Wednesday came too soon and not soon enough for Spock’s liking. On the one hand, he was eager to see Jim again. On the other hand, he was going to be meeting a stranger, and first impressions with humans wasn’t exactly his strong suit. He hadn’t met Doctor McCoy before, but if Jim found him agreeable, he must at least be a good person.
When Wednesday afternoon finally came, Spock took the nasal numbing agent and headed to the Mess Hall as usual. The only difference was that for the first time, he was fighting apprehension as well as anticipation every step of the way. Spock entered the room and looked around, blocking out the activity of the other cadets as he searched for Jim. He spotted him at a table on the other side of the room. He immediately headed over.
Jim was sitting by himself when Spock reached him. As he moved closer, he noticed that Jim’s clothing appeared somewhat baggy and loose, specifically around his midsection. The hemline of the front almost seemed a bit longer than in the back, as if it had more material. Just before he reached him, Jim turned and smiled at him.
“Hey, right on time.” He gestured to the seat right next to his, a clear invitation to sit. As Spock did just that, he said, “Bones isn’t here yet, he had to take care of some stuff in his office before he came. He told me to just go ahead.” Jim made a face. “He thinks I just assumed he meant paperwork. I know he’s really updating the diet card he gave me, so the replicator will only give me what he thinks I need right now.” Spock nodded.
“He is your doctor, if anyone would know what you should be eating it will be him.” Jim shrugged.
“I know. Doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.” He looked Spock over for a moment. “Every time I’ve seen you before you were in dark clothes. You almost look like a different person in uniform.” As soon as he said that, another man approached the table, interrupting Spock’s thoughts on how to reply. He seemed to be in his late twenties, possibly his early thirties. While he was cleaned and well groomed in his cadet uniform, there seemed to be a certain…scruffiness about him. His eyes were sharp, as if he was expecting to see something in specific, or assessing everything in front of him. He stopped on the other side of the table, right across from Jim.
“Hey Jim. I figured while I was there, I’d update your diet card.” Jim gave Spock a look that said, What’d I tell you? McCoy looked between the two of them. “You must be Spock. Jim’s talked quite a bit about you. I can honestly say I’ve never heard of somebody actually wanting to associate with a Vulcan, let alone make friends with one.” Spock noticed peripherally that Jim stiffened a bit when McCoy spoke, but Spock ignored it. In spite of his blunt and insensitive words, McCoy’s voice seemed to hold no animosity.
“Obviously your logic is severely flawed if you do not realize the benefits of associating with an intellectually superior race.” He deadpanned in response. McCoy’s eyes widened a bit, and Jim coughed suddenly, trying to stifle a laugh.
“Well, I guess Vulcan pacifism doesn’t extend to verbal disagreements.” He said with a smile. He held out his hand to McCoy. “Come on, give me my card and let’s get something disgustingly healthy.” He and Spock stood up again and followed McCoy to the line to the replicator. As they stood in line waiting, Spock eyed Jim’s slightly baggy clothing again.
“Are you certain you have been eating enough?” He asked. “Your clothes do not seem to fit you correctly.”
“I’m not losing weight.” Jim assured him. “I’ve just started wearing some of the new clothes Sam and Aury got me for when I really start packing it on. I found out that at the rate it’s developing, I probably won’t really start to show until the second trimester, as is usually the case with women.”
“I see.” Said Spock, feeling a little foolish for voicing his concern. They arrived at the replicator and began ordering their meals. McCoy ordered what he believed to be some kind of Asian dish with a small bowl of sliced peaches and some water. Spock ordered a salad and a small bowl of plomeek soup, along with some tea. Jim got a slightly larger dish, something with meat in it. It looked like beef and pasta. It came with vegetables and a bowl of assorted fruits which Spock realized to be rich in Vitamin C. It came with a large glass of milk. They returned to their table. Spock looked over Jim’s food with a critical eye.
The meat and milk were both good sources of protein, and the fruits and vegetables were nutritionally sound. The helpings seemed appropriate as well. It seemed that McCoy, for all his seeming lack of subtlety and manners, was competent in the task of adjusting Jim’s diet. It looked like a very good meal for Jim at this time. He returned his attention to his own meal.
The meal passed in surprising comfort. They discussed their various classes and activities. Jim had considerably less to share, having not much else to do besides exploring the Academy and Park grounds. That, and just being pregnant. McCoy talked (complained) about many things, from the idiocy of some his patients to the replicator’s apparent failure at creating a good imitation of peaches. According to McCoy, there was nothing quite as wonderful as real Georgia peaches. Spock also commented on some of his classes and projects. Jim seemed genuinely interested, but it seemed that non-medical science was one of the many things McCoy did not care for.
“You know Spock,” he commented at one point, “it probably wouldn’t hurt to get some more meat on your bones.” Spock fought the urge to clench his teeth. One of his mother’s more embarrassing habits was expressing her concern over how thin he looked sometimes.
“I assure you, I am of average height and weight for a Vulcan male of my age.”
“If you say so.” Muttered McCoy. Spock didn’t know why, but something about this man made him want very much to formulate a retort for every comment that came out of his mouth.
“Considering the fact that you are here to study medical xenobiology, one might believe that you should already know this.” He may or may not have taken some vindictive pleasure in watching McCoy’s face turn of couple of shades pinker as his mouth worked soundlessly, as well as the apparent amusement on Jim’s face. Finally, good humor gone, he growled,
“I just started earlier this year, and we haven’t got to pointy-eared computers yet.”
“Bones!” Snapped Jim, looking more than a little upset now. Any amusement he’d felt while watching their banter before was gone. McCoy’s anger seemed to lessen as he took in how upset Jim looked.
“Sorry kid, we’ll play nice.” He eyed Spock grudgingly as he spoke, then returned to what was left of his meal. “So,” he said in an obvious attempt to draw Jim’s attention elsewhere, “you’re almost at six weeks. You’re almost halfway done with your first trimester.”
“I know.” Said Jim, latching onto the change of subject. “I hope they change their mind about this once a week thing, because it’s ridiculous.”
“I’m trying to convince them it’s unnecessary, but it may take some doing yet. They’ve both got those first-time parent jitters. No matter how healthy you and the fetus are, they’re gonna keep worrying.”
“I know.” Muttered Jim. “Trust me, I know.” They all went back to their meals. By the time Spock and McCoy finished, Jim still had about a quarter of his meal left. There was still about ten minutes left though, so neither one of them said anything. From what Spock had observed, and from Jim’s complaints about not being able to exercise as much as he usually did, Jim probably wasn’t used to the portions.
“Sorry,” said Jim, seeing Spock watching him, and confirming his suspicions, “I don’t usually eat this much at once.”
“There is plenty of time left in the lunch period.” Stated Spock. “You are eating at a perfectly reasonable pace.”
“He’s right.” Said McCoy, sounding just a little reluctant to agree with him. “You’re already getting sick enough right now without getting it down so fast you throw up.”
Jim continued to eat at a reasonable pace, with both Spock and McCoy watching him. Spock’s eyes left Jim at one point to study Doctor McCoy. The man was watching Jim intently with a minute amount of concern. Spock felt a spark of jealousy that had nothing to do with the baby Jim was carrying. He knew that the man was just a doctor watching over a patient who he happened to be on friendly terms with, but the ancient Vulcan instinct in him only saw a strange male staring the one who he wished to be his mate. He seriously doubted there was a hypo to deal with that.
Under their combined scrutiny, Jim finished his meal. They all stood up from the table, and the two humans stretched.
“Well,” said McCoy, “I’ve gotta get to my next class. I’ll see you at your next appointment Jim.” With that, he took his tray to the disposal window and he moved off toward the exit. Jim looked at Spock.
“Do you have to get back to class too?” Spock tore his eyes away from McCoy’s retreating form to look back at Jim.
“My next class does not start for another 2.5 hours.” He replied. “If you do not need to go straight home, would you care to accompany me to the library?”
“Sure.” Said Jim, looking oddly relieved. “It’ll give me a chance to return some of the stuff I checked out last time.” They both gathered up their things, took their trays to the disposal window, and left the Mess Hall.
Once they arrived at the library, Jim handed over a stack of files he’d checked out and immediately headed back to the astrophysics section. Spock chose to peruse more on Earth’s history. He wondered why he’d waited so long to do this. As with most Federation worlds, Vulcan’s taught their children extensively about their own world and culture and tended to gloss over the other members. And that was usually the history from the moment of first contact. No one seemed to really care about the other Federation member’s histories before they joined.
Spock was half human, and he knew his mother had wanted more of Earth’s history in his education. She’d given in to his father’s will and his own decision to pursue a completely Vulcan lifestyle, and he’d been educated accordingly. Now that he no longer felt constantly pressured to completely ignore his humanity, he had absolutely no qualms about studying whatever subject about his new home caught his attention. Today, he found himself quite drawn to the American Revolution. The whole idea of the smaller, oppressed party winning the war reminded him a bit of Surak’s Reformation. Though, in the case of Surak, the battle was rather one-sided, since his followers were pacifists. He also made selections on human’s who proposed and practiced peaceful ways, such as Gandhi and Buddha.
He found the table Jim had already seated himself at and began looking over the new files in closer detail. He and Jim spent the next two hours engrossed in their reading. It was amazing really, the gratified feeling Spock experienced just sitting next to Jim reading. He was reminded of his parents’ marriage. They often spent many hours simply sitting in the same room together working on projects and paperwork related to their individual duties as ambassador and educator.
He’d grown up being taught that humans were an emotionally needy species who could not be content with Vulcans need for repression. Of course, Vulcans did have some terms of endearment, and most of them were directed at mates. Not for the first time, Spock wondered if his father had been honest with him when he told him the reason he married a human. Perhaps his father had been drawn to his mother the same way he was to Jim.
He chose that moment to glance at Jim…and caught sight of the clock on the wall. He had fifteen minutes to make it to class. It was already later than he usually got to class. He liked to get there first to get a seat on the end of the aisle.
“Jim,” he said, causing Jim to look up in surprise, “I need to leave for class now. I am later than I prefer to be.”
“Oh.” Said Jim, still looking rather uneasy. “I guess you’d better go. You already know I’m coming back on Saturday for another appointment, do want to visit the park again or something?”
“That would be agreeable.” Replied Spock. “Do you mind if I meet you outside Doctor McCoy’s office again?”
“Sure.” Agreed Jim. “It’s the same appointment time as last week, and all the others before it.” He added with a smile. Spock nodded.
“I will be there.” He left, wondering what had caused Jim’s sudden change in mood.
At the end of the day, Spock once again allowed himself to wonder about Jim’s behavior. Jim had suddenly seemed very unsure of himself. He’d felt they were making progress. Was Jim regretting his decision to be friendly to Spock because he had been rude to McCoy? His only option right now would be to wait and try to find out tomorrow.
Spock pulled back the covers on his bed and lay down. He’d never known just how tiring emotions could be until now. He wasn’t even interested in meditating. All he wanted to do was sleep and go back to his routine until Saturday afternoon came. He would meet Jim again in the waiting room after his appointment with McCoy. His appointment being looked at, spoken to, and touched by McCoy.
Spock sat up and pushed the covers off. It looked like he’d need to meditate a bit after all.
On Saturday, Spock found himself still sitting in the waiting room ten minutes after eleven. He couldn’t help but imagine reasons for Jim to be taking so long, and they all ended with the rather childish and insecure thought that Jim liked McCoy better than him. As he was thinking this, the door opened and Jim walked out slowly. Spock stood up.
“Jim…” he started, only to stop when he saw Jim’s face. He had dark circles under his eyes, indicating sleeplessness, and his shoulders were slumped as he made his way over to him. “Are you alright?” He asked, not knowing what else to say.
“Yeah.” Said Jim, smiling at him tiredly. “I had a rough night. And a rough morning. It’s like there’s some kind of Karmic balance to morning sickness. I had a good couple of days, so now I have to make up for it with a couple shitty ones.” He moved out the door, and Spock followed. “Where do you want to go in the park today? I don’t really care, though I think I’d like to see that AIDS memorial.” He kept walking without really paying attention as they made their way out of the building. “Sorry about the wait, by the way. I could barely drag myself out of bed this morning and I was late again.”
“Jim.” Spock cut in, stepping in front of him to make him stop moving. “If you feel ill, perhaps we should forego visiting the park. We could go to the Mess Hall for lunch, and we could go to the library again afterward. There is plenty of time to see the park later on and it would be foolish to endanger yourself and your brother’s child by overexerting yourself.” The dark scowl on Jim’s face shocked him. Apparently he’d overstepped some bounds.
“Just stop, okay!?” He snapped. “I’m already getting enough of that crap from my family and from Bones, and I don’t need it from you!” Spock tried to keep his face blank as waves of disappointment and hurt coursed through him.
“As you wish.” He said quietly. Perhaps his hurt did show, because the anger drained from Jim’s expression.
“I’m sorry.” He mumbled, causing Spock to have to lean close to hear. “I didn’t mean it. It’s just, I feel like crap, with all the puking and the hormones, and I just have to get over it.” Spock shook his head.
“What you are experiencing is perfectly normal.” He told Jim. “I believe under the circumstances, your changes in mood can be forgiven.”
“Thanks.” Mumbled Jim with a weak smile. “I’m glad you’re not upset about that, or about me introducing you to Bones the other day.” Spock cocked his head to the side.
“Why would I be upset about being introduced to your doctor?” Jim shrugged.
“I guess because you two hit it off like a cat and dog. I didn’t know he’d be that rude, he doesn’t really mean anything by it, at least not usually. I think you got under his skin.” Jim paused, then moved over to a bench. Spock followed and sat next to him. “You said you wanted to interact more with people who wouldn’t treat you differently than anybody else, and Bones is pretty much that way with everyone. I like hanging out with you Spock, and I guess I was a little worried that you’d think if I was friends with someone you don’t like, you might not be interested in being friends with me anymore.” He snorted disdainfully. “Can you believe how freaking needy I sound? I never used to care this much about what people thought of me and what I do.” Spock tried to think carefully about what to say.
“You told me before that you were interested in making significant changes to your lifestyle. Perhaps the fact that you wish to have the support and approval of others is simply an indication that you are truly serious about making these changes.” Jim smiled weakly.
“I guess that’s putting a positive spin on it. Still, I’m sorry about Bones. I didn’t know he was going to get mean for real.” Spock took a moment to consider.
“I admit I was unprepared for his…abrasive nature. But from what I have observed, he seems like a competent and serious doctor.”
“He is.” Assured Jim. “He really is a good guy, he’s just going though some rough stuff.” Spock nodded.
“If I may ask, why do you call him Bones? His first name is Leonard, correct?”
“Yeah,” replied Jim, “I just call him that because of something he said to me when we first met. That all he had left was his bones. He got divorced right before he joined Starfleet. He wanted to make a fresh start. That, and his ex took pretty much everything from him. Hence, what he said. She even got full custody of their baby girl.”
“She took his child from him?” Asked Spock, startled.
“Yeah.” Said Jim, sounding sad. Then he froze. “Oh man, I really shouldn’t be talking to you about this. I mean, I know you’re not loose with information or anything, but it’s not my story to tell.”
“I will repeat it to no one.” Assured Spock. “I suppose I can understand why his personality is the way it is.”
“Yeah.” Said Jim, staring at the ground contemplatively. “I may not have met the woman, but I think she’s an idiot. Bones is an awesome guy. He’s smart, nice, and totally hot.” Spock fought the stiffening in his spine when Jim said that. “If I hadn’t stopped flirting with everybody I meet, I might’ve tried to make a move on him.” He grinned. “Even if it’s not what I’m used to, it’s kind of nice not being a player all the time. To just talk to people and make friends the normal way.” He looked at Spock again. “I’m pretty sure you said something earlier about getting some food.” Spock nodded and stood up.
“To the Mess Hall then.”
Later, after eating lunch and spending a good few hours in the library, Spock was seeing Jim onto the shuttle that could take him home.
“Thanks again for putting up with me being all hormonal and needy.” He said before boarding.
“I assure you,” replied Spock, “that my admission for whishing for friendly interaction would be considered ‘freaking needy’ by Vulcan standards.” Jim laughed at his wording.
“Maybe I’ll be up to a park visit next week.” He suggested.
“Perhaps.” Allowed Spock. “If not, there are other things we may do to pass the time.”
“Yeah.” Agreed Jim. “So, same time next week?”
“Agreed.” Replied Spock. Once again, he watched the shuttle until it was out of his sight.
When he returned to his quarters, he thought about some of the things Jim had told him. It seemed that he might actually empathize with McCoy, perhaps for being taken for granted by the people he knew? He knew from last week’s conversation that Jim had a bit of a reputation that he no longer wished to define him. He wanted people to know him for more than just his sexual appeal and, plentiful as it was, it was something he deserved. Spock was more determined than ever to be a positive presence in Jim’s life. He also knew it would be logical to prepare for more outbursts, and that he might have to learn to figure out when it was Jim talking or the hormones.
For now, he was going to continue to meditate on what to do and wait to see what his next visit with Jim would reveal.