My beta, mhgood, is absolutely amazing and I'm pretty sure without her this wouldn't exist. Thank you, because I can't possibly thank you enough.
His confusion is almost equal to his hurt, a frustration towards his inability to understand, to quantify his pain. It has the startling ability to resist his logic, to refuse desisting in spite of hours of meditation. Sleep escapes him, as it has since Vulcan, since his mother. He has tried, had even tried reading until he fell asleep. He found it to be illogical to believe that stimulating one's brain before sleeping would hasten sleep, but his mother had firmly believed in reading to her child before bed and it was a habit that he carried with him to this day. Reading doesn't make the hurt go away; reading doesn't make him forget the gaping hole that threatens to consume him.
This is illogical.
He is in perfect health, as certified by Dr. Leonard McCoy. There is nothing broken, nothing missing, all of his limbs and organs accounted for. Nevertheless, he hurts and hurts greatly.
He suddenly finds himself walking the passageways of the Enterprise with a destination in mind. He is grateful for the late hour, there are hardly any other crew members to question his actions. The chances they would do so were highly improbable. As Commander, his presence would go noticed but unquestioned. Even then, as a half-Vulcan, most are wary of confrontation with him. Particularly since he is now known as the one who nearly killed a man. He is grateful for the barrenness of people during his walk.
He stops, arriving at his destination, and requests entrance. It occurs to him that Lieutenant Uhura-Nyota--is most likely sleeping, exhausted both physically and mentally from the past few days. He should let her rest, let her recuperate. He starts to turn away, to walk away and not trouble her with his insomnia, when she answers the door.
She was sleeping, is still half-asleep. She leans against the door for support, blinking at the bright lights of the corridor. Her hair is down, and he realizes that he has never seen it down before and has only now realized how much he has wanted to see it like this-free, framing her face, slightly curling. He wants to run his fingers through it, to feel for himself how soft and silken it is. She is wearing a tank top and pants that are a size too big for her, hanging low on her hips. Her Starfleet uniform that he has ashamedly had fantasies about has nothing on Nyota's choice of sleepwear.
"Spock?" she asks sleepily. The 'k' is softer than it usually is, swallowed by a yawn.
"My apologies, Lieutenant. I did not mean to wake you."
"Spock," she says softly and he wants to weep at the way she says his name, the way she seems to storm all of his defenses, all of his walls that he has so carefully built around himself. "Come inside."
She knows, she always seems to know what he needs and he still is not sure how she is able to, how she is able to translate him with such eloquence and perfection.
She makes him sit in a chair facing her bed, a chair that belongs at a desk because since none of them have anything beyond the necessities; she doesn't have her favorite reading chair with her. It suffices. She sits on the edge of her bed, just watching him. It is warm in her room, warmer than most humans have their living quarters by ten degrees. She instructs the computer to dim the lights, and waits. She is waiting, he knows, for him to speak, for him to become comfortable.
"I hurt," he tells her.
He watches her eyes for any confusion, any indication that she has any idea what he is talking about, but the only thing he finds is compassion.
"Oh, Spock. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry," she tells him quietly.
"Why? You could not have prevented the events that unfolded."
She nods, but he notices that her lips are pursed ever so slightly. He has forgotten again, forgotten that humans say things that have ambiguous meanings.
"But I am sorry that you have to go through this, that you have to live with this pain. It's something no one should have to deal with. You mean a lot to me, Spock. You are someone I care about. That is why I'm sorry."
He nods, understanding. "Thank you."
"Do you want to talk about it?" she asks him hesitantly.
"What is there to talk about? My planet is gone, my people a victim of genocide. My mother is dead. It is logical that I grieve for someone I care about. There is nothing to talk about."
"Okay," Nyota tells him.
He does not want to leave. It is logical for him to leave, there is nothing left for him to say. But he doesn't want to go back to his quarters that have seemed more like a cage. He does not want to leave her or her warmth.
She walks up to him and tugs at him until he stands. "Come on," she says as she attempts to take his shirt off.
He assumes that this is some kind of seduction, that Nyota feels that she needs to comfort him physically. The thought appeals to him more than it should, tempting him to replace the gaping existence in him with Nyota, to forget the pain through simply being. Perhaps sexual relations can do what meditation has failed to accomplish.
He notices that she hasn't made any attempt to illicit a physical response out of him. She has not kissed him nor touched him other than to remove his shirt, which she is now folding and putting on the chair.
"You need to sleep, Spock," she says gently. "We can talk in the morning."
She instructs the computer to turn off the lights after she climbs into the bed after him. In a moment that surprises even him, he pulls her close to him, her back to his chest, his chin on top of her head. They fit perfectly, he marvels. Of course, perfection is not possible, but this is deceptively close. Close enough to take his breath away.
"I did not get an opportunity to say goodbye," he tells her.
She moves closer to him. "Your mother loved you very much, Spock."
"I did not save her. I tried and failed to properly calculate the collapse of the rock. I should have reacted sooner, I should have made the proper calculations, I should have--" His words burst forth and he can't stop them, they are illogical and a poor demonstration of a proper Vulcan, but he cannot stop them, cannot stop blaming himself.
She turns around and stops his outburst with her lips, kissing him desperately, passionately, with more love than he has ever known. It's remarkable, how powerfully he feels at the moment. He is in control, is always in control, but he questions that very assumption about himself as the kiss Nyota offers him and grief he feels threaten to split him in two. She is the one to end it, however, wiping a tear away that he had not known was there.
"It is illogical to think that way, Spock," she tells him with a small smile. She says it without censure, without implication that he is less Vulcan than he should be. She means to make him smile, to make him see how foolish it is to blame himself.
He feels exhausted.
He wakes up alone.
At first he is unfamiliar with his surroundings. The sheets he has slept in are not his, these are softer and smell different. They smell like jasmine and spice, like Nyota.
He remembers last night, his pain and her absolution. The hole is smaller now, though it is still there. It will always be there, he thinks, the place where his mother used to be.
He hears the sounds of water running. She is taking a shower. He should leave before she comes out; it would be improper to be in her quarters while she is dressing, though there is the probability that she will dress in her bathroom and be presentable when she comes out. She would be angry with him if he left right now. She will have questions, because she is Nyota and she always has questions, and he should assure her of his wellbeing. It is only proper. And logical.
He looks around him. His shirt is still on the chair and he notices that she has books, actual printed, bound books on a table next to the table. Curiosity overtakes him and he goes to look. One is a book of the United States of Africa history, another stories in what he surmises to be Swahili, the language of her parents. The third and final book is one he is surprised to find, yet pleased to as well. It is Vulcan poetry written by a poet that every Vulcan knew and admired. His mother had given him the book when he had graduated from Starfleet, remarking that she thought Spock was like Vulcan poetry--the perfect combination of Vulcan culture and human passion. He had accepted the gift politely but never saw the analogy. He was a humanoid and thus not a form of literature. He gave it to Nyota because she liked it, because she would run her fingers over the cover and read it over and over again when she was his aide, and he always hoped, however illogically, that she had seen what his mother had seen.
"Good morning." She startles him. She isn't properly dressed, like he was expecting. She is wearing a Starfleet bathrobe, her hair still wet from the shower.
"Good morning, Nyota. My apologies for intruding on your personal possessions."
She smiles. "Spock, how many times have I looked through the books in your office? I think you've earned the right to browse my books."
"I was curious why you considered a book of history, a book of stories, and a book of poetry to be among your necessities."
"Because the three most important people in my life gave me those books."
Spock raises his eyebrow.
"My father gave me the book of African history to remind me of where I came from. My mother gave me the book of stories to remind me of her, she used to read them to me every night. You gave me the book of Vulcan poetry."
He notices that she does not include a reason like she does for her parents. Does she not know? Is she unaware of his regard for her?
He is about to ask her--he thinks they have progressed sufficiently enough in their relationship that he may ask her questions like that--when he turns to see her getting dressed. She is fiddling with the clasp of her bra, clad in only her underwear. The room is suddenly much warmer than he would prefer, the air suddenly too thick. He cannot remember what he was going to say, if he was going to say anything at all. All he can think of is the slope of her back, the angle of her shoulders. The passion that he always feels when he is around her roars to life with such vivacity that it startles him. She pulls up her skirt, tugs on her sweater and he mourns the loss of the sight of her skin. He misses it, wants to see it some more. She moves to the other side of the room where there is a small table with a mirror and proceeds to brush her hair, applying a small amount of makeup. He is fascinated by her ritual. He remembered as a boy watching his mother get ready for events at the Embassy on Vulcan, making her describe what she was doing and why. Nyota mimicked many of his mother's motions, brushing her hair, applying a little make-up, putting on the earrings that she favored. The memory was laced with pain, with regret, making him wish that he had tried harder, had been faster in reacting, had saved her somehow, someway, but the memory also held a level of fondness for him. It was a good memory. One to replace the bad that haunted him.
He watches as she pulles her hair up into her ubiquitous ponytail, as she tugs on her uniform to make sure it was just so. She goes to zip up her boots.
"Allow me," he murmurs.
She enjoyed this, he had noted in an earlier experience. Her heart rate increases and her pupils dilate when he zips up her boots, allowing his fingers to trail along her skin, appreciating her beauty.
"Thank you," she murmurs when he finishes, bending to kiss him.
"We're going to be late," he says, breaking the kiss.
She groans. "I know, you're right."
"Of course I am. I have no reason to provide you with false information," he says as he goes to retrieve his shirt from its place on the chair. He puts it on, swearing that he hears Nyota sigh as he does so. When he looks at her she is picking up a PADD from next to her books with no indication that she has made any noise at all.
"Ready to go?" she asks him.
He nods. "Let us go meet the Captain for breakfast."