“What’s on your mind, Jim?”
Leave it to Bones, Jim thought, to know that something was eating him. Truth be told, Jim wasn’t even sure if he could pinpoint it himself, exactly.
He had stopped by sickbay because he and Bones were scheduled to have dinner in the mess together as they did just about every Monday. But really he didn’t feel much like it.
“Zarabeth,” he said, musingly.
“Is there a question there?”
Jim shrugged. “Maybe. Was she beautiful?”
“She was, absolutely.” Bones messed with one of the biobeds. “Give me a minute and I’ll be done.”
“Did she…did they…” Jim shook his head.
Bones glanced his way. “Are you asking me what I think you’re asking?”
Was he? Probably.
Bones rolled his eyes. “Yeah, she did, and they did.”
“So, um, Spock was really, he liked her, huh?”
“He did. But you gotta understand Jim, that was a different time for Spock. Back when they didn’t control their emotions the way they do now. We were back in ancient times.”
“He wanted to stay with her?”
“Yes, he did. But again, he wasn’t himself, not really, and the truth was, Zarabeth was already gone for our purposes. She would have been alive a long time ago.” Bones smiled slightly. “Gives you a headache if you think about it too much.”
Jim couldn’t deny he had a headache. And he wasn’t really sure why the whole thing bothered him so much. Because Spock could obviously be with whoever he wanted to be with.
“You know, Bones, think we can take a raincheck for tomorrow for dinner?”
Bones looked up from his scan. “Oh?”
Jim waved at his head. “That headache you spoke of.”
Bones nodded. “Sure thing. You okay? Other than the headache. You want something for it?”
“Nah, it’ll pass. See you later, Bones.”
Jim made his way to his quarters, pausing only briefly outside of Spock’s. He shook his head and moved on to his.
Few minutes into changing out of his uniform, he commed Spock.
“Feel like chess, Mr. Spock?’”
There was just the barest hesitation which had Jim wondering if he should have.
“Of course, Captain. The rec room?”
“How about my quarters? I’ve already got my uniform half off and I don’t feel like being too much on display. Say fifteen minutes?”
“Very well. Spock out.”
He got Spock tea and a glass of whiskey for himself and already had the chess board set up when Spock arrived, punctual, of course.
They were seated across from each other, Spock concentrating on the game, while Jim pretended to.
“Mr. Spock, mind if I ask you a personal question?”
Spock glance up at Jim, brow only slightly quirked. “You may ask.”
Jim laughed a little. “All right. Zarabeth.”
He spotted the tightening of Spock’s shoulders immediately.
“What about her?”
“Just…I don’t mean to pry. It’s just Bones said…”
“The doctor usually does not know when to keep things to himself.”
Jim smiled wryly. He couldn’t deny the truth of that.
“What did you wish to ask, Captain?”
He felt a little foolish now, but he’d already broached it.
“Do you…did you love her?”
“Vulcans do not feel love in the same way that Humans speak…”
“Yes,” Jim interrupted. “but, Spock, did you? Love her?”
For a moment, he thought Spock would not answer. And when he did, Jim thought, maybe, he hadn’t wanted Spock to answer.
“I’m sorry, Spock.” Jim looked down at his chess pieces. He made his move. “Checkmate.”