he didn’t want to risk McCoy leaving in a huff again. Jim closed the door and stepped out into the hall.
“I’m sorry.” McCoy said it so readily that Jim was taken aback for a moment. “I was being dumb, and I didn’t realize how serious you were about…this.”
Jim had been expecting it to feel like some sort of high to know he’d been right and to have McCoy admit it, but instead he just wanted to push past this whole thing as fast as possible and pretend it never happened.
“It’s okay. I know you were trying to watch out and make sure I didn’t do anything stupid like back at the academy, but I’m different now. I’ve matured.” Jim couldn’t say that last bit without smiling, and he was glad to see his friend smiled too.
“And, I know Spock and I have never actually gotten along, but if he makes you happy, then I promise I’ll try harder not to let him annoy me.”
“You will?” The thought of the three of them getting to hang out without Spock and McCoy bickering was quite appealing, especially with the added image of Spock holding his hand again. He could very much get used to that arrangement. “Good.”
“Alright, well I gotta get back to work.” McCoy said. “I’m sure you’ve got work to do too.”
“Yeah, we were definitely working.” Jim said with a grin, greatly enjoying the way his friend visibly recoiled. Jim tried with little success to hold in his laughter until he was back in his quarters.
Not only was it worth it to see the look on his face, but anything to help to help the rumor mill along with the story that Spock was staying in his quarters tonight.
The rest of the night played out relatively normal. Spock ended up winning their chess game, but Jim knew he would. He’d been completely unable to focus once he’d sat back down and Spock had immediately reached for his hand once more.
Once it hit the time of night that Spock would usually go back to his own room, that’s when things got slightly more intimate. Jim had never been in their shared bathroom at the same time as Spock, yet he found himself brushing his teeth side by side with his new significant other.
He watched them in the mirror and couldn’t help but love how cushy and domestic they both looked. Spock seemed to somehow keep his trademark neutral Vulcan face, even with brushing his tongue. Spock went through to his own quarters to get his pajamas, and Jim took the short absence as a chance to change into his own pajamas without being watched.
It wasn’t that he was embarrassed of his body, far from it, actually. He just didn’t really know where he and Spock stood at the moment. Sure, they were referring to each other as their significant other, but Jim was still uncertain about whether they were still doing this just to spite McCoy or not. McCoy had said that Spock made Jim happy, and Jim had to admit he truly did.
“Which side do you want?” Jim asked Spock as they stood by Jim’s bed. Jim was just trying not to think about how small the bed suddenly seemed.
“The side is irrelevant to me.” Spock looked confused by the question.
“Well, it matters to humans.” Jim tried to explain.
“In that case, which side do you usually take?” Spock asked.
Truthfully, he slept right in the middle, taking as much space and blanket for himself as possible. He couldn’t very well do that now. He pulled back the covers and got in, sliding as far to one end as possible. Spock got in next to him, and Jim was suddenly aware of how much hotter the Vulcan was. Usually Jim slept without any pants on because he got so hot, but there was no way he was going to try and take his pants off now.
“This is not how humans usually sleep together.” Spock said, his voice disembodied in the darkness as they both laid on their backs, staring at the ceiling.
“Uh, no, you’re right…it’s not.” Jim shifted a bit and felt Spock’s leg touch his. Jim quickly pulled his leg away.
“No, there are much more comfortable positons that are also signs of affection. Perhaps we should try one?”
Jim was still trying to process what it was that Spock had said, when he felt the Vulcan shift and suddenly wrap his arms around Jim’s middle. Jim gasped, feeling Spock pull him closer until his back was flush against Spock’s chest. Jim’s brain lagged behind, it took him several seconds to realize he and Spock were spooning. And Jim was the little spoon.
“You…saw this on the internet?” Jim asked, feeling Spock’s arms tight around his middle.
“I did.” Spock’s voice came from beside Jim’s ear, and his breath tickled.
“Well…okay, you’re right, this is normal…for romantic couples, I mean.” Jim could feel Spock’s heartbeat against the small of his back and tried to remember if Vulcan’s had a higher heart-rate than humans, or if Spock was just as nervous as Jim was.
“Very good.” Spock nodded, and Jim felt the Vulcan’s face press into the back of his head and his breath on his neck. He was so warm. It was very relaxing. “Good night, Jim.”
“Night Spock…” Jim closed his eyes and let the steadying beat of Spock’s heart put him to sleep.