Author's Note: This story is a sequel to "Human Relationships: Friendship", but stands well on its own, so there is no need to read that one first (though I won't complain if you do!). Thanks as ever to my beta reader, MrsTater. For those who don't already know, T'Pring is a character in TOS canon. She and Spock were betrothed when they were 7 years old.

Human Relationships: Mating Rituals

Chapter One

When Spock was six, he was puzzled by the concept of desire. One morning as he sat in the garden with his father, he initiated a discussion on the topic.

"Many of my schoolmates speak of their desires, but I do not understand the logic of desire. Is it appropriate to indulge in our desires, and to pursue them?" he asked.

Sarek looked out at the garden, filled with rugged cacti, thick-leaved shrubs and a few delicate desert flowers imported from Earth. He hesitated a moment before answering. "Desire is a complex and multi-faceted concept. But it is not inappropriate to have desires or to pursue them. In fact, it is logically necessary for the perpetuation of civilization."

"I do not understand." Spock sat quietly on the garden bench, feeling the warmth of the morning sun.

"Desire to improve oneself. Desire to produce scientific, technological or artistic achievements for the betterment of society. Desire to reproduce. All of these desires have been and continue to be necessary for the establishment and continuation of civilized society. As such, we must pay attention to and act on those desires, and other related desires, to the best of our abilities."

Sarek looked down at Spock with the expression that indicated he was awaiting a vocal response.

"Yes, father," said Spock. "However, not all desires are beneficial or acceptable, are they?"

"That is a valuable insight, my son." Sarek nodded. "Some desires are not born of logic or duty, but of emotion. Greed. Envy. Covetousness. Ruthless ambition. Vengefulness. Lust. These are illogical, emotional desires that can bring about great distress and destruction if they are indulged."

Spock turned away from his father and looked down at his folded hands. "How can I determine whether my desires are logical or emotional?"

"It is a skill that requires practice, like any other. When you perceive the development of a desire within yourself, you must take the time to carefully analyze that desire. Determine its practical and personal merits, and weigh it based not only on your own needs and your own potential benefits, but on the needs of and potential benefits for everyone around you. I am confident that if you employ such an analysis with each of your desires, you will come to the appropriate conclusion. Over time you will become sufficiently experienced that a complete analysis will no longer be necessary. It will eventually be immediately apparent to you whether or not your desires are logical."

Spock nodded. "I understand, Father. I am grateful for your assistance."

Already Spock could see that many of his desires were illogical--like his desire for sweet treats, or his desire for his mother to kiss him before he went to bed at night. He could see the potential nutritional detriment of his first desire; however, he could not comprehend any potential harm from continuing to pursue his second desire. Yet, he also could not imagine that his father was wrong, so Spock concluded that he was merely insufficiently experienced to recognize the negative consequences of his emotional desire.

Later that night, as bedtime approached, Spock found that his determination to forsake his emotional desire was already wavering. It had become apparent to him that he would sorely miss his goodnight kiss.

When Amanda leaned over him to place her lips on his forehead, he chose not to draw back from her touch. Perhaps he would undertake his resolution to overcome emotional desires tomorrow.

***

It has been four weeks since Spock last visited his favorite Indian restaurant. When he arrives at the beginning of the lunch hour, he is quickly ushered to his customary table. A few moments later his usual waiter, Manoj, arrives.

"So good to see you again, Mr. Spock! We were beginning to think you'd abandoned us for the black of space." Manoj grins as he places a menu in front of Spock, and another at the seat across from him.

"No. I have merely been busy." Spock's eyes dart to the menu in front of the empty chair. Its presence there makes him strangely uncomfortable.

"Well, we are glad that you've found the time to return. Do you need a few minutes to decide what you will have?" asks Manoj.

Spock shakes his head and places an order for a dish he has had several times.

"And will you be ordering for Miss Uhura, as well, or should I wait until she arrives?"

Spock looks at the lonely menu again, finally realizing why it bothers him. This is the first time that he has come to this restaurant in nearly a year without Uhura to dine with him.

"I am dining alone, today." He raises his gaze to meet Manoj's eyes. "Cadet Uhura is away for the summer."

Manoj nods apologetically and picks up the extra menu. "I am sorry to hear it. What is she doing this summer?"

"She is completing an internship with Starfleet Intelligence in Moscow."

"Oooh, that is a long way away. Well, I hope you won't be too lonely without her." With another smile, Manoj walks away.

Spock stares again at the empty seat across from him. Loneliness is an illogical emotion. Any being with an active intellect is perfectly capable of occupying himself--a fact that Spock knows well from his rather solitary childhood.

He eats his meal in silence, mentally reviewing the programming changes that he and his team need to implement in the Astral Navigation Lab's interactive displays.

The sound of light, feminine laughter from a nearby table catches his attention, and his eyes briefly take in the tableau of a young woman smiling at her male companion. His eyes dart back to the empty seat at his own table.

He has received two brief electronic messages from Uhura since she departed almost a month ago and has sent two brief replies. Yet he is unsatisfied.

He takes the last bite of his meal--which he has consumed approximately ten minutes faster than he ever would have in Uhura's company. He pays his bill and walks back to his office.

As he works at his computer terminal, his eyes keep drifting back to the small table in the corner that Uhura claimed as her work station when she became his teaching assistant last August. The computer terminal at the table is deactivated, and the table's surface is otherwise bare. Her chair is pushed in neatly, but he can still see the green tassels hanging from the corners of the decorative pillow that she left there. That pillow marks the chair as hers and hers alone. It is the sign that she will return.

Over the past few weeks he has grown increasingly restless whenever he works in his office. Today, as he stares at the green tassels, he finally realizes why. He has grown accustomed to the sound of someone else working with him. The taps of computer controls, the regular whisper of her breathing, the way she would sometimes hum softly to herself. He is so used to working in an atmosphere filled with those sounds that working in silence has become uncomfortable.

In order to help compensate, he attempts something that he has never tried before--he plays music while he works. He chooses an audio recording of some classic Earth music. Jazz, to be exact.

Once the music is playing at a pleasing, low volume, he is able to resume his work with greater focus. He is satisfied that his experiment has worked.

***

Spock initiates sub-space communication with T'Pring promptly at 0600 hours Sunday morning, just as he has every week since January. Over the winter holiday Uhura suggested that he get to know his betrothed before marrying her, and as her reasoning for such action was logical, Spock took her advice.

Yet, after six months of weekly communication, Spock believes that he still knows very little about T'Pring.

This morning she relates a detailed account of her activities over the previous week at the botanical research facility where she works. By now Spock feels he is nearly an expert in her branch of research merely from having listened to her. But he is far from an expert in the woman behind the research.

"What did you do in your free time this past week?" he asks abruptly when she pauses during a monologue on the genetic splicing technique that she is developing.

"My free time?"

"Yes. I am attempting to ascertain your interests beyond your occupation."

She stares at him with tight lips and a stony face for several moments. "I spent some time listening to music."

Spock remembers that she used to play the Karath flute, and asks if she still does.

"No. My research occupies so much time that I no longer have room in my schedule for adequate practice."

"Do you ever miss playing?"

Her brows knit in what he assumes is irritation. "If I still felt a desire to play, I would play. To act otherwise would be illogical."

"Of course," he says. They look at each other in silence for a moment before he thinks of a way to prolong the discussion. "I listened to music this week as well. Have you ever listened to the Earth music known as jazz?"

She shakes her head. "I have sampled very little Earth music."

"I will send you some recordings. Jazz employs structures and techniques radically different from any Vulcan music. You may find it fascinating."

"I will listen to your jazz." Her face remains impassive, almost to the point of utter apathy.

Spock wonders, not for the first time, why she indulges his desire for weekly communication. She seems no more interested in getting to know him now than she did when she was a girl.

After their customary thirty minutes of conversation, they end the communication.

Spock stands from his desk and walks to the shelf where he keeps his Vulcan lute. He always enjoyed playing as a boy, but has not touched the instrument in more than a year. It seems overly sentimental to keep an instrument that he no longer plays.

He runs his fingers along the strings for a moment, contemplating his alternatives. Finally, he picks up the lute, walks to his stool, and sits to play.

It is agreeable to be making music again.

***

Uhura's third letter is even shorter than her first two. After reading it, Spock is…annoyed.

He does not understand why her letter would provoke such a reaction. It is unpleasant when he does not understand himself, so he takes several minutes to analyze his reaction.

For most of a year he has spent part of nearly every day in Uhura's company. After the first several months their relationship progressed from a professional association to a meaningful friendship. By the spring their friendship had progressed to the point where there was very little about her daily activities, interests, and thoughts that he did not know, and there was very little about his life that she did not know. They shared personal and professional information freely and frequently.

Yet, in the five weeks that they have been apart, they have communicated virtually nothing about their current lives.

Spock now sees why her letter annoyed him. He feels excluded. He desires to maintain the same level of communication that they shared when they were working together.

He recognizes that such a desire is a purely emotional impulse and serves no logical purpose. In fact, the persistence of this illogical desire has repeatedly distracted him from his work. He is perfectly capable of waiting until the fall semester begins to resume his close personal relationship with Uhura.

In the meantime, he decides to spend his evenings meditating in order to rid himself of his illogical impulses.

He meditates late into the night, and goes to bed with a much more peaceful state of mind.

At 0400 hours he wakes. After exercising for one hour, showering, dressing, and eating breakfast, he impulsively sits down at his communications console.

In seconds he establishes a connection with Uhura's apartment in Moscow.

Her image appears on the screen, and he is pleased that her roommates did not answer in her stead.

"Spock!" She smiles. "This is a surprise."

"Hello, Nyota." Their use of one another's given names is a relatively recent development, and he still enjoys the feel of her name on his tongue. "I am pleased to find you at home."

"Yeah, I got back from work less than an hour ago. I'm going out to dinner with some friends soon. You're lucky you caught me." She is wearing the silver earrings--each a series of interlocking geometric links--which he gave her for her birthday. The sight pleases him.

"So," she continues, "was there any particular reason you called today?"

He hesitates for a moment, and then answers with complete honesty. "No. I simply wanted to--as you Humans put it--chat."

She laughs, and a tangible sensation of relief passes over him. It has been far too long since he heard that sound.

"Well," she says, grinning, "I don't have to leave for another half an hour. In the meantime, I would love to chat."

So they do.

Spock calls her at the same hour of the day two or three times a week for the remainder of the summer. He no longer has any difficulty concentrating on his work.