Title: Think on Nothing Better
Word Count: ~2700
Summary: There has always been something about Nyota that Spock cannot quite define.
A/N: Thanks to ziparumpazoo the prompt and for beta duty!
The change in the pattern of her movements catches his eye.
Her hand slows as it moves toward a control panel to her left, stopping just before the tips of her fingers make contact with the menus she's accessed over and over for the preceding hour of her bridge shift.
She examines the display before her, her other hand resting lightly on the console, thumb sweeping slowly back and forth on the glass screen and shifting the data log she's viewing from one position to another and back again.
Then that hand stills as well; she sits back, steeples her hands in front of her, and turns to regard a third display before pushing her chair away from her terminal altogether.
His gaze follows her as she stands and moves across the bridge.
Spock has always derived pleasure from observing Nyota at work; she is competent, assured, and possessed of a high native intelligence that is only enhanced by her affinity for training. Those traits, however, are demonstrated by all of the top pupils at the academy, and therefore fail to account for his fascination. He has, in fact, never explained the issue to his own satisfaction.
It is a most interesting puzzle.
She leans over another station, her hand on the shoulder of its operator, her voice low as she indicates several readouts and renders advice that is, Spock is certain, both salient and correct. Point made, she gives the man a collegial pat and returns to her seat to resume the process interrupted by the brief consultation.
A series of soft taps with the fingers of her left hand loads the next data log, followed by swooping motions of her right as she scrolls through page after page of data, the pattern interrupted only occasionally as she drags a fingertip across a single item, copying it into the PADD resting before her. Her actions are never more nor less than is required, always gracefully efficient.
He finds watching her movements obscurely comforting.
Whatever the reason for his interest, it transcends the effortless way in which she is currently performing her duties; extends, perhaps, to her physical bearing and her determination not only to solve, but to inhabit every mystery she encounters. She possesses a quality about her that he might describe as weightlessness, were he willing to settle for an imperfect metaphor.
Nyota, much to his chagrin, frequently defies such convenient classification.
Through the viewport in front of him, the vast expanse of Spacedock fills Spock's vision; out of the corner of his eye, though, he watches Nyota's finger, tapping the table as she considers her answer to his question.
The motion stills. "I thought I'd visit Cairo," she says. "Or Lagos. Berlin. Maybe Tokyo."
He considers the list of cities she proposes to visit, wondering why it fails to include those she considers home. "To what purpose?" he asks.
"I'll find a café," she says, cupping her hands around the mug on the table in front of her. "A little restaurant."
He tilts his head, regarding her as she tips the cup to the side, staring at the liquid within; he can feel her leg pressed against his where she sits beside him at the mess hall table. She traces the lip of the mug with the pad of her thumb, slowly, then she looks up at him and smiles.
"I'll find," she says, her voice warm with enthusiasm and firm with decision, "a tiny store on a forgotten alley where the owner sells antiques and can still tell stories the way her grandmother taught her. And I'll stay there all day and drink all her coffee," she finishes with a laugh.
Spock's struck by an image, of Nyota's tall, slender form wandering restlessly amidst haphazard piles of merchandise, her hands touching the objects rarely, but with reverence and purpose, her tongue curling around languages of the past that she's abandoned for the sake of the future.
It would be a sight to behold.
"Exploration of another kind, perhaps," he muses.
"Perhaps," she says. She shifts in her seat, her leg sliding along his and then away.
"I received a communication from my father this morning," he says. He directs his gaze away from her, toward the bulkhead, affording her privacy to absorb the information. "He has requested my presence on the Vulcan colony."
There's a pause, slight but noticeable, before she speaks. "Exploration of another kind, Mr. Spock?" she asks.
Her words are not what he would have predicted. He turns to find a smile pulling at the corners of her mouth.
He answers with an incline of his head and a slight smile of his own. "Perhaps."
Nyota executes a small, correct nod as she passes Spock on the way to the turbolift, joining Mr. Sulu in the small enclosure. As the doors slide shut, Spock catches a glimpse of the smile on Nyota's face as she looks up at the other man; the demeanor of both officers relaxes noticeably even as the bridge disappears from their view.
Mr. Chekov, however, is anything but relaxed as he reports to Spock from the navigation console. "I've run every detection algorithm we have against the sensor data," he says, appearing half-chagrined and half-affronted by the information he's conveying. "And one or two that we didn't have until I wrote them myself. I've found nothing in the data to indicate identity or origin of the attackers."
Spock nods, once, and looks away. He scans the room, observing the men and women at work; in addition to the usual on-duty officers, the mixed group includes a team from engineering and the repair crew assigned by Starfleet once they'd returned to Spacedock.
He returns his attention to Chekov. "Show me the parameter sets you used for the modified Vapnik approach," he says.
Chekov is tapping away at his console before Spock finishes his sentence. "Yes, sir," he says. "If you'll just," and he pauses when data set after data set begin to appear on the display in front of him, "wait for one ..." he trails off, clearly engrossed in structuring the information before him.
The bridge is quiet, the hushed voices coupled with the soft humming of computers and machinery remarkable primarily for the contrast from the scene mere days before. The din of the pitched battle they'd unexpectedly found themselves engaged in on their latest shakedown cruise had scarcely outmatched the chaos as they limped home, only just keeping the ship's drive and essential systems running long enough to complete the journey.
To say that the crew was relieved upon reaching Earth two days prior would be, at best, something of an understatement; Spock himself remains uneasy even now. Such an attack on a vessel such as the Enterprise, near the region of the galaxy no longer under Vulcan influence as she was, might mean nothing, or it might be of great significance.
Only time will tell.
Chekov is turning away from the console, finally prepared to explain his methodology, when the captain pushes himself out of his chair and closes the distance to them.
"Spock," Kirk says. "Mr. Chekov. You two do know that data's pretty much everywhere on Starfleet's network already, don't you? You can spend your entire shore leave picking it apart if you like." He stares from Spock to Chekov and back again.
Chekov opens his mouth as though to speak, but seems to think better of it. Spock simply returns Kirk's stare.
"Get. The both of you. You're in the way of the people fixing my ship." Kirk draws out the last few words for emphasis.
Chekov blinks, then nods, jerkily. "Yes, captain," he says, his words coming out in a rush. "Right away, sir."
Kirk grins at Spock as the younger man turns back to his console, shutting down programs in an obvious hurry. "You too, Spock. We'll still be here when you get back."
"Of that, I am all too aware."
The captain laughs.
Spock sits at the table in Nyota's quarters, completing post-mission checklists prior to the next day's debarkation.
At her words, he looks up from the PADD before him. She's standing still, looking at him over her shoulder, a brightly colored, non-regulation dress held in her hands as they hover above her travel case. He regards her steadily, but does not speak.
"You're worried," she says again, lifting her chin slightly. "About what? The mission? The ship? Your trip to the colony?"
He's silent as he leans back, sets the stylus on the table, carefully folds his hands in front of him. "I find a great many things concern me at this time, Miss Uhura," he says at last. "Not least of which is whether you intend to be up all night completing your packing."
Her lips curve in a slight smirk. "And they say Vulcans don't have a sense of humor," she says. "Very well, Mr. Spock. I shall attend to my assignment." She turns back to face her bed. Spock makes no move to resume his work; he watches her as she folds the dress, places it neatly in her bag, then repeats the process with the next garment in the pile beside her.
Save for the uniforms, each article of clothing appears brighter than the last, not unlike the room in which he now sits. Nyota's quarters are a riot of color and, usually, sound, though out of courtesy she reduces the volume when he is present. As now, when he, much like Nyota, has assigned tasks to complete.
He reaches for the stylus on the table.
"You are, though," she says just before he closes his fingers on it. "Worried."
Spock holds the stylus in his hands and regards the back of Nyota's head. Worried might not be the word he would choose; still, he's forced to admit that she is, in essence, correct. He is, indeed, troubled, not by any single event, but by a host of incidents, large and small; as a body, they force him to draw conclusions that cause him unease.
The survivors of the destruction of Vulcan have understandably turned their attention to the preservation of the species, to safeguarding their lore and re-establishing their institutions, to making a home where none once stood. The blatant attack on the Enterprise, however, in a region of space once considered safe and, above all, Vulcan, when taken together with a series of political events, leads Spock to only one conclusion.
The Federation needs her Vulcan members to attend to their role as citizens in the galaxy once more; as much as they are able, or perhaps more.
"I do not anticipate my visit to the colony with as much pleasure as I would like," he says.
Nyota turns away from her packing once more, just long enough to look over her shoulder and nod, once. Spock wonders how much she understands; in all likelihood, she understands more than he would choose.
"And there is much to be done here, on the ship," he continues.
She ignores his attempt to redirect the discussion. "I could come with you. If you feel the company would be ... valuable."
Spock hesitates as he considers the wisdom of appearing, at this time, to be some variation on what his father was, but is no more. "I would not interfere with your own plans," he says. To his own ears, his voice sounds more uncertain than he had expected.
"I wouldn't have offered if I hadn't been willing."
He draws himself taller in his seat and speaks with more decision. "It would be best for you to remain on Earth, should your presence be required to assist the repair crew."
"I'm not on the call list. The repair crew can require my presence all it wants."
"Still, I believe it is for the best."
Her shoulders are stiff, and in his mind's eye, he can picture her jaw working as she considers how to respond. He expects anger or frustration at his poorly-concealed evasion, but she doesn't speak.
After several seconds' silence, he returns his attention to the PADD. "I must complete this inventory," he says.
Nyota finally breaks her silence with a noise of exasperation. "She'll be fine, Spock," she says; he hears the note of impatience in her voice in counterpoint to the gentle rhythm of her packing. "The ship. She'll be fine while you're gone. They'll take good care of her."
"They will be better equipped to take care of her if I exert myself now," he answers. And that, he reflects, is true of many things.
The sounds of her packing cease once more. "Yes," she says, and there is a softness to her voice now that Spock is certain he does not merit. "Yes, they will."
The door of Spock's quarters closes behind him with a quiet whoosh. He takes one step into the room, pauses, then paces off the distance to the center, where he stops and scans the ordered scene surrounding him. His packing completed, there is little for him to do now but await the scheduled time of his departure.
Little to do but wait and consider the problem at hand. Spock has been, irrationally, avoiding the mental exercise, as though the answer he seeks would appear without his application or exertion, through some magical means.
He clasps his hands behind him, stares at the vacant space before him. Having spent an additional hour studying Chekov's work before heeding Kirk's directive to depart the bridge, Spock now feels assured that there is no new information with which to arm himself before he departs Earth. Given the data he has, he applies himself, considers the various ways to approach his father and, through him, the High Council.
Even now, his thoughts prove sluggish, the patterns of his mind inexplicably difficult to direct.
Perhaps he has been too long among humans, become too influenced by their affinity for intuition. For that blind hope that they call faith. For a long moment, he entertains the notion, examining it from all angles; then, finally, he rejects it outright. It is a dishonor both to the memory of his mother and to the stalwart companionship of the men and women with whom he serves.
Especially those closest to him.
His door chimes, interrupting his train of thought. He turns, slowly, and regards it for several seconds before answering, certain who will be on the other side, standing there as if summoned by his very thoughts.
When the door opens, his instincts are borne out; Nyota stands before him, still wearing her uniform, her hair still pulled back, neat and correct. "I came to wish you a safe journey," she says without preamble.
He inclines his head in thanks, and she smiles slightly. The sight of her, the sound of her voice, somehow contrives to be even more welcome than usual, as if he had anticipated their separation.
"When do you leave?" she asks.
He ignores her question, struck by a moment of impulse he chooses to call inspiration. "Are you still available to accompany me?"
"Spock." She shakes her head. "That's not necessary."
"I would welcome the pleasure of your company."
"Don't humor me," she says. "Don't invite me if ..."
His eyes trace the furrows of her brow as he tries to interpret her expression, the tilt of her head, her silence. The moment is rare when she finds herself without words.
"I won't be a burden to any man," she says finally. "Human or otherwise."
He touches her cheek. "As such burdens may be measured, Nyota, you are very light." He hesitates. "I believe you will find my companionship a far greater weight to bear."
"And yet," she says, pursing her lips and raising an eyebrow just a hair, "I can bear it."
He mimics her expression, and she laughs as she pulls him into a kiss, her hands warm on his face, thumbs stroking against his skin.
Her statement, he decides, is correct. She can bear what he brings with him. And though his metaphor, in that context, is hopelessly flawed, he cannot help feeling a certain fondness for it. She is weightless, and when he lets her, she can make him so as well.