Everyone in the ready room was staring at the object tucked under the captain's arm, not only Spock. Therefore, Spock didn't have to ask the question himself - Mr. Scott did it for him. Though in rather different vernacular than Spock would have used, admittedly, and he already seemed to know the answer to half the question. "Beggin' yer pardon, captain, but... I take it ye're doin' well as always with the ladies, eh?"
"Oh? Ah, this." Kirk glanced down, as if he hadn't the faintest idea what would prompt Mr. Scott to ask such a thing, until he saw it again for himself. "Yes, this, well..."
"Well?" Sulu repeated with a grin, when Kirk failed to elaborate. "Who is she?"
"She is a woman I spent some time with many years ago," the captain stated flatly. "She happened to be assigned to the starbase we just departed, two weeks past - and she seems to have thought it appropriate to pass off a 'parting gift' of sorts, to be delivered on the appointed day by a yeoman within her confidence." With that, he set the somewhat, gaudy object in the center of the table and sat down. "Said yeoman apparently thought that accosting me in the halls, first thing in the morning, while on my way to this meeting, was a good idea. And thus..." He gestured, quietly exasperated, at the package, and tugged absently at the gauzy red ribbon binding it. "Have a seat, everyone. We have things to discuss besides overly persistent old flames - though yes, Uhura, I will send a transmission later to thank her for her thoughtfulness. A short, polite, business-like transmission."
"Ken I have one?" Chekov asked.
Dr. McCoy answered in the captain's place. "No candy before breakfast. And that goes especially for you," he added, pointing a finger at Kirk. "I know you - you won't eat breakfast if you start on that now."
"I had no intention," Kirk said, though his expression fell a little. "Anyhow. Getting down to business..."
The alpha shift duty meeting was short - only a formality this time, as they had only just received their new orders the evening before; they would be in transit for three days more, largely through documented portions of Federation space. There had been nothing unusual reported while they slept. All was perfectly normal - except for the package that sat in the center of the table, which seemed to make many of the officers smirk when they looked at it. Curious, Spock thought - it was, of course, quite silly in appearance, but not distractingly so.
When the meeting adjourned, and the room cleared out, Spock lingered behind, seeing that the captain had not yet stood, but rather sagged down in his chair, still regarding the center of the table. "You appear self-conscious," he observed. "And it would seem that it has something to do with that package."
Kirk grimaced. "It's just a little embarrassing, Mr. Spock, being the captain, and being seen walking around your ship with a pink, heart-shaped box of Valentine's Day candy. Even if the source had not been a bit... distressing."
Spock didn't quite understand the significance of it being pink, or the unusual shape, but one thing was obvious. "This woman from your past still has romantic feelings for you," he surmised, sitting back down in the chair beside Kirk. "And you do not return them."
"She was a nice enough girl, we had some fun back in the day," Kirk admitted, but turned his eyes up to Spock with a fond smile. "But 'nice enough' isn't good enough anymore." Spock met that fond smile with a knowing gaze of his own; there was a reason he had surmised, and not asked.
After a moment, Kirk broke off the eye contact, looking back down to the offending package. "Are you familiar with Valentine's Day?"
"A Terran holiday," Spock recited. "Originally named for multiple early Christian martyrs, eventually becoming a celebration of romance between lovers - though the connection between said martyrs and the celebration of romance is tenuous, and has largely been dismissed as folklore."
"Folklore or not, humans like having an opportunity to celebrate romance." The captain reached out to draw the package closer, began to untie the ribbon, and raised his eyes to Spock again. They held a mischievous twinkle. "Myself included."
"Naturally." If any human was inclined to celebrate romance, it was Jim, Spock thought.
"Then, Mr. Spock," Jim teased him, lifting the top off the box, "would you care to join me?"
Spock peered at the contents of the box. Small brown lumps, some drizzled with another color. This did not look like what he considered to be 'food'. "Dr. McCoy did not seem to approve of eating such things so early in the day."
"It's a holiday," Jim pointed out. "A holiday which Bones, unfortunately, hasn't had an opportunity to celebrate for a while. I suspect he's bitter."
Spock was unsure, and picked up the box for a moment to have a look at the nutritional information. "I would be inclined to agree that this is an unacceptable breakfast, Jim. The amount of saturated fat alone is-"
"Not going to hurt anyone unless they eat it for breakfast every day," Jim finished pre-emptively. "And if I have my way, I won't be eating these by myself."
He did, however, pluck one of the brown lumps from within the box, crumpling the paper it was nestled in as he popped into his mouth. "Mmm - unwelcome or otherwise, at least it's good chocolate. I should have expected as much from Amelia, she always had excellent taste," he mumbled around the mouthful of candy, and looked to Spock as he swallowed. "Go on, give it a try."
Terran foods had not generally done Spock any harm, despite their sometimes unusual flavors, so Spock debated only a moment before picking out one of the brown lumps himself and biting in. It was so unexpectedly sweet that Spock grimaced as it hit his tongue, but after the initial surprise, he found the flavor more complex than expected. Sweet, yes, but the richness came from more than just sugar. Behind the first wave of flavor, there was an earthier flavor, like some kind of tree nut...
"I think that's... a hazelnut truffle," Jim told him, looking over the inside of the box. "What do you think?"
Spock had only bitten off half, and now that he knew what to expect, he tried the other. "...It is intriguing," he said at last, after chewing and swallowing.
"Not bad?" Jim prompted.
"No... Not at all," Spock admitted.
"All right, then." Jim picked out another, regarding Spock with an eager grin. "Try this one next - it has strawberry filling. I seem to remember you liked strawberries...?"
"I did," Spock confirmed with a nod. Though it hadn't hurt that Jim had insisted they feed each other the strawberries by hand, which had led to some interesting results. That seemed to be Jim's idea this time as well, in fact, seeing as he was aiming the next brown lump towards Spock's mouth...
Spock frowned thoughtfully as he chewed. "That did not taste like strawberries," he observed.
"Didn't it?" Jim finished the other half himself. "No, it's strawberry."
"It is much sweeter than the strawberries to which I was introduced."
"That's because it's candy," Jim explained. "If you want something less sweet, this one is cappuccino flavored, so it should have a slightly more bitter taste..." He bit off half and nodded appreciatively, holding the rest towards Spock. "Yes, try this..."
Each one had a slightly different set of flavors - some more appealing than others, but all quite good, Spock thought. He found himself fascinated. And a bit disappointed when Jim sighed and started to put the top back on the box. "I suppose if I don't show up at the mess hall, Bones will know what we've been up to."
This was, for some reason, puzzling to Spock. Possibly because usually when he or Jim were feeding each other by hand, they were up to something other than eating unhealthy foods. "We haven't been up to anything," he pointed out. Then, after a pause, he couldn't resist giving Jim a look. "...Yet."
A grin spread across Jim's face. It was endearing. Adorable. It actually seemed to be making him light-headed. "No time for that," Jim told him, pushing the chair back to stand. "We're due on the bridge shortly. I'll see you in half an hour?"
"Half an hour," Spock repeated. "Yes."
Jim was looking down at him, still grinning. "...Well? You weren't intending to just sit here alone and finish off our Valentine's Day feast without me, were you?"
Spock was surprised to realize that he was still seated. He shook his head. "I don't believe that I could."
"All right..." Jim leaned down, kissed him lightly on the lips. "Anyway, I'll see you on the bridge."
Spock nodded absently as Jim left. His kiss tasted like chocolate...
...Just one more, he told himself, lifting the top of the box again.
Spock was never even one minute late, let alone ten.
Jim drummed his fingers on the arm of the captain's chair. He'd already told the science officer who had been on duty through the overnight to go get some rest; there was nothing going on that required a science officer on the bridge when Chekov was already there running navigation, and the course he'd laid in wouldn't need adjusting for some time. Spock's tardiness wasn't doing any harm, but it was unusual.
Jim reviewed the standard daily updates from Starfleet. He reviewed the two ship-to-ship transmissions they'd received in the last few hours. He listened to the steady beep of the sensors.
Everyone on the bridge had been glancing over their shoulders towards the turbolift ever since the shift change, and Jim decided it would be no big disruption to simply ask what they were all already asking. "Computer - what is the current location of Mr. Spock, if you please."
"Commander Spock - currently in turbolift - proceeding to bridge."
"Well then. Good." Jim nodded his satisfaction to the bridge crew, who had been regarding him with curiosity. "As expected, nothing seriously wrong. Carry on."
Everyone turned back to their stations, and shortly thereafter, Jim heard the sound of the turbolift doors sliding open. Being involved with the man didn't mean he was going to go easy on him when it came to their jobs, and Jim turned to look over his shoulder. "Did you lose track of the..."
His teasing question trailed off as he got a good look at Spock. Spock's step out of the turbolift was slow and wary, one hand steadying himself on the wall. His hair was mussed, and... was his shirt on backwards? "Spock, are you all right?"
"Perfectly fine, captain." Spock nodded slowly, with certainty. "I am ready for duty."
Jim peered at him. Yes, his shirt was definitely on backwards, and...
"Spock, you can stop nodding now. I got you the first time."
He stopped nodding. And then he nodded again, just once. "Yes, Jim."
"Spock," Jim pointed out. "We're on the bridge." Spock never called him 'Jim' on the bridge.
Spock glanced around. "Yes. Yes, we are. Chekov," he said more loudly, addressing the ensign. "You may resume your navistation... gation... station."
"...Yessir," Chekov replied, with a questioning glance at Jim, who shrugged. Spock promptly turned and almost tripped over Uhura, murmuring an apology before he managed to point himself in the right direction. Chekov didn't look as if he wanted to relinquish the science station to Spock, but after another glance at the captain, he reluctantly returned to his own seat.
Jim did not do the same, but got to his feet to follow Spock, who was already bent over the sensors - and holding onto the console to keep himself upright, from the looks of things. It took him a moment to even notice Jim standing behind him, and when he did, he merely raised an eyebrow. "...Spock," Jim began, as Spock started to stand, "is, ah, something going on that I should know about?"
Looking at Spock up close, there was a greenish flush to his cheeks, a brightness in his eyes, but he didn't seem ill - in fact, a smile spread across his face as Jim studied it. Instead of answering, Spock reached up with one hand, running his fingers back through Jim's hair fondly. That smile was... adorable, Jim had to admit, and he didn't want it to disappear, but for Spock to smile at all, much less in front of everyone on the bridge, to play with his hair? It was unheard of, and therefore he had to question it. "What's going on?"
The smile faded, but when Spock replied, it didn't give him much of an answer. "Your hair is out of place," he murmured, reaching up again to try to brush it back into place. "Right here."
It didn't seem to be doing much good, judging from the way Spock kept brushing at that one lock of hair in front, and finally Jim reached up to catch his hand. "Spock?" he inquired. "What's wrong with you? You were fine an hour ago at the duty meeting."
"I am still fine," Spock replied. "Your hair is not."
Jim gave Spock a look, and shot it over his shoulder as well, in case any of his crew thought that was funny; Uhura sure looked like she was hiding a smile. Spock swayed slightly. "...I am... a bit warm," he admitted, tugging at his collar. Which rode up too high, as his shirt was on backwards. "And I find that I am somewhat dizzy, and having trouble... concentrating. But it should not prevent me from..." Suddenly there was a mild tension visible in his eyes. "Jim, I do not understand."
"Take it easy," Jim murmured, growing worried. He knew how uncomfortable Spock was when he couldn't find an answer for something. "What don't you understand?"
"You said that the box was heart-shaped, and yet I know of no being whose heart has such a shape as that. A sharp point within the cardiovascular system, in particular, is hightly unusual."
"Upon what being is this 'heart shape' based? Or do humans know so little of their own anatomy? Dr. McCoy has performed heart surgery; it would seem that any surgeon could set the record straight." He hesitated, then hiccuped.
Jim just stared. If he didn't know better... But Vulcans weren't affected by alcohol as humans were, and Spock would never have drunk alcohol right before a shift even if they were.
Jim pressed the back of his hand against Spock's temple. He didn't seem any warmer than usual, but even so... "You know, I believe that's exactly what we should do right now," he told Spock, taking firmer hold of the hand he already held and tugging him towards the turbolift. "Chekov, you take Spock's station again-"
"-and... Spock, stop that," Jim warned him in a lower voice, stopping as Spock stumbled, falling practically into his arms. He hadn't meant to be caressing Spock's fingers, just holding his hand, but Spock had been clumsily caressing his hand in return, and Jim knew that look in his eyes.
"Jim," Spock murmured, as Jim tried to steady him, "you are..."
"Spock," Jim tried to warn him again, but it was too late - Spock was kissing him, right there on the bridge. He tried not to encourage Spock by kissing back, but Spock was... unusually enthusiastic. And what was he going to do, push Spock away?
He did, eventually, manage to turn his head, forcing them apart. When he looked back, hands on Spock's shoulders to keep them apart if necessary, Spock frowned. "You do not taste like chocolate anymore," he said, somewhat disapproving.
"...Sulu, you have the conn," Jim finished at last, turning Spock by the shoulders and steering him into the turbolift.
"Aye, Captain." Sulu kept his eyes forward, but Jim could hear the laughter in his voice anyhow. He sighed.
Spock was so disoriented - or perhaps just uncooperative - that it was an effort to get him into sickbay. He kept insisting that it was not his quarters. Which it wasn't, so Jim could hardly argue with that, but the volume of Spock's insistence prompted Bones to come out into the corridor and see what all the commotion was about anyway. At least Spock's logic was so deeply ingrained that when they got him to admit he felt dizzy and confused, he understood why they wanted to run some tests on him. And in the meantime, they could ask him some questions. Not that it did any good, since all he could remember doing between leaving the ready room and reporting to the bridge was taking a shower, because he had been uncomfortably warm.
"In fact, I am still uncomfortably warm," he added from his seat on the biobed, tugging at his collar again, fumbling with it. Jim took pity on him and helped him get his shirt off - it was on backwards anyhow - which resulted then in a bare-to-the-waist Spock embracing him, nuzzling against his neck. Jim could only be relieved that Bones was already aware of his and Spock's relationship, and that Nurse Chapel was nowhere in sight.
Completely unimpressed by the sight of Spock acting affectionate and snuggly, Bones was busy looking at the readings from his instruments. The look on his face was not the usual annoyance he reserved for the utterly meaningless readings he normally got from Spock, but rather complete disbelief. "Well, that's unexpected."
"Is there anything about this that's not unexpected?" Jim asked over his shoulder, still somewhat trapped by a cuddly half-Vulcan, who had by this time wrapped his legs around Jim too. Jim would have found this very enjoyable, if it wasn't so confusing.
Bones ignored him. "According to this, he's drunk, Jim."
"Spock doesn't drink," Jim pointed out.
"Yeah, and he hasn't been drinking," Bones explained. "But he's apparently ingested a large amount of refined sugar. More accurately, you could say he's on a severe sugar high."
Jim felt his heart sink, even though Spock was, quite pleasantly, nibbling on his neck.
"You know how Vulcans don't normally eat a lot of processed foods or sweets, right?" Bones reminded him. "Well, I don't know whether that's the cause or the effect, but it looks as though there's something about the way their body metabolizes sucrose - it essentially ferments as it's being processed into the bloodstream, and..." He shrugged dramatically. "You get the idea."
"Yes," Jim agreed. "I believe I do." Oops.
"Nothing much I can do about it, any more than if a human was to drink too much," Bones told him. "Just let it pass normally, don't worry too much unless he gets sick or something - and hope Vulcans aren't so crabby as humans when they've got hangovers, because I bet he's gonna have a doozy."
Jim nodded, hoping he didn't look too obviously guilty. Unfortunately, 'logic' would dictate that there was exactly one person responsible for Spock's condition - and Spock would be able to deduce that easily enough.
Apparently, so could Bones. "Funny thing is," he said, crossing his arms, "there's not a lot of things aboard the Enterprise that contain large amounts of sugar - even the replicators tend to use healthier methods for synthesizing desserts." He aimed a meaningful look at Jim. "In fact, there's only one place I've seen sugary sweets lately..."
"Thanks for the diagnosis, doctor," Jim said simply, untangling himself from Spock's limbs and reaching for his shirt. "I think I'll give Spock the day off - let him hole up in his quarters until it passes."
Jim froze, Spock leaning heavily against his shoulders. He had a feeling he was going to be prescribed those dietary salads for another month for this...
Instead, Bones grinned, almost sheepishly. "I'd recommend you take the day off too. Someone should keep an eye on him, nurse him through it if it gets bad. Besides, well... even if I personally hate the day and everything it stands for, you two might as well get something out of it. Besides one of you getting a gift from someone you didn't want a gift from, and the other getting... well, this, because of it."
Jim's eyes widened slightly. So Bones thought he'd just passed that chocolate along...
"I think you're right," Jim agreed. "I'll take good care of him, Bones." He had the feeling he'd just dodged a bullet.
"Just put a shirt on him before you go back out there," Bones advised him. "No one except you, and maybe Christine, wants to see that."
It was much easier to get Spock to his quarters than it had been to get him to sickbay, and thank goodness - now that the day had begun in earnest, there were crew all over the halls, and the sight of the captain lurching along with the normally steady first officer hanging off his shoulder was attracting a lot of funny looks. At least Spock's shirt was on properly this time, and he had stopped rambling about how hot he was and how badly he wanted it off again. Jim was positive that would have made things worse.
But instead, Spock had turned his thoughts to the other thing he'd been preoccupied with. "We must return to sickbay," he said abruptly, just as Jim was settling him on his bed.
"Why do we need to return to sickbay?" Jim asked. "Are you feeling sick?" Spock didn't appear to be feeling any worse - he was even sitting up mostly straight despite his slightly confused expression.
"I never asked the doctor... what creature's heart is shaped like that box."
Jim couldn't help but laugh. "Spock, don't worry about it. The shape is symbolic. Just like Valentine's Day being named for people who have very little verifiable connection to the promotion of romance. For that matter, you know better than anyone that love doesn't come from the heart - it's all in the head."
Spock nodded solemnly, thoughtfully. "And particular glands."
"Yes, those too," Jim agreed, smiling down at him fondly. Spock's pedantry had always been endearing somehow. Seeing him dwelling on it now, while thoroughly intoxicated, was especially so. "And did you know - one of the reasons people traditionally give each other chocolate on Valentine's Day is because there are chemicals in chocolate that stimulate the release of certain chemicals in the brain, which can make people feel as if they're in love."
Spock considered. "So... the traditional gifting of chocolate is less a gift of gratitude for love, than an attempt at manipulating the emotions of another."
Jim grimaced, thinking of Amelia. "Only in some cases." He settled down on the bed next to Spock, helping him unfasten his shirt. "People also give chocolate to those who they know are already in love with them - just because it tastes good."
"It does taste good," Spock agreed, flopping down on his back on the bed with a comfortable groan once the shirt was off. "I might be willing to adopt this tradition."
"Maybe..." Jim helped Spock get his feet up, and started removing his boots. "But if I give you chocolates again, it's going to be with very strict limits on daily consumption, mister. I can't go giving you every Valentine's Day off, or the crew will complain."
"Perhaps I will give you chocolates," Spock murmured drowsily. "And merely taste them when I kiss you."
Jim nodded, reaching up to squeeze his hand. "I approve of this plan of yours... Just - please, Spock. If you give me chocolates, don't offer them in a gaudy pink and red box in front of my crew."
It turned out to be a moot point; after the headache Spock woke up with late that evening, he requested that Jim never bring chocolate into his presence again.