Continuing Tales

Conversational Vulcan

A Star Trek Story
by Blue Moon3

Part 10 of 16

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Conversational Vulcan

"I'm travelling at the speed of light

I'm gonna make a supersonic man out of you"

As usual for a Wednesday afternoon, Commander Spock was grading assignments in his office. He sat facing away from the window, so the sun streaming through would warm his back as he worked. Aside from the stack of PADDs on which he worked, his desk was empty for purposes of both efficiency and order. Photographs would have been an unnecessary distraction, an inappropriate display of his private life that did not suit the semi-public environment of his work space. No other PADDs awaited his attention, because work was always completed in a timely fashion, assignments returned to students at the earliest opportunity. Only a standard personal computer console to his right broke up the blank expanse of hardened, highly polished glass. The monitor, however, was turned off to avoid any diversion of his attention.

The office's location in a remote corner of the Sciences block meant that there was little background noise, and even less chance of being disturbed. Even Spock's over-sensitive Vulcan ears found the atmosphere blessedly silent. No sound but the gentle tap-beep, tap-beep as he flicked through pages on the data PADD which currently held his full attention.

Until he picked up the gentle thud of footsteps approaching. They were still far away; it would be a long time before their maker physically appeared. Spock did not pause in his work, fully expecting the steps to stop while still far away, or change direction to another wing of the Sciences. However, when the sound grew close enough that he was ninety-three per cent sure they came from the hallway beyond his office, Spock began to analyse them.

Brisk steps, but light, probably female. She wore rubber soled boots, most likely Starfleet issue. And – Spock turned his head to the side, pausing his work on the PADD for two seconds – she was humming under her breath. Spock blinked and resumed his work.

At the chime of his door, Spock placed his stylus to one side and arranged his face into its normal mask of blank indifference. "Enter."

The door opened promptly on his command and, slipping through the space before it had fully opened, in walked a positively-glowing Nyota Uhura. Spock looked neither surprised nor happy at her sudden appearance, but very slightly raised his right eyebrow and greeted her, "Good afternoon, Cadet. May I help you?"

She didn't respond immediately, but stood beaming opposite him. Then, after an interval of thirteen seconds, Nyota pulled from her satchel a small, portable PADD and, her head tilting to one side, read in a tone of extreme pride, "'Cadet Uhura's performance during Simulation 393/42 could only be described as exemplary. She demonstrated an ability to take command of a situation, excellent problem-solving skills and an understanding of First Contact procedure that is second to none. Her gift for Xenolinguistics was recently tested and proven to be beyond Academy standards, and adequately performed a rare language with complex morphology, syntax and phonetics.'" She took a moment to glance up at Spock, whose face remained carefully impassive. Only something in his eyes, some small, bright flicker of emotion showed at hearing the words of his own recommendation read back to him. "'Furthermore, an overview of previous simulations and examinations proves she has an unparalleled ability to identify sonic anomalies in subspace transmission tests. All of these factors result in my personal recommendation that, on full completion of her final examinations to the standard of her current performance, it is my personal recommendation that she be assigned to duty aboard the Enterprise upon the ship's readiness.'"

She looked up at him, hands dropping to her sides, grinning. Spock took a moment to admire the way in which her eyes shone. He somehow doubted she reached this level of joy often, and it was only logical to appreciate fleeting but intense beauty as and when the opportunity was presented.

"That is a confidential document, Cadet," Spock said eventually. "I must ask how it came to be in your possession."

Nyota rolled her eyes – the first time he had ever seen her do so, which was testimony enough to her heightened emotional state. "There's no such thing as confidential in this place. The engineering and interception students are too good for the Commanders to stay ahead of the game. And I know it's a bad idea to tell you that I even got this but ... Thank you! So much!"

Swallowing, Spock felt heat rising over his ears, as twists of orange and purple and fiery blue danced through his emotional centre. "Gratitude would be an inaccurate sentiment to express at such a time. Were I to draw any other conclusion from your performance, I would not be completing my job correctly. Furthermore, commissions are not sent solely on my recommendation, which was given purely on the condition that you maintain your currently high standards to the completion of your academic course." Taking a breath and relaxing slightly as her effusive expression began to abate into one of more familiar bemusement, he added, "As a student of Communications, I would have thought that you would have paid more attention to the conditional clause."

Placing the portable PADD back in her satchel, Nyota addressed the computer, "Lock door." She waited for the beep of confirmation before stepping smoothly around Spock's broad desk. He did not move or flinch, made no outward sign of the mild, pea-green thread of concern that was starting to mask the other colours in his glass box. Nor did he move when Nyota placed one hand on his desk, bracing her weight to lean down and brush her lips against his.

She had kept her eyes open this time, he dimly noticed, most of his attention focussed on not leaning into her touch. She tilted her head, watching his eyes – though for what reason, he could not fathom – and moved her lips against his. Reflex and stimulation and, if he were to be entirely honest, desire caused him to return the kiss. Not by pushing closer or deepening the kiss, but simply by responding in kind to the caressing movements of Nyota's lips.

When she pulled back again, standing straight, Nyota was still smiling. "That was a 'thank you', not a come on. In case you were worried."

"As a professional expression of gratitude, it strikes me as somewhat inappropriate," Spock said smoothly. He arched an eyebrow. "Should I warn Captain Pike of your methodology?" It was what was referred to as a tease and he hoped he had performed the human action adequately.

That strange expression that was both smile and frown passed over her face again, and Spock wished that he knew how to accurately place an emotion to it. "Fine, I admit it. There might have been a bit of a come on there."

A silence stretched between them, neither one certain how to move on from the shared kiss that should have been awkward, but instead felt ... right.

"I understood that we had an agreement regarding our strictly professional relationship," Spock began softly. He did not particularly want to say the words, but duty dictated that they were necessary.

"You know, I've been thinking about that. May I sit down?"

"Of course," Spock replied.

She perched on the edge of his desk instead of taking the seat opposite. Part of him had been looking forward to having something solid between them. A physical barrier would make the necessary severance of attachment somehow easier. Instead, he subtly slid back his chair, placing more space between his body and hers.

"I've been trying to think about this logically," her eyes slid up to his, a wry smile tugging at her lips, "which, I know, is harder for me than it is for you. But I really wanted you to respect my opinion, and that seemed like the smartest way to make myself understood." Spock nodded for her to continue. "First, I've been looking into Starfleet regulations, and the only officers absolutely excluded from relations with their juniors on ethical grounds are captains. To the best of my knowledge, you're not a captain. Not yet, anyway. As far as the Academy goes, there are rules relating to the proper use of Cadet dormitories, but I'm not looking to infringe on any of those. And there are strict regulations excluding relationships between Commanders and their students." Her dark eyes looked intently into his, a small frown drawing her eyebrows together. "But I seem to remember you establishing an informality on our meetings based specifically on the fact that I am not your student."

"I have been called on to assess your work," Spock interrupted gently, with a hint of peach regret, "At that point, you became my student."

"It was a single assessment, Spock. That's a grey area, at best. Furthermore, the basis for these regulations is the pre-conceived notion that a romantic relationship may result in favouritism. First off, I'm not sure that you're capable of favouritism." She smiled, small but pleasing. "And in the second place, one doesn't need to be in a physical relationship to have feelings that might lead them to favouritism, if one were so inclined."

"I hope this is not in reference to my recommendation, Nyota," he warned.

Far from causing an expression of contrition, Nyota smiled widely at him and belatedly he realised he had not denied the emotions to which she referred. He cleared his throat slightly, eyes flicking away from her face for the first time. "Furthermore, you forget that Vulcans do not 'feel'. Not in the manner to which you're referring."

"You feel," Nyota replied quickly, with a little too much certainty in her voice.

"It would be unwise to draw such a conclusion from the little you know of me," Spock replied smoothly.

She slipped a little closer along the smooth glass surface, her hand coming to rest just beside Spock's arm. "I worked it out, you know. A little private research into Vulcan physiology, and you'd be amazed what you can find. You were holding my hand, weren't you?"

Though there was no change in his external demeanour, Spock's mind ran rapidly through the conversation – through all of their previous conversations – trying to locate the moment at which he had apparently laid himself so bare to her scrutiny. It was not entirely surprising that she had discovered his moment of weakness three weeks previous. She was, after all, a highly intelligent woman. But that chinks in his self-control had been produced by an inclination to relax the strict harness on his emotions while in her presence. This was unacceptable but undeniable and, he suspected, irreversible. The entire situation would require a large amount of meditation to replace at least some of the emotional strictures Nyota had been covertly demolishing.

He had remained silent for too long. Yet another error in his judgement, as Nyota had chosen to take his silence for acquiescence.

"In conclusion," Nyota said primly, as though she were delivering a report of little importance, "Logically, I can't think of a decent reason why you shouldn't get out of your chair and kiss me."

As highly inappropriate as it was, the voice of Spock's mother floated to the surface of his subconscious. She asked him once, when he was still just a child, what logic there was in using an entire bottle of her very expensive perfume for one of his science experiments as a child. He had calmly, in the face of her rare but intense anger, explained the many academic benefits his actions had caused. That it was logical for him to continue experimenting and repeat his methodology to allow for variables. Mother had shaken her head and muttered, "You and your father and your logic. You both have a way of making it whatever you want it to be."

If this was true – and it was rare to find his mother in the wrong, despite her human failings – Nyota was more Vulcan than he could ever have imagined.

With a surge of purple and orange, Spock made the best decision possible using both sides of his personality and heritage. He slid his hand across the desk and brushed his fingertips over her knuckles. Her hand was as cool and smooth as he remembered, and the feel of her against his own highly sensitised digits sent a pleasurable resonance through his nervous system. Spock covered her small hand with his, running his thumb along the back of her middle finger.

"You're not throwing me out. Why aren't you kissing me?" Nyota asked softly.

Spock did not look up at her. He was too fascinated by the contrasting shades of their skin as he slipped his fingers between hers, twining them together. "I am," he said simply. His mind reached out to hers. He felt again that chaotic jumble of emotions and thoughts.

"Oh." Nyota turned her hand so that they held one another palm to palm. "And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss," she whispered, smiling. He did not know she smiled because he saw it, but because he felt it from within her.

"And in Vulcan?" Spock said, finally looking up at her with happiness and amusement and desire all deeply suppressed but undeniably suffusing his emotional centre. But naturally, none of those feelings showed by as much as a twitch in his face.

Nyota's eyes widened. "Crap, Conversational Vulcan!" She jumped off his desk, and moved toward the door. The sudden severance of contact left Spock's mind feeling cold and alone, the careful order of his thoughts and confined feelings becoming empty after the busy contact with Nyota's entirely free mental landscape. "I have to go, I'm late – Computer, unlock door." The responding beep sounded as she moved quickly towards the door. Something of Spock's disappointment must have shown, however minutely, in his face as Nyota added, "I'm sorry. Look, there's a whole bunch of us going out to celebrate results. Would you come?"

"Nyota, in light of-"

"It's just the Fleet bar, there are Commanders there all the time. It'll be fine, I promise."

Spock raised an eyebrow. He would have cautioned Nyota against making promises she could not guarantee, but there was clearly little time. "If I am not required elsewhere, I will attend in a purely congratulatory role."

She grinned as the door opened. "See you later, Sp-Commander."

"Good afternoon, Cadet."

When the door closed, Spock wasted no time returning to his work. It would, after all, need to be completed expediently if his presence was required elsewhere later that evening.

In all his years at Starfleet Academy, both as a Cadet and a graduate, Spock had successfully avoided the 'Fleet bar. He had cultivated excuses for numerous occasions in the early days, when his fellow cadets were sure it would only be a matter of time before his human side asserted itself. The fact that some of his colleagues persisted right to the end of Spock's four year studentship only served to prove him right: humans were an illogical race and wherever they chose to drink away their illogical evenings was no place for him.

Once he had graduated, Spock had no qualms in taking a more direct approach. During his studentship he had hedged and quietly excused himself, still wishing to be socially accepted by his peers if not actually socialise with them. As a graduate he was more direct: "I have no desire to enter your cathedral of inebriation. Your invitations, while gracious, are unnecessary. Please stop issuing them."

Standing by the bar – for there was no room to comfortably stand anywhere else – Spock thanked whatever deities could hear him over the din that he had managed to avoid this place for so long. It brought him to wonder what severe lapse in logic had eventually brought him here. Techno beats played at a volume designed to make inanimate objects bleed. No, that was an impossible hyperbole – probably brought about by his brain cells crashing against one another due to sound vibration processed at dangerous levels by his sensitive ears. To add to the general unpleasantness, he was surrounded by partially naked, perspiring bodies that gyrated against one another in time to the so-called music. There were too many people in too small a space – and yet by all available empirical evidence, they were enjoying themselves. Incomprehensible, and for once Spock had no desire to gain more information to devise the precise reasons for such an illogical response to deeply unpleasant stimuli.

The only thing that kept the experience from being entirely unbearable was Nyota's presence.

She had observed him the moment he entered, and weaved through the crowd to intercept him. Still in her scarlet uniform, the only differences in her appearance were that she had let down her long hair, and increased the amount of cosmetics she wore. It was quite an unnecessary gesture, but he had observed that many human women seemed to think it indispensable.

Handing him a glass containing a clear liquid, she rose up on her toes, pressing closer to speak to him above the music. "It's sparkling water with a twist of lime. I hope that's OK."

"Quite adequate," he replied, unaccustomed to raising his voice. The small frown on her face made him wonder whether she had heard him correctly.

Nyota glanced over her shoulder, and he followed her gaze. Her friends were dancing together. Spock steeled himself to refuse joining them.

But when Nyota tugged on his wrist, he stooped slightly so she could speak at her normal volume, but near enough for her lips to brush his cheekbone. "I know you won't join us, and I know you probably don't want to dance or do any kind of human bonding rituals, or whatever. But I really appreciate you coming." Her fingertips ran over his thumb, and Spock decided now would be the moment to develop a coping strategy for suppressing his body's natural reactions. Strategy mark one: firm touches were easier on his nervous system than fleeting, teasing strokes. He turned his hand, squeezing her fingers briefly before releasing them.

"Captain Pike is standing by the bar. I believe I will join him," Spock replied against Nyota's ear. He did not hear her sigh of pleasure when his lips made contact with the shell, but rather felt the soft puff of air against his skin. It was a reaction he had a highly illogical desire to experience again.

Looking over to the bar, Nyota nodded. She did not say anything else, but gestured for him to make his way over. Spock hesitated only a moment before doing so – though he paused en route to watch Nyota return to her friends. And somehow – it would take further observation to deduce a plausible working theory as to the precise mechanics involved – somehow she managed to make those grinding, thrusting movements, which were identical to everyone else's, seem erotic rather than vulgar. As he watched, she pressed back against McCoy, who definitely looked vulgar, and smiled up at him over her shoulder. The doctor's hand slid down her side to hold her hip and pull her a fraction of an inch closer. A deeply unpleasant olive green flared up in Spock's mind.

"This is the last place I expected to see you!" A firm hand clamped down on his shoulder. Spock easily broke the contact, turning in a way that brought him face-to-face with Captain Pike but took his shoulder out of the other man's reach. After so many years in the company of humans, it was one of several strategies he had developed to minimise physical contact without giving offense. The Captain grinned at him. Clearly, to him, the surprise was a pleasant one. "Is this some kind of Vulcan holiday or something?"

"One can only avoid a place for so long before growing curious," Spock replied smoothly, relieved to have moved away from the sound system. Spock nodded to two of his colleagues, who stood beside the Captain.

"Well, what d'you think?" Pike asked, leaning back against the bar.

Spock had always found it difficult to lie to a superior office, and so replied, "It surpasses all expectations."

Pike laughed, but before he could say anything more Nyota's Orion room mate appeared at his side. Her green skin glowed from exertion, and she tottered a little, holding on to the bar for purchase. "Captain Pike! You're a gentleman. Buy a girl a drink?"

One side of his mouth lifting in an easy if bemused smile, Pike turned to the young Cadet and took a subtle half-step back from her. "Certainly will, but it's going to be a soft one. A soda, maybe?"

Gaila, who Spock judged to be not nearly as drunk as she was pretending to be, lifted a critical eyebrow. "How nice of you. I'll settle for a soda if you'll dance with me."

Pike shook his head, turning to Spock to ask rhetorically, "What have you been teaching this girl in negotiations?" He leaned over the bar and called out, "Can I get a soda over here, please? With ice? Someone needs cooling down."

Nevertheless, Captain Pike was only partially unwilling as he was dragged towards the writhing mass of human bodies. Faintly, he heard the Captain say, "Fine, one dance, but I'm going home after that. Alone." Neither of his colleagues seemed desirous of engaging Spock in any kind of conversation, so he contented himself with watching the crowd.

But Spock never merely watched, for such an idle action was beneath him. Particularly when he was surrounded by new displays of human behaviour, entirely different from anything he observed in the classroom or the mess hall. Focussing on a predictable portion of the room, he closely studied the movements of three particular humans.

Cadets Kirk, McCoy and Nyota danced together on the fringes of the crowd. They laughed as they moved and regularly made eye contact, smiling as though at some private joke. The two men were comfortable enough in each other's company to touch, which was something Spock had noticed many heterosexual men preferred not to do in public. And Nyota, while clearly enjoying herself, frequently pulled away from the hands of the other two. She did not complain, but neither did she allow them to get too close. McCoy broke away and began to walk towards the bar, head still bobbing to the rhythm. Nyota's smile became more forced as the second man drew closer to her, but she was more than capable, Spock knew, of fending for herself.

Cadet McCoy had clearly noticed Spock's presence, for he came towards him without deviation. The slightly shorter man leant against the bar to Spock's left and waited for service. "Fancy seeing you here, Commander," he drawled without looking at Spock.

Spock said nothing.

"You don't seem to be enjoying yourself much," McCoy continued when he got no response.

"On the contrary. It is proving to be a fascinating social exercise." Spock sipped his drink for the first time. Nyota had made a valiant effort in choosing a beverage, but the lime flavour reminded Spock too clearly of less favourable emotions. He put the glass down on the bar and clasped his hands behind his back.

"You like watching the crowd," McCoy noted. As the bartender drew near, his eyebrows flashed in greeting, and his body shifted forwards over the surface to gain and keep the server's attention. "Bud Classic, please." Deft movements removed the cap from the bottle, and passed it over the bar to McCoy's waiting hand. As the Captain had done before him, McCoy turned and leant back, staring out at the mass of bodies along with Spock. "I get that. I watch people a lot, too."

"Indeed," Spock said noncommittally.

"I've been watching Uhura. Y'know, because I'm not blind. What sane man wouldn't?" Spock could feel the other man's scrutiny, and was very careful not to tighten his jaw, narrow his eyes or make any other physical sign that McCoy's words had any kind of affect. "Pity it's a lost cause." Another pause. Spock had absolutely no intention of showing how closely he was listening. Patience was a Vulcan virtue, as well as a human one. "She's got her heart set on some other guy. Can't figure out who it is, though. Say, Commander, you have those snuggly intimate little Vulcan chats every week." In the periphery of his vision, he saw McCoy turn to face him. "Has she said anything to you?"

Slowly, with a calculated raise of the eyebrow, Spock looked over at the young doctor. He took his time, formulating his words carefully. "Cadet McCoy. Your suggestion that I share some sort of intimacy with Cadet Uhura is severely misplaced. Furthermore, any information shared with me in the privacy of my own quarters is entirely confidential. As a doctor, I assume you understand the concept?"

Far from having the desired effect, McCoy cracked a wide grin, lifting his bottle to take a long draft. "Indeed I do, Commander. Indeed I do."

Though he drew breath to respond with a query regarding the Cadet's bizarre reaction, he was interrupted. Nyota's slim form slipped between them. She leaned into McCoy, in what Spock thought to be an entirely unnecessary manner, and rested a hand against his shoulder. "I'm shattered, I'm going home."

"Aw, but this is your big 'I'm a genius' party," he said, hand resting casually on her waist. Spock could not be certain, but thought he saw the doctor's eyes flick in his direction for a split second.

"Yeah, well," Nyota slid away, moving to stand opposite the pair. "Geniuses are no good if they're hung over and tired."

"OK," McCoy shifted closer, pulling Nyota into a sloppy hug, which she returned with an awkward look in Spock's direction. Spock raised his customary eyebrow a fraction, only half-amused. "I'd better go prop Jim up in case he falls on someone's breasts again."

Spock believed he would have to have serious words with Nyota about the company she kept outside of the classroom.

And finally, the inebriated young medic was gone. Nyota moved imperceptibly closer to Spock. When just the tips of her fingers interlocked with his, he felt among her many tumultuous emotions a fluttering note of subtle pink nervousness that was surprisingly endearing. "Walk me home?" she asked.

"It would be ... a great relief," he responded quickly.

They walked side-by-side across the campus grounds. The night was clear, hot and dry in a way that made Spock feel almost at home. Nyota was close, but not close enough to draw undue attention. Spock's head was very slightly bowed as he walked, hands clasped behind his back. His companion's posture was much more relaxed, and she weaved very slightly as they walked. Her arm occasionally bumped against his, though he could not discern whether the contact was intended or accidental. The pair maintained a comfortable silence for most of the walk, but as they turned past the large Starfleet monument, and through the quad toward the dorms, Nyota commented in Vulcan, "I like your kind of kissing. Do you like it?"

The question seemed rather redundant. By definition, the hand contact that was an approximation of 'kissing' in the Vulcan culture was intended to be pleasurable. It was designed to stimulate through skin-to-skin contact one of the most sensitive areas of the Vulcan anatomy and, when such a contact occurred with a person one found attractive to begin with, it could only produce a pleasurable response. However, Nyota was looking at him with the same slight fog in her eyes that he had noticed on New Year's Eve. So he merely replied, "I do."

"It's more ... innocent than human kissing." Though her command of the language was in most circumstances flawless, she was ever so slightly slurring through her glottal stops. Nyota reached behind him and tugged gently on his wrist, until he relented and allowed his arms to rest at his sides. She lightly scraped her nails up his palm, and then chuckled. "You're blushing," she told him. "I can tell, you go all green around your ears."

Spock did not deny the accusation, but took her hand more firmly in his, moving close to her so the intimacy would not be immediately obvious to any on-lookers.

They came level with the entrance to the cadet dormitories, and Nyota stopped. "You probably shouldn't come in."

Spock nodded, relieved that he was not required to make an excuse that might bring Nyota to the wrong conclusion. He did, however, take two extra steps to bring them into the shadowed doorway and the building, allowing them to be hidden from at least eighty-five per cent of the surrounding buildings. "First, you should be aware that allowing you to touch my hand is not 'innocent' by any definition on Vulcan." Purple flared through the glass enclosure of his emotions, drowning out every other colour as he watched Nyota's pupils dilate. He ran his thumb over her palm in a manner he himself would have found deeply erotic. But Nyota just smiled. This was an unsatisfactory reaction. "Second, while more obvious to a casual observer, the human form of kissing has many pleasing advantages."

Spock gently pulled Nyota closer, and enjoyed her soft hum of pleasure as their lips met in what was becoming a familiar action. Her fingers ran up over his wrist, and Spock found that all his coping strategies could not hold back the involuntary shiver that ran along his spine.

Although Spock's calculations were entirely accurate, he had made one very grave error. While only fifteen per cent – or fifteen-point-three per cent, to be specific – of the surrounding buildings had a masked or direct view of the shadowed doorway in which the couple kissed, he had not taken into account the importance of one of those windows. At one, single, unluckily occupied window a stern figure stood glancing out at the night on a whim. Not at all expecting to see the unmistakable form of one of his finest Commanders walking beside a female cadet. And was he mistaken? Or were they holding hands? He took a step closer to the window, his frown deepening when Spock pulled the cadet into the doorway and, saying something he could not even guess at, leaned down to kiss her in a manner that couldn't possibly be taken as platonic.

Sighing and shaking his head, Captain Pike turned away from the window. Twenty-three-hundred hours was no time to fix such a situation. This was something he'd need to sleep on.

Conversational Vulcan

A Star Trek Story
by Blue Moon3

Part 10 of 16

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