A/N: back by popular demand, this is the sequel to my first story "The Kissing Disease." It's certainly recommended reading ;) but this story stands by itself. In short-- Spock and Uhura are dating now. They've even kissed, but he has yet to kiss her back...
"Nyet, I zimply do not oonderstyand zis. It meeks no sense." The young ensign threw the stylus onto his PADD, running his fingers through his springy curls. "Ayayayay... Vhy must a nawigator know zees tings? Dere ees no logical reason."
"On the contrary, Cadet Chekov. There is every logical reason for all bridge personnel to be familiar with at least two Federation languages in addition to Standard." Spock looked up from his work and glanced over at the corner of the lab where the young cadet was sitting with his instructor.
Spock glanced briefly at the teaching aide sitting across from Chekov. The dark-skinned lieutenant was smiling slightly at him, a small smile for a human, but one that was both obvious and meaningful to the half-Vulcan commander.
"No matter how proficient your communications officer is," with some effort, he returned his gaze to the cadet she was tutoring, "it is only logical that other officers be acceptably competent in other languages. I believe there is an Earth saying," he cocked his eyebrow at the scowling ensign. "Two heads are better than one." Spock sighed slightly, returning to his work. "The metaphor is highly imperfect. The biological complications of such a mutation would negate any potential benefits."
"OK, well anyway," said Uhura, a snicker in her voice. "Our time's up. But," She leaned down and pulled out a datachip. "I found this for you. I thought it might help. Apparently a Russian linguist, Alexei Filipov, wrote a rather extensive text comparing Klingon to Russian." She handed it over to the Ensign. "I thought it might help. There's a very good section on sentence structure."
"Spasiba," said Chekov, accepting the datachip gratefully. He gave her a wry smile. "Noombers and charts, Starships and grawity-- dees tings I oonderstyand. Langvages..." He shrugged hopelessly. "Am scientist. Not uniwersal translator."
"Nope," she said, smiling politely, "that's my job." Uhura stood as the cadet offered her his hand. "May I ask, Pavel... have you ever considered," She cocked her head slightly, as if uncertain whether she should proceed. "To improve your Standard, I mean, have you ever considered just thinking of v's as w's and w's as v's?"
Pavel was obviously baffled. "Vith all due respect, doobleyoos are not wees, Lieutanant. Vhy vould I tink of dem dat vay?"
"Never mind," she said, waving him away with a chuckle. "Do svedanya, Ensign."
Chekhov left the language lab, and now it was just Spock and Uhura. Uhura glanced at the clock. "Do you need anything else, commander?"
Spock, who had been watching the two cadets over the paper he was grading, now looked up at the woman standing in front of his desk, her hands clasped behind her back. He wondered if she was imitating his accustomed stance intentionally, or whether she had unconsciously adopted the pose as her own.
Blinking and realizing that he had not answered her, he glanced at his workload. There was only this paper to finish, all the lesson plans were submitted and the tutoring sessions completed. "No, I believe not, Cadet."
"Then I'm officially clocking out." She leaned over and tapped a few keys and closed down her work station. He watched her, the way her long fingers trailed so deftly and efficiently across the screen, how quickly she packed her bag, never forgetting anything, never having to come back for some lost item. She was so... logical. She stood and made as if to head out the door, but before she got there, she turned suddenly and walked around his desk instead. "I'm off-duty," she said, by way of explanation as she stood in front of him. "So I can do this."
She leaned down, her cool fingers lifting his chin slightly so she could place one chaste, slow kiss on his lips. She pulled back, leaving him staring up at her. She was smiling slightly, and a very keen observer might have seen a twitch at the corners of Spock's mouth. "I'll see you this Friday? Are we still on for dinner at your apartment?"
"Of course," he said. "I believe you were planning to... 'do take-out'?" He quirked an eyebrow in question, but Uhura's only reply was a smile.
"I think you'll like it. I remembered all the rules this time. No meat. No finger food. Not too much sweet stuff."
"Thank you, Nyota."
"Goodnight, Spock." She trailed her finger along his chin before she turned to walk away, the doors of the language lab swishing closed behind her.
Spock sat back in his chair, contemplating the memory of her cool lips on his. A month ago they had entered into their current arrangement, and he believed that he was finding it most satisfactory. They had both been ill over the semester break, but had spent much of their illness in each other's company. Even Spock had to admit that this arrangement had made the indignity of illness much easier to bear.
Now that the semester had officially begun, and both were sufficiently recovered to go about their duties, they worked together in quiet professionalism during the week. This at least came easily to him, and she had told him that his coldness, far from disconcerting her, was a relief. It made it easier for her to focus on her studies. Since she was now in her final semester of classes as a cadet, her studies were indeed most strenuous. Additionally, it was imperative that no one discover the true nature of their attachment, lest Uhura face expulsion and Spock face a possible court martial. Consequently, during the week, he would frequently see her only in labs and tutoring sessions.
But the weekends... She called them "us time" and Spock found "us time" to be a most intriguing challenge of his faculties. Friday, he suspected, would be no exception
When Friday finally came and classes had ended, Spock had returned to his apartment to meditate for an hour before Nyota's arrival. At promptly 1900 hours, he heard the chime of the door and rose from his meditation, extinguishing the candle.
Nyota was standing in the doorway, three containers in one hand and a bottle in the other. "Dinner?"
"Allow me to assist you," Spock took the containers from her hands and went to lay them in on the kitchen table. He could smell strange spices on the wafts of steam escaping from them. There was a pair of long, thin paper packages atop the containers, and two strangely folded pastries wrapped in plastic. Laying his burden down on the table, he picked up one of the plastic-covered cookies to examine it.
"Ah-ah-ah," she said, taking the cookies from his hands. "that's desert." She popped open the three containers. "Eat your vegetables first."
He looked inquiringly at the boxes in front of him, two of which were filled with a jumbled concoction of bite-sized chunks of food and sauces. "I do not recognize this method of food preparation."
"The west coast is the best place for Chinese food," she explained, retrieving two plates and three spoons from his cabinets.
He paused, considering this statement. "Would not China be logically the most ideal location--"
"Have you ever been to China?"
"Then you don't know, do you?" She held out the bottle. "Do Vulcans drink wine?" she asked curiously.
"Not generally," he said. "There are some fermented fruit beverages produced on Vulcan, but my father's race has largely been spared the dubious benefits of alcohol."
"Suit yourself," she said, retrieving a glass and pouring some for herself. "It was a stressful day, and I think I've earned the right to indulge myself a little."
"In what way was your day stressful?" he inquired politely.
"Papers. A test. Oh and my roommate is asking questions about my mystery man. She asked if he was a professor. Again."
Spock cocked his head slightly. "And what did you tell her?"
"Oh, don't worry. I can lie in 83% of Federation dialects."
"I am merely curious," he said, peering again into one of the boxes, which was full of some sort of steamed white grain.
"Well the best lies are based in truth. I told her that my mystery man was engaged to someone offplanet. I added a few..." she paused, searching for the right word, "dramatic embellishments. The heavy sigh, the poorly concealed tear." She smiled broadly up at him. "She swallowed it."
Spock was examining the food again, attempting to identify the various sprouts, legumes and other vegetables, not to mention the sauces in which they were swimming.
"Here," she said. "Sit."
Duteously, he took a seat, and she took one beside him. "You start with the rice," She heaped a pile of sticky white grains onto his plate. "Bean curd or steamed vegetables?"
"The latter, if you please. That has the highest percentage of identifiable foodstuffs in it."
She sighed, piling steamed vegetables atop the rice. "You're so unadventurous sometimes."
He glanced over at her as she moved to pile food onto her own plate. Her smile seemed to indicate that her comment was not intended as a serious critique. "You are teasing me?" he guessed.
"You are catching on," she said, smiling at him.
"I endeavor to please," he paused, "And expand my understanding of human social interactions." Spock stared down at his plate. "Nyota, you have forgotten utensils."
"No, I remembered the rules-- no eating with your hands, right? I brought utensils. I never promised that they'd be ones you were familiar with." She tore open the thin paper packages and handed Spock a pair of thin bamboo sticks. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When eating Chinese food, use chopsticks."
"I was unaware that you had ever visited Rome," Spock commented.
"It's a turn a phrase. An Earth idiom."
She showed him how to use the chopsticks, and it did not take long for him to master their use. "Vulcans have greater capability for digital dexterity," he replied modestly to her compliments. For some reason, Nyota found this highly amusing. Spock attributed this to the wine she had already consumed.
The Chinese food was certainly intriguing. The flavors blended together and yet remained distinct. He found the crunch and flavor of the water chestnuts particularly enjoyable. He was reminded of a certain Vulcan dish most commonly served on the coastline of one of Vulcan's few oceans. It was not a dish he had enjoyed as a child, but his appreciation was growing.
They talked through most of the meal. Uhura shared colorful observation about her teachers and fellow students ("I do not understand Nyota, how do Cadet Kirk's actions in any way indicate that he was conceived outside of wedlock?") The pair discussed the complex relationship between Vulcan and Romulus, and Uhura listened, fascinated, as Spock related to her the principal teachings of Surak, in order to effectively demonstrate a few important philosophical differences between the two cultures.
"Consequently, the highest enlightenment a Vulcan can attain is to achieve kolinahr and purge all emotion." Noticing that she had finished the last of her rice, Spock gathered their dishes and took them to the cleaning unit.
"Are you planning to?"
"Try to achieve kolinahr?"
Spock considered. "You once told me that you joined Starfleet because you knew it would be difficult. You cited the challenge of achieving a post on the Enterprise as one of your primary motivators." He closed the unity and turned to stare back at her. "For this reason I have long sought to achieve kolinahr."
"Are emotions really so bad?" she asked hesitantly. "I know this is important to you, but..."
Spock returned to sit by her side. "I am far from being qualified to even attempt kolinahr." He did not often initiate physical contact with her, but he sensed that this was troubling her. Laying his hand over hers, he squeezed gently, once, before drawing back. "I once thought I was ready, but I see now that it will be many years before I can consider it a realistic option. It is illogical to be concerned about things which may never happen."
"Of course," she said. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
Spock frowned slightly. "This is another human idiom?"
He nodded. "A strange phrasing, but I believe I comprehend the metaphor."
"Here," Nyota grabbed the wrapped cookies, handing him one. "This is a fortune cookie." She tore the plastic off and removed the cookie. Spock copied her actions. "Now crack it open, like an egg. There should be a little note inside." She deftly popped hers open and removed a small strip of paper.
"What is the purpose?" Spock inquired, cracking open the cookie and removing the paper.
"There's a fortune on it," she replied, popping half the cookie in her mouth as she read her own, laughing slightly.
"Is it intended to be amusing?," Spock asked, regarding his own with a slightly dubious expression. He ate the cookie, which was a little sweet for his tastes, but not so sweet as the lollipop Nyota had brought him last weekend.
"Not necessarily," she said. "They're supposed to be predictions-- advice for the future."
"The future cannot be accurately predicted, Nyota."
"Listen to this," she said, holding up her fortune, " 'Being fascinating is tough, but ultimately worth your effort.'" She smiled at Spock. "Do you find me fascinating, Mr. Spock?"
"I believe I have told you that I do," he said, the ghost of a smile almost gracing his lips.
"What about yours?" she asked, laying hers aside.
Spock examined the paper. "'Great loss opens the door for great connection.'" He looked up at the woman across from him. "I do not see how this is any way a prediction of future events. It is, in fact a statement with only dubious connection to reality."
"It's a human thing," she said. She seemed to comprehend a meaning in the statement that he did not. The comprehension brought a slight, sad frown to her face. "It's a truism, of sorts. Maybe you'll understand it some day, but I sincerely hope not."
Spock frowned fractionally. "Is it not logical to explore all true things? Does it not expand one's understanding?"
"Some truths are painful, Mr. Spock," she said with a slight sigh.
"I do not believe that a true fact is capable of rendering physical harm. It is illogical to be pained by facts which cannot be changed."
"Truth and fact are not necessarily the same thing Mr. Spock."
"As you have told me several times. I am still not certain I understand the distinction."
She shook her head. "Call it a human weakness, then," she said, looking up at him. "If it makes you feel better."
"On the contrary, I do not be--"
She stopped him mid-word, her lips crashing softly against his. "Too much logic," she murmured. He was suddenly aware that she had closed the gap between them, and was swinging her leg over his lap.
"You said that you found logic to be sexually attractive," he commented as she straddled him, wrapping her arms around his neck.
"Your hands, Spock," she reminded him gently.
They were resting, immobile, on the arms of his chair. Duteously he moved them to her waist. "Forgive me," he said. "I am endeavoring to remember the rules you and I discussed--"
She kissed him again.
"-- But I am finding them to be--" another kiss "most..." he trailed off, loosing focus as she nuzzled his cheek and gently traced the point of his ear with her fingers.
She leaned back slightly, resting her brow against his. "Do you think you're ready to try kissing back?" she asked quietly.
"You have been more than patient with me," he said. "And I am... grateful for that. I am not accustomed to..." He cleared his throat slightly. He had been staring at her lips and had lost his train of thought. "There are so few things that I find truly challenging," he said, wondering if she understood what he was trying to tell her.
"You mean that this is something that doesn't come naturally," she said.
Even though it was not a a question, he nodded once, with as much emphasis as his Vulcan side would allow.
She caught his face in her hands, staring at his eyes as if to read them. She had the same look that he had seen when she was attempting to decipher particularly garbled transmission. "But..." she continued slowly, "that doesn't mean you don't want to try."
"You joined Starfleet," he said, trying to make her see what he meant. It wasn't as if he didn't have the words. It was simply that he was not equipped to use them in this fashion. "You desire to serve aboard the Enterprise. And I have long endeavored to achieve kolinahr. My motivation for pursuing this relationship is not dissimilar." he frowned. "Am I... expressing my opinion adequately?"
"You're getting better," she said, kissing him sweetly on the forehead.
He closed his eyes in relief. It was always such an effort to make himself understood in situations such as this. As a scientist and an officer, his communication skills were frequently praised. He had been told that he spoke with more precision and clarity than a ship's computer. On a starship, clarity of meaning could literally be the difference between life and death. No one could ask more from a bridge officer. No one had ever demanded more from him.
Except Nyota. She demanded that he express not what was factually accurate, but what was true. He had, at first, been uncomfortable with her demands for openness, but he had persevered, in an effort to please her, and was surprised to find that the challenge was becoming more enjoyable than he had anticipated. It was strangely fulfilling to find that she understood even his most mediocre efforts to express himself.
Drawing himself out of his reverie, he realized that she was smoothing his hair. An illogical pursuit, since their activities would most likely cause it to become mussed again.
"You know," she murmured, kissing the top of his head. "Sometimes, watching you trying to tell me things, it's like you have all the nails and boards and plans for building a house, but someone gave you a scalpel instead of a hammer."
He leaned his head back to look up at her face. "This is a human idiom?"
"A simile," she said.
"I am not certain I grasp your meaning," he confessed.
"That's OK," she said, smiling. She kissed the tip of his nose, causing him to frown slightly in confusion. Which made her giggle, for reasons beyond his comprehension. "You know," she said as her giggle subsided. "You didn't really answer my question."
He had not forgotten. He swallowed again.
"Are you afraid, Spock?"
"Fear is an irrational human reaction to events which they believe will cause them pain or discomfort," he stated.
"Well I promise I don't bite," she teased.
"On the contrary Nyota, I have frequently been forced to cover up rather compelling evidence that you do."
"Well you seemed to enjoy it. And in my defense, I didn't expect you to bruise so easily." She shifted slightly in his lap so she could look at him eye to eye. "You've been collating data on this particular activity for almost a month."
"You must admit, our... research," he quirked an eyebrow at her, "has been unfortunately limited due to circumstances beyond our control."
She sighed. "If you don't feel ready, I'm not going to force the issue. Yet."
He looked away and down slightly. "I know you must be frustrated with my lack of progress. I do not wish to be a disappointment."
"Spock." His eyes snapped back to her face. She was using exactly the fondly chiding tone that his mother so frequently employed. She captured his face between her hands. "You have never been a disappointment to me. I can foresee no eventuality which would cause that to change." She brought his face closer to hers. "I trust you."
Why was this so difficult for him? Any expression of emotion was unnatural to a Vulcan, or at least uncomfortable, but such behaviors could be learned and imitated appropriately, in order to smooth relations with more emotional species. His father had mastered certain basic facial expressions in order to allow him to communicate with humans without making them uncomfortable. A kiss was certainly more complex, but Nyota was not incorrect. He had sufficient data, so why was this relatively simple act eluding him?
Nyota sighed after a long pause in which Spock did not move. "It's OK," she said.
"You say that it is acceptable," he replied quickly, "But I believe that you are lying."
"You're right. It's not OK, but it's better than the alternative."
Spock frowned. "To which alternative do you refer?"
She kissed him firmly on the lips. "I would rather kiss you than be kissed by someone who isn't you."
And then she was kissing him, thoroughly, and Spock knew that the emotion lurking under his control was anger, and recognized that the anger his human side was feeling was turned inward, at himself, and the control that would not permit him to lean into the kiss. She had to pull his face to her, turn his head to gain access to his neck and ears. All he could offer in return was the gentle pressure of his hands around her waist.
They stayed in this position for some time, she gently kissing him, hands in his hair. His eyes were closed, hands resting on her hips. His facial expression did not change, save for a slight slackening of the jaw which allowed his lips to part slightly as she planted a series of kisses on his neck, following the curve of his ear.
"It's so... strange," she said at last, leaning back from him.
His face was immobile, but his eyes were curious.
"Your heart is here," she said, laying one hand just below his sternum.
"I am a hybrid. It should be here," he said, pointing to his side, where a human's liver would be.
"Or here," he said, tapping the left side of his chest.
"Nyota?" he said.
"Our current posture is restricting blood flow to my legs."
"Couch?" she said.
She climbed off his lap and they moved to the living room couch. He sat at one end, both feet planted on the ground, back straight and hands folded in his lap. Nyota curled up beside him, stealing one of his arms in order to drape it over her shoulders and holding his hand to ensure that he would not be able to disengage the one-armed embrace. She laid her head against his chest, right over his heart, where her sensitive ears would no doubt be able to hear it's beat.
For a moment, Spock allowed himself to simply enjoy the feeling of Nyota's weight leaning against him.
"It beats so quickly," she said in wonderment.
"A Vulcan heart beats more rapidly than a human's," he explained. "And mine is currently elevated."
She looked up from his chest. "Really?"
He cocked his head. "I may not outwardly express an emotional response, but I hope you were not under the impression that your actions have no effect on me." He met her gaze steadily. "That would be incorrect."
A smug glow crept across her face. She hummed, and he detected contentment in the tone. "It's nice to hear it," she said.
He considered asking her to clarify whether she was referring to his elevated heartbeat or the confession that her actions affected him, but decided that to do so might, as she would put it "spoil the moment."
"Spock?" she asked after a moment.
"I was thinking... Gaila told me about this place... a bar outside the city. Do you want to try going out tomorrow?"
"It would be a risk. If we were observed..."
"The risk would be minimal, according to Gaila. She told me that Jim used to take his cartography instructor there all the time." She pulled a face,"Much as I hate to admit it, he's not stupid enough to go somewhere he might get caught and expelled." She looked abck up at Spock. "I know you don't drink, but there's food too, and music... It could be fun."
Spock considered for a moment, weighing the benefits against the potential risks. "Do you truly believe that there is little danger of our being identified? We make a fairly distinctive couple."
"I checked the place out. It's not far from the Vulcan Starfleet embassy. As long as we both wear civilian clothes, I don't see any reason to worry. They'll just assume we came from there."
Spock glanced down at her. She was staring up at him, her dark eyes wide and hopeful. Logically, there was no reason to change their current arrangement, which was both practical and relatively secure, as well as having the advantage of plausible deniability. In his apartment, she could simply have been assisting him with a complicated project or helping grade papers. At a bar, however, it was harder to claim that they were merely work associates.
On the other hand, it would make Nyota happy, and for Spock, that was the only rationalization he required.
Thanks to my roommate for constantly talking Russian at me, even though I take Latin.
Spasiba= Thank you
Do svedanya= until we meet again
Also: I know that technically, Spock's heart should be where his liver is. The canon-beast has been growling at me for that one. My internal writer valiantly overcame it, because let's be realistic here: Nyota laying her ear against where his liver would be is kind of a silly mental image, if you actually take time to picture it in your head.