Lunch rolled around rather quickly for Jim, who had spent the entire morning gloating about what he thought was most likely a signal of the end of Spock and Uhura's relationship. As many times as he told himself he was being a bit of a selfish jerk for feeling happy about it, he couldn't help himself. He just didn't think they meshed well as a couple. As friends maybe, but definitely not a couple. Jim continued to tell himself that was the only reason he wanted this relationship to end.
He handed the con over to Sulu around noon and proceeded to the turbolift to find Spock standing there, waiting for him.
"Hey Spock, how was your morning?" he asked brightly as they stepped into the ‘lift together.
Spock looked at him with that look that told Jim he was about to get teased. "I experienced the same morning you did, Captain."
"Of course, Spock, how silly of me to ask," Jim chuckled.
They made their way to the mess and selected an empty table once they had retrieved their food from the replicator. They were quickly joined by Doctor Leonard McCoy, Jim's other best friend, who looked as grumpy as ever.
"Hey Bones, what's up with you?" Jim asked cheerfully, nudging the sullen man playfully, if only to get a bark in response. "Someone throw up on you again?"
"You don't know the half of it," Bones rolled his eyes. "It's time for physicals and it's like herding sheep getting everyone in. By the way, you need to come in for yours too sometime, maybe this afternoon?"
Jim groaned. "Do I have to? You know I'm healthy."
"If healthy is the new word to describe batshit insane," Bones rolled his eyes.
"It is important to ensure you remain in optimum health, Captain," Spock said quietly, looking at vegetable stir-fry he was eating.
"Same with you Spock, I'll want to see you in too," Bones said dangerously. "And no one is allowed to skip out or pretend they already did their physical with one of the nurses or whatever. I'll know."
Jim shuddered at the tone of voice. "Yes sir, I'll go see you when I have the time."
"Oh sure, make sure it's great in your schedule, who cares about mine?" McCoy picked up the remaining half of his sandwich and stood up. "I'll leave you two lovebirds to your lunch; I've got actual work to do."
Jim gaped after his friend and doctor. The storming away was normal for Bones, but just who did he think he was calling him and Spock lovebirds?
"I must admit to being perplexed by his statement," Spock said quietly after a beat of silence. "We are not involved in a romantic relationship, nor are we anywhere near being a part of an avian species."
Jim snorted in spite of his shock. "No, no we're not. I think Bones is just being his usual charming self."
"Indeed," Spock agreed solemnly and Jim laughed again.
It was then that Uhura walked into the mess and Jim tensed slightly, wondering if she would join them at their table. He needn't have worried; she didn't even notice them. She merely went to the replicator, got her food and went over to sit at another table with the Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, known to most as Scotty.
"She seems to be spending a lot of time with Scotty," Jim remarked, hardly realizing that he had said that out loud.
"Indeed," Spock followed his gaze for a moment before turning his attention back to Jim. "She has expressed interest in gaining his assistance with the reprogramming of the universal translators."
"Oh, awesome," Jim nodded to himself. Or she could be cheating on you, Jim refused to believe that part of him was hoping she was. He quashed those feelings immediately. He didn't want to see the relationship end in a way that hurt Spock.
"Indeed," Spock said again, watching him closely. "They are both highly intelligent and will no doubt make an excellent team."
"Huh, yeah, probably," Jim nodded and finally looked back at Spock to find him watching him closely. "What?" he asked when the gaze did not move from his face.
"Are you romantically interested in Lieutenant Uhura?" Spock asked suddenly. He had seen the way Jim was looking at her and thought perhaps he was interested in her. It would be dishonest if he were to deny that the possibility hurt him.
"What?" Jim was taken aback. "No! Not at all," he was slightly hurt that Spock was apparently feeling territorial about his girlfriend. He guessed that meant that a breakup wasn't so imminent.
Spock looked slightly cheered by his answer and Jim felt a knot forming in the pit of his stomach. Why was he feeling this way? He was James Kirk, and James Kirk did not do love; and even if he did, he wouldn't be stupid enough to fall for his best friend who was obviously in no way interested in him.
"I apologize for misinterpreting your interest in her activities," Spock said.
"Oh Spock, it's really no big deal. I mean, if I were interested in anyone on this ship it would be-" Jim broke off with a blush. Why did his mouth always seem to bypass his brain when he was talking to Spock? It was starting to become more than a minor inconvenience.
Spock looked decidedly less cheerful all of a sudden. "I see," he stood up. "I must oversee some work in the labs. I shall see you this evening when we continue our chess game."
Jim, completely startled by this abrupt departure, could only nod to convey his understanding.
Spock gripped his PADD much harder than necessary, trying his best to quell the sudden and intense feelings of anger and jealousy. He had no idea who it was that Jim was interested in, but Spock figured that was probably for the best; he wasn't certain he could trust himself not to ‘take out' his irritation on the object of Jim's affections.
Looking around the lab to ensure that he was, in fact, alone, he heaved an unVulcan sigh and set the PADD down, lest he break it in his grip.
He had been uncertain that any sort of romantic relationship could have been at all possible between Jim and himself, even though he knew his counterpart had had one with his own captain. That uncertainty had disappeared with every touch and every shared glance and smile between them since Spock's return to the Enterprise. He had been certain that their relationship was moving steadily in the romantic direction.
Now, the uncertainty was back full force. Jim was romantically interested in someone. That left little room for a relationship with Spock. The more he thought about it, more possible difficulties came to mind. What if this James Kirk was heterosexual? Simply because one Jim had been involved with one Spock did not necessarily mean it would be so with another.
Spock sighed again. Terran literature made romance seem so simple, yet to Spock, it was the most complicated thing in the universe.
"Well Jim, you're looking a lot less tired than last time I saw you in here," McCoy remarked when Jim actually made it down to sickbay for his physical with minimum persuasion.
"Yeah, I actually got a decent night's sleep last night," Jim shrugged. "I guess I was just so exhausted that my brain finally decided to take pity on me."
"Thank god, I thought I was gonna have to hypo you into a goddamn coma for a week at the rate you were going," Bones ran the tricorder over Jim. "You actually look healthy for once. You're taking care of yourself."
"Well, sort of," Jim blushed. Spock had been watching his meals and quietly suggesting alternatives that Jim really did enjoy, and their games of chess worked wonders on his stress levels. On top of everything, Spock was also helping him keep his paperwork under control.
"I know Spock's been lookin' out for ya," McCoy said. "And as much as I don't like the hobgoblin, he's been doing a mighty fine job of it."
"Spock does a good job at everything he does," Jim shrugged. "Including keeping my sorry ass safe and healthy."
"I'll give him that, he's been making my job easier," Bones rolled his eyes. "I haven't had to patch you up quite as much as normal lately, but you're still in here more than I'd like you to be."
"Aw, don't you like my company?" Jim asked in mock hurt. "That's a mean thing to say to a guy."
"Shut up, you still love me," McCoy said gruffly.
"Yeah, I do," Jim laughed and, throwing any captainly decorum he may have possessed aside, threw his arms around his friend's neck and hugged him. "You're the greatest friend ever, and I love you for it. Well you know, not love love, but you get what I mean."
"Oh shut up, you idiot," McCoy semi-reluctantly put his own arms around his friend.
It was unfortunate for Spock that he chose that moment to walk into sickbay for his own physical. He froze in the doorway upon witnessing that scene.
"Oh, Spock, you're here for your checkup too then," Bones let go of Jim and his friend followed suit, albeit reluctantly. McCoy rolled his eyes; he wondered what was upsetting Jim so much that he felt the need to be all touchy with him. McCoy new his friend gained comfort from close physical contact and McCoy was nothing if not a good friend. He'd give Jim what he needed. "You," he pointed at Jim. "Outta my sickbay. Come back later if you want to talk."
"You got it, Bones," Jim grinned at him and pressed a sloppy kiss to his cheek.
"That's it, you're never allowed in my sickbay again, get out!" McCoy said gruffly. He turned to Spock. "Now, you. Your physical. Right. Numbnuts just has his, let's see if you've been taking as good care of yourself as you have been that dumbass."
"Hey Spock," Jim greeted brightly as they convened to Jim's cabin for their chess game. "How was Bones' torture time?"
"There was nothing unusual," Spock replied. He had in fact, been unusually cold, even for himself, towards the doctor after having witnessed what he had between the doctor and Jim.
"Great," Jim smiled. "You ready to finish this game? I think I might stand a chance of winning now."
"Indeed," Spock raised an eyebrow.
"Game on, my friend," Jim chuckled. "Game on."
The game had ended quickly enough and Spock had been unusually silent and contemplative. Jim wondered if it had anything to do with Uhura and what had happened during lunch. Jim sighed; it was time to face facts. He might have thought himself incapable of loving someone, but it turned out he wasn't. He was in love with Spock, plain and simple.
Except it wasn't that simple. Spock obviously didn't love him back, he was in love with Uhura. Jim didn't see how that would be changing anytime soon.
He walked through the halls of his Silver Lady and somehow found himself where he always ended up when he got lonely: the Chief Medical Officer's office.
"Back, are we?" Bones rolled his eyes. "You forget a hypo you need?"
Jim shuddered. "No I... Can I sleep here tonight?" he asked in a rush. "I just, I don't feel like sleeping alone tonight." He really felt as though the loneliness he was feeling would crush him at any given moment if he was alone for too long.
McCoy sighed. "Whatever Jim, it'll be like old times in the Academy. Except the bunk might be a little bigger this time."
Jim smiled tiredly. "Thanks Bones, you're awesome."
Later, long after Jim had fallen into what McCoy could only call an uneasy sleep, he wondered again what possibly could have upset his friend this much.