Continuing Tales

Conversational Vulcan

A Star Trek Story
by Blue Moon3

Part 11 of 16

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Conversational Vulcan

"When you're too in love to let it go

But if you never try then you'll never know"

Captain Christopher Pike considered himself to be a very lucky man. He had two kids, both now in their teens, and no wife – ex or otherwise. He loved his job, but didn't live for it, and when he wasn't called on to be a general or a diplomat, he also enjoyed his position at the Academy. So many young, talented people had passed through his small cluttered office and gone on to achieve great things. He considered Spock to be one of his more exceptional students.

A singular cadet, enthusiastic research student and formidable commander – at least Christopher was sure he would be as soon as they found a decent post for him. Until that time, Spock had seemed content to teach and had settled into an easy routine. Vulcans were blessed with a long lifespan, and Spock was apparently in no hurry. He'd developed a reputation among the students as a bit of a frosty bastard, but it was healthy to have a few such personalities on the roster. It kept the kids in check.

So Christopher had found it alarming that Spock, the most reliable and rule-abiding commander in the 'Fleet, needed to be called to his office. After witnessing what he had from his bedroom window, there was no way he could just let it slide. It might be a gray area according to the rules, but any selection boards would certainly frown upon an illicit relationship with a cadet if this got out. So he had watched. For two weeks he kept a very close eye on Spock, dropped in on his classes, observed him from across the mess at mealtimes, spoken to a few of his students. In every respect his conduct seemed exemplary. This did not make matters any easier.

The door chimed, announcing his guest's arrival. "Come on in, Spock," Christopher called, the door somehow translating his indirect command and swishing open.

Spock's appearance was as fastidious as ever. Clean-shaved, razor-sharp hairline, immaculately pressed black uniform. Christopher was pretty sure that, were he to look down, he would see his own reflection in Spock's standard issue boots. He stood about a foot from the desk, posture ram-rod straight, hands clasped behind his back. The man's slightly disarming eyes stared fixedly at the wall.

"Please, Spock, take a seat." Christopher sat back in his chair, purposely keeping his body language informal.

"Thank you, Captain. I prefer to stand."

The older man nodded, spreading his hands on the desk before him. "OK." He took a breath, watching Spock closely. "Do you know why I asked you up here?"

Nothing. Didn't want to lie, and didn't want to give anything away. He had to admit, in Spock's position he'd react exactly the same.

"There was a night about two weeks ago when I saw you walking with a woman in a Cadet's uniform. And you were acting in a way that makes me think you were or are romantically involved with her. Now, I don't know who she is, and I'm not asking you to tell me." Because, let's face it, when the faculty had chuckled about Gaila tricking Spock into kissing her room mate under the mistletoe, it had all seemed completely innocent. It was common knowledge she went to him for extra tuition on the Vulcan language – hell, it was a fact they'd used to their best advantage in her recent simulation – but Christopher knew it was all too easy for a close working relationship to turn into more. He just plain hadn't thought Spock was capable.

Spock was still perfectly still, offering neither explanation nor excuse. Instead, he waited patiently for the axe to fall. It would have been admirable, if it weren't so damned infuriating.

"I know you, or I thought I did. I know you well enough to be sure you've read the rule book. And if it were any other man standing in front of me, I'd be throwing it at them."

Still nothing. Christopher stood and took a step closer to his immoveable former student. He tried to reconcile this stern, serious figure with the one he had seen tilt his head and kiss a pretty girl, or walk through the quad holding hands. It somehow didn't quite gel. "There's nothing written directly against a Cadet and a commanding officer, if she's not your student. I'm assuming she's not?"

Spock blinked, and it was something of a relief that he wasn't entirely made of stone. "No, Captain."

Well, at least he wasn't trying to deny it. Not that Christopher had thought for a moment he would. That would have been a human response, and Spock clearly reserved his human responses for very special occasions. "OK. But I'm sure you can also see how a selection committee might take this situation into account. It could still be interpreted as an abuse of power, Spock. And it would be a heck of a shame to have to pass the Kobayashi Maru programming over to someone else. Let alone forgetting about that nice little commission I know you're angling for." For the first time, Spock's eyes met his Captain's. Christopher had had a sneaking suspicion that, beyond all else, the Enterprise was still at the forefront of Spock's surprisingly ambitious mind. "Mmm. Thought that might get your attention," he muttered. "You ready to sit down yet?"

Christopher could see the calculations running through the Vulcan's head, as if the social interaction could be turned into an equation and simplified. With a stiff nod, Spock took the other chair, and Christopher returned to his own seat. "Now, I taught you for four years, Spock. I was an assessor on your post-grad thesis. You've always been an exemplary student, and you're doing pretty well as a teacher. You'll be better on a starship, but we'll get to that. I'm not going to ask why you'd jeopardise everything for some Cadet, because I think that would be a stupid question. Men like you don't just pick a lady out of a hat, now, do they? But what I do need to know is that this isn't going to affect your work – or hers, for that matter – and that there will be no favouritism if you're called on to make a judgement on her future."

To his credit, Spock thought it over. He was balancing up whatever passed for emotion against his ability to do his job, in a way that sort of had the Captain decided before he even spoke. "I have already made a recommendation on her behalf. It was not at her behest, but because I was asked for my opinion. My opinion of any person's capability to do a job is entirely unaffected by whatever they may be to me in a social capacity. But I would understand if my personal reference cannot be taken on record." He took a deep breath, eyebrows drawing together very slightly. "To the best of my knowledge, which is considerable, my performance has been exemplary in every respect."

"Except for your drop out rate, Spock. You lose more Cadets than any other teacher in the Sciences."

One eyebrow raised independent of the other, in the way it used to when Spock knew he was right and the textbook was wrong. "If Cadets cannot keep up with a perfectly reasonable workload, I do not see how I can be blamed."

"I'm sure you don't," Christopher grinned. "If I choose to keep this under my hat, it is strictly on the grounds that I know if anyone can keep a straight head when it comes to women, it's you. I need for you to prove me right."

Spock continued to stare at the wall to the right of Christopher's head. It might have been his imagination, but he thought Spock let out a breath he might have been holding. Eventually, after no doubt further calculations and scenario considerations, he gave a single terse nod.

"And that includes being a little more discrete, Commander." Christopher allowed his voice to take on a teasing note. "No more making out in doorways or holding hands down the corridors. I don't mind telling you there are a fair few people on this staff looking for a reason to keep you on an Outlook on the edge of the Neutral Zone."

One more stiff nod. "Agreed," he replied.

"Good," Christopher said. "Dismissed, Commander."

He watched the Vulcan rise, tugging at his tunic to pull it straight. He turned and took long strides to the door. "Oh, Spock, one more thing," Christopher said, halting the Commander. Spock turned his head, eyes flicking back to the desk. "Tell Uhura she aced that last simulation, and I'm very proud of her."

Something like a smile quivered at the corner of Spock's lips, before it was quickly repressed. "I will pass your message to Nyota. She will be flattered."

The door having closed, leaving Christopher alone in his office, he let out a bark of laughter and stretched to rest his hands behind his head. Because if Spock wasn't falling as fast and hard as a Vulcan could for that pretty over-achiever, then he was a monkey's uncle.

Her husband ensconced in the meditation room, Amanda was free to turn to the computer console without being expected to explain herself. It was never easy being stuck between two very stubborn Vulcan men, especially when they so easily invented unnecessary conflict backed up by their terribly convenient logic. Sarek was logically angry at Spock for turning down the Science Academy in favour of Starfleet and embarrassing him in front of his fellow Ministers. Spock was logically angry at his father for not supporting his decision, nor for standing up for his human heritage.

Except of course, neither of them was angry. Or embarrassed. Or stubborn. Because that would have been illogical, and pointing out anything to the contrary was just too much like hard work. It was genuinely easier to sneak transmissions to Spock when Sarek wasn't looking.

She thought of it as sneaking, but of course Sarek knew about the communications link she had set up with Spock's quarters at the Academy. He professed to have no opinion on Amanda's illogical, irrational, emotional, human need to keep close relations with her only son.

Checking the clock on the console monitor, she made quick calculations. Today was one of those rare occasions when the daylight hours of Earth and Vulcan were roughly synched. It should be early evening, meaning Spock would be studying or meditating. With a shrug, she took her chances. "Computer, open communication line to 'Spock Academy'."

The machine chirruped in response and she waited a few moments. Then a message flashed up on the screen, reporting 'Access Granted – Connecting'.

Then the message was gone, and instead she saw the usual scene as taken by the camera in the corner of Spock's living room. A sofa and two chairs upholstered in bland Starfleet gray; an empty desk to the left of his small kitchenette; and the sun set clearly visible through the window. She searched the screen for movement, and saw Spock rising from the sofa. This, in itself, was odd. Spock preferred a stool or straight-backed chair, something more regimented and ... Vulcan. But as the figure straightened, it became very obvious that it was not Spock. A smaller figure, feminine, silhouetted against the window. Squinting slightly, Amanda leaned closer to try and make the woman out. "Hello?" she said tentatively.

"Hello, Mrs Grayson. It's Uhura – we spoke briefly once before?"

Eyebrows instantly lifted as the girl came into focus, stepping up closer to the camera. Amanda smiled widely and noticed for the first time what a very attractive young woman this Uhura was. "Yes, of course. Good evening, Miss Uhura. I'm sorry to interrupt, but it can be a bit of a challenge to find days when the hours are reasonable here and on Earth."

"Oh, you're not interrupting. Spock's just gone next door for some sugar. He won't be a minute." The girl leant on one hip, hands fidgeting before her. Amanda had almost forgotten what a nervous young human looked like and it made her smile and remember the days when she had been young and awkward. "It's easy enough for us to re-schedule. I really hate to intrude."

"Not an intrusion at all. It's nice to know Spock has company." Amanda tried not to load the word with any connotations, despite her suspicions that her son might have found someone to care for as more-than-a-friend.

Uhura turned as the door opened behind her and Spock entered. "Nyota?" he murmured, when he saw that the girl was not where he had left her.

"A transmission came in, and as it was from Vulcan I accepted. I hope that's acceptable," the girl said in flawless Standard Vulcan.

Amanda beamed as Spock drew up beside Uhura. "Spock, your student's pronunciation is excellent. You should be very proud."

"Thank you," Uhura replied. "I'll just ... make myself scarce."

She watched Uhura take the cup of sugar, saw her fingers brush over Spock's and his Spock-smile at the brief contact. As a mother, and a mother of a socially introverted young man at that, Amanda longed to reel off a long barrage of questions. However, memories held her back. Memories of her own mother, forever nosing and nagging and going through her things. Memories of her early tentative courtship with Sarek, and the hideous event that was meeting his mother. Pragmatically, Amanda held her own counsel. It didn't take a genius to work out there was something going on, and doubtless Spock would tell her precisely what that was when the time was right.

The young woman made her way over to the kitchenette, head ducked in an attempt not to eavesdrop as she poured water into the caffetiere.

Spock turned his full attention to the screen and Amanda wished that the resolution were better. His expressions were fleeting and subtle enough without being further occluded by a fuzzy picture. "Good evening, mother," he said softly. "I have not heard from you in some time. Would you like Nyota and I to re-schedule?"

"No, not in the slightest. I'm afraid I have nothing incendiary to report, and I won't keep you too long." She smiled widely, settling forward in her seat. "I actually just wanted to let you know that your father will be on a diplomatic visit to Earth in two weeks. So, if it's alright, I'll come and see you."

His dark head ducked slightly. "Your company is always welcome, Mother, but Father will require your presence."

"And in any other corner of the universe he could have it. But I refuse to be on the same planet as you without dropping by. The dignitaries will have to live without me – I'm sure they'll cope."

Amanda couldn't be certain, not from her very poor vantage point, but she thought that Spock looked satisfied. "If you are certain Father will not mind, then I would be pleased to see you." Uhura was stirring her coffee behind Spock, spoon chinking against the porcelain. "And I would very much like to meet you in person, Miss Uhura. I used to love Xeno-linguistics myself, before I found my own research project to live with."

When she turned around, Uhura was grinning. "I'd like that. The dialect you and Spock use together is absolutely fascinating – the combination of Vulcan with Earth English slang? I could sit and listen to you with a data PADD for hours."

"I think that's a compliment," Amanda said, chuckling.

"It is," Spock confirmed.

She was used to his voice containing a steely spine of certainty, but there was something else to his tone. A familiarity she had never known him use in regard to anyone but her. It was rather bittersweet, in a way. "Well, I'll let you kids get on. And I'll send a transmission nearer to the time to let you know when I'll be arriving."

Spock nodded, "Please do. I look forward to seeing you."

"Goodnight then. Have a good evening, you two."

They both chorused 'goodnight', both smiling, though in entirely different ways. Spock leant forward and pressed the button to cut his end of the connection, removing Amanda's image from their screen. On any other occasion, Amanda would do the same. But curiosity got the better of her, and she paused for a moment, intrigued to see how her son would behave with this new friend without his mother's transmitted presence.

Spock turned to Uhura, so his back was to the screen. Uhura's smile was small but there. He held out an arm, gesturing back towards the couch, but Uhura moved towards him instead. Her small, dark hand rested on his jaw and she said something – though without the audio feed, Amanda had no idea what. Then Spock leant forward in what was presumably a kiss. Brief and perfunctory, no doubt, but more physical affection than she had ever seen him display for anybody. They walked together to the seating area, Uhura re-taking her original seat, and Spock perching on a stool as was his custom.

Leaning forwards, she pressed her thumb to the 'end trans' button, and stood to make herself some coffee.

Three hours later, Sarek found Amanda curled up on a recliner on the balcony, a data PADD in her lap. But her attention was focussed out over the desert vista before her, ignoring whatever information she had decided to peruse. He laid a hand on her head, as he did only when they were alone, and she turned to look at him and smiled. "You were a while," she said, raising her arm to touch her index and middle fingers to his in their customary gesture of affection.

It was easy, after so long, to peruse her mind, and Amanda seldom had any objections on the matter. What he felt – or rather, saw that she felt – surprised him. "You are concerned about Spock," he said, moving to sit beside her on the recliner. Sarek's eyes were entirely blank as he regarded his wife. "You have communicated with him this evening?"

Amanda nodded slowly. Her eyebrows were very slightly drawn together, and her mouth was not at all curved, which was highly unusual. "I think he's got a girlfriend," she replied.

"A human?" Sarek asked. Amanda nodded once more. A troubling prospect indeed, for more than one reason. Sarek took a few moments before responding. "Such a relationship is impossible, as you and Spock both know. You saw Spock expressing uncommon intimacy towards a human woman?" Again, Amanda nodded. "Then there can be only one logical conclusion: that Spock is intrigued by the ways of human interaction and, in an inappropriate display of curiosity, has sought to find out more."

"It's not impossible in the slightest," Amanda said, frowning at her husband in irritation. "Spock's half human, it was always a possibility that he would want to choose a partner himself. Like a human. Or like his father. I told you that arranged marriages were archaic nonsense thirty years ago. In fact, I'm pretty sure I made my feelings on the subject clear quite a long time before Spock was even a consideration. My opinions haven't changed."

Sarek's face was entirely impassive, the flat line of his mouth becoming neither sterner nor softer at Amanda's words. When he spoke, however, his voice was hard. "Were I to say something similar of human culture, you would greet me with a highly irrational, probably volatile response," he said, and he could see from the contrition on her face that Amanda knew he was right on this small point at least.

"Fine," she said, "I'll word it differently. Spock's biology is partially human and, therefore, subject to human needs. One human need is company, a social companion. A romantic companion."

"You suggest he requires a female for sexual intercourse?" Sarek asked, eyebrow slightly raised.

"No," she said quickly. "I said nothing of the kind, stop twisting my words." Her hand found his once more, fingertips stroking over his palm in a way she hoped would soften his resolve as well as demonstrate her point. "We need someone to be close to, with whom we can share ourselves. And we can't hang around for seven years, or until the next hormone surge to find that someone. And when that someone shows up, we can't ignore them in favour of the person that was picked out for us at birth. You should know that." Sarek nodded minutely. "And if you don't believe that of Vulcans as well as humans, then I don't know why you married me."

"As Ambassador to Earth, marriage to a human was logical," Sarek said, remembering clearly the day he had told Spock the same lie.

Unlike her son, Amanda saw right through him. She smiled widely. "There was nothing logical in learning to kiss like a human, then sneaking up on me during the Andorian Ambassadorial address in San Francisco. In fact, I remember you yourself remarking that it was incredibly illogical behaviour and you had no intention of repeating it." Once again proving that single declaration foolish, rash and – dare he even think it? – too logical, he leant forward to press his lips to hers in the way he knew she still found enjoyable, even after forty years of marriage.

Through the continuing contact of their hands and the added burst of telepathic contact the meeting of their lips provided, Sarek felt something still more troubling. "It is not Spock's existing engagement that truly concerns it."

She shrugged. "To be perfectly honest, it hadn't occurred to me. I always knew it was a bad idea." Rather than show any irritation or anger at his wife's words – which were emotional and probably an attempt to provoke him, as Amanda sometimes still liked to do – he channelled his energies into analysing her emotional frequencies and thought patterns. "It is Spock's choice of developing a relationship at all that concerns you."

She shrugged, sighing and attempting a smile. "Maybe it's a human thing. Maternal instinct, perhaps. I just hope he knows what he's getting himself into."

Blinking once, Sarek intertwined their fingers in an uncommonly intimate gesture. "You are concerned that Spock has reached the final stage of his childhood by considering taking a mate. And that he is replacing you in some way?"

"No," Amanda replied, with a frown and jut to her lower lip that was clearly an admission of guilt. "Not entirely."

Sarek shook his head slowly. "You must put such unfounded worries from your mind. I maintain that it is highly likely Spock is indulging either a base carnal instinct, highly ingrained in human males, or instead seeks to learn more in a highly developed social experiment." Amanda raised a critical eyebrow, but he ignored her, only conceding, "I will admit that he would be unlikely to grow close to anybody who did not hold a logical significance to him, but it is perfectly possible – indeed, likely – that there will be several such women for him. But Spock will only ever have one mother. It is highly illogical, even for you, to assume that matters could be otherwise."

For a man who professed to feel nothing, Sarek had astounding moments of empathetic clarity. With a watery smile, Amanda leant forward and embraced him in a way that he usually found distasteful. On this occasion, however, he put aside his own discomfort and wrapped his arms around his wife – if only for the sake of returning to a logical routine.

Conversational Vulcan

A Star Trek Story
by Blue Moon3

Part 11 of 16

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