Disclaimer: See Chapter 1. Bina, angst this is and angst this will stay. Unless you can come up with a really good reason to change my mind ;).
wcv, perhaps Solok in the Mirror Universe has such a 'stache. I, for one, wouldn't be surprised.
Roxanne awoke with a jolt, then breathed in slowly and rolled over to check her alarm clock. 0200. She reminded herself that this was a weekend and that she was free to sleep in as long as she liked, then rolled back over, snuggling deep into her pillow. The room was a bit cold this early in the morning, as the climate controls didn't kick back in until about 0330. She tucked the covers in around her body and curled into a ball.
Her mind drifted to the night before and the date with Solok. Or whatever it was. She admitted to herself (very reluctantly) that she had actually enjoyed herself, and Solok, for once, hadn't been unbearable. He had actually been fairly polite in comparison with the way he usually treated her, but some of his comments were so vague that she wasn't sure what to think.
My opinion of you aside, you are always punctual, if not early. Did that imply that his opinion of her was negative? What was his opinion of her? And why did she care in the first place? She had made it fairly clear that she found him and the company he kept to be distasteful.
And then there was the comment about the guys around campus and her being 'emotionally stirring'. What was that supposed to even mean? The best she could come up with was that he was once again lobbing a cheap insult at everyone who gave in to emotions, including the human males on campus. Whatever, she thought to herself. Once this semester was over, she would avoid him like the plague and be done with it. Unfortunately, they were in the same year, so she couldn't look forward to the day he would be off this planet, not for another three years or so.
And if Ben ever found out Solok was her Calculus tutor...
Roxanne and Ben had met in an insufferably boring History of the Federation class last year at the Academy. They sat in the back together and had whiled away the tedious hours by making jokes about the old professor teaching the course, and thanks to Sicily, managed to pass the course. Sicily and Ben had been dating off and on at the time, and now it was a permanent off, but they had parted amicably and still remained fairly good friends. She and Sicily had gotten close and then roomed together, and the latter was a steady rock when things got tough. And things did get tough, even before this Calculus class and the Solok fiasco.
Roxanne's father had fought in several wars and could be very ill-tempered. He expected nothing but the best from his son and daughter, and didn't hesitate to ground his children if they didn't come home with the highest marks they could make. Roxanne missed her best friend's sweet sixteen because of a B in Geometry her sophomore year in high school. And even after she had gone to the Academy, her father checked in often to hound her about her grades.
If he ever found out she had been previously failing Calculus...
Well, she was nineteen now, going on twenty. Her grades were none of his business, and besides, thanks to Solok, she could probably make an A. She rolled over, closed her eyes, and went back to sleep.
Solok awoke with a sharp but soft breath in through his nose, and he closed his eyes again. It was early morning, around 0500, and he settled himself down, remembering that he didn't have to rise for another hour or so. Weekend or not, he wasn't about to waste the day sleeping. He had work to do and tests to study for, and an engagement with Roxanne to plan...
At the thought of her, his dream came rushing back.
He and Roxanne had been sitting in that Italian restaurant, out on the patio underneath the lights like stars, but it was only the two of them. They were talking about her grades and discussing when to meet next, and suddenly the scene began to change. They were out on the beach, sitting across from each other in the wet sand, and the waves pounded over his lower body. It was invigorating, and it intrigued him when Roxanne leaned forward, her hands pressing down into the sand. She came closer, close enough for him to see the delicate creases in her plump pink lips...he tilted his head...
He closed his eyes tight against any further thought of the dream and slipped silently out of bed. He padded over to the corner he had set up for meditation purposes, then lit some candles and sat cross-legged on the floor.
That dream...it had been strangely enjoyable to see Roxanne again, but he vehemently denied the distinct pleasure he felt at the sight of her. No, they had not been about to kiss. No, the thought of that did not intrigue him beyond simple curiosity. No, he did not secretly wish that the dream had continued so he could have known what it might be like to kiss a human woman, the human way.
He continued meditating until the sunlight crept into the room and his roommate got up and left to exercise. He spent the day studying his notes, trying not to let his thoughts stray to the dream or to Friday. But he did know what he wanted to do with Roxanne. The beach would be cold this time of year, and the moisture disagreeable, and he would be in close proximity to a large body of water. Yet, he could not deny his curiosity. The view of the stars from the beach was considered quite aesthetically pleasing by humans, and he had told Roxanne that he wanted to study her emotional reaction to beauty.
He sighed almost imperceptibly and continued his studies.
The week passed as usual, but with only two Calculus sessions and two "social meetings". Friday came, and Roxanne sighed quietly to herself when Solok headed toward her in Calculus class. As was now his habit, he took the seat beside her and began taking things out of his bag, but then his cool gray eyes found hers, and he nodded in greeting.
"Wear something warm tonight, Ms. Hartman," he said quietly. "It will be cool."
"Are we going outdoors?"
"Is that agreeable?"
She scrolled down the PADD to a free space for today's notes. "Sounds fine."
He nodded, and the class began soon after. When it ended, he motioned for her to stay behind a moment.
"We will meet at the gate at 1900 hours, if that is convenient."
"Can we make it 2000? I have a paper for another class I need to finish."
He bowed his head. "That would be acceptable."
She stared at him a moment longer, confusion written all over her face, and then she turned and walked away. He followed slowly behind; the warm feeling returned when the sunlight streaming through the windows made her hair seem to glow. He sighed to himself and marched off to his next class.
Stuvak was there, reading over his textbook, and Solok took a seat beside him.
"What are your plans for this evening?" his companion asked quietly.
"I have an engagement at 2000 hours. I will be back before midnight."
Stuvak looked up from his notes and regarded his companion with curiosity. "Does this engagement involve that human girl you've been tutoring?"
"If you must know, it does. I am studying her."
His friend nodded. "She seemed very easy to provoke two weeks ago."
"True. I have noticed that approximately every 28 days, for about a week she is more volatile than usual..."
He paused, then shook his head and reviewed his notes for the class.
The beach was cool and breezy, and the waves crashed and sighed, filling the silence that hung between the Vulcan and the woman. Roxanne seemed agreeable to the sea environment; she had kicked off her shoes at the fire he had made, and although the water was cold, she kicked up the seafoam and dug her toes into the sand.
"Are you cold?" she asked when she saw how tightly he was holding his hands behind his back.
He raised an eyebrow. "Are you?"
She shivered. "Yeah, let's go back to the fire."
The driftwood burned bright, snapping and crackling. Roxanne sat on the blanket spread over the sand, and he sat cross-legged beside her.
"Chapter 40," he said quietly, glancing over his PADD. Roxanne did the same, and they began to review. She was acutely aware of the fact that he was sitting closer to her than usual, and she glanced discreetly toward him, noticing that the firelight was reflected in his pale gray eyes. He looked up and stared at her, his eyes glinting as she blushed and looked back down at her PADD.
He questioned her over the material, and he had to concede that she was catching on much faster these days. When he felt she was significantly prepared for Monday's review, he set aside the PADD and faced her in earnest.
"Perhaps it is very late to be asking this, but why do you find Calculus so difficult?"
"I'm not very good at math. Regular Calculus was fine, but this advanced stuff spins my head right 'round."
He frowned. "How can-"
"It's an expression." To his surprise, she wasn't snapping at him like she was often prone to. He frowned slightly, then glanced up at the night sky. The stars were bright and clear tonight as the beach he had chosen was a good distance from the lights of the city, yet one could still see the lights of the Bay twinkling in the water.
"Look up," he said softly, pointing to the stars. She obeyed, and her expression relaxed, but her eyes widened.
"How do you feel?" he asked softly after a while, his voice barely above a whisper.
She smiled wryly. "Small."
He smirked and watched her watch the stars. The moon was barely waxing, rising as a sliver in the east. She noticed the satellite slowly moving toward its zenith.
"Vulcan doesn't have a moon, does it?"
"No," he replied, gazing at the fire. "But our sister planet T'Khut is often mistaken for one."
They were silent for several minutes, and though Solok felt no discomfort in the silence, Roxanne felt an overwhelming urge to keep the conversation going.
"Tell me about your family," she said quietly, relieved to have found another topic of discussion. "Do you have any brothers or sisters?"
"I have a sister. She is completing her license to teach."
"To teach what?"
"Physics. My father also teaches it, at the Vulcan Science Academy."
"That's nice. I have a brother, and that's it."
"What does your brother do?"
"He enlisted in the service as a security officer."
Another period of silence passed, then Solok turned to her.
"So why aren't you in a romantic relationship?"
She looked at him incredulously. "Did you see my Calculus grade at the beginning of the semester?"
He quirked an eyebrow. "It has improved dramatically."
"Yes, and in order for that to happen, I had to put in countless hours with you and your friends. In essence, I didn't have time for a relationship. I'm thinking I still don't, not for a while anyway."
He tilted his head. "I see."
She frowned at him. "Why do you want to know? Don't tell me you want to study human romantic relationships too."
He paused. "I do."
She laughed. "Find somebody else. I'm chronically single and loving it."
"Don't you intend to get married and start a family? Every female of your species seems to have that goal."
"Isn't generalization a flaw in logic?"
He narrowed his eyes and smirked. "What would you know of logic?"
She laughed again. "More than you think, Solok."
"You are very emotional. I have rarely seen a human be as rational as a Vulcan."
Her giggles became mischievous, dark, low. "But you have seen us be rational."
His eyes narrowed, and the sound of her low giggles made that warmth in his chest return. "As I stated, that is rare."
She continued to giggle. "Is that irritation I hear?"
"You are mistaken."
"Maybe all this time with me has corrupted you." Roxanne was grinning and snickering, her hand in front of her mouth in a futile attempt to stop the noises of amusement.
His expression became somber. "That's very possible," he breathed, but she had turned her attention toward the fire and hadn't heard him. She thought he hadn't responded, and turned back to him.
"Solok? I was kidding, you know that." She almost sounded concerned.
He frowned. "A minute ago, you looked ready to explode into a tirade of emotionalism. Yet now you are concerned for me. I do not understand."
She shook her head. "I'm a human woman. Get used to it."
Another shorter period of silence fell. She breathed in deep. "You know I only tease you because I know it won't have any effect on you. I can't hurt you."
She grinned. "Back to normal then, hm?"
He paused. "You fear hurting me?"
"Hell no...should I?"
"Of course not. Where there is no emotion, there can be no offense or hurt."
"But don't you find emotions offensive?" she pressed.
"They are distasteful. Ms. Hartman, I have noticed you seem to take a perverse pleasure in taunting me."
"I could say the same. In fact, you've done little more than tease me since we met."
"I am simply studying you and your emotional reactions. There is still much to learn."
He stared at her a moment, his gray eyes twinkling. She gulped.
"Do you take pleasure in taunting me?" he murmured, tilting his head to one side.
She suddenly felt reckless and bold, and she grinned and leaned a little closer, her green eyes flashing.
"You bet your pointed ears."
His eyes grew dark, and when she noticed, she made to lean away and look in any other direction. But before she could move, warm fingers lifted her chin and hot lips sealed over hers.
She made a noise in protest, but he tugged her closer and wrapped an arm around her waist, and his fingers began exploring her jawline and neck. The first thought that came to her was that his lips might burn her; the second was that he tasted like a spice she couldn't identify, but that it was sweet and smoky. Finally, she came to her senses and realized that Solok of Vulcan was kissing her on a deserted beach...and he was really good at it. She squeezed her eyes shut, then opened them a sliver. He was still kissing her, gaining momentum now that she wasn't protesting anymore.
After several minutes, he pulled away and stared at her, the look in his eyes almost gleeful. The roar and sigh of the waves came crashing back to her, and her eyes grew wide. She scrambled to her feet before he could stop her, but he followed her as she quickly put distance between herself and the fire, between herself and him.
She stared out over the Bay, suddenly feeling very cold. She crossed her arms over her chest, then closed her eyes when she felt a warm chest press lightly to her back.
"I thought you enjoyed it," Solok murmured in her ear. She shivered.
"I didn't. You're a jerk," she insisted.
He smirked. "Perhaps. Insult me all you wish, but I know that brought you pleasure."
She spun around and faced him, her eyes blazing. "Why?"
"I do not understand."
"Why did you kiss me? I thought you hated me! Or is this another experiment?"
He was silent for a moment, his eyes somber. "It is, a highly personal one."
Her eyes narrowed. "I won't be used in another one of your games, Solok." She turned and stomped off, but he pursued her, catching her wrist and spinning her around to face him again.
"I would never use you like that, Roxanne," he said firmly, drawing her close once more. "I find you intriguing. I should be disgusted by your emotionalism, yet I am further fascinated each passing day. I came here to satisfy my curiosity."
"And are you satisfied?" Her breathing had quickened when he pressed her to him, but it settled now, and her voice was cold.
"No," he said quietly. "I am not satisfied. I want to know more."
He could feel her heartbeat pounding in her chest, and her eyes blew wide again; her pink lips parted and her face became flushed.
"How much more?" she squeaked. He smiled to himself, thinking she would not have asked if there was no hope for him to succeed.
"I do not know. I wish to find out, if you will assist me."
She closed her mouth and set her jaw, then relaxed and sighed heavily. "Some other time, maybe. I need time to think this through."
He nodded, but did not let her go. He tilted his head and kissed her before she could move, and after a reluctant pause, she relented to him, even gripping his shoulder for support. She gasped into his mouth when he picked her up and cradled her in his arms. He slowly walked back to the fire and deposited her on the blanket, finally pulling away and packing his things. She frowned at him.
He turned to her. "You said you needed time to think. I will respect that."
"And yet you turn around and kiss me, then sweep me off my feet, and...you are so confusing."
She turned away and gazed at the fire, and he sat down beside her. He watched her for a minute, then lightly traced her neck down her shoulder. He was rewarded with a shiver, but her jaw was tight again.
"Are you playing with me?" she hissed. He leaned forward and kissed her neck, and she gasped loudly.
"If you enjoy it so much, perhaps I should play with you more often," he murmured, and he could almost see her melting into him. She leaned her neck away, giving him access, and he took the opportunity, wrapping his arms around her and working at her neck with open-mouthed kisses. Her nails were digging into his thighs, and he twisted her around and captured her mouth with another kiss. He did not release her for a long time, not before the fire had been reduced to glowing embers and the moon was almost directly above them.
She pulled away with a gasp, but did nothing but gape at him until he spoke.
"We should return," he said softly, tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "There is still curfew to acknowledge, unless you wish to sleep here with me."
Her eyes narrowed. "Of course not."
Though her eyes were hard, her voice was not. He was pleased to hear that she was breathless and trying to hide it.
"Let's go," she croaked, jumping to her feet and busying herself with her things. Solok saw to the fire, which was little more than embers and ash now, then folded the blanket and led her back to the aircar.
"You will not mention this to anyone, or I swear something horrible will happen to you," she whispered when he landed in front of the gate. He smirked.
"Our secret is safe with me," he said softly, and she narrowed her eyes with a frown.
"What do you mean?"
"Our secret. Even though we have relentlessly teased and tormented each other for the past two months, we still find each other inexplicably attractive."
"I don't find you attractive!"
"Then why did you let me kiss you a second time? A third time? For as long as I did without forcing me to stop? Had you wanted, I would have ended it."
She blushed, and he raised an eyebrow. She frowned and looked down, then gaped at him again.
"You...you find me...you are so damn confusing."
He smirked. "I look forward to seeing you on Monday, Roxanne."
"Yeah, see you...and thanks, I guess."
She made to exit the car, but he took her wrist. She stopped and turned to him, and he leaned forward and gave her a brief, light kiss on the lips before pulling away and moving toward her ear.
"Thank you for tonight, Roxanne," he whispered to her.
"Why are you thanking me?" she breathed.
"Because I too derived immense pleasure from your human ritual of kissing. I found it incredibly gratifying, especially with you as my partner."
He leaned back and saw that she was blushing furiously, and she nodded and gave him a wan smile before leaving him alone again. He sighed to himself and watched her disappear into the darkness of campus, and he closed his eyes, certain he could still taste her on his lips.
Monday came, and the two of them settled into their seats, each one ignoring the other. The class passed slowly, each minute feeling like a lifetime, at least for Roxanne. She was acutely aware of him, of his hand moving over the PADD as he took notes, of his eyes flicking back and forth between his notes and the instructor, of his leg, which seemed inches from hers. She found him and the thoughts of last Friday night to be distracting, and she didn't hear a word of the review. The class finally let out, and she would have fled from the room if Solok had not called her name, asking her to stay.
"I know you did not take notes today," he said quietly, handing her his PADD. "Copy them and return them to me by this afternoon. The final is next Monday, and I will not see all our hard work go to waste over our...I would like to do a final review with you before the test, perhaps Friday."
"If we're doing a final review, then won't that take a while?"
"Yes. Can we meet in the evening?"
"Can we discuss this some other time? I need to get to class."
He stared at her. "Meet me this afternoon. The tree you like to sit under."
She nodded. "Thanks for the notes. I'll have them to you by then."
With that, she turned on her heel and walked out of the room as fast as she dared.
Roxanne copied the notes and ate lunch quickly, then set off toward the tree where she said she would meet Solok. She groaned to herself when she saw Sisko sitting underneath it already, reading a PADD. This wouldn't do; Sisko and Solok hated each other, and it wouldn't be good for her already high stress levels to have them meet again, with her in the middle. She had been thinking all morning and had come to the conclusion that, in a perverse kind of way, she really was attracted to Solok. She had to admit to herself that the Vulcan was rather handsome and was getting better at being civil. Just as she had told him, she liked teasing him, liked pushing his buttons as much as he enjoyed pushing hers. The expression 'arguing like an old married couple' came to mind during her second class, and the thought had made her heart stop. Well, at least their relationship was interesting.
She closed her eyes. The fat was in the fire now, but she walked up to Benjamin with a small smile.
"How's your day going?" she asked quietly, taking a seat beside him.
"Oh, you know, all right. How are classes?"
She sighed. "Better, actually. But I'm ready for this semester to be over."
"How's that Calculus class coming along?"
He laughed at her curtness. "Am I going to meet this guy or what? It's like you're hiding him from me."
She snorted derisively. "Think what you want, Ben. The fact is, you don't know him, and I don't see any reason for you to meet him."
"I'd like to get to know him. He takes up half your week now."
"Yeah, as payment for me taking up his time with tutoring."
He laughed harder. "Oh, boy, don't tell me he's teaching you all about the birds and the bees."
"I tutor her in Calculus. I do not understand why I would teach her about fowls and insects."
Roxanne twisted around and paled at the sight of Solok standing behind her, a calm yet engaged expression on his face. She turned back to Benjamin, whose shocked gaze was flicking between Roxanne and the Vulcan. He put two and two together and glared at Solok.
"What the hell are you doing, messing with her? I punched you once, don't think I'm afraid to do it again!"
"Did he force you to accept? Or have you gone completely around the bend?"
"Seriously, what is going on? You two hang out? How do you stand him, Roxanne?"
"Benjamin Lafayette Sisko!"
The human shut his mouth and glared at Roxanne.
"Yes, Solok is my tutor, and yes, I spend time with him as payment for what he's doing, but you don't need to be sticking your nose in my business! He's saving my grade and my presence at the Academy, so drop the subject or go away."
Sisko was fuming. "I hope you come to your senses. I'm going to go talk to Sicily. Maybe she can get you to see reason."
"Ben, you don't even know what's going on. He's my tutor, nothing more."
"He's a jerk, Roxanne, and I don't mind saying it to his face, because he knows it's true. Look at him!"
She rolled her eyes and glanced at Solok, who was watching the scene with amusement sparkling in his eyes. She turned to Sisko.
"And you never told me?" Sisko continued, his voice quieter now. "We could have found you someone better than him."
"I didn't tell you because I knew you'd overreact like this."
He shook his head. "Whatever. I'm going to go find Sicily."
"Don't bother, I already told her."
Sisko stared at her for a moment, then shook his head again and stomped off. Roxanne sighed, burying her face in her hands. Solok sat beside her and waited; it took him a moment to realize she was crying.
She let out a long breath. "I hate it when he gets mad like that." She hastily wiped her tears and turned to Solok with a wry smile. "You're getting quite a show today, aren't you? Him freaking out, me crying..."
She shook her head and sighed, drawing up her knees and resting her chin on them. "So, yeah, final review...my aunt has a vacation house not too far from here. We could meet there Friday night if you want."
"That would be acceptable, however..."
She turned to him. "What?"
"There is much to study, and much to review. I would like to observe you under...special conditions."
She frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Have you ever gotten drunk before, Roxanne?"
She closed her eyes. "I am not getting drunk for you, no matter what you've done."
"Then I refuse to tutor you."
Her eyes snapped open. "You said Friday that-"
"I am aware of what I said, and that has not changed. However, I was under the impression that you did not want to have that sort of relationship with me. So I have decided that we should return to our normal acquaintance. I am not asking you to get extremely intoxicated, simply...I believe the human term is 'tipsy'."
"Tipsy," she repeated incredulously. "You want me tipsy."
She shook her head and closed her eyes again, pinching the bridge of her nose. "You know, I said Friday that I needed time to think, not that..."
He raised an eyebrow. "Have you thought about my proposal?"
She sighed. "Ok...maybe I do find you attractive. But don't let it go to your head. It's just...I was telling the truth when I said I like to tease you. You're fun to tease."
He smirked. "I am pleased you were honest with me. But I still would like to study you under the influence of alcohol."
"Can Vulcans get drunk?"
He frowned slightly. "Not on alcohol."
She tilted her head. "Well, what do you get drunk on? Because the only way I'm getting drunk around you is if you get drunk too. That's my condition to this game you're playing."
He regarded her for a moment. The late autumn sun was shining in her hair, and her eyes were ablaze with life. He sighed slightly.
"As you wish."