Title: Smart Mouth
Author: Farfalla the Butterfly-Kitten
Email: blueberrysnail @ yahoo.com
Website: spirk.cosmicduckling.com
Characters: K/S, K&Mc
Rating: PG-13
Beta: Hypatia. She donated a few bits of dialogue as well.
Archive: All-Ages Kirk/Spock Archive, ASCEM, WWOMB, and nice people who ask first.
Disclaimer: "I think I slash them because first, I do see them as a couple. But I also slash them because I think it will make them happy, because everyone deserves to find that acceptance and support expressed in a love relationship. I slash them because I think they deserve to be slashed. They deserve to have each other in every way and to support each other in every way. In short, they have the right to be slashed. I want the good guys to win each other." --K'Sal. No profits but my smiles and your feedback.
Summary: Will Spock be able to love Captain Kirk despite his garlic breath?

Smart Mouth

Captain Kirk was sitting in the mess hall, eating dinner with Dr. McCoy, when he heard it. He froze, a half-eaten slice of garlic bread poised at his mouth in mid-chew, and listened sharply.

"Zey're not just playing chess in zere!" The jovial, conspiratorial voice was coming from Ensign Pavel Chekov.

"Are you sure? Spock seems awfully... I dunno, I didn't think he was Kirk's type." That was Lieutenant Sulu's calm bass.

Kirk's eyes met McCoy's. He'd heard it too. "They're talking about me," Kirk murmured uneasily.

"Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later, Jim," McCoy reminded him in an equally smothered tone. "The crew's not stupid. A person's only got to spend ten minutes around you two and sooner or later you start makin' eyes at him or touchin' his shoulder. And he lets you! *That's* how they know."

"Yeah, well," Kirk shrugged self-consciously. "I'm in love." Then he put his finger to his lips again to hear the rest of what his bridge officers were saying.

"...see that coming a mile away," he heard Sulu say.

"I alvays tought zere was somesing funny about Meestair Spock," Chekov observed thoughtfully.

"Oh, come on, Chekov, being attracted to the captain's just about the most ~normal~ thing there is about him," Sulu countered.

Chekov considered this, and nodded. "I vouldn't date him," he added as an afterthought.

Sulu chuckled. "Chekov, you don't like *any* men."

Chekov looked over dreamily at a table of female engineers next to them. "Vhat can I say, I like girls! I love girls."

"How long do you think it'll last?" Sulu asked, forking noodles into his mouth.

"Vhat? Me liking girls?"

"No, I meant...Spock, and the captain."

Kirk listened intently.

"Not wery long if he keeps eating that stuff," Chekov exclaimed, grinning.

"What stuff?"

"I'm going over there," Kirk muttered. McCoy watched him push himself up from the table and saunter over to Sulu and Chekov.

The two officers abruptly stopped talking when they saw Kirk looming. He was smirking slightly. "Gossipping, gentlemen?"

"Vell no, uh, Keptin, uh..."

"Sir."

Kirk held up a hand. "I'm not mad. I would appreciate my personal affairs not being discussed in the open air, however."

"Of course."

"I'm sorry, sair."

"I'm not mad," Kirk reassured them. "But I just have to ask--Mr. Chekov, why do you say my... relationship with Spock... is dependent on my food?"

"Vell," Chekov stammered. "Ve, um."

Sulu just kept shoveling noodles, to avoid having to talk. He looked slightly amused.

"This doesn't have anything to do with my weight, does it?" Kirk had been subject to countless nagging comments from McCoy about his diet, but he'd felt virtuous recently and was looking close to his best.

"Oh, no, sair!" Chekov insisted vehemently.

"Good." Kirk nodded his head curtly. "Then--what was it about?"

Chekov opened his mouth, then shut it again. "Is zis off ze record, Keptin?"

"Yes." Kirk nodded reassuringly.

"Vell, Keptin--" Chekov paused, trying to find words. "You are eating garlic bread."

"Yes, and?"

"I can smell your breath from here."

Kirk stared. "From... all the way from there?"

"Me too, Captain," Sulu piped up.

"What?"

"You like garlic," Chekov pointed out. "You eat a lot of garlic, and, vell, eweryone can tell."

"How--how long has this been noticeable?" Kirk stammered.

Sulu and Chekov looked at each other. "I don't know, Captain," said Sulu.

"Thank you for informing me, gentlemen," Kirk said curtly. He returned to his table and sat down, but didn't touch his food.

"You gonna finish that? You seemed like you were ready to marry the damn thing before." McCoy cocked his head at the half-finished garlic bread.

"Bones, do I have bad breath?"

Leonard McCoy pursed his lips. "Well, Jim, I wouldn't exactly care to generalize, and it does vary from time to time--"

"Come on, Bones, out with it," said Kirk with a grimace.

"Jim, it's all that garlic you eat," explained McCoy. "You've got a healthy appetite, and you eat a lot of pizza, pasta, garlic bread... after a while, it starts to sweat out your pores."

"So it's not even my breath they're smelling?" Jim stared dumbly at his friend.

"They'd have to get a lot closer to you to actually smell your breath," said McCoy. "Into your personal space, I mean."

"Personal space..." Jim's eyes traveled to the side while he was thinking. "No wonder Chekov said it was going to drive Spock away."

"Has he ever said anything about it?"

"No, no." Kirk shook his head. "But I don't know if he *would*, Bones, that's the thing. He might just--keep it to himself, and let it slowly drive him nuts. And then stop...staying after our chess games."

"You can't let that happen." McCoy looked Jim in the eye with an almost lecturing expression. "It took you this long to get where you are, and he's got another seven years before you-know-what happens again."

"I know, Bones, I know! What do I do?" Jim looked at his plate. "Give up pizza?"

"There's no reason to stop eating garlic. Garlic is good for you! Keeps the heart healthy, for one thing. Improves circulation, lowers blood pressure..."

"So what am I supposed to do?"

"Well, there are drugs you could take to suppress the sweating of the garlic through your skin," offered McCoy. "It wouldn't fix your breath, though. For that, just brushing your teeth after you eat should do the trick."

"How soon can you get me treated?"

"What, you two have a date?"

"Don't be silly. Nobody on the command crew has time for dates. He's just coming over to play chess when his bridge shift is up."

"That's a date."

"How is that a date? I can't take him anywhere."

"Are you going to kiss him?"

"With garlic breath?"

McCoy ignored ths question. "Are you?"

"I... hope to."

"Then it's a date."

"Fine, then yes, we have a date. And I'm going to be sitting there the whole time stinking like a skunk in uniform." Jim stared balefully at the unfinished garlic bread as if it had consciously betrayed him.

"I doubt one more day will make a difference." McCoy drained his glass of juice. "Stop by Sickbay tomorrow morning before your shift starts and I'll give you an injection."

"Thanks, Bones. I appreciate it."

"Eat some parsley in the mean time," McCoy suggested as they started clearing their plates away. "It tempers the taste a little."

Kirk nodded and stood. "I'll see you in the morning, Bones."

"Good luck."

After Captain Kirk deposited his dishes in the dirty dish shelf, he flagged down the Yeoman in charge of the meal. She didn't have any idea where he could find some parsley. "You could check with Mr. Sulu," she offered helpfully. "He might be growing some in his herb garden."

"Uh, thanks, Yeoman." Kirk looked around the room, but Sulu and Chekov had already left, their speedy exit no doubt inspired by his own curiosity. He decided to head back to his room to spend the next few minutes gargling with peppermint mouthwash, not that it would help his odorous skin. As he left the mess hall, he noticed the Yeoman looking at him funny, and wrinkling her nose.

"Deck 5," he told the turbolift when he stepped on. Uhura was already inside, riding from another floor. "Lieutenant," he said to her in greeting.

"Hello, Captain," she answered, leaning back against the wall in a relaxed manner. Was that Kirk's imagination, or was she subtly sniffing the air suspiciously?

"Something wrong?" he asked, not really wanting to know.

"I--I think I need a breath mint," Uhura said tactfully, fishing around in her pocket. "Would you like one, sir?"

"Thank you, Lieutenant." He took the small white tablet from her hand and popped it in his mouth. The mint was cool and refreshing, but he could already tell it was too tiny to make a dent. He couldn't wait for this to be over. James T. Kirk wasn't used to feeling self-conscious about anything.

The turbolift stopped again, and the doors slid open. Kirk's heart thumped a little happy thump as he watched Spock enter the lift. "Spock!"

"Captain," Spock nodded. "I presume you are headed toward your quarters. May I accompany you, since we planned to play chess tonight?"

"Certainly, Mr. Spock," Jim found himself saying, despite his earlier plans to make love to his bottle of Listerine. Now that he was in Spock's presence again, and off-duty, he just wanted to share his company.

But he still made an effort not to talk too much on the way there, or stand too close to him in the turbolift.

Kirk and Spock walked side by side to Kirk's quarters, small-talking about the current mission all the way. Kirk did his best to keep from breathing open-mouthed in Spock's direction, and tried to avoid walking as close together as they normally did. But Spock seemed to have other plans, and found a way to maintain their customary proximity nonetheless.

When they were safely inside Kirk's cabin with the door shut behind them, Spock pulled Jim close and gave him a small greeting kiss. Jim tried not to let his anxiety about his breath show too much, but he also didn't give Spock that much freedom with his mouth. He couldn't wait to escape to the bathroom and at least get one good swish of mouthwash in.

They separated, and Spock stood tasting his own mouth for a few moments with a studious expression on his face. "Interesting," he observed. "I taste--"

"--garlic. Yes, I know. I was just about to go gargle," Jim grouched. "I wasn't expecting you so soon." He started for the bathroom.

"Jim," Spock called after him.

"I've probably been offending you with this scent all along."

"Jim, it's not--"

"How could I have been so insensitive!"

"Jim."

"I hope it hasn't been bothering you too--"

"Jim, it wasn't the garlic."

"It wha . . . It wasn't the garlic?" Jim stopped, one hand on the doorframe of the bathroom.

"No, what I tasted was a rather antiseptic and medicinal mint," Spock explained.

Jim smacked himself in the forehead. "It--must--have been the breath mint Uhura gave me in the lift!"

"Yes, that would explain it," agreed Spock, nodding. "I must confess I do not care for it."

"I don't really like them either," Jim stammered. "So--you don't find garlic offensive?"

Spock's arms slipped around his waist from behind, pinning his arms to his sides. Jim felt a warm, tender mouth nuzzling at the base of his neck. Surprised, he closed his eyes and leaned back into Spock's firm chest.

"The scent of the essential oils of the plants of the Allium family is considered highly erotic by Vulcans," Spock said in a low voice.

"Highly... erotic?"

"Much as sandalwood is, on your Earth, or the scent of vinegar to an Andorian."

"Vinegar? Really?"

"I have never personally explored its effects."

Jim turned around and returned the embrace. "So you're saying I smell good like this?"

"It is quite appealing."

And Jim smiled, but only for a moment, because then Spock kissed him for a very long time.