Unfastening

This drabble is based on a picture prompt posted by linstock to the Spock/Uhura LiveJournal group. The image was an altered still of a young, handsome Leonard Nimoy dressed as a street thug in an episode of the late 1950s/early1960s TV show "Lock-Up". In the image, his hair hung over one eye, and he wore a black leather motorcycle jacket and T-shirt. Linstock altered the image, adding pointed Vulcan ears and changing his eyebrows.

This is a bit rough; no beta reader.

Early in their courtship, Spock invites Nyota to dinner while they are in a large city. Rating: a mild PG for flirtation and fantasies.


Nice Vulcan boys didn't wear black biker jackets like the one outlining Spock's lean, muscled torso. Not around fellow Starfleet personnel. Certainly not to a dinner date in a city neighborhood gentrifying itself for the umpteenth time, full of retro places with starched linen tablecloths and real menus on expensive paper instead of tablets with flashing, animated menus. Nyota's gaze moved over his flat stomach, long legs, flickered over his black boots balanced firmly on the sidewalk, then quickly back up to his face so that he wouldn't catch her looking.

Smooth black hair curved over one eye; she wondered if he'd made his hair look untidy on purpose, or if he'd become disheveled while running to meet her on time. Something fluttered in her stomach; she didn't have the words to describe him. Cool, yes. Hot, too.

The faint shadow of a smile teased her, then vanished as his face assumed its usual neutral expression, or tried to. Some warmth in his expression gave him away. He knew she'd admired him and he liked it. Spock's own gaze moved along Nyota's body, taking in her in. She'd thought herself ready for either casual dining or a not-too-grubby bar, choosing a neat, but not too conservative hairstyle, dangling earrings, and carefully applied makeup. Nyota's yellow dress had a modest but flattering portrait neckline, and slightly full skirt. She wore low-heeled shoes, a modified ballet style with straps which crossed at her ankle, then wound a little way up her calf before tying off in a bow.

Perhaps she looked too girlish and sweet to be out with a man, human or otherwise, who looked the way he did. Any but the most snobbish restaurants would probably look at her demure outfit and let her into their space – seating them in the back to keep this thuggish version of Spock out of the general public's view and maintain the proper tone, of course. She'd been taught never to spend her money in places that did such things, so she'd have to tell Spock she wanted to leave and -

Slow down! He hasn't even told me where we're going yet. Anyway, I have another problem – what if Spock thinks we don't suit each other because of how I look?

Forget about the restaurant; would Spock let her into hisspace? He wore the jacket like a piece of armor from one of the street armies common on other planets. Under its dark tapered shape, his body was all lean muscle. Dressed this way, Spock looked like he could kick somebody's ass, fix a blown tire at the side of the road, dance with somebody at a club, then coax her into the back seat of his customized vehicle (red, of course) and seduce her. Vulcans did not usually do such things, or so she'd assumed. However, the personal lives of Starfleet members could be unpredictable. Maybe she was wrong to accept his invitation for tonight. Too bad, because he was so incredibly appealing. Every one of her senses except touch flared to life while she took in this version of him, and her fingertips seemed to tingle from deprivation.

Spock didn't appear to find her a mismatch for him. He looked at her mouth, to which she'd applied a pretty, subtle shade of plum lipstick, as though he wanted to lean down and taste it. Nyota shivered involuntarily in the warmth of the late spring evening.

"Are you appropriately dressed for the evening weather? I will wait here if you would like to return to your apartment to retrieve warmer clothing." Well, his voice was the same, at least. Something about it was more relaxed, but the sound of it flowed deep and smooth in the familiar way she liked.

"No, I'm fine." Nyota touched the light cardigan she'd looped around the strap of her handbag. Handbags felt impractical sometimes – most of her dresses had pockets, and she liked utility belts and holsters with extra straps and pockets. Tonight she'd revelled in the rare opportunity to dress up. Perhaps Spock was playing a similar role in his silver-studded jacket, jeans, t-shirt, and boots.

"Very well." He turned his body in a way indicating they should walk together, and they set off through the steady stream of people enjoying the long-awaited sunny evening, one of the hottest the cool, damp region had had that year.

Without actually touching her, Spock walked beside her in a way clearly indicating that they were together. There was an unexpected looseness in his hips, at ease in his civilian clothing. A few people stared curiously at him. Starfleet had a high profile in this city but Vulcans remained a rarity among foreign visitors. Spock's unusual appearance confused a few observers; a security camera floating outside one shop swiveled and followed him for several steps longer than normal. One woman clutched her handbag closer, while other people sidled out of the way. Spock ignored them all, making easy conversation about the changing history and demographics of the neighborhood they were in, asking her thoughts on a recently published anthology they'd both read, a concert they'd attended. Nyota responded, using each response as an excuse to look at him.

That jacket suited him too well. She imagined playing with its snaps and zippers, fantasized about slowly pulling up the biggest zipper closure on the front while she straddled him. She'd whisper teasing comments into his pointed ear about sealing him up so that she could have a taste of him later.

They paused at a corner waiting for a light to change; they were passing from one pedestrian zone to another and it was bisected by a busy street. A large public transport vehicle took the corner a little too closely; Spock's hands seized Nyota's shoulder and waist, pulling her away from possible harm. Gasping, Nyota leaned into him for a moment before regaining her balance.

"Thank you, Mr. Spock!" She used formal address without thinking. "Close call there – I haven't been down this street in a while and I forgot how quickly the transports move."

He released her from his warm grip and looked down at her. "You are very welcome, but please feel free to address me informally now."

"Oh, it was just because you moved so efficiently – the way you always do when I see you in the Starfleet context. I need to pay better attention to my surroundings while off duty." Seeing that the street was now clear, they crossed it. "Speaking of informal...Spock, I'm curious...that's a nice jacket. What's it made from?"

"Both the jacket and boots are made of material fabricated from recycled or modified plant and wood fibers."

"Nice to have an option. Sustainable and lots of style." Nyota reached out her hand and stroked her fingertips down his sleeve, then nearly yanked her hand away. "Sorry, I didn't mean to touch you without asking."

Both corners of his mouth tipped upward. Spock suddenly looked both endearingly boyish and worldly, someone who had been around the block a few times and enjoyed the journey. "I appreciate your interest, and your touch does not trouble me."

Eyes widening, Nyota took a deep breath and looked away. Her pulse quickened. She realized that they had both slowed their pace. Other pedestrians flowed around them as though they were stones in a river.

Spock had touched her bare shoulder as he pulled her to safety; it was a quick touch, but perhaps long enough for a touch telepath to know that she imagined the fabric of his jeans gently rubbing the bare skin of her inner thighs while she sat atop him, her skirt pulled up to bare her legs to the night air. He'd know how she thought about spreading her palms over the jacket, feeling his body heat. He would know she wanted to slide her hands beneath his shirt, discovering where and how he was hairy, before she grabbed the biggest zipper on his jacket and zipped him up, tantalizing him with promises...after they'd kissed for a while. She'd hoped he wouldn't figure out her intense attraction to him until much later.

"Please relax, Nyota," Spock said. "Everything will be 'all right'."

His use of the imprecise colloquial term relaxed her. "Yes. It's okay. I'm glad you asked me to join you this evening." She changed the subject to spare herself. "So, why these civilian clothes instead of something...like those?" She nodded toward a man dressed in unremarkable beige shirt and trousers. "I've seen jackets like that in historical documentaries and narratives. I always liked the style, but I rarely see it worn on Earth or anywhere else."

"Like you, I first learned of the style through holos and image database collections. I first tried on a jacket in this style at age fifteen while visiting my mother's human relatives on Earth. Some were hoverbike enthusiasts, and they bought me a similar jacket to wear."

"A memorable gift. Did you ever wear it on Vulcan?"

"Only when alone in the cold of the high desert," he replied with a wry twist to his lip. "It did not suit the general climate and public opinion did not embrace variety in dress."

"Oh."

He shrugged. "It was no surprise. I am glad that I learned about the jacket, because I have never been without one since. The design and durability of such jackets is agreeable, particularly in Earth's shifting climates. Beyond that," he gave her an almost sly look, "I have found that the jacket imparts its wearer with a certain aesthetic cachet, at least within many human cultures."

"Mais oui," Nyota smiled back. "It does indeed. Do you still ride hoverbikes?"

"Upon occasion. In past years it was impractical to own one."

They approached a busy restaurant with a brick facade softened by tall potted plants and a sign, New Dawn, in swirling neon. Both slowed their pace to make their way through a bottleneck of pedestrians, and Nyota felt Spock's protective warmth at her back. "I have been told," he continued, his voice low but audible, "that this jacket makes me appear dangerous."

Damn right it does. Dangerous to somebody's virtue.
Nyota smiled at him. "Such responses to you in that jacket remind me of a translation of an aphorism by Baltasar Gracián, the seventeenth-century Spanish Jesuit scholar. 'Things do not pass for what they are, but for what they seem. Most things are judged by their jackets'. Las cosas no pasan por lo que son, sino por lo que parecen. La mayoría de las cosas que son juzgados por sus chaquetas."

Faint lines crinkled at the corners of his eyes and the elegant curve of his mouth turned upward. "Indeed. Most appropriately quoted, Nyota. I have much to learn from you."

Surprised by his response, Nyota parted her lips to say more, but they were at the restaurant entrance and the hostess, a pretty, full-figured woman with facial piercings and a striped fedora, was welcoming them and calling up Spock's reservation with a tap on the modified padd in her hand.

The restaurant Spock had chosen was an odd mixture of retro Earth culture and convenient tech: pool tables, half of an antique jukebox modified to play decades' worth of music for a small dance floor, potted plants, digital poster displays with images of famous and obscure musicians and writers, a loft area where people sat on the floor to dine by flickering candle light. A plump, elderly dog lounged by the bar, accepting fried food from doting customers. Nyota was sure the dog's presence was illegal, but she wasn't going to complain; it added to the convivial atmosphere. New Dawn was just the right place for an oddly matched couple like Nyota and Spock. Other patrons barely glanced at them. Spock's pointed ears hardly drew attention among the blend of body shapes, skin colors, and ages.

Complimenting Nyota on her dress, the hostess steered them past the noisy bar area and onto a quieter back patio overlooking one of the canals running through the modified land the city had reclaimed from the sea.

"Oh, this is so nice," Nyota said. Spock looked at her; somehow she knew he was gratified by her pleasure in his choice.

Their hostess seated them at a table with an excellent view and gave Nyota a conspiratorial wink before leaving them to enjoy the view and each other. This restaurant wasn't one of the more upscale places in the neighborhood, where live beings waited on every single table. Instead, they entered their drink and food orders into a padd set into the table and waited for the freshly made items to arrive via robo-server. It gave them more time to talk one-on-one, and Nyota wondered if Spock had chosen the restaurant for exactly that reason.

They traded more aphorisms and settled into relaxed conversation over drinks and food, Nyota laughing openly and Spock delighting her with facial expressions close to actual smiles. The setting sun's heat settled into the brick and stone of the patio; Nyota fanned herself with the small hand fan she'd tucked into her handbag, which now seemed very practical indeed. Spock pulled off his jacket, treating Nyota to a tantalizing show of his muscles flexing under the fitted cloth of his t-shirt. The shirt bore no logos but was a flattering blueish-charcoal color which contrasted nicely with his eyes and skin. It looked soft, as though he'd owned it for a long time and didn't feel a need to spend money on many new clothes. The worn t-shirt fabric would feel nice to cuddle up to, or sleep in. As she watched him, her hands trembled a little and she nearly dropped her glass.

What's wrong with me? I won't be pre-menstrual for another week, but right now my hormones are out of control! I can't rush into things.

Almost ashamed to admit it to herself, Nyota realized that she didwant to rush into things, to kiss him and to touch and enjoy his body and have him enjoy hers. But she also wanted to take the slow path with him. Along with physical contact, she wanted to enjoy a long evening of conversation and learning about each other and unplanned, unstructured wanderings through the playful night city. She wanted shy and sweet and hot and wicked and slow and gentle all at once.

Emotions surged through her, and she stole a glance at Spock as he turned to watch a small boat glide through the canal. As though he felt her eyes on him, he turned and looked back at her just as intently. Music throbbed from inside the restaurant, sounding oddly far away. All Nyota could hear now was her own heart pounding. Quiet fell between the two of them, broken by the sounds of water lapping along the reinforced concrete sides of the canal and the low buzz of other people conversing around them.

A wave of dark hair fell over one of Spock's eyes. Even though Nyota saw him nearly every day in a professional context, she hadn't realized it had grown so long. The sun had slipped below the horizon, and the soft lights around the patio cast the elegant planes of his face into mysterious areas of shadow. Suddenly it felt very important to see all of him. Nyota reached forward to brush his hair away from his face and reveal him to herself .

Spock's warm fingers grasped her wrist, and Nyota froze, feeling her face grow hot with shame.

"Please forgive me, I -"

"No. Sanoi(please)." Spock closed his eyes, his soft, dark lashes curving over his cheekbones, and turned his face. He pressed a lingering kiss into her palm, and Nyota felt her common sense and resistance melt away, replaced by happiness and arousal.

His voice pitched a little lower, deeper. "Dom - ki'sarlah (So, it has come). You know that...something...will happen between us." For once he didn't mention probabilities or could or may. He sounded boldly certain. Anyone else would have made her angry for presuming that she'd comply.

"Yes." Nyota didn't deny it. Even a being who wasn't a touch telepath would know.

"Do you want it?" Spock's expression changed only slightly but Nyota realized he was responding emotionally to her. Tension and...hope...desire...yearning? It excited her. It was just as well they weren't at some fancy place with a tablecloth, because their combined body heat might have set the thing aflame.

"I do, I'm just not sure...when. Or how." She thought of her small apartment with its thin walls and inquisitive neighbors. "But yes, I do."

"Understood." Gently, Spock turned Nyota's hand over and rubbed one cheekbone against her skin. "It is not truly desirable to control all things, is it? Yet I insist that all intimacy between us involve consensus."

He turned her hand over again and lowered his head, pressing a kiss to the soft skin of her wrist. "The evening weather is likely to remain at temperatures above twenty degrees Celsius for approximately three more hours. It is an agreeable evening if you would like to remain outdoors. I have access to a hoverbike, if you want to...'go for a ride'."

This time he smiled for real. So did she.


The Art of Worldly Wisdom (Oráculo manual y arte de prudencia), a collection of aphorisms written by Baltasar Gracián (1601-1658), is available online in the original Spanish and in various English translations.

I really did go to a cafe called New Dawnin San Francisco many years ago, although I've made it much larger and slightly less charmingly eclectic here. The hostess wearing the fedora works in a cafe I currently frequent in a different city, and she understands people well enough that I suspect she'd quickly pick up on what is happening between a newly forming couple such as Nyota Uhura and Spock.

I once saw a pair of pampered Labrador Retrievers being fed french fries in a former speakeasy in Manhattan. Both appeared well cared for and adored by patrons.