The knock at the door before Alpha shift woke both of them, but Jim grumbled and burrowed his face further into the pillow, so McCoy rolled his eyes, yawned, and pulled on a pair of sleep pants on his way to the door. The computer said Uhura was waiting on the other side.
Concern overrode his irritation as he opened the door, but the sight of Uhura’s smile that widened when she saw him eased some of his worry.
“Everything okay, darlin’?” he asked anyway, just to be sure.
“Everything’s fine, thanks,” she said, still smiling. She handed him a small box. “Tell the Captain ‘happy birthday’ from Spock and me.” She hesitated, her eyes sparkling. “But especially me.”
She laughed at his arched eyebrow and didn’t bother explaining before she marched down the hall. Mystified, McCoy returned to the bedroom of the captain’s suite where Jim was still sprawled out on his stomach, now taking McCoy’s part of the bed as well as his own.
“Was that Uhura?” Jim’s sleepy voice was muffled by his pillow, and McCoy glared at the back of his head before dropping the box between Jim’s shoulder blades.
“Ow, what the fuck, Bones?”
“Nyota said ‘happy birthday’ from her and Spock—but especially her.”
Jim was already sitting up eagerly and scrambling for the box as McCoy went into the bathroom to have a shower and get ready for Alpha shift in sickbay. When he came back into the bedroom to get dressed, Jim was sitting cross-legged on the bed, carefully fitting a sparkling tiara onto his bed-messed hair. The eviscerated gift box—McCoy had seen autopsies performed with less mess—sat beside him on the bed.
“Oh for fuck’s sake,” McCoy groused. “Stop dicking around, Jim. It’s almost time for your shift.”
Jim beamed at him, but McCoy was already on his way out the door.
“Hey!” Jim called out petulantly, and McCoy turned to see him reaching up to remove the tiara. “Aren’t you going to wish me a happy birthday?”
McCoy rolled his eyes and left without saying a word. He’d already told Jim happy birthday—as soon as the ship’s chronometer clicked over, as a matter of fact, coming up for air from deep-throating Jim’s cock—and they were having a special dinner tonight that McCoy was making himself from his grandmother’s recipes, thank-you-very-much. Besides, this was all part of Jim’s birthday game.
McCoy knew that some time in the middle of the ship’s day, Jim would be expected to tune into a ’fleet-wide communication from Star Command to commemorate the loss of the Kelvin and the death of his father, George Kirk. It happened every year, and it was a damn somber thing to happen on your birthday.
So for the rest of the day, the crew would make it a point to push Jim around, tease him mercilessly, and pretty much give him hell. In other words, a normal day on the Enterprise.
Around mid-day, Chapel nudged Leonard from his study of a Starfleet Medical bulletin on new developments in a vaccine against Andorian shingles and pointed to the ship’s chronometer. Not that Leonard hadn’t already known what time it was. He’d been glancing at the chronometer compulsively for the last hour.
He hated the Kelvin memorial broadcast by now. The first year, he could see the point. It gave people a chance to grieve, to mark a milestone. Now, twenty-six years on, he wished they would restrain themselves to every ten years, every five years at the most. An annual broadcast not only seemed exploitative, it seemed, in some ways, to overshadow the new memorial that had taken its place—the one for the destruction of most of Starfleet and Vulcan that had marked the Enterprise’s first voyage.
But the public relations department hadn’t listened to a word he’d said, and he didn’t figure they were going to anytime soon. He knew it would be all he could do to keep his hands behind himself in parade rest in order to resist the temptation of subtly flipping them off.
When he got to the bridge, he discovered he might not need to.
Jim was standing in front of the captain’s chair looking very official, Spock at his side and the rest of the bridge crew looking appropriately solemn as they awaited the start of the transmission. The only thing that made Leonard feel like he was in one of those “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” books that they used to keep in the office for the kids to look at back when he owned his own clinic was the bright, sparkling tiara perched on Jim’s head.
“Jim—” He stopped, unsure of what he was going to say. It was just as well.
“Starfleet official transmission, Captain.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant. Put it though.”
The broadcast was, as always, given by a panel of Starfleet officials. This time, Admiral Pike was part of the board, and Leonard would have laid money on Pike’s quickly-smothered cough thirty seconds into the broadcast being a cover for laughter.
Once the broadcast—mercifully short—was over, the rest of the crew went back to their positions without so much as a glance at Jim, and Leonard just stood there and stared.
“Yes, Bones?” Jim asked politely, his eyebrows arching innocently. “Was there something?”
Leonard just shook his head and smiled. “Happy birthday, Jim,” he said, clapping Jim on the shoulder on his way past the chair. He paused at Uhura’s station long enough to give her a conspiratorial wink, and as he was on his way back to sickbay, he glanced over his shoulder just in time to catch Jim watching him go with a wide grin on his face.