Continuing Tales

For the Rest of Us

A Star Trek Story
by Psicygni

Part 2 of 10

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"You didn't tell me you were Commander Spock," she says, slipping up behind him in the line for oatmeal in the mess hall and nodding down at the rank stripes on his wrist.

He turns, obviously startled and obviously trying to hide it. He looks so much more formal and austere in instructor blacks, like the Vulcan who talked easily among the others at the gathering has been subsumed into being an officer and a professor.

"I could say likewise," he finally responds after his gaze has flicked over her own cadet uniform. It's not wrinkled, she's sure of it, having pressed it neatly in preparation for the first day of classes but she still resists the urge to smooth her hands over the fabric under the weight of his gaze.

"I didn't realize you were also in Starfleet," she says as she takes the ladle from him and spoons oatmeal into her bowl. "Were there other officers there?"

"Chorenn works in the maintenance department at Headquarters and Eraow works in administration for the dean's office."

Nyota frowns at the steam curling up from her bowl. "I'm not sure I met them."

"I will introduce you if you attend another gathering."

"Oh," she says, quickly tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "That'd be great. I don't know, though, I have so much work and…" And she's human and feels a little bit like an outsider in the enclave of off-worlders they've created for themselves.

"Dedication to your studies is logical."

"Thanks," she says as she pours honey over her cereal. He skips the sweeteners, and the milk, and the dried fruit, so that he's simply holding a bowl of plain, steaming hot oatmeal. "Well, nice to meet you, again, sir."

"Again," he says. "Likewise."

"I didn't think you'd want to come," Gaila says when Nyota walks into their room and finds her bent over, her green hands quickly lacing up her shoes. "You never do anything during the semester. Don't you want to spend all night doing homework?"

"I, uh-" Nyota looks down at her hands, which are admittedly full of lecture notes she was going to review, summarize, and color code for future reference. "I don't know, maybe I want to come."

Gaila grimaces and crosses the room to hug her.

"Sorry. I should have asked."

"It's- my hair, Gaila, ow – it's fine." Gaila lets her go after one final squeeze. "And I should probably do this, anyway," she says ruefully to her handful of homework.

"Up to you," Gaia says lightly, slipping on her jacket. "But you'll miss all the fun."

"Cardassian orthography is fun," Nyota says, scrunching up her nose and sighing out a long breath at the thought of it.

"Your loss," Gaila says as she tugs her hair out from under the collar of her coat. "Especially when you consider that instead of doing that you could spend the evening talking to what's-his-face about morphology or whatever he teaches."


"The Vulcan guy."

"Oh. Yeah. He teaches morphology? How do you know that? I didn't even realize he was in Starfleet, I've never seen him around."

"He said something about it a couple weeks ago, and he just got back from a deployment. I meant to tell you but there's this thing that I do where I don't think about school all the time. I highly recommend it."

"Funny, you're funny, Gaila," Nyota says as she sets her padds down on her desk, arranging them just so. She flicks on the screen on the top one and scrolls through it, frowning at the lines of text. "Do you talk to him a lot?"


"Commander Spock. You seemed to know him a bit?"

"Yeah, he's nice. Smart. Tall. And when I say nice I mean kind of boring. And when I say smart I mean like a genius. And when I say tall I just mean that he's really tall. I think he was on the Lexington until just recently and then transferred back to teach?"


Nyota gets another hug, a quick one this time, before Gaila wraps a scarf around her neck and checks her appearance once more.

"See you later, Ny."

"I'll, uh, I'll come if you give me a minute."

"What? Wait, really?"

"Yeah, just-" Nyota reaches for her boots, looks down at the uniform she's still wearing, and begins tugging it off. She pulls on a different sweater, frowns at that one too, then selects yet another shirt out of her dresser.

"It's not a fashion show."

"Two seconds," she says, stepping into her nicest pair of jeans and fishing her comm and wallet out of her school bag and grabbing her purse off its hook by the door. She drops the earrings she was wearing on the top of her dresser, not where she normally keeps them but Gaila's half smirking, half glaring at her and she tries to hurry. She grabs a different pair, ones that match her shirt, and shrugs at her roommate.


"Nothing. Are you ready or do you want to change your clothes five more times?"

"Ready, I'm ready."

"Geez, just wear your uniform next time," Gaila mutters as Nyota reaches behind her standard issue boots for her nice brown, Argellian leather ones that she hardly ever gets a chance to wear. "Who's going to see you, Yeinydd?"

"Who's that?"

"The guy in the pot."

"The Seiliu?"

"Yep. You should see him when he's not all leafy, like in the winter when he's molting. He's hot, if you like tree bark."

"If I ever find myself attracted to someone with bark for skin, I will keep that in mind," Nyota says. "And I'm really, actually ready now, let's go."

"Gaila said you teach morphology?" she asks when she finds herself next to the Commander as they hang up their jackets. Gaila's already flitted off across the room, either having seen alcohol, desert, or someone attractive. Nyota straightens her roommate's' haphazard job of hanging up her coat, and carefully tucks Gaila's scarf into the pocket before hanging her own next to it. The Commander is even more particular, so that when he's done arranging his jacket on the hook it looks like it couldn't possibly be neater.

"I do."

"I haven't see you around the department," she admits. "But I guess you weren't teaching at the Academy before this semester."

"You are focusing in xenolinguistics?" he asks and she nods. "What is your surname?"


"Ah." She's surprised by the recognition that seems to cross his otherwise blank expression. "You wrote a paper on xenosociolinguistics and how caste divisions in Klingon society are reflected in verb conjugations."

Across the room, Gaila catches her eye and mimes snoring.

"I… yes, I did," she says, casting a quick glare towards Gaila, who just grins back.

"Commander Ho shared it with the faculty as an example of particularly strong analysis of quantitative methods," he says and she feels herself flush. "It was commendable work."

"Thank you," she says, trying to not smile too wide. "That's nice to hear, sir."

Gaila's standing behind the Commander acting like she's swooning and Nyota scowls at her over his shoulder.

"How were you able to find sufficient sources from which to establish a baseline?" he asks, glancing behind him at Gaila, who's already turned and busied herself getting a drink by the time he looks.

"I used all those old recordings from the talks after the Kelvin incident, when Starfleet was looking into if they were at fault? There's a lot there."

"The intervening decades did not negatively affect the quality of analysis?"

"Well it's so interesting because I thought that might be the case, but most scholars agree that due to the rigidity of the society, their language doesn't go through the same generation mutations that Terran ones would, or even Andorian or Trill."

"Fascinating. I have not studied Klingon in great depth."

"Well I don't blame you. It gives me a headache to speak for too long."

One eyebrow twitches and it quite nearly looks like a smile. "I will take that under advisement if I ever find myself with an inclination to become more proficient in it."

"Watch out for Chillaid, too, then, unless you're familiar with it already," she says and then Gaila's at her side with two drinks and someone's stepped on Didiza and has her all over the sole of their boot and the Commander is greeting O'nama and she doesn't have a chance to find out if he knows how to speak it.

She has to start refusing drinks after her second one, or probably risk not making it home and spending the evening slumped in a corner of the room as she watches it spin.

It's already spinning a little, just gently, and she quickly downs a glass of water and then a second one.

"Water is the drink of weakness," Trav barks at her in Tellarite. He barely comes up to her chin so she's in the position of having to look down at him to argue back.

"Oh bug off," Gaila says, stepping between them. Gaila's taken a shine to the Tellarite celebration of Morath that the evening is in honor of. She doesn't speak the language, meaning that Nyota has translated more than one argument as Gaila enthusiastically helps celebrate the tradition of disagreeing. Over everything.

Nyota always knew that Tellarites liked to argue – their language is full of references to it and they have thirty six different ways to tell someone they're wrong – but being at an evening commemorating the cultural practice is something else entirely.

She pops another bite of digikiki in her mouth – she has no idea what it is, precisely, but it's delicious and she has no intention of asking in case the answer puts her off of it – and watches Gaila wiggle her nose in an admirable emulation of the Tellarite gesture for when the other person is a certifiable moron.

"So this is something you celebrate every week?" she asks Gouth. She has to glance down to talk to him since he only comes up to her shoulder, a height difference that rather puts her in mind of every time she talks to Commander Spock.

"Regularly," he says proudly. "But we try to make sure everyone gets to celebrate their major holidays, so we only have Morath day when the schedule's clear." He snorts a sigh out his nose. "With all the off worlders coming to Tellar Prime these days, I'm not even sure that it's all that established of a tradition anymore. When I was young, I remember arguments that involved the whole town. Kids these days seem content to just disagree over what holovid to watch." He shakes his head, his nose scrunching up in obvious irritation over that fact before he relaxes it again and looks up at her. "I didn't mean any offense, Miss Uhura, over off worlder influence. I don't know if you've ever visited Tellar Prime but a lot of other cultures don't have the stomach for what we do."

"Oh, its… No, that's fine, I understand."

"Traditions change," he says, his snout twitching despondently. He brightens slightly when he scans the room. "But this is nice. A couple years ago the police showed up due to a noise complaint when we were arguing about the decision to let the Acaer into the Federation. That was a wonderful night."

"I can imagine," she says diplomatically.

"And if you ever have a chance to get into a debate with the Commander over there, you won't be sorry," he continues, nodding across the room to where Spock's talking with Thaalan. "He won't yell, which is really too bad, but he also doesn't get frustrated and give up. I sided against him and Trav last year and we were the last ones to leave. It was marvelous. I was hoarse for days."

"Sounds terrific," she says even as she wonders what a hoarse Tellarite would sound like. Just… hoarser? More guttural?

"I'll let him know you might be up for a round," Gouth says.


"No, no, the Commander," Gouth says, then gestures to his drink and nods off towards the bottles of liquor spread out on Threx and Schori's dining room table. "Would you like anything?"

"No, but thank you."

"I'd argue with you but we'll let you off easy because you're new," he says, giving her a small nose twitch that she recognizes as being akin to a wink.

She doesn't attempt to reciprocate the gesture but gives him a smile in return.

"This is exhausting," she confides in Gaila, who has half draped herself over Nyota but is still gamely trying to finish her drink. "Fun, but I can't disagree with anyone anymore. Want to get some air?"


"I'm going to take that as a yes," Nyota says, tugging at Gaila until she follows her down the hall and out towards the backyard where it's blessedly cooler and quieter than in the house.

The fresh air feels amazing on her flushed skin and she slips out from under the weight of Gaila's arm and turns her face towards the sky, breathing in deeply and imagining she can see the stars above them through the haze of the city.

At first she thinks that Gaila's mumbling to herself, which wouldn't be for the first time, so Nyota doesn't look back down immediately, not until she hears a deep, rich, male voice respond to her roommate's.

"Commander," she says, blinking at his silhouette against the light shining through the windows of the house. Behind him, the party is outlined in those windows like an ancient silent movie, characters moving against the backdrop of Thex and Schori's house.

"Spock," he corrects. "We are hardly on duty."

"Spock," she echoes. She tucks her hair back quickly, tugs at the hem of her shirt. "I didn't see you come out."

"He was just saying that he doesn't like the noise, either," Gaila says, yawning into her palm.

"I quite agree." She pauses, lets herself grin. "Or maybe I should phrase it that I disagree with the volume."

"Perhaps," he allows as he steps more fully into the backyard.

"Is it always so loud?"

"For Morath celebrations, yes. The evening we celebrated Ybo'iveth, we were required to remain as silent as possible."

"That one was boring," Gaila says, yawning again. "I mean, it was intellectually stimulating and a fascinating experience to be exposed to such a different culture and all, but tonight is so much better compared to that one."

"That's the new year event on Ybo Theta Prime?" Nyota asks, grinning and shaking her head at Gaila.

"Precisely, to commemorate a full orbit of their moon," Spock answers. "A unique way to mark years, as opposed to the planet's own orbit of their star, but effective nonetheless."

"Isn't that the planet that's locked in synchronous orbit, so one side's always dark? And so that the only light they get for half of the year is when it's reflected off their moon?"

"You are quite well informed," he says, his head dipping slightly to the side.

"Well it's a really interesting culture. They have I think seven or eight words just for the different types of light, which all depend on the weather patterns on the moon and the presence of solar flares and yet like you said, silence is such a part of their rituals and traditions." She tucks her arm behind her back and grasps her other elbow. "Of course a number of cultures will use pauses or quiet during ceremonies, but I've always found that their silence carry more significance somehow, like it's almost a separate language."

"Perhaps if we celebrate Ybo'iveth again, you will attend the gathering."

"I'd like to, very much." She ducks her head and has to smile at herself. "Though I'll have to enlist Gaila to help me make sure I leave my padd at home so that I don't just sit there and take notes the whole time. Probably wouldn't be appropriate."

"Getting your padd away from you is like taking a bowl of Pulappli worms away from a Gorn."

"Perhaps notes would be appropriate if you are able to record them noiselessly."

"Exactly," she says and is about to ask for more details about the celebration when a loud shout echoes from inside. It has the effect of making both her and Spock turn quickly to look back at the house, and it makes Gaila jump to her feet from where she'd been slouched in one of the patio chairs.

"N'Takim's here!" she grins. "Don't wait up for me, Ny. See you tomorrow."

"Is everything well?" Spock asks, peering into the windows as Gaila runs inside, disappears from their view for a moment, and then reappears next to N'Takim, joining in whatever argument he's in with Gouth.

"You know better than I do," Nyota says, frowning at the same sight. "Though I'm guessing this is her favorite celebration ever."

Soon, Gaila has one arm slung around N'Takim waist, her curls shaking with the force of her own exclamations.

"She is quite verbose."

"That's the nicest way to put it I've ever heard," Nyota grins.

"Have you been roommates for very long?"

"Since first semester. Thought I'd want to transfer as soon as I could and now I don't know what I'd do without her."

Spock looks at her for a long moment, his gaze shadowed by the dim light of the backyard, but nothing about his scrutiny makes her uneasy. It more just seems like he's curious, like she's one more thing for him to learn about, analyze, and categorize.

"The two of you give the impression of being rather dissimilar."

"Opposites attract," Nyota says lightly. "Which, speaking of, if she's going to stay here all night and go home with N'Takim, I think I might head out."

"I had also planned to return to campus presently, if you would like company on the walk." She nods and he holds the door to the house open for her. They quickly say goodbye to everyone and she thanks Threx and Schori for having her again, and she seeks out Grouth and Trav to wish them a happy – or disagreeable – Morath day and then they're out on the sidewalk, the hovercars rushing past them and a swirl of other pedestrians walking home in the crisp air of the early autumn evening.

"It's nice to get off campus. It's sometimes hard for me to figure out a good balance between school and having a social life," she admits as they begin to climb one of San Francisco's ubiquitous hills. His legs are so much longer than hers that she feels like she's taking two steps for everyone one of his, and she focuses on not getting embarrassingly out of breath as she tries to match his even gait.

"I have heard that is an issue for many cadets, one which is hardly ameliorated by receiving your commission."

"Did you find it difficult when you were at the Academy?" she asks, trying to imagine him in cadet reds instead of his instructor's uniform or the slacks and sweater he's wearing now.

"I was disinclined towards activities other than my academics," he says evenly. "It was not until my later years of schooling that I was aware of these gatherings and not until I met Eraow that I was persuaded to attend such a social event."

"I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere on the Academy, that there's a whole group who gets together and does all this. I wonder if other students would be interested."

"Perhaps," he says with that incline of his head that seems like he nearly means to nod but is too economical to finish the gesture. "However, Starfleet tends to be an insular community in and of itself, and cadets generally prefer the company of other cadets."

"Generally," she says wryly.

"Generally," he echoes. "There are notable exceptions."

"Well, I'm glad I found you all. It's a wonderful way to spend an evening."

"I quite agree, Miss Uhura."

"Nyota," she corrects. "As you said, we're hardly at work right now."

"Then I quite agree, Nyota."

She gives him a small smile. "A rather pleasant occurrence after such an evening."

"Yet another statement I find myself in concurrence with."

She laughs, then, the sound carrying down the street as they continue on their walk.

For the Rest of Us

A Star Trek Story
by Psicygni

Part 2 of 10

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