Jim's first best friend had been Eddie Something-or-other, and they had both been four years old. They had spent the entire summer together, and afterward Jim had gone back to the ship with his mother, expecting that nothing would change. When she'd finally explained to him that Eddie wasn't coming to Earth, too, Jim had cried for two weeks.
Not that he will ever admit it.
His first relationship had been fantastic and memorable for two reasons. First, of course, the girl in question - Heather McGugan had been blond and pretty and, more importantly, had punched Sammy in the kidney when he called Jim a loser, so she was probably the most perfect girl in the entire world.
(Jim had introduced himself haughtily, as if he were king: "My name is James Tiberius Kirk," and Heather had looked at him a little strangely and responded. "My name is Heather Melissa McGugan, and I'm going to call you Jamie.")
Secondly, even though she was a year younger and a girl and she liked to wear dresses and pigtails in her hair, she would run around with Jim and Johnny, laughing and throwing herself into their mud-fights and soccer games as eagerly as any boy.
Jim had kissed her for the very first time when she was 10 and he had been a very mature 11, on her front porch after he walked her home. (He'd asked his mom, and that was what she told him girls liked.)
They'd been standing in front of her door, Heather smiling at him in that sunny, gorgeous way she had, giggly and a little out of breath. Jim had wiped some of the mud from her cheek, pulled the last ribbon gently from her hair (one pigtail made her look all funny, anyway) and then he'd leaned forward and kissed her on the mouth.
"I'm going to marry you when I grow up," he promised her, seriously.
It may have been his first relationship, but he'd managed to keep Heather as his girlfriend right up until she moved to Tarsus IV at the beginning of the year 2246. Even then, he'd sit with his mom with the mail, asking if Heather had sent him anything.
He'd gotten four postcards, two letters, and a picture of a magnetic storm. When the mail stopped coming, he begged his mother to let him call - surely, Heather wouldn't have just forgotten about him. He was James Tiberius Kirk, or Jamie Kirk if Heather was talking to him, and he wanted to know - he even yelled, once, which made his mother cry and tell him that he couldn't make a phone call that far away.
Jim had to use the library at the school to find out why Heather had stopped mailing him.
Jim's best friend on Earth had been Johnny, who had been (according to various maternal figures over an extended period of time) a Shameless Enabler. Johnny never even tried to talk Jim out of any of his ridiculous schemes, he lied to keep Jim from being suspended from school, and they had been inseparable right up until that unfortunate night in High School, when Johnny had walked into Jim's bedroom to find him in bed with Alice, Johnny's twin sister, and Elizabeth, Johnny's ex-girlfriend.
Jim had tried to apologize seventeen times. The last time he tried to apologize, he'd been forced to corner Johnny in the locker room at school. "How many times do I have to say it?" He said. "I'm really sorry. About Alice, I mean. I'm not sorry about Elizabeth, you dumped her, man, she was fair game."
Johnny had leaned forward, wrapped a large hand around Jim's neck, and hauled him in for a kiss. And then for another. And another. And when Jim had been panting into his mouth, mind screaming Jesus fuck and what the hell and oh god yes, Johnny had let go of him, shaking his head.
"You really are a slut, aren't you?" Johnny had said, looking disappointed and hurt and all sorts of things that Jim couldn't really fix.
They never spoke again.
Jim didn't really miss Johnny. The asshole.
Jim's second relationship had lasted four months. Her name was Margaret, and everyone called her Maggie, and she was going to be a dancer. He'd met her at a bar somewhere, where she'd danced on a table and fallen into his lap, giggling and a little bit drunk. Jim had fallen hard.
They went out every weekend, had sex three times a day six days a week, and on Saturdays they fucked so much Jim didn't try and count. He got used to waking up on Sunday, sore and exhausted and happy. He got used to Maggie, who was the kind of girl who would stop doing dishes and drop to her knees, tugging at Jim's belt and asking very nicely if he'd mind a blowjob.
Four glorious months, and when she'd cried on his shoulder and said she was pregnant, he offered to marry her.
"I just need a hundred dollars for the abortion," She said. "Jesus, Jim, why the hell would I want to marry you?"
(The part that had hurt the most was when she said she didn't love him, and never had. She'd told him that he was just a good time - and that she was determined to get the hell out of this shitfuck town and make a name for herself. Jesus, Jimmy, you're a deadbeat and your mother pays your god damned rent. Why the fuck would anyone want to spend the rest of their lives with you? What the hell makes you think you'd be a good father? And why the fuck would I want to raise your child? Just give me the money, Jim. He begged her not to, promised to get a job, promised to take her to LA, promised to take the kid and never talk to her again. She went to a free clinic and had the abortion, and then stopped at Jim's apartment on the way to her mother's with a box of his stuff. Fuck you, she said. I hope you choke on your self-righteous fury and die, you ass. He shut the door in her face and tossed everything that reminded her of him into the incinerator.)
To date, Jim's longest successful relationship post-puberty has been with Lieutenant Uhura, who so far has still neglected to tell him her first name (finding out second-hand doesn't really count, so Jim is still asking her); their relationship isn't really the kind he should even count, since he hasn't had sex with her. Yet.
Regardless, Uhura was still talking with him after one epic barfight, three years in the Academy, the giant clusterfuck with the Narada and barely saving Earth from being swallowed into a black hole, and then when he'd offered her the position as communications officer on the Enterprise, partly because she was qualified, mostly because she was eye candy, and more importantly because Spock would probably visit her. And although Lt. Uhura hated his guts and liked to mock him at every opportunity, she at least was witty enough to enjoy the verbal sparring, which was something he kind of depended on to keep his skills sharp.
And yeah, okay, it wasn't really a relationship, it was Jim hitting on her and Uhura rejecting him at every turn before he went back to the Captain's quarters alone and she went to Spock's corners to -- play chess, or whatever the hell the Vulcan equivalent of foreplay was -- and Jim liked to stop thinking about that, there.
He'd never made her cry, though.
So, definitely his most successful relationship.
At the Academy, Jim had no choice but to conclude that Bones mostly tolerated him. The majority of the time, the doctor treated him like an imbecile. The remainder of the time, Bones would step in and help Jim do something ridiculous, or talk him out of doing something ridiculous, sometimes achieving the opposite of what he'd intended. The unpredictability was part of his appeal. Jim likes to have the doctor around, especially if he's going to be drinking on an alien planet, because Bones will sometimes get really depressed and shit, not quite crying into his drink as he explained to whatever poor sap was sitting next to him just how awful the divorce had been.
Even better were the times when Bones remembered why he'd divorced the bitch. He was hilarious when he was angry.
Spock was weird. Jim knew - really knew - that Spock and he were best friends, in an alternate version of reality. Somewhere out there, he'd figured out how to make Spock - be less Vulcan. This version of Spock was totally the opposite, though, he was this repressed angry guy who only spoke to Kirk in one-word answers most of the time, and who seemed to think he was an idiot the rest of the time.
The worst part of it all, was that Jim could remember it - the feel of the other Spock's fingers pressed against his skin, the sudden influx of memories and feelings. It was weird to think - to think of how horribly sad Spock had been when Jim died.
He didn't think that his Spock was going to miss him at all, if he died. Instead, Spock would probably just take off with the Enterprise and go joy-riding... or rather, because it was Spock, he'd assume command as Acting Captain and return the Enterprise to Star Fleet in order for the proper protocols to be met.
Vulcans, Jim thought irreverently.
Their first off-world mission that goes horribly wrong, Jim saves Spock's life. Spock does not say thank you, he does not even acknowledge the encounter. Instead, he does his freaky-Vulcan-neck-pinch thing and takes out two guards and a member of the royal family, then he jury-rigs a bunch of escape pods and helps Jim free all the planet's slaves, and finally he does something complicated with a busted short-range radio and has the Enterprise beam them back up.
"Hey, Spock," Jim says afterward, a little singed from the blaster fire, laying on the pad of the transporter room floor. "Thanks."
Spock looks about as surprised as a Vulcan can get. (His expression stays exactly the same, but his left eyebrow moves a quarter of an inch higher). "I do not require your gratitude," He says.
"I know," Jim replies. "But I thought you'd appreciate verbal praise instead of a hug," and then he manages to make Spock look almost surprised for a human. (His right eyebrow raises itself even with his left.)
Their second off-world mission that goes horribly wrong, Spock saves Jim's life. Actually, he throws himself on Jim and knocks him out of the way of a bullet, which instead hits the Vulcan and knocks him back a few feet. After that, there is a lot of swearing (Jim) and a lot of stoic silence (Spock) and they eventually shoot back, fight their way to freedom, and lay panting against a rock waiting for the Enterprise to send a shuttle after them.
"Thanks," Jim says.
"You do not need to express your gratitude," Spock says, looking kind of pissed off, for a Vulcan. (His left eyebrow is lowered one sixteenth of an inch.)
"It's that or a hug, buddy, come on -- shit, it looks as if they're back on our trail."
Spock bleeds bright green, which is weird in and of itself. He's got to be in pain, but he just presses one hand over the wound and lopes after Jim, silent and stern as always.
Their third off-world mission that goes horribly wrong, Spock saves Jim's life while Jim's busy rescuing Spock, and then Jim has to save Spock while Spock tries to rescue him back. They eventually break out of prison and save each others' lives again, and by that time Jim is so confused he can't keep track anymore.
"Hey, I think you saved my life once more than I saved yours," he muses, while lying on the floor of the transporter room. It's surprisingly comfortable.
"You are incorrect in your assumption," Spock says.
"Well, thank you, Mr. Spock." Jim replies, closing his eyes and waiting for the Medical Team to arrive and cart them away.
"You do not need to express gratitude, Captain." Spock replies, stiffly. (Although, stiffly for a Vulcan, was almost friendly for someone else).
After their fourth and fifth missions that go horribly wrong, Jim stops trying to keep track of how often he accidentally (or purposely) saves Spock from certain death or imprisonment, and stops trying to keep track of how many times Spock returns the favour.
After their nineteenth mission that goes horribly wrong, he just gives up and kind of goes with it. He saves Spock's life, and Spock saves his, and afterward Jim will awkwardly try to thank his Vulcan first officer and Spock will be very annoying and Vulcan, and say things like "Your insistence on expressing your gratitude is noted, Captain, however, it remains unnecessary."
Other times, he'll be even more Vulcan and insulting and say "I do not understand this human desire to make small talk," and once, he had even said, "I am attempting to re-configure the sensors to detect the alien parasite, Captain," and then he'd stopped talking, like that had anything to do with whether or not he wanted to hang out later and watch the solar radiation reflect off the asteroid field.
"Is there something I can do for you, Captain?" Spock asks. It's usually pretty hard to read the Vulcan's expression, but Jim has been cataloging all the ways Spock moves his eyebrows to convey his feeling, either because he'd never learned to stop, or because he figured it'd freak people out if his face never moved. Right now, Spock is curious but not annoyed, which is more or less the best that Jim could hope for.
"Sure thing!" He says cheerfully, stepping forward. Spock isn't the kind of guy who just steps back to automatically invite others into his quarters, so Jim just stands there, in Spock's personal space, smiling and breathing the Vulcan's air. After a long moment, his first officer steps back. One eyebrow quirks in something that Jim thinks might be amusement - he hasn't yet figured out the data set there, yet, because Spock is so rarely amused.
Jim walks into Spock's quarters, checking out the decor, which is weird enough to remind him that Spock is very, very Vulcan. "Uhura won't play chess with me," He says.
Spock raises his eyebrow a tiny bit higher.
"Well, I am Captain," Jim says as modestly as he can. Captain of the motherfucking Enterprise, the Star Fleet Flag Ship, and not only did he make officer in three years instead of four, he also managed to gain captaincy of an entire starship in a matter of months. He is awesome. He is fantastic. He is better than Jesus - okay, he's almost as cool as Jesus... and Spock was starting to look at him strangely. "Um - right, I could have, oh, I don't know, ordered Lieutenant Uhura to play chess with me. As long as she was on duty. And not busy. And unarmed. However, it kind of seems to me that would just be an abuse of power. Not to mention, I happen to know that you're probably a little bit better at chess than she is. So I've come to order you to play chess with me instead."
"I am not on duty, Captain." Spock says.
"Then you should call me Jim," Jim replies, absently, setting the board up on the table. There are two chairs. The lack of candle-lit dinner means that Uhura is probably not planning on stepping by. If Vulcans even did the mood-lighting thing. They probably thought that dimming the light to mimic the natural dilation of an eye when aroused would be illogical. Damn Vulcans - and Spock was giving him that look again.
"Jim," Spock says. "You want me to play chess with you." It's a statement but it sounds almost like a question.
"Well, yeah." What did Spock think he wanted?
"Very well." Spock sits down on the chair across from Jim and helps him set up the board.
Spock, as expected, is a very logical and precise player. He watches the board, instead of Jim, which is a mistake because he expects Jim to do the same. Jim takes the opportunity to study the Vulcan, the way his brows crease a little bit when he is concentrating.
Pay enough attention, and even Vulcan expressions start to be telling.
Right now, Spock is relaxed (Relaxed for a Vulcan means that he is exactly the same as he is any other time, but barefoot and in his quarters). He looks at the board as if it’s a puzzle, something that he has to figure out. Spock might look at Jim the same way, sometimes, but if he’s done so before, Jim wasn’t paying attention and didn’t see it.
But the way Spock plays is too logical.
Never go up against a Vulcan with logic, Jim reminds himself. You can’t beat them at their own game. If he were to make the logical choice, then Spock would be able to predict that, and react accordingly. No, the proper course of action is to be unpredictable, so Jim mentally assigns each of Spock’s chess pieces a random corresponding piece on his own side, using a non-linear function to determine which piece he will move, depending on which piece Spock moves.
Spock takes so long deciding what to do that Jim mentally assigns himself a movement and direction based on the Vulcan's posture and hand position. The eyebrows don't factor in at all, because they haven't moved since the game began.
When Spock moves his knight to the second tier and indicates a threat, Jim takes the Vulcan’s queen with a pawn. “Checkmate,” he says, a little surprised that he managed to win with all the restrictions he'd put on his own moves.
Left eyebrow rising a half-inch, Spock studies the board. "So it would seem," He says, which is ambivalent enough to tell Jim how disbelieving he feels.
They play chess on Thursdays.
Jim never asks about Fridays, because Friday is date night and if they're near a planet that has a humanoid population, he's optimistic that he can score some. Spock and Uhura probably recalibrate sensors or discuss vague translation errors due to dialect or mispronunciation. Afterward, Jim thinks they probably have really vanilla sex.
He can't picture a Vulcan having sex at all. It would be very -- efficient. Logical.
Jim doesn't find logic sexy.
Spock would, though.
If Spock weren't Vulcan, that is, and thus totally incapable of thinking something was 'sexy'. Instead, he probably said that something was 'aesthetically pleasing' or the like.
Not that Jim thinks about it.
Once, he sees Spock and Uhura kiss. It happens on a Thursday, because he plays chess with Spock on Thursdays. They'd been halfway through the second game when she walks in the door. Jim half-turns, sees Uhura with tears on her cheeks, and he immediately turns away. He hadn't been the one to make her cry, he is sure about that, but he is also fairly certain that if there had been something he could do to help, she would not be arriving unannounced in Spock's quarters with tears in her eyes.
"Nyota," Spock says, standing up and walking to her.
Jim keeps his face turned towards the board, even though his eyes are following Spock. He is curious, it's only normal - because, obviously, outside of the threat of his own imminent demise, the human half of Spock's personality is pretty well hidden.
Except Uhura is burying her face in his shoulder like he's the kind of guy she went to for comfort - and that's ridiculous. Spock is Vulcan, he isn't comforting. Even if he does seem to be comforting her, with one hand on her hip pulling her closer, and his other hand tipping her chin upwards. Jim looks away, thinking that they are going to kiss and he's the intruder, here - but Spock wipes her tears away with his thumb, letting her rest her head on his shoulder and stay there.
And that's -- strange, that he is just standing there and holding her. It seems almost human.
Lieutenant Uhura whispers some sort of explanation in Spock's ear, too low for Jim to pick up, and Spock responds in kind. They whisper to each other, and it's - tender, almost, caring, even though Spock's eyebrows aren't giving him away and Uhura has a hand fisted messily in his uniform shirt, tightly enough to wrinkle the fabric. Jim studies the chess board, realizes that Spock is about to trap him, but he can't really pay attention to that with the sickeningly sweet moment occurring six feet away from him.
Uhura pulls away from Spock after an eternity, her eyelashes still wet. Spock raises her hand, brushes his lips lightly over her palm before he lets go.
What, Jim thinks, because Spock was not the kind of guy who did the unnecessary-touching bit. He was Vulcan.
Pausing before she reaches the door, Uhura turns around and kisses Spock, on the lips, right there in front of Jim. She kisses him on the lips and its - it doesn't look logical. Or precise. It looks like Spock has his hand splayed over the small of her back, his pale hand accenting her tiny waist. It looks like Uhura kisses with her eyes half-open, her mouth definitely open, and she's not shy about running her hands through Spock's hair, using it to tug him closer. She nibbles on Spock's bottom lip, the hussy, pinky finger tracing over the shell of Spock's ear when she pulls her hand away.
Jim can see the bob of Spock's adam's apple as the Vulcan swallows slowly, turning to return to the table as if the game hadn't been interrupted by his crazy girlfriend. Two moves and Jim has defused the Vulcan's trap. Three more and Jim finds himself in a different trap, one so clever he actually stares at the board in shock and then laughs out loud.
Not that Jim had been paying attention, but if he had, he might eventually come to the conclusion that Spock and Uhura aren't having very vanilla sex.
But they are definitely having sex.
It's just not very logical, and precise, and efficient. Which is the only way for Vulcans to even have sex, so Jim's brain is having a hard time processing the two thoughts. Even knowing that Vulcans feel emotions just as much as humans do - Jim can still feel it, the loss the other Spock had felt at his friend's death, the terror and pain he'd felt at the loss of his planet - it's not the same as them feeling... everything.
Spock and lust go together like - like - Klingons and peace talks. Or, like spiders and Arachnophobia. Jim's mind is simply incapable of thinking of his Vulcan friend as a healthy male with the appetites to match, probably because the Vulcan spends so much of his time trying to convince everyone that he is as coldly logical as a machine.
But then again, if Spock hadn't been satisfying her, Uhura probably would have let Jim pick her up in a bar, take her home, and take her apart so slowly she would have seen stars. So - Spock's probably doing all right.
Except, it's Spock.
On Wednesdays, Jim likes to pester Spock about what it was like to grow up on Vulcan. He asks him about the wildlife, about the sunsets, about whether or not he ever went to sit outside during a full moon.
"Vulcan did not have a moon." Spock says woodenly.
"Did you have a pet?" Jim asks. "I had a cat, once, but it was a stray and my stepdad wouldn't let it in the house. I left food outside and it would crawl in my lap and fall asleep purring on my legs."
Spock gives Jim a lot of strange looks. This one is no different.
"I named her Buttons," Jim adds helpfully. "Come on, Spock. Don't leave me hanging, here. I want to know what Vulcan kids have instead of puppies and kittens and goldfish."
Spock is trying to do something complicated and science-y -- probably trying to recalibrate the long-range sensors to pick up life-signs for people who don't have have chips implanted in their arms, or perhaps attempting to restructure inefficient systems in order to conserve power. He is silent, fiddling at the console for so long that Jim almost repeats the question.
"I had a sehlat," Spock tells Jim, speaking suddenly. "Named I-Chaya. He belonged to my father."
"What's a sehlat?" Jim asks.
This time, Spock definitely ignores him. His eyebrow is quirked in something that's not irritation, but isn't amusement either.
Jim makes a mental note to look it up on the ship's computer.
Jim had always thought that being a Captain would involve adventure and danger. He had occasionally considered the alternatives - that it would be dreadfully boring, that his crew would be a bunch of jerks - and then he'd gone back to assuming that being a Captain would involve adventure and danger.
If he'd realized that being a Captain meant making decisions, important decisions, and then having to live with himself afterward, he would have stayed in the bar in Iowa and never enlisted in Starfleet.
As soon as the doors shut behind him, Jim picks up a vase - it's the closest thing to the door in his quarters - and throws it hard against the wall, water and flowers and broken ceramic bouncing back. It's not bad, but it's not what he needs ---
The bookshelf makes a nice cracking noise when he tilts it onto its side. The bed is harder to flip, but he eventually manages to toss it onto it's side, mattress hurled into a set of cupboards. The doors open, but Jim ignores that insignificant detail, rummaging around his things until every single breakable, fragile, and otherwise easily destructible belonging has been smashed, shattered, broken, or crushed. Afterward, when he's panting and gasping, sweating in his uniform and not feeling any fucking better at all, Jim starts to throw other things, the non-breakable stuff. He takes all of his clothes from their proper drawers and throws them against the bed frame, he throws piles of paper mission reports against the wall. He spends four minutes stomping on his canteen before he remembers that it is supposed to be indestructible except to certain types of acid.
Jim spends a lot of time smashing the bookshelf to kindling, and then he picks up all of the books and hurls them, one by one, at the bed frame to lie discarded with his clothes.
When his quarters have been completely wrecked and there isn't anything left for Jim to do aside from clean up the mess he's created, he turns to the wall and punches it, over and over, until the skin on his knuckles breaks open. The anger departs as abruptly as it arrived, and Jim finds himself swaying with exhaustion with his fists bloodied and his room torn apart like it had been the site of a natural disaster.
"Captain," Spock says, strong hands catching Jim before he can fall, guiding him to a seat on the floor. The Vulcan's hands are tight around his shoulders. It's surprisingly comfortable.
"Tell me, Mr. Spock," Jim says, unable to keep the bitterness from his voice. "When I let Ensign Donovan die, down on the planet, did I make the logical choice?"
Spock is totally expressionless, his eyebrows give nothing away. Life would be a lot easier if Spock's mind weren't a mystery, but Jim is fairly certain that Spock is also the only person who won't lie to him. Lying isn't logical. "Captain," Spock says, his voice level. "Logic is not often a factor when discussing a moral dilemma."
"Right, fuck you, Spock." Jim replies, head falling forward to rest on Spock's shoulder. "Ensign Donovan is dead, because of me. Tell me that it was the rational thing to do. Tell me it was logical. Tell me--"
"Logically, a moral choice is made by determining the outcome of each possible decision, and choosing the option which causes the least damage, or the most good." Spock says. His shoulder is warm. He doesn't really seem to notice that Jim has one hand on his waist, the other curled around his shoulder blades, and his face turned into his neck.
Spock's hands are still on Jim's shoulders, and are probably the only reason Jim isn't lying prone on the carpet. This is, Jim thinks, the closest thing to a hug the two of them have ever shared.
"You could not have done any differently, Jim." Spock says. "Your choice was the right one."
It must be nice to know everything, Jim thinks bitterly, closing his eyes.
After the eighty kajillionth time something goes wrong and Spock saves him and Jim saves Spock and then they both ran around being totally awesome, Jim only says it because it's become a habit by now. "Thank you, Mr. Spock," He says, staring up at the now-familiar ceiling in the transporter room.
"You are welcome, Captain," Spock replies as he steps off of the transporter pad and heads towards the exit.
Shock means that Jim doesn't have a change to respond until Spock has already left the transporter room.
Even Scotty looks surprised.