It was a festive day on the Enterprise. Chief Communications Officer Nyota Uhura and Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott had announced their engagement two weeks earlier, and some of Uhura’s friends decided to throw an engagement party instead of a shower so all genders (there was four on the Enterprise) would feel welcome.
It was a great party. The food was delicious (Lt. Sulu’s hydroponic herb garden had certainly helped improve the replicated food), and the punch, laced with the product of Scotty’s “non-existent” still, was just as good. Like most starships, the Enterprise had an amateur band made up of crewmen, and this particular group specialized in jazz, so there was great music for dancing, and almost everybody took a turn or two on the dance floor—including, Jim Kirk couldn’t help but notice, the bride-to-be and her former (and Jim’s current) lover, Commander Spock. It was rare for Spock to dance; frankly, Jim hadn’t even known that he could dance. They certainly made a striking couple—both slim and dark, both graceful and intense.
Jim stood in the corner watching the two of them. He’d never admit it to anyone, but he frequently wished Uhura would transfer to another ship. That was an awful way to feel; she was an outstanding officer, and Jim had given her commendations and exceptional performance reviews. But she and Spock had been a couple for almost two years, and Jim and Spock had only been together for six months. Deep inside Jim was a little boy who knew that everyone who loved him would someday disappoint him. He loathed himself for that feeling, but it was there, and never more strongly than now when he saw Spock and Uhura, the perfectly matched pair.
The dance ended, and Spock bowed over Uhura’s hand before escorting her back to her proud fiancé. He turned away from the pair and looked across the room. His eyes met Jim’s, and just for an instant, Jim saw the sadness in them.
The next moment, Jim was gone.
The Enterprise was a large ship, and one heartsick human could make himself scarce when he wanted. Jim knew he shouldn’t run away; he knew that he should talk to Spock. If Spock was having second thoughts about breaking up with Uhura, now was the time to confront them. If Spock wanted Uhura back…Jim, sitting on a bench in Sulu’s garden, swallowed hard, feeling the leaden ache in his heart. If Spock wanted her, then Jim wanted him to have her. Jim wanted Spock to be happy, even if that meant Jim was devastated. Jim buried his head in his hands. He’d go tell Spock that very thing; he would—just as soon as those threatened tears were buried deep inside Jim where they belonged.
“Jim?” The soft voice broke into his tortured thoughts. He raised his head, startled. He hadn’t heard Spock come in, but the Vulcan moved “like a damned cat without a bell” as McCoy once said. Jim sighed. Of course Spock had found him. Spock could always find him. Just follow the vibes from the poor little insecure human, he thought bitterly.
“T’hy’la, what is wrong?” Spock was kneeling before him, and the sound of that endearment all but did Jim in. He didn’t cry, but the blue eyes were certainly afflicted by the pollen from the nearby thyme plants.
“Why…why did you leave the party? he asked.
“Because you were not there,” Spock replied simply. “Jim, tell me, please. I can see you are upset. Did I do something? Should I not have danced with Uhura? I believed that it was the appropriate way to offer my congratulations, but if I erred…”
Jim quickly shook his head. “No,” he said quietly, dropping his eyes to where his hands were tying themselves into a knot. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Spock. I just….you just…” he made himself look up.
“The two of you look so perfect together,” he managed to whisper. “You are perfect for each other; she’s so brilliant, and she’s a lot less of an emotional basket case than I am, and she speaks far better Vulcan than I ever managed—I still can’t even pronounce your last name—and I thought maybe you were realizing that you missed her, and it’s not like she’s married yet, so…” The rest of his explanation was lost as Spock pulled him off the bench and into his arms.
“Ashaya, how can you think that?” Spock asked tenderly. “I do not want Nyota; she was and is a good friend to me, but that is all she is, all she could ever be. Even when we were together, we both knew it was not what each sought. Her emotional make-up is different because her upbringing was different. All that you have experienced makes you the man I love, and I would not change anything about you. Your combination of strength and vulnerability is what drew you to me. When I was with Nyota, I always had to be her idea of a Vulcan. With you, I can be your idea of Spock.” He let his lips brush Jim’s temple, sending a warm pulse of love across their bond. “I can assure you, I much prefer being your Spock to being Nyota’s Vulcan.”
Jim buried his head in Spock’s shoulder, relief and love sweeping through him. After a moment, he raised his head and let his eyes meet Spock’s. “But after you danced with her, you looked at me, and you looked so sad,” he murmured.
Spock cupped Jim’s cheek in his hand. “I was sad,” he replied. “I realized that I spent at least a year with Nyota that I should have spent with you. I wasted that year, even after I knew I loved you, trying to convince myself I was wrong, trying to tell myself that you would never love me…”
“I loved you the first time I saw you,” Jim protested
Spock almost smiled. “T’hy’la, the first time you saw me, I was accusing you of cheating in front of the entire Academy faculty.”
“I don’t care,” Jim replied stubbornly. “I loved you even when I wanted to kick your ass.”
“And that is why I was sad.” Spock kissed him again. “I never want to waste another moment when I could be with you. That is why I came to find you. I do not want to waste a single minute of the time we have together, how ever long that time may be. A thousand years will not be enough, so I came to you.”
Jim hugged him hard. “I’m so glad you did.” For a long moment they rested in each other’s arms, then Jim stirred.
“I think we should go back to the party,” he said.
“It would probably be the polite thing to do,” Spock replied. He rose, pulling Jim to his feet, kissing away the signs of those watering eyes.
“When we get back to the party—would you dance with me?”
“Willingly, t’hy’la. Most willingly.”
When they returned to the party, Spock did dance with Jim. All there agreed that they made a striking, perfect couple.