On New Years Eve, they try again.
Nyota goes downstairs long before she needs to and waits with her scarf bunched under her chin and her hands stuffed deep in her pockets, her cheeks growing colder with every passing moment. She lifts her face out of her scarf when she first sees Spock approach, watching him step into a pool of light cast on the path. She can't help but smile at the sight of him there, walking towards her, and ducks back into her scarf, grinning against it.
"How was work?" she asks when he's near enough to her and she decides she can't wait for him to take those last few steps before speaking, the urge to begin talking to him too strong to hold it at bay any longer.
"Unfocused and inefficient," he says though she can't detect anything approaching irritation lacing his words. "Doctor Puri sends his regards."
That makes her smile again, or maybe it's how close Spock has come to stand, far nearer to her than she's used to, all that time they were in his office together with a careful arms length between them. Now, she lets herself sway towards him, that compulsion nearly as strong as the one to start a conversation with him, the hours she spent waiting for evening to arrive thankfully behind her, and a night with him stretching out in front of them. She curls her toes in her boots, bounces back on her heels lightly and digs her hands deeper into her pockets. "I can't say I'm sorry to miss him."
The streetlight falls across his face, catching on the curve of his ear and the line of his jaw. She lets herself bite at the inside of her cheek and indulge in a moment of watching him, the blink of his long lashes and the small puff of white breath as he says, "Understood."
The walk across campus is shorter than she might have expected, though as he opens the door to his building for her, she allows that it might seem so not due to the distance of the dorms to the faculty apartments, but how his elbow brushed twice against hers as they walked, each time nearly blanking her thoughts.
He lives on the sixth floor, which she never even knew to wonder about, not where exactly his apartment is or how the hallway by his door looks, or her first peek inside of it when he steps aside so she can enter first. She looks around herself as she unwinds her scarf, taking in the living room before her, the kitchen off to the side, and then the wash of heat at her back as he moves behind her, taking off his own jacket. He holds his hand out for hers and hangs it neatly next to his own, draping her scarf over top so that the ends are neatly aligned with each other at the same height off the floor. His hand looks big against her belongings, starkly pale and entirely odd as he arranges everything in a way she decides is rather endearing.
She steps out of her boots when she sees him do the same and despite being in hospital gowns, sweatpants, and old t-shirts for so long around him, she can't help but flex her sock clad toes against his floor, sure that the newness of this is entirely unaffected by the fact of how long it's been since she's been in her neatly pressed uniform around him. She never thought to consider what color his socks are, though she's hardly surprised that they're black, or where he might leave his boots, which are placed neatly next to hers and a pair of running shoes, or what he might do with his comm and padd when he gets home, both of which he lays on a small table that also holds a potted plant, not one she thinks could possibly be Terran with how unfamiliar the shape of it is and the red dirt at its base.
He has his own uniform still on and his hand touches his stomach, his fingers brush at the hem of it, and he excuses himself with a nod towards a door that must lead to his bedroom. She tells herself not to stare at it when it closes behind him. Instead, she takes in his living room, his table already set for two, and a pot on the stove that when he reappears dressed in slacks and a sweater, he turns the heat on underneath.
He adjusts the temperature twice and then refolds a dishtowel that was already perfectly arranged on its hook.
"I do not have anything to offer you to drink beyond water or tea." His eyes meet hers and when she's sure they're about to slide away again, she takes a step towards him. "I did not know if you would prefer champagne, for the holiday."
"I can't drink anyway," she says quickly. "I'm still on a lot of hypos."
"But you are feeling better," he says.
"Nearly entirely so," she says and takes another step towards him. "Though I do admit to sleeping most of the afternoon." She gives him a smile and feels her heart pick up when his eyes drop to her mouth. "I didn't want to fall asleep halfway through tonight."
"Logical," he declares and she smiles again.
It fades slightly as she rubs her hands together, takes a step towards her jacket and then quickly walks to it.
"Here," she says, digging into her pocket. The motion causes her scarf to shift and she rights it, trying to return it to how perfectly it was placed as best she can. "I didn't wrap it, so I hope you haven't changed your mind about wrapping paper."
He takes the book from her and examines it as she smooths her sweater over her stomach.
"It's- You had mentioned once, a while ago, wanting to learn Bajoran." She clears her throat. "I don't know if you still do, but that's one of their most popular histories and the language- it's not hard to learn, I think you'd be able to pick it up quickly."
He opens the cover, smooths it back with his palm and she reaches up and fingers her earring, the ones she had made Gaila help her choose.
"Thank you," he says and she nods quickly.
"I hope you like it."
"I am entirely certain that I will."
Dinner is a stew of rich broth that she can't help but immediately dig into. He watches her through her first bites until she wipes her mouth on her napkin and grins at him, taking in the sight of him across the table from her, their bowls of food steaming between them, and the way his eyes don't leave her as she tries her dinner. She half wants to ask him to identify every vegetable in her bowl just to hear him speak Vulcan again like he has only a handful of times around her, but he has his spoon hovering above his food and she has to smile at him again.
"Delicious," she declares and only then does he eat, careful and methodical as he did in her hospital room, at his desk in his office, though she's sure as she watches him across the table that none of those meals compared to this one, even came close to touching this moment here in the warmth of his quarters and how he looks up at her between spoonfuls.
"So," she says as she bites into something that resembles a bright green potato. "Any new years resolutions?"
"I had not considered any," he says as he pulls his spoon through his dinner. "Yourself?"
"No more poorly timed illnesses," she says lightly.
"That is a worthy goal."
"Though," she says and eats the other half of the vegetable. "I think it worked out ok."
His eyebrow raises as he dips his spoon into his bowl. "I believe that it did."
"I like your place," she tells him when dinner is cleaned up and she has a mug of tea cupped between her hands, the steam curling up towards her as she makes a slow circle around his living room. He has a handful of pieces of art, a small sculpture on the table next to his couch that has strong, bold lines she's sure must be Vulcan in origin, and a landscape painting of rusty mountains and dusty cliffs. Beneath the window rests another plant and next to it, the curved arc of a ka'athrya. She tightens her hold on her mug to keep from touching it and turns instead towards a hanging of Vulcan calligraphy, recognizing a phrase from a poem she had read once. She's sure it was for a class, though now seeing the words hung on Spock's wall it seems impossible that they could have been somewhere so sterile as in a classroom. The deep color of the canvas, the heat of his apartment, and the scent of her tea make the circles and lines of the undulating, winding script entirely more full of life than on a page of a textbook.
When she hears his soft steps cross the room towards her, she turns to him. She pulls her mug to her chest, dips her nose into the steam, and looks up at him when he's half an arm's length away, sure her cheeks aren't only warm from the heat of her tea.
"We should consider leaving soon," he says, his own mug held with his long fingers wrapped around it.
"We should," she agrees. "We don't want to be late."
"Indeed," he says and then his finger is warm under her chin and he's leaning down and they're kissing once softly, gently, her hands and mug pressed between their bodies when they sway close to each other. She's ready for it this time, has been since she walked in the door, since she walked downstairs, since he left her room and she thought of nothing else for what seemed to be hours, days, a too long eternity of replaying a kiss that had lasted only half a moment.
Now, he cups the back of her arm as he pulls back for the space of a breath and then kisses her again and she leans up as far into him as she can, unbalanced except for his hold on her. His sweater is soft against the back of her hands, his chest beneath solid and hard, so firm she can feel the strength of him through the fabric. Warmth brands into her arm from his touch, sweeps over her face with him so close to her and she's sure her skin doesn't cool when they break apart, or when she tries to zip her jacket with clumsy fingers, or with his body next to hers in the turbo lift, only maybe when the night air hits her cheeks and the fact of being out in public restarts her thoughts. She burrows her chin back into her scarf, can't stop herself from grinning into it, too wide and too hard and all together too happy to possibly contain it.
The city is crowded, people pouring out onto the streets, the sidewalks full of the press of everyone walking down towards the bay. She stays close behind him as they wind their way through the crowds, twice catching at the cuff of his jacket and finally slipping her hand into his when he reaches back for her. She doesn't let go when they reach the water, buffeted by the surge of the crowd around them until she's pressed close to him, their fingers linked together and the length of his body against her side warming her in the dark air of winter.
The wait is reduced to feeling like the span of only a few moments as his thumb rubs over the back of her hand and as she shifts to more firmly rest against his warmth. She's not sure what she was expecting, but it's not how gently he holds her hand or how he moves even closer to her, or how the Academy, only a few blocks behind them, feels worlds away, but then again she never expected any of this, never knew to truly hope for it, not beyond some half formed wish of a dream that she's sure could never and had never and will never approach the actual reality of living out this moment, any sketched out idea of this burning too bright in her mind to ever really grasp.
The first firework arcs up against the sky. She doesn't watch it, instead taking in the shine of reds and blues and greens and golds flaring bright over his face. The corner of his mouth curls when he notices her looking, his fingers curving into her jacket when she leans further into him.
"This," she says, low enough only he can hear, her words shadowed by the murmur of the crowd and the crack of fireworks above them. "Is a wonderful way to begin a new year."
His voice is a deep, rich rumble that rolls right through her, settles in deeper than the thunder of the fireworks. "Indeed it is."
I hope you all have a wonderful start to 2016! Happy New Year!