Author's Notes: A huge thanks to all who have reviewed/followed/favorited so far. You all make my day :) I've taken a couple of creative liberties—Spock's family name, for example, is now S'chn T'gai, and Surak has a new addition to his teachings, to name a couple. Translations are at the bottom of the page, but you shouldn't need them.
"My thoughts are free to go anywhere..."
He doesn't dream; Vulcans, as a general rule, do not dream.
He has never dreamt before, and yet, he finds his unconscious plagued more and more frequently by images of her.
He wakes abruptly in the middle of the night, bare torso covered in a sheen of moisture. His breathing is erratic, his pulse elevated, and as he sits up in bed, shoving the tangled sheets from his legs, he attempts to regulate it. He orders the lights on dim, the temperature of his apartment to lower three degrees, and rests his sweaty forehead against the palms of his hands. He is confused, the sensation dizzying, and he tries in vain to pull what tattered shards of his mental control are left closer around him. His brain works quickly—though slowed by his unusual state of cognitive disarray—to asses his condition. His respiratory and cardiac functions are elevated by three point five and four point seven percents, respectively, and he is in a nearly painful state of arousal. He feels ill, but there is no logical reason for the symptoms; he has eaten sufficiently, exercised normally, and followed his regular patterns of circadian rhythm.
Shaking slightly, he staggers over to the alcove of his bedroom where his firepot sits, surrounded by cushions, and drops unceremoniously to the floor. With trembling hands, he lights the flame, and forces his eyes to focus on it, feeling his body fall away as he pulls his mind to the forefront of his concentration. As always, he feels the dual parts of his cognitive functioning—the por'sen and the olozhika, the emotion and the logic. His logical thoughts are organized and compartmentalized into tidy schemas, a post office of sorts, under which the roaring waters of his emotion thrash against carefully constructed barriers—barriers which, tonight, seem disturbingly weak. He grits his teeth, and allows himself to sink, carefully, into the frothy depths of his primal mind, Surak's teaching echoing through his ears—t'san t'sat wuh'wak lu'ken-tor, emotional control is only achieved when the emotion is understood. He allows himself to feel.
There is the obvious, lust, crashing down in waves of nearly debilitating strength. It is distracting and all-consuming, but he forces himself through it. Beneath the lust is an undercurrent of domination, a sharp thrill of pleasure, the gentle lull of affection.
He smells jasmine on the air.
His eyes snap open and his breath is a ragged gasp and suddenly he understands.
Her image flashes in his mind in perfect minute detail, and he feels himself calm. There is a reason for his unrest; he is not descending into the depths of madness.
His eyelids flutter closed once more, and he breathes deeply of a scent that is not physically present. He focuses on the curve of her throat, the hollows of her cheeks, the gentle swirl of her raspberry lips curling up around symmetrical teeth. His breathing evens out. Slowly, he feels his blood begin to return to its normal patterns of circulation.
He is attracted to her, that much is clear; she captivates him, entrances him with a mellifluous voice and sparkling eyes and an untamable spirit.
He accepts this, lets himself indulge in the warmth she casts over his being. It is a logical reaction to a woman in possession of impressive intellect and unassuming beauty.
He breathes in, and out. His hands come up of their own accord to rest under his chin. The muscles in his body melt away, and he lets himself fall into meditation.
In, and out.
In, and out.
Attraction he can manage. He immerses himself in the emotion, soaks it up into his arms and legs and fingers and toes, wades deeply into the currents of his mind, and then releases it.
His mental barriers begin instantly knitting back together.
The next two weeks passed by at an alarming rate. This realization reminded Spock of an old human adage to which his mother had referenced quite often in his childhood: time flies when you're having fun.
He supposed the sentiment was adequate. As it turned out, he was much better suited to instructing than he had ever believed himself to be, and the students proved rewarding, if not occasionally challenging, in their academic performance and vigor. More than once, he had found himself in the language lab, well into the early hours of the morning, researching material with which he was unfamiliar in order to better facilitate an answer for a student's posed query. Many other instructors, as well, had expressed their admiration for his dedication; apparently, such extra-curricular research was considered "above and beyond"the call of duty.
Though, how anyone could perceive the search for knowledge above and beyond their duty as an instructor, was, indeed, above and beyond Spock's particularly high levels of comprehension.
He was in the middle of a search for additional review material—he had moved much quicker through the materials left by Captain Becker than he had originally anticipated—when a knock interrupted him. The gesture was most unnecessary, since his office door was open as was customary during his published office hours, and he intended to inform his guest accordingly. Lifting his eyes from the screen of his personal computer, he was surprised, however, to see Captain Pike leaning against the door frame, arms crossed over his chest and bearing his usual grin.
"You look like you've made yourself quite at home, Mr. Spock," Pike observed.
Spock stood, nodding to his superior officer. "Captain."
Pike waved a hand dismissively at the formality, and crossed the room to drop rather ungracefully into the chair opposite Spock. "As you were, Spock."
"I have found that I am quite comfortable in such a setting," Spock said in response to the Captain's previous statement. He returned to his chair, but minimized the window on his computer so as to give Pike his full attention. "It has been a pleasant revelation, I must admit."
Pike cast a knowing smile in his direction. "Good. I'm glad you're enjoying yourself. Though, I must say, it looks a little bare in here."
Spock followed the captain's glance around the—thankfully, finally—bare walls and over the very few personal items Spock kept on display: a small bookshelf in the corner held various PADDs, which he referenced regularly; atop the bookshelf, in a direct line with the light pouring in through the window, sat the small potted rosebush that his mother had sent for his last birthday; directly above his head, a framed diploma declared S'chn T'gai Spock as an honored graduate of Starfleet Academy.
"I assure you, it is much more agreeable than the previous alternative," Spock commented mildly. Pike chuckled.
"I take it the classes are going well?"
Spock considered his question. As was human custom, it was openly phrased and unquantifiable. "I believe their progress to be satisfactory," he finally decided.
Pike nodded, appeased. "Good. Then you should have no problem with this." He set a PADD, which had so far gone unnoticed by Spock, on the desk between them.
He looked questioningly at the captain as he reached to pick up the device.
"Applications, for the position of Advanced Phonology Aide," he clarified.
"Captain, I am not aware that any such position exists."
Pike smirked. "It does now."
Spock's eyebrow rose. "Please explain."
"Captain Becker has elected medical retirement," Pike expanded, crossing one leg over the other and settling back into his chair. "This, along with the current expansion planned for the communications department, has prompted the Academy to consider the option of student aide positions—two for the xenolenguistics program. One for morphology, the other, phonology. They held a period of open application, and this is what they came up with." He gestured to the PADD. "Four applicants, all extremely well qualified. Cole wants you to interview them, and then submit your selection."
Spock frowned, turning over this new information. "This is most illogical, Captain. As I am merely a temporary substitute, my opinion on the matter should not be regarded."
Captain Pike mirrored Spock's raised eyebrow. "You will, of course, make the most logical selection, won't you Mr. Spock?"
Spock blinked, affronted. To make anything but the most logical selection would be...illogical. He thought this would have been apparent, even to a human. "Of course, given the set perimeters, Sir."
Pike nodded once, satisfied. "Good. Then hop to it, Lieutenant Commander. The board will trust any selection you make." He rapped his knuckles twice on the surface of Spock's desk as he stood. "I've got to run—I have a progress report with Engineering on the status of the Providence. Get that submission in as soon as you can."
As quickly and unexpectedly as he had arrived, Captain Pike was gone.
Spock sat back in his chair—a modest, practical one with which he had replaced Captain Becker's frivolous affair of leather and padded upholstery—and considered his new assignment. He was aware of the Academy's plans to expand the communications department. In the school's ninety-four years of existence, it had risen to a level of importance similar to that of engineering. It was an ever growing field, especially xenolinguistics. Upon reflection, hiring student aides did appear to be a logical action.
He absently swiped at the screen of the PADD in his hands, unlocking it. The one folder on its screen was entitled 'Phonology Aide Applications'. He selected it, and waited for the information to load.
He supposed he shouldn't have been surprised to see Nyota Uhura's name as the first on the list.
Language Lab L125 was silent, save the humming of fifty seven computers and the occasional rustle of a fidgeting body. Spock strolled between the rows of consoles, monitoring as his students completed what would be their last exam before the semester final. His attention was diverted, however, at the appearance of a slender, caramel arm elevated in question. He crossed over to Cadet Uhura's console, and leant closer than was his habit in order to more easily facilitate conversation without disrupting the rest of the class.
"The simulation I'm running is supposed to be Ferengi." Her voice was little more than a breath, and he suppressed a shiver as it caressed the side of his face. "But this wave pattern isn't typical. I'm wondering if somehow it was categorized incorrectly in the system."
Wordlessly, he took her earpiece—carefully avoiding her fingers—and adjusted it to his own ear. She cued the simulation, and he tilted his head, straining to hear the patterns of speech through the manufactured static. He could feel the cadet's gaze trailing over his face, searching for some kind of facial affirmation; he kept his eyes trained carefully on the computer's screen, not trusting himself in such close proximity.
He replayed the simulation three times before reaching an inconclusive decision. "The simulation is programmed for Ferengi," he agreed softly, "and I find no indication otherwise. However, if you are available after class, I will gladly run the recording through a diagnostic."
She nodded, apparently satisfied, and he returned her earpiece. As he straightened to walk away, he felt slightly dizzy. He pulled in a deep breath, and anchored his hands behind his back, a physical manifestation of his mental stabilization. He had spent the last ten days religiously meditating on the increasing strength of his attraction to Cadet Uhura, and though it seemed he was making progress, the progress was small. A tendril of frustration brushed against the back of his conscious mind, and he pushed it down forcefully; it was illogical to berate one's advancement, no matter the degree, when effort was being put forth.
One by one, the cadets finished their exams, submitted them electronically, and rose quietly to leave. He noticed that Cadet Uhura was one of the first to finish, though she remained seated for a further twenty six minutes until the lab had emptied.
"If you would eject your simulation, and bring it to me please, Cadet," Spock instructed, sitting down behind the Linguistic Analyzer. Though he had never used it before, the interface seemed simple enough to navigate. He inserted the cadet's simulation card into the slot provided, and began following the onscreen instructions.
"I'm sorry for keeping you, Lieutenant Commander," she apologized from behind him as he began the analysis on the sample.
"Your apology is unnecessary," he muttered, distracted. A number of command buttons and toggle keys had appeared on the screen; he frowned, unsure of how to proceed.
"I selected Ferengi because I knew it was one of my weaker spots," she continued, reaching around him to key in the correct commands. He leant back, giving way to her obvious expertise with the machine. "But even though I'm not entirely confident with it, I knew that something was off."
She stretched even farther around him, leaning wide over the console. The side of her breast brushed against his shoulder, and he froze, sucking in a breath. She either heard his sharp inhale or felt him tense—or perhaps, the contact caused her discomfort, as well—because in the next second, she had shifted away, murmuring an absent apology. His mouth went dry, the place on his shoulder where she had touched, uncomfortably warm; his pulse beat out a rapid staccato against his ribs, and he fought to control it.
A chime from the computer, signaling the end of the analysis, snapped him back to attention.
Cadet Uhura straightened up, a satisfied smile spreading across her face. "Gaimon," she declared. "The southwestern dialect."
He was impressed, though it would've registered better had she been standing an additional eighteen to twenty three centimeters away. He pulled in an unsteady breath, and searched for something—anything—to diffuse the smothering tension he felt.
"It seems you're making a habit of correcting my mistakes, Cadet." The words were out of his mouth before he had a chance to stop them.
In the beat of surprised silence that followed, some part of him realized that this was the second time his voice had taken on a lower, more visceral tone in her presence—curious.
She grinned, letting out a breath of laughter. "A fortunate, though unintentional, occurrence."
He made the mistake of glancing up at her. She was less than fifteen centimeters away, even standing straight, and her eyes were a warm, glowing pool of chocolate, as intoxicating as the source of the metaphor itself. The smile froze on her face, and gradually began to loose its intensity, in miniscule increments; though her outward facade appeared perfectly calm, he heard her heart rate increase.
He swallowed, a strange physical reaction. It proved enough of a distraction to break the hypnosis. He tore his gaze away from hers and back down to the computer console. He could feel the flush on the tips of his ears, high in his cheekbones, and wondered if she could see the greenish cast to his skin, if it made him seem even more alien to her.
He was being ridiculous. He needed to regain control of himself, and quickly.
"Would you be available to come by my office tomorrow afternoon at sixteen hundred hours?" His voice was hoarse; he swallowed again.
Cadet Uhura blinked, three times in quick succession. She took a step back, and cleared her throat. "Sure. Yes. Absolutely." She peered at him curiously, though, an expression he identified as curiosity on her face.
"Rear Admiral Cole has requested that I conduct the interview process of the applicants for the position of Advanced Phonology Aide," he clarified, standing. His legs were a little shaky, but he pulled in a breath and tugged on the hem of his coat, and his posture straightened automatically.
Understanding lit her eyes, and though he detected a faint blush in her cheeks, she did not lower her gaze. "Of course. Thank you, sir."
Snapping a quick salute, she turned on one heel and was across the room and out the door in less than five seconds. He listened to her footsteps descend the stairs, and allowed himself a small, barely audible sigh.
It appeared he was, as the saying went, back to the drawing board.
Spock returned to his quarters, in need of meditation, but tranquility eluded him. Finally resigning himself to the fact that he would be neither sleeping nor meditating, he rose and began searching his apartment for something to occupy his mind.
He was waist deep in a power generator when his mother's number flashed on his comm unit. Frowning—it was his mother's custom to call every Sunday evening at nineteen hundred hours; it was four hundred hours on a Tuesday morning—he extracted himself from the fried wires of the generator to open a connection.
"Did I wake you?"
The first words out of his mother's mouth brought a wry smile to his lips. As he was clad in regulation coveralls, grease peppering his hands and face, it should've been obvious that he had not been woken by her call. Observation and deductive reasoning, however, had never been Amanda Grayson's strengths.
"No, Mother," he answered, allowing amusement to color his tone. He could see her on the viewscreen, seated on the eastern balcony of his home in Shi'Khar. Over her left shoulder, a rosebush was in full bloom, and he could very faintly see the outline of the morning sun peeking over her right. The sight shot a pang of homesickness through his chest.
"Why are you not still in bed?" He frowned; his mother was by no stretch of the imagination an early riser.
Her wrist flicked dismissively on its way up to brush a wayward curl from her eyes. "Your father had to leave early for a meeting at the Embassy. I couldn't get back to sleep."
She took a long draw of something from a mug—tea, more than likely, though she preferred coffee. She settled back into her chaise and sighed a little, content. Seeing her in such a manner—clad in a sheer ivory nightdress, a heavy embroidered shawl wrapped tightly round her shoulders, ebony curls free of their restrictive headscarf—it struck him how young she appeared, so childlike in her doe eyes and slender limbs and delicate features, despite her nearly fifty years. The homesickness was suddenly painful.
"Was there a purpose for your early morning wake up call, or did you merely wish to 'shoot the breeze'?" he teased, trying in vain to diffuse the knot in his chest with humor. She didn't take the bait as he'd hoped she would, though, wrinkling her nose and poking out her tongue. Instead, she smiled gently and raised a hand to stroke the surface of her PADD, as if touching his simulated image would somehow soothe the both of them. Illogically, it seemed to work.
"There is never an inappropriate time for a mother to call and check in on her son."
He inclined his head in acquiescence.
"There is also," she continued, the beginnings of a good-natured glare crinkling the edges of her eyes, "never an inappropriate time for said son to come visit his poor, lonely mother."
He cocked an eyebrow, and she mirrored the gesture.
"In other words, when are you coming to see me?"
"You are aware that the academic year ends in eight days." Though he didn't phrase it like a question, she nodded in confirmation. "In nine days, I will be at your disposal."
Her face lit up, erupting into a glow so luminous, it rivaled the sunrise behind her. A warmth spread through his stomach at the sight.
"I'll book the first shuttle out of San Francisco Thursday morning."
Her dark eyes sparkled, and it melted his tension, if only for a few moments. "As you wish, Mother."
She narrowed her gaze at him, and chided, "Don't you pretend that you aren't just as excited to see me as I am to see you. You don't fool me, Spok-ham."
He found, as he often did when dealing with his mother, that he could not deny her.
He fell into bed three quarters of an hour later, more relaxed than he had been in weeks, and when he slept, he dreamt of smooth brown hands and black curls and jasmine, and a voice that whispered his name, over and over.
"...but it's surprising how often they head in your direction."
t'san t'sat wuh'wak lu'ken-tor—loosely translates to "emotional control is only achieved when the emotion is understood"
Spok-ham—a pet name, diminutive of "Spock"; "little Spock"