"I just don't think you're right for each other, is all I'm saying."
"What do you mean by that?" Jim asked, eyebrows furrowing as he looked up from his toast and at his best friend. He tried not to sound standoffish, but failed miserably.
McCoy raised a single eyebrow. "C'mon, you're really asking that? Well, I guess since you're still with the bastard, you're as clueless as you seem."
Jim made no comment. He wordlessly prompted McCoy to continue.
"I know that Vulcans - especially insecure ones with daddy issues - ain't too big on the whole 'PDA' thing, but Spock's just ridiculous. If you didn't tell me those gross stories about what you two get up to in your, uh, 'spare time', I wouldn't even think that you knew each other!"
Jim frowned. "But he's-"
"And another thing!" McCoy interrupted, "I don't ever remember you saying that he'd mentioned the 'L' word yet. Has he? God knows you've been together long enough."
Jim opened his mouth to protest, but it died on his lips. He had said it, once, after a little bit of pushiness from Jim's side. Neither of them had ever mentioned it again.
"Look, kid. The both of you are like brothers to me. Really, I mean, I love you both. But I know you, Jim. You're like an emotional octopus - you've been in more relationships than I can count on my hands, and every single one of those people you've been crazy about after two weeks. I can tell you're tryin' to make it work this time, but there's a point where you gotta let go."
"You're wrong," Jim said, with more confidence than he felt on the inside.
It was just a few days later when the seed of doubt began to grow. He was, once again, at breakfast.
"You're having an operation?! And somehow you didn't think this was relevant enough to, oh I don't know, at least mention it before it happened?" Jim demanded, subconsciously waving his toast around.
"It is a routine operation," Spock began quietly, obviously trying to draw less attention from the crew than Jim was, "that I will recover from in a matter of hours. I thought it of no consequence."
Jim stared incredulously. "Of course. Right. I forgot that you're you."
"You are correct, I am myself. However I feel as though your comment was more spiteful than truthful."
"Feel? Right." He regretted the words the second they left his mouth.
"You of all people should know how untrue that assumption is, however, I understand that you are purposefully attempting to upset me."
Damn him for being so right all the time. Still, Jim said, "I'm not trying to upset you. I'm telling the truth."
"Have you ever heard of the phrase, 'actions speak louder than words'?"
"Then you have your answer." Spock's eyes were calculating and intelligent, but not at all without warmth. "I wish for you to accompany me for the duration of my operation. I find myself uneasy going through the procedure alone."
Jim suddenly felt confrontational and petty. He felt like a dick. "Sorry, Spock."
As the operation drew closer, Jim found himself becoming more and more uneasy. More so than Spock, and he was the one having the damn thing.
"You are distressed."
The voice that was suddenly behind him didn't make him jump anymore. Spock "snuck up" on him at least twice a day.
When Jim had asked Spock about this, he denied it profusely. "I would not," he had claimed, "I simply assumed you could hear me coming."
The hidden 'I'm sorry I assumed your senses were as advanced and superior as mine are' was loud and clear.
Of course, this had been before they were friends - before they were even together. Their relationship had been civil at most, even though Spock seemed to garner the most empathy in any and all 'disagreements' there had been between himself and Jim. It often ended in Jim feeling like he was the younger child who had intentionally started a fight with the older, and the crew were their parents who could see clearly that Jim was being petty.
Jim had hated it. Hell, sometimes he still did.
It took six months and some serious deep thinking to finally realise that he didn't actually hate Spock for making him feel like a ten year old. He hated himself for acting like one.
This was shortly followed by the realisation that Spock made him want to be a better person, and then the oh-fuck-he's-hot-too realisation, and then the world-shattering realisation that Jim had actual feelings for him. Actual feelings were a big deal for someone who had never been in a relationship longer than a month.
Jim had managed to dance around his feelings for a good few months before The Incident. Spock didn't like to talk about the time Jim almost died, but that didn't stop Jim from thinking about it. He woke up two weeks after said incident and his first thought was of Spock, and of his own mortality.
"I love you," were the first words out of his mouth. It was scratchy and croaky, but it made Spock's breath catch all the same.
Jim received no verbal reciprocation. It was enough.
Back in the present, Jim took a few seconds to process Spock's words as he sat across from Jim. "Yeah, no, I just have a lot of work to do," he lied smoothly.
"You are distressed because of me," Spock countered, seemingly unfazed by the lie. "I wish to assure you that I am experiencing no discontent or dissatisfaction with our relationship at the current time."
"God, don't say that," Jim deadpanned, "I'm getting all emotional."
Spock ignored Jim's second stupid comment of the conversation. "Is there something you wish to discuss with me, Jim?"
"It's the operation." Jim's eyes skittered over the mess hall briefly. "And... y'know."
"What I was talking about yesterday," he said hastily.
"You were upset with me because I did not inform you of the operation."
"Not... not necessarily."
Jim watched as the cogs turned in Spock's head. Eventually, he said, "you are upset that I am negligent of our relationship."
Jim didn't look up from his coffee. "I guess. Yeah."
"I see. I will tell you again what I told you yesterday - I wish for you to accompany me for the duration of my operation."
His eyes shot up. "What? Look, I know you're not nervous about it. You're trying to make me feel better, and I get it. I'm grateful. But I know you don't want me walking into sickbay with you, watching over you like a worried parent. Really, Spock, the effort is enough to make me feel better," he finished, foot tapping under the table.
Spock was watching him carefully. "I wish for you to accompany me."
When the day of the operation finally came, Jim was both pissed off and relieved that he was asked to accompany Spock.
Pissed off because he was basically having a pity date with his boyfriend, but still relieved because he had an excuse to make sure he was okay.
It didn't stop him worrying, though, as he sat outside. It should have only taken half an hour, but it had already been forty-five minutes. Oh god, his boyfriend was dead.
"Jim!" A voice snapped him out of his thoughts. "Jesus, man, you look like you're about to have a heart attack. He's okay. Stop looking like you've been kicked." Jim could hear the underlying worry. McCoy gave a quick jerk of his head, indicating for Jim to follow him.
Jim did, and he was led into a private room. Well, as private as a room could be on a spaceship under the care of an overbearing doctor.
He was silent for a full five seconds. "... What did he just say?"
McCoy shrugged, eyes on his delirious patient. "We normally do the surgery without anaesthetic, but..." his tone became hushed, "I saw on his records that he's been knocked out for every surgery and medical procedure he's ever had - I know, weird, right? Well, I figured that there must've been a reason. Hence... our excited and incoherent friend here. I put him under for the operation."
Jim struggled to concentrate on his friend's words. During the whole speech, Spock was stretching his arms out across the bed and flapping his hands in an attempt to get to Jim.
"As much I want to stay and watch this, I have other patients to attend to. Make sure he doesn't swallow his own tongue." McCoy said the last part like he was reciting it. He left before Jim could voice a concern.
Turning his attention to Spock, Jim watched as he made grabbing motions in the air.
"Hey, are you okay?" he asked, concern flaring up.
"I... am in need of a nurse."
"Are you in pain?" Jim asked, backing up, fully ready to go find McCoy and drag him back.
"No!" Spock said urgently. "I am not in pain."
"Are you my nurse? You are my nurse, correct?"
Jim struggled to keep down a bubbling laugh. "No, I'm not. I can stay with you though."
"You will?" He was slurring a little, but he sounded excited - a change from his usual tone. "After I am done feeling like clouds are inside of my brain we must go on a date."
"A date?" Jim ignored the feeling of his heart swelling immeasurably in his chest. "You want to go on a date?"
"Yes," he declared. "Our first date will be the most romantic date... ever."
Jim couldn't even hide his ear-to-ear grin. "I'm sorry to tell you this, but we can't go on a first date."
"Why not?" Spock asked, before Jim had time to finish his sentence. Jesus, he looked heartbroken. He couldn't imagine how much it would hurt to see this face under any other circumstance.
"We've already had one."
Spock's face twisted to one of pure horror. "I missed our first date?"
"No- no, no, no- you were there. It was great."
"Oh." Though he no longer looked so distressed, he was still mildly frowning. "Then that must mean... now we must be wed!" he declared proudly.
A deep blush spread up Jim's neck and onto his cheeks. "Alright."
Spock settled back into his pillow, looking satisfied. "My parents will be inc- increb- incredi- very proud." He was silent for a few seconds. "Because you are so pretty."
"Pretty?" Jim didn't know whether to be flattered or not. On hand, how freaking adorable was this? There was absolutely no way Jim would ever let Spock or McCoy forget this. But on the other hand - Jim was not pretty. He was handsome and manly and-
"Yes," Spock interrupted. "The prettiest."
Later the same day, once the anaesthetic had worn off and Spock had been officially released from sickbay, Jim was feeling both relieved and slightly disappointed (but only due to the loss of loopy Spock).
"So you did that on purpose, right?" Jim asked carefully over their shared chess board.
"I am afraid that I have no clue what you are referring to."
Jim raised an eyebrow until Spock eventually conceded and placed his rook back down. He thought for a while, maybe even a few minutes, before speaking.
"Yes. I... experienced complications when I was younger. It was fixed during the course of several operations," Spock added, once he saw the unconcealed concern on Jim's face. He continued, "It is no longer of consequence, but during the first procedure it was discovered that I- could not adequately place myself into a trance. I kept waking up."
Jim could tell that this wasn't information many people were privy to. He reached under the table to grasp Spock's hand.
"It was, of course, pinned on my genes. The surgeons deigned it necessary to use human methods in order to numb the pain. I have been unable to put myself into a trance for medical procedures since." He paused. "I felt guilty for telling the surgeons I had woken at all. I felt like I had wasted so much of their time - the time they used to search for a suitable method for me. I felt that I had disappointed my father."
There was another short silence.
"I realise now that I was correct to request anaesthetic. And I realise that I did not disappoint my father."
Jim squeezed his hand gently.
"I do love you," Spock said, and it was the first time he had done so without prompt and without hesitance. Jim could practically feel his heart swelling. "I wished for you to be with me after the procedure because I wanted to prove that to you. I wanted you to understand that I trust you completely, even at my most vulnerable. And I hope now you understand that I do not see this as 'long-term'. You are, quite simply, my other half and the rest of my life."
Jim was stunned into silence for a good ten seconds. Every single confession of love he had ever heard, be it real or fictional, paled in comparison.
"Jesus, I love you. I love you so much. And I understand. I completely, absolutely, totally understand."
"Ashayam," Spock said quietly, and it was almost more than Jim could handle.
"You know we're technically engaged, right?" he joked weakly, before Spock could say anything else that might literally fucking melt him.