Jim moped around in his quarters, feeling unaccountably glum. He still felt uneasy about leaving Cochrane alone with the Companion on that planetoid. He had found the whole incident challenging and disturbing, not least Bones’ confrontational attitude towards Jim.
A buzz sounded at his door.
Spock stood in the doorway, “Captain. I thought you might be interested in a game of chess?”
Jim frowned. “I’m not sure about chess, Spock, but would you join me for dinner?”
“Of course sir,” answered the Vulcan. “Here, or in the rec room?”
“Here, if you don’t mind. I’m not in the mood for socialising.”
Spock quietly ordered their dinners, and asked after they had sat down, “Jim, may I ask what is troubling you?”
“Oh, that whole thing about Cochrane.”
“What, about leaving him there?”
“Actually, no, Spock. They’ll be fine, and I bet once Nancy starts having children, which I’m guessing she will in about nine months, they’ll be screaming for contact with us again,” smiled Jim.
“What is troubling you then, Jim?”
Jim decided to jump in boots and all, “It was that whole thing about Cochrane rejecting the Companion when he found out it loved him, you know, the ‘alien mind crawling around inside him all those years.’” Jim did not look at his Vulcan friend, “Are we humans so… what was your expression… parochial?”
Spock thought carefully about what Jim was saying, and phrased his answer carefully, “Well, sir, you humans do tend to be a little… locked into your conventions.”
Jim tilted his head and looked quizzically at Spock, “To which conventions in particular do you refer, Spock?”
“All of them, Jim. In the case in point, i.e. Cochrane and the Companion, the conventions of species, gender, attachment, bonding…”
Jim was staring at Spock. Had he misread Spock’s attitudes for all these years? “So, what, for instance… would your attitude be on those issues?”
Spock looked puzzled, “In any situation, Jim, it is logical to cultivate multiple options.”
Jim was looking at Spock with an amazed look in his eyes, and the Vulcan thought he should probably elaborate, “After all, there is often a great difference between convention, and logic. How many times have we seen, in various alien cultures, conventions that defy all logic?”
“Well, a lot.” Jim was still looking at Spock with a speculative expression, and he asked, “So, Spock, what would you say some of our more… illogical human conventions are, in regard to these particular issues?”
“Oh,” smiled Spock, “Please don’t get me started, Jim.
Jim raised his hands, “Be my guest. I’m curious.” At the same time, he was smiling because he loved how Spock would now relax enough in his company to smile when they were alone together.
Spock began to tick off on his fingers, “Case in point… xenophobia… Mr Cochrane gave us a most convincing demonstration of that today. Secondly… well, I shall simply list them… racism, anthropomorphism, commitment phobia, homophobia, the Madonna-whore syndrome… in your species the list is practically endless... shall I go on?”
Jim chuckled and waved a hand at Spock… “No, I get it… but wait a minute, you said, ‘in your species’?”
“Yes. All of these irrational reactions are based in fear, therefore since fear is an emotion and emotions have been eliminated by my race, Vulcans do not suffer from any of the phobias I listed. That… would be illogical.”
Jim sat dumbfounded. It seemed so logical and simple when Spock said it like that.
“You have gone quiet.”
His Vulcan First Officer had just told him that homophobia and xenophobia were both illogical and unacceptable to Vulcans. Of course he had gone quiet. Jim tried another tack, “But Spock… some of those phobias were originally based in logic… for instance, xenophobia could be classed as a fear of invasion or disease… homophobia could be simply seen as a rejection of an illogical, sterile reproductive choice…”
Spock nodded, “Hmmm… but you have answered your own question… you said originally based in logic. For instance, our medical expertise now means that very few alien diseases are a significant threat to other races, and homosexuality is no longer inevitably accompanied by sterility.”
“So what do Vulcans….?” asked Jim faintly.
“Think of xenophobia and homophobia?” Spock smiled again, “And you ask your half-human, half alien, naturally sterile first officer that?”
Jim stared at Spock. He was lost for words.
The next day, after their shift ended and they stepped together into the turbolift, Jim grumbled at Spock, “You’ve been watching me all day.”
“I was analysing our conversation of last night, and I believe I may owe you an apology.”
“I assumed that your enquiries were purely hypothetical.”
Jim turned to Spock, curious, wondering what the opposite of hypothetical was, when he was nearly blown away when Spock reached out and touched Jim’s hand briefly, sending a shiver of response up Jim’s arm and asked simply, “Were they?”
Jim swallowed and could only just manage to shake his head slowly. He mouthed the word, “No,” but no sound came out. And he could not bring himself to look at his first officer at all.
Spock fell silent, watching him again. Just before the turbo-lift doors opened, Jim managed to mutter, “My quarters.” And this time Vulcan ears heard him, although human ones would not have, and Spock followed him to his quarters.
They entered, and Jim turned and said, “Privacy lock, level one.”
Spock watched Jim, took a step forward, and asked gently, “So, who is he?”
Jim groaned inwardly. Why was no single step of this process going to be easy? He stepped forward towards Spock, until they were nearly touching, and admitted, “A certain Vulcan Science Officer, if he’s interested.”
And then he saw the sort of smile that Spock was really capable of, and it surprised him.
Spock stepped forward shyly, until their chests were touching, and took one of Jim’s hands in both of his, and murmured softly, “Of course he’s interested. I would go so far as to say... fascinated.”