Spock has never explained to either Leonard or Jim that kissing his hand is highly inappropriate. He pays for this oversight when they’re attending a council debate between Tellarites and Andorians that is mediated by the Vulcans. Jim and Leonard both think they’re being quite chivalrous when they teasingly pluck up Spock’s hands at the social gathering directly after the debate and kiss his hands in unison like any good gentlemen who are a’courting. But several Vulcans drop their drinks in shock; Sarek leaps to his son’s side in defense of Spock’s honor, for it is quite the scandal to have an unmated Vulcan propositioned so vulgarly. Sarek is clearly furious as he reprimands these rude humans for attempting to sully his son’s reputation. Jim and Leonard just stand there in shock until Spock, with a not-quite sigh, explains to his father that he is hardly offended by the actions of his husbands. To say the least, a lot of explaining has to be done to calm everyone at that party down.
As head of the staff, Leonard turns a blind eye to gossip mostly because it helps him and his team stay apprised of any situations that might require Medical’s intervention. For example, by knowing where most of Engineering spent their shore leave (and knowing what they were up to there) leads to a quick diagnosis of the stomach sickness the entire department comes down with shortly thereafter. When Leonard sees a young Lieutenant moping in a corridor, he knows it’s because that person just ended a three-year long-distance relationship, so McCoy is able to surreptitiously give the fellow a pep talk without seeming like he’s prying into the man’s affairs. It is knowing the little details about a patient that leads to better care, McCoy firmly believes, and so he doesn’t step in when the gossip mill is churning away.
Until, that is, the gossip mill is about him.
And apparently the rumors have been going around for some time, and it’s because of his clever doctors and nurses that Leonard didn’t hear about any of it in passing before now.
He storms into his captain’s quarters, demanding to know if the rumors are true.
Jim, half in and half out of his everyday tunic, is quite confused. He questions right back what is it that could be possibly true?
“We’re having a dinner date tonight!”
Jim looks startled – and intrigued. “We are?”
“You, me, and Spock!” Leonard cries more loudly, flapping his arms as though his voice alone isn’t emphasis enough of the sheer ludicrousness of the concept.
“Oh,” Jim replies, his intrigue turning to thoughtful consideration followed by a slow, pleased smile. “Well, are we?”
That is when Leonard realizes not only is his staff great at listening to the gossip mill, they’re better at creating it. The previously clueless Kirk now has a seed of an idea planted in his head that Leonard doubts he’ll give up.
“I’ll be damned,” the doctor says with a shake of his head.
“I hope not,” his captain replies. “In fact, I was hoping you would say yes.”
“Yes,” McCoy repeats obediently. Then he flushes and turns for the door, exiting swiftly even as he calls back to the man now hurrying to fix his shirt into place, “Oh-nineteen hundred is good. See you then.”
“Excellent!” Kirk calls back, cheerful as ever. “I’ll fetch Spock.”
Party of Three
Jim receives an invitation to a dinner party hosted by an Admiral who is notorious for giving people shit if they don’t attend. He is extremely tempted to blow off the event but another captain he trusts has warned him that with performance reviews coming up now is not the time to be on said Admiral’s shit list. Jim thinks about that and decides there has to be a better way… a way to make the Admiral disinclined to invite him to these tedious dinner parties altogether. That’s when he notices the “plus one” on the invitation. An idea strikes.
Skip to a day and a half later and Jim is waiting outside the private home of party’s host. People he knows—and some he doesn’t—are arriving, dates in tow, both of them dressed up. Jim, wearing his formal Starfleet uniform, rocks back and forth on his heels, whistling. The arrivals give him odd looks as they pass by.
Precisely on time, a hover car arrives and deposits Spock in front of the house. Jim grins and waves him over. Spock greets him with “Hello, Captain. I received your urgent message.” His voice is a tad puzzled. “However I am not certain why it correlates that you desired me to spend extra time to ‘dress up’, per your request, if this situation required my immediate attention.”
“Yeah,” Jim says, still grinning, “about that… Wait a minute, and I’ll explain.”
Spock lifts an eyebrow but otherwise obeys.
Ten minutes later, a hover taxi barely has time to come to a stop before the door pops open and a man jumps out, looking flushed and in a hurry.
Both of Spock’s eyebrows reach his hairline.
“Bones, over here!” Jim calls.
McCoy hurries their way, demanding, “Jim, what’s going on?” as he reaches them. His dress uniform is slightly askew like he had shoved his limbs into it during the taxi ride.
Without surprise, Jim watches the man jerk a small tricorder out of a side pocket and immediately start scanning him. When McCoy waves the tricorder over Spock too, Spock comments, “Doctor, I would hazard to say we are in perfect health.”
“Then what’s the damned emergency?” Leonard barks back, clenching the medical device hard in one hand. “Jim! Your message made it sound like life or death. My god, I imagined the worst…”
“Bones, I said it was urgent, not dire.”
Jim doesn’t have time to calm his friend down, but maybe that will be in his favor. The three of them are the only ones left standing outside the house. As he explains about the dinner party, the infamous Admiral, and his obvious need for a plus one, both Spock and McCoy go from confused to disturbed to downright incredulous.
“Jim,” Spock begins at the same time Leonard says, “Well why’d you call me if you wanted to bring Spock?”
“You will know in due time, gentlemen. Follow me.”
Inside the house, the Admiral’s wife crows over Jim’s arrival but then turns in confusion to the two men standing behind him.
“Commander S’chn T’gai Spock, and Dr. Leonard McCoy,” Jim introduces his dates.
“Oh,” she murmurs. “A pleasure to meet you both.”
As if on cue her husband spots Jim and comes over, saying like he is simply making a joke instead of chastising Jim, “You’re late, Kirk!” Then he too frowns at Spock and McCoy flanking the captain. “What’s this?”
“Well you see,” Jim states good-naturedly, “I had a tiny issue with your invitation.”
The Admiral’s frown deepens. Others standing nearby, drinks in their hands or simply in the midst of socializing, peer in that direction.
“‘Plus one’ is just so old-fashioned, don’t you think?” He links one arm through Spock’s, startling the Vulcan, and then his other arm through one of McCoy’s, who just looks at him like he knows Jim is up to no good. “What about those of us with multiple partners? How could I offend them by bringing one and not the other?”
The wife places a hand on her husband’s arm. “Oh dear, we did not consider that.”
The Admiral puffs up. “Kirk, if you’re insinuating that my wife and I are prejudiced against—”
“No, sir,” Leonard interjects quickly. “That’s not it at all. Jim’s just…”
Jim looks at McCoy fondly. “Yes, Bones?”
Leonard purses his mouth. “…the kind of partner who plays fair.”
“I see,” the Admiral says at greater length. He has noticed others are watching his reactions intently. “Well… my apologies, Captain Kirk. Your partners, however many there may be, are welcome in my home.”
“Excellent,” Jim replies, dragging his dates toward the bar area. “We’ll make ourselves comfortable.”
The Admiral looks pained as their little group pushes through the crowd of people.
Spock speaks up when they reach the living area with the built-in bar, his brows drawn together. “Jim, I require your explanation.”
“I didn’t lie back there, Spock. I had a ‘plus one’ and I couldn’t pick between you or McCoy, so I invited you both.”
“Uh-huh,” says Leonard. “And what about the part where you just made our nonexistent ‘relationship’ the hot topic of this party? You realize half of Starfleet’s brass is here tonight. Shit’s going to hit the fan later on, kid.”
Jim smiles. “Then I guess we should make that shit worth it.”
Leonard sighs. “Why am I not surprised?”
Spock cocks his head. “Are you suggesting we date as a triad?”
“Why deny the logical course of action?” Jim couldn’t be more pleased with himself. “What do you think… I had a great plan, right?”
“Give me a drink,” McCoy announces, turning to face the bar and a row of opened liquor bottles.
“I second that,” the Vulcan intones dryly.
Across the room, the host continues to eye Kirk and his group warily, like he is expecting something even more controversial to happen tonight than a starship captain dating his senior officers. Jim salutes the man as well as winks, then turns slightly to catch the eye of his captain friend who told him he needed to come. He indicates the presence of his two ‘plus ones’ to her, and she just shakes her head.
Trust Jim Kirk, she seems to be saying, to liven up a party.
Jim has a difficult time accepting that he cannot officially announce his relationship with Spock and Leonard. The other two say they are okay with it and, Jim, don’t get yourself kicked outta Starfleet on our account, but Jim is just NOT. HAPPY. Therefore he starts his campaign on the sly by dropping little hints via the social intra-web aboard the Enterprise, blasé remarks like “dinner with the bfs tonight… correction, BFFs” and “the indigenous race from P’nax had the right idea, multiple partners only way to go”. Jim isn’t being followed by the entire crew of the Enterprise because he is their captain; no, he’s so popular because everyone can’t wait for the not-so-subtle comment he will communicate next, and they start taking bets on how long before Kirk just cracks, says fuck regulations, and posts a picture of himself waking up next to a Vulcan and a snoring doctor. Leonard tries futilely to make Jim stop, and Spock only requests that Jim use his spelling checker first. Little do the three of them know that the personnel on Earth assigned to monitor the social feeds of the Enterprise is actually reposting Captain Kirk’s comments to a public Federation social site at large. This creates a movement of “Let Superiors Date Their Subordinates”. It isn’t until the Enterprise returns to Earth at the end of the year that they are notified the ban on dating aboard the ship has been lifted, and Jim – Jim is the savior of starship captains everywhere (the movement has even spread to the Klingon Empire). First thing Jim does is go on record stating, “I am in love with my CMO, Dr. Leonard McCoy, and my First Officer, Spock of Vulcan.” (McCoy complains later that he could have just said dating.) Then he declares, “I’m going to marry them right now! Find me an officiator!” And that’s how the story ends, with Jim winning the galaxy over with his love of his boyfriends and a flabbergasted Leonard and hardly surprised Spock being bonded to him in front of the Command members who didn’t want him breaking the rules to begin with.
Attractive Mates Make for Trouble
Imagine that Spock has not considered what it really means to have two attractive males as his significant others. At first he sees no reason to worry that Jim continually returns from away missions with his clothing torn and chest often bared (other than, of course, to confirm that Jim is in fact not in need of medical attention). He sees no reason to forbid Leonard from leaving his quarters with disheveled hair and a honey-warm drawl because he’s just spent a few hours napping in Spock’s arms. When it’s time to break out the formal wear because of an upcoming conference, why should Spock think twice that Kirk’s pants are snug in all the right places and Leonard’s jacket accentuates how nicely proportioned he is from shoulders to waist? As a Vulcan, it simply does not compute to concern one’s self with such matters.
Until, that is, Spock comes to understand the frequency with which some officer or another compliments Kirk, McCoy, or both. Some men and women even state explicitly while standing right next to Spock what lovely specimens the men are. In the beginning, he does not find this alarming but mostly pleasing that others also recognize beauty in that which he finds beautiful. He can only surmise later on that his lack of response often led these people to believe that it would be harmless for them to approach his mates and express their interest. Of course, when such things occurred, Spock discovers, neither Jim nor Leonard were inclined to mention it to him; and it isn’t until Spock happens to be within earshot of a man of sufficiently high rank trying to convince both Kirk and McCoy into joining him for after-dinner drinks in his private quarters that Spock discerns what is afoot. He interrupts the individual to collect his mates and escort them to the other side of the room without even acknowledging the presence of the would-be rival. “That was rude,” McCoy tells him, but Spock is more interested in scanning the remaining crowd to discern if that rival was a fluke or not.
Eventually it becomes apparent to him that he has missed a step in his education of “finding and retaining the affections of the ones which are desirable for mating.” Vulcans are careful not to disturb the relationships of other Vulcans. It is considered futile, not to mention crass, to express interest in another’s bondmate. But Jim and Leonard are not Vulcan, interact with many other non-Vulcans on a daily basis and are, he comes to realize, attracting the attention of several individuals if Spock’s subtle assessment of the un-shielded minds around him is indeed accurate. By doing nothing to make his place at their sides apparent he has left his chosen mates essentially unclaimed.
“There is an urgent matter to be resolved,” he explains to Kirk and McCoy. “We must leave now.”
The three of them do, creating a mental wave of sadness from a great many of the conference attendees that the pretty officers are being taken away. Thereafter Spock enacts a plan to become more vigilant in protecting what is his, following the advice of his father on several points: an attractive human-mate cannot be unaccompanied at a social gathering; an attractive human-mate who is garbed in a manner to arouse should be asked to wear a covering until such time the covering can be removed for private viewing; an attractive human-mate will naturally draw attention at any given time and therefore should be coached in the subtle methods of dissuading other suitors, such as ‘I am bonded to a strong and capable Vulcan who is nearby’ or ‘your attentions would not be appreciated by my strong and capable Vulcan who is nearby’.
“If these methods fail,” Sarek advises his son, “then you may think to request that your human-mates take care to appear unattractive in your absence, which logically should resolve the issue most effectively. I… attempted this method with your mother only once.”
“And the result?” Spock queries.
Sarek answers grimly, “One which should not be repeated by anyone who wishes to remain married.”
“Then what can be done, Father?”
The not-quite resignation in Sarek’s eyes is tempered by the humor of a pleasant memory. “As Amanda would say, admit your jealousy, my son, and let your humans take pity on you.”
“I see. I will take this course of action under consideration.”
And Spock does, the end result of which is a laughing Leonard and a grinning Jim and a night spent listening to them tease him about a proclivity Vulcans should not admit to. But afterwards Spock is pleasantly surprised to find that Jim and Leonard do care about setting his mind at ease, and the first time he witnesses Kirk cutting off a flirtatious ambassador he has a feeling that can only be described as pride. Then a sheepish Leonard shows up at his shoulder and says, “We might have a problem. That admiral over there,” and here he points to a hunched-over man surrounded by a circle of wide-eyed crowd-goers, “just got clocked in the nose. I told him I had a Vulcan nearby like you said and he laughed at me.”
Spock raises an eyebrow in the direction of the fool, then praises his mate, “You did well. Please remain here with Jim. I shall only be a moment.”
By the end of his chat with the admiral in which he explains how unfortunate professionally and personally it will become for the man to have ignored the warning given to him, he is secure in the knowledge that there will be fewer incidents of this nature going forward.
Kirk and McCoy rejoin Spock, and they spend the remainder of their evening quite undisturbed by the masses. As suspected by Spock, what is attractive about Kirk and McCoy individually and collectively has become slightly less attractive in the face of their commitment – and Spock’s – to a singular relationship of three.
On the day Leonard McCoy retires, he is more nervous than happy. Jim watches him fondly from the audience of the official ceremony, Spock maintaining a dignified presence at Jim’s side like usual. The Surgeon General at the podium talks about all the great work Leonard has done throughout his career, from the saving of countless lives to the advances in medical theory accredited to him to the many doctors, staff, and scientists who as of that moment are lamenting Leonard’s retirement from their community. The man continues to detail how Leonard’s work will be the inspiration for generations to come, at which point Leonard can only bob his head along dumbly and pray he doesn’t embarrass himself completely when it is time to give his goodbye speech.
At long last, the Surgeon General introduces Leonard and welcomes him to the podium to say a few words. Leonard briefly ponders saying a simple “Thanks” but as he looks across the sea of faces (and the cameras of the stations televising the event across the galaxy, oh geez) he knows his heart wants to say a little more and so he does.
“I could spend all day up here listing the folks I’m grateful to. That’s what it means to be a part of Starfleet and our Federation… your accomplishments aren’t made alone.” He pauses before going on. “I’ll just tell y’all this: your potential to help others is best realized when you have someone to help you. Without the support I had from staff, crewmates, colleagues and friends, I doubt you’d see half the list of achievements they put in that brochure for you to read.” The crowd chuckles. Leonard ducks his head a little and fixes his sparkling blue eyes on the men in the front row. “I’ll just add too that it helps if you’re dating your ship’s captain and first officer at the time.” Laughter now. “On that score, I’d be remiss not to mention my two best reasons for being up here today and the very same reasons I need to retire these old bones – Admiral James T. Kirk and Cpt. S’chn T’gai Spock. They swore up and down they weren’t going to embarrass me today but I made no such promise. Give them a hand!” He claps, to which he faintly hears Jim groaning, “Bones,” and Spock pretending that he isn’t dismayed by the sudden attention and cheering.
“I think you forgot to list my best accomplishment,” Leonard whispers not so quietly to the Surgeon General, basically for everyone to hear. “Came right at the tail end of my career too: sweet-talking two of Starfleet’s most decorated officers into matrimony.” As the Surgeon General looks confused, Jim sucks in a breath and Spock raises both of his eyebrows, Leonard stares down at his long-time partners and says, “One of you’s always reminding me there is no better time than the present… So what do you say? Can we finally get hitched now that I’m a free man?”
Shouts of encouragement, catcalls, fierce clapping – all of it fades to the background as Leonard, smiling, watches Jim and Spock exchange a glance before standing up together, their acceptance though unspoken already plain to see.
It’s the Surgeon General who is shaking his head, but he – nor anyone else sitting on the stage – looks particularly surprised that a retirement ceremony for one could so easily turn into an engagement party for three. After all Kirk, Spock, and McCoy have never played by anyone else’s rules but their own; but that too is why there has always been cause to celebrate the partnership of these three men.
In the end, the man cannot help but join in, clapping for a union of the ages.