"Fine" still felt like a vague, foreign concept, but Spock thought it would make his mother happy. And as far as he could tell, he was fine in that he was currently suffering from no physical or mental ailments and, if he had had an emotional state, it would not have been one of distress or agitation.
Similarly, he was going to see Jim because he had been assured it would make Jim happy and that his failure to attend would create a negative response. That Jim and McCoy would "talk about him behind his back" was not a factor; if he accepted a relationship between the three of them, then it was logical to assume that each of them were potential topics of conversation.
"It'll be good for you," said McCoy. From their shared consciousness (and because he wasn't blind although Spock failed to see what vision had to do with it), McCoy knew that Spock loved Jim and had informed Spock of the situation. Spock accepted this as factual even though he was no longer completely sure of the concept.
"It is too late to decline the captain's invitation," said Spock.
"Not too late to make a run for it."
"Why would I wish to run?"
"Forget it." McCoy pressed the buzzer. They waited.
"You will be traveling with the captain?" Spock asked.
McCoy grimaced. "You mean will I be dragged there against my will?"
"Somebody's got to keep you two out of trouble," said McCoy.
"The captain said we should not let you know that I would be accompanying him," said Spock. "He suggested he would not be able to persuade you to join him if you were aware of that fact."
McCoy sighed. "Dammit, Jim, you should know better," he muttered even though Jim had not yet come to the door. "He's pulling your leg."
"Pulling my leg?"
"Teasing," said McCoy. He pressed the buzzer again, for a longer duration this time. "Funning you. We don't get along, remember?"
McCoy seemed to earnestly--and almost desperately--want Spock to behave as though they disliked each other. Spock could not understand why, only that this was important to the being who had carried his katra, so he said, "Because you are so incredibly illogical."
For some reason (perhaps because he was incredibly illogical) this pleased McCoy. "Exactly. But god only knows what damn fool thing you'll try next, and Jim's determined to break his neck climbing some mountain, so I have to come along and be prepared for some backwoods surgery."
McCoy loved Jim--and Spock--fiercely, but it was not something he would express in words or explicit thoughts. Even through the link it was something Spock perceived rather than something communicated to him--even though McCoy was quite insistent about Spock's relationship with Jim.
He was genuinely concerned that Jim would injure himself while trying to prove he wasn't getting older (even though he's the youngest of us). And no matter how bad it was, it would still be better than going home and pretending he hadn't made himself a stranger to his family. Jim wanted him there, and that was probably the real reason.
And Jim would owe him.
Spock considered this and the fact that he had not even attempted reparations for his rescue.
No. That's different.
I do not see a significant distinction.
He saw himself in McCoy's mind--disfigured, dying, impossible to imagine how much pain he'd be in, the skin peeling off his hand as he reached for Jim--and there was nothing that could be done.
Spock didn't think he'd ever felt the I can't save him feeling--it was wholly illogical, but still incredibly unpleasant. He realized that McCoy had found the concept of being "owed" insulting. In the human's mind it was quite simple: if you could help, then you did. If you could not, then you tried, and you did both of these things because that was how you were supposed to act.
I should at least buy you dinner Spock thought at him because it was something Jim might say, and the humans seemed to respond positively when he tried to "fun" them.
Someplace nice. With an actual, living cook.
The door slid open. "If it isn't my favorite newlyweds," said Jim.
"Mr. Spock, isn't it true that the formation of a telepathic bond is considered a marriage under Vulcan law?" Jim asked.
"It is true, Captain," said Spock.
"The defense rests." Jim put an arm around McCoy's shoulders. "And to think I introduced you two."
McCoy thought Jim was joking about it because he was hurt (should've been him anyway).
Spock was not sure why, but he did not think Jim was jealous. Somehow it made much more sense that Jim felt what humans called "left out".
"And we still haven't gotten a present from you," said McCoy.
"I don't know where you're registered, Bones." He let go of McCoy and squeezed Spock's arm. "How are you, Spock?"
"I am pleased that you will not be mining borite," said Spock. Which was true, and it might be the sort of statement Jim would enjoy.
Jim beamed at him. "Yes, I'm rather pleased about that myself."
Spock did not know what to make of the state of Jim's apartment. "Is this usual?"
"I've been trying to get my affairs in order," said Jim.
"Oh, for...you turned fifty-two, Jim," said McCoy. "Happens to all of us."
"But, Bones, you've had so much more experience being depressingly old."
"Why do I put up with you?"
"What can I say, Bones?"
"That I'm a masochist who's got a thing for hopeless cases?"
"Not exactly how I would have put it..."
"An affair is a sexual liaison in which at least one partner is married?" Spock asked.
McCoy made a noise that Spock thought would be categorized as "snickering". "It was a joke, Spock," said Jim. "I'm trying to see what I actually need and get rid of the rest before we're assigned somewhere. Can I get either of you a drink?"
"Let me see what you've got and--"
Jim stopped him with a hand on his chest. "I'm the host, Bones," he said. "And I am capable of making a drink or two."
"Just remember, Jim, take the cap off, then pour."
"And why exactly do I put up with you?"
"Habit. Old man like you's bound to be set in his ways."
"What's that? You're going to have to speak up." He brought Spock something that smelled like Vulcan tea and McCoy something bright blue. "I did find something interesting in all this mess."
"A couple of old girlfriends?" McCoy asked.
"No, but excavations are continuing." Jim held up a tape. "And I think you'll find this much more interesting."
"I don't know, Jim, I remember some of those girls..."
Jim put the tape into the computer, scrolled through it, then turned the screen towards them. "Recognize these two, Bones?"
Spock looked at the screen--Jim and McCoy in the former duty uniforms, Jim's sleeve insignia indicating he was a lieutenant. They were both young, and something had made them start laughing shortly before the picture had been taken.
"I was the photographer," said Spock.
They shook their heads. "Gary," said Jim. "It was probably Gary."
"Or Nancy," said McCoy.
"Then I should still have one of you and...unless I deleted them after the Crater Incident." Kirk looked thoughtfully at the screen. "Was I still a lieutenant when I was seeing Carol?"
It appeared as though the picture had been posed, at least until something had amused the humans. Spock could see Jim's insignia because, as he'd laughed, he'd put his hand on McCoy's waist.
"Well, somebody took it," said McCoy.
"You miss these two hoodlums?" asked Jim.
"These two? Couple of dumb kids who couldn't stay out of trouble. Now I'll admit this one--" he tapped the image of his younger self, "is certainly a handsome devil, but I don't think I'd want to be him again."
"They had hope," said Jim.
Spock felt as though he should take some sort of action--there were negative associations to all the potential photographers, and the image itself seemed to be having an unusual effect on Jim. Unfortunately he could not think of what action would be necessary or appropriate.
"Jim, in the past couple of months you've hijacked the flagship, driven it straight to a forbidden planet, and blown it up," said McCoy. "And raised the dead. Stolen a couple of whales from our forefathers. To me that would suggest either hope or senile dementia."
Jim put an arm around McCoy's shoulders again. "I did have some help."
McCoy put his arm around Jim's waist. Spock could dimly remember when it had been quite natural to casually touch other beings--these two had taught him how to do it, even if he could not remember how it was done. "Jim," said McCoy.
Spock moved slightly closer and let Jim put his other arm around him.
"Jim, I can't believe we got away with it," said McCoy.
Jim giggled. "I know," he said. "Bones, I've heard...I heard we might actually get medals for it."
The humans laughed. It was a bizarre form of expression, but Spock found it pleasant. Somehow he seemed to have forgotten how agreeable it was when Jim and McCoy amused each other and how satisfactory it was to sense Jim's happiness.
"You know," Jim nodded at the screen, "I don't think we ever got a good shot after that."
"I find it to be adequate," said Spock.
"No," said McCoy. "To be adequate it'd need a certain hobgoblin standing next to us with a sour look on his face."
"Because a certain doctor just told an exceptionally dirty joke?" asked Jim.
"Is that what it was?"
"I can't remember. But you're right, Bones," said Jim. "It's a shame we can't send Spock back there to get in the picture. And come along on the bar crawl."
"Think he could keep up?"
"These days I don't think I could," said Jim. "But I think if he put his mind to it, Spock could drink these fellows under the table and carry them home."
"Which they certainly could've used."
Spock looked across Jim at McCoy. "I do not remember these behavior patterns," he said.
"I'd be worried if you did," said McCoy.
"You were off being a respectable science officer with Captain Pike while we were--"
"Tomcatting and binge drinking."
"Don't put it like that, Bones," said Jim. "Spock might get the right idea."
Spock found the old picture and the humans' responses to this time period most agreeable. "Then I would like to know more," he said.
The humans drank and told him about each other. They interrupted each other and corrected each other and insisted that one of them was better at telling a particular story. They smiled and, as much as Spock had found it an unnecessary human display in recent months, Spock would not mind if they continued to perform that unnecessary display (and he did not ask them questions about or encourage them to discuss people like Gary and Nancy).
"I'm not going to ask you," Jim said to McCoy as he raised his hand and let it fall heavily and deliberately on the other human's leg, "because I'd better already know the answer." He looked at Spock and asked, "Are you going to stay?"
"I do not understand the question," said Spock as he reached into McCoy's mind. McCoy thought of a brick wall, and Spock withdrew.
"Stay here. Spend the night," said Jim. "With us."
"Would you prefer that I stay?" asked Spock.
"Yes. I would," said Jim. "Very much. And," he glanced at McCoy, "Bones would too, even if he won't admit it."
He could feel McCoy nudging at his mind, thinking that he should not agree only to please them. Spock, of course, had no opinion either way, and thus it would be most logical to perform the action that the majority would consider to be a positive one. "Then I will 'spend the night'," he said.
Jim was obviously happy--he smiled broadly at Spock, and Spock was not entirely sure how to categorize his own reaction. It was difficult to determine why he should find a human's emotional response so pleasing.
"Shall we go to bed, gentlemen?" Jim asked.
The humans focused their attention on him, taking turns with lips and hands. Spock assumed it was because he'd been dead--but then Jim stopped and put his arms around them both.
"Hey, it's all right, Jim boy," McCoy said softly, even though he couldn't feel what Spock was sensing from Jim. "We got away with it, didn't we?"
He nudged Spock with his elbow. Spock assumed this was a signal to speak. "Jim, it is not logical to worry about a problem that has been solved."
This seemed to appease the humans, just as Spock had speculated that it would. McCoy gave him a grateful look, and Jim beamed at him again.
"Spock," said Jim. "Spock, you know I wouldn't like to think of you as a problem--no matter how...inconvenient your being deceased was."
They kissed his lips and neck and palms--since they seemed to enjoy it, Spock allowed them to continue and did not concern himself with the fact that he was no longer certain of how to physically satisfy humans. They gripped his shoulders and stroked his back as Spock stroked them. They felt familiar in his hands, and Spock found they were both quite easily pleased.
"Look at this," McCoy said.
Jim looked. "I don't see anything."
"I know," said McCoy. "Used to be a little scar right here...and this..." He moved his hand up to Spock's chest. "When Tyree's people shot him. You'd never know it happened."
"Because it wasn't Tyree's people who shot him," said Jim as he lightly touched the place where McCoy's fingers had been.
"And this one..." McCoy traced a line over Spock's shoulder that apparently no longer existed. "This one always bugged the crap out of me."
"Why?" Jim asked as he settled against Spock.
"Because I left it there and could never seem to get rid of it."
"How long before he needs his appendix out?"
"Never had one. You think a fine, upstanding Vulcan would have such an illogical organ?"
Spock found it satisfactory to lie between two drowsy, satisfied humans, even if they seemed to be in one of their stranger moods. Still, as long as the things he sensed from them remained pleasant, he would indulge them.
"Suppose you're right...My apologies to your internal organs, Mr. Spock."
"Tonsils though," said McCoy. "Those are apparently logical."
Jim and McCoy seemed to have decided that he was back to normal--Spock picked up sedate pleasure from both of them with no hints of concern or agitation. As they were the beings most qualified to make that determination and as he did not wish to cause them distress, Spock decided he would accept their assessment.