Spock did not understand the significance of the date when his captain and friend, Jim Kirk came up behind him and promptly pulled him out of the hallway.
"Jesus, Spock, don't you know what day it is?" Jim asked, pulling Spock towards his desk. "I swear Bones is just itching for a reason to pinch you out of your skull."
"I am afraid I do not understand, Captain," Spock said as Jim rifled through his drawers.
"Where is it... aha!" Jim pulled out a green wristwatch, similar to the one Spock observed on the captain's own wrist, and handed it to Spock. "It's St. Patrick's day, Spock. You have to wear green."
"I fail to understand why I would need to," Spock said stiffly, he took the watch and tied it around his wrist obediently anyways.
"Well, usually you get pinched if you don't," Jim shrugged. "But I asked the crew to come up with something a little less malicious this year."
"Indeed?" Spock asked, curious despite the fact that his brain was telling him he probably did not want to know what the crew had come up with instead of the apparent usual tradition.
"Yeah, I'm nervous too, Spock," Jim teased. "I hope they don't go too overboard like that mistletoe crown they did at Christmas."
Spock tried very hard not to shudder. Nurse Chapel had attempted to place the crown on his head while he wasn't looking. If Jim hadn't noticed, Chapel's plan most likely would have succeeded.
"Guess we'll just have to wait and see what they've maliciously concocted, despite my no-maliciousness request," Jim shrugged again. "Well, why wait? Come on, Mr. Spock, let's get to the bridge."
Jim and Spock did not need to wait long to see what new tradition the crew had come up with. Spock felt a pang when he realized that even wearing the green wristwatch Jim had produced from his desk was not going to save him from what they had planned.
Ensign Riley had apparently snuck up behind Ensign Chekov and put a large green top hat on his head. It was covered in glittery shamrocks and a few green hearts and at the front, the words "Kiss me, I'm Irish" were visible. Spock would have thought the hat comical if the connotations of the hat were not perfectly clear to him.
"Okay Chekov, now you have to go find someone to kiss, that's the rule," Riley explained with a mad cackle.
"Such interesting rules," Chekov said quietly. "But ze person is my choice, da?"
"Yeah, it's like the reverse of the mistletoe crown," Riley shrugged. "You choose someone to kiss, then you both pass the hat one to someone else."
"Okay, zis vill be wery fun," Chekov said enthusiastically, the glittery shamrocks bobbing comically around as he ran off.
Jim groaned. "I should have known better than to trust them... This is almost as bad as that stupid crown." Spock felt very inclined to agree. He would be much more vigilant this time than he had been with the mistletoe crown. He couldn't simply count on his captain to pull him out of another sticky situation; the time with Chapel had been pure luck.
"Perhaps next time you should set limits?" Spock suggested. "Perhaps something that does not include so much physical contact."
"Oh Spock, this idea must be awful to you," Jim said sympathetically. "I'm sorry, I didn't even think about that. Maybe I'll just have to stay close by and make sure no one gets you. And well, if they do, I just want to let you know that I'd be happy to help you out, no awkwardness at all."
Spock followed his captain into the lift silently, his captain's words milling around in his head. Had Jim offered to kiss him? Spock was certain this was only extended out of friendship, but if the opportunity presented itself, Spock would not pass up the chance to kiss Jim.
"If you wish it, I can extend the same invitation," Spock said before he realized he had said it.
Jim stared. "Spock, you don't have to do that. I know it's a whole lot harder for you to touch people than it is for me to, what with telepathy and all that."
"Your touch is never unwelcome," Spock said truthfully.
"Wow, it's nice to be trusted like that," Jim laughed as the lift opened. "Let's just hope none of that will be necessary. Stay vigilant, Spock."
"Of course, Captain," Spock said wryly. He would not knowingly allow the hat to be placed on his head; Jim trusted him to be his friend. Allowing himself to be victimized by the crew's strange game to take advantage of Jim's offer would be a gross violation of his trust.
Chekov was sitting at his console next to Lieutenant Sulu and the green hat was nowhere in sight. Apparently the young ensign had made his choice of a kissing partner and passed the hat along. Spock was unsure of whether or not he was relieved. The hat was no longer in the possession of someone he knew took delight in attempting to crack at Spock's Vulcan demeanour, but it was also out of his sight, and likely to pop out at any minute. It was like attempting to keep a bee intent on stinging you in your sight.
"So Mr. Chekov, I see you got rid of that ridiculous hat," Jim said conversationally, sitting down in his chair and looking at the back of the ensign's blushing head.
"Eet is a fun game for ze holiday, Keptin," Chekov made his best attempt at sounding blasé. Spock noticed hoe Sulu's complexion darkened as well.
"Of course it is, Mr. Chekov," Jim chuckled, also noticing the reddening of his helmsman's skin. "I trust you gave the hat to a person of pure, un-malicious heart?"
"Of course, Keptin," Chekov turned around to face Jim. "I give it to vun of ze nurses. I know she likes vun of ze engineers."
"Very kind of you," Jim smiled and Chekov beamed. It seemed the young man was eager for his captain's praise.
"If you ask me, this is a great way to get all hose reluctant would-be couples together," Lieutenant Uhura piped up. "It's a lot better than the stupid mistletoe crown, because you have more choice and planning this way."
"If you say so," Jim rolled his eyes. "There's still a lot of sneaking around and stuffing it on people's heads."
"I like to think the crew's a little more honest than that," Uhura shrugged. Her eyes glinted in a way that made Jim instantly suspect her.
He knew for a fact that the communications officer had been responsible for the mistletoe crown she had just claimed was a stupid idea. Something told him she was behind this stupid hat too.
Uhura turned back to her console and smiled. She had to make her plan work this time.
"So that's the goal this time?" Nurse Chapel asked Uhura as they met for lunch together in the mess hall.
"That was the plan last time too, remember?" Uhura whispered. "You almost gave it away when the captain caught you sneaking up on Spock with that crown."
"It was the only way I could think of to get it on him," Chapel shrugged. Like you said, it won't work if we put it on the captain's head."
"No, he's determined to not make Spock uncomfortable," Uhura nodded. "The hat has to get to Spock somehow. Kirk's the only one Spock feels close enough to to kiss anyways. And then he'll figure out how Kirk feels and then they can finally stop pretending."
"Do you think it will work this time?" Chapel asked.
"We'll have to make it work this time," Uhura said determinedly.
"Well this is a ridiculous game," Doctor McCoy grumbled when a pair of yeomen handed him a large green top hat and explained the rules to the St. Patrick's Day game.
"It's not a game," Chapel said quietly, walking in. "Can I talk to you for a second?" she nodded towards an empty examining room. McCoy nodded and followed her in.
"What can I do for you Christine?" McCoy asked, reverting to his southern gentleman demeanour.
"Well, Nyota and I kind of came up with this hat to get the captain and Mr. Spock together," Christine said quietly.
"Ah, you finally gave up on the old hobgoblin then, eh?" McCoy chuckled. "I can actually get into this game now, then, if that's what it's for. It's about time those two stopped being stupid."
Chapel nodded. "That's why I want you to get the hat on Spock. It wouldn't seem like strange behaviour to him, coming from you... and I think that's the only way this will work."
"Well the rules of the game are pretty clear," McCoy said teasingly.
"The rules are only there so Spock will kiss Kirk," Chapel rolled her eyes. "You can ignore them if you want to."
"Maybe I don't want to ignore them," McCoy winked and planted a quick kiss on Chapel's lips. She blushed. "Well, let's get this hat on Spock then. You know where he is?"
"Mess hall," Chapel answered, still beet-red. "He's having lunch with the captain."
"Perfect," McCoy grinned maliciously. "Just leave this to me."
"One more thing, Leonard," Chapel said. She pulled him back to her and kissed him again. "I'm glad you kept in the spirit of the game."
"So am I, darlin'. So am I."
"Well, I haven't seen hide nor hair of that stupid hat," Jim said, sitting down across from Spock in the mess with one of his favourite sandwiches.
"Nor have I," Spock nodded his agreement. It was slightly disconcerting not knowing where it had gone to. But at least he didn't have to worry about contact with unwelcome beings if the hat were to land on his head.
"Hey Bones, Jim greeted, not looking up from his sandwich as the doctor sat down next to Spock.
"Hey Jim, Spock," McCoy allowed a little mischief to seep into his voice as he quickly brought the hat up onto Spock's head. Jim groaned.
"Bones, why do you have to be such a jerk to poor Spock?" Jim asked angrily. "Take it off him before the crew sees."
"I think it's too late for that," McCoy chuckled, indicating the gawking crewmembers staring at them from around the mess hall. "Besides I don't think you'll be complaining when..." Jim silenced him with a burning look. McCoy shrugged, it would all be out in the open soon.
Jim groaned again. "I'm sorry Spock; I didn't think Bones would be capable of such evil. I thought maybe he'd find a heart in there somewhere."
"It is not your fault, Captain," Spock fake glared at McCoy. He was secretly thanking the doctor for the opportunity to kiss Jim.
"Well, Spock, let's get this over with then," Jim shrugged and stood up to walk around the table. He was very conscious of all the eyes on him, including McCoy. He hoped no one noticed how much he really wanted to kiss Spock. He definitely hoped Spock didn't notice.
Spock was very aware of the audience, and they did nothing to quell his nerves. This was his one chance to kiss Jim, and he did not want anything to go wrong.
"Sorry about this Spock," Jim said before reaching up to kiss Spock.
Through their contact, Spock felt that Jim wasn't truly sorry. He was sorry that he thought Spock would be uncomfortable with this, but not sorry that he had to kiss him. Perhaps it was time to let Jim know that he has no objections to kissing him.
Jim pressed their lips together and was immediately sure that he would not be able to end the kiss. He'd have to stay there until Spock pulled away, because he knew he could never be able to pull away from such bliss. As he thought this, he felt the kiss change; Spock deepened it. Spock, who Jim had thought would be nearly catatonic after having to kiss Jim, was deepening the kiss. Jim felt like he was floating.
McCoy chuckled. His two friends seemed completely oblivious to the cheers erupting around the room. Apparently the whole crew knew how they felt about each other. It was about time they figure it out themselves.
"Hey lovebirds, take it somewhere else, will ya?" McCoy whacked the back of Jim's head and the two men broke apart.
"Huh? Oh right," Jim coughed nervously. "Better pass the stupid hat on, eh Spock?"
"Indeed," Spock was anxious to leave the mess. He had just experienced something he wanted to experience again... soon. Very soon.
McCoy chuckled as his friends walked off together. The hat was unceremoniously dumped onto Chapel's head before they exited the mess. He grinned; they were off to do things he definitely didn't want to know about. He looked at Chapel. The way she was looking at him told him that he was about to be off doing things he desperately wanted to know about.
This was possibly the best St. Patrick's day ever. He passed by Uhura who was smiling on his way to Chapel. She had to agree; it was a great St. Patrick's day.