|Human Relationships: Friendship
Author: jncar PM
After leaving Vulcan, Spock encounters many kinds of Human friendship. However, what he has yet to learn is that not all friendships are as innocent as they at first seem. Pre-Spock/Uhura.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama - Spock & N. Uhura - Chapters: 3 - Words: 12,502 - Reviews: 45 - Favs: 64 - Follows: 45 - Updated: 06-29-09 - Published: 06-18-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5147180
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: I played a little fast and loose with the canon timeline (as found on Memory Alpha) in order to give Spock a year and half of service onboard a starship before returning to work at the Academy. I just didn't like the idea of Spock being an entrenched academic. Much thanks to MrsTater for her excellent beta help. This is part 1 of 3.
Human Relationships: Friendship
During his early school years, Spock noticed that all the other children in his school had companions with whom they preferred to spend their free time. He deduced that these companions could be described by the Federation Standard word friends.
Spock had never had a friend.
When the date for his bonding to T'Pring drew near, he secretly hoped that his desire for friendship would finally be fulfilled. She lived in another city, but Spock already had communications access, so maintaining a friendship would not be difficult.
He had been told that after the bonding, his mind and T'Pring's would always be linked--always together, even when they are physically apart. That thought appealed to him. He imagined that she would be someone in whom he could confide. Someone who would understand him. Someone who would not judge him harshly for his Human heritage. This was what he wanted in a friend.
The bonding ceremony took place in his family's traditional marriage grounds. Spock and T'Pring knelt face to face next to a fire. She appeared to be a strong and healthy girl, and Spock had seen her academic records. Her performance thus far was strong, but not exceptional. What he did not know, however, was the nature of her character. He had never spoken to her before.
T'Pring's uncle guided them through the ceremony. He placed Spock's hands on T'Pring's face, and T'Pring's hands on Spock's face. Then he rested his own hands against their foreheads, and gently guided them through the bonding.
T'Pring's thoughts felt like the rattling of leaves in a hard wind, and the scurrying of lizards in the sand. Spock had no conception of how to make sense of the random images and impressions he received from her, and he wondered if she was equally confused as she glimpsed his mind in return.
Far more quickly than Spock expected, the ceremony ended. T'Pring dropped her hands to her side, and Spock did the same.
Their parents visited quietly for a short while after the ceremony, and Spock sat next to T'Pring on a stone ledge. He was uncertain of what to say.
He disliked his uncertainty. He expected to know her. To understand her. But instead, all he had was the constant rattling of leaves in his head. He wondered what his thoughts sounded like to her.
"May I contact you over the communications net next week?" he finally asked.
"Why?" Her tone was cold and disinterested.
"I… desire to become better acquainted with you."
Now her thoughts were clearer to him. He discerned that she had no desire to become better acquainted. That she saw no logical purpose behind forming a relationship with him until the time of their marriage drew close. That she did not particularly like him.
Spock was deeply disappointed. He felt an emotional reaction welling within him, and worked hastily to repress it.
Perhaps she sensed his disappointment, for she responded, "Very well. You may contact me."
She nodded, and stood to walk over to her parents.
Spock still hoped that T'Pring might yet become his friend, but he strongly suspected that she would not.
Spock lifts the Bishop from its place on the three-dimensional chess board and moves it down to the next tier, effectively blocking the apparent strategy of his opponent. He tilts his head toward Captain Christopher Pike, indicating that the next turn is his.
The two men sit in recreation room four on board the scientific exploration vessel Exeter. They began playing regular games of chess together not long after Spock joined the crew, almost one and a half years ago. They have played a total of one hundred and twenty-two games together, and Captain Pike has not yet won. However, Spock has observed that when the Captain gives his full attention to the game, his tactics and strategies show a significant improvement since they first began playing together. He suspects that the Captain now possesses the skill to defeat any ordinary opponent.
Spock, however, is no ordinary opponent.
"Huh." Captain Pike stares at the board, rubbing his chin with his hand. "You just did something, didn't you?"
Spock has long since learned to ignore such obviously rhetorical questions. "The move is yours, Captain."
Captain Pike ultimately chooses to move his Queen in an adequate but ultimately ineffective new stratagem.
As Spock reaches for one of his Knights, the Captain speaks.
"I received a very interesting communiqué from Starfleet Academy today."
"Indeed." Spock captures one of the Captain's Rooks.
"Damn." Captain Pike scrunches his forehead as he looks at the board in what Spock has learned to be an expression of frustration or puzzlement. "Yes. It was about you, actually."
Spock raises an eyebrow. "May I inquire as to the contents of this communiqué?"
"Yes." The Captain's fingers linger on his Queen for a moment before he shifts and grabs his one remaining Bishop instead. "They're offering you a job."
This is highly unexpected news. Spock has planned on serving on the Exeter for the remainder of its four-year mission. He watches as the Captain captures one of his remaining pawns.
"What manner of job?"
"The Department of Academy Computing Services needs a new Director of Special Projects. Your old friend Captain Olvedos has specifically requested you."
Spock moves his own Queen to capture the Captain's thoughtlessly moved Bishop. The Captain curses again. Spock meets the Captain's eyes. "Am I to be transferred?"
Captain Pike looks at him with a more thoughtful expression. "That's up to you. The transfer is voluntary. They actually gave me veto power, which is why they sent the communiqué to me instead of to you. But I'm going to let you decide. I'd hate to lose you, but if you think going back to the Academy is a better move for your career, then that's were you belong."
Spock nods slowly as the Captain uses his Queen to capture one of Spock's Knights.
"I will need to review the details of the position before I can make a decision."
"I understand. I'll forward you the information later tonight. I do think the job comes with a promotion to Lieutenant Commander, if that interests you."
Spock shifts his own Queen again, and looks back at the Captain. "Checkmate."
The Captain leans back in his chair. "Huh. I really thought I had you that time."
"If your design in bringing up the possibility of my transfer during a crucial moment of play was to distract me in an attempt to gain a tactical advantage, then it appears that stratagem has failed."
A grin spreads across Captain Pike's face, and he laughs out loud. "Too true." He rises to his feet, and Spock stands as well. "I'll get you those details so you can start working on your decision. I expect to hear one way or another by the time we reach Starbase 18 in two days."
Spock nods. "Understood."
The Captain's eyes linger on his face for several seconds longer than during their regular conversations. "I'm going to miss you, Lieutenant."
Spock finds this statement odd, considering he has not yet made his decision.
Two days later, when he disembarks from the Exeter at Starbase 18 to catch the transport to Earth, he remembers the Captain's statement, and marvels--not for the first time--at the oddly prescient insights of many humans. He wonders if, had he been raised as a human, in touch with his human emotions, he would have had access to similar insights.
Spock takes a two day leave on Vulcan before going to Earth. He has not seen his parents since his graduation from the Academy, and his mother greets him with moist eyes and a tight embrace. He indulges her by wrapping his arms lightly about her shoulders, but is relieved when she steps back and he can return his hands to his sides.
His father greets him with a somber nod, which Spock returns.
After dinner Sarek vanishes to his study, and Amanda dominates the conversation. Spock doesn't mind. He has always enjoyed the sound of his mother's voice.
"So are you really ready to go back to cool and damp San Francisco?" she asks.
"It is still far preferable to Seattle," he teases. After three years at the Academy he eventually attempted teasing and humor with his friends, but his mother is still the only person with whom he feels entirely comfortable employing such conversational tactics.
She smiles. "I suppose it is. But I do expect you to go up to Seattle once in a while to visit your uncle and cousins." She wags her finger at him.
Spock never got along well with his mother's brother or his two daughters, but he understands his mother's desire to maintain her familial relationship by using him as a surrogate, so he agrees to pay an obligatory visit to them upon his arrival.
They talk late into the night, until his mother is at last too sleepy to remain awake. Before retiring to her chamber, she rests her hand lightly on his cheek. Her hand is cool and smooth, and calls up many pleasant associations from his childhood which he would never have indulged in had he not been quite tired himself.
"I wish you could stay longer," she says. "I miss my little boy."
He ignores the absurdity of the diminutive and replies, "I cannot. I believe father would consider a longer visit an unnecessary intrusion upon his privacy."
His mother frowns. "He's a damn stubborn man sometimes. He sees all that you've accomplished in such a short span of time, yet he still refuses to acknowledge that you made the right decision when you joined Starfleet."
The relationship between Spock and his father has been strained and minimal ever since Spock's rejection of admittance to the Vulcan Science Academy. Spock has grown accustomed to the state of his relationship with his father and sees no logical need to attempt to change it, but he regrets that it continues to cause pain to his mother.
"I do not think a lengthier visit would alter his opinions in any way."
His mother closes her eyes and nods. "I suppose you're right." She sighs. "He'll come around someday. I'll just have to be patient." She looks back up at her son. "Patience is something I've gotten very good at over the years."
The corner of Spock's mouth ticks up. "I would go so far as to call you an expert on the subject."
She laughs, and Spock allows himself to enjoy the sound of her laughter.
She wraps her arms around him again, and Spock gently pats her back. "I love you, Spock."
He releases her, and nods. "Good night, Mother."
Three months after assuming his new position at Starfleet Academy, Spock sits across the desk from Commodore Ripley, the Chair of the xenolinguistics department.
She narrows her eyes at him. "So," she says, "you want to teach courses in Vulcan and Romulan phonology?"
He inclines his head. "That is correct."
She squints her eyes closed and shakes her head briefly before looking at him again. "But… you work in the Campus Computing Services department."
"That is also correct. However, as my résumé clearly indicates, I speak all five Vulcan dialects with expert fluency, and possess near-expert fluency in all three major Romulan dialects as well. Likewise, phonology was one of my areas of expertise in my studies on Vulcan as well as here at the Academy." He dislikes rehearsing the contents of his résumé, but it is clear that the Commodore harbors pre-conceived notions regarding the capabilities of computer experts.
She pushes her short white hair behind her ears and picks up the PADD displaying Spock's résumé. She peruses it for several moments, moving her lips silently. "It says here that phonology was one of--four?--minors that you achieved here at the Academy?"
Spock nods. "Yes. I considered making it one of my majors, but upon the advice of my academic advisor, I concluded that more than three majors was not feasible if I wanted to graduate in the normal four years."
Commodore Ripley gives him a pointed stare. "I see."
"I assure you that I keep abreast of all the latest advances in the field of phonology by way of academic journals, and I completed two distance-learning courses in Romulan dialects during my time aboard the Exeter in order to improve my fluency."
The Commodore nods. "I can see that your qualifications are not in question. What is in question is: why? Why do you, Director of Special Projects for the Campus Computing Services department, want to teach phonology? Don't your duties keep you busy enough?"
Spock senses that he is beginning to make headway. "That is precisely the problem. My primary duties generally require my attention for approximately six point four hours of every day. As I require only three to four hours of sleep nightly, I find myself with an excess of free time, and I would prefer to fill that time with pursuits that benefit the entire Academy--not merely myself. As I was unable to devote the time I desired to phonology during my studies here, I thought that perhaps I could now spend my time teaching this subject which I find highly fascinating."
Commodore Ripley stares at him, running her eyes over him in a manner that he believes can be termed "sizing him up."
"Very well, Lieutenant Commander," she says, straightening her back and resting her hands on the desk. "Captains Varik and Wright are my current Vulcan and Romulan Phonology instructors, and they have been feeling rather overloaded the past few semesters. Starting this fall you may assist them and their teaching assistants in the xenolinguistics lab, as well as on any research projects they need extra help with. If that goes well, then next winter I will, based on their needs and recommendations, assign you one or two sections to teach. Is this arrangement acceptable to you?"
Spock nods. The Commodore's decision to give him a trial-period is logical, and he approves of her reasoning. He has no doubt that he will be teaching courses by winter. "Yes. Perfectly acceptable."
In late September, Spock is walking across campus when an unfamiliar voice catches his attention.
"Excuse me, Sir. May I ask you a question?"
The most surprising thing about the inquiry is that it is spoken in perfect Vulcan--and not even the dialect most commonly taught at the Academy, but in the dialect of his home province.
He turns to face the unknown person speaking to him, more than half expecting to see another Vulcan standing there. He is surprised when instead he sees a human girl dressed in form-fitting civilian clothes, and looking no older than a first-year cadet. Her brown hair cascades down her back in a plethora of tiny braids, accented here and there with beads of semi-precious stones, and large gold hoops dangle from her ears. A slight smile graces her warm burnt umber face.
He raises an eyebrow at the girl, and replies in the same Vulcan dialect. "Yes, you may."
"Thank you, Sir. I was wondering if you could direct me to the xenolinguistics building?" She continues to speak in his native dialect.
"You are not a cadet?" he asks, surprised yet again.
She shakes her head. "No. I am in the process of applying for admittance and decided to come visit the campus."
"Indeed." Spock inclines his head. "If you follow this path northwest between the engineering and computing buildings," he points, "you will arrive at another quad. The xenolinguistics building is on the east side of the quad, and is clearly labeled."
"Thank you, Sir."
"It was no imposition. Might I remark that your command of this dialect is far superior to that of any other human I have encountered?"
Her smile spreads a little wider. "Thank you. I just graduated from the Gevar Language Institute on Deneva Prime. My teachers there were excellent."
"The reputation of that institute is well known here at the Academy. And, if all of its graduates are as proficient as you, that reputation is well deserved."
She glances down in apparent embarrassment, and shakes her head. He cannot help but notice that she is a remarkably aesthetically pleasing young woman.
"Thank you. I do try my best."
He takes a step closer to her. "Did you choose to speak in my native dialect purposefully, or was this a coincidence?"
"It was an educated guess, Sir. I spent six months on Vulcan as part of an educational exchange program when I was fourteen, and I learned to recognize the regional variations in Vulcan appearance." She clasps her hands behind her back and straightens her spine.
Spock can see that the girl has good reason to be confidant in her abilities. Clearly she has pursued a study of Vulcan language since her early youth--an unusual thing among humans.
"Fascinating. In my experience, most humans believe that all Vulcans look alike."
Her lips tighten into a narrower grin. "Then most humans are willfully ignorant, Sir."
Almost against his will the corners of his mouth twitch upward. Her statement was uncannily reminiscent of many things his mother has said in the past.
"I am Lieutenant Commander Spock," he says. "What is your name?"
"Uhura. Nyota Uhura, Sir."
Though this encounter has already diverted him from his normal routine for approximately four point two five minutes, Spock desires to learn more about this singular young woman.
"Miss Uhura, are you expected at the xenolinguistics building?"
She shakes her head. "No. I'm not really on a schedule. I'm just guiding myself around."
"My duties do not require me to return to my office for four point three hours. I would be willing to take you to the xenolinguistics building and introduce you to some of the faculty, if you desire it."
She raises her eyebrows in surprise, but fortunately refrains from making any apologetic comments about inconveniencing him. He is pleased to see that her knowledge of Vulcan culture is sufficient for her to be aware of the pointlessness of such a human reply. "I appreciate your offer, Commander, and will gladly accept it. Do you work in the xenolinguistics department?"
He gestures for her to begin walking, and they head in the direction of the xenolinguistics building. "I am currently assisting several of the xenolinguistics teachers with ongoing projects, and expect to teach a course in Vulcan and Romulan phonology during the winter term. However, my primary duties are with the Campus Computing Services department."
If she is surprised, she does not show it. She merely nods and says, "You have a wide range of skills."
"I have many interests."
He introduces Miss Uhura to several faculty members, including Commodore Ripley, and they are all equally impressed with her abilities.
After a tour of the xenolinguistics department, Spock takes her to lunch at a small café neighboring the campus. She tells him the details of her rather impressive education, and tells him about the internship that she will soon begin at the Mogadishu Regional Communications Center in the United States of Africa.
Spock finds her credentials and education almost as impressive as if she had been a Vulcan.
He spends several more hours with her, giving her a tour of campus. As the time draws near for him to return to his office for his daily departmental status meeting, he is seized with a sudden impulse.
"Miss Uhura, I would be pleased to provide you with an Officer's recommendation for your application, if you are still in need."
She seems momentarily taken aback, but then, logically, accepts his offer. He tells her his electronic messaging address, and she agrees to send him her academic and professional résumé within the week.
"Thank you, Commander," she says before they part. "This has been an enjoyable and educational meeting."
"I concur. I am certain you will perform above expectations once you enter the Academy. I look forward to tracking your career." And he genuinely does. Few cadets--even his own classmates--have ever impressed him as much as Nyota Uhura.
She sends him her résumé and a letter of appreciation three days later, and he composes a strong recommendation for her to include in her application.
He does not hear from her again until April, when he receives an announcement of her acceptance and another expression of appreciation for the recommendation and the time he spent with her.
He is pleased that she will be attending the Academy, but does not think of her again for several months, as he is now busy teaching phonology courses in addition to his duties in the Computing Services department.
When he sees her again in the fall, during the freshman orientation week prior to the start of the semester, she catches his eye from across a quad. Though she is in a large group of new cadets, all wearing their matching red uniforms, she still stands out from the crowd.
When she sees that he has noticed her, she smiles broadly, and nods in greeting. He nods in return, and feels an odd stirring of pleasure to see her again. He expects that Cadet Uhura will achieve great things before she leaves the Academy.
Even after he returns to his apartment, she lingers in his mind in a most illogical fashion. But the strange lapse is easily cured by half an hour of meditation.