Notes: So I wrote the first part of this ages ago, found it again, had no idea what my idea had been, and took it somewhere else. It is connected to 'The Captain's Right' in that this is the beginning of Spock and Nyota's family. (Very little S/U though; the focus in this shot is on Spock and the baby.)
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek 2009, and I make no profit from this work.
Vulcans did not utilise facial expressions as a method of communication the way humans did. And Spock had been raised Vulcan, surrounded by other Vulcans, and with a similarly limited understanding of how anybody could read a facial expression. Admittedly, he had marginally more experience than his peers on Vulcan; but then, his mother had also begun to school her facial expressions, what with having nobody around to read them.
So when he had entered Starfleet, and found himself surrounded by aliens that frowned and laughed and smiled and scowled and pulled far too many faces than should be possible with a limited number of muscles, Spock had to essentially learn the ability to read facial expressions and body language all over again.
If anything, it was the hardest adjustment he'd had to make. Language barriers were common-or-garden, and even the most rigid of cadets understood the difficulties in communicating in one's second language, and made allowances. If anything, his formal style of Standard could provide humour to allow humans to relax around him. No, spoken language had not been a problem.
Neither had, in an odd say, body language. Vulcans did utilise body language, though to a lesser degree than humans, and in any case, most body language had a clear evolutionary basis that was easy to memorise and learn. By the time he graduated from the Academy, his understanding of human body language was enough to allow him to largely understand his peers - even if he didn't imitate said language, on the whole.
But the nearest thing that Vulcans had to facial expressions was eye movements - often, a Vulcan puzzling over a problem would move the eyes in a similar manner to a human. Apart from that, it was generally frowned up as over-emotional and pointless to utilise facial expressions when the Vulcan language was perfectly adequate to express one's thoughts.
So facial expressions were...confusing.
He could faintly remember his mother pulling many faces when he was a very small child, but over time, they had faded from her face. With nobody to respond to them, he supposed that she had eventually forgotten to use them, and he had learned to read her voice rather than her face. Inflections in human languages meant as much as the words themselves, and his mother had used this with him - largely, Spock suspected now, because his father would not have understood her implications.
But her only facial expression, for much of Spock's life, had been to smile.
In the aftermath of her death, Spock had meditated long and often over her beautiful smile, sifting though his memories of her face and her smile and that evidence of her contentment and happiness. She had often smiled at him, even when he was fully-grown and theoretically beyond the need for a mother.
"Oh Spock," she'd told him once, "Vulcans aren't right about that, you know. Everybody always needs their mothers, even when they're all grown up."
He had not understood then; he did now.
She had had a very relaxed smile, that displayed pure contentment. Until relocating to Earth, Spock had thought that was the only purpose of a human smile: he knew now that he was wrong. Nyota often smiled to display frustration or embarrassment. Dr. McCoy performed an odd sort of smile - a smirk, Nyota called it - when he had been proved correct about something trivial. The Captain's smile generally meant that Spock's life expectancy was about to be trimmed down a few more years, either due to injury or to stress.
And he found such smiles...unsettling.
Smiles had been the one part of the human face he had thought that he had grasped. They were instruments of happiness, and nothing else. At the Academy, discoveries of other smiles had been unsettling, but now...
Now it was...
If he were human, he would have to use the term 'upsetting.'
It caused...negative thoughts, to have to assume that she had been in a minority in expressing only happiness in her smiles, and that smiles were not, in reality, what he had assumed them to be. He disliked the fact that a human smile was as intangible as the rest of their facial expressions, and, by the time he came to serve on the Enterprise under Captain Kirk, had lost his former contentment at seeing other people - mostly human, but occasionally other species as well - smile.
And then his son smiled, and Spock's opinion was once again changed.
It would undoubtedly change with age, but when he held his son for the first time and received that wide, unfocused, toothless smile in return, something twisted in Spock's side. There were no subtleties here - no emotion projecting from his son's warm skin but sheer contentment - and the smile was every bit as real and happy as he remembered from his mother.
Perhaps it was wishful thinking - after all, how could he have gotten the ability to smile through Spock? - but his smile was just like Amanda's.
"We'll call him Taye," Nyota whispered, watching her new family through exhausted eyes and an odd expression. "He's Taye."
And he was human. He displayed very few Vulcan traits, and subjected his parents to the full range of infantile problems caused by an inability to communicate. Vulcan children, even as babies, could project a primitive sense of their want - hunger, exhaustion, loneliness - to their carers, but human children possessed no such ability until they began to form recognisable words.
And yet, when Taye smiled...it was happiness.
Nyota would make him laugh - pulling faces, dancing with him, reading stories to him in a variety of strange voices that Spock couldn't pretend to understand. And he did understand why Taye did not laugh so much with him - Spock gave him no reason to. But he did smile - when Spock held him, fed him, talked to him, played Vulcan music or, on one memorable occasion, murmured Vulcan lullabies in an attempt to quiet him at 0300 hours. Taye would smile for him, at him, and Spock could not explain his own pleasure at the sight.
"Of course he smiles for you," Nyota said once, when Taye was six months old. "You're his father. He utterly adores you."
Perhaps that was all it was - biological drives to nurture and protect one's young, and the same drive urging Taye to ensure that continued protection from both of his parents. Purely primitive, instinctive reactions designed to ensure the survival of the offspring.
To coin a somewhat irritating and superfluous human phrase that Spock never particularly liked, but for once found apt: it didn't feel like it.
Even after Taye began to form his first words (and in rapid succession, his first sentences) and the ability to communicate without the use of his inane babbling and strange facial expressions (for which Spock placed the responsibility wholly on Nyota) he continued to smile. Even with the stubby beginnings of sharp white teeth - Vulcan teeth, interestingly - that smile was every bit as...expressive.
So when Nyota told him, shortly after wrestling their ridiculously energetic son into his pyjamas and his crib for the night, that she was pregnant again, Spock could not help but think that if their second child smiled like the first, then he was...
Well. To use one of Captain Kirk's favourite observations on the bridge - he was screwed.