“Kirk,” Uhura said firmly, “if you don’t stop pussyfooting around and tell Spock you’re in love with him, I’m going to kick your ass from here to Sunday, then tell him myself. And you won’t like the picture I paint of your oh-so-noble intentions towards his person. Understand?”
It was about that point in the conversation that Jim decided this whole damn thing could be none other than Bones’ fault. Everything had been just fine before McCoy’d butted in. Jim might have been moping a little – a very little – just wallowing in his infatuation (it was not a crush, he didn’t have crushes, and anyway, sometimes it seemed like the whole damn ship was infatuated with Spock). But he’d been dealing with it the best way he knew how (mostly by avoiding dealing with it).
Yeah, okay, so he’d been prone to random sighing on the bridge, and maybe a touch of moodiness, and sometimes he stared at Spock for minutes at a time when the Vulcan wasn’t looking, but that was all simple, harmless stuff. Admittedly, before they’d broken up three months ago, the sight of Spock and Uhura making eyes at each other had been enough to drive him completely around the bend – but, in his defense, he’d only ever wedged himself between them out of sheer unadulterated jealousy once (and you’d figure a guy could be forgiven one single instance of insane envy, but apparently not). And anyway, that was all beside the point.
The point was that he’d been handling it.
Then Bones had to go and open his big fat mouth and let it be known to Nurse Chapel that their Captain had a wee bit of a crush on their First Officer. And she’d let it be known to Sulu. Who’d told Chekov (in private, he insisted). Who’d flapped his gums to Giotto, in Security. Who’d been on an away mission with Scotty – who’d gotten drunk in Rec. Room Three and told no less than seven people in Sciences. Who, perversely, had seen fit to inform (not their boss, oh no) Uhura, who they had absolutely no connection with and no reason to be talking to. And now she’d cornered him in his damn quarters (probably so that he couldn’t make a quick excuse and escape to them in a fit of panic), and officially mentioned That Which Should Never Be Spoken Aloud.
Except now the entire ship seemed to be speaking it aloud; they were apparently even trading stories about how he was mooning over his First Officer, and the only one who seemed oblivious to this obvious fact was Spock (thank God). Jim was blaming Bones, one hundred percent, but he was so transferring every one of those seven scientists to the dirtiest, grimiest garbage scow he could find. And firing everyone on his senior staff. No exceptions.
Well, not Uhura though, obviously. She might tell Spock, out of spite. And not the rest of them, either – for the same reason.
Belatedly, he realized that his Communications Officer was waiting for an answer to her, er, demand. Her quite unreasonable demand, really. He opened his mouth to tell her so.
What actually came out was, “I am not in love with Spock!”
Obviously unimpressed, Uhura regarded him as one might a particularly slow child, or a pitifully ignorant adult (he couldn’t decide which he’d rather be known as). “If you really believe that, then you’re the only one on the Enterprise that does, Kirk.”
“That’s not true!” he protested. He paused, as the more ominous half of that sentence sank in. “The only one?” he asked meekly.
“Well, I may have exaggerated. There is that one ensign down in Engineering that just came aboard yesterday. And Spock might, I repeat might, still be disregarding the rumor that you’re already sleeping together, based on the fact that you’re rather obviously not. Yet.”
Too right. He imagined that if he were sleeping with Spock he might be a little more obviously cognizant of that fact. Though apparently the rest of the ship thought it was a given. He groaned loudly, considering the idea that he might just have to resign his commission as Captain.
“Oh, for God’s sake, would you stop being such a baby and just own up? Put us all out of our grief, put Spock out of his grief, and get a damn move on, would you! I can’t take anymore of this moping around.”
“I don’t mope!”
“The hell you don’t.”
“I don’t get it,” he blurted, finding the one chink in this entire conversation that made absolutely no sense to him. Aside from the obvious flaw about he and Spock sleeping together, anyway, which was too impossible to even bother justifying how impossible it was. “I get a lot of things I shouldn’t – it comes from being a genius. But I gotta admit, I don’t get this.”
“Get what?” she asked impatiently, hands perched attractively on her hips. He admired the view for a moment before tuning back into the conversation.
“This,” he insisted, gesturing between them and then towards the corridor beyond as though to identify a man they both knew was nowhere nearby. “You. Don’t get me wrong, I know you guys ended things months ago. Irreconcilable differences, different life paths, inability to agree on black or white bed sheets, yadda yadda, whatever. That part I get. It’s the rest of it that I find baffling.”
“Kirk, do you have any idea what our differing life paths and irreconcilable differences actually were?”
“Maybe,” he hedged warily, wondering what that smug, pitying look stamped on her face could mean.
“You haven’t got a clue, have you? Want me to fill you in?”
“No,” he insisted, because bluffing had always been his favorite game in poker. Yes! Tell me! Tell me or I’ll maroon you on the nearest uninhabitable planet!
“You really are an idiot. Spock wants you as much as you want him. So go do something about it before I change my mind and brain you for being too stupid to see what’s right in front of your nose.”
He paused, subtly looking her over to check that she had no blunt objects on her person with which to carry out that threat. And also because he enjoyed looking at her – he was in love (no wait, the story was that he wasn’t in love) not dead.
“I still don’t get it,” he admitted, giving the conversation his full attention and regard for the first time.
“Same thing now, actually. Oh, I get the whole ‘do unto others, continue looking out for thy neighbor’, kind of thing, but this goes above and beyond the call of friendship, wouldn’t you say? I just don’t understand how you can go from being the love of his life to – to trying to hook him up with someone else. ” He gave her a second to see if she’d bristle in annoyance at his presumption, but she didn’t, straightening out her uniform with lagging efficiency, and not looking at him. Watching her, he knew it might be a little bit cruel, but he couldn’t just leave it alone. He had to know.
“Hell,” he continued, “if it were me, I’d make him fight me on this every step of the way. I’d sit on him – or phaser him into sitting – so I could tie him down and make him see reason. I might even latch onto his foot like a Human-sized leech and refuse to ever let go. He’d probably just drag me through the ship that way, telling me how illogical I was being about it all, but it’d be worth it. I don’t think I could just let him go. I’d have to go to war with him first.”
“No, you wouldn’t,” Uhura sighed huffily.
“Yes, I would.”
“No, you wouldn’t,” she insisted. “If you did, you’d be telling him that you needed him, giving him weapons to throw back at you. It would mean actually having to admit that you’d lost something, or that you had something to lose. You’d be begging him. You couldn’t handle that.”
There was a part of him, a very tiny, deeply buried part, that was a little bit hurt at her estimation of his emotional depth, but the rest of him was pretty okay with that assessment. He was all right with her believing that he couldn’t force himself to that kind of admission voluntarily. It would have been more worrying if she’d been aware of the little voice shouting in the back of Jim’s mind about how he certainly could, and would, if it came down to a choice between abject humiliation and Spock, if it meant having even one chance at the kind of relationship he’d been pining for (okay, yeah, so he’d been pining, and maybe not quite handling it all that well, but he could have, if he’d really needed to – obviously).
“All right, so I wouldn’t sit on his foot like a pathetic poodle begging for table scraps. I still couldn’t just – let him go. I’d want him to hurt at least as much as I was hurting. More, if that were possible.”
“Now that,” she admitted, “I do believe. Lucky for all of us, I have more dignity, greater respect for the people around me, and way less emotional baggage. Spock’s my friend – he’s been my friend for two years now. I’d rather keep the best parts of that friendship than see all of it fall into ruin because I tried to get in the way of the oncoming train of James T. Kirk.”
“I am not a train,” he told her indignantly, but her indelicate snort of disbelief put the lie to that.
“Well, you’ve certainly managed to derail something here, and don’t think I’m in any way happy about that, Kirk. I’m doing this for Spock – not for you, and don’t ever confuse that. You’re good for each other – you two’re almost in each other’s skin, you’re so in sync. You fill up parts of him I was never able to touch, and believe me, I tried. Has he told you anything about his life on Vulcan, before he entered Starfleet Academy?”
“Yeah. The rest of his people are a real piece of work, you know that? I’m almost glad they were dumb enough to treat him like garbage. Fastest way of getting him off that planet and onto my ship. Their loss; my gain.”
“Spock’s never told me anything about his life before Starfleet,” she admitted lowly. He blinked at her, taken utterly aback. “He can’t share that pain with me. I don’t know why he thinks he can share it with you, but he does. Your Vulcan First Officer is freely expressing his emotions with you, Captain Kirk – do you even know what that means?”
“Maybe,” Jim said, before remembering that he’d already hedged his bets that way earlier. Uhura’s scathing look said he was the biggest moron ever to be promoted to Captain, and she had no idea why she was trying to hook him up with her best friend (he thought he must be at least as ignorant as she clearly thought him, because he had no idea either).
“If you say so. The bottom line is – and was three months ago – that I can’t give him what he needs, but for whatever reason, it looks like you can. That doesn’t mean I have to like it, but I’m not pining away in a corner, either.”
“You know, this little triangle of ours doesn’t make any sense,” he commented. “I mean, we have a devilishly handsome man – that’s me. A beautiful woman – that’s you. And some conniving, egotistic little Vulcan standing between the two of us – that’s Spock, by the way – like a piece of tug-rope. How is it that he’s in the middle and you and I are the idiots standing on either side?”
“He’s worth it,” she said simply. “If I’d thought it was worth fighting you over, I’d have done it in a heartbeat. But I’d have lost – because he’d be helping you win.” It was the first moment of true sadness she’d shown so far during the entire conversation, and it made Jim’s heart clench in real sympathy, because she looked about as bad as he’d been feeling recently. He reached for humor to lighten the moment.
“You know what I always told myself the best solution to our little problem would be? A nice, cozy little menage-a-trois –“
“You realize if you even suggested it that Spock might finish what he started that day on the bridge?” she asked dryly. “Not to mention, all those times I told you not even if you were the last man in this galaxy? I meant them.” He gave her a wounded look that she rolled her eyes at.
“If you haven’t noticed by now – and knowing you, that’s more than possible – Vulcans are notoriously territorial and completely monogamous. It’s in their genes, which you’d know if you’d ever bothered to actually sit in on the xenobiology classes like the rest of us instead of skipping out for a hot date.”
“Hey, I always made up for missing those classes. Most of those dates were all about xenobiology, if you catch my drift –“
The look of complete disgust she gave him cut off the rest of what he was going to say, but didn’t make him feel in the least bit guilty. At all. Except for the part where he was bragging about getting it on with someone else while having a semi-serious discussion about engaging in a completely inappropriate relationship with his First on the advice of said First’s former girlfriend.
He’d always heard that life in deep space could drive a man to madness, but as he’d only been Captain for a little under a year, this seemed excessively fast somehow.
“Why do I even listen to you people?” he demanded, because while his ship’s doctor was obviously at fault for all of this, it seemed that Uhura could also be held partially responsible. “You’re as bad as Bones. Is the whole ship out to stick their noses in my business?”
“It’s my business too. Just because we’re not dating anymore doesn’t mean I don’t care what happens to him. I didn’t give him up just so you could trample all over his feelings.”
“Don’t let him catch you saying that, he’ll deny having feelings to his dying day –“
“For once in your life, can you at least pretend to be an adult, capable of actually acting like a starship captain?”
“Uhura,” he said honestly, letting all hints of sarcasm drop completely from his voice. “This is me being a starship captain. I’m never going to be the by-the-book guy who finishes all his paperwork on time, or follows procedure on all of the regs, or understands the purpose of the non-fraternization rule. That’s just not me. Most captains buckle down and get serious when they’re under fire. When I’m under fire, I crack jokes.”
He paused to see if she wanted to add in her two cents about that, since she’d had more than a few examples of this defensive mechanism of his at work. When she said nothing, he sighed, realizing that he owed her an apology. The idea made him grit his teeth in annoyance, but even commanding officers didn’t get to do the things they wanted to do all the time.
“Sometimes those jokes aren’t as tasteful as they could be,” he admitted grudgingly. “Frankly, I’m amazed we can talk about this without throwing things at each other or engaging in some serious hair pulling. But I shouldn’t have said that about the three of us together. It was rude, and it was insensitive. So. Sorry.”
He’d thought she might at least do him the courtesy of looking a bit surprised at his maturity, but she didn’t. She just nodded, accepting this as her due, and he got the impression that this was what she’d been waiting for the whole time. For the course of his irritation to run itself out, until he got to the point where he could think rationally and get past the roadblock of his own feelings. Being a starship captain was easy. Being in love (not-in-love, right, it was not-in-love) with a Vulcan, whose emotional aptitude could be measured by a teaspoon – that was hard.
“So you think I should tell him?” he asked finally, trying to curb the part of him that was insisting that that meek, insecure tone of his needed to get a swift kick in the pants, like, now.
“What’ve I been saying for the past half-hour? Yes, I do. Tell him before one of the four hundred people on the Enterprise let it slip and force your hand. Honestly, I can’t decide who’s being more stupid – at least Spock has a reason for being clueless about his own feelings. What’s your excuse?”
“Too numerous to name,” he answered promptly.
“I’ll just bet. Look, you don’t have to do it tonight. Spock’s not going anywhere. But do it soon. Talk to him and be willing to hear what he has to say. Don’t freak out; don’t run screaming into the distance like you did at the Academy anytime a relationship even flinched in your general direction. Don’t let him do it either.”
“Spock screams?” he asked, interest piqued.
“I guess you’ll find out, won’t you?” Uhura scolded archly, going for inscrutable and ending up looking amused. “Bottom line – don’t be an asshole. It might be difficult, but please try and be reasonable – I know you can be reasonable if you try really, really hard.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” he muttered.
“You’re welcome. I’m leaving now, so I can go bash my head into another wall. Don’t wait too long Kirk, or I’m serious, I’ll tell Spock. Or better yet, I’ll get McCoy to tell Spock.”
“He wouldn’t dare,” Jim growled, weighing the odds that she could bribe his best friend into telling his First that Jim had an Enterprise-sized crush on him (those would be McCoy’s words, obviously, as Jim was still absolutely convinced that he did not have crushes). Less certain of his chief of medicine’s loyalty by the moment, he grimaced at his desk, mentally plotting fiendishly vengeful away mission for his doctor and Communication’s Officer both.
“Yes, he will. I know where the Saurian Brandy is hidden,” Uhura warned ominously (a truly dire warning, as Jim knew from past experience that there was very little his friend wouldn’t do for a bottle of Saurian Brandy) and took her leave without waiting to be dismissed.
As the door swished closed behind her, Jim began formulating his strategy over how best to tell the Vulcan about his feelings (ugh, he had to talk to a Vulcan about feelings, he must be turning into a closet masochist), and decided that, seeing as this was – in no way – his fault, the entire situation could definitely, definitely be blamed on Spock.
This was written entirely for fun (and is hopefully funny!). It's as close to crack as I'm ever likely to write. Hope you like! :-)