The passageways were near-silent as First Officer Spock walked down the corrider towards the ship's dining room. Spock had already anticipated that the crew's energy level would still be fairly low, even after several hours of transporting every last tribble off the ship. The tribbles' calming effects would most certainly have eased most of the crew into an early sleep. Since the dining room was to most certainly be empty, he had decided to take his last meal there instead of carrying it back to his quarters, as was his custom.
Reaching the entryway, it slid open before him and as he stepped inside he was only mildly surprised to see one occupant in the dining room: Lieutenant Uhura, the ship's communications officer.
"Ms. Uhura," Spock nodded his head in greeting before walking over to the food processor.
"Mr. Spock," her soft reply greeting barely reached him.
Spock made his selection and carefully lifted his meal out of the processor. Turning around, he walked over to the communications officer and took a seat at the same table she was seated at. He saw no logical reason why he should return to his quarters, considering there was only one occupant in the room. And such an occupant was most likely to be fairly quiet, Spock surmised as he glanced up at the officer, noting the dark circles under her downcast eyes. She was slowly rubbing her hands together, an odd, unconscious action that caught his interest.
Removing his utensils, he began so slowly partake of his meal, certainly pleased at the silence in the often loud and lively dining room.
"Is that soup?" Uhura's voice broke the silence.
He looked up to see she was still rubbing her hands together, but her eyes were now focused on his meal.
"Yes, it is," Spock replied, bringing a napkin to his mouth and wiping it.
"It looks good," she commented.
Spock paused in confusion. "If you would like, I can certainly order another from the food processor," he offered. The lieutenant was acting very strangely, and certainly nothing like her usual self. If he had to give it a name, he would have to say that Ms. Uhura seemed very...depressed.
"No, that's alright," she replied, still staring at the soup. "But thank you. I'm not very hungry at the moment."
"I see," Spock nodded, accepting her answer. He reached for his utensil again and dipped it into the soup. Before he could lift it to his mouth, however, he felt her staring once more. "I find it...difficult to consume my meal while you are watching me so intently," he explained, his hand still frozen on his utensil.
"Oh, am I staring?" Uhura blinked and looked up from his soup to his face. "I apologize, I just...don't seem to be myself right now," she sighed.
Placing the utensil back into his bowl, Spock released it and looked up at the lieutenant. "I agree. Your mood is entirely too somber, your face displays dark circles under your eyes indicating exhaustion, and your hands seem to be moving on their own in an oddly fascinating subconscious action."
"Well, don't hold anything back," her eyebrows tilted upward.
"I'm sorry, I do not understand the meaning of that phrase," Spock's head shifted to the side.
"It means I...don't quite appreciate your honesty," Uhura explained, her eyes moving downcast once more towards his meal.
"May I ask what is the matter?" Spock asked courteously. It was only logical that he ascertain the meaning behind the lieutenant's actions so that he may quickly return to his meal. He found her staring to be too uncomfortable, which was an interesting discovery to Spock. He was rarely uncomfortable with any situation.
"Oh, I don't know," Uhura sighed, eyes never leaving his bowl. "I suppose it has to do with the tribbles."
'"The tribbles?" Spock prompted after a long pause had fallen between them.
"Yes, the tribbles," Uhura nodded. "That whole mess was my fault," her hands paused in their rubbing. "It was my fault. I didn't quite think it through after the first one gave birth. I was just so...happy that I had a warm companion with me on the ship to take care of."
"It is only logical," Spock leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. "The tribbles did appeal to humans' caring natures. They were very soft, warm....gave off a sense of calm and relaxation...it was only natural that you were pleased with your tribble."
"Yes, but I should have seen that the tribble was going to cause trouble after it gave birth so suddenly, and without warning," her eyes narrowed as she asserted herself. "I should have known."
"Ms. Uhura, there was no possible way that you could have known that," Spock reminded her. "Neither the captain nor I could see that these creatures were going to cause such turmoil."
"Yes, well," Uhura shook her head. "I'm still....upset by it."
Spock contemplated this for a moment, then raised an eyebrow. "Is it possible that you are not only upset by this, but also by the fact that your 'warm companion' is now gone?"
"I suppose that's true," Uhura nodded slowly. "You see, when I was growing up, my family had a pet, a cat." She looked up to Spock's face. "It was a terribly nice cat, very friendly. I enjoyed taking care of her. I think the tribble reminded me of her," her hands resumed their rubbing. "I believe I miss having a pet to take care of and love."
"Love?" Spock's head cocked to the side once more.
"Yes, Mr. Spock, love," she nodded. "You see, most humans from Earth are very attached to their pets...they are almost like family members. There's definitely love between an owner and their pet. Or, at least there was in my family."
"I see," Spock nodded in acknowledgement. "I must say though, our mission is very long, and would not afford an animal much safety on the ship."
"I know," Uhura smiled sadly.
A silence settled over both of them for a long stretch of time. Spock shifted in his seat, trying to become comfortable once more. His meal was getting cold, he noted, and was hesitant to resume eating once more as Ms. Uhura was now staring at his face instead of his bowl.
A strange noise broke the silence and Ms. Uhura's face reddened slightly. "Oh my, I suppose I really am hungry after all," she laughed, clearly embarrassed.
Nodding, Spock stood up from his chair and walked over to the food processor, requesting another meal for Lieutenant Uhura. As it came out, he picked it up and walked it over to her, placing the tray in front of her.
"Thank you Mr. Spock, that was very thoughtful," she smiled at him and reached down for a utensil.
"I should warn you," he said as he sat back down in his chair, "It comes out very h-"
"Ohhh!" Uhura gasped and dropped her spoon back down on the tray, clutching her hand over her mouth. As the spoon hit the tray, splashes of soup went flying in many directions, landing both on Spock's nose and Ms. Uhura's hand respectively.
Blinking, Spock slowly reached for his napkin and brought it to his nose, wiping the soup off with great care, finding it easy to ignore the slight sting the hot soup had made on his nose. "Ms. Uhura, are you quite all right?" He asked, bringing the napkin back down to his tray once more.
She didn't answer him, just squeezed her eyes shut even further and shook her head, her hand still clamped over her mouth.
"I am assuming you have injured your tongue on the hot soup," he surmised, reaching for her cold drink and holding it up to her face. "I suggest you drink this to try and alleviate the sting."
She opened her eyes slowly and reached out, grabbing the cup he offered. She brought it to her lips quickly and drank a large amount. Pausing, as if allowing the cold drink to run over her hot tongue, she brought the cup back down to her tray and slowly swallowed.
"Did it help?' Spock asked, his eyes following the hand that still had a large drip of soup all over it.
"It did, thank you," Uhura sucked in air. "My word that was hot!" She exclaimed, staring down at the soup. "How can you handle it?"
"I am quite used to it, Ms. Uhura," Spock replied, reaching for his napkin once more and, without thinking, reached out, lifted her hand, and wiped away at the soup drip.
Her entire body paused quite suddenly and Spock realized that she was staring at him with an unfamiliar expression on her face. An interesting tug of emotion suddenly tried to surface, but was quickly pushed back down by his trained vulcan mind. It was fascinating though; even though he had pushed down the emotion, his body was still responding with some sort of...odd feeling.
Spock's eyebrows tilted downward into a frown. He had felt this odd feeling before, when they had first arrived on the ship. It was after the arrival of the boy named Charlie...Spock was playing his instrument in the recreation room and Uhura had decided to sing along to his tune.
"Ms. Uhura," Spock began slowly, his face still frowning slightly. "I do believe that I am having some sort of a reaction to you."
Uhura's eyebrow lifted suddenly and her eyes lanced downward to the lower half of his body, which was covered by the table. She glanced back up at him. "I beg your pardon?"
"Not that kind of reaction," Spock replied, unfazed by the insinuation. "It appears to be...an emotional reaction."
Her hand still in his, and his napkin still paused on top of her hand, Uhura's eyes went quickly between his hands and his eyes. "What...what do you mean, Mr. Spock?"
"Fascinating," he exclaimed under his breath. "I find this utterly fascinating."
"Mr. Spock, would you mind please explaining what is going on?" Uhura asked, a bit warily.
"I'm not entirely certain, Ms. Uhura, I have never quite experienced an emotional reaction such as this with another being before," Spock tilted his head to the side. "May I try something?"
Uhura, confused, shrugged lightly. "I....suppose?"
Spock put the napkin back down on his tray, his other hand still holding hers aloft. He then placed his other hand over top of hers, holding it gently within his grasp.
"Fascinating," he exclaimed softly once more, staring at their hands. His body was responding to the physical touch he had initiated and his mind was slowly trying to drift towards her own.
"Ms. Uhura," Spock said suddenly after a pause. "I do believe that I am...attracted to you."
Uhura's eyebrows shot up to her hairline. "I beg your pardon?" Her voice was low and certainly held disbelief.
"Yes, I do believe that is what I am experiencing," he nodded and slowly released her hand, finding it entirely interesting that his body seemed to mourn the loss of physical contact with Lieutenant Uhura.
"Ms. Uhura, I find this to be of the utmost fascination. My own reactions around you seem to be fairly new and foreign. I wish to explore this further. May I propose that we explore this phenomenon together?"
Uhura raised an eyebrow, feeling a certain attitude she had not felt in days resurface. "Mr. Spock, have you been getting into the doctor's medicine closet?"
Spock blinked and raised an eyebrow. "Surely not."
She stared at him. "Then have I?"
He paused. "I am assuming you are referring to partaking in recreational drugs. In which case, no, I do not believe you have. Your pupils are sufficiently dilated to a normal degree and your actions, although somber than usual, are not that unbelievable."
"You're proposing...sex, Mr. Spock?" She asked, confused.
A light green flush found its way up to his face and Spock found his oral capabilities to be somewhat...lacking for a moment or two.
"I am proposing...simply...that you allow me to explore this....attraction," he said finally. "I would like to examine my own reactions so that I may understand them better."
"Oh," Uhura replied. "I'm afraid I don't quite understand what that entails."
"It would simply entail such activities as eating together, talking together, perhaps even going as far as to attempt to connect mentally together." Spock explained in a matter-of-fact way.
"Well that sounds easy enough," she eyed him slowly up and down. "But what happens when this attraction...leads somewhere?"
"Leads somewhere?" Spock repeated.
"If...suddenly...say, I develop....an attraction to you," Uhura gestured to him with her hand. "So then...if we both have an attraction to each other," she tried to explain delicately. "What if that leads to...an...interesting relationship?"
Spock's eyebrow lifted and he found himself shrugging lightly. "I see no logical reason why this may happen, Ms. Uhura," he said finally. "I do not believe you will develop an attraction for me. I am half vulcan, and I have limited emotional capacities. You are the type of woman to desire a strong emotional connection, as evident by your recent desire for a pet companion."
Uhura paused and a sad expression crossed over her face. "So you admit to being attracted to me, but in the same breath, you also admit that you do not believe that I could ever be attracted to you?" She frowned lightly. "How can you...accept that? Usually we desire that when we are attracted to someone, they are equally attracted to us."
"I am a logical man," Spock explained, uncrossing his arms and placing them on the table. "I am only interested in studying my own reactions towards you Ms. Uhura. Do you accept my proposal?"
Uhura sighed and stared at the vulcan for a long moment. "Mr. Spock, I can assure you that this...experiment of yours will surely run into a problem. I am already attracted to you, Mr. Spock."
Spock paused and allowed his body to react to that particular statement. His heart rate rose and he took note of it. It would appear that his human side was reacting to the possibility of a personal relationship with the communications officer.
"Indeed?" He asked, raising an eyebrow. "Well then this makes my....experiment all the more interesting. I'll be able to study both of our reactions together. It will make for an interesting study."
Uhura's lips twitched into a wry smile. "Mr. Spock, if you refer to... well, whatever this is," she gestured between them, "as a study once more, I'm afraid I will have to decline your proposal."
"May I inquire why?' Spock asked, confused.
"Because I don't wish for my attraction to you to become something clinical, Mr. Spock," she explained. "As I have mentioned to you before, I am an illogical woman," she continued on, "and I wish to explore this attraction in a fairly illogical way." She smiled. "After all, it's not every day that a human communications officer finds herself attracted to a half-vulcan science officer."
Spock nodded, slowly retaining this new information. "Although I protest at your...illogical request, I do believe that presenting ourselves as natural as possible would indeed benefit both our needs." He nodded once more. "Very well, I shall no longer make any statement of 'studies' or 'experiments'. We shall simply...explore this attraction." He reached over and picked up her bowl of hot soup and replaced it with his own, slightly cooler bowl.
Noticing the thoughtful action, Uhura smiled, and an interesting look crossed over her face. Spock knew this look and understood it to mean that Uhura was in a more playful, teasing mood. It pleased him to see that she had gotten through her depression and was acting more like herself. "Oh Mr. Spock, I hope you know what you're getting into."
"I do believe I have...what is it you humans say? 'Bitten off more than I can chew'," he raised his eyebrows.
"I can assure you Mr.. Spock, you have indeed."