Birds called, squawked, twittered, and sang from the boulevard trees overhead. The warmth in the sun's rays strengthened as Sol began its daily journey toward the zenith. The trickle of activity from passers-by, flitters, hoverbikes, and skimmers dinned into a generous flow as the streets filled. Mbaruku and Spock, their business completed at the flitter bay, commenced their eight-block walk homeward.
Mbaruku set a pace slower than his usual. Why rush home to Faizah's onslaught? His tall, long-legged companion calmly matched his pace, content to take a slower stroll as well, which Mbaruku appreciated. Besides, a quiet stroll always set Mbaruku's mind at peace, and, perhaps, it would for Spock's as well. Mbaruku enjoyed the relaxed camaraderie of the moment.
"I am a man guilty of a serious domestic infraction," Mbaruku joked. "I now take my final walk to the gallows of humiliation."
Mbaruku expected confusion at the illogic of human expression. Instead, Spock nodded. "Most assuredly. If I understand such matters correctly, would your 'walk' not be preceded by a 'last meal'?"
Mbaruku's own stomach rumbled at the idea. "Hungry?"
Mbaruku smiled. Neither of them had eaten yet, nor would they anytime soon after the flitter break-down suspended Mbaruku stops to the grocer and baker. "There's a café & bakery near here, just a couple blocks east of the next intersection. They specialize in French-style pastries and coffee, but there are other things. Would you like to go there?"
"Does the range of pastry choices include chocolate selections?"
"You want chocolate?" Mbaruku never guessed that Spock was a chocoholic.
"No. However, an offer of such may assuage the consequences of this morning's events."
Mbaruku stopped, laughed, and had to lean against a boulevard palm tree. This sort of "logic" and cunning on the younger's part, too, was unexpected. "You intend to bribe Faizah and Nyota with chocolate? I don't believe it!"
Vulcan dignity reared as Spock drew himself up. "I would not characterize it as 'bribery,'" he said, feigning a small degree of offense. "Merely a means of promoting optimum outcomes."
Mbaruku laughed harder at Spock's display of a mock aristocratic air, one imperious eyebrow waaaay up.
"Have you…," Mbaruku clutched his stomach after looking as Spock's expression as another laugh convulsed, "…have you promoted such 'optimum outcomes' by giving Nyota chocolate before?"
"The practice increases favorable outcomes by 63.675 percent," Spock stated, matter-of-factly as if this were common knowledge.
"You've done a statistical analysis?"
"Of course. You have not?" Another flash of humor crossed Spock's features as he tilted his head to the other side.
Spock was teasing him, and Mbaruku felt a connection with the hidden personality, the Vulcan that Nyota knew. Spock The Individual clearly had his own strategies for handling the conflicts with Nyota, ones inevitable in any relationship. His unabashedly Vulcan approach, armed with statistical data, charmed Mbaruku. Such a maneuver never would have worked for a human male.
No doubt Nyota found a charm in Spock's approach as well—once her anger at Spock simmered down, that is.
Spock may have picked up tactics for dealing with a brilliant human woman from watching his own father. Mbaruku could not help looking forward to meeting Ambassador Sarek. Too bad he would never meet Lady Amanda. She must have been an amazing woman.
With these thoughts, he caught his breath, satisfied with Spock's plan. "Come on, then. Let us get every chocolate pastry they have and get home before Faizah thinks of another way to harass me."
The younger's eyes lit up. "At your direction, Sir."
Spock extended his arm, inviting Mbaruku to lead the way.
Mbaruku opened the front door. "We have returned," he called out.
"In here," came Faizah's voice from the kitchen.
Mbaruku and Spock exchanged glances. Mbaruku hoped that the pastries and fruit from the café that Spock carried would mollify Faizah's fervor. If the carbohydrates soothed her and the chocolate fillings distracted her even to a small degree, Spock would earn Mbaruku's eternal gratitude for the suggestion. Mbaruku himself carried a small urn of the coffee for which the café was famous in the neighborhood. It, too, was one of Faizah's favorites.
Let's get this over with, Mbaruku thought.
Mbaruku's entrance into the kitchen was met by his wife's imperious glare, one eyebrow raised. Seated next to her, Nyota sipped her mug of tea, trying to hold back her giggling at her mother's impending onslaught. But the second she saw Spock, Nyota laughed out loud.
"Oh, my amir!" she joked.
"Amir. Arabic for 'prince' or 'commander.'"
"Indeed?" Spock set the box of pastries down on the breakfast table and removed his keffiyeh. "Sir, I believe I no longer require this."
Mbaruku laughed and set down the urn of coffee. "Yes, obviously you don't, unless you wish to continue amusing my daughter."
"No, Mbaru, you have done enough amusing for the both of you," Faizah declared. "What were you thinking?"
"The flitter was broken. You have been telling me to get it to the shop. Spock helped me get it there."
"And you worried about me leaving the house yesterday?" Nyota looked at her father incredulously, then turned to Spock. "What if someone had seen you?"
"Your father required my assistance."
Mbaruku noted Spock's deflection, but, as he guessed, his daughter was not letting it get by.
"My father should have called the mobile service. Why did you go?" she pressed.
Spock crossed his arms and cocked his head to one side."Your father was attempting to preserve domestic peace and insisted on a collaborative effort in pursuit of that objective."
At Spock's longwinded explanation, Nyota laughed again. "Baba made you go out?... Baba!"
Though Nyota was laughing, Faizah was not. Mbaruku felt the concentrated heat of her Death Glare. "He has a long way to go before there is peace in this house," she stated. "I can't believe that you brought Spock out there. He was supposed to be staying out of sight."
Mbaruku held up the keffiyeh. "Well, we disguised him."
"Some disguise! Angela recognized him right away," Faizah pointed out. "Speaking of Angela, I had to lie to her!"
"Do not worry about Angela," Mbaruku soothed. "I told her that Spock was here for a confidential project of mine at the university. You can tell her that you know only what I tell you, and then you tell her I have said nothing."
"Yes, she told me about your 'university project.' But do you understand how hard is it not telling her the truth? She is like a sister to me. She is going to be hurt that we did not invite her here to see Nyota, and when she figures out why Nyota and Spock were truly here…she will kill me."
Spock's eyes widened.
Mbaruku saw the question. "Figure of speech, Spock. Angela will be a little upset with Faizah."
"Little? Oh, no, it will not be 'little'!
Finally Mbaruku had had enough. Between the stupid flitter, the stress of preparing for Nyota and Spock's visit over past two weeks, worrying about Nyota, trying to get to know and understand Spock, it all added up.
"Faizah." Mbaruku felt his eyes harden. His voice deepened, filling the room. "Angela will have to get over it."
Faizah's eyebrows rose higher than Spock's ever had.
"A true friend will understand why we need our privacy at this time." Although he had not raised his volume, the vocal and physical control he exerted intensified the impact of his words. "When Nyota and Spock are ready to share their news with the rest of the universe, that is when friends, family, or Angela will hear it!"
Mbaruku paused, meeting each person's eyes, surveying them for understanding before continuing. "In the meantime, Nyota and Spock and you and I deserve this time to ourselves. If Angela or anyone else cannot understand that, do not bother telling me. I do not care."
Faizah frowned for a moment, thought about it, and though she still recovered from the surprise, she nodded approval.
Finally Nyota spoke. "Thank you, Baba."
"Thank you, Sir."
The father-warrior stood straighter, satisfied that he had protected his family's interests. Mbaruku held up the keffiyeh. "Let me put this incredibly clever disguise away. I will be right back."
That broke the tension. Nyota laughed. Even Faizah smiled. Spock continued to stand there, arms folded, observing the interactions.
Another fine morning in the Uhura household.
As he returned the garment to a closet, with a few moments to himself to think, Mbaruku recounted the morning's events. He had to admit they were funny. So much for his grand plan, a failure in covert operations that only confirmed that his career as an academician was the correct one.
But Spock had training in that, did he not? Yet, the renowned Commander Spock had let Mbaruku use his status as Nyota's father to insist that the younger fix his flitter and engage in his crazy scheme. He chuckled, thinking about how Spock had quietly tolerated the whole episode.
Mbaruku had not lied to Nyota. Her beloved had proven himself a good match for her and respectful of her family. Though he was still getting used to the young Vulcan, Mbaruku genuinely found himself liking him.
Spock, Mbaruku noted as he swallowed the last of his coffee and set down his mug, must have absorbed some of Sarek's talent for diplomacy. The pastries, chocolate, fruit, and coffee had improved Faizah's mood fortunately. However, Spock's dry observations of Mbaruku's consternation with the flitter and Angela were only fodder for the stories that Faizah surely would tell about the incident in the future.
"Ms. Wambua's amusement at Dr. Uhura's difficulties was evident," Spock said.
"Angela will find amusement at my expense wherever she can," said Mbaruku. "And, Spock, you may call me 'Mbaru.'"
Faizah smiled at Spock, then rolled her eyes at her husband. "You and Angela have had a running feud for years. And do not act so innocent. You never let her forget the accident at the Nyaribos' party."
Mbaruku leaned back. He could not help smirking. "You have to admit; it was spectacular."
"What happened?" Nyota asked.
Mbaruku was only too happy to tell. "Your Auntie Angela knocked over the entire buffet table."
"Oh, no! How?"
"Her dancing got out of hand."
"She tripped!" Faizah defended.
Mbaruku laughed at the memory. "Yes, tripping across the dance floor, graceful gazelle that she is…"
"Baba…." Nyota smirked, but her eyes flashed a warning.
Suddenly the lights flickered.
All four looked up at the lighting units. Mbaruku breathed out. "The solar collectors. I thought the efficiency readings were off when I looked yesterday. I will have to go up there and look. Maybe there's a loose connection."
Spock continued to study the ceiling. "Do you require assistance?"
"I am not sure. But I would welcome your company, just in case."
Faizah looked amused, despite another household task. "Spock, do not let Mbaru make you do all his work. This is your leave. You should be relaxing."
Nyota patted her mother's arm. "Trust me, Mama. For Spock, this is relaxing."
The three humans laughed. Spock straightened, but stared at Nyota in light challenge. She straightened and stared back, trying not to laugh.
"Come, then," said Mbaruku. "To the roof."
"Nyota and I will wait for you in the garden," said Faizah.
Mbaruku and Spock walked up the stairs to the second floor. Mbaruku opened a closet, grabbed a energy meter off a shelf, and climbed the ladder along the closet's far wall to the roof access. Spock followed.
Once the pair looked over the array of panels on the nearly flat roof, the source of the energy fluctuations was apparent. "We had a strong storm last week that tore at the palms," Mbaruku noted. "The fronds have finally finished falling. I think a clean-up will solve most of the problems." He grabbed one frond off a panel and tossed it aside.
Spock nodded. "It would be prudent to assess the system nonetheless, would it not?"
"If you would like to do it, I would be grateful," Mbaruku said, handing Spock the meter. "You are more skilled at this kind of job than I am. I'll clean up the mess."
Spock walked to the far end and began checking connections and cell efficiencies. Mbaruku occasionally observed Spock as he, one by one, worked his way down the line of collectors. Vulcans liked order. Spock liked order. Nyota liked order, but Nyota also liked the occasional surprise. He wondered how Spock handled Nyota's mischievous side when it reared. He figured that he would learn that during future visits.
"After you leave tomorrow morning, how long will you and Nyota be gone?" he asked.
"I am unsure," Spock replied. "I have not been informed of the nature of our next mission."
"Hmmm, Starfleet is in flux. I imagine the admiralty is still identifying priorities, reassigning the fleet."
"I cannot comment, Sir."
"Ah. Understood." Mbaruku had accepted that there would be times when Nyota's whereabouts had to be classified. He understood intellectually that it was part of the career she had chosen. Even so, it disquieted him.
"Spock, I have a request."
Spock looked at Mbaruku, waiting.
"Would you make sure that Nyota keeps us informed of your whereabouts, as much as you are able while you are out on mission? Often she does not tell us when she is in hazardous areas because she does not want us to worry. I understand there is nothing that Faizah or I can do if something should happen, but there is a certain comfort in knowing where you are."
"When it is permitted, Sir."
"Thank you. It will make living with Faizah easier." Mbaruku did not mention how much it would ease living with the father-warrior easier, too. "Living with an Uhura woman when she is upset is a challenge."
Spock reconnected a coupling. "I have had experience," he said, keeping his eyes on his task.
Spock's matter-of-fact acknowledgment struck Mbaruku as extraordinarily funny, and he laughed, then laughed some more, loudly. Spock returned his attention to Mbaruku. The eyebrows rose inquisitively, which set Mbaruku laughing even louder.
"What are you doing up there?" came a voice of an Uhura woman from below. "Mbaru!"
Mbaruku tried to calm himself before he and Spock peered over the roof's edge. Faizah and Nyota looked back up at them with twin expressions of confusion. Faizah's hands were on her hips.
Mbaruku and Spock exchanged glances, and Mbaruku broke out laughing again.
Faizah shook her head. "Nyota, I hate to tell you this, but your father has stolen your man. You may not get him back."
Nyota raised eyebrows at Spock. Spock innocently returned the expression. Nyota, as she had been doing for most of the morning, laughed. Spock shrugged and went back to his task.
Mbaruku looked back at Faizah with his own challenge. Having a "wingman" suited him. Unexpectedly, Mbaruku noted, Spock had improved Mbaruku's standing in dealing with certain aspects of household dynamics.
He approved of Nyota's choice.
Sitting next to him on the lounge chair, Nyota offered Spock a glass of water. Their eyes met. His face relaxed. He accepted the refreshment. Nyota smiled.
Mbaruku watched the silent communication, which had begun to fascinate him.
Standing next to him, Faizah tugged at his sleeve as she spoke to the younger couple. "We have some things to do in the house. Why don't you sit out here a while longer, take a break. We will see you later."
Spock nodded in acknowledgment, taking another swallow of water.
Mbaruku nodded back. He and Spock had cleaned the roof, and Spock had reconnected a couple circuits on the verge of failing before they joined Nyota and Faizah for a few minutes of conversation. But now Faizah was insisting that Mbaruku follow her to the house. She gave him one of her looks that allowed no argument. He took the hint and followed his wife inside.
Once through the door, he rose his own eyebrows in question.
"They need some time to themselves," she answered. "Once they get back to the Enterprise, they will be busy. And Spock will not rest if you two keep coming up with things to do. Besides, I think Nyota misses him," she teased.
Mbaruku laughed. "I thought we were going with the 'keep them busy' plan."
"It was beginning to border on the 'slave labor' plan."
"Aren't you always saying we should take advantage of opportunities?"
"And how long would that have gone on? This morning the two of you have been inseparable. A few days ago, I would not have left the two of you alone."
Mbaruku grinned. "Nor I. But we found a way to get along."
"Even though he is Vulcan and in a relationship with your daughter?"
"He is his own person. As long as he treats Nyota well and she is happy…"
Mbaruku and Faizah looked back out toward the garden through the window. Spock had set down his glass. He rose. Nyota beckoned him to follow her. The pair began to stroll out further into the garden, enjoying the day's warmth and rays of sunshine.
Mbaruku noted how the sun's rays brought out blue highlights in Spock's dark hair, a flush of green on his skin, and a warm brown in his eyes when he looked at Nyota. Thoughts, desires, and emotions hidden within his extraordinary mind blazed in fire red brilliance.
Strange that Mbaruku had seen only the black and white of the younger's dark hair and pale skin that first night.
Mbaruku thought it ironic that a Vulcan would inspire whimsical, almost poetic phrases and Mbaruku tried to decide how to describe what he was seeing. Sometimes poetry expressed what declarative forms could not, especially with a being as complex as Spock was.
Mbaruku's thoughts were interrupted as he caught another movement from Nyota.
She playfully nudged Spock along. He momentarily resisted her prodding, but the ends of his lips curved up slightly, and the brown of his eyes warmed more at her widening smile. Nyota touched his arm lightly, prodding him again. Spock moved closer to her. She took his arm and they stepped onto the path, contentedly taking a slow pace. Finally they disappeared from view behind a row of bushes as they ambled deeper into the garden.
Faizah sighed, and her eyes watered slightly.
"Faizah? Are you all right?"
The tear perched on her bottom lid broke free. Embarrassed, she quickly wiped it away. "I cannot help it. I am happy for them."
Mbaruku slipped his hand into hers and squeezed it in support and sighed himself. "I never would have believed I'd say this, but I am, too."
Author's Note, March 26, 2012: Thank you for reading and sticking with this story. Funny how perceptions change about people once you get to know them. I hope you enjoyed Mbaruku's journey as he got over his fears and began to form a relationship with his daughter's unexpected choice.
I have to say that I am relieved at finishing this piece. I have been fighting with this story since posting the first chapter. I wanted to jump into everyone's heads, but I could not because this was entirely from Mbaruku's POV. Frustrating! If I ever start a single-POV long-format story again, somebody shake some sense into me!
It was not all bad, though. Looking at Nyota and Spock from a detailed third person perspective proved to be an interesting challenge. And, I developed characters I liked. Don't be surprised to see Mbaruku and Faizah in future stories.
Much appreciation goes to T'Soy for her patient and insightful beta service. [Applause]
This has been a learning experience. In sharing Mbaruku's journey, thank you for sharing my journey as well.