- noun [lan-yap]
1. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit.
2. Something given or obtained as a gratuity or bonus
"You wouldn't understand, you have Uhura...I'm just not the relationship type, y'know?" Jim swirled the contents of his glass in a circular motion, regarding the reddish liquid intently. "But, like Bones told me, I need to rein it in now that I'm Captain." Jim set down his glass, propped his elbows on the table and brought his hands together, purposely resting his chin on his clasped knuckles while heaving a melodramatic sigh.
Chekov’s birthday had been nothing like as much fun as Jim had thought it would be. It was the first time since their extended mission began that they’d had cause for celebration, but also the first time he’d realised that on the Enterprise, he wasn’t - couldn’t be – just one of the gang. He was the Captain of the USS Enterprise, one of the ‘fleet’s most impressive ships. When the crew were off duty and wanted to cut loose, the last thing they wanted was their boss around to spoil their fun. And, by that same reasoning, he had a responsibility to set his young team a good example, on or off duty. Bones had, indeed, told him as much.
Spock raised his right eyebrow in the now familiar gesture that meant he was either quizzical or sceptical. "Rein it in?" he repeated evenly, though it was almost certainly a question.
"Yeah. What he meant by that was 'stop sleeping around'," Jim told him, reaching again for his almost empty glass. “It’s apparently unprofessional to be both a ship’s Captain and its resident ‘manwhore‘, as he so charmingly put it.”
That being the case, they’d all shared a celebratory drink before the kids – as he’d come to think of them – had moved out of the mess and into the rec room to continue their party. McCoy hadn’t hung around for long, either. Since become romantically involved with an unlikely woman from engineering, his customary cynicism had faded and Jim found that, when he did deign to spend time with him, his old friend wasn’t nearly as much fun as he used to be. Though Jim had felt pangs of petty, schoolyard jealousy over the loss of his friend’s undivided attention, the situation had led to him spending more time with Spock.
They’d had a rocky start – to put it mildly – but, having met the older version of the Vulcan and shared something with him, gaining the knowledge that they could be – should be – great friends, Jim was willing to let bygones be bygones. So, it seemed, was Spock. Here they were, sharing an after work drink and talking about their love lives – two colleagues, friends - living proof of that very fact. They’d come a long way.
As Jim slumped back in his seat, Spock regarded him silently, the expression he wore seeming to indicate that he was attempting to formulate an appropriate response to what he’d just heard. "But,” Jim started again, before Spock could respond. “Like I said, you have Uhura...I don't expect you, of all people, to understand. I guess I’m just getting frustrated...I'm venting. I'm sorry."
When Spock's expression didn't alter, he continued, "What I need is a friend with benefits kinda set up, y’know? Simple, no ties..."
"The relationship Lt. Uhura and I shared ceased eight-point-two months ago." Spock stated matter-of-factly, cutting Jim off.
"Oh," was all Jim could think to say to that. Although there had been little evidence of intimacy between the couple when they were on, or off, duty, there seemed even less evidence of an acrimonious breakup. While he knew the pair to be consummate professionals, he couldn’t help but think that their relationship must have ended extremely amicably to go unnoticed within the microcosm of the ship. "I didn't know."
"And why would you?"
To this, Jim simply shrugged and gave Spock a half-smile. "Then I guess you do know what I'm talking about."
"Not exactly, Captain."
"Jim," he corrected.
"Not exactly, Jim. I am unfamiliar with the kind of friend to which you refer."
"You mean you've never heard of friends with benefits?" Jim raised one eyebrow in an unconscious mockery of the expression Spock commonly wore.
"No, I have not. What kind of benefits would you require?"
Spock paused, eyebrow slightly raised in question, waiting for Jim to elaborate, and when he didn't, responded, "I do not know; if I did, I would not be asking the question."
"Okay," Jim started, leaning forward across the table toward Spock, voice lowered conspiratorially. "You and I are friends, right?"
Although no surprise registered in his eyes, Spock's head tilted to the side, almost imperceptibly, and he paused before answering, "Yes."
"Well, what if we were to remain friends but also have...an arrangement."
Spock’s eyes narrowed. “What kind of arrangement?"
Jim let out a small chuckle – Spock never did make anything easy for him - and glanced around before continuing. "Come on, Spock, you know what I mean."
"I assure you that I do not, Jim, or I would refrain from asking you such questions."
"Okay then,” Jim’s mouth felt suddenly dry; he took a quick sip of his drink. “I'll spell it out for you."
"As I have generally no trouble in spelling Terran words, such a detailed elaboration will not be necessary."
Jim pursed his lips and paused for effect, sarcasm - whether Spock would detect it or not - in his voice. "Then I'll just explain, shall I?"
“Please do.” Spock’s facial expressions betrayed little but Jim could see his interest was piqued as he leaned, ever so slightly, forward in his seat and clasped his fingers around his drink. Jim, too, leaned in before continuing; voice hushed, errant smile playing on his lips. “Like I said, we’re two friends; single, sexually active, attracted to one another but not necessarily requiring a relationship in the traditional sense - basically, friends with an arrangement to have no-strings sex when they feel like it.”
Spock’s dark eyes seemed to sparkle and he raised a ponderous eyebrow as he considered this for a moment before speaking. “So, despite the nature of the relationship going beyond that of the traditional Platonic friendship, there is no requirement by either party for further emotional attachment than that which already exists.”
Jim’s grin remained in place as he brought his glass to his lips, draining it, allowing the last of the Tholian brandy to linger, warm on his tongue.
“It would indeed seem to proffer a logical solution to a problem invariably faced by unitary, sexually mature adults when on long-term away missions such as ours.” Spock’s expression remained even as he spoke but his eyes seemed alight with this new knowledge.
Jim swallowed and smiled at his First Officer – his friend. “Well, I’m glad you think so, Commander Spock.” He felt a sense of achievement at managing to teach the Vulcan something without his rationale being questioned. It was another first.
Spock sipped on his drink while regarding Jim intently. “I accept.”
“Come again?” The words had pulled Jim from his self-satisfied reverie. He felt he’d missed a beat.
“I accept your proposal that we become ‘friends with benefits’. It is indeed an arrangement that would be both practical and agreeable.”
“Practical and agreeable.” Jim repeated, slowly, still not sure Spock was saying what he seemed to be saying. How strong is this Tholian brandy? he thought, suddenly gripping his empty glass.
“Indeed.” Spock said calmly and finished his own surprising choice of drink - a bitter chocolate liqueur - as Jim sat dumbfounded before him. The Vulcan slowly laid a hand flat on the table between them and shifted a little in his seat. “May I get you another drink, Jim?”