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She was the first student to approach him that semester. She was not timid or shy, not intimidated by his reputation or his austere appearance, as so many other students had been. She strode confidently to the lectern as the remainder of the class flowed out the doors of the lecture hall, her long ponytail swishing back and forth. He was most surprised when she raised her hand in the ta'al, and spoke to him with deference, using his full title, rather than "professor" or another honorific. Far from disputing a grade, she had requested clarification on her mistakes, which had been far fewer than any of her fellows. She listened intently as he explained the differences of inflection between military Andorian and common Andorian, He nodded in approval as she pronounced the words she had confused, watching as her eyes lit up. She thanked him, and walked away. A small voice in the back of his mind said, "Watch this one."

Chapter 1- Rain

Spock entered the bar just as the first drops of rain spattered against the thirsty cement, sizzling almost imperceptibly as the moisture leached the heat from the radiating pavement. The inside of the big club was lit well enough that he located his coworkers easily, and he carefully made his way through the crowd of both faculty and students, doing his best to minimize contact with the people around him. He already regretted agreeing to join the communications department on their pre-semester outing, one he had managed to avoid for the last three years.

They all greeted him excitedly. McCreery had already indulged to the point of intoxication, though he was notoriously of a low tolerance. Johnson pulled out a chair for Spock, motioning him to sit. "Glad you could make it this year! It's about damn time!"

Spock lifted an eyebrow, taking the seat with a nod of thanks. "Pardon my tardiness, there was a problem with a scanner in my lab that required my attention."

His apology was waved off, and Atira Leas waved at a waitress to get her attention. "Can you get a drink for Commander Spock here? Anything he wants, as long as it has alcohol in it," she said over the music.

"What can I get for you, sir?" the waitress asked. Seeing his ill-concealed discomfort, she filled in for him, "Cardassian sunrise it is."

Spock looked incredulously at his drink when the waitress swooped back by with it. He tasted it, and it was acceptable. He listened to the conversation of his five colleagues with mild interest, too uncomfortable surrounded by so many people to devote his full attention. He commented when he judged appropriate, but was only partially engaged, planning for his opportunity to escape.

Then he saw her. At first he did not recognize the cadet, for he had only seen her in uniform, with her black hair pulled tightly back in a ponytail. Now, she wore it down, and it curled gently around her shoulders, floating as she spun on the dance floor. She wore a black dress that accented her figure without suffocating her, but left a bit to the imagination. She was laughing at the cadet who spun her again, bright eyes flashing. He attempted to reconcile the image of a free spirit before him with the straight-laced rising star of the academy. It was a difficult thing to accomplish, and he decided it would not be done unless he heard her speak.

"Spock, did you hear me?"

His attention was drawn back to the table, and he quickly apologized. "What was your question, Lieutenant?"

Selyer grinned in disbelief. "I don't think I have ever seen you distracted, Spock. I asked, what do you think of this year's crop of recruits? Have you looked them over yet?"

Spock shook his head. "Indeed, I have not, though I trust that they are adequate and will do as well as previous classes have."

"Always the logical one, trusting the system," Johnson commented. "Did you ever think that maybe the recruiters stop caring at some point?"

"Negative, Lieutenant Johnson. I have observed that no matter the individual components of each class, they average out to approximately the same level of performance, with a few notable exceptions, such as the second-year recruits. They seem to have among them unusual promise."

"High praise from the Vulcan!" shouted McCreery, lifting his beer in a sloshy toast. He nearly flipped his chair backward, but Johnson and Akinna saved him from tipping.

"Ok, you dirty Irishman, time to take you home," Akinna said. She cashed out both tabs and bade everyone farewell, lifting her husband's arm around her shoulders and supporting him gallantly. Salyer accompanied them out, wishing all a good night.

Leas and Spock were left alone, and Spock suddenly found himself in an uncomfortable situation. He knew Lt. Leas was attracted to him, but he had informed her he felt no such thing in return. She had continued to pursue him, however, and this was an inopportune moment. Leas leaned in towards him. "Don't worry, I won't bite."

"It would be illogical for me to assume that you would indeed bite me," Spock replied.

"Then dance with me, Spock, just one dance," she pleaded, batting her eyes at him. "It won't hurt a thing. One dance and I'll leave you alone."

Spock sighed quietly, then shook his head. "I apologize, Atira. I am afraid it would hurt something. To dance with you would mean prolonged contact, and I am certain that would be inadvisable for us to maintain a professional relationship. I would be unable to maintain my mental walls for that long uninterrupted, and to let those down would mean intrusion upon your mind. This would be in violation of more than one regulation."

Atira gazed blankly at him, showing only minor understanding. It was enough, though, to prevent her further pursuance. "Would you call me a transport?" She asked.

Spock saw that she made it safely to the door, in time to see the downpour begin. He advised the bartender of the weather conditions, and the bartender made an announcement advising people to find their way home before floods became problematic. As Spock exited the club, he saw her again, shielding herself with her short jacket. She was alone now, and appeared agitated over the rain. Spock did the only logical thing he could think to do.

"Cadet Uhura," he called. She looked up at him, meeting his eyes, and recognition, followed by embarrassment, flashed across her face.

"Commander Spock," she acknowledged. "I apologize, I can't really stand at attention."

"There is no need, I merely wanted to inquire as to your travel plans. You are alone, are you not?" he asked, moving close enough to shield her with his umbrella. He could now reconcile the dancer in the club with the eager student he was accustomed to see.

"Yes, sir. No room on the last transport to campus. It looks like I'm walking," Uhura said, smiling as best she could. She felt the rain soaking her to the bones, and was uncomfortably aware of her appearance. How did she look to the professor she admired?

"I will accompany you back to campus, then, cadet. There is little purpose in you walking back without proper protection from the elements and anything else that may be out tonight."

Uhura gazed up at him in shock, attempting to read the Vulcan professor's face for any sign of jest or scorn. "I won't refuse you, sir. I'm more of a wet rat than a woman right now."

"I do not understand your statement. You have remained the same species, though you have become quite waterlogged. Come, we will walk back to the campus now." Spock motioned for Uhura to walk with him, under the cover of his umbrella. They remained silent, not able to hear one another well over the torrential downpour.

Uhura had little trouble keeping up with Spock's quick pace. Her own quick, short steps counted nearly double to his own. Her high heels were not easy to walk in, but she made it look easy, even in the rain. She had dressed to the nines tonight, not expecting the weather's tempestuous fit. Folly had played its part in her lack of preparedness, but it had turned out better than she had thought it would. Who would have imagined her favorite professor would be walking her home? Nyota had never considered him in a social setting. It was unusual, to say the least. He was intriguing outside of his Starfleet fatigues, though professional to a fault. She had never heard of him embracing any sort of social scene. In fact, he was notoriously asocial.

Their communicators buzzed at the same time. The rain's simple pattering had dulled Nyota's senses, and the interruption was unexpected. She jumped, and then abashedly clasped her communicator at her hip. She flipped it open and read the transcription. By this time, they had reached the edge of the campus. "They've closed the bridge leading to cadet quarters," she said, as Spock was reading his own communicator.

"I see. It appears that you will need other lodgings. The only logical course of action would be to offer my own lodgings. You will stay with me tonight, Cadet Uhura." Of course it was only logical course. There were no other options for her, so it only made sense to provide her a place to stay. Surely there was no explanation needed for his sudden courtesy. Certainly it was out of the ordinary for him to fraternize with students, but, just this once…

She seemed surprised by his offer, but nodded all the same. "Thank you, sir. As soon as the flooding stops, I will return to my quarters."

Spock did not admit to himself that there was another way to the cadet quarters. It was impractical for Cadet Uhura to walk an additional mile without an umbrella or any other protection from the rain. "Very good, cadet. My quarters are this way," he said, motioning up the gently sloping hill towards the staff quarters. Several lights still glistened in the windows of the stately apartment building. Even with the rain, it glistened faintly, like a beacon in the dark.

Nyota was grateful to enter into the manufactured warmth of the apartment building. She looked around as Spock closed his umbrella, shaking the rain from it. It was smaller than the cadet quarters, but with a much more permanent feel. Of course, that made sense. Students moved through the dormitory every four years, but the professors were mostly permanent fixtures, unless given a post on a starship. It had a homey feel to it, with a small fire burning in a hearth to the left of the main entrance, surrounded by comfortable couches and chairs, which stood empty at this late hour. They seemed more worn than those in the student quarters, as though more people paused to converse with one another, taking a moment from their busy day to reconnect with the life that pulsed around them. Spock showed Nyota to the lift, and they rose to the top floor of the building wordlessly.

Spock's apartment was sparsely furnished, with only standard-issue furniture and utilities. Somehow, Nyota was still surprised, though she did not know what she had expected. It was a simple, one-bedroom apartment, with a spacious kitchen and living area, complete with futon, chair, and desk. It was comfortable enough, clean, neat…very much Commander Spock. The space fit his personality, at least, what she knew of his personality. Nyota suddenly felt like she was invading a secret space.

"You may have my bedroom for the night," Spock said, motioning to the closed door at the far corner of the living room. "I will rest out here."

"Commander, I can't take your bed. You would sleep much better in it than I will, and I don't mind the couch," Nyota said quickly, feeling more uncomfortable. Spock shook his head once. "I do not need as much rest as a human. I do not always require true sleep, but rather, meditation. I assure you that you will not interfere with my sleep patterns."

Nyota let out a soft breath, hoping it did not seem like too much of a sigh of relief. She hated sleeping on futons. "If you insist. Um, you wouldn't happen…to have a spare toothbrush, would you, sir?"

She thought for a moment she saw the slightest upturn of his lips. "I do, and most likely anything else you require." He showed her the bathroom, pulled out a new toothbrush, and left her alone. She brushed her teeth aggressively, attempting to release the tension that had drawn her shoulders up toward her ears, and that held her jaw tight. Nyota was nervous, uncomfortable with the situation. She still felt as though she was intruding on a very private thing. Looking at herself critically in the mirror, she decided to wash away her makeup, and attempt to untangle her wet hair. Better to do so now than to wake up a mess the next day.

Spock had changed into sweats while Nyota had been in the bathroom. As she came out, she saw him sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the futon. He had a fire pot placed in front of him, and the scented smoke swirled in lazy coils toward the ceiling. It smelled magical and exotic to Nyota, like rich cooking spices mixed with a rich earthiness. She inhaled deeply, and felt some of the tension leave her body. Spock looked toward her, and nodded.

"Deltan incense," he stated simply. "I laid out some spare sleeping clothes for you in my bedroom. I assumed you did not want to sleep in your current attire. You are welcome to join me again once you have changed, if you wish, or go to sleep."

Nyota nodded, smiling at the out-of-character invitation, and walked into the bedroom. It looked a lot like the rest of the apartment, with one exception. It was bare of all ornamentation save one framed picture sitting on his bedside table. Nyota closed the door, and walked over to pick it up and examine it. The woman standing next to Spock was very pretty, once beautiful had age not taken its toll on her. She was enough years his senior for Nyota to assume the woman was his mother. She was dressed in traditional Vulcan garb, a long, heavy tunic and a scarf over her brown hair, and she was smiling. She was beaming with pride and joy, and her arm was around Spock's waist. She was human, not Vulcan. It was as clear as day on her face, even though her ears were hidden. Spock appeared very reluctant to be in the photo, his own hands clasped stoically before him, an odd look in his eyes. This was before his Commander title, probably before Starfleet. He too was dressed in Vulcan clothes, and they were standing in front of a low-slung house the color of a desert sunset. Nyota caught herself wondering what life on Vulcan had been like, then realized Spock was waiting on her out in the living room.

She turned and saw the clothes laid neatly on the bed. It was another set of sweats and a soft t-shirt. Nyota sighed in relief as she unclasped the fastenings on her dress, finally able to breathe in fully. The sweats were comfortable, but Nyota was not as drawn to the bed as she had expected. The draw was back toward the living room, where her professor sat with is meditation pot and a hidden history.

Spock admitted that he was pleased when Nyota came back into the living room. She looked more comfortable, and padded toward him on bare feet. There was still a stiffness to her shoulders, one that he attributed to the separation of rank between them. She lowered herself gracefully to the floor, crossing her legs to mirror his exactly. It was an unconscious action, but Spock caught it. It was only natural for a human to mimic the person they were with, he told himself. He knew it was a sign of empathy, a creature's way of showing it was no threat. Still, he could not help but notice her guard was dropping. She must have been exhausted.

He spoke first, after she had settled and peered shyly at him, as though she suddenly did not know what to say. "Do you find your quarters adequate?"

"Of course, Commander. More than adequate, for a night," Nyota replied. "I also…I saw the picture on your side table. Your mother?"

"Yes, it is. My mother, Amanda, married my father when he was ambassador to Earth. As I am sure you have guessed, I am half-Vulcan, half-human, though I have followed the Vulcan path my entire life." Spock lifted the lid on the fire pot, releasing a billow of smoke and the same glorious scent Nyota had inhaled earlier. It had gained a new depth, and smelled more exotic and mysterious than before. Scents she had never come across played on her olfactory nerves, and she closed her eyes again.

"She's beautiful," Nyota said with a smile. "Do you get to see them often? Your parents, I mean?"

Spock shook his head. "I have not been back to Vulcan in two years, since my rotation planetside. My mother calls on the holo every weekend, and my father generally sits in on the conversation, so I see them in that manner."

"That's too bad." She suddenly looked very sad, and Spock did not understand.

"I assure you it is adequate, though my mother has stated she would appreciate my attendance more often. However, my duty is to Starfleet, and to my students. She understands, but I often feel that she only says that for my benefit." He capped the pot again, stifling the smoke slightly. He had dimmed the lights slightly, and the pot glowed with the heat of the burning incense.

"It's never enough just to talk on a holo," Nyota said. She had a slightly perturbed look on her face, her lips pursed. "I miss my family every day, and the weekend communication is never enough. But I have a big family, maybe that's a difference."

"I do not think that is the only difference, but it is a component, I am sure," Spock agreed. He had sensed the girl's disapproval at his flippant dismissal of his family, and was confused and intrigued. "You have siblings, correct? Brothers?"

"Yes, three. And cousins, and cousins' cousins, and aunts and uncles. The list goes on for as long as you like. I was never alone growing up." Nyota felt nostalgic, and let herself ramble a bit, sharing more information than she usually let herself. "I'm the second to last. Two older brothers, both still in Cote d'Ivore, doing brilliant medical and biological sciences work. My younger brother is studying at Cambridge, on to do who knows what. Great things, probably. He's the brightest, out of all of us."

"That is quite a statement, given your own aptitude," Spock said, without any affectation. "You are more than capable, to imagine someone more astute is difficult. Perhaps your brother will pursue Starfleet as well."

Nyota laughed softly. "No, Brian won't. He doesn't like space travel. He doesn't like travel at all, in all honesty."

"That is a loss to us, then. We always need brilliant minds like yours."

Spock had surprised her again. He had complimented her before on her mastery of his course material, but never had he seen her as an asset to Starfleet. All she could mumble out was thank you, and looked down at her hands.

"Do not be so unnerved, Cadet Uhura. I have admired your performance, and have stated as much on my written assessments of you. I thought you knew. You are, after all, at the top of all of my classes, and many of your others. It is well-deserved praise." He wanted her to look up at him with those big brown eyes, and see his honesty. She seemed so intimidated by him, and he did not understand why. Spock had always treated her with the greatest respect and had given no reason for her to withdraw.

"I knew, it just…it's different to hear the words out of your own mouth. I'm not unnerved, per say, just…humbled. I did not realize my work meant so much."

"It is affirming to have a student that successfully grasps the material I present. In fact, I had meant to speak with you when classes resumed, but I see no reason to wait. I have submitted a request for an assistant in my office and labs, and you are currently the only student who meets my requirements. It will not be an easy position, but I believe you will perform well, if you feel that your schedule is not already too overwhelming. Are you opposed?" he asked.

"No! I mean, no, I am not opposed. I would like that a lot." Nyota smiled again. She was very expressive, but Spock found that did not bother him as it did with other people.

"Excellent. We will meet after classes begin to discuss your schedule and duties." No need to overwhelm the poor girl right now. He had gone through many assistants over the last two years, all unable to handle his high standards. Nyota began asking him questions, and he felt no reluctance to answer her. It was unusual for him to maintain polite conversation very long, but it came easy with her. She was inquisitive, and asked intelligent, reaching questions. Before either of them knew it, two hours had passed.

Nyota looked at her watch as she yawned. Exhaustion was finally creeping over her, winning out over her rare chance to converse with her elusive professor. It was already 03:30, though she observed Spock looked no more tired than he ever did. Surely Vulcans got tired, too. "I have to excuse myself, Commander. I'm about to fall asleep where I sit," she said. She stood up, bidding him a good night, and walked into his bedroom. What an unusual thought—his bedroom, where she certainly should not be. Nyota was too tired to think about it, so she dismissed the thought, turned off the light, and fell into a comfortable sleep.

Her alarm woke her rudely at 05:30, and she groaned, rolling over onto her side and searching for her com unit. Nyota kept her eyes shut tight, praying for another ten minutes of sleep. Her hand came into contact with the picture on the bedside table, and her eyes snapped open. She sat up, disoriented, and scrambled under the pillow to finally silence the annoying chime of her com unit. It took several seconds of looking around for her to realize she was not in her own bed. This was her Commander's bed, his room, his picture. She hugged her knees to her chest, calming her thoughts and breathing deeply. She was wearing his sleeping clothes. They smelt clean, fresh, but unlike the laundry soap she knew was used for all of the Academy's linens. The sheets smelled different, too, like desert sand and male, an alien scent. It made her stomach flutter, and she quickly pushed the sheets away from her, shooting out of bed and banishing any such thoughts.

It was time for her to go. It was against protocol for a student to spend the night with a professor, even if the bridge had flooded the night before. Silly girl, why did you agree to stay? You could have walked up campus to the other bridge and crossed. She berated herself internally, shaking her head as she quickly slipped out of Spock's sweats and regulation t-shirt. She folded them and placed them back on the bed, pulling up the sheets and arranging them neatly. Her black dress had dried overnight, so she tugged it on and grabbed her shoes, deciding to leave them off until she was safely past the commander. She could wait until she reached her own dorm to worry about her needs.

The apartment was dark, except where dawn peeked through the kitchen windows. The bedroom door swooshed closed behind her, and even the normally quiet sound seemed overly loud within the quiet of the morning. Spock was stretched on the couch, lying on his back, his hands clasped over his stomach. His eyes were closed, his breathing quiet and even. He seemed to be asleep still, so Nyota tip-toed toward the door, palming it open and holding her breath until she stood in the hall alone. She slipped on her high heels and made for the student dorms, attempting to maintain as professional composure as possible. She saw no one, however, as she crossed the campus, to the bridge that had been overrun with water, and across the quad to the student dorms. It took less than ten minutes, and she prayed her roommate had yet to return to their quarters. The fewer people to witness and question, the less she felt she was doing the walk of shame.

Spock heard her wake, change, and leave, but forced himself to remain in a light sleep so as not to startle the cadet. She had tried so hard to be quiet; he could only assume she was eager to return to her own quarters. So he waited until she had exited the door to rouse himself and greet the dawn. He was a creature of habit, and he liked his patterns. He had remained asleep long enough to allow the cadet to leave, though normally he rose at 04:00. Though, he admitted to himself, the rest had been much needed. After a cup of tea, he decided to supplant his normal meditation with a run. When Spock entered the bedroom, her scent still clung to his sheets and the sleeping clothes she had neatly folded and placed on the bed. Sandalwood and jasmine, he thought, before dismissing the thought and pulling out his running clothes. The strange, niggling feeling at the back of his mind would rest once several miles of pavement were behind him.

It always happened when Cadet Uhura was present. It had been there, since their first meeting last year, an odd desire to be in her company, and learn more about her. It was a singular occurrence, for generally the most he ever desired from a student was a straight answer. Perhaps, because that is exactly what she gave him, he desired more. Her talent for phonology was unparalleled, and she was adaptive. She was approachable. That was the reason he wanted her as his assistant, he told himself. She was talented, more so than most of his students, both current and former. Cadet Uhura was leaps and bounds ahead of her class. She was also diplomatic, logical, friendly…surely that was enough.

He was five kilometers into his run before he realized he had spent the last twenty-two minutes justifying his choice of Cadet Uhura as his assistant to himself. It was illogical. She was the most qualified cadet for the position, so why was he questioning his motives? He attempted to dismiss further thoughts of her, and turned instead to the building of the Enterprise.

Construction had begun exactly 1.72 years prior, and was progressing too slowly for his liking. It was scheduled for completion in three years, in time for the commission of Cadet Uhura's class; however, they were already behind schedule, and he calculated a new completion date at 3.47 years. His entire purpose for returning to the academy was to oversee the completion of the Enterprise. Five years planetside, when he would much prefer serving on the Nelson alongside Captain Pike. Though he had done this as a favor to his friend, and he enjoyed teaching, he missed serving as a Science Officer. There were always new things to be discovered, mapped out, and memorized. There were always new challenges. He felt academic life did not pose much challenge. The Kobayashi Moru was the one exception he had found. Granted, design of the Enterprise was proving to be challenging, simply because of the coordination required between so many departments. It would be the epitome of collaboration. Besides those two items, Spock could not recall another challenge he faced.

Spock began ticking off items that needed his attention for the day. It was a long list, in preparation for the coming semester and an upcoming inspection on the Enterprise. By the time he had completed his list and arranged a mental time-table, he had swung back around to the instructors' quarters, completing his 12 km circuit. He still felt cooler than he would like, but that was nothing new. Even with extreme exertion, the ambient temperature of San Francisco was cool enough that he hardly felt overheated. Compared to Vulcan, San Francisco's summer was a veritable late winter.

After sprinting up the four flights of stairs to his apartment, Spock stretched and decided to run through a suss manh sequence to cool down. He found the Vulcan fighting style nearly as centering as meditation, and he felt refreshed as he stepped into his shower. He had avoided thought of Cadet Uhura for 22.35 minutes before he allowed her to re-enter into his considerations.

Gaila stumbled into their dorm room around 14:00 that day, looking exhausted but excited and happy. Nyota wondered how the Orion woman managed to pull it all off. She was probably the most exuberant person Nyota knew, other than perhaps her own mother, but Gaila always seemed to be full of excitement. It made her wonderful to be around, though a major distraction at inopportune times. The green girl hopped onto her bed and bounced there happily, gushing.

"Ny, he's wonderful! Oh, he was such a great dancer, and in bed, Ny," she broke into a rush of her homeplanet dialect, going into great detail about her exploits of the previous night.

Nyota held up a hand, shaking her head and laughing. "Gaila, I don't need to hear how Jori was in bed."

"Oh, not Jori, Ny! I mean, yes, he was a great dancer, but I would not have gone home with him. No, I went home with his friend, Chris. Ah, the things we did Ny!"Gaila rolled her eyes dramatically, running her hands up her own sides.

"Oh, the tall, blonde one? He was cute," Nyota said, acquiescing to something she knew she would have to listen to, no matter what.

"Yeah, the gorgeous one. Eye was eyeing him all night, and he finally fell under my spell!" Gaila grinned wickedly. "Who did you go home with? Or did you come back here by yourself? I told you, you need to have fun before classes start up again."

"Well, I didn't make it back here. The bridge was closed by the time we made it back to campus, but I found a place."

"Who is we?" Gaila squealed. She always got too excited over this sort of thing.

"Um…well, Commander Spock kind of…walked me home." Nyota bit her lip, uncomfortable in what she was saying.

"WHAT? Commander Spock? As in Mr. Icy Pants? Walked you home? But I thought the bridge was closed? Did he walk you all the way to the top of campus?"

"No…I uh…I stayed with him. It was really the only option…" Her words were drowned out by Gaila shrieking in Orion. Her expletives went on for several minutes, for she was long winded and very creative. Eventually she quieted, breathed in deeply, and gave Nyota a pointed look. "Spill, Ny."

"All I did was stay with him! He slept on the couch, I slept in his bed. I left early this morning so as not to disturb him." Ny left out their long talk, and about her becoming his aid, thinking that would be news for Monday. Gaila continued to pester her for information. "What was his apartment like? Did you get him out of uniform? I didn't even see him at the bar!" She continued to gush for a while, and Nyota fended off her questions as best she could.

"Gaila, it was innocent! I couldn't get back to quarters, and he made the decision as my commanding officer. Anyone would have done it." Surely that was true. Had it been anyone else, the same would have applied.

"Please, Spock doesn't make it a point to take in every sad-looking cadet. I've always said he keeps a special eye one you, even if it is a cold, emotionless one. I told you!" Gaila cackled, rocking back and forth on her bed. "I'll bet you fifty credits you'll end up being his TA this semester, and another 50 that he's going to get all lovey-dovey on you and you'll get to see what's underneath that cold, hard, muscled façade." She said the last in a low purr, fluttering her eyelashes at her roommate.

"Well, I can't really make you that bet," Nyota replied incredulously, surprised Gaila would even suggest it. "He already asked me to be his TA. I'll take you up on the last half, though. He's Vulcan, Gaila, they're bonded when they're little. He probably already has some gorgeous Vulcan wife back home."

"Wife, schmife." Gaila waved dismissively. "She's not here, is she? It means nothing!"

"Gaila!" Nyota was scandalized. "That's not true. If he is married, then that's something to respect. I could never…"

"So you do want him?" Gaila wiggled her eyelids scandalously.

"That is not what I said. I simply meant that anyone should respect boundaries. Especially since fraternization is strictly prohibited." There were rules and regulations outlining every single interaction that was and was not kosher between commanding officers and their subordinates.

"Of course, you would never break the rules." Gaila chewed her lip thoughtfully. "Vulcans are too…austere for me. He's insanely attractive, but he has to be reactive for anything I do to work on him. Otherwise, I might take advantage of your new position." Nyota glared at her until she saw that the Orion girl was joking.

"You, Gaila, are a terrible person," she said.

"Oh, I know! I'm still betting you at least hook up with him within the next two years. If it happens in the first year, you pay me double." Gaila liked to gamble, and she was always eager to up the stakes. "Ok, but if we don't hook up, which we never will, you pay me double at the end of two years. Then you'll have a deal."


More to follow soon!