It was not normal for Jim’s first officer to hide in the labs after his shift, but that was where Jim found him.
They were supposed to be playing chess or Jim thought they were. He recalled some kind of promise to play chess a few days after the Crew Holiday Party and that was this day. Granted things were a it fuzzy from that time, but he didn’t think that fuzzy, so when Spock didn’t show, Jim went looking for him.
Spock was sitting before a bunch of test tube looking things and because he didn’t seem to know Jim was there, he was allowing himself to frown very slightly.
Earlier that day they’d returned from a difficult landing party mission and someone Spock had been quite friendly with had been killed. Jim was aware there were those who didn’t think Spock had any friends, present company exempted of course, because everyone knew of their friendship, and Spock still maintained a sort of friendship with Uhura.
It hadn’t occurred to Jim at the time, even though he knew Spock was friends with Martinez, that Spock was upset. Sometimes Jim could be a little too obtuse. Now as he observed Spock, he realized just how upset Spock must be.
“Hey,” he said softly from the doorway.
Spock looked up, startled, his expression going instantly blank. “Captain. I apologize. Was there something you needed?”
Jim hesitated, but then said, “I might have gotten my days mixed up, but I thought this was the day we mentioned playing chess when we talked at the holiday party.”
“I had…forgotten. May we reschedule?”
“Sure, Spock. No problem.
And he supposed he should turn around and leave Spock alone, but instead he drew closer to where his science officer sat. Since he’d met Spock he’d seen Uhura hug him several times. Spock never initiated the hugs as far as he could tell.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Did you…did you ever hug your mother?”
Spock seemed surprised by the question, but he finally said, softly, more a whisper, “She hugged me on a few occasions.”
“But you didn’t embrace her first?”
Jim nodded. “I never did with my mother either. Pretty much I never hug anyone first.” He shook his head. “I might have done a sort of manly pat hug with Bones a time or two.”
“Manly pat hug?”
Jim smiled. “Yeah, you know. Anyway, uh, look. I’m really sorry about Martinez. I know you two were friends and I should have thought of that before.”
“I appreciate your consideration now, Captain.”
“So, is it okay, then, if I give you a commiserating hug?” Jim was embarrassed the moment he said it. He knew he was ridiculously red because of it. And he fully expected Spock would say, “Oh, no, Captain, keep your hugs to yourself.”
So yeah, when Spock stood up from the stool he was perched on and opened his arms, Jim was so startled he almost flubbed it.
Instead he went into Spock’s arms and wrapped his arms around the Vulcan just as Spock wrapped his around Jim.
He wasn’t sure who was hugging who and somehow it didn’t at all matter as they stood holding each other for a long time. Minutes for sure.
And then as Jim finally figured he should pull away and as he did so, Spock surprised him with, “Perhaps a chess game with you is just what I need, Captain.”
“Yes. I will come to your quarters shortly.”
Jim smiled nodded and squeezed Spock’s shoulder, then left the lab, feeling better than he had in a long time. He had needed that hug as much as Spock did.