"put this melody in mind"
Genre: Romance, Humor
Time Frame: Academy days
Characters: N. Uhura, Spock
Summary: It was all his hands' fault. That's her story and she was sticking to it.
Notes: A fun and silly, fluffy lil' viggie all tied together by a spark or two from the muse who decided to go on a shipper kick. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine but for the words.
"put this melody in mind"
In the end, it was all his hands' fault. That was her story, and she was sticking to it.
It had seemed simple at the time, too, Gaila was entertaining in their quarters – and after a very mortifying glimpse of her roommate and her . . . guests, she was sure to take her stack of PADDs and make a quick escape before she was asked to join in on the night's . . . agenda. The sensor labs were no refuge either. Kirk had somehow gotten wind of her schedule, and after twenty-three minutes of harassment – Amber, Elizabeth, Mina, Lucy, Kara, or Irene? Tell me I'm getting close to one? - she muttered something scathing in Flinchin about Kirk and something he didn't really want to be parted from with a spoon and watched as his face blanched. Who knew that the cocky cadet knew Flinchin, anyway? When Kirk made no move to leave, threats notwithstanding, she finally left herself, her eyes having rolled so many times that she was certain that they may be permanently tumbling around in her head.
While her mind was contemplating where she could go for a few hours peace until she could force Gaila's company away, her feet carried her off without any real conscious thought. Five minutes later, she wasn't really surprised when she was outside of Commander Spock's quarters. This had happened before, after all, and he was always quick to lend a quiet space for her to use. Or, as it often went, an attentive ear when their conversations went beyond his officer hours. Thankfully, there were advantages to being a Vulcan at times – no one ever leaped to think of impropriety when these occasions arose, as few as they were.
She had the passcodes to enter, and did so. She did not look up as she stormed to the desk that he kept clear for her in main room, and placed her bag and her handful of PADDs down with more force than necessary.
She could feel his raised brow as he watched her from the small kitchenette. She thanked him for not asking – it was something that she enjoyed about him in times like these, he knew precisely when she needed to talk and when she needed silence.
"I was just putting on tea," he commented softly. "Would you care for a cup, or shall I bring out the coffee?"
He kept coffee for her. She smiled a bit at the thought. "Tea sounds wonderful." She did not need the caffeine.
The pleasant sounds of silence, broken only by his soft movements, filled the air, and she sighed contentedly when the scents of herbs and steam tickled at her senses. She took her PADDs out again, and looked at the notes she had collected from the day. "I just needed a place to study for a few hours – my roommate is . . . entertaining again." Her cheeks flushed darker in mortification.
"Take the time you need," was his only reply – his customary reply. She nodded, her eyes only flickering up once or twice to watch him as he walked about, bringing her tea, and taking care of this and that. When, finally, he moved to take the lyre that was sitting proudly in it's case on the other side of the room, her interest was piqued.
"Are you going to play?" she inquired. To her credit, she was able to keep her curiosity from her tone. Mostly. She had observed the ka'athyra that he kept on hand a time or two before, had mainly noted the way it gleamed as if often polished, and the way Spock always regarded it with something almost fond about his gaze. This was something that he cared about – truly cared about, and that fascinated her.
"It was on my evening's agenda," he admitted, "and yet, I am sure that I can turn my attentions elsewhere in the case that it is too distracting for you."
She held up the earpiece that had recordings of the Lorchan language that she was studying in answer. "Play away, Commander."
Spock nodded, and softly began plucking at the immaculately tuned strings.
At first, she paid attention to her own work – Spock was going through warmups, it sounded like. Scales that let him check the tuning of the strings. It sounded perfect to her, but he would pause every few seconds to alter something here and there.
When she had hit the second verse of a Lorchanin epic poem she was translating, she heard something more solid, more melodious come from the lyre. Curious, she turned down the volume of the earpiece to hear. The clicks and whistles of the language, even in verse, did not go well with the harp, to be sure.
And well . . . it was beautiful. While she didn't expect it not to be – Spock was almost disgustingly talented at whatever he tried his hand at – she didn't expect this degree of skill from him. This mastery showed not only a liking, but a passion, something that ate away fondly at your mind and soothed over everything coarse about your day until it was just you and the object of your fondness. He looked at the lyre the same way she would look at a sampling of a new language.
The tune was slow yet graceful, a melody that build on itself with every chord slowly introduced. The notes hummed pleasantly in the air, drawing out and singing softly before retreating to let another strand fill the air. The song tangled about her, ticking teasingly at her ears as her fingers tapped in slow time in reply to the tune.
She wasn't quite sure where she completely turned off her earpiece to hear him play. She didn't really register the moment as she sat back more comfortably in her chair with her steaming cup of tea, content just to watch him and listen.
Over time, she found herself paying less and less attention to the notes, and more to . . . him. His was a singular concentration. His eyes were half lidded, while everything stiff and unyielding about his form turned fluid with an easy sort of grace. His fingers plucked easily at the strings with a dance of their own, their smooth fluttering speaking of years of practice. She watched his fingers for longer than she would deem acceptable, she knew, but in the end she didn't really care . . . How many times had she watched him before this, anyway? Watching as his fingers fluttered over her console in front of her or carefully dissected whatever specimen that he deemed interesting at the moment. There was a grace and a passion to be found in watching his hands. One could look at his hands and see what they could not find in his eyes. Truly, she could read his entire being from his hands alone . . .
Her cheeks flushed a bit in color when she had realized her dip in thought. If she were going to harbor this attraction then she very well wasn't going to dwell on it while the man was just a few feet from her. She was stronger than that.
Even as she tried to turn back to her Lorchanin poetry, she found her eyes flickering back to his hands on more than one occasion.
When the song faded away on a haunting chord that filled the air with a warm sound before slowly dying, she clapped very softly. "Wow, that was splendid," she praised, her face aglow with what she had just heard.
Spock raised a brow. "I thank-you for your compliments, although I do believe them to be spoken in exaggeration."
She snorted out an amused breath. "No exaggeration, really. Your playing was beautiful."
He was silent for a moment. "Then I thank you."
A smile touched her lips as she turned back to her poetry – determined this time to get some work done.
All of her carefully placed determination was torn apart when he softly inquired, "Would you care to try, Cadet?"
She blinked up at him, considering for a moment. The polite no-thank-you she had worked out in her mind faltered when she saw the look that had bloomed in his eyes - they were darker than normal. The look drew her own eyes, prompting a curious downturn to her lips as she tried to decipher the message behind them.
"Could I?" was what tumbled out of her mouth in the end. Her body followed the words, setting down the tea and completely powering down her earpiece.
"I offered, did I not?" That not-a-smile that she was accustomed to seeing on him flourished.
She smiled wryly as he rose and offered her his seat. Up close, there were small engravings on the lyre – vines and other organic things that twisted and twined over the polished wood. The smell of k'lador wax was pleasant in her nose, its scent was akin to the same incense that Spock used in meditation. She could smell it on the Commander whenever he happened to be close to her while working on a simulation. It was a pleasing scent indeed. The instrument was heavy when she handled it, the strings thick and taut between her fingers. She knew that she must have looked clumsy situating herself, and once again wondered somewhat enviously at the Commander's grace.
"Like this?" she asked, mimicking how she saw Spock hold the instrument earlier.
She could feel his gaze on her. It was heavy as it traced over the lines of her arms and the angle of the instrument against her.
"You are close, Cadet," he said, his voice low and thoughtful. "Here, an alteration should be," and upon saying though he gently moved her arm a little to the left. The movement caused the lyre to settle more comfortably in the crook of her elbow. "And sit up straighter here," she felt a hand at the small of her back, his fingers hardly touching the material of her uniform. Her body obeyed him where he hardly prompted, leaning here and there at his soft command.
She tried her best to keep her body in the form he instructed. "Is that better?" she questioned.
"Very much so," was his reply, very close to her ear. She felt the fine hairs on the back of her neck stand up at attention. A shiver whispered through her body.
She hesitantly plucked at the strings, trying to copy his graceful motions from earlier. Her fingers felt heavy against the strings, the melody she struck felt anything but light. The notes were abrasive, even as they sang out with a hearty, entreating quality. The instrument wanted to sing.
"Try passing your fingers over the strings instead of pulling at them," Spock said. His tone had slipped into that of a mentor – one that he knew well, no doubt. The tone was safe for her, tempering the small little sparks that seemed to seep through her at how close he was standing.
Just for instructional purposes, a voice said softly in her mind. She tried so very hard to hang onto it's words.
She tried again, and the notes fell earlier from the lyre. She tried not to look too pleased with herself.
"Better," Spock commented. "There are seven strings total," he continued. "The furthest from your body have the deepest resonance. The body of the lyre is hollow, this is where the sound is produced from the vibrations of the strings that pass through the yoke," he gestured to the bars that stretched the strings taut.
She nodded, her eyes taking in the pass of his fingers over the wood. His words sounded very far off in her ears.
In the end she listened as best as she could – right arm resting with the instrument, and left arm loose. There were points to press on the strings for flats and sharps, a free string was a natural. The seven strings were one note each – a G being the furthest from her body. She could keep up that far. Thumbs moved in circular motions as the fingers naturally rounded about the strings . . . with every change she made in her technique, the sound she produced was more and more melodious.
When he started showing her simple melodies, there was a laugh or two involved – her fingers were clumsy, and they tripped over the strings like an infant's would. She was reminded painfully of her one year – and one year only – of lessons on her father's violin back at home. Her grandfather even had an old world Kora – a sort of African harp lute that she had admired as a child. That still, was something she had not pursued a talent for. She was far more talented with the spoken arts – even with singing as a musical expression. Pitch and tone and melody were so much more easier to understand and replicate then . . .
And yet, she was now determined. That same determination was a potent thing – having carried her through everything else she set her eyes on in her life to date.
In the end, Spock was nodding thoughtfully when she played the few measures that he had taught her – single note threads that didn't have chords or anything more complicated, thank the stars. "You are improving, but you are still failing to grasp the fundamental technique."
She fought to smile as she felt his eyes on her. He sounded almost annoyed that he could not simply teach her shortcomings away. "Practice will make it better, surely," she said lightly, her tone of voice almost teasing, had he been anyone else.
"To be sure," he said softly. "And yet," he continued, "there is much I can teach you now. Would you permit me to show you, Cadet?"
She moved to hand him the instrument when he shook his head. "That won't be necessary," he said.
She raised a brow in question, and yet she understood a moment later when he came to sit next to her on the low slung couch. Carefully, as if he were handling an artifact, he reached his left arm around her, his hand hovered in the air right above hers. His right arm rested alongside hers, the dusky black material from his uniform a sharp contrast with the red of hers.
She blinked in surprise, her body curving back into his almost instinctively. He radiated such a heat . . .
"Here, like this," he said softly. His voice was warm at her ear.
She felt her eyes flicker down without her conscious thought, his hands were graceful against the strings were hers tripped and sputtered. She saw instantly the difference in his technique in hers – the subtle curves of his fingers and the gentle motions of his thumbs. When she mimicked the motions, he held his fingers over hers, letting her marvel at the contrast at the warm tone of her skin to the endlessly pale expanse of his . . . She held her breath as his skin touched hers, aware of how much he was sharing something personal with her - to a Vulcan, touch was so much more than the thoughtless act that humans indulged in daily. She closed her eyes as she hoped that he couldn't tap into her thoughts from right here. While he could tone out which thoughts he chose to hear, there was not telling at times. His face gave nothing away . . .
She found herself concentrating very little on the music, and yet the melody she produced was the best she had that night.
A lesson, she had to remind herself. He was merely teaching her this as he did everything else . . . Nothing more. She shouldn't want anything more.
"Much better," he said softly. She shivered at the low tone that had seeped into his voice.
He drew away from her, and illogically, she missed his heat. She closed her eyes, long and slow, before handing the lyre over to him, fighting the irrational impulse to brush her fingers against his.
"Thank-you, Commander," she said gently.
"You are welcome, Cadet. Should you wish, you may practice whenever you so desire. I am always at your service," he said, his voice back to the same dry, warm tenor that she was used to hearing from him. She closed her eyes at the loss of warmth.
"Thank-you," she said again, as she went back to the desk to collect her things. Her legs were watery, and she was surprised that she could walk without making a fool of herself. "I should head back now – it's almost curfew."
"Of course," was his reply. She didn't expect anything else.
As she packed her things into her bag, her traitorous eyes glanced back to see him putting the lyre away. She watched the tender way he handled the lyre for a moment, her eyes falling to the way his long fingers caressed the instrument almost lovingly.
This was all his hands' fault, she thought somewhat darkly, even as something inside of her fluttered in a ridiculous way.
Stars, but she had to get out of there before she started fawning about like Gaila . . .
When she walked across the campus, back to her dorm, she clasped her hands together, and imagined that she could still feel the heat from his, branding her. At some point, she found herself humming under her breath, a soft sort of melody that had been the first thing she played. She walked on that way for a long, long time.