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you've got the love

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Nyota didn’t need to be told. She didn’t even need to think about it for that long. She had the whole situation figured out before the two of them even got their shit together themselves. 

The short answer was that she’d been in Leonard’s situation before--pursued by Spock, that is. But it was more than that. She and Spock hadn’t been together for very long, but she’d learned a lot about him in that time. She knew what all of his weird little behavioral tics meant (because he had quite a few of them, contrary to popular belief), she knew what it looked like when he was interested in someone, when he was stressed, when he was psyching himself up to do something. So when all three of those things were going on simultaneously, she figured it was time to look into it. 

It took less than a week to get to the bottom of things. To anyone else on the ship it would have seemed like Spock wasn’t even acting that different, but to Nyota it was obvious, sometimes to the point of feeling unprofessional. Like the first few times she heard Spock call him Leonard when he only ever called him Doctor McCoy in the years they’d all been on this ship together. 

In theory it could have just meant that Spock and Leonard were friends now, but in reality Nyota could hear the way his voice was softer around the name, the way his facial expression got just a fraction more open and nervous at the newness of it. She caught the way his gaze suddenly started to linger on Leonard whenever he came up to the bridge. 

She could tell right away that this meant Spock was gearing up to pursue Leonard romantically. 

And then, a couple days later, his demeanor made a complete 180. 

Nyota had retired from her role as Spock’s emotional guardian a long time ago, after their relationship fell through and she watched Spock successfully find support elsewhere--mainly from Jim, which was such a shock in itself that she wasn’t even fazed by the thought of Spock being attracted to Leonard. The more he seemed to grow into himself on this ship, free from the pressure of his Vulcan upbringing and high-stress Academy life, the more his true colors--and tastes--started to show. 

That was one of the things that had marked the beginning of the end of their relationship. Nyota had realized, gradually, that his attraction to her, although it did come from a real place of respect and high regard, also came from a place of obligation. Obligation to be with someone who he imagined his father--and all of Vulcan, really--would approve of. Of course that was extremely flattering, in theory. In reality it just made her feel like some sort of statue. A thing to be treasured and admired and shown to guests and then promptly ignored once their company had left for the night. 

When she brought this to Spock, hoping that he’d deny it sincerely and reassure her with words he that barely used (even on his more emotional days) and then they’d have passionate sex and forget about it and everything would be better, his intial reaction was just to stare at the wall behind her, eyes widened in shock. 

Not shock because it was such a far-fetched idea, that his relationship with Nyota was based on the fact that she was Vulcan-approved, but shock because he hadn’t even realized it himself until she brought it up. 

Their relationship couldn’t really be saved after that, although it wasn’t like Spock was the only one at fault, either. Nyota had basically chased after him during her third year at the Academy, as soon as she passed with all perfect scores from his Interplanetary Diplomacy seminar in her second year and was technically not his student anymore. The pursuit of this man who was so different from the ones she’d been with before, a little bit alien and a little bit forbidden, had blinded her to whether or not the relationship was actually a good idea. And then they were together, and it just felt like the right thing to do to stay that way. 

In the end, it turned out that they functioned best as friends and coworkers and nothing else. But their romantic history had left Nyota with a sort of heightened sensitivity to Spock’s emotions which she couldn’t seem to turn off. 

This is how she ended up at his quarters after the third day spent witnessing his heartbreak during shifts. Nobody else would have called how he was acting heartbroken , they would have just said quiet and extra focused and maybe a little bit slow if they were really paying attention. She knew what it all meant, though.

She rang the buzzer with a tray of blueberry pancakes, which Spock would never willingly admit was his comfort food (and would never think to replicate for himself when he was sad, even though they always worked). 

The doors opened and his eyes darted from Nyota to the pancakes and back to Nyota, expression going a little bit blank like he’d been expecting someone else. 

“Hello Nyota.”

“I’m sorry, I know you were expecting someone else.”

“On the contrary. I was not expecting anyone tonight. Please come in.”

Nyota’s heart hurt a little bit at the words I was not expecting anyone , which was clearly the truth he told to her but still a bit of a lie he’d said to himself. Clearly he’d been hoping for--if not expecting--someone else. 

But that someone else wouldn’t have brought blueberry pancakes. 

“I brought pancakes.”

“I see,” Spock said, and led them to the small table in his quarters, pulling out her chair before sitting down across from her. “If you wished, I could have joined you in the mess hall to eat.”

She smiled a little bit as she settled into her chair, and then leaned forward to pour syrup onto the pancakes. What she was doing could possibly be categorized as manipulation, but all of it felt necessary. He was more likely to share personal details if he was eating, and he was more likely to eat the pancakes if he witnessed the sight of her pouring maple syrup on top of them, a sight which left him with no choice but to imagine the sweetness of it sinking into the warm pancakes. She tried not to smile even wider and give herself away as he watched the tray of pancakes between them with almost analytical precision. 

“I wanted to talk somewhere more private. Also, I ate a real dinner before this, don’t worry.”

“I see no need to worry about your health. I believe you are consistently reasonable with your nutrition,” he said, speaking more to the stack of blueberry pancakes than to her.

“Flattery will get you nowhere.” She finished pouring the syrup and placed one of the forks in front of Spock. “So don’t change the subject. I want to talk about you and Leonard.”

The timing had been intentional. Nyota gave him the fork right as she asked the question, because she knew that he knew it was socially acceptable to avoid answering in lieu of taking the first bite, an opportunity which he proceeded to take. 

She could see the way his whole demeanor softened as soon as there was a forkful of blueberry pancake in his mouth. Nyota knew she was more observant than most, especially when it came to Spock, but it was moments like this when she wondered how anyone could consider him unreadable when he was so obviously cheering up right now at the taste of one of his favorite foods. There was a little glint of warmth in his eyes that hadn’t been there before. Nyota picked up the other fork and took a bite herself. 

“What is it about my friendship with Leonard that you wish to talk about?”

“I know you want more than just friendship with him.”

He made that face again. That face that said he didn’t think Nyota knew that, although this time she could tell that at least the fact wasn’t news to him. He opened his mouth to speak even though he clearly hadn’t finished coming up with a response yet and Nyota cut in. 

“You don’t have to explain it. Just tell me what happened the last time you two saw each other. Maybe I can help.”

Spock looked down at the stack of pancakes as he carefully cut another small piece with the side of his fork. 

“As another Human who you used to be romantic with,” she added.

“Leonard is not fully Human,” Spock said quietly. He looked up at Nyota, fork frozen mid-air. She understood immediately that whatever came next had to be kept as secret as the rest of it. 

“He is part Betazoid. Half, perhaps.”

Both of them spent the following moments of silence eating. Nyota thought about what he’d just said, how it might fit into the big picture. 

“That makes a lot of sense actually,” she said, not just referring to the idea of Leonard being part Betazoid, but of Spock feeling a stronger connection with him because of it. And if Spock knew this before anyone else did, that probably meant they’d become much closer friends lately. 

“Please, do not tell anyone,” he said. His voice had an edge of urgency to it, and maybe a little bit of fear. Like he was afraid he would upset Leonard. Like maybe he already had.

“Of course not. Spock,” Nyota leaned forward across the table. What she really wanted to do was take his hand in her own, but now probably wasn’t the right time for that sort of gesture. “Just tell me what happened. Maybe I can help. Not as a human, but as your friend.”

Spock nodded once. He took a second to collect his thoughts, watching the tray between them like he was tempted to delay himself even longer by eating more. And then he looked back up at her and said, 

“I revealed my feelings to him, and he was not interested.”

“Did he say that?”

“Not explicitly, was evident, from his response. He found the idea of my attraction to him upsetting, and suggested that the two of us share no common interests or experiences, and left my quarters.”

“Oh, Spock.” Nyota would have reached for his hand at that point, but he immediately started cutting another piece out of the pancake in front of him. “I’m so sorry. No wonder you’ve been upset these past few days.”

“I am not upset,” Spock said plainly, eyebrows drawn together and a frown pulling at the corner of his mouth before he took another bite. He finished chewing and then added, “I merely wish I had not misinterpreted my relationship with Leonard so far as to have made an unwanted advance.”

Nyota propped her chin up on her hand. The first part made sense, objectively. Those were all things Leonard would have done if he wasn’t interested in Spock. But when she thought about the fact that the two of them had been growing closer over the past months, that Spock had started calling him Leonard even when he wasn’t around, that he’d felt comfortable enough to confess his feelings to Leonard out loud--or maybe mentally, since the two of them could probably communicate without words if Leonard was half Betazoid--the words unwanted advance didn’t seem possible. 

It wasn’t unheard of for Spock to act out of emotional impulses, sometimes, instead of purely logical ones. But he wouldn’t have made an unwanted advance on anyone. He would have done his homework. If he told his feelings to Leonard, it had to be because he had evidence that they were reciprocated. 

She watched Spock eat his feelings for a few more minutes and then risked going down that road. 

“Are you sure he responded like that because he’s not interested in you? Isn’t it possible he was upset over something else?”

Spock blinked at her.

“He may be only half-Human, but he spent his whole life until now living like a full Human, you know. And sometimes we get mad about something because we’re actually mad about something else.”

“I am aware of this practice,” Spock said quickly, defensively. And then he thought it over for a few seconds, looking down at the silver fork in his hand. “It is possible,” he said carefully, “that his anger is coming from his inability to accept his identity as part Betazoid. Although he was receptive to my offer to train his psionic abilities, he often reacted strongly to the assertion that he does in fact have these abilities, as if it is a source of shame, even though I have told him on multiple occasions that—”

“Okay, let me stop you right there for a second.”

She tried to put this as delicately as possible. 

“When you were growing up, wouldn’t you ever feel like the people who loved you were misplacing their affection? Like your mom, or your sister. When they showed you affection would you ever feel like they were making a mistake?”

Spock’s eyes widened a little. Nyota rushed to try to keep him from shutting down. 

“I don’t mean to say you should have felt like this, because it was never, ever true, but when you were struggling to accept yourself, it was hard to hear people say that they love you, wasn’t it?”

There were a few more seconds where Nyota worried that she’d just destroyed her relationship with Spock, and then, 

“Yes…that is accurate.”

She held back the urge to openly sigh in relief. 

“Think about how much more time you’ve had to learn to accept yourself, compared to Leonard. Maybe he’s dealing with the thought that there’s nothing good about being half Human and half Betazoid, and when he heard you say that you care for him it made him angry because he believed you were wrong to care for him.”

Nyota was finally satisfied that she’d said the right thing when Spock’s expression softened again, shifting out of defensive territory into something more relaxed, and he proceeded to finish the last remnants of their blueberry pancakes. He apparently needed all of that time to process, and then when Nyota stood up and picked up the tray and he led her to the door he asked, 

“What do you believe can be done about this situation?”

Nyota smiled. It made her happy enough just to know that Spock still opened up to her, and still listened to what she had to say, after all these years. But hearing him outright ask for advice made her feel like flying tonight, because sometimes she worried that they were shifting out of friends-and-coworkers territory into just coworkers territory. It felt good to be proven wrong. 

“I would just give him space, for now. I’m sure you know better than I do how he doesn’t like to be forced into things.”

“Indeed,” Spock said, with an unmistakable fondness for the subject of their conversation. It was so far from what she would have expected back when they first broke up a few years ago, but now Nyota almost wanted to laugh in delight at the sweet, adorable, one-of-a-kind sight of Spock in love. 

“But if there’s ever a point where you really feel the urge to tell him that you care about him, you should do it. I think he needs to hear it as much as you did when you were in that situation, even if it’s upsetting at first.”

Spock just nodded. Nyota pressed the button to open the doors and stepped out into the corridor before turning back to him. 

“Good night, Spock,” she said. 

“Good night, Nyota.” Spock watched her through the doorway, with just an echo of that fondness he’d just expressed for Leonard, only now she felt like he’d meant it for her. And it pulled on her heartstrings just slightly, for a completely different reason. Spock paused before closing the doors again and said with more sincerity than she heard from most of their Human crew, “Thank you for your help.”

“Of course.”

The doors swished closed and Nyota made her way to the mess to put the dishes back, feeling satisfied that she’d done a good job, but most importantly feeling glad to know that no matter what, Spock still trusted her. They were going to be okay. She was sure of it. Her and Spock and Spock and Leonard. 



Of course it was so obvious when Spock and Leonard finally got together. It was like Spock was wearing a sign around his neck one morning a few weeks later that said I JUST GOT LAID in all caps. Somehow, nobody else on the bridge seemed to notice anything different about him.

Chapter Text

Being Head Nurse under McCoy came with a few added responsibilities, it felt like. Playing good cop to McCoy’s bad cop when a patient was being uncooperative, playing slightly-less-good cop when she had to go out and drag people back into sickbay for their checkups, keeping a long list of unnecessary hypos stocked in case he came up with another obscure reason to give one out, but, most importantly: knowing the ins and outs of the medical staff. All of those things that they think go unnoticed by their CMO, jokes, whispers, gestures--anything with the potential to snowball into actual insubordination. 

To anyone else, that last part probably seemed like a lot to keep up with, but Christine was gifted not only with the ability to multitask, but also with impeccable hearing. 

Even from the other side of the sickbay, she heard the first rumor whispered between two nurses in passing, just a few seconds after Spock had breezed through the room on his long legs and gone straight for McCoy’s office without saying a word to anyone. She didn’t even have to look up or take a break from carefully adjusting the settings on a patient’s dermal regen unit to hear it. 

What do you think they’re doing in there?

I don’t know, but I have a feeling Spock will be limping on his way out.

It was hard to say if that was a sex joke or a joke about McCoy beating the shit out of Spock. Either way, she filed the information in her brain for later, only to end up pulling it out again when she heard another Spock-and-McCoy rumor not even a week later. 

To be fair, they had been seeing Spock around sickbay a lot more than usual. And none of the most recent visits seemed to have anything to do with an injury or even a check up. And McCoy, as much as he tried to hide it with his whole act of being scary and threatening for no reason, was in a significantly better mood all around. 

After two weeks of more whispered rumors, whenever McCoy went into his office or left for the day or, in the case of one very brave soul, turned his back for thirty seconds, Christine had had just about enough of it. 

And then she was getting some records done at the end of a long and dead gamma shift, the doors to her office left open, and heard the whole group of them out in the sickbay placing bets on this romance between their First Officer and CMO, and decided she’d definitely had enough. It was time to get the house in order before their entire hierarchy came crashing down, all because the junior staff were speculating on their CMO’s sex life. 

Meaning, it was time to set the whole record straight, starting with McCoy. 

“Hey,” she said by way of greeting, because they’d been at that point with each other for more than a year, now. If it was about regular sickbay business she would’ve plopped down into the chair in front of his desk, too, but the topic of this conversation made her feel like staying in the doorway was a better choice. 

“How can I help you?” McCoy asked, leaning back in his chair. He blinked his eyes like he’d been staring at his computer screen for longer than he meant to. 

Christine tried to keep her voice as polite and neutral as possible when she explained, 

“There are rumors floating around your staff that you and Mr. Spock are in a relationship. I just wanted to ask you how you’d like me to shut it down.”

He just sat there and watched her for a moment, clearly unsure if he wanted to be mad about this or not. He couldn’t seem to make up his mind. In fact, the longer he sat there, the more it looked like he was going to start blushing any minute. The tips of his cheeks were pink when he finally squinted and crossed his arms over his chest and said, 

“What kinda rumors?”

“Just speculation. Especially after Spock visits the sickbay.”

“Tell me exactly what’s been said,” McCoy ordered, because he knew that Christine remembered everything word for word. And she did. 

So she told him, starting with Spock will be limping on his way out and reluctantly including one instance of I bet he administers hypos in bed and finally finishing on the most recent conversation where everyone had placed bets on when their relationship would go public. McCoy actually raised his eyebrows out of interest, at that one, which was a relief after how tightly they’d been knit together for the past few minutes. 

“Peterson bet 20 credits that you two aren’t involved at all, Wiszynski bet 50 that you’re in a polyamorous relationship with the Captain—”

“Jesus christ.”

“Omalu bet 50 that you two will go public with your relationship at the end of the year when Spock submits his quarterly First Officer’s log and includes your first time having sex in his report. Simons bet 100 that it’ll become public, accidentally, the next time Spock gets hurt on an away mission because, and I quote: ‘he makes such a big deal every time Spock gets a papercut it’s just a matter of time before he gets overwhelmed and kisses him on the biobed’ .”


McCoy didn’t look particularly pleased. Christine was ready to stop except he kept watching her closely while the gears seemed to turn in his head and then he finally said, 

“Go on.”

“Lacey bet 75 credits that you two will come back from the next shore leave and attempt to secretly change your status in the ship’s database from single to married . And...Right. Nurse Shih bet 75, also, and said that you two won’t even make an announcement at all, you’ll just wait until you retire and move into some little cabin together on New Vulcan like it’s no big deal.”

“Anyone else?”

“Nope. That was everyone.”

McCoy took a few more minutes to think as he glared down at the surface of his desk. When they’d first started working together that look used to make Christine worry that she’d done something wrong to make him upset with her, or that maybe he was upset with someone else and was about to take it out on her anyway. But neither of those things actually happened very often. 

He was a grouch, but a considerate one. 

Finally his face softened just slightly, which meant he’d decided what he wanted to do about all this. 

“Chapel,” he started, and stopped for a second to let out a long exhale. “You know I really appreciate all the work you do to keep our staff in line so I don’t have to be bothered with it.”

“I know,” Christine said, sounding more flippant than she’d intended. She might have been subconsciously steering the conversation away from becoming more personal than it already was. 

“I know you know, but I don’t show you my appreciation enough.”

Well, she wasn’t going to argue with that. 

“I’ll tell you what we’ll do,” McCoy explained, uncrossing one arm to point in the direction of the rest of sickbay. “You’re gonna go out there and tell everyone to double their bets, and then put in--I don’t know--200 credits and say you think I’m going to announce my relationship with Spock to the whole staff myself.”

Christine blinked at him for a moment, not in disbelief so much as the difficulty of processing all of that information, especially the point where he referred to his relationship with Spock

McCoy must have caught it too, because that subtle flush was back in his cheeks. He reinforced his scowl just a little more and crossed his arms again. 

“Understood?” he asked. 

There wasn’t really anything for Christine to do except nod her head yes, and stand up out of her chair, and go back out into sickbay to gamble on her bosses’ sex life. 




Two days later, after another impromptu visit from Spock to Doctor McCoy’s office (this time carrying a tray of food straight from the mess for what was definitely a lunch date), the entire nursing staff dissolved into whispers as soon as Spock left again. 

Only for McCoy to stick his head out of his office a second later and yell, 

“Spock and I are dating, now shut the hell up!”




Christine made 740 credits. Once she’d successfully tuned out the sound of outrage coming from her nurses, she decided she’d put some of it away and get McCoy a nice birthday present. 

Or maybe a wedding gift.

Chapter Text

It was awkward enough being alone with Spock in the turbolift--which didn’t actually happen a lot, because Spock tended to be the last one to leave the bridge at the end of their shift--but then, just as the doors were closing, Sulu heard Doctor McCoy’s voice call out, 

“Hold that!”

Spock’s hand shot to the OPEN DOORS button so fast Sulu was pretty sure he could have broken it. When McCoy finally caught up to the turbolift, a little bit out of breath from sprinting across the bridge, he caught eyes with Spock, first, mouth open like he was about to say thank you, and then his gaze landed on Sulu standing right next to him. McCoy looked at him like he hadn’t expected to see him there. Apparently he’d forgotten two minutes ago when Sulu stood up from the helm to let Mitchell replace him and walked to the lift--the way he always did at the end of every shift. 

What, was he expecting the turbolift to himself, or something? Right at shift change? Sulu thought, but his instincts told him only to nod in greeting to try and salvage the moment from snowballing into an unbearably awkward ride through the ship. McCoy nodded back and--for god’s sake--finally stepped inside. 

“Thanks,” he said, as more of an afterthought. 

There was more than enough room for three people in the lift, but it still felt like they were all standing too close to each other. Maybe there was a malfunction and there wasn’t enough oxygen being pumped into the turbolift. Or maybe, and this was probably more likely: the only thing more awkward than being alone in a turbolift with Commander Spock was being alone in the turbolift with Commander Spock and Doctor McCoy. 

“I thought they were done with that whole nemesis act a couple months ago,” Sulu complained, because by the time he finally made it down to Engineering and found Chekov and Scotty he’d already endured a whole seven minutes of choking on the tension between them in the turbolift. He just really needed to do some emotional processing. Scotty handed him a cup of tea in nice white china with gold trim, which Sulu didn’t want to ask the origins of. He continued. 

“Honestly, it was worse than when Spock and Jim were at each others’ throats all the time.”

“When was that?” Chekov asked, his voice echoing out from underneath the shuttle he was working on. Only his legs were sticking out. If it weren’t for the Russian accent, it could have been anyone under there.  

He was working on his latest passion project--and Scotty really needed to stop encouraging those, because Chekov was the best navigator in the Fleet and the bridge wouldn’t be able to handle losing him to Engineering. This time it was a small, one-person shuttle. He was trying to modify the internal gravity system of it so it could handle barrel rolls. 

“When he almost choked him to death in the middle of the bridge?” Sulu offered. He took a sip of tea and immediately recoiled a little bit, “Good god, what is this, jet fuel?

Scotty ignored the comment on his tea, smiling up at some point in the distance while he thought back to the day Spock almost choked Jim to death. 

“That was my first day on the Enterprise,” he said wistfully. 

“Yeah, well, anyway. It’s unprofessional. I feel like I should talk to Jim about it.”

“I haven’t seen the two of them fighting lately. Can’t remember the last time I saw McCoy yell at him in the transporter room.”

“Did he do that a lot?” Sulu asked, white-knuckling his way through another sip of tea. He needed the caffeine, at least, if he was going to make it through a conversation with Jim about his senior officers antagonizing the rest of the crew with their rivalry. 

Scotty thought about it for a minute. He pulled his own cup of tea out from--somewhere. Sulu really did not want to know. 

“Not that often, now that I think about it. But once he stopped you could really feel a difference in there.”

So now it sounded like the two of them were both experiencing different versions of Spock and McCoy. But that couldn’t be it. Sulu wondered if it was possible that either of them were misinterpreting. After all, they were probably the two people on the ship who were the hardest to read. McCoy with his emotional outbursts and extended rants and occasional threats, all of which he apparently expected people to interpret as aspects of his friendship , and Spock--well, he was Spock. 

Spock had walked into the lift after Sulu. McCoy had probably seen it happen, even if he didn’t see Sulu get in. After all, he knew he was calling out to someone to hold the doors. And then the way McCoy had looked at him when he realized Sulu was in the turbolift too, maybe it wasn’t because he wanted to be alone in the turbolift, but because he wanted to be alone with

“Wait.” Sulu blinked his eyes a couple times, trying to get confirmation from his brain that he’d really actually just thought that. He did. He stared down at the floor between their feet, scattered with spare parts and tools and Chekov’s legs. And then he knocked back the last of his jet-fuel tea. 

“What?” Scotty asked. 

“Do you think there could be something else going on between them?”

“I don’t know what you’re getting at.”

Sulu rolled his eyes and kicked Chekov’s leg, not too hard, but hard enough to get him to roll out from underneath the shuttle. There was a sigh, and then Chekov pushed himself out into the open. 

“Yes?” he asked, his face and gold uniform covered in grease stains and his hair somehow more wild than usual. He looked like he’d just been interrupted in the middle of his life’s work--as opposed to some side hobby of messing around with unwanted tech. 

“This is important.”

Chekov pressed his mouth into a flat line. He pushed himself out all the way so he could stand up, wiping his hands on his slacks. 

“Do you think there’s something going on between Spock and McCoy?”

Chekov shrugged his shoulders a little dismissively. Clearly Sulu was the only one in the room who cared about figuring this out. But then he said, 


Sulu watched him as he accepted a cup of tea from Scotty, and then a bowl of sugar cubes which had not been offered to Sulu. He dropped three of them in and stirred, watching the dark, steaming liquid casually as if he hadn’t just left them all hanging onto the word probably

“What do you mean probably ?”

“I mean I saw them holding hands in the observation deck. I think they thought they were alone.” He took a sip before adding, “This is how Vulcans kiss, I heard.”

Scotty let out a bark of laughter while Chekov just continued to look entirely bored with this conversation topic. 

“Good for them,” Scotty said. 

Sulu didn’t even know what to make of all of this. He wasn’t sure if it was better or worse that he’d just spent seven minutes in a turbolift full of sexual tension as opposed to just regular old-fashioned we hate each other tension. 

Oh god. Now that he thought about it, Spock and McCoy had both gotten off on the senior officers’ deck and walked out in the same direction. Sulu wasn’t going to lie to himself that he didn’t know what that could mean.

Chapter Text

Jim was the last to know, because of course he had to be. He was running this damn ship and he’d still always be the last to know what was going on inside of it. 

Although he’d just had a pretty good week of feeling like an observant and caring Captain, and a great best friend, culminating in a birthday party thrown in the observation deck for the Enterprise’s one and only CMO. 

It was a surprise party, technically. Jim and Bones had been surprising each other with birthday parties ever since the Academy, though, so Bones definitely knew it was coming. He became increasingly grumpy all week as Jim continued to drop hints of the coming party, entirely obvious ones like feeling old this morning? or do you think it’s possible to replicate champagne? or got any fun evening plans coming up? 

Jim delighted in the usual show of Bones begrudgingly resigning himself to the inevitable surprise party, this time with the added bonus of Spock--who now took all of his meals with them for some reason--sitting there and blinking in confusion at what appeared to be Bones overreacting at Jim’s completely innocent, if out-of-the-blue questions. By the night of the party Bones was primed, glaring at Jim the entire time he was being led through the corridors of the ship because I saw something weird from the observation deck and I need you to come take a look at it

“Alright, let’s get this over with,” he griped as soon as they were approaching the observation deck, and Jim felt himself grinning as he punched in the door code to a chorus of the entire bridge and medical crew yelling SURPRISE!

The exasperation on Bones’ end had mostly been an act, because he settled into a good mood as soon as they stepped onto the deck and started greeting their coworkers as if they hadn’t seen each other just hours before. Jim knew it had been an act, though, and he also knew that Bones wouldn’t have such a good time without advanced notice. So he wove into the crowd and picked up some replicated champagne and let himself feel at least a little bit self-satisfied for the rest of the evening. 

He watched Bones slowly loosen up on birthday champagne while he floated in and out of conversations, mostly to receive birthday wishes from everyone, judging by the way he’d stand there and smile a little bit awkwardly like he didn’t know what to do with the attention but didn’t completely mind it. And then Scotty showed up late with some fancy scotch--definitely smuggled, but Jim wasn’t in the mood to look into that--and Bones loosened up much quicker. To the point where he didn’t protest at all when Jim announced that it was time for birthday speeches.

Jim let a couple other people go first before delivering what he thought was the perfect speech, with just enough embarrassing anecdotes from the Academy that Bones had to signal Scotty to come give him a refill, but not enough that he was risking his life. It left everyone laughing and Jim wondered if he was imagining it (because he was supposedly psi-null) when Bones rolled his eyes and offered a very sarcastic thank you but Jim still felt his heart swell a little bit with the kind of real, genuine gratitude that he knew was underneath it all. Then he stepped forward and pulled Bones into a hug that nearly spilled his scotch over their uniforms, and gave the floor to Nyota. 

He settled into the back of the crowd after tracking down another glass of champagne, keeping an eye on the whole party while more people got up to say something. A few of them gave gifts, the best one being a venus flytrap, specially grown by Hikaru down in the greenhouse, in a little pot that said DOCTOR’S ASSISTANT . Christine stood up with a PADD in her hand and proceeded to read from a list titled “Doctor McCoy’s Best Quotes: Volume 17”, which she concluded with a very heartfelt message of being lucky to work alongside him, earning both a hug and a kiss on the cheek for her efforts. 

And then Spock volunteered to take the floor after Scotty’s speech, which was mostly just him telling the (very illegal) story of how he acquired Bones’ birthday scotch, and Jim was absolutely confused. 

Of course, Spock and Bones were friends now. They had been for quite a while, actually, ever since Bones found out he was half Betazoid and Spock started helping him with telepath stuff, or whatever the two of them called it. They all sat together in the mess and sometimes Bones would come up to the bridge just to talk to Spock, or Spock would excuse himself to the sickbay for no reason, or he’d pass the two of them walking side by side in the hallway, probably talking to each other in their heads. Jim figured it was all related to the Betazoid thing. He still had trouble wrapping his head around what exactly the two of them were talking about together, but it made him happy to know that his two best friends were also best friends. 

He’d tried to broach the topic with them separately at one point, inquiring into the nature of their friendship, but never got more than an oddly dismissive he merely has valuable insight from Spock, and actually the two of us have a lot in common, from Bones, which only left Jim with more questions. 

And now Spock was taking the floor as a hush fell over the room, and Jim had no clue what he was going to say, especially after all of the witty and heartfelt speeches that had come before it. His expression was completely flat as he stood in front of Bones, looking directly at him like there was nobody else in the room. Jim felt himself leaning forward, almost, to see what was about to happen. 

“Leonard,” Spock began, voice completely monotone, but Jim could see the corner of Bones’ mouth ticking up as they held eye contact. 

“You are an adequate coworker.”

Everyone in the room started laughing at that, a couple people holding their glasses up as if to second it, but in the middle of it all, where Bones and Spock were staring at each other, still, the weirdest shit was happening. 

Bones was completely flustered and turning red, barely managing to fight back what was shaping up to be a very big and goofy smile, as much as he tried to twist his mouth into a frown. Spock only raised his eyebrows in some sort of challenge. And that was when Jim remembered that the two of them could communicate telepathically. No wonder he didn’t really get the joke, because the real joke was going on inside of Spock’s head, accessible only to Bones. 

He was about to weave back into the crowd to go ask Bones what the hell just happened to make him turn red like that, just from Spock’s decidedly but unsurprisingly bland birthday speech. Then he was stopped in his tracks when he witnessed Spock moving to return to Bones’ side, only to be interrupted when Bones reached forward and grabbed his waist and pulled him into a kiss. 

A real kiss. A real, and long, and dare he say, slightly dirty kiss. The kind of kiss that he would never, in a million years, expect Bones to do in public, with Spock of all people. 

He was frozen in place, unsure if he’d even be able to move his arm to finish off the rest of his drink. Watching what he’d assumed were his two best friends (who were also best friends) make out in the middle of Bones’ birthday party. The speeches were over after that, apparently, because nobody felt like going after Spock, and the party split up into smaller groups again, people breaking off to find another drink or another piece of cake. 

Without really thinking about it, Jim’s free hand shot out to tap Nyota’s shoulder as she passed by him towards the bar. He had only seen her out of his peripheral vision, because he was still stuck watching Bones and Spock, who weren’t kissing anymore but were definitely looking at each other like it was bound to happen again in a few seconds. 

“What’s up?” Nyota asked. 

Jim looked at Bones, his best friend for like, six years, who stood there blushing and smiling and talking to Spock like he might be in love. 

He thought, for a second, about whether or not he’d seen Bones acting that way with someone before, and realized that there was no might . Bones was in love. With Spock. 

“Hey. Is it just me or did we just watch those two telepathically confess their love for each other?”

“You’re serious?”

Jim managed to tear his eyes away to look over at her, standing next to him and almost laughing. 

“What? Didn’t you see the part where they were making out?”

Nyota squinted at him, tilted her head to the side. 

“You didn’t know?”

“Didn’t know what, ” Jim asked. 

“They’ve been together for like, five and a half months now.”

It took Jim about ten seconds in his head to do the math and realize that five and a half months ago was when Bones had told him about being half Betazoid, and it was also when Spock started joining them for every meal and not just some meals, and when Bones started being a little busier in the evenings and a lot happier during shifts--which Jim’s dumbass brain had worked out as him just going to bed earlier

They were fucking. This whole time. Spock and Bones. 

“How am I always the last person to know things?”

Nyota laughed softly and patted him on the back, somehow managing to be equal parts comforting and condescending. Jim made a show of frowning down at his half-empty champagne glass. 

“I need another drink,” he said.