Entering into a relationship with Jim does not change the fact the Spock was raised in the Vulcan way. He knows with certainty that there is no logic in repeated declarations of affection. He is aware that Jim loves him, just as he knew as a child that his mother loved him, though culture and custom rarely allowed her to say so. So, of course, it would be irrational to expect or wish for frequent reminders of that fact.
That does not stop Spock from being absolutely, without a doubt, 100% Shook™ every time Jim says “I love you.”
And Jim loves to say it. It’s human nature to say it regularly, and Jim is just an affectionate man who is constantly overflowing with love for Spock. (Plus, James T. Kirk is no dummy. He knows that Spock adores hearing it, despite his logical protests.)
And so Jim makes a point to say it all the time and in as many ways as he can think of. Accompanied by a quick peck just before they leave their quarters in the morning for the bridge, slow and slurred first thing in the morning, absentmindedly when Spock hands him a coffee while he works at his desk, gasped into Spock’s ear repeatedly while they make love. Spock may never admit it, but Jim knows he cherishes hearing it out loud.
And Spock says it too. He says it with a touch of fingertips in the hallway, even though there is an ensign walking by who might see. He says it by turning off the alarm before it goes off and waking Jim with soft kisses instead. By getting Jim a fresh coffee when he gets distracted by his work and lets it get cold, by wearing an extra layer to bed so that their quarters can be a more comfortable temperature for Jim. These nonverbal ways make it all the more precious to Jim
I love the Star Trek trend of characters who present themselves as loyal, exemplary members of their cultures but end up inadvertently or begrudgingly subverting tradition and becoming vanguards of major sociopolitical change.
Like we have Worf, originally introduced as this archetype of Klingon values; the guy who applies his strict honor-and-tradition moral compass to every situation, who has to be talked into bending the rules by both of his captains, whose interior design aesthetic is just knives. And yet everything he does has ripple effects throughout Klingon society. He’s the first Klingon in Starfleet, the traitorous son of Mogh, the reason Gowron has any significance at all, hell, he even becomes the deciding vote on whether to allow a clone of Kahless to become a religious figure on Qo'noS. And yet throughout all that we see him defending tradition to Alexander and butting heads with Odo on the concept of what law enforcement should mean. But when it comes to his actual effect on Klingon society, on the very definition of Klingon-ness, Worf is a revolutionary (as much as that would pain him to admit).
And then there’s Quark. He adheres so strongly to Ferengi customs, and yet he works to change them, sometimes accidentally through association and sometimes actively, through his own doing. He attributes his slip-ups in following the Rules of Acquisition to living on a station full of Federation and Bajoran ideals. But look at his family: he has a liberated feminist mother, his brother is an engineering genius and one-time union man, and his nephew is in (unprofitable) Starfleet. He claims not to respect “females,” but has relationships with Pel, Grilka, and Natima Lang (aka basically the three strongest-minded women he could possibly find) and a long-standing friendship with Dax. He defies the dogma of profit to prevent a genocide and nearly dies on a damn mountain to save a cop. And that’s not even mentioning the tangible impact he has on Ferengi politics and society through Brunt and the Grand Nagus. But every Quark episode basically ends with him shrugging and saying “I did it for the latinum”. Like NO you didn’t, bud, you’re a damn liar and also a revolutionary.
Honestly this trend applies to so many Star Trek characters. Spock (Extremely Vulcan Man feels everything deeply all the time and loves Kirk so much that he becomes a literal ambassador for Kirk’s values) Garak and Damar (spend a ton of time defending the State, then become actual resistance fighters who destroy the State to save Cardassia, as it were), even Seven of Nine could fit in this category (as someone who strives for Borg perfection but consistently undermines that goal by fighting for the individuality of herself and other drones).
This is one of my favorite things about Star Trek, because it’s an inherently complex concept but also one that rings true to anyone who both loves and critiques their home culture. Because you can do both. You can cherish some traditions and break others, because doing the real hard work of changing your society for the better doesn’t defy love for your culture, it requires it. It’s the necessary counterbalance to blind nationalism, the unstoppable force that keeps us moving forward. It’s an immensely positive, rewarding view of culture and I’m so glad that Star Trek has always promoted it.
One of the best things about Star Trek imo is how aesthetic it is. I mean all the shows and even the episodes have their own aesthetic and they are all good. But can we just take a second to appreciate the soft lighting and bright primaries of tos? It’s fucking beautiful
Okay, I absolutely adore the cutesy idea of Jim and Spock married, sharing an apartment, and teaching at Starfleet Academy after retirement, but consider: they would so talk about one another during their lectures ALL THE GODDAMN TIME.
And I’m not even talking about telling stories intentionally with the whole “One time, my husband and I yadda yadda yadda” although that definitely goes down.
No, I mean the little throwaways, the ones that are so passive and informal that you know that they’re not even trying it, that their love is just continuing to bleed over into their day-to-day life.
“Although my husband should like to argue otherwise…”
“As my bondmate is ever-so fond of reminding me…”
“Now, Spock can’t seem to wrap his mind around this, but…”
“While James and I agree that this reality is distressing…”
“As I’ve had the love of my life remind me time and time again…”
“It is a truth that my beloved rather covets in that…”
And their students think it’s simultaneously the cutest and most disgusting thing in the world, because aw they’re in love but ew they’re our teachers.