Once when Spock was very young, he asked his mother how she felt when she arrived to the planet Vulcan for the first time. She told him, "It was exactly as I had expected, and yet nothing like I had imagined." Naturally, as many things his mother has said, this confused him greatly. It was not logical or possible for something to be as one anticipates, but also be surprising.
When he asked about this discrepancy, she did what she normally did when Spock or his father pointed out that something she did or said was illogical: She merely smiled and offered no explanation. At the time, Spock would have felt annoyed if he allowed such emotions. Now that he was older, however, he was amazed at how accurate many of her comments were.
He was aware of the bazaar, the product of a small community outside the city of Shi'Kahr populated mostly by aliens. He had seen images of the crowded streets. He had heard tales of the disorganization, the filth and the impolite inhabitants. He had seen curious items and eaten food bought from the stalls.
But he had never been there.
It was his mother who insisted he come with her after he returned home from the Vulcan Science Academy where he had been researching the movement trends of each type of solar neutrino in relation to matter-antimatter reactions at non-warp speeds. He had initially refused her request, planning to analyze the data he had collected that day, but she would not allow him to 'be cooped up in his room on such a lovely day' and promptly herded Spock out the door.
It was loud. That was the first thing Spock noticed. He could hear the noise from 5.2 blocks away as they approached. He winced as he and his mother entered the bazaar. There was shouting, laughter, clanking, banging and, underneath it all, he could barely make out the sound of music.
It was much like he had expected. It was very congested with all manner of beings that pushed and shoved their way through the streets, giving him the need to reinforce his mental shields. He had known there would be a wide variety of things that could be bought, but he was overwhelmed and surprised by the amount. Each stall overflowed with items on shelving. While cluttered, there was a certain method to the chaos, each stall placing their wares in ways effective for catching the eye. There was a large amount of competition between vendors who sold similar products and they needed a way to stand out from the others. Colorful scarves and bags hung over the entrance. Trinkets and shiny metal objects glittering in the sun hung on boards with hooks. Of course many of the items were illogical, but that was to be expected when many things that Vulcans deem as illogical were necessary in alien cultures.
If that did not work, the vendors would speak loudly and attempt to usher in customers. Spock soon realized why his mother insisted he come. One hard look to a vendor attempting to put his arm around her shoulders to maneuver her into his stall and the man immediately gave up to pursue someone else.
They both walked quickly through the congested streets, not stopping to look at any stalls. As they moved farther along, the stalls began to hold more artistic wares and the streets were less populated, allowing for better maneuverability. His mother smiled widely and connected their arms at the elbow, leading him slowly through the street. "I always love coming here," she said, still needing to speak louder than normal even if the noise level had decreased. "I'm glad you came with me today."
"I cannot surmise why you would enjoy such a place," he admitted.
She slowed down momentarily to quickly survey a window full of brightly colored jewelry before continuing to walk at their normal pace. "It reminds me so much of home. Of Terra," she corrected.
She gave a bright laugh. "That is a part of it, I suppose. I love being surrounded by so many things happening at once and blending together that it overwhelms me. And yes, I know how illogical that is," she added when Spock looked down to her quizzically. It always puzzled him that she could point out when she was being illogical, yet never attempted to offer any explanation or correct it.
"Oh! Paintings," she said suddenly pulling Spock towards a small row of the three stalls containing canvassed art. The first contained simplistic pictures that were almost cartoon like, the inaccuracies of which he was never fond even as a child. His mother seemed to have the same opinion because she moved passed it after only a few short moments.
The second stall mostly contained calligraphy. The stylized words were difficult to read, and he would not understand why one would want to hang simple words on their wall. They were in differing alien languages with the translation in Standard on paper clipped on. Spock recognized and could read many of the words without looking at the translation: hope, love, peace, wealth, health. Although he did note that some of the translations were inaccurate. Abrun did not mean 'prayer'. His mother spent a few minutes in this stall, but ultimately left without buying anything, much to the vendor's thinly veiled ire.
The paintings in the third stall were much more appealing. Portraits and landscapes made up most of the pictures. They were more realistic, though still stylized. He determined that many different artists did the paintings, though he could not recognize any of the names or techniques.
As his mother wandered by one wall of paintings, slowing to study them all, Spock began on the opposite side. He found none of them particularly appealing. He stopped to look at a portrait of a young female human that he recognized as an exchange student at the Vulcan Science Academy. She was attractive with dark skin and a long ponytail. Spock did not know her name, although he inferred she must be intelligent to have been accepted to study at the VSA. He wondered if she knew the artist. Based on the inaccuracies, Spock had the suspicion she did not pose for the painting.
"Finding anything you like?"
Spock turned to see a male human standing a bit too far into his personal space. Spock leaned back slightly away from the man. He had dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. A large grin filled most of his tan face. He smelled of paint and a spice Spock could not place. He assumed the man was an artist.
"Not particularly," Spock said.
Instead of faltering, the man's grin grew. "You have very discriminating tastes."
"I do not see much purpose in art," he admitted.
"I guess I can understand that," the man said, looking at the painting in front of them. "Art's supposed to move you. You can't really see the beauty in art if you don't have emotions to be affected by it.
Spock frowned slightly. "I can recognize beauty."
He smirked and looked back to him. "It isn't about beauty. Not really, anyway. A lot of art is pretty, but there's also ugly and disturbing art. It's about having an effect on the viewer, positive or negative."
Spock's eyebrows furrowed. He did not believe he understood.
The man studied him for a moment. "Have you ever been painted?"
He raised an eyebrow. "I have not."
A large grin appeared on the man's face again as he brought a hand up to angle Spock's face higher, causing the Vulcan to quickly raise his mental shields against the artist's emotions sent through the contact. "You're far too stunning to have not been immortalized in a painting."
Spock has to stop himself from blushing green under the scrutiny of the alien blue eyes. He pulled back, away from the man's touch. "My image can be just as easily preserved with the use of a holo-imager. It would require far less time and effort."
The man cringed. "There's a difference between an image and a painting. A holo-imager can't record the spirit," he said as he put a fist to his sternum. "There's no life in a hologram."
"There is no life, or whatever you define as spirit, in a painting."
The man gave him a patient look. "No, not technically, but it's the essence that needs to be captured. It's the essence that affects people."
Spock tilted his head slightly. "That is highly illogical."
The artist rolled his eyes, seeming to have run out of patience. "There's no use explaining art to you Vulcans. As smart as you guys are, you're complete idiots when it comes to the abstract."
Spock opened his mouth to protest such an accusation, but was not given the opportunity when his mother returns.
She smiled widely and handed the painting she is holding to the artist. It appeared to be a scene of a crowded street similar to this bazaar, done by the same artist who had painted the young woman's portrait. "I would like this painting."
"Ah," he said, grinning as he took the canvas and examined it. "A James T. Kirk original, this is."
"Oh?" she asked, before a thoughtful look appearing on her face. "I'm afraid I've never heard of him."
He chuckled. "I'm not surprised. You never really hear of many artists until after they've died, starving and penniless."
"Yes, I am afraid that is how it seems," Mother said, smiling sympathetically. "Are you personally acquainted with him?"
"Intimately," he said as he took the painting to the counter at the back of the stall and began to carefully wrap it in many layers of thin brown paper. "Unless you believe in that theory that the one person who knows you the least is yourself."
She was silent for a short moment before her eyes widened. "Oh! Is this your painting?"
He nodded. "That it is, and I thank you for buying it. Normally, I would just give one of my paintings, free of charge, to woman as pretty as yourself, but I'm afraid I'm a little short on my rent this month."
She blushed, and Spock was not sure if it was because he was the artist or because he complimented her. "It is a very lovely painting."
He grinned widely at her. "Thank you, m'lady."
She attempted to subdue a large smile as she rummaged through her purse and handed him a credit chip.
He glanced down behind the counter for a moment. "Uh, I don't think I have enough change."
Mother gave him a dismissive gesture. "Oh no. Don't worry about it."
Kirk looked completely taken aback and Spock looked much the same, although only through a raised eyebrow. "Five– This painting isn't worth that much, ma'am."
"Then consider it a tip," she said.
Kirk glanced down. "That's a huge tip."
She smiled. "Than consider it credit and I will merely need to come back and buy another."
He chuckled. "Alright, but I'm holding you to that," he said, pointing a finger at her. "I better see your pretty face again. Both of you." He looked to Spock, his smile shifting slightly to something sultrier much to Spock's discomfort.
His mother seemed more amused by this than disturbed. "I promise," she assured with a smile as she took back the wrapped painting, giving it to Spock to carry. "Thank you for the beautiful painting," she said as she turned to leave.
"My pleasure," Kirk replied, though looking at Spock with the same flirtatious smile when we said it.
Spock merely raised an eyebrow and followed his mother out of the stall.
Once they were well out of the human's earshot, Spock glanced over to her. "You seemed amused by the exchange," he noted. "May I inquire as to why?"
She smiled and looked up to him. "It isn't often I'm flirted with by a handsome, young man, especially here on Vulcan."
He stopped a frown from fully forming. "Was it not impolite to act in such a way? You wear a ring indicating your marital status. I doubt that he did not see it."
"He wasn't being serious, Spock," his mother said. "He was merely being personable."
"Other vendors were as well but you did not seem amused," he pointed out. Luckily the blond artist had not attempted to touch her as others did.
"They aren't personable; they're invasive," she said, sounding annoyed at the thought of them. "You may not be able to recognize the difference because you do not spend enough time around emotional beings, but there is one. I think being flirtatious is merely Mr. Kirk's usual demeanor with everyone. He flirted with you as well, did he not?" she asked, failing to hide a smile.
Spock raised an eyebrow. He had assumed, and rather hoped even if it was illogical to do so, that no one else had seen or heard that. It had unsettled Spock, the man's boldness and disregard for his personal space. He saw no difference between his actions and the actions of the other merchants.
As he and his mother walked back towards the more crowded streets, Spock chose to put any thoughts of the man aside. Perhaps he could contemplate the occurrence later to analyze his own reaction, but the probability of seeing Kirk again was too low to ponder him more than he already had.
Author's note: Special thanks to my beta, bigkitty-chan, who has an art!AU story of her own (go read it!) and encouraged me to write this even though I felt like I'd be copying. I made sure to make it different, though. This whole story was basically started because of an idea I had that won't manifest itself until later in the story. I really want to write it out, so I'll have to work hard on this so I can post it... I really need to stop making more WIPs. I don't want to be one of those people with a a shit load of stuff but never updates... I'll try to update more, promise.
PS: Abrun is Vulcan for 'erection'. Which I'm sure some people use to 'pray' with.