It was stupid to be here, really. It served no purpose other than to wallow in his own self-pity and that only ever made things worse. But he stood looking out at the stars on the observation deck anyway.
He wasn’t all that surprised when Bones sidled up next to him. His friend had some sort of sixth sense as to when Jim was in pain. Physical or emotional. It didn’t seem to matter.
“How long have you been standing here, Jim?”
“I’m not really sure. A while I think.”
“You missed dinner.”
Jim grimaced. “This is Wednesday, isn’t it? Sorry, Bones. Lost track of time.”
“Is this about the crew mutiny?” Bones put a hand on Jim’s arm. “Jim, it wasn’t personal. We were all affected by those damn spores. You know I would never—”
“Nah, it’s not that, Bones. I’m over that. I’m just glad to have the ship and the crew back as they’re supposed to be.”
“Then why are you standing here staring off into space like it’s the end of the world as you know it?”
Jim smiled a little. “Is that what I’m doing?”
“You tell me. You want to get a drink?”
He did, sort of. But if there’s one thing that made his self-pity worse it was alcohol. He sure didn’t need that.
“Another time? I think I’m going to go to my quarters and go to bed.”
Bones stared at him a full minute before he finally nodded. “Okay, Jim. You know where to find me if you change your mind.”
He walked with Bones to the turbolift, but Bones got off on the deck with the medbay and Jim kept going to the one with the officers’ quarters.
He paused outside Spock’s doors.
The thing was, since they’d come back from Omicron Ceti III, he hadn’t seen very much of his first officer. Jim wasn’t sure if that was his choice or Spock’s choice.
He couldn’t get Leila’s face out of his mind. Or the way Spock looked when he’d been with her. Smiling, laughing. Open and loving.
“For the first time in my life, I was happy.”
And there it was.
Jim clenched his fists and turned away from Spock’s door to enter his own quarters.
There was an air of absolute loneliness there he hadn’t felt in a long time. Not since before Krall.
Jim couldn’t analyze what Spock’s words had meant for his relationship with Uhura. If he thought too long on that particular relationship, he drove himself completely insane with the need to drink away every thought in his brain. So he avoided that. And since that was all in the past, Jim figured Spock’s lack of happiness there was Uhura’s problem not his.
“Computer, full lock, Captain’s code 2 alpha 4 beta.”
The highest security code clicked into place, ensuring it couldn’t be overridden except in red alerts.
Just prior to their mission for Omicron Ceti III, his relationship with Spock had changed rather dramatically. They’d been playing chess and one minute Jim was beating Spock’s ass and the next Spock was kissing him breathless.
It hadn’t gone any further than that before the mission came and they had to be there for their shifts.
There had been no exchange of words surrounding Spock’s actions in kissing Jim. It had happened and then Omicron Ceti III had happened. Then Leila had happened.
Jim didn’t blame Spock. The spores were at fault. And Jim was hardly some blushing innocent himself. As far as he knew, Spock and Leila hadn’t gotten to the point of total intimacy, but Jim knew it had likely been a near thing. Really, what did Spock owe him anyway? A few kisses didn’t mean anything, necessarily.
Jim thought they had. But he could admit he was likely wrong. He’d kissed plenty of people over the years and nothing had come of it. Maybe Spock had wanted to experiment. Or shut him up.
“For the first time in my life, I was happy.”
And Jim had taken that away from him. Spock had felt happy. Something he once denied he was even capable of feeling. Had Jim the right to change that for Spock? And if Leila made him happy and Jim did not…
He went into his bathroom, grateful for the new design of the ship which gave him his own bathroom, unshared by anyone. He took a nice long shower and then dressed for bed.
He tried to remember when he’d last eaten and couldn’t, so he ordered himself a big plate of pasta, garlic bread, a salad, and tiramisu for dessert. Screw it, he’d missed dinner with Bones and he was hungry.
He had a restless night. Constant dreams. Many he didn’t remember. Others he wished he hadn’t. The worse one had been Spock marrying Leila and the two of them getting a nice big shiny married couple’s quarters on the Enterprise.
He ate breakfast in the medbay with Bones so he could avoid the mess and was grateful that Bones made no comment about him doing so.
Jim hadn’t told Bones about Spock kissing him before the whole almost paradise thing and he was kind of glad now that he hadn’t. He was pretty sure his friend knew he had a massive crush—if being crazy in love with someone could be called a crush—but fortunately he hadn’t bugged Jim about it. He no doubt would have if Jim had been foolhardy enough to tell Bones about the kissing.
“Yeah?” He turned from the doorway of Bones’ office.
Bones looked like he was thinking about whether he should actually say what was on his mind. “Spock was under the influence of those spores too.”
“He never would have chosen to stay on that planet otherwise.”
“I guess he knew that girl back at the Academy. Prior to Uhura and—”
“Bones, I know. What’s all this about?” Jim interrupted impatiently.
“I just didn’t want you to doubt Spock’s loyalty.”
Jim shook his head. ”I don’t. Not really.”
Bones raised his eyebrows. “Not really?”
“He did consider going to New Vulcan. More so after Ambassador Spock died. You told me that yourself."
“You considered taking a job at Yorktown.”
Jim smiled. “True. But my loyalty to myself has never been in question.”
“Funny. Just-take it easy on yourself, okay? I know you say you know the spores were at fault and logically you know that—”
“Did you just say logically?” Jim exclaimed. “I knew you two spent too much time together on Altamid.”
“The point is,” Bones continued, “the crew owes you their very lives several times over. They’re loyal to you, Jim.”
“Thanks, Bones. See you later?”
Bones nodded and waved him away.
Jim avoided looking in the direction of Spock’s station his entire shift. It felt heavy and wrong to do so, but on the other hand, he needed to stay focused and professional and gawking at Spock like some lovesick loon was not the way to do that. He’d get over this. He would. It would just take some time.
Later when Uhura got in the turbolift with him, he hoped she wouldn’t say anything.
God knew, he should have known better.
She stopped the lift.
“Captain, are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” He smiled. “Thank you, lieutenant.”
“That’s your fake smile.” Uhura sighed and crossed her arms over her chest. “You think you can fool me with that? We’ve been friends for too long.”
“Just feeling sore from my gym work out earlier. I overdid.”
“From the gym.”
“Yeah. They have a new rock climbing wall.” Jim smiled again, trying harder this time.
She studied his face. “Captain, the spores—”
He groaned. “Not that again.”
“Please don’t be upset,” she said, hugging him to his surprise. “We love you. You’re the best captain.”
He pulled back and gave her a strange look. “Should I be contacting the medbay?”
“Don’t try to joke your way out of this,” she said sternly. “We do love you. And you have to put all that stuff on Omicron Ceti III behind you.”
“It is behind me.”
“Are you upset with Spock?”
“Okay. What?” Jim laughed. “Why would you ask that?”
“You’re treating him differently.”
“Has he said something?”
Uhura shook her head. “And he wouldn’t even if he noticed. But I can see you are. If this is about Leila—”
“Leila? No. It’s not about Leila. It’s about nothing because there is nothing. I’m just tired. Honestly, Nyota, I’m fine.”
She still looked doubtful but she restarted the lift. “Want to have dinner?”
“Not tonight. I’ve got reports to get done and reports that have reports. I’m going to lay low and just eat in my quarters.”
Uhura got off on the deck with the mess.
Once more when it came time to stand outside Spock’s door, he hesitated. He did owe Spock an apology after all.
He pressed for entry.
Spock stood in the middle of his quarters looking at a bracelet he held in his hand. It was very delicate and gold with shiny stones.
Spock looked up at him. “It belonged to Leila. I found it among my belongings.”
“Oh.” Jim didn’t know what to say to that. “I, uh, wanted to apologize.”
Oh. So yeah. Captain again.
“For the things I said to get you to overcome the spores. They were out of line and I—”
“I require no apology. You merely did what you had to do. I took no offense.”
Goody. Stiff and formal.
Should he bring up the kissing? To what end? To give Spock an out. Because Jim didn’t make him happy.
“The other night.”
Spock straightened. But he said nothing. And he still held Leila’s bracelet.
“It was just…I don’t think.” Jim licked his lips. “We should probably forget about it. Because, you know me. I don’t-I don’t really do—”
Spock inclined his head and then nodded. “I concur.”
“I had come to the same conclusion,” Spock said softly. “It would not work between us.”
“Well, good,” Jim replied with a ridiculous amount of cheer. God, what an idiot he sounded like. He was. “So, we’re good, right? Still, uh, friends?”
Jim forced a particularly bright smile. “Chess sometime next week?”
Like Spock hadn’t been in this very room kissing him like he’d never get enough. But maybe that was Jim who felt that way.
“Goodnight, Mr. Spock.”
Jim left Spock’s quarters and headed for his own.
He went straight to his desk and his terminal and started his reports, ignoring the tight ache in his chest.
He was Captain of the Enterprise, damn it and he would deal. Pick himself up, dust himself off, and start all over again. As usual.