Continuing Tales

For the Rest of Us

A Star Trek Story
by Psicygni

Part 4 of 10

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"But I shouldn't have been marked down, then." Gaila shoves her plate away and crosses her arms, pinning Spock with a hard stare across the table.

Nyota pauses with her finger marking her place in her text, staring between them.

"Professor Kiani-"

"Professor Kiani is a…" Gaila starts, then mutters something in Orion under her breath that Nyota can't quite catch. Gaila groans and buries her face in her palms and Spock just waits until she's pushed her hands back into her curls and looks up at him again. "Ok. Sorry."

"Professor Kiani simply sought to correct the way in which you coded this section."

"But then she should have put in the rubric that that's how she wanted it!"

"Perhaps," Spock says. "However, I believe she assumed that you would use the techniques she taught you in class."

"First of all, I didn't go to class because I already know how to do all of this, and second, the way I did it was better. It's neater, has fewer – and by fewer I mean zero – bugs, and is more easily replicable."

"There is a certain logic in having standard programming across all Starfleet computer technicians," Spock says.

"But isn't there also, then, a logic in having just a better standard for that stupid standardization?"

"I do not disagree."

Gaila huffs out an angry laugh and crosses her arms over her chest.

"I hate school."

"Perhaps you would consider taking your case to the administration. Your reasoning is compelling and not incorrect," Spock says, sliding Gaila's padd back towards her and wrapping his hand around the mug of tea he had been drinking when Gaila had found Nyota and him in the mess hall and summarily started complaining to Spock about her most recent problem set. He doesn't go to turn his own padd back on, nor resume any of the other work he has spread in neat piles across the table in front of him, just watches Gaila as she continues to silently fume.

"The deans won't even listen."

"Do you have evidence of such attitude from them?"

"I just know."

"May I ask how?"

"Nobody takes me seriously."

"It is in their duties to their position to take student opinions seriously. I would encourage you to contemplate my suggestion."

"Fine. Whatever." Gaila shoves her padd back in her bag. "And thanks, I guess."

"Um," Nyota says when she's gone. She kind of feels like she should apologize for her roommate, but at the same time, that's just how Gaila is. What would be rude for a human is just the way she expresses mild irritation, something which Spock seems to understand because he doesn't appear to be particularly perturbed by such a display.

"It is of no consequence," Spock says before she can finish deciding exactly how ok he seems with Gaila's outburst. "I understand that for some it is not particularly easy to be the lowest rank in such a hierarchical organization."

"I sometimes feel like Gaila's going to rise through those very ranks, become an Admiral, and overhaul all of Starfleet. Or become the President of the Federation or something."

Spock glances from his mug up to where Gaila disappeared through the door.

"I would judge either of those scenarios to be probable."

Nyota just smiles and sips at her own tea, raising one shoulder towards her ear in a shrug. "Well, it's good that she's here to make her mark. I give it twenty minutes before she's drafting that message to the deans."

"You say that as if you do not believe you will have an equally substantive impact over the course of your career."

He does that, sometimes, she's learned. Read between the lines of what she says, or catch something in her tone that proves he's much more perceptive and attentive than she would have ever thought he would be.

"I don't know," she says, shrugging again and fiddling with her stylus. She rolls it back and forth on the table with a finger and studies the way it looks as it passes over the grain of the wood. "I don't think it'd ever cross my mind to code something differently than how a professor wanted me to, just because I thought it was a better way. If I even knew how to code, I mean."

"I can teach you if you are interested," he offers. "And you have proven yourself to have excellent research and analysis skills. I do not believe that one must affect something so large as all of Starfleet to have an appreciable affect during their career."

"Tell that to Kirk."

"You are acquainted with Cadet Kirk?"

"He lives in my dorm, down the hall from Gaila and me. And he could stand to be taken down a few notches, thinks he's going to be the next best thing to hit the stars after we graduate."

"You do not share his certainty that your career will be influential?"

"I'm going to be sitting in some communications bay calibrating transmitters and if I'm lucky, configuring universal translators for a captain and first officer to bring on their away missions." She rolls her stylus over until it bumps into her padd and can't go any further. "Comms is grunt work, it's not, you know, the front lines of exploration. The best I can hope to do someday is to be a bridge officer, and if I'm lucky work for a captain who will occasionally bring me to translate something in person, instead of just having me code translations from the ship."

"The study of unknown languages is essential to Starfleet's mission of exploration."

"Ok, sure, but you scientists, you're actually designing experiments, deciding on research protocols, writing up mission reports. Ops is just… work. Doing other work for other people so that they can do their work." She shrugs again. "I'm not complaining, I love it, and if I'm lucky I be able to still publish research, but I hardly would anticipate I'd be beaming down on exciting away missions every other week."

"I would not anticipate that you would be in a communications bay for very long after you receive your commission."

"I hope not," she says. "I mean, it wouldn't be too bad, probably still better than just a research posting somewhere."

"What would be your preference, if you were able to decide?"

"Well, I want to be on the Enterprise, like everyone does, but I'm also realistic about my chances."

"How so?" he asks carefully, like he has no idea exactly what he's supposed to say to that.

"Everyone's going to apply and you get to the Academy and everyone's a genius and I'm smart but I'm-" she shrugs, which she seems to be doing a lot, and waves her hands at herself. "Everyone's somebody here. Kirk is George Kirk's son, and I have this other friend who is this xenomedicine hotshot, and there's this other guy with I think the Academy's best piloting scores to date, and this teenager – if he's even a teenager he might be eleven or twelve for all I know – who's a TA for my Intersteller Nav course, and you're you, Gaila's the first ever Orion to enroll in the Academy and is apparently planning to completely redo the computer programming curriculum. I'm just human and good at school and I get really good grades – really, really good grades, actually – but that's it and I don't stick out in any other way. I'm… normal. Starfleet normal, but normal nonetheless."

"You are not normal," he says and she wants to laugh and ask him if he thinks she's weird, but his tone is so serious and his gaze on her so intent that she just ends up shifting in her chair and floundering for a response.

"Um." She runs her hand over her hair, then smooths her fingers over her padd, then starts playing with her stylus again. "Thanks."

"Even if you are regulated to configuring universal translators, I believe I would be partial to receiving one you had worked on."

"What?" she asks, looking up from where she's dragging her stylus across the table. "What does that mean?"

"I returned to Earth after completing my deployment on the Lexington in order to accept Captain Pike's offer to serve as first officer on the Enterprise."

She drops her stylus off the edge of the table and she hears it hit the floor, and then hears it bounce, and then hears it skitter across the floor as it rolls under her chair.

"Wait, wait, stop," she says, jumping up, flustered and clumsy as she pushes her chair to the side, kneels, grabs the offending stylus, and returns to her seat. She manages to make the chair squeak overly loud as it scrapes against the floor when she pulls it back towards the table. "What? Wait, what?"

"As I said," he begins and she swears he's somehow laughing while maintaining a completely blank expression. And not unkindly, but more like she could not have been more utterly human in that moment than if she had tried. "I am the first officer of the Enterprise."

"Geez, Spock, lead into it next time," she says, pressing her palm to her cheek and scrubbing it over her face.

"If in the future I accept such a position, when I share that fact with you I will endeavor to do so," he promises. He waits until she's wiped the flecks of dirt stuck to her stylus from the floor, placed it neatly next to her padd, and folded her hands on the table, before he continues. "Will you apply for a posting on the Enterprise after you graduate?"

"Won't construction already be complete and-" she pauses, slotting in this new information that when the Enterprise leaves Earth, Spock will be on it. "You all will be gone? Probably with a brand new full complement of crew?"

"I do not believe construction is slated to be finalized before your class graduates."

"Oh." She wraps both hands around her mug of tea and feels a smile pull at her mouth. "Ok. Then, yes, I'd apply. See what happens."

"Excellent," he says, nodding. "That is excellent."

"Probably won't go so well if I don't pass this quiz, though," she says, sighing down at the study guide she has in front of her.

"High Romulan?" he asks, peering at her padd and managing to read it even though it's upside down for him.

"I got the bright idea to try to learn all three dialects," she explains.

"As I already told you," he says as he pushes his work aside, picks up her padd and pulls it across the table towards himself, "You are not normal."

"Well, I might be regretting it, so there's that."

"Regret is illogical," he says lightly. "What is the translation of lesh'riq?"

"It's a type of pumpkin."

His eyebrow rises precipitously high on his forehead before his mouth quirks and he looks up from her padd to meet her gaze.

"You are being facetious."

"Yes. It's a term for a citizen of the Empire who has performed a great service."

"And enok-kal fi'lar?"

"Uh, a type of epic poetry? No, like the telling of a poem. It's a verb, the noun is emok-tal fi'lak."

"Correct. Bol-threshan?"

"Are you going to quiz me on all of these?"

"Perhaps," he says and she grins into her tea as she raises her mug to take a sip.

"That's the word for a guy who's the first officer of the flagship but just never seemed to mention it for weeks."

"Curious that the Romulans would have a word for such a person."

"Hmm. I'm considering recommending it to be adopted into Vulcan vernacular. I might even write a letter to the High Council."

"I wish you good fortune in your efforts," he says and she snorts a laugh into her mug, grinning at him as he spends his time choosing the next word to test her on.

"We live nowhere and everywhere," O'nama says in its lyrical voice. It's somehow capable of harmonizing with itself and Nyota has to concentrate on its words and not just on listening to how beautiful they sound.

She also has to concentrate on not letting herself lean against Spock, where she's pushed up next to him on the couch. Gouth settled on her other side, leaving her without the type of personal space between her and Spock that Vulcans seem disposed to, and every time she shifts, her hip or shoulder bumps against his. She feels overly aware of the contact, the way he's fever-hot even through layers of clothes, and the way she's probably breaking a half dozen taboos regarding how close you can get to a Vulcan.

"Sorry," she whispers when Gouth shifts, again, and her elbow knocks into Spock's, again.

He just glances down at her, his eyes warm and dark, before he returns his attention to O'nama.

"We travel like we have always travelled, and like we will always travel, with the space between the stars as our home, and the planets we visit as places to rest," it continues in that melodic way that warms Nyota's chest. "I am here on Earth and here on Earth I celebrate Qiameth with you, the day of the year where we leave where we have been so that we can continue onwards." O'nama pauses, and then forms its mouth into an approximation of a human smile. "Of course, I will not leave as I work at UC Berkeley and my contract is not up," it says and chuckles rise from around the room. "However, on this day of leaving, we bid goodbye, and give thanks for the place that has supported us, so that we continue to travel as we have always travelled, and like we will always travel, out among the stars."

"Starfleet should just recruit them," Gaila says, later, when everyone's tugging on their coats and saying goodbye to each other. Celebrating Qiameth involves mostly leaving the party, so it's an early night and Nyota finds herself a bit sad that the group is already dispersing.

"Because they already travel so much?"

"Think of how easy it'd be to be gone from home for years at a time, if your home is just out there," Gaila says, gesturing up at the sky above them once they've stepped outside.

N'Takim follows the motion of her hand and they all stare up at the dark sky, squinting to try to see the stars beyond the lights of the city.

"It'd be nice," N'Takim agrees, tucking his coat around himself and stuffing his hands into his pockets. "But if we're going to have long discussions about what species are best suited for prolonged space travel, can we do it inside?"

"By inside do you mean inside a bar?" Gaila asks and N'Takim smiles and leans over and kisses her.

"You know I do, babe."

"You coming, Ny?"

"I, uh, yes, sure, I guess," she answers, trying to peer back into Thex and Schori's house but they have curtains on the first floor windows that face the street and she can't see if anyone else is going to come outside right then. "Should we maybe wait and see if anyone else wants to come?"

"If you want," N'Takim says but his teeth are already chattering and Nyota has to remind herself that he comes from a planet even warmer than Vulcan and has only assumed a human form in order to blend in on Earth. A human male form. A really attractive human male form, which Gaila helped him customize, which was kind of hilarious as he tried out different noses and chins, but has the detrimental effect of making a lot of women and lot of men stare after him and Gaila wherever the two of them go. And that's only how he looks most of the time, so that his friends can tell who he is – Nyota has more than once walked into her dorm room to find Gaila in bed with a beautiful woman, only to find herself introducing herself, again, to N'Takim.

"We can go now," she says with one last look at the closed front door. "I was just- You're freezing, let's go."

They're halfway down the block before she hears footsteps behind them, and all three of them turn to find Spock, bundled in a heavy coat, and Thaalan in a light windbreaker.

"Where are you all going so fast?" Thaalan calls after them.

"The bar!" Gaila shouts back. "Wanna come?"

"Do we?" Thaalan asks Spock. "I have a meeting tomorrow morning."

"Don't be boring," Gaila instructs.

"You should," Nyota adds. "Come I mean, not be boring."

"We don't want them thinking we're boring do we, Spock?"


"We don't," Thaalan assures him as he and Spock catch up to them. "It's probably not logical."

"That is not-"

"What bar?" Thaalan asks, rubbing his hands together and pointing his antennae up and down the street. "The Warp and Coil?"

"I think their happy hour just ended," Gaila says with a deep frown. "How about the Salty Nacelle?"

"Or Moe's," Nyota suggests.

"Boring," Gaila tells her. "And therefore you all would probably love it."

It is kind of a boring bar, but it's also quieter than Gaila's usual choices, which means Spock only has to repeat himself once to the bartender in order to get across the fact he doesn't want anything.

"Really?" Thaalan offers in a wheedling tone. "This is your big chance to buy such lovely cadets a drink." He pauses, then frowns down the bar where Gaila already has four drinks in front of her, numerous cocktail umbrellas sticking out of each one. "Or, rather, buy Nyota a drink. Nope?" he asks without giving Spock a chance to answer. "My treat, my dear, what would you like?"

"Red wine, please," she says with a smile up at him. "Thank you, that's very kind of you."

"You really don't want anything?" Thaalan asks after receiving his drink and downing half of it in one gulp.

"I am disinclined towards consuming alcohol."

"And yet you're in a bar," Thaalan says with a grin.

"At a bar."

"Prepositions," Thaalan mutters.

"Prepositions are awesome," Nyota tells him and Thaalan just takes another long sip of his drink, his antennae pointing at her accusatorily, though he can't keep it up and eventually smiles.

"Coffee, Spock?" he asks, shaking his head once more at Nyota. "I know you pretend to hate it, but-"

"Vulcans do not pretend."

"Have you tried it ever?"


"You know, you're probably genetically predisposed to like coffee. Isn't your mom from Seattle?"

"Your mother's from Seattle?" Nyota asks before she can help herself.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Sorry, Spock I didn't realize she didn't know," Thaalan's saying quickly. "I didn't mean to-"

"It is no matter," Spock says smoothly. "My mother is human," he explains to Nyota who tries very hard to cover up how surprising that fact is and probably fails.

"And enjoys coffee?" she asks, just to have something to say.

"She is rather fond of the beverage." He pauses, his brows drawing together slightly. "'Fond' might be a slight understatement."

"Spock and I went on a hunt for some good stuff, so that he could bring her some when he went back to Vulcan last year. And if you can imagine a Vulcan and Andorian trying to find high quality coffee when we both hate shopping, you have a good idea what that afternoon was like."

"It was successful in the end," Spock adds.

"Except we almost gave up. Twice. And then we went into that one place? And that Tellarite tried to help us? And I ended up arguing with him for so long it was dark outside when we left? I told you we should have just replicated some."

"It hardly would have been the same, nor fulfilled the purpose of such a gift. Furthermore, you should perhaps not have engaged a Tellarite in a debate over the merits of beef versus lamb."

"But that's exactly it, Spock," Thaalan says, sipping at his drink again. "What we need to do is to convince your mother to want some meat from Earth."

"She does not eat-"

"Vegetarians," Thaalan says with a grin, draining the last of his drink and pulling a handful of credits from his wallet.

"The vexation of acquiring the coffee was offset by her joy in receiving it," Spock says.

"Well, I'm glad I can help," Thaalan replies, clapping a blue hand on Spock's shoulder. "And if you want to shop for loin roasts or hunting daggers give me a call."

"I will take that under advisement," Spock says seriously and Thaalan squeezes his shoulder again as he laughs hard enough his antennae shake.

"Have a nice night you two, I have to get out of here before I have any more or I won't make my meeting tomorrow morning," he says, still chuckling. He waves goodbye to Gaila and N'Takim, where they're half entwined with each other a couple seats down the bar, and then disappears into the crowd.

Spock doesn't really look at her after Thaalan's walked away and she can't think of anything other than horribly inappropriate questions about his genetic makeup, so she just focuses on drinking her wine.

"So do you get to see your parents often?" she asks, finally, because that seems appropriately benign. "With them so far away on Vulcan?"

"My mother will be coming out for Arivn'van-kal'e," he says and something about him seems to brighten, though she doesn't think anything in his expression actually changed. "My father has an obligation on Ganymede that week so I do not believe he will be able to celebrate with us, but it will be fortunate that I can be with my mother for the holiday."

"Isn't there a big Federation conference on Ganymede coming up?" Nyota asks, squinting into her wine and trying to remember the newsreel she half watched while on the treadmill the other day. "All those diplomats getting together for something or other?"

"Indeed. That was quite a specific recollection, I commend you."

"Stop," she laughs, the tension that Thaalan left them with breaking and she kicks at the leg of his barstool. "You obviously know, what is it for?"

"The Federation is hosting a delegation from the Alerrawia Empire. Their species cannot survive on Earth, so they have chosen to meet on Ganymede instead."

"Right, that's right. And your father does what, exactly, that he'll be there?"

"He is the Vulcan Ambassador."


His eyebrow climbs up his forehead.


"Alright, what other interesting facts about yourself are you harboring?"

"None, I believe."

"No way, you were holding out on me with the first officer thing, don't think I've forgotten about that. Let me guess, you're also a descendent of Zefram Cochrane."

"I am not."

"Ok, you invented replicator technology."

"As I am sure you are aware, that technology has been in use since the early twenty first century, when 3-D printing was first invented and disseminated widely."

"Ok, ok, you were the one who figured out how to reroute antimatter transducers and increased warp efficiency by 400 percent a couple years ago."

"No, but I am acquainted with Lieutenant Commander West."

"Of course you are. Let me think – you were the one who won all the Procyon Award a couple years ago? First time it's been awarded since 2236?"

"That is not the award I won upon my graduation. I believe that was Commander Xe. She was the class above me."

"Tau Crucis Honor Society then?"

"I did not apply."

"Seginus Distinction of Honor?"

"Lieutenant Commander Damar was my class' recipient."

"The Cochrane Award, then?"

"Among a number of others."

"Spock! C'mon, really?"

"If you must know, then, yes."

"Wow. I feel like I'm sitting next to a celebrity," she says, glancing over him. "Really? You really won that?"

"Indeed. It is public record, you can check for yourself."

"I'm going to have to," she says, sipping at her wine. "That's incredible. Congratulations."

"I would find it unsurprising if you, too, found yourself if not only a contender for it, but the recipient for your class."

"There's a lot of competition."

"I can conceive of no reason you would not be qualified to receive it."

"That's nice of you to say, but there's a lot of cadets who are working towards that award."

"And as I told you before, you are not normal."

She tries to hold back her laugh and can't, giving him a smile over her wineglass.

"Thank you, I think," she says lightly, putting her glass back down on the bar. "Normal or not, I don't think cadets who get the marks I do in Interstellar Nav are really contenders for it. That class is going to drag down my entire grade point average. Don't think I'm pleased about that fact, either, but I can't find my way around a star system with a map, a compass, and a trail of bread crumbs?"

"Is that not the tools you are given? A chart, a plotting device, and the signal of a homing beacon?"

"Funny, Spock. And you get my point. I'm like O'nama out there, always travelling between the stars. Except I would be lost because I failed Interstellar Nav and have no idea how to get home."

"I believe the Federation has coopted a phrase once used in reference to an Italian city, that all interstellar flight paths lead to Earth."

She gives him a smile, but she can feel that it's half hearted, and she stares down into her wine. She draws a finger along the stem of the glass and only looks up again when he ducks his head to try to meet her gaze.

"I just… So my parents moved away from Earth when I started the Academy," she tells him. "And I thought it wasn't a big deal, since I was moving away from Mombasa anyway – that's where I grew up, it's in Kenya – and I'm youngest, so they were pretty clearly waiting for me to move out so they could sell their house and travel. But since then, it's been really, just, weird? Strange? I have my dorm room here, and they live out on Alpha Sceptri IV, and my brother lives in London except he's always off planet for work, and my sister just moved with her wife to a colony on Tau Geminorum Prime – they're terraformers so it was a great job for them to take – but it's…" She takes a sip of wine and studies his shoulder instead of looking at him. "It sometimes feels like this isn't home anymore."

"I see."

"I'm sorry, that was suddenly really maudlin. We can go back to talking about how you're totally going to spring on me some fact about being related to Surak, or someone."

"I am."


"My father's house can trace their lineage back to the Time of the Awakening." He pauses, then tips his head slightly to the side. "I will admit that it is hardly as impressive as it might be. I believe Surak's descendants now number above a hundred thousand, after so many generations."

"You are full of surprises," she says.

"Perhaps I will compile a compendium about my life before we see each other again."

"I'm going to need it highlighted and color coded."

"I will provide an index, if that will be useful."

"And a thorough table of contents. With subheadings, please."


"Will there be a quiz? Multiple choice?"

"Perhaps short essays, instead, in order to prove sufficient mastery."

"I am really good at essay questions," she warns him. "But I bet you're one of the hardest graders at the Academy."

"I have been told that. And I believe I may, logically, be required to include a section with a map in order to test your understanding of the area in which I spent my childhood."

She groans and lifts her wineglass to her mouth to take a long sip from it, before wondering if he'll recognize the fact she's not really upset. But he's just watching her, his gaze even and soft, and doesn't seem particularly perturbed.

"Are places you walked your dog included? Or not dog… do you have pets on Vulcan? Is that something you do?"

"I had a sehlat. And in the interest of full disclosure, I did attempt to play fetch with him. Once."

"What happened?"

"He picked me up and deposited me before my father."

"Oh my God. Are they that big?"

"I was quite small."

She glances over him, the way he's so perfectly straight on the barstool, his height still apparent despite the fact he's sitting, and the way he carries himself with that Vulcan grace, the long, lean line of his back, with his sweater hugging his shoulders and the fabric bunched in tiny folds across his flat stomach. "I'm trying to imagine this."

He gives her that tiny quirk of his mouth and she studies the way his lips curl.

"You said your father's house, not yours," she says after taking another sip of wine. That small smile falls from his face and she immediately regrets mentioning it. "Never mind."

"I find…" He trails off, something so out of character for his normally efficient and economical way of speaking that she can't help but take notice of it. "I rather understand the experience of not being particularly attached to a certain place, or conceiving of such as a home."

"Do your parents not live where you grew up anymore?"

"I meant, rather, that quite often I did not perceive it as a place I belonged."

"And what about Earth?" she asks and he looks at her for a long moment before answering.

"At times, it has begun to."

"You should send me your navigation problem sets," he says when they reach the Academy gates. Gaila and N'Takim are half a block behind them and on the other side of the street, having just said goodbye before they continue on to his apartment for the night.

"What?" Nyota asks, thinking that Spock was about to bid her goodnight as well and then head down the path that leads to the faculty apartments.

"Your professor, Doctor Greaves, mentioned the other day after a faculty meeting that the problem sets are where cadets lose the most points in his class, rather than the exams. If you would like, I will review them with you."

"You don't have to do that," she says.

"I would be remiss in my duties otherwise," he says lightly. "And furthermore, I believe that Cadet Kirk is also attempting to win the Cochrane award and I find that I would much prefer you to hold that honor."

"Kirk," Nyota mutters. "Ok. I'll send them to you. If you don't mind."

"I do not, or I would not have offered," he assures her, then pauses for a long moment, watching her. "And Nyota?"


"I do not share aspects of my life with many, as I often find the resulting questions intrusive."

"I'm, I'm sorry if I-"

"Hardly. I am attempting to thank you for your interest."

"I hope you didn't find me too curious," she tells him quickly. "You're an interesting guy."

"Not at all. It is… pleasing to discuss it with you."

She watches him for a moment, how the light from the streetlamps plays over his face, accentuating both his severely Vulcan features as well as the softness that seems to play around his eyes more often than not.

"Night," she says, finally, after a long moment has stretched between them.

"Goodnight, Nyota."

The final, short walk back to her dorm feels peculiarly lonely, like she should have somehow stretched the evening out longer, stopped time in Thex and Schori's house, in the bar, so that she could still be around everyone and not alone in the chilly night air.

She unlocks the door to her and Gaila's room and the silence of the space makes her, for one crazy moment, want to call Spock and see if he wants to get a coffee or something, and makes her think that if she were to jog back downstairs, he would somehow be right where she left him, like she could just step back into the warmth their conversations always leave her with.

But he has work tomorrow, too, and he's probably very logically back in his quarters by now, doing whatever it is that he does. She tries to imagine him in his home, but she has no idea what faculty quarters are like, and so just pictures him with a cup of tea in his hand, probably working, if she had to guess.

Or maybe doing something really interesting, some hobby she would have never thought about him having, some dimension of his life she wouldn't guess with how private he is. Or not, private, really, with everything she's learned about him recently, little details and features of him slipping through his restrained manner, hinting at the fact that he's far more complex and compelling that she ever might have thought.

He's probably busy, whatever it is that he's up to, even if it's something adorably sweet like calling his mom. She should just leave it be, she decides after she sends him a message with her most recent problem sets attached.

Except that her room is so incredibly quiet and maybe his quarters are too and before she can either realize what she's doing or talk herself out of it, she has her comm out and has looked up his number in the Starfleet database, which is maybe kind of creepy or weird, but he told her twice that she's not normal so she's just going to go with it.

"Um," she says when he answers, his voice crisp and professional. "Hi."


"I just wanted to say that my scores on those problem sets are embarrassingly abysmal and I don't want you to think I'm so bad at navigation that I'm going to get lost walking to breakfast."

Something in the background shifts, like he's moving something around and she has a horrible, sudden thought that wrenches her gut, that he might have someone there with him.

But then the noise stops and it's just his voice, clear and warm coming through her comm, and whatever it was in her that tightened eases again at the sound.

"If I see you disoriented as you walk around campus before morning classes, clearly famished, I will be forced to consider that your statement was not accurate."

"I'll only be doing that if I drink too much of that Andorian Ale," she says lightly. "I sometimes think Thaalan just walks around Thex and Schori's house pouring it into any glass that isn't already completely full."

"I have, upon numerous occasions, reminded him that I feel no effects due to the consumption of alcohol and yet he continues to offer it to me."

Nyota laughs softly, kicking off her shoes and drawing her legs up, so that she can sit cross legged on her bed.

"I hope I'm not bothering you, by the way. I just wanted to call and tell you that."

"To look for you before breakfast?"

"Spock," she drawls around her wide grin. "You're terrible. No, that I don't, you know, share atrocious grades with most people, so please don't judge me."

"It would be illogical to judge you upon the outcome of a performance at which you attempted your best," he says.

"Oh, ok, good. Thanks."

There's a soft clicking on his end of the comm and a notification on her own pops up that her most recently sent message has been read.

"Those are hardly abysmal scores," he says, but even despite his words she can't help but cover her eyes with her hands, like he was in the room with her.

"Just ignore the grade, please," she groans. "And listen, you don't have to do this now, I just wanted to talk to you for a minute."

"Are you otherwise occupied?"

"No," she says, looking around her empty room. "Just hanging out."

"I am available, if you would like."

She looks at her room again, so quiet and still, then down at her comm. "Yes. Definitely."

"For your first answer," he starts and she bites at her lip, dreading this but maybe less so with his even, measured voice on the other end of the line, deep and rich and like he doesn't mind a bit that she didn't get perfect scores.

She flips onto her stomach, grabs her stylus, her padd, and sets her comm on her pillow.

"That one was hard."

"It is designed to test your ability to isolate the signal of a homing beacon against other subspace anomalies."

"But I feel like I should be good at that," she protests and she can quite clearly imagine him nodding in response.

"It is the fault of teaching discrete subjects at a time. If this was a practical exam and you were at a communications station on a bridge simulator, you would have the tools necessary with which to isolate the other variations in the recording. However, without those instruments-"

"Just calculate the variable difference?" she asks.


He waits, patient and silent, while she copies that down.

"I'm coming for your award, mister," she warns. "Ok, problem two."

"You are ready?"

"Yep," she says, sticking her stylus in the corner of her mouth and scrolling down on her padd to reach the right question. "And hey – thanks."

"You are most welcome," he says and she settles in deeper into her bed, ready for his explanation.

For the Rest of Us

A Star Trek Story
by Psicygni

Part 4 of 10

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