Continuing Tales

For the Rest of Us

A Star Trek Story
by Psicygni

Part 5 of 10

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Untitled Document

"You never get tea in here," she tells Spock when she finds him in the break room of the Xenolinguistics building.

"Rather, I have never gotten tea here when you have been here to witness it."

"Oh. Really. And when does all this tea getting happen, exactly?"

"Once, during the first week of semester."

She snorts out a laugh and reaches past him to pull a mug out of the cupboard.

"Doesn't it make you wish your office was here instead of over in Computer Sciences?" she asks.

"I admit that the Xenolinguistics Department has a much superior tea selection."

She peers into his steaming mug. "What'd you choose?"

He reaches up to the top shelf of the cupboard, his uniform pulling along the long line of his body as he does so.

"This," he says, smoothing his instructor's jacket with one hand and extending a tea bag with the other. "It is Bajoran. Thex and Schori occasionally serve it."

"Is it good?"

His mouth quirks, just slightly.

"I would not drink it otherwise." He spins his mug towards her, so the handle is facing her. "Would you like to sample it?"

"Yes, thank you."

It's spicy and a little bit bitter and also different from flavors she's used to in a way that is really interesting.

"Is it caffeinated?" she asks, setting his mug back down. "I feel like I've had nothing but coffee all morning and I don't want to just sit there shaking in front of my translations."

"I do not believe so," he answers, then waits, both hands wrapped around his mug as she pours hot water into her mug. "Do you have a considerable amount of work you must remain alert for?"

"Midterms," she says and he nods.

"I believe my students are under similar strain."

She unwraps the tea bag and grins up at him. "I can't decide if you would definitely be the hardest professor at the Academy or undoubtedly be the hardest professor at the Academy."

"You are taking Konicek's course in Xenoneurolinguistics?"


"I have been told I cannot assign more work than she does nor create more difficult assessments, so I believe you have had a comparable experience," he says and she smiles and nods.

"Reigning you in? I like it," she says as she watches her tea steep. "So what are you up to, being over here?"

"I am between meetings. We are discussing changes to the Advanced Morphology curriculum for next semester."

"Are you going to teach it again?"

"Perhaps. I also have an opportunity to be the Interspecies Ethics instructor, which would be enriching and rewarding. However, if they are scheduled at the same time I will have to choose."

"How will you decide?"


"Is that…" she starts then pauses as she thinks over her words. She tugs at the string of her tea bag and watches it bob in the water. "I don't know how to ask this, so maybe it doesn't even make sense, but is it hard to make decisions like that? Especially if you want to do something that's not strictly logical?"

He pauses with his mug halfway to his mouth, then sets it on the counter.



His long fingers curl over the top of his mug, his hand big enough to cover the mouth of his mug so that steam only escapes when he removes it again and she watches the vapor curl and twist over his hand.

"It is, at times, a difficult endeavor to not simply use logic to justify a decision one is inclined towards making."

"I can imagine." She pulls her tea bag out of her mug and drops it in the trash receptacle.

"However," he says, looking up from his mug to meet her eyes. "I have found that in many ways, good decisions are not demarcated by the need to conform the final verdict to spurious logic."

"Is that so?"

"Indeed. There is a tenant, oft spoken of in my culture, that what is simple and straightforward is often also logical."

She pauses, wracking her memory for why that sounds familiar. "Eik-veshtaya to'ovau kau lu veshtaya ri glazhau goh na'kastorilaya t'kashan?" she asks in Vulcan. "That's the translation?"

"Admirable," Spock says, inclining his head towards her. "Though I hardly find myself surprised."

"But how do you know that you're not just justifying something to yourself?"

"Meditation, a certain degree of self-knowledge, the consultation with others," he lists, raising his mug to take a sip of his tea. "Also, identifying what the emotionally driven decision would be and comparing that to one based solely on logic." He pauses and sets his mug down again, his slim fingers tracing over the handle. "That does not mean, however, that emotional decisions and logical ones never coincide."


"Especially as pertains to personal relationships."


"It is logical to cultivate such connections."

"Oh," she says, again, and flounders for another word. "Good. That's good, that that's logical," she says and winces at the ways she's fumbling to speak.

"It is," he says quietly and only then does she realize that the bell's ringing for the next class and that it has been for some time now.

"I have to-" she says, pointing at the door.

"Have a pleasant afternoon."

"You too," she tells him and finds it more difficult than it should be to walk away from him.

"Wow," Gaila says, her breath puffing in a white cloud in front of her mouth. "Awesome."

"The atmosphere on Bajor renders meteor showers in various colors," Thex says. "It is far superior."

"My jacket won't close," Schori says, tugging at the fabric and trying again, valiantly, to cover her growing stomach.

"Here," Thaalan offers, taking off his own jacket and draping it over her lap. "It's far too hot as it is."

Everyone shakes their heads at him, which just makes Thaalan smile.

Spock, sitting next to Nyota, seems particularly frigid, his hands tucked deep into his pockets and a knit cap pulled down over his ears. It makes him look quite nearly human, those distinct eyebrows and points of his ears hidden as they are.

He's been talking quietly with N'Takim about orbital mechanics and Nyota's been half listening, half just absorbing the sound of his voice, even and measured in sharp contrast to the rising and falling tones of the others around her.

Above them, the meteors arc, blazing across the dark sky and Gaila gasps as a particularly bright one leaves a bold streak across the black.

"Totally worth the drive," Gaila declares. "Despite the fact it's freezing cold out here in nowhereville."

"It is technically above freezing," Spock corrects, but he sounds like that fact might be something he would disagree with, if he was the type of person to disagree with facts. His nose and cheeks look chapped green and despite how Vulcans are renown for their superior strength, intellect, and endurance, Nyota's rather happy to be human in that moment.

Not that she's not chilly, but Spock seems to be veritably shedding heat and she's particularly happy that he's sat down next to her.

"Look," she says, tipping her head back and pointing with her chin towards another startling bright meteor – she, too is reluctant to take her hands from her pockets, so she just nudges Spock's elbow with her own. "It'd almost be enjoyable if half of my brain wasn't busy plotting navigation vectors for each one."

"Spock's getting into you brain?" Gaila asks, abandoning where she's been sprawled on the frosty grass to climb into N'Takim's lap. He wraps an arm around her waist and another around her shoulders, his chin resting on the top of her head.

"That's what happens when I capture him in his office for hours at a time and make him help me plot axis of rotations of starships, right?" Nyota asks, finally tearing her gaze from the night sky to find Spock watching her.

"Plotting navigational vectors is an admirable pursuit," he says and she shakes her head.

"If I'm going to plot something, I'd rather it be sentence structure."

"Untangling anastrophes?"

"Precisely," she says, borrowing his own word.

Schori passes her a bottle of whiskey, wiping her thumb along the mouth where she just took a sip.

"Would you like some? It's delicious."

"Are you- can you?" Nyota asks, gesturing to Schori's stomach.

"Humans," Schori says in explanation, her eyes sparkling. "Bajorans are not so effected."


Nyota takes the bottle from her and tips it back, the whiskey burning a long, hot line down her throat.

"Is that enjoyable?" Spock asks, eyeing the bottle in her hand.

"It's-" she pauses to cough, pressing her fist into her chest as she does so. "It's, wow, it's really good."

He looks at the bottle for a long moment before he pulls a hand out of his pocket. His fingers are close enough to hers when he takes the bottle that she can feel a wash of heat from them, a stark contrast to the crisp air and cold glass of the bottle.

"Palatable," he declares and she jerks her gaze back to the sky, instead of staring at how his mouth looks pressed against the bottle, the slight dampness the liquor has left behind on his lower lip.

"Know what would be really palatable?" she asks, a shiver going right through her. "Coffee."


"Something. Want to go back down to that diner?" she asks, tipping her head down the hill that they had just climbed up, towards the small restaurant where they'd left Spock's car.

"Don't leave without us," Schori instructs as Nyota and Spock stand up.

"Yeah, we're not wimps, unlike some who can only stand to be outside for thirty seconds," Thaalan adds.

"We have been here for forty three minutes and-"

"I'm coming, too," N'Takim declares, starting to move Gaila off of him and Nyota feels something a lot like disappointment that he'll be joining her and Spock, which is crazy because she likes N'Takim a lot. "I'm going to turn into a ice cube."

"Nope," Gaila corrects, refusing to budge from her seat on his lap. "Nope, nope, nope. My butt'll get wet and my pants will be gross all night."

"Take them off," N'Takim suggests and everyone groans.

"You two," Thaaln says.

"Them two?" Schori asks, her eyes dancing as she points to Nyota and Spock. "What about these two?" she says and Nyota feels herself start to flush a little.

"I'm going to have to start dating," Thaalan says, leaning back on his elbows and crossing his legs at the ankles. "Find some nice Andorian woman to keep me company while you all whine and complain about being freezing cold."

"You should see Thaalan in the summer," Thex tells Nyota and she laughs.

"You coming?" she asks N'Takim and Gaila shakes her head.

"He's not," Gaila says, tugging his arms closer around her. "Have fun being boring."

"We're not boring," Nyota says and glances up at Spock. "Right?"


"You two," Schori says again, smiling at them and it just makes that heat creeping across Nyota's cheeks burn a little hotter. "We'll be down soon."

"Have fun talking about verbs," Gaila calls after them as they start to walk down the hill.

"Is that what they're calling it these days?" Thaalan asks and when Nyota hears them all laugh, she walks just a shade faster, which is ok because she thinks that maybe Spock picks up his pace, too.

"Um, so, I did well on that quiz," she says, because she's a linguist and trying to find words is not something that should be so difficult for her.

"Excellent," he says and when she looks up at him, there's a green stain on his cheeks that doesn't seem to just be from the cold.

"Yep. Successfully plotted a shuttle's course from the moon to Mercury without hitting Venus which, frankly, is a success for me," she says, forcing her mouth to form words and her brain to supply fully formed, coherent sentences despite how the starlight is falling on his face and the way that her arm bumps against his, twice, because they're walking so close together.

"It would be most unfortunate if that were to occur."

"Luckily," she says, stepping through the door of the diner when he holds it open for her – it's the old fashioned kind, on hinges, and she has to brush past him – "I am really good at finding food."

"What an excellent skill to have."

"Coffee," she tells the teenager behind the counter, who only slowly looks up from his padd before putting it aside with about as much enthusiasm as Nyota can generally muster for her Interstellar Nav homework.

"What else?" he asks, snapping his gum and looking between them.

"Coffee and maybe some- oh, crap."

"Pardon?" Spock asks.

"My wallet's in Gaila's purse. I didn't want to bring my own bag, so she carried my stuff and I'll just run back up and grab it."

"It is of no consequence," he says, sliding his credit chip out of his own wallet.

"No, but-" she starts and she's freezing and doesn't want to go back outside but she also doesn't want Spock to pay for her.

"Coffee and?" he prompts.

"Are you getting anything?" she asks him because maybe it's ok if he pays, if he's ordering something too.

"Tea," he tells the server, who nods and wanders off to prepare it. Spock drops his attention to the pastry case and studies it, while she watches the way his dark eyes flick over the choices. "I admit I have never tried a number of these."

"Oh, you totally should. I mean, they're really sweet and unhealthy, but look at that pie."

"How sweet?"

"Is sugar shock really a thing for Vulcans?"

"It is not healthy to consume so much sucrose."

"First of all, way to not answer the question. Second of all, you don't eat pie because it's healthy, you eat it because it's delicious."

"What is the filling?"

Nyota bends to examine it behind the thick glass, holding her hair back with one hand so that it doesn't fall into her face as she does so. "Blueberry."

"Is it good?"

"It looks amazing."

"Are you going to order a piece?"

"Um, maybe. Yes. But I couldn't eat all of it."

"A slice of blueberry pie," Spock tells the server when he returns with a mug of tea and places it on the counter next to Nyota's coffee.

It's just the two of them in the diner, and when the waiter shuffles into the back room and fails to reappear, they're left alone, sitting at a table next to the windows with a rapidly diminishing piece of pie between them.

"Good?" she asks.

"Exceptional," he answers, but when she glances up at him, thinking he'll be looking the dessert, probably with that look of contemplation on his face, his eyes are on her, instead.

When she smiles at him, flustered, he gives her a tiny, nearly imperceptible smile back, she feels her heart start to race and finds herself hoping that the rest of their friends won't be wandering back down the hill for a good, long while.

"Are you Commander Spock's student?"

"No, sir."

"Were you ever?"


"Do you intend to be?"

"I've already taken Advanced Morphology and Interspecies Ethics, and don't intend to take any of the courses in the sciences he teaches."

"Good. Very good." Commander Ho pauses and looks down at her padd again, still without explaining to Nyota exactly why she's there answering these questions. "You can't TA for him."

"I wasn't going to, sir, I've already been a TA when Iani taught Advanced Morphology and I work in the language lab programming tutorials for my now and have no plans to change jobs."

"Excellent. You can't have a close relationship with a professor and be under their direct supervision, even if the professor in question is a Vulcan and would probably be very logically offended by the suggestion he would show favoritism."

"Oh." Nyota flounders for words, which is a strange occurrence in her life. She's a linguist, she can figure out what to say to that. "He and I aren't, um-"

"Doesn't matter, Uhura," Ho says, holding up a hand. "Close friends or married, the regulations are the same. When you graduate you can be directly under his command, but not at the Academy."

"Yes sir," Nyota answers, blinking at the suggestion that image brings to mind. "I understand."

"And I am of course only interested in my students as pertains to their budding Starfleet careers, and only interested in my colleagues in the ways in which pertains to their teaching, but," Ho says, a smile flitting across her face. "Damn, Uhura. Nice."


"Dismissed, Cadet."

"I had a weird conversation with Commander Ho," she tells Spock over her Interstellar Nav problem set. They have their empty lunch dishes pushed to the side of his desk and her work spread out between them in a way that she hopes isn't too messy for how orderly and neat his office is.

"Are you raising the subject as a way in which to avoid discussing this?" he asks, nodding down to the padd between them.

"No, but good idea."

"What did she have to say?"

"It was, uh-" Nyota starts, then can't quite figure out how to exactly describe it, not in a way that doesn't seem so awkward to bring up that she can't imagine actually articulating it to Spock. Instead she spends a long moment studying the landscape painting he has on his wall, which she realizes belatedly must be of somewhere on Vulcan. "You said I should apply for a position on the Enterprise."

"I did say that. Is that what you discussed with the Commander?"

"No. Yes. Sort of. But I wanted to ask what that would be like? If I applied for a position on the Enterprise when you're XO?" His brows draw together slightly and he puts his stylus down from where he's had it hovering of a correction on her problem set. "Because we're-" she starts, trying to clarify what she means. She gestures back and forth between them before realizing she doesn't really have a word. "Um, friends."

"I can assure you that our association would have no bearing on your future posting," he says. "No matter what type of relationship we have."

"No matter what type of-" she starts to echo but then a group of officers walk past the door they've left open and she cuts herself off. "Great. Thanks. I just wanted to make sure."

"That is what your meeting with the Commander was regarding?"

"Yes, but it was…" She searches for a different descriptor other than just 'weird'. Or strange. Or baffling but also not, because she knows exactly what the Commander was insinuating even if she can't actually say that out loud while looking at him. "Nothing. It was nothing. What'd I do wrong on that question? Because I still have a lot of trouble plotting warp vectors and I think I messed that one up."

"You incorrectly calculated the velocity of a ship under half impulse power."

"Damn," she says before she can remember that she's in his office and it's the middle of the work day, and they're both on their lunch breaks but he's still helping her with school work, and somehow everything that's so easy and normal when they're away from the Academy sometimes isn't when they're in uniform, on campus, and the lines between professional and personal have slipped into some gray area she doesn't really understand.

But he just ignores her comment, underlines a section of her work, and slides the padd back across the desk.

"Attempt to recalculate this," he says, standing and pushing his chair in neatly. "Would you like a cup of tea?"

"Yes, please." She frowns down at the problem and at the neatly written note he left in the margin. "I expect a pretty tasty cup, even though the tea selection in this department is reportedly subpar."

"I will do my best."

"Wait," she says as he steps past her on his way to the door. He's so tall that she has to crane her neck to be able to look at him. "Can you explain this to me before you go? Otherwise I'm just going to sit here and stare at that Andorian translation of Beowulf that you have on your bookshelf."

"I have heard the anticipation of a desired object can induce humans to complete their faster work in order to receive it."

"Are you going to bribe me with that book?"

"Is it necessary?"

She looks over at it, considering. "I'm used to just working for top scores in the class, but if that's on the table…"

"It is on a shelf," he says from right beside her and when she turns back from looking at his bookcase, he's knelt next to her chair and is reaching for her padd, his body close enough to hers that she tells her self to shift, slightly, so that she's farther than him, but she doesn't.

He slides the padd from her suddenly slack fingers and she finally gets her mouth to work again.

"No, I meant-"

"I am aware," he says with that curl at the edge of his mouth he gets instead of a smile. But she doesn't know if she's supposed to smile back at him, not with him so incredibly close to her, and not with them in his office, and not with the door open, and not with the way she's trying to listen to his words but instead is simply hearing how rich his voice is and how quietly he's speaking since he's right next to her.

"Got it," she says when she realizes, belatedly, that he's finished explaining the solution and she's just been staring at how his mouth moves when he speaks which really shouldn't be so interesting except he's really, really close to her and it's kind of hard not to look at him.

And he's just watching her in return and this near to each other she can see the warm chocolate brown of his eyes, and the tapered, upswept line of his eyebrows, and that spot between them that creases when he's thinking about something, and how dark the fan of his eyelashes are.

A boot squeaks against the tile in the hallway.

"Tea," he says, stands, and is out the door before she can blink.

Only then does she take a deep breath, and then another one, and then a third, all the while wondering whether her heart will have stopped hammering by the time he gets back.

"So I need to make a bunch of food today," Gaila says, poking her head into the bathroom while Nyota brushes her teeth.

"What?" she asks, holding her hair back with one hand and spitting into the sink. She stares at Gaila in the mirror. "Why?"

"It's Sunday."


"And it's Orion night!"

"And you just found out?" Nyota asks, wiping her mouth on a towel and continuing to stare at her roommate.

"No, I knew, I just didn't do anything about it until now. And I need your help."

"You need my help because you didn't do anything about it until now, is what you meant to say. And also please. And that I'm the best roommate ever. And that you understand that I have a busy schedule and commitments to my classes and-"

"And that I feel like if you asked him, Spock would let us use his apartment to cook, so can you do that? For me? And can we skip the part where you say that you 'feel weird' about it for twenty minutes and then you call him anyway?"

"I am not going to invite us over to Spock's apartment," Nyota says, reaching for her face wash. "I am going to finish getting dressed, have some coffee, and spend the day with my Cardassian Orthography paper that's due on Thursday."

"I'm sorry I invited us over," Nyota says when Spock lets them into his apartment. "And I might need some coffee. But in exchange I brought some really interesting articles on Cardassian Orthography."

"Nice place!" Gaila says, brushing past them and stepping into Spock's quarters. "Wow. Hey, it's so clean, too."

"Don't let her touch anything," Nyota instructs.

"Are the articles written by Harcrow? I believe she is one of the leading scholars in that field."

"One by her, and one co-written by her and Ocano." Nyota sorts through her bag and pulls out the padds for him. "I'm going to cite them in the paper I'm not going to have time to write today."

It's not until Spock's scrolling through them and Gaila's dumping groceries on the counter in his kitchen that Nyota takes the time to look around and tries to assess just how strange she feels being there.

Slightly strange, she decides, because she really, really had no intention of ever just barging into Spock's space, but now that she's here it's so warm and welcoming and so him that she feels immediately at ease.

And it's literally warm, the heat cranked up so that Nyota finally feels the chill of late fall recede from the walk over to his apartment building. As she slips off her jacket and hangs it up on his coat rack, she takes the opportunity to look around, taking in the few pieces of Vulcan art – a landscape painting over his desk, not dissimilar to the one in his office, a sculpture on the end table next to his couch, a print of Vulcan calligraphy hung above his couch – the row of Vulcan spices on the counter in his kitchen, a bowl set out with a half dozen apples and a kaasa fruit, and the orderliness of everything, not in a stuffy way but where everything is so precisely arranged that the effect is calming and soothing.

And then she forgets all that, walks past him into his living room, and reaches out to touch the arced neck of his ka'athrya.

"I didn't know you played," she says, making herself put her hands behind her back so that she doesn't pluck a string.

He's followed her over and when she turns to look at him, he's standing closer than she thought he would be. It's not the first time that's happened, and she realizes she can't pinpoint when, exactly, she started finding their bodies a half a step too close to each other.

"I was not aware you are interested in that fact."

"Beyond belief."


"No, I can probably get you to believe how excited I am about this." She twines her fingers together at the small of her back and continues staring at it, very, very much wanting to play it. Or to hear him do so, which might be better.

"I'm fine without you two," Gaila calls from his kitchen. "Don't worry, I've got all of this covered. No need to help."

"Good," Nyota calls back. Spock's staring back towards his kitchen, his eyes slightly narrowed and his mouth parted like he's on the verge of action, but he catches her looking at him and suddenly his focus is wholly on her again.

"Are you familiar with the instrument?" he asks, inclining his head towards the harp.

"No, but I always wanted to learn. I played piano and the flute and I wanted to play the violin but my sister learned it first and she was sure I only wanted to take it up because she did." Nyota reaches out and touches the smooth wood again, quite unable to help herself. "I sang a lot, too, when I was growing up."

"You should hear her sing!" Gaila yells from the kitchen.

"No, no, it's not, I don't-"

"You might need to get her drunk!"

"Gaila, you are the worst thing that's ever happened to me," Nyota groans, one hand covering her eyes.

"I'm your best friend for life and you know it!"

"The worst part is that she is," Nyota confides in Spock, who's just standing there, one eyebrow raised. "I bet it's illogical to need to consume a mind altering substance in order to perform a musical talent?"


"So, any chance that you'll give me a demonstration?"

"Will you sing?"

"Nope," she says. "I mean, maybe someday, but not today."

"Illogical," he says, but he makes the word sound warm.

He tunes the harp quickly, his hands sure and nimble and she watches the way his shirt clings to the long line of his arm curled around the body of the instrument.

"Do you have any requests?" he asks, his fingers poised over the strings.

"Anything," she says and when he starts playing, she has to choose between closing her eyes to listen to the music and watching the ways his hands look, the way his expression eases into calmness the longer he plays.

The music makes her feel warm somewhere deep inside, the lilting notes and deep harmonies stirring her in a way that she never thought Vulcan music could, but somehow only makes sense that it would.

Gaila has drifted into his living room by the time he's done, her hands and shirt covered in flour, and plopped herself next to Nyota on the couch.

"Awesome," Gaila declares.

"That was lovely, Spock, thank you. Whose composition was that?" Nyota asks, her mind retracing the winding melody. "Sakkath? Or, wait, Stonnak?"

"Mine," Spock answers and Nyota tries very hard not to gape at him. "Do you find you prefer Sakkath or Stonnak's work?"

"No. Oh my God, not at all, that was incredible, I can't believe you wrote that."

"That is unfortunate, as there is a concert next week highlighting their compositions, along with that of Taurik, at the Vulcan Embassy," he says. "However, if you do not enjoy their pieces, you may not want to attend."

"Stop," she grins at him, at that half raised eyebrow, that slight twist to his mouth, and that way he teases her. "I really, really want to go. Taurik, really? I learned how to play part of his arie'amp a'rie'mnu fugue, or at least what could be translated to piano but I've only ever hear recordings of his work."

"You will have to send me the arrangement," he says, standing and replacing his ka'athrya on its stand. "And I will attempt to procure tickets for the concert."

"I'm sure you were about to remember to invite me, too," Gaila says, "but I happen to not want to spend my free time going to fancy concerts when I could be doing basically anything else."

"You play the piano?" Nyota asks, her mind churning over Spock's comment even though something about the image of him doing so is shorting out her brain.

"My mother thought it would be neglectful of my heritage to only have the experience of Vulcan musical culture."

"And I really, definitely, don't need help getting everything ready for tonight," Gaila adds. "So there's no reason to feel like you should offer to help."

"Did you have a piano on Vulcan?" Nyota asks.

"There is absolutely enough time for me to make everything by myself," Gaila continues.

"My mother's brother lives in Seattle, and when we visited I would make use of theirs."

"Orion cuisine isn't complicated, so I definitely have everything under control."

"Didn't you say your mother is coming soon? Like really soon, right? Next week? Are you going to go visit your family when she does?"

"And I'm sure I can find my way around the kitchen without any help. Unfamiliar appliances and utensils are no problem, don't worry about it."

"The week after next, and yes, we will travel to visit them."

"And it's not hard to cook for like thirty people, all of whom are different species, so don't worry about that at all."

"That's so great, I can't wait to meet- wait. 'Whom'? Gaila? Really?"

"Finally," Gaila grumbles. "Seriously."

"How may we be of assistance?" Spock asks, his gaze flicking over the flour that's still sprinkled on Gaila, and now on his couch, before he looks towards his kitchen with increasing alarm crossing his expression.

"I thought you'd never ask," Gaila says primly.

"Se'aiy use'a," Gaila says from where she's sitting in front of Thex and Shori's coffee table and pointing at the various dishes Nyota and Spock helped her make all afternoon. "Re'ass. And this one is Nuhe'a." Gaila grins and rubs her palms together in a gesture Nyota knows she's picked up from humans. "Ok. So. These are all species specific, so Thex and Schori, you two take this one, and Thaalan, that one's for you, and someone please pour this in Yeinydd's pot. Didiza, you can absorb this – maybe if you just get into the bowl? There you go, that's it. Good, right?"

"You have not explained the point," Thaalan says, holding the glass that Gaila handed him and staring at the milky vapor that fills it. Gaila had made Spock mix that one up three different times until she had been satisfied that it was made correctly.

"I believe that if Gaila were to tire of computer programming, she would make an excellent chemist," Spock whispers to Nyota, so quietly and so close that she imagines she can feel his words on her ear. He accepts two glasses from Trav and at Gaila's motion, hands the larger one to Nyota.

"I'm sometimes a little frightened by how adept she is at basically everything," Nyota admits just as quietly, tipping her face up to his so that he can hear her better.

"Enough from the legume display room. Ooh! I made a rhyme!" Gaila grins and claps her hands together in delight. "And there is no point. Or, well, there is but I just don't see all of you engaging in marathon group sex, so this is what we're doing instead."

"Thank you for the consideration and cultural sensitivity," Thex says, looking like he's trying not to smile.

"But if there's anyone in here who's interested…" Gaila says hopefully, glancing around and N'Takim sits up straighter, nodding and smiling at everyone. "Well, if you change your mind, let us know, we're ready at a moment's notice. And, ok, everyone drink up. Or eat up. Or start absorbing."

"Is this hazardous?" Schori asks, one hand over her stomach and the other holding a small wafer Gaila passed her. Nyota had helped make it and she frankly has no idea what's in it because Gaila did something complicated and quite likely illegal to Spock's replicator to produce a number of the ingredients, but had smelled pretty good, a lot like the miresa Schori had made the first night Nyota had met everyone.

"No," Gaila says, looking like she's surprised by the question. "It's just supposed to taste good."

"Is there a reason behind the tradition?" Gouth asks, examining the tall glass of caramel colored syrup Gaila had poured for him and Trav.

"No, it's just-" Gaila frowns, looking slightly helpless and at a loss for how to explain. "This is just what we do. Well, when we're not doing other stuff that's a hell of a lot more fun, frankly. We make food that people like."

"Why?" Trav asks. "To celebrate a specific holiday?"

"No, just because. We don't have holidays like all of you do, we just celebrate for no reason, and Thaalan said I could do Orion night tonight, so I did." Gaila crosses her arms and stares around the room. "Why does there have to be a point?"

"You made us all of this just for the enjoyment of consuming it?" Schori asks.

"Yes! Well, Spock and Nyota helped because I made them, but yes. It's just supposed to make you feel good, that's it, end of story."

"Are these intoxicants?" Thex asks.

"No, it's just a sensory thing," Gaila says. "But trust me, after this it's bottoms up, the bar is definitely open."

"And they are all customized?" Thaalan asks, leaning over his glass and sniffing it. "How?"

"That's just what we do," Gaila shrugs. "It's just a thing I can figure out."

"Fascinating," Spock says and his arm grazes against Nyota's as he raises the tiny cup Gaila presented him with to take a small sip.

"Is it good?" she asks, her eyes wide and bright, and a tiny, anxious smile on her face.

"Highly satisfying," he answers and she smiles wider and claps her hands together again.

"So no switching with anyone because I don't want anyone to get sick. And enjoy!"

"What does yours taste like?' Nyota asks Spock as he takes a second sip.

"It would be difficult to articulate," he finally says after contemplating his cup for a long moment. "I can say that it is reminiscent of a number of different foods that I am partial too and yet still quite unique in its own right."

"Better or worse than blueberry pie?" she asks.

"That was an excellent pastry," he allows and she grins at him.

Her own cup is slightly larger than Spock's and she didn't really know how but the liquid in it doesn't seem to ever cool off, so it's been steadily steaming since Gaila took it off the stove in Spock's kitchen. The heat seeps through the ceramic of the mug, warming her hands, and a rich, spicy scent drifts up from the rust colored liquid.

"Oh it's, wow, that's really…" she says, licking her lips after taking a small sip of it. It's heady and peppery, and a little bit sweet, spiced with something Nyota can't recognize so that it tastes almost otherworldly, like something she didn't know that she even wanted until she tried it. "Hmmm. It's good."

"Can you describe it?" Spock asks and even though the crowd around them has shifted and dispersed as everyone wanders around quizzing each other about the various tastes and experiences, he's still standing right next to her.

"It's like…" she starts, and pauses for another sip. "Like chai. No, like chai if it was made somewhere else. The idea of chai but different. And better than chai." She takes a third sip and can't help but lick her lips again, to savor the flavor on them. "Definitely not Terran. But I guess that might make sense if all of this is Orion? Speaking of, I hope Gaila didn't break your replicator or anything."

"I do not believe she did," Spock says and then frowns at his cup. "I cannot sufficiently discern what this taste is reminiscent of."

"Stop trying so hard," Gaila instructs, appearing next to them. "It's just supposed to be enjoyed."

"How did you know what tastes we would prefer?" Spock asks her, still contemplating his drink.

"First of all, it's not just taste," Gaila says and Nyota thinks of the comfort of the warmth of her mug, the way the heat seems to seep into her the longer she holds it. "Second, I just know."


Gaila glances around the room, at Thex and Schori discussing the wafers they're nibbling on, Thex's arm around her shoulders and Schori leaning into his side, and at Gouth and Trav who are arguing about what, exactly, their drinks taste like, and at Yeinydd, who seems a bit greener, despite the fact it's nearly December and he's been struggling to photosynthesize, and at Thaalan laughing and flitting around the room talking to everyone else.

"Well," Gaila says, turning back to Nyota and Spock and smiling as she glances between them. "I just know."

"It is an admirable cultural practice, to spend time creating such enjoyment for others," Spock tells her, which makes her beam.

"It's perfect," Thaalan says, coming up to them and slinging his arm around Gaila's shoulders. "You two enjoying yourselves?"

Spock's just looking between his cup and her, so Nyota answers for them, feeling warm and flushed and really quite happy, relaxed enough that when Chorenn brushes past them and she ends up swaying slightly into Spock, she doesn't move away.

"Very much so," she answers and Gaila looks as thrilled as Nyota's ever seen her, which is nice because pressed up against Spock's side, and with her hands full of the warm, spicy drink, she's feeling quite happy herself.

"You don't have to help," Gaila says, later, when most people are gone and Thex is slumped in a chair at his kitchen table, yawning, and Schori has long since gone to bed.

"I don't want you to have to clean everything up by yourself."

"But the point was-" Gaila starts, then sighs.

"I thought you said there wasn't a point."

"Where's Spock?"

"He's outside, Captain Pike just called him."

"Is he coming back in?" Gaila asks, rinsing out the bowl she had finally slid Didiza out of.

"I think so," Nyota says, then realizes she doesn't really know. "There was something about a requisition form?"

Gaila sighs again and shakes her head.

"That's not…" she starts, scrunching up her face and muttering something in Orion that Nyota can't catch. "That's ruining it."

"Ruining what?"

But Gaila doesn't answer right away, just looks at her with a discerningly piercing stare and Nyota feels herself begin to flush.

Nyota's half braced to be teased, to see that smile play around the corners of Gaila's mouth and brighten her eyes, but when she speaks, all she says is, "I can do this by myself, you two always walk back together, you should go." Nyota just shakes her head, about to say, again, that she wants to help with the dishes, and then Gaila has a hand on her shoulder and is pushing her towards the front of the house. "Go!"

She finds Spock still on his comm, one hand wrapped around it while he tries to free his jacket from the coat rack with the other.

Nyota steps forward and helps him, parting the other coats that are in his way and tugging the heavy, black jacket he always wears off the hook for him.

He's talking with a voice that must be Pike's about a maintenance foreman, or maybe an entire maintenance crew, and a delivery of isolinear particle modulators. She can't make any sense of their conversation, so she starts to step away, intending to go back to the kitchen and make Gaila let her help clean up when Spock holds up a finger to her in a gesture to wait.

"I apologize," he says, finally, when he's flipped his comm closed. "Thank you for retrieving my coat."

"It's like a jacket jungle," she says, gesturing to the coat rack. "Are you going? You have to head out?"

"Indeed. Captain Pike is otherwise occupied in a meeting with the Admiralty, or he would attend to this," he says, zipping up his coat and sliding his comm into his pocket.

"Well, I hope everything works out."

"I will perhaps see you tomorrow or the next day," Spock says and it's funny since they normally don't really make plans in advance to see each other, but it's nice to think that they'd have something set up ahead of time.

"Lunch?" she asks and he nods. "And that concert?" she reminds him, not that he's capable of forgetting, but because she really wants to go to it with him. "That sounds like fun."

"Fun?" he asks in that tone that means he's teasing her and she imagines for a moment if he were to stay, if they were to banter back and forth about whether or not you could classify a Vulcan event as something that would be fun. The fact that he's so clearly in a hurry makes the thought of that conversation ache a little in her chest.

"You know what I mean," she says.

"I do."

Quite suddenly and quite without her permission, she finds her hand has reached out to grip his forearm. She can feel the heat of his skin through the soft fabric of his sweater and she tells herself to move her hand, but can't seem to manage to connect that thought with actual motion.

He's looking down at her hand on him and she realizes she's just studying the way his lips are slightly parted, the way they move like he's about to speak, even though he doesn't.

"Night," she says, abruptly dropping her hand from him and smoothing her palm over her forehead, around the back of her neck and gripping there, her fingers pressed into her own skin.

"Goodnight, Nyota," he says and she's staring up at him, thinking about how they always, always, walk back to the Academy together and how it's funny because that's not something she ever thought she would miss until now, and maybe he's thinking that, too because he's just looking at her, standing closer to her than he really needs to, or maybe she's the one who moved closer to him, and right as she notices that he's near enough that she can feel the heat of his skin on hers, and that she can hear the sound of him swallowing – and isn't that strange, how he looks almost nervous – his comm pings and he's stepping back, pulling it out of his pocket again and she has to shake her head to clear it.

"See you later," she says, the words thick and cumbersome in her mouth.

"Tomorrow," he promises and then he's gone in a blast of cold air through the front door and she presses her palms to her cheeks, staring at the spot where he just was.

For the Rest of Us

A Star Trek Story
by Psicygni

Part 5 of 10

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