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“I'm telling you, Spock, humans can't deal with shocking things. You get whole mass hallucination situations because they refuse to believe in something that just happened in front of their eyes.” Jim gestured expansively. “We'd rather pretend that really insane things didn't even happen, rather than try to process that they did.”

“I find, Captain, that your assertions are illogical and extremely difficult to believe, given the lack of corroborating evidence.”

Jim shot him a calculating look as they got into the turbolift. “Fine,” he said. “I'll give you your evidence.”

Spock raised an eyebrow but didn't outwardly show any alarm. That may have been one of the less advisable possible reactions.

Alpha shift was to commence in five minutes and the majority of the bridge crew was either already at or settling into their stations as the turbolift doors opened. Jim and Spock walked side-by-side onto the bridge; as they neared the captain's chair, Spock turned to go to his station.

He was stopped by Jim's hand on his arm, and then he was spun back around to find Jim's lips meeting his.

Spock exhaled a surprised breath into Jim's mouth. This was highly unexpected; his heart rate increased in panic as he realized the bridge had gone quiet around them. Jim was sucking on his bottom lip, teasing it lightly as he continued to apply pressure. At least the kiss was close-mouthed, he thought vaguely.

They broke the kiss finally, shoving away from each other, and both were breathing marginally harder than normal, skin mildly flushed. Spock became aware that his hair was mussed from Jim's fingers digging through it. Jim's shirt had wrinkles from being crumpled in Spock's fist. They looked around. Everyone had returned to work as if nothing had just happened.

Jim smirked triumphantly. Spock raised an eyebrow and tugged the hem of his shirt down smartly before continuing to his station. If Jim thought that constituted 'corroborating evidence', then the scientific method was in extreme danger.

***

“You jackass, that totally counted!” Jim exclaimed, punching savagely at buttons on the replicator. “I ki--” He cut himself off, remembering they were in the mess, and lowered his voice to a hiss. “I kissed you in front of the whole bridge crew. And then they acted like they didn't just see the captain jump the first officer totally out of nowhere. Shock,” he insisted, pointing at Spock's chest to punctuate his point. “Mass. Hallucination.”

“So you posit that upon interrogation, a witness to the event would not be willing to describe what transpired?”

“Mental blocks,” Jim insisted, taking his steak and potatoes from the replicator and turning to look for available seating.

A response regarding the idea of mental blocks and how they might manifest in certain subjects floated to the forefront of Spock's thoughts, but he kept it to himself. “I do not believe,” he said instead, “that the Alpha bridge crew may be the best group of candidates upon which to perform such social experiments. They have all seen far stranger things in the course of a workday.” He also kept to himself the thought that erratic behaviour on the captain's part hardly constituted shocking circumstances.

“So you need more evidence before you're convinced,” said Jim, setting down his tray and dropping heavily onto the bench seat across from Spock.

“As I have stated, this so-called 'evidence' does not precisely stand up under scrutiny. Whether more would improve circumstances is also highly questionable.”

Jim hummed a response and changed the subject to the upcoming diplomatic mission.

It was a highly satisfactory meal, Spock thought as he went to deposit his dishes in the recycler afterwards. He was crossing the crowded mess hall to the doors when Jim pulled him up short, in the middle of the room.

“Larger sample size,” Jim said as he reeled him in, and Spock could only sigh through his nose and allow himself to be kissed again. Resisting would not benefit him, as Jim was clearly on a mission to resolve their debate in his favour.

It was much like their earlier kiss, although Spock had been at least partially prepared for it this time. He acknowledged Jim's hands, gripping him low around the waist as his own rested lightly on Jim's elbows. The pressure was sweet and lingering and the experience thankfully chaste; Spock did not know how he would have dealt with the captain's tongue in his mouth, particularly in front of an audience.

They separated and casually turned to face the exit again, taking in the crowd reaction as they left the mess.

“There appears to have once again been no notable reaction from witnesses,” said Spock as they entered the corridor.

“Let me know when you've conceded defeat,” Jim answered, looking pleased with himself.

Spock raised his eyebrow in disbelief. “I assure you that should I ever do so, you shall be the first to know.”

They had just made it to Deck 5 to retire for a game of chess when Yeoman Rand appeared in the vicinity of Jim's door. Spock was beginning to understand Jim's assertions that she employed some manner of stealth personal beaming technology to navigate within the ship.

She thrust a PADD at Jim for his authorization. “Good evening, Captain, Commander,” she said brightly.

“How's it going, Yeoman?” Jim asked companionably, scrolling through the document.

“Good, sir. Oh, congratulations on behalf of the crew, by the way.”

“For what?” Jim was focusing only a portion of his attention on her; Spock looked on with interest.

Rand looked between them with a smirk. “For finally admitting your relationship!” she said. “The Alpha Botany team was very excited to have won the pool.”

Jim's head snapped up as Spock felt his eyebrows climb. “What?”

“We're all very happy for you,” she said, taking back the PADD from his slack hands. “Oh, but maybe less PDA in future? It's sweet but some of the engineers were getting unnerved. You know how they are with social interaction.”

She saluted smartly and vanished.

Spock and Jim stared at each other; Jim looked as shocked as Spock felt.

“Relationship?” said Jim distantly. “Pool? PDA?”

“Fascinating,” Spock managed, otherwise tongue-tied.

It was often the case, he thought vaguely, that experimental results could necessitate a revision of the hypothesis.


THE END
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