Jim paused outside the door to Spock’s quarters, feeling unaccountably nervous. Well, maybe not unaccountably nervous. He could pinpoint exactly why he was nervous. He glanced down at the package in his hands and wondered for about the hundredth time if he was making a huge mistake.
Taking a deep breath, Jim palmed the door console, hoping that Spock was actually in.
As the door opened Jim squared his shoulders and ambled in, well aware he was being ever so slightly ridiculous.
Spock stood from behind his desk. ‘Captain.’
Spock’s hands settled in their customary position behind his back. ‘Is there something I can assist you with, Captain?’
Jim sighed. Even now, ten months down the line, Spock was still perplexed if Jim turned up unannounced and with no real purpose.
‘I just thought I’d come round, say hi. You know how it is.’
Spock raised an eyebrow in a manner that suggest that he didn’t really know how it was and glanced at the parcel in Jim’s hands. ‘Indeed.’
‘Oh, uh, yeah-’ Jim kicked himself for sounding so uncertain ‘-and to give you this.’ He quirked his lips. ‘Happy birthday, Spock.’
Spock’s eyes widened ever so slightly for a moment. It was hardly noticeable, unless you were actually looking out for it. Like Jim was. Like he was all the time.
Within days of their mission beginning Jim had come to the not all surprising realisation that he enjoyed eliciting emotional responses from Spock. After about six weeks of needling Spock somewhat constantly just to see him react, Jim had come to the rather startling realisation that it was more fun to shock a reaction out of Spock than to anger him.
‘I did not inform anyone of the significance of this date.’ It didn’t seem to stop him from accepting the parcel from Jim.
‘Is that your way of asking how I knew?’ asked Jim, grinning. He watched as Spock carefully placed the package on his desk.
‘I believe it is likely that you accessed my file and did the necessary calculations,’ replied Spock.
‘Why do you always assume it’s always me? Why can’t it be Uhura this time?’
‘Because Lt. Uhura is not aware of the date of my birthday.’
Jim blinked. ‘I’m sorry, are you telling me that in all the time you were together, Uhura didn’t know when your birthday was?’ He knew that Spock was a private person but surely that was taking it a bit far.
‘That is correct, Captain.’
‘Spock,’ whined Jim, ‘we’re off duty.’
Spock inclined his head. ‘I apologise, Jim.’
Jim waved him off. ‘Seriously? Uhura didn’t know?’
'My birthday did not occur while Nyota and I were in a relationship.’
Jim filed that information away to consider later. Since he had never asked Spock or Uhura about their relationship, nor their subsequent break-up, he had to pull together whatever titbits he could from anything either of them said in passing. And considering this was Spock and Uhura, there wasn't a lot said in passing.
‘And it never came up in conversation?’ he asked in disbelief.
‘It did not.’
‘Wow. I mean, wow.’ Spock said nothing. He seemed quite prepared to stand there until Jim decided to speak again. ‘You don’t think that’s weird, do you?’ Jim couldn’t quite keep the incredulity out of his voice. He thought he could also hear some fond exasperation, but he was probably imagining that. Probably.
‘I do not.’
Jim frowned thoughtfully. ‘Well that would explain her slightly sour look when I told everyone,’ he muttered. He had been slightly perplexed by that.
‘You informed the entire crew?’ Jim swore that Spock sounded slightly horrified by that information.
‘I, uh…look, we’ll get back to that later.’ He pointed to the present on the desk. ‘I think you should open your present.’
Spock cocked his head slightly. ‘I believe you are trying to change the subject, Jim.’
Jim grinned at him unrepentedly. ‘I am, but it’s a good change of subject, believe me.’
Spock said nothing as he turned to give the present his full attention. Jim bounced on the balls of his feet as Spock rested his hands lightly on the box. He couldn’t wait see Spock’s reaction.
‘I did not expect to receive a gift from you, Jim.’
Jim rolled his eyes. ‘Well, duh. You didn’t know that I knew it’s your birthday. Naturally you didn’t expect a present from me.’
‘You make a valid point,’ conceded Spock.
‘Well, naturally,’ said Jim, grinning. He kicked the chair away from Spock’s desk and dropped into it. ‘Go on, open it already,’ he demanded.
‘You seem most eager for me to open this gift,’ observed Spock.
‘That’s because I am,’ said Jim plainly. ‘I wanna make sure you like it.’
‘I am positive that I will approve of whatever you have chosen for me, Jim.’
Jim snorted. ‘You know, once upon a time you would never have approved of anything I did.’ At the minute change of expression on Spock’s face he winced. ‘Sorry, sorry. I keep forgetting that you hate me mentioning that.’
Spock’s eyes always got a faraway look in them whenever Jim made a joke about their less than stellar beginning. Jim could never decide if it was because he regretted what had transpired between them or because he was remembering the death of his mother or possibly worse, both. Either way, Jim managed to more or less stop himself joking about it, but every so often he slipped up.
‘And anyway,’ Jim added quickly before Spock could tell him he didn’t ‘hate’ it because that would be illogical, ‘I don’t want you to approve of it. I want you to love it.’
‘Jim,’ said Spock seriously, ‘I am Vulcan, therefore-’
‘Yeah, yeah, I know.’ He flashed a grin at Spock. ‘Contrary to popular belief I do listen to you occasionally.’ He ignored the slightly sceptical slant of Spock’s eyebrows and continued, ‘Just humour me, Spock and let me keep my silly human ways, okay?’
Spock nodded his agreement and Jim wondered, not for the first time either, if Spock had an inkling of just how much Jim was aware of how deeply Spock – and all Vulcan’s in general, really – was capable of experiencing emotion.
Instead of cluing Spock in, Jim let him keep up his façade, aware that Spock needed it. He just hoped that one day Spock realised he knew and that Jim was okay with, well, everything.
‘God, Spock, open the damn thing. The suspense is killing me and I know what I got you.’
Spock shot that look at him that said very clearly that if Spock were human he would be rolling his eyes by now. However he didn’t say anything. Instead he methodically unwrapped the box, setting the paper carefully to one side. Once the box was clear of the paper he looked at Jim.
‘The present isn’t the box, it’s inside the box.’ He narrowed his eyes. ‘And a big part of me thinks you know that and were just messing with me.’
Spock’s mouth twitched but Jim didn’t have time to comment because Spock was opening the box.
As Spock set the extra packing on top of the paper, Jim leaned forward, his hands gripping the edge of the seat. He was simultaneously excited and nervous and he just wanted to know if he’d got it right.
Once Spock could see the contents of the box he stared at it for a long time, apparently forgetting all about Jim’s presence. He very slowly reached inside and ran a finger down the spine of the old, leather bound book.
‘It is a copy of Peter Pan,’ said Spock eventually, his voice nearly a whisper.
Jim didn’t say anything, instead content to sit still and watch Spock stare at the book, unblinking, with something akin to shock on his face. It was the most vulnerable expression Jim had ever seen on Spock’s face, even more open than after Spock had tried to kill him for talking shit about his mom.
‘How did you know?’ asked Spock quietly.
Now here was where it could possibly get a bit tricky. Jim mentally rolled his eyes at himself: there was no 'possibly' about it.
‘Do you remember when we were trapped on the blizzard planet?’
‘Dorum Seven,’ corrected Spock automatically. He was still unable to tear his eyes from the book.
‘Like I’m going to remember something like that,’ scoffed Jim.
‘However, Captain,’ continued Spock, ‘as I spent the majority of our time on Dorum Seven in hypothermic shock-’ Jim closed his eyes briefly. He had been so convinced that Spock was going to die on that mission ‘-I am unable to recall much of our time there.’
Jim rubbed the back of his neck. ‘You, uh, well, when you were really out of it you started talking –’
Spock’s eyes snapped to Jim, his previously relaxed stance gone. ‘Captain, you assured me that I did not embarrass or compromise myself.’
‘You didn’t,’ Jim assured him quickly.
'With all due respect, Captain,' said Spock stiffly, 'if I informed you about my memories involving this particular book, then I did compromise myself.'
Jim sighed. 'Look, Spock, you were delirious to the point of death while suffering from hypothermia. How about cutting yourself some slack here?' Spock did his version of a frown and Jim held up his hand to stem off Spock's objection. 'Hear me out.'
Spock hesitated for a moment but then nodded his agreement.
Jim opened his mouth but then stopped, biting his lip. 'Need a minute,' he muttered.
'Is there a problem, Captain?'
'I just need to word this right otherwise you'll pick holes in it.'
Spock didn't say anything, he just stood by the desk, his fingers still running up and down the spine of the book, staring at Jim.
'Okay, so. I understand that you think you compromised yourself by telling me stuff you'd never told anyone before.' Spock blinked, as though Jim had managed to surprise him. 'But here's the thing; I'm not going to tell anyone. I'll never tell anyone else. Dorum Seven was a little over four months ago and I've not mentioned it to anyone.'
Spock was silent for a moment. 'May I enquire as why you refrained from informing the rest of the crew?'
Jim blinked. 'Seriously? You want me to spell it out for you?' He sighed and answered his own question. 'Of course you want it spelt out for you. Forget I even asked. There are two, possibly three, good reasons.' He held up a finger. 'One. You would kill me. Don't even try to deny it.' He held up another finger. 'Two. I know that you value your privacy and the idea of more or less anyone knowing what's going on in that Vulcan head of yours makes you come out in hives. I mean, there is a reason I did this in private, where no-one could ask awkward questions.' He held up a final finger. 'Three. You're my friend. Friend's don't go around blurting out personal information to anyone who will listen.' He leaned back in the chair. 'So, those are my reasons.'
Spock relaxed ever so slightly. 'I apologise, Jim. I did not mean to suggest-'
'Relax, Spock. I know.' He glanced at Spock, trying to gauge if he was going to screw everything up with what he was going to say next, but knowing he had to. 'I wouldn't have told you I knew but I had that copy lying around and it doesn't mean that much to me, other than being an awesome book, and you said that it was your mom's favourite and that yours got destroyed, so...' He shrugged. 'It seemed like a good idea at the time.'
'If I may, Jim, how did you happen to have a leather bound copy of Peter Pan lying around?'
'My dad collected old books. Anything. He didn't care what it was, if it was old, he bought it. They're still at the farmhouse, but they are mine. Sam wasn't really one sitting in a room all day, reading.' He smiled, briefly allowing himself to think back to the times he had managed to snatch for himself in his father's library, sitting by the window, reading. It was how he had become such a knowledgeable juvenile delinquent.
'Jim, I- Jim, are you sure?'
Jim rolled his eyes and stood. 'Of course I'm sure, Spock. I didn't accidentally get my mom to send it to me, you know.'
Spock ran his finger gently over the cover again. 'Thank you, Jim. It is a most thoughtful gift.' He picked it up gently and walked over to his bookcase and slid it in between a couple of books written in what looked like old Vulcan. 'I shall look forward to reading it later.'
Jim smiled. 'Awesome.' He bounced lightly on his toes. 'So, you're not too pissed about telling me about the book?'
Spock did that thing where he rolled his eyes without actually moving them. 'Vulcan's do not get-'
'I know, I know,' interrupted Jim, grinning. 'I think you just enjoy telling me about all the emotions Vulcan's apparently don't experience.'
'I do not enjoy it, Jim.'
Jim laughed. 'Okay, okay, have it your way.'
'Is there anything else I can help you with, Jim?'
'Well, uh, now you mention it...' He glanced at the door, considering his strategy for telling Spock about the surprise birthday party the crew had planned.