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As the subject line implies, lots of randomness and probably-abandoned WIPS, because it is easier than trying to work on my other projects right now. Blurgh.



Ariadne has no idea how the conversation began or where it's going to go, but it ends with Dom saying to her:

"What, are you kidding me? Eames is terrible at being single."

Which makes absolutely no sense until three days later.

They'd all scattered for ages — fourteen months, two weeks, four days, twenty hours, by Ariadne's count — after inception, waiting to see if what they'd planted had germinated. The first people familiar story about the break-up of Fischer Morrow had landed on the A1 column on the Wall Street Journal four months after they'd split at LAX, and Ariadne had locked herself in the bathroom to shake and marvel at the huge and terrible knowledge of what they could do. It would be another four months before Yusuf called, asking was she interested in some freelance work. Another six after that before she ran into Dom over a model fairly heaving with Arthur's favorite paradoxes, his smile entire Revlon shades of blond brighter.

"Weird," she'd said. "I thought Arthur would crack first."

Dom had only raised an eyebrow. "Arthur was out of the game long ago."

"He seemed pretty in the game during the job," Ariadne said, trailing her shitty fries through mayo and watching Dom stare at it in revulsion. Her crush on him had faded by degrees, and now mostly she thought she was happy he could be happy.

"He was in the game for me," Dom had said, distracted.

It's another three jobs and months before everybody ends up crossing paths again, and probably it's fate that it's Saito who sparks everything again, asking for a baker's dozen of potential CEO successors to be properly militarized.

When they get to the more or less anonymous warehouse space somewhere in Bethnal Green in London, it turns out they'll be working out of one of Eames's many whimsical real estate acquisitions. He's already there when she tumbles out of the black cab and he has a cup of beautifully steeped tea and a continental kiss waiting for her when she staggers in out of the October drizzle.

"Where's Arthur?" she asks, later, when they're eating takeaway curry and flipping idly through the dossiers Saito had sent over.

"Japan," Eames says shortly, like a shot, and without elaboration.

Ariadne should have recognized that as the first sign, but she just figured they were being assholes to each other again. It takes another two days before she walks into the warehouse at half past eight in the morning to hear Eames on the phone saying, "Of course I don't mind if you have to stay in Tokyo longer, God knows multimillionaire robber barons can't possibly be expected to convey themselves into the wilds of bloody England without supervision." She raises an eyebrow at Dom, who's already camped out in front of one of Arthur's signature white boards, looking completely unsurprised, and without even flicking a glance over to her, he says:

"Wait for it — it gets worse."

No matter how much Eames and Arthur bring out the absolute worst in each other, independent of one another (or shooting people and blowing shit up) they'd been consummate professionals on the only other job she'd worked with both of them, so it's kind of a surprise to realize that apparently Eames is a dick.

He's rude and shitty and takes out his sleep deprivation on everybody around him. He keeps wearing this black t-shirt that's clearly three sizes too small for him, so that all the hipster twinks in the neighborhood keep riding their street bikes into poles when he's chainsmoking outside the warehouse sullenly.

"So you weren't kidding," Ariadne mutters, slumping next to Dom one night after he ends a call with his kids, their shrieks loud enough to be heard clear across the room from the tinny speaker of his pre-paid mobile.

Dom follows her gaze to where Eames is cleaning guns out of what is apparently boredom.

"About Eames?" he asks. "No."

Ariadne pulls her feet underneath herself on the couch, feels herself tilt into Dom's warm presence. Okay, maybe she still has a little bit of a crush, but stripped of his striking veneer of obvious insanity, he's less attractive if more stable; she'll blame early twenties ennui for the lingering affection.

Sighing she rubs out the accumulated ache from leaning over her models — two dozen in total, one for each subject, a few shared, a couple of Proculus headquarters at Saito's request — and thinks about how deeply fucking weird it is that she's listing this job on her CV as an internship. Saito had insisted, saying that money was one thing but a properly documented work history was priceless.

She says, "I didn't even know he was dating anybody."

Dom snorts. "For ages. Believe it or not, Eames is pretty domesticated."

"Not," Ariadne elects.

The Eames she knows and likes smokes Cuban cigars and casually gropes cocktail waitresses and wears shitty expensive tweed and laughs like a wild curl of smoke. She can't imagine him living anywhere other than the edge of a blackjack table, but then again, Ariadne also knows she doesn't really know him. She runs with criminals but she isn't one, doesn't really want to be, but there are moments when Eames does things, says things, she's reminded all over again he's a conman to the bone, that maybe all he'll ever let her know of him is a compilation of lies.

"Really domesticated," Dom insists.

"Where is this girlfriend anyway?" Ariadne asks. "Did she dump him?"

Dom looks at her strangely. "No," he says slowly. "Out of town. Work."

"Is she…" Ariadne starts, hesitating now. "Is she in this line of work, I guess?"

Grinning, Dom leans back against the sagging couch, crossing his arms over his chest and smirking, "It's sort of how they met."

"Huh," Ariadne says, trying to imagine who could possibly keep Eames's attention, if she's met her in passing. "What's she like?"

Dom's smirk gets even stranger. "College ruled," he says, clearly a private joke.

On the other side of the room, Eames is clutching his cell phone between his ear and shoulder again, sniping across the wireless lines, "Well of fucking course I need to know what type of pants his mistress wears, Arthur — how the fuck am I supposed to forge her otherwise," and "No, Arthur, I am not suffering hypoglycemia," and "Fine, get a geisha. Get eight geishas," and "I'm telling Saito if you try to expense a geisha."





After what Eames has taken to calling The Unfortunate Interval, Arthur finds himself suffering yet another first: the lower ground.

Eames is fascinatingly strategic about how he deploys guilt, and even though Arthur knows what Eames is doing, he ends up capitulating like a fucking dinghy in a hurricane anyway. He lets Eames smoke one cigarette a day outside; he sleeps in the wet spot; he packs up all of their shit and moves all of it to London because Eames says the glass pyramids and good food in Paris are offensive to his English roots; he lets Eames hire a cleaning lady who comes around three times a week and forces himself not to clean before she gets there.

It's not that Eames is clingy, or a dick, exactly, after they perform inception and the world undergoes a soft reset, but he's less passive about everything. They fight more. Arthur's gotten away with murder literally and for so long; it's strange to share any spaces with people predisposed to calling him on his bullshit.

In a deeply psychotic, manifesting as abusive boyfriend move, Eames eavesdrops on all of Arthur's communique for the first three months after. Arthur allows it because (a) he's not really seeing a terminal point to when he'll stop feeling like shit about them, about what he put Eames through over the years and (b) if Eames wants to listen to Arthur's mother complain about the neighbor's tree, then Eames can listen to Arthur's mother complain about the neighbor's tree.

"Mom," he interrupts her in the middle of iteration three of why Mrs. Bazelon is trying to ruin her life by killing all her plants, "why don't you ask Eames about it?"

There's a huff over the line from his mother. "Arthur, I am not asking your young man to assassinate my neighbor over a tree."

Arthur rolls his eyes and pads through the kitchen and into the pantry ("Larder," Eames likes to correct him) where Eames is hidden among the jars of saffron and blocks of baker's chocolate, the enormous tins of loose leaf tea and keg of scrumpy he'd hauled in from God knows where in Somerset, looking guilty and clutching the other cordless phone, a Bounty bar halfway to his mouth.

"I meant about what you can grow that doesn't need that much sun, Mom," Arthur says, and raising his eyebrows at Eames pointedly, he adds, "And you can stop pretending you're not listening on the other end now, too, Eames."

"Just because I'm English doesn't mean I know about plants," Eames says, sulky.

Arthur grins, hangs up the phone, and takes away the rest of Eames's candy bar, and as he's walking away, Eames sighs and says, "No, Helen, sorry, yes, I do know some low-light flowering bushes that might work," and "You should also inform your son it's hurtful that he cultivates so many stereotypes about my people."

That night, Eames is trying to give him the silent treatment, which is less than completely effective when he's still insistent on being the big spoon.

Arthur says, "If you wanted to hide your secret love of gardens, you shouldn't have filled the DVR with episodes of Countryfile and Escape to the Country."

"Those are for research," Eames complains, wronged.

Turning around to stare into Eames's blushing, sulking face, Arthur asks innocently, into the darkness, "On who? Yourself?"

"You're a twat," Eames tells him.

"If you really want," Arthur says innocently, into the dark, "we could get you an allotment — you could grow veg."

This time, instead of answering, Eames squeezes Arthur until he's breathless.





The schoolhouse Eames is helping to build is without an owner: gleaming blond planks of good, clean pine laying out the floor and well-chinked walls Eames split himself, a month ago when Matthew Framer and his brother, Worth, had tallied up the spoils of months of dime sociables and church roasts and fundraisers. Inception, when Eames had first arrived, had been just an awkward huddle of ugly buildings about a mile away from a gleaming, glassy lake, wild grapes and huckleberries banking in the water and razor-sharp weeds fringing the bank: a few homesteaders and a saloon, the ugly clapboard church Reverend Brooke had set up and abandoned when he'd gone back East. Now, the town stretches out in a half-moon shape around the lake, storefronts lining the clean, tamped-dirt streets; there are two saloons, dozens of schoolchildren, and now a school, too, with lavish wrought-iron desks bolted to the ground and a desk Eames had sanded down himself until it was smooth like silk. There are slates and a crate of readers and a fat, pot-bellied stove in the back near a rack of utilitarian hooks for cloaks and windows with actual glass — everything except a teacher.

"Well, that's soon mended," says Mrs. Cresswater, who is wrapping up a month's worth of salt pork and cornmeal and dried beans and things in neat, brown-paper packages for Eames at the counter of the general store. "You have heard, haven't you?"

Eames hears everything, but he likes to hear it from multiple sources, so he says, "No?"

She parcels out brown sacks of dark brown sugar, salt and coffee. "Well," she says, and her hands are flying, tying the packages tight with twine, "Mr. Cresswater's just been to the post office and heard we'll have a teacher by the end of the week."

"The end of the week?" Eames says, and loads the salt pork, the cornmeal, the flour and salt and sugar and coffee and things into his arms, Mrs. Cresswater stacking up bits and bobs over top, arranging it carefully. "That's soon."

"Not soon enough," Mrs. Cresswater says, because she has three boys under 10 who are universally loathed, but mostly by their own parents. "I'll be glad to have her — and a minister again, thank goodness."

Before Eames can even ask for it, Mrs. Cresswater spins around, her hoop skirts swinging busily, and turns back with a generous tin of tobacco, slipping it into the pocket of Eames's dark coat as she says, "And before you ask: yes, we're getting a minister. He's coming in on the train along with Miss Arthur."

***

By the next day, the gossip has gone from a low-level roar to relentless as the homesteaders are all dispatched by their wives to town to collect information, and Eames settles himself in at the post office to knit together all the pieces that seem reliable.

Their soon-to-be minister is a Reverend Cobb, who is coming westward from New York with the intention of saving souls, everyone says; with two children and no mention of a wife, Eames imagines more likely, Cobb is trying to save his own. Miss Arthur is only known as Miss Arthur at the moment, possesses a first grade certificate, and has taught at least two other schools. She is not merely sharing a train with Cobb, she was recommended by him, a family friend, Framer says, offhand, and Eames starts spinning out the possibilities in that.

"She rotating through the homesteaders?" Garson asks, and slides a look over to Eames. "Lucky you haven't got any brats of your own, then."

Eames, who has hardly been whoring at all since he fled England, rolls his eyes. "Like any spinster schoolmistress is going to catch my eye, Garson, when I haven't yet conquered the issues of your wife and daughters."

Garson sputters and everybody else roars. Eames is used to being the curiosity of Inception, with the easy polish of his accent and his disinterest in explanations. He's a mystery to the town and he prefers to keep it that way; besides, Americans are possibly even more Victorian about horse thieves than the English.

Framer, a man without a single humorous bone in his body, frowns and says, "As she'll be staying with Reverend Cobb, I highly doubt it." He favors Eames with a solemn look. "And I hope sincerely you will comport yourself appropriately, Eames."

"I always comport myself perfectly," Eames says, because Jesus Christ, a spinster schoolteacher staying with the town minister. He can't think of anybody less worthy of his interest.

***

Eames doesn't think he'll be interested, but that doesn't mean he's not curious, all the same, and he keeps an ear to the ground for further developments. The Reverend Cobb's star grows brighter and brighter, and the subject of Miss Arthur — and more importantly — how she knows the reverend, are a subject of constant debate. After two more days of this, it's fairly clear any legitimate information has long been abandoned in favor of wild speculation, of which Eames is a fan, but not when there's a real mystery at hand, and so he tells Framer he'd be free to drive with him to the station and fetch Inception's newest residents, the night before the train.

It's a clear, cold day, the last fingers of summer heat slipping off in the night's breeze into the dry gold coolness of fall. Eames has a garden full of overgrown cabbages and potatoes and pumpkins and beans to harvest, chores to do and repairs to make around the house and a few last things to sort out at the schoolhouse, but at 8 a.m. in the crisp, cold morning, he is at the train station instead, in his cleanest shirt and with his sharpest gaze.

Reverend Cobb, when he steps off the train, is immediately evident in the weight on his shoulders, his dark and practical clothes, the day's growth of beard and the tired look on his face. The porter follows, and trunks and bags and hatboxes are unloaded, and Eames watches Cobb's careful hands, how he inspects the luggage, how he speaks to the porter, and thinks Inception may have found themselves a good minister after all.

And then Cobb looks up, back into the doorway of the train, extending a hand to meet another — narrow fingers in a fawn-colored glove — that touches his wrist.

Eames sees the dress first, before anything else: pale gray poplin, a sweeping gown, lush heaps of fabric at the back of a narrow waist, dark gray bands of silk at the hem, the high neckline, the tight-fitting wrists. The bustle and the gathers of fabric, the spidery lace at the throat, a mother-of-pearl pin, the gray silk ribbon and the neat straw bonnet, a lavish spray of ostrich feathers tucked into the band.

Framer, to his left, clears his throat, shifts, looks nervous and hot in the cheeks, and Eames blinks and sees everything else.

Miss Arthur — it must be her — is thin like a willow, with black hair pulled severely away from her slender face, where she has a pair of wide, night-dark eyes that gleam like river stones. The thick coils of her hair are nestled at the back of her neck, tucked underneath the hat brim, and Eames stares at stares: at the pink, sweet shell of her ear, the soft line of her chin, her mouth, a pink and curious bow. The suggestion of the white, white skin of her throat makes the inside of Eames's mouth wet, makes him want to close the two meters between them.

"Reverend Cobb?" Framer asks, finally, breaking the silence, and when Cobb looks up at them, Miss Arthur does, too, her fingers tightening where they rest on Cobb's arm.

Cobb narrows his eyes at them a moment, and Eames tries not to stare at the tips of Miss Arthur's fingers as Cobb closes his own over them — protective.

"Yes?" Cobb asks, polite. Miss Arthur just levels them both a placid look, easy in Cobb's hold, and Eames has to tamp down the way something in his gut twists at that.

Framer takes off his hat, bobbing a little as he says, "And I guess this is Miss Arthur."

She favors them both with a benign smile. "Pleased to meet you," she tells them, and where Eames had imagined her voice might be as slight as she looks, it's clear and sweet and Eames wants to know, immediately, what it sounds like when she laughs, what it might sound like if she's whispering something secret to a lover.

"And you must be Matthew Framer," Cobb says, extending a hand to take Framer's in a solid shake. When he turns to Eames, he says, "And you?"

Eames takes Cobb's hand, but he's still staring at Miss Arthur, who stares back, unashamed and unafraid, and something shivers up his spine at that as he says, distracted, "Eames — just call me Eames."





Jim feels like an asshole bully every time he snaps at Chekov, who is barely a fetus, really, which is the only possible explanation for why he's is engaging in this completely asinine exercise.

"Partner," Chekov prompts, a sweet, anticipatory look on his face.

Jim scowls. "Partner," he mutters.

"Companion," Spock answers dutifully, perched on the edge of the couch the way he always does in these sessions, his spine ramrod straight, hands folded in his lap. "I admit I do not see the point of these exercises either, Dr. Chekov."

"Friend," Jim says first, because it's what he thinks when he looks at Spock's face, his hands, and that's not necessarily playing by the rules of word association, but it's the best he can do.

Spock opens his mouth a moment, closes it again before deciding on, "Trusted."

Jim grins. "Beloved," he teases, and from the corner of his eye, he can see Chekov's cheeks puffing in frustration, about to launch into another unnecessary discussion of how Jim is purposefully being difficult and undermining Chekov's attempts to quantify their convoluted and 'it's complicated' working relationship, to discover patterns in its meaning, its unspoken subtexts.

But to be fair, even when Starfleet had said that the only way they'd let Jim continue to partner with Spock in his investigations was to agree to partnership counseling, they'd gone under extreme protest: Jim stomping and Spock arguing every step of the way.

"Spock is super good at compartmentalizing," he'd told Komack as Spock had pointed out that, "It would be illogical for me to damage our working relationship simply because Detective Kirk is pursuing my murderous half-brother. In fact, I support his desire to capture Sybok, and it is wholly foolish to threaten to end a successful cooperation such as ours."

"Shut up, both of you," Komack had said, and sent them to Chekov's office on the 34th floor of Starfleet headquarters, where he'd met them with foam bats and a hopeful expression and then wanted to talk about their feelings. It had been doomed from the beginning, really and hadn't really improved in the year since they'd been going.

So fine, Jim's not invested in cooperation, but he can appreciate the way Spock almost rolls his eyes, nearly smiles, and says:

"Parent."

"Child," Jim answers, instant.

Spock blinks. "I want a child."

"What?" Chekov says, the same time Jim says, "That's not one word."

"It's only logical I would," Spock tells them both, like he doesn't even care that he's playing word association completely wrong. "Propagation of the species is a natural desire, and I am well past the age of majority for Vulcans; it would typically be expected that a male of my age would have started a family by now."

Now it's Jim's turn to say, "What?" as Chekov asks,"You want a child right now?"

"I had not even considered it was what was missing," Spock says with something like surprise, and Jim is still trying to understand how an apparently benign game went so far off track when Spock concludes, "I apologize for interrupting the exercise, of course, Dr. Chekov, we may continue."

"I am out of words," Chekov admits.

"Fuck the game, Spock," Jim says, "you want a baby?"

"How long have you felt this vhay, Mister Spock?" Chekov asks.

It's almost confusion, the look in Spock's eyes. "I have only just realized I desire a child myself," Spock says, sounding soft and a little bit vulnerable, the tiniest bit happy, discovering, and then before he can say something else terrible and awful or admit that he wants a farm full of goddamn ponies or something, Jim's comm goes batshit.

***

Spock has strong (negative) feelings about Jim's ship, and Jim has strong (positive) feelings about not driving around in Spock's flimsy, space-friendly tin can, so they agree to disagree.

"I don't see why you never agree to use my ship," Spock complains in that flat, uncomplaining way that makes Jim want to knock stuff out of order in Spock's lab just to watch him fight his scowl. "I'm an excellent pilot."

They're zooming through the blur of the interstellar highway, other ships just a hush of color outside the windows, and Jim is careful to keep his hands on the controls, merging into and out of lanes of movement until they're sorted correctly, surfing momentum toward the Orion home planet. Jim's never a more careful driver than when Spock is in the passenger seat, and he knows it's ridiculous and the chances of there being another bomb in another vehicle another time that sends them spinning out into space, that leaves a gash across Spock's hairline and a horrible bruise over the corner of his mouth are de minimus — but that doesn't mean he can shake it, the way he'd felt rocked to the bones when he'd opened his eyes in an ambulatory shuttle and seen Spock bleeding green and fragile, unconscious.

"I'm sure you are," Jim lies, and usually he'd start a fight about this but he has better things to argue with Spock about today, like, "And seriously, instead of fighting about the ship can we talk about this thing with you? And a baby?"

"I am fiscally sound and very intelligent," Spock says. "I am of firm ethical standing and well-regarded professionally — it is logical that I have a child."

Those are painfully bloodless reasons and all utterly true, Jim thinks meanly, and swallowing hard around the lump in his throat, he asks, "So, do you have someone lined up? For the baby?"

Spock blinks at him, eyes dark like the empty patches of space between galaxies. "Someone 'lined up'?"

"Like another parent, Spock," Jim asks, because he knows that all of these considerations are rational to humans, but that most considerations that are rational to humans actually sound completely stupid to Vulcans.

"There are many DNA banks available," Spock says slowly. "Although perhaps it would be better to select a second parent among my acquaintances."

"Oh Jesus Christ," Kirk says feelingly.





The recycled air of the sickbay triggers a series of sense memories like lacerations, and Jim winces as he dodges nurses and doctors and crewmembers. There's a knot of tension on the Enterprise, the worst of it clustered around the private chamber Bones had assigned for Spock, where everyone has taken to treading carefully. Spock's been too almost dead for visitors, but it hasn't stopped the entire bridge crew from walking past on tiptoe, from touching the tips of their fingers to the edge of the door, like a kiss once-removed, and Jim thinks that if Spock could see it he would let out one of those short, long-suffering sighs Jim pushes out of him, like Jim's the hands and Spock's the bellows and this — whatever this is in between them — is a fire gagging for air.

Outside the door Chapel and Bones are frowning at one another in one of those lingering moments of community sympathy Jim steers clear of if at all possible. It's terrible f0r everybody when Chapel and Bones argue — it's worse when they're on the same side.

"Nurse Chapel, Bones," he says, pulling to a stop.

Spock's door is closed tight, and the biometric monitor alongside it darkened. Jim has a captain's override for that sort of thing if he wants to be really invasive, but Spock always finds out about Jim's more heinous breeches of medical privacy and it usually isn't worth the snit his first officer would climb into and make cozy in.
 
"Captain," Chapel says, tense, the same time Bones hisses, "Ambassador Sarek is asking we release Spock into his custody."

"Obviously, that's not going to happen," Jim answers, reflexive, pitching his voice low even though he knows Spock's asleep behind a soundproofed door; he can understand Sarek wants his son close at hand, but Jim wants Spock where Jim can keep an eye on him, where he can call Bones at 2 am and demand a second opinion. "I'll deal with it."

Chapel stares at him, doleful. "I hope you can. He's in no condition for the travel required to reach New Vulcan."

"In the meantime," Jim says, changing the subject because he's lost the ability to be objective about New Vulcan, about Spock and the tiny handful of his people that remain, about the huge and deep dark measures of space that will grow between them soon enough, "Sulu reports to me we've settled into our moorings and we're going to be cleared for disembarkation in an hour — thoughts?"

"Yeah, that you morons should get shot less," Bones sighs.

"I'll take that under advisement and ask Commander Spock to make a note of it," Jim tells him, because there wasn't much else he could say.

Bones has said — over and over again — that Spock will be fine, caveat: eventually. The bones and organs and sinew underneath Spock's skin are terrifyingly delicate, and Jim had seen too much of all of it as he'd wrapped pressure bandages around Spock's chest that day, trying to keep his insides on the inside, green pouring out of Spock with every gasping thud of his heart, pouring over Jim's fingers, numb and slick with Spock's blood. Jim's felt Spock's skin go from feverish against his own to cool, felt his stomach sink and his eyes get wet and burn and heard himself gasping horrible, desperate, embarrassing shit, rocked Spock back and forth and begged nobody and everybody and it still comes to him sometimes in flashes during the Enterprise's artificial night. So he walks by Spock's private room at night just like everybody else does and watches his crew touch fingers to the door, affectionate, tender, and wishes it would be okay if he did the same thing, but he thinks he'd be obvious about it, that Spock might feel whatever Jim's not thinking through the metal and upholstery and cloth and the lightyears between them.

He clears his throat. "I'm having medical shuttle 2 prepped — if you get him ready to be moved I'll fly him into SUMC myself."
  
Chapel actually smirks, and Bones sighs, "Oh, Jesus, that'll go well."
 
"It's my responsibility," Jim says, since he knows about how well that will go, too, and all the inevitable diplomatic furor it will stir, but it's the sort of thing you do when you're captain — and when you've held Spock in the searing hot desert of a mostly-deserted planet and watched him bleeding to death under your hands.

***

Disembarkation always turns out to be an epic, irredeemable shitshow, and Jim has no idea why. People always fucking get their mooring number wrong or their order of arrival incorrect and then Sulu starts swearing at people in Japanese about having to back up a fucking spaceship the size of a continent and Chekov makes that God damn face because he hates yelling.

Jim's ability to be a pain in the ass is instinctive, but he had to earn his masters degree in being scary as fuck through a hands-on correspondence program with Spock — who has all of these things going for his general ability to make people shit bricks.

Spock hates people who waste his time because Spock's time is important and nobody's ever questioned that; Spock is always right because he is, and nobody will ever convince him that might have something to do with his being ridiculously spoiled; Spock has plenty of respect for his elders and his betters — but they have to earn it first, which is one of those things that makes Jim have to bite back inappropriate laughter all the time.

Anyway, Jim makes it a point not to be a bully or a dick most of the time, but sometimes if being captain means making a few ensigns at HQ cry, so be it, and he channels Spock.

"That's amazing," Bones says later, when they're on the medical transport pad along with Spock's biobed and Spock, still asleep, at whom Jim is assiduously not looking. "I think I've actually seen the green-blooded hobgoblin's version of that exact same tantrum before."

Jim winces. Green blood. "Shut up, Bones."

"It's like listening to the cover of a deeply annoying song," Bones continues, not shutting up.

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