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Today is my anniversary. I have told no one the significance of this date. No one knows, not even my t'hy'la with whom I have chosen to join my life.

There are many anniversaries we celebrate with the traditions of our combined cultures. This is not one of them. We mark the yearly return of the date of both our natal days, though Jim did not understand my reluctance to celebrate my birthday at first. It is not a Vulcan custom to note the anniversary of one's birth. One does nothing to earn celebration merely by being born. On Vulcan it is what one does with the life force that inhabits one that is worthy of recognition. Or not.

I remember the occasion that caused my reassessment of this custom. It was 4.5 months after Jim assumed the captaincy of the Enterprise. We had formed what I believed to be a stable working partnership, one that had already surpassed the intensity of the relationship I had forged with Captain Pike during more than 11.3 years of duty. Pike, though cordial and tolerant of Vulcan customs, was a taciturn man of an introverted nature given to long silences. This mirrored my own character to a substantial degree, and after a short while under his command I could accurately anticipate his orders. When James Kirk assumed the captaincy, I discovered that all I had perceived about his species was less than relevant--indeed, in actuality, detrimental--when applied to this particular human. I had to begin my analyses once more at the beginning, yet I found my curiosity aroused.

Our relationship veered from the strictly professional one evening when he found me alone in the recreation room playing chess against the computer and pleaded for a game. I had never played chess with my human shipmates, nor joined in any of the many other recreational pursuits in which they engaged. Nor had I wished to do so. I informed my captain of this. He desired to improve his skills, he said. Would I indulge him just this one time? I was preparing a polite refusal when something in his face reminded me of I'Chaya's expression upon being chastised. One game. It would soon be over. The captain would then see the folly of his challenge and thereafter return to interaction with other humans who undoubtedly played at his level.

What I discovered was that James Kirk played chess in the same manner as he captained the ship. All that Pike was not, Jim was: demonstrative, enthusiastic, a brilliant strategist and yes, sly and devious at times as well. It was only later that he allowed me to see the sensitive dreamer's side he kept carefully hidden.

He won two games out of three that night, and I barely managed to secure a stalemate for the third. At that time, I had not yet acquired the emotional experience to assign a name to what I was feeling--annoyance. I now am convinced I had been...suckered...I believe is the appropriate word. We began to play chess together as time and duty allowed.

Soon afterward Enterprise was patrolling near the Neutral Zone when several Earth outposts were destroyed. While geared for silent running in a confrontation with the Romulan warbird that was responsible, I inadvertently touched a panel causing a signal to be transmitted giving away our position. Not only was no reprimand issued, he treated the incident as if it had never occurred. Due solely to his tactical acumen and creative problem solving ability we emerged successfully from the conflict.

That night I rang his buzzer.

"Come. Ah...Spock. Have a seat. Can I get you a drink?"

"I prefer to stand, Captain. I will not take up much of your time, sir. I have come to tender my request for transfer." I laid the tape on his desk.

His booted feet slammed down to the floor from where they had rested on his desk. "Transfer? Why the devil do you want a transfer? Surely it's not because of what Stiles said?"

"No, Captain." I drew myself up to my full height and placed my hands behind my back. "That was a grievous error I made on the bridge today. I could have easily caused the destruction of the ship. I thought you would prefer having someone fulfill the position of science officer in whom you could place your full confidence."

"You do have my full confidence, Spock." He rose and circled the desk until we were face to face. He studied my features for a long moment then drew back a step and folded his arms across his chest. "You know what your problem is?"

I focused my eyes on a point precisely one-quarter meter above the captain's right shoulder.

"No, sir."

"You want to be perfect--a perfect science officer, a perfect first officer...a perfect Vulcan."

"Perfection is to be strived for."

"Certainly. I strive for it, too. I make sure this ship strives for it. The only difference is I'm pretty sure it's never going to happen. But Mister Spock?"

I was forced to look at him then. "Yes, sir?"

"I've found the two of us working together come closer to perfection than either of us could alone."

I did not know how to respond to this. Jim kept the eye contact between us a moment longer before favoring me with a smile and turning away. He picked up the tape. "I have enough reports on my desk as it is. What do you say we dump this one?" He strode to the disposal chute and discarded the tape. "My desk looks better already. Now how about that drink?"

He was tired. The strain of the day had not left him as unmoved as he wished me to believe. "Thank you, sir, but no. I will leave you to your rest. I will take a...precipitation check on that," I said. "That is the correct expression, is it not?"

Something glimmered in his eyes, and they crinkled at the corners for a brief moment. Perhaps he was even more tired than I had thought. "Close enough," he said.

"Good night, sir." I turned to go.

"Wait a minute. I almost forgot." He went to his desk and removed a book perched precariously on a stack of computer discs. "I was just about to drop by your cabin when you came in here. Happy birthday, Spock. I'm not too good with wrapping things." He thrust the book into my hands.

I had remembered the day, of course, but it held no special significance for me. A book of Pre-Reform essays. Very valuable. I recalled the supply stop at Starbase 21 three weeks ago. I proceeded to tell my captain of the illogic of celebrating a natal day when one has done nothing to be worthy of such a celebration.

A slow smile appeared across his face, and illogical as it was, I felt its warmth on my face. "Oh, well, keep it anyway. It's in Old Vulcan, or so I'm told, and it'll take me awhile to get around to learning that. I think I can ask for directions to the nearest public john if I find myself stranded in the middle of ShiKahr, but that's about it."

He walked me to the door.

"Good night, Spock. Sleep well. Uh...deshazee'ata. May your rest refresh you." I had not known he was learning my language. I had not known he had wanted to. He leaned in closer, gazed at me with both hope and laughter in his eyes, and lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "How close did I come?" he said.

It was undoubtedly the worst accent it had ever been my misfortune to hear. I barely refrained from wincing. "Close enough, sir."

I saw that he, in turn, refrained from calling me a liar.

We found ourselves at the door. It swished open. The book was a thick and heavy weight in my hands. I wanted him to know that my gratitude was not only for the gift he had just given me. "Thank you," I said finally, unable to add the rest.

"I know," he simply said, and I saw he did.

I turned to go.

"Oh, Spock," he said, and his smile warmed me once again.


"I've written a short note to you and tucked it into the front. It's as true now as when I wrote it several days ago."

Back in my own quarters, I opened the book and removed the note:

Spock, I know presents are not the Vulcan way, but your birthday is an important day in my life so I'm hoping you'll allow me this pleasure. You prove your worth to me every day whether we are on duty on the bridge or off duty below it, and I'm grateful, very grateful, that you were born.

Happy birthday, my friend.


Since that day we have celebrated many occasions that marked the deepening of our relationship: our first kiss, our first sexual encounter, and finally our bonding.

Tomorrow we make planetfall at Verbriner's World where we are to undergo a minor refit and restocking of supplies. The crew is long overdue for leave. This time it was Jim's turn to plan our recuperative rest period. He has informed me we will be spending several days where the Lethro Desert meets the Re'agna Ocean, a climate suited to us both. To begin our off-duty time, he has made reservations at an excellent restaurant to celebrate the anniversary of my birth. I no longer think the custom illogical.

We will indulge ourselves with good food and good wine, and I will remind myself of the secret anniversary I celebrate along with my natal day. Because of that first anniversary all the others became possible.

That was the day someone first named me friend.

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