I own nothing. If brain worms like this could make me money, what a wonderful world it would be. Reviews, however, are always nice.
I hope you enjoy!!!
She knew for certain her feelings had changed the day he'd broken his nose in class.
Up until that day, their relationship had been, to her, good natured but normal in the teacher student kind of way. It was in the end of her second year when he'd been assigned to take over a class she was forced to take, an advanced course on interplanetary diplomacy. She'd heard of him on campus, of course, since it was hard to miss the only half-Vulcan half-human golden child who won every award conceivable. But her knowledge was limited to only what she read on campus postings or overheard on the rare occasions she went out to any sort of public gathering. Uhura, after all, only listened to gossip if it was in a language she was trying to practice and master.
"You know, he's not that much older than us," her friend Galeth sniffed on the first day of class, his long blue fingers stretching to pull out a chair for her.
"A couple of years. So?"
"I don't know. Shouldn't our teachers have more experience?"
Uhura shrugged and scanned the computer screen in front of her. "His father was a diplomat, and he was top of his class here. That seems qualified enough. Besides, he was raised on Vulcan in their education system which statistically puts his average intelligence…"
Galeth groaned, the deep black of his large eyes covered only slightly by the film of his eyelids, "Please stop. It's too early for you to prove that you're smarter than me. Again."
"Well, if it weren't so simple…" she chided, but smiled broadly.
Galeth turned toward her, his posture relaxed. "Look, all I'm saying is maybe he'd be easier to…maybe he'd understand…"
"If you think that he's going to understand you coming to class hung over, than you need to go back and reread about the cultural elements of Vulcans."
Galeth rested his head on the back of his chair. "Geez, one mistake our first year, first sememester, ONE, and it stays with you forever."
Uhura tapped the tips of her fingers together. "Vomiting into a potted plant can be quite the memory maker."
"Fine." A murmur went through the room, as the instructor entered. Below them, two females watched him pass then turned to each other and giggled in hushed tones. Galeth surveyed him and poked Uhura with an elbow, "Hey, maybe you could 'practice' your Vulcan with him?"
Uhura's jaw tightened a little as her gaze went from the girls to the instructor and back again, "My Vulcan is fine, thank you."
"Hello," came a voice through the speaker, "my name is Spock."
Uhura was right, of course. Spock was not the type of professor who huddled close with students to chat over warm cups of coffee. In fact, he banned all drinks from class, saying they "were a distraction." After three weeks, a third of students had dropped out from a combination of frustration and nonadmitted fear. That number increased to over half after midterms, when student's hopes for academic greatness were shredded by pieces and by terrifically correct comments and grades. There was an entire drinking game created, a shot while reading every time a comment was blunt, two if it indirectly insulted your prior education. Uhura was taken aback by the note at the end of her own paper, a simple "Your knowledge of the subject and use of materials is evident. Excellent spelling."
She was more pleased with the spelling comment. Any professor could have read her paper and seen it merits. But spelling, someone had to really be paying attention to notice good spelling. Besides, it spoke well to her abilities as a translator.
"Thank you," she told him after class, her first two words of direct communication outside of classroom discussion.
Spock didn't look up from the screen he was working from. "For what?"
"Your comments on my midterm."
He looked up, and Uhura was struck again by the fact that his face read control, not cold. "Thank yourself, Ms. Uhura. You did the work." She nodded and began to walk from the classroom. "It's…" Startled, she turned toward him again. He was staring at the back of the wall. "My comments, with the other students, they weren't too harsh?"
"I…" her words stumbled like her thoughts, "I…don't know."
His eyes continued to concentrate on the nondescript paneling that lined every lecture hall. "There's no need to lie." His chest shrunk a little in a small, silent sigh. "A criticism I have received in the past is that I can be too blunt in my commentary on others work, failing to take into account the emotional attachment that people can have to their assignments. I would like to avoid such disappointment."
"You don't want to hurt our feelings."
Spock turned his head to look at her. "Precisely. Though, I don't understand why people are so traumatized by criticism. If we don't know where we need to improve, how can we improve?"
Uhura thought for a moment. "I think that you pointed out what others pass off as acceptable as actually being unacceptable. And change is hard."
"Change is necessary."
"Yes, it is."
They stood for a moment in uncomfortable silence before Uhura turned to leave for a second time. "I was honest in my comment," he called out. She turned, and he was finally facing all the way toward her, "your spelling is outstanding." Uhura smiled at him, and for the first time when dealing with Vulcans wasn't the least bit bothered that he failed to smile back.
She moved from the third row to the first row voluntarily, immediately, intrigued. Many considered Spock to be cold and distant in his lecture style. And while it was true that he didn't jump on desks to inspire, his knowledge was as deep and wide as the ocean outside the window of the classroom. And she liked the way that he pronounced his words, clean and crisp; similar to the linguistic audio tracks she'd listened to as a little girl, pressed under the covers, her second hand player casting a faint blue glow against the wall. She'd realized this connection in the middle of class one day as Spock's voice lilted on in the middle of a long explanation. The recognition made her laugh out loud quietly, and when Spock looked at her with the faintest hint of confusion in his eyebrows, she'd had to cover her embarrassment with a dry fake cough.
Uhura always stayed with a small clutch of students to further discuss topics with Spock after class. Or rather, Uhura stayed to talk, and the others simply watched and occasionally offered a small "yeah" or "I agree." Spock called these meetings of the mind "discussions." But to the observer, they were deeper, more interesting. Uhura was not afraid to play devil's advocate to Spock's cool marble logic. Things often stayed reasonable, but occasionally control slipped away. By the time they were speaking in curt Vulcan, the others watching knew it was time to leave.
"How can you say that? To ignore terrorist actions simply acts as a primer for others." Uhura switched the language from English to Vulcan as they sat in the classroom, long abandoned by the others. They sat next to each other, a footing of equals.
Spock gave a small tisk, but spoke in Vulcan as well. "Making your point in Vulcan does not, in reality, make your opinion any better or clearer to me. Are you trying to impress me?"
Uhura's lips pressed together tightly. "No."
"Are you trying to pander to me?"
"Of course not."
"Then there is no need to continue switching languages in our conversations."
Uhura stared at Spock's face for a moment, believing that she had actually seen some anger in his eyes. But the feeling was gone in an instant, replaced with the look of muted curiosity he often had. In English, "Fine, no switching. But my point is still valid…"
When the semester came to an end, Uhura was disappointed. Most professors at the academy spent their last day summarizing the course in a casual manor and answering questions, an opportunity for students to see the person behind the stiff unblemished uniform. But Spock led a full lecture, a long detail oriented lecture, and with thirty seconds left, said a simple thank you and left the lecture hall without a muscle twitch indication of turning back. The class sat stunned, for a moment, but then someone gave a low grunt of "typical" and students filed out. Uhura waited until everyone trickled away, making up her mind, rubbing a temple deeply, until she suspected she would bruise. Go. Don't go. Go. Don't go.
"Go, go, go." The words were like a ghost in the empty hall.
Uhura's boots clicked along the abandoned hallway. Heals, her one indulgence in vanity. She liked the way they sounded, like a metronome your body created, the external pace of a poem being written into the ground. The sun was setting behind the ocean outside the long windows, stretching her body out longer and longer.
The door to Spock's office was open. Against her better judgment Uhura walked into the office without a sound. Spock was sitting in a chair, hunched a little forward. In his hands was a book. In a place of higher learning such as the Academy, paper books were rare, exotic. Computers had eliminated the need for them, and in general only professors who were collectors or pompous windbags kept them around.
Which made the book in Spock's hands that more alien. He held it carefully, almost tenderly, tracing the spine of the book first, then following the contours in the cover with a finger. With a flick of his thumb the cover fell open and Spock brought the book up toward the light, Uhura suspected he read something personal written inside. He froze, intense eyes flitting back and forth across the page. Unexpectedly, a small smile turned up the corners of his lips, not quite big enough to make the muscles around his eyes relax though. He flipped the cover closed, touching it gently again.
Uhura cleared her throat. The book jolted out of Spock's hands onto the floor, but he grabbed it gracefully while standing and turning. "I'm sorry," she said, "I didn't mean to startle you."
"I left the door open," he responded, dropping the book on the chair, and clasping his arms behind his back.
"Yes." Unconsciously, Uhura wrapped one arm around her torso so it clutched the opposite forearm. "I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your class."
Spock nodded "Thank you. Completing teaching is very…fulfilling. I didn't think I would be so successful."
"Through my students. You all produced truly exceptional work."
She relaxed a bit at the compliment, letting her arms relax to her sides. "Thank you."
"Don't thank me, thank…"
"Yourself. I know."
Spock's left eye brow slowly moved toward his hairline. "Am I so predictable?"
Uhura's mouth fell open a bit. Was that a joke? Her eyes flitted from the book back to him, and she smiled softly. "Consistent. You are consistent."
"Consistent." Spock considered this for a moment, "that's acceptable." They stood in a peaceful silence, Spock considering her, "I hope that you don't think this is too bold, but I submitted your name and you have been selected to proctor first year classes this summer. You had mentioned that you weren't planning on going home, and I thought you would enjoy this job over working in the com connection center."
She gave a genuine smile. "Yes, that's fine. Great."
He took a step forward. "We would most likely be working together to improve the curriculum."
"I think your papers indicate a level of proficiency that matches my work."
"Well, that's a compliment."
She took a step forward as well. "You're saying that you think we'd work well together."
"I never actually said that."
Uhura's eyes flicked back to the book on the chair. It sat bathed in the light. "No but that's what you meant, isn't it?" It wasn't really something that a student said to a teacher, and later Uhura suspected that this one line was when their relationship really changed tone.
"Yes," Spock agreed. "It's what I meant." He turned suddenly and picked up the book from the chair, holding it carefully in his hands. "When my mother heard I'd been given a position here, she sent me this book." He handed it to Uhura, who examined the exterior. "It's a very ancient account of Vulcan schooling. Apparently a discipline wand was especially popular before our pod system came into use. Look inside the cover." Uhura flipped open the book with one hand, and studied the gentle cursive. It read, in English: 'Go easy on them, Spock. They're just as scared as you are.' When he spoke again, Spock's voice was confident, but noticeable quieter. "I was curious if she was correct."
"I don't know." Uhura shut the cover. "I guess it depends on how scared you were."
"How scared were you?"
"I asked first."
She put and hand on her hip. "So what, your question is more important?"
"If I want to accurately understand my interactions and perceptions on students, then yes, I suppose my question is more important."
She considered the book in her hand, its light brown leather cool to the touch. "I'm sorry; I thought we were talking about fear."
"We're not." Spock held out his hand for the book.
Uhura handed it to him stiffly. "No, I guess we aren't."
They stared at each other, the book gripped tightly in Spock's hand. As the tension stretched on, Spock's thumb began to stroke the cover nervously. She watched him for a moment, and felt the tightness in her chest release a little. "Did your father send you anything?"
It was a personal question, and for a moment she didn't think he would answer. "My father wrote a letter of reference when I applied to teach. That was sufficient."
"I like the book better."
"As do I."
Uhura nodded. "Good night, Spock."
"I will see you soon."
And even though she didn't turn around to check, Uhura could have sworn that Spock watched her retreat all the way down the hall.
Only Spock would insist on showing up fifteen minutes early the first day. The lecture hall was empty, except for him. Staring up the graduated seats Spock looked small and alone near the back.
Uhura climbed the stairs at a slow pace. "You saved me a seat."
The joke was lost on him. "You brought me coffee."
She glanced at the cups in her hands, warm and heavy. "I wasn't sure you'd want some. You once said it was a distraction."
"Not this early in the morning. My time living on earth has demonstrated the need for coffee."
"How very human."
"On Vulcan, stimulants like caffeine are seen as an excuses for a lack of planning to get enough rest."
As Uhura finally made her way down the aisle, Spock stood and let her pass, and held out a chair. "Thanks."
He nodded and sat, drawing the coffee closer, concentrating on the steam rising off the top. Other students were beginning to enter in small groups, talking and laughing. One girl looked up and waved to Uhura, recognizing her from somewhere fun and sunny. But then she noticed the person Uhura was sitting with, and the high wave drooped a little then stopped. No one waved to Spock.
"So…" Uhura began, "What have you been up to these last few weeks?"
"Reading and meditation."
"Did you finish the book your mother sent you?"
"I finished that three days after it arrived."
Spock looked at her quizzically. "I find it hard to believe that you wish to know more about the history of Vulcan education."
"Maybe I haven't had a good conversation in a few weeks."
"You mean since you've seen me."
Uhura took a large gulp of her coffee in an effort to hide her smile. "That's not what I said."
"But it is what you meant."
"Maybe. Just don't start to think that I've missed you or anything."
Spock blinked several times. He said, "Why would I think that? I have not thought of you;" then turned his face away to diligently read a tablet on the table.
She was too proud to acknowledge the disappointment.
In the front of the room a chair tipped over drawing their attention downward. The room was only a third filled with people, but two young cadets had still managed to start a small shoving and yelling match.
"It's instances like this," Spock muttered, "that make me question the current acceptance policies of the Academy." Uhura thought about placing her hand on his arm and whispering the Vulcan word for moron, but reconsidered. "What in the world does anyone have to fight about at 7:50 am?"
"Yeah, well your mother is a yellow bellied glotshgault!" one hollered, and the first punch was thrown.
Spock was out of his chair instantly. "Stop. Now." He bellowed in his most authoritarian voice. The words were effective on everyone but the two people fighting. The group stated in awe and fear, like dazed cows by the side of the road, as Spock bounded down the steps and over a table trying to get at the two idiots doing their best to expose the other's brain matter.
Uhura didn't stay idle either, taking two stairs at a time, and using a table edge to slingshot herself around the corner and outside the room. Gasping for air she managed to punch in the correct code on the com for…
"This is security."
"Two cadets are fighting in room 334."
"On our way."
Her finger had just hit the off switch when a high, strangled female voice projected from the classroom. "Oh my God!"
Her heart sank a little as students pushed their way through the door looking desperate for escape. By the time she had managed to get through, the room had become eerily silent. In front of the lectern, crumpled on the ground in an unceremonious heap, were the two idiots who had been fighting. Standing above them, chest heaving even with good posture, was Spock. As Uhura came closer, eyes concentrated on Spock's back, the only conscious student left, a pale looking young woman, crouched down and reached out a hand toward one of the bodies.
"I assure you, they are not dead." Spock's voice was calm, but not exactly comforting.
She shook her head, and her voice had a slight tremor. "I just want to make sure he's OK." She touched one the cadet's heads gently, stoking his hair. "He's my friend."
"I said he was fine."
"The nerve pinch on humanoids in nonlethal."
"You…"The woman's head shot up and saw Spock's face. She shuddered a bit then stood. "What do you know about humans." she asked, pointing. But when her anger failed to evoke any response from Spock, she put her head down she stormed out of the room.
And then there was silence.
Uhura swallowed hard, even though her mouth was dry. "Spock?" He didn't move. She edged closer, putting one hand on his shoulder and saying his name again, "Spock?"
Her touch made his head whip around and Uhura couldn't help but jump back. During the fight someone must have gotten the jump on Spock, even momentarily, because thick green blood covered his mouth and chin, dribbling down his neck and soaking the front of his tunic. Despite her brains best efforts to stop her, she cringed a bit outwardly at the sight, and could see Spock suck in a small breath to see the wince in her eyes. "Have you called security?" he asked.
She nodded, "Be here any second."
Spock looked down at the men. "Good."
Uhura stuck out a hand. "Come sit down."
"The situation doesn't…"
"Do you really think that those two are going anywhere?"
Spock opened his mouth to respond, but just then security arrived. After briefly explaining the circumstances, Spock sat down in the front row heavily and waited for the medical team to arrive. Uhura took a seat next to him and studied his profile. If it weren't for the blood, his face was completely placid. But when she put her hand on his upper arm, she felt the tightness of his muscles and looked down. Each individual finger was wrapped tightly around the end of the arm rest, knuckles turning white. "Let me see your nose," she said softly as to not attract the attention of the security guards tending to the cadets.
"Do I not frighten you, like I did her?" The words were harsh, and cut.
"I have three older brothers who had a deep love of contact sports. You are not my first broken nose. Though you are, admittedly, my first green one."
Beneath her hand, Uhura felt his arm relax a little, and several seconds later was rewarded when his head turned her way. Before she could stop herself a hand reached up and touched his cheek gently, making him pull away slightly, but not so far that she couldn't continue to examine the area carefully. "Yup," she concluded, "one of them got ya good."
"A momentary lapse. A chair got in my way." The blood on his lips was dry, and cracked as he talked.
"It's always the chair's fault."
"I fail to see how humor helps our situation."
"Then what can help?" she asked. It was only then that Uhura realized that the hand tracing his face had come to rest with one palm on his cheek. She marveled at how warm his cheek was, the skin smooth and soft. Their eyes locked, and in an instant Uhura's brain filled with all the wonderful ways Spock might answer such a question. But no words came. Instead, a hand simply snaked its way up between them, gently taking her wrist to push her hand away. "I'm sorry," she whispered in Vulcan.
Spock's answer was in English, eyebrow slightly raised. "This is not how I imagined the first day of class happening either."
"That's not what I mea…" But her thought was cut short by the medical crew coming in. Uhura relinquished her seat so Spock could be looked after. Standing awkwardly to the side she called, "Is there anything else I can do?"
"No. I will contact you as soon as I know more about when the class will be rescheduled."
Uhura nodded, but Spock's attention was elsewhere. She was out the door, so she almost didn't hear when Spock called out to her again. Sticking her head around the threshold she answered, "What was that?"
"Thank you," Spock repeated. In Vulcan.
When she was alone in the elevator, Uhura leaned against the wall heavily, and smiled.
To Be Continued…