He knew the moment he was no longer alone. Even before his Vulcan first officer actually approached him, footsteps soft and surprisingly tentative.
“Captain. You are not at the festivities.”
Jim smiled very slightly. “All another year passing reminds me of is that I’m getting older.”
“You generally engage in merriment that includes indulgence in alcohol.”
“Not this particular one,” he said softly, leaning in to the glass. Yorktown. A place he was beginning to wonder if he’d ever get to leave. Ships took time to build, he knew. And he was grateful they were even rebuilding her. “What about you? I thought you and Uhura would be at the party together.”
Spock did not respond at first and when he did his tone was more distant. “She expressed a desire to maintain some distance between us for the time being.”
Jim glanced at him. “Are you two back to having difficulties? I thought you’d reconciled.”
“It seemed we would, but many of the reasons we grew apart remain an obstacle to a romantic relationship between us.” He seemed to move closer to Jim, but then Spock always maintained the perfect distance, so Jim suspected he was imagining things.
“That’s…I’m sorry, Spock,” Jim made himself say. He knew that was the appropriate thing to say to your friend.
“No apology is necessary. I believe in time Nyota and I will be friends. As we were prior to the commencement of our romantic relationship.”
Jim almost asked how they went from friends to lovers, for pointers? No. Just morbid curiosity he supposed. But really he wasn’t in the mood for that conversation with Spock right now. Maybe he never would be, but on tonight of all nights…no.
“Would you like to play a game of chess, Captain?”
Jim knew that Ambassador Spock played chess with his Captain Kirk. And not from the meld they’d had so long ago—that information dump really—but rather because Ambassador Spock told him himself. He didn’t talk all that often with the ambassador. But the few times they had, it had been reminisces of his time with that other James Kirk.
The thing was, that was another difference between him and that Kirk. Jim had never learned chess. He was too busy getting himself in trouble.
But he suspected maybe the ambassador had also told Spock that they had played chess together. Spock told him once that the ambassador advised he wouldn’t share too much information about his own life and time. Apparently he’d had no such qualms about it with Jim. Odd. But he might have told Spock that much.
“Sorry, Spock. I was thinking about the ambassador.”
“I guess one of the things you do on a day like this is think about those you’ve lost. Anyway, sorry, Spock. I don’t actually know how to play chess.”
Jim told himself he imagined the disappointment he thought he heard in Spock’s voice. After all Spock had no real reason to be disappointed in Jim’s lack of interest in chess. He seemed to have a habit of imagining things having to do with Spock.
Spock seemed to hesitate then. Probably wondering if it was worth it to bother with Jim further for the night.
Jim saved him the trouble. “I’m going back to my suite if you’d like to join me for a cup of tea.”
“I was unaware that you drank tea, Captain.”
But Spock fell into step beside him as Jim headed toward the exit of the observation room he’d found himself in earlier that night. It looked over the west side at a mass of twisted and oddly shaped buildings and lifts that no doubt some genius engineers and architects had spent many hours of work developing.
“Not every day. Or even every month. It’s something I drink when I don’t feel quite right.”
Spock’s steps faltered but he recovered quickly as they reached the turbolift that would lift them to the deck that led to their temporary home on Yorktown. “If you are unwell I will notify Doctor McCoy at once.”
“Not physically unwell, Spock.”
He followed Jim out of the turbolift and down the clear glass walkway to the building that housed their quarters. Jim’s was really a suite of rooms that were far too extravagant for his needs. But Commodore Paris had insisted. Once inside the building, they rode up another lift to the top floor of the building which was made up of Jim’s entire living space.
There was a living room, a full kitchen and dining room, another room known as a den, two bedrooms to the left along with a private bathroom for each and a master bedroom to the right that included a bathroom that was bigger than some of the places Jim had lived back on Earth. The bathroom had a walk in shower encased in glass as well as a jetted whirlpool tub.
Jim walked into the kitchen and turned to the replicator, suddenly hyper aware of Spock being there with him. Spock hadn’t ever been in Jim’s quarters on the ship now that he thought about it. He’d been in Spock’s maybe five times in the time they’d served together and only for a few minutes at a time. He recalled one particular time when Spock had not been alone.
“Tea provides you with emotional comfort?” Spock asked into the awkward silence.
“Yeah.” He turned from the replicator and handed a cup of tea to Spock and took his own with him to sit on the couch in the living room, inviting Spock to join him.
“Doctor McCoy did not wish to spend the evening with you?”
“Bones was having dinner with an Orion girl he met in the bar actually. And I think after, they were going to the party.”
“And you are certain you don’t want to attend yourself?”
Jim smiled slightly as he lifted the tea to his lips. “I’m sure. New Year’s Eve is nothing but a bad memory for me.”
Spock cocked his head. “In what way, may I ask?”
“I was on Tarsus IV,” Jim said softly. “New Year’s Eve was when it started.”