A/N: This title/concept has probably already been done since that comic came out, but I'm officially promising that I haven't read anyone else's interpretation, and therefore similarities are purely coincidence from all of us writing the same characters in the same fandom. I will admit that I shamelessly plagiarize phrases, scenes and scenarios from other works I've published. I'm not sorry, and I'm not sorry I'm not sorry. Consider it a challenge to read everything I've written back to back and try to find what lines I like enough to reuse.
In full disclosure as to what you are about to read, I cannot write anything about Star Trek and not have Gaila pop in, so she's here, and she's awesome, and kind of wriggles her way into the story, which it turns out I have completely no control over preventing, and that's how she likes it.
He is impossible to not notice.
She notices the way his syllabus is not only difficult and challenging, but that his assignments are clear, direct, and straightforward.
She notices that he is tall and handsome, and his pants are perfectly tailored and his uniform hugs the line of his shoulders just so, but she makes herself stop noticing this because she has felt men stare at her legs, her hips, and seeks to see beyond his long, lean lines and dark eyes.
She notices his voice, his clear pronunciation that she appreciates in anyone, and his formidable diction slightly tinged with his Vulcan tendency towards impressive vocabulary and lack of idioms.
She notices his intelligence, which seems as innate a characteristic as his ears, and she notices the way he carefully explains answers until the cadet who asked the question it is nodding and taking notes.
She notices that her other classes that semester are not quite as enjoyable, and notices the way she doesn't mind when his lecture runs a few minutes over, her fingers skimming over her padd as she writes down his words.
She visits his office hours twice and leaves with her head spinning with lists of vocabulary, past participles, long lines of glyphs and alphabets sketched into her padd. He is slightly aloof and slightly disconcerting to speak to one on one, but more so helpful and attentive. She feels a bit like her brain is dumped on every time she talks to him. It is not unpleasant.
She does well in his class. She is not surprised, since she has done well in every class she has ever taken, but she think he might be. He hands back her final exam with a nod and she flicks through his comments, reading over his concise thoughts on her opinions on Romulan phonemes and their applications in the various dialects.
"Quite acceptable work, Cadet," he says, and she smiles and flushes slightly.
She goes on Winter Break back to Mombassa and speaks Swahili and eats nyama choma, and enjoys the old Terran hold over of time off at the winter solstice by soaking up the heat and dry of home.
She returns to a cold drizzle and damp fog, and ties her hair back as she walks through the Academy gates. She sees him across the quad as she hurries up the steps to her dorm, but he doesn't look up from his padd as he walks, and she doesn't bother calling to him.
Her term, as ever, begins to pass by in a blur. She tutors new students in Standard, those that passed their language qualifications but are not so adept that they are wholly comfortable at the Academy, she takes advanced classes, works in the acoustical engineering department, signs up for training simulations, sings in the choir, goes out with Gaila when she can, and goes out with men even more rarely.
She sees him occasionally, across the mess hall as he speaks with other instructors, coming out of the gym as she enters it, standing in the break room of the linguistics department making tea. Sometimes she says hello and he responds with a nod and sometimes she doesn't.
She goes to one of his lectures on proto-Risian semiotics. He's an excellent speaker, which does not surprise her since he was an excellent teacher. She does not stay afterwards to ask him questions since she has to go to work, but reviews her notes from his talk when she gets back to her dorm that evening.
She hears rumors about him, which isn't surprising, since she hears rumors about most of the professors and officers in the department. Lieutenant Xu and Proffessor McCleary are, apparently, involved in some sort of steamy tryst that maybe Xu's wife knows about and maybe doesn't. Lieutenant Commander Ru'Hav is set to receive a commendation on her work translating intercepted Romulan transmissions from near the Neutral Zone, and Lieutenant Hartley might be sent out on the Exeter as assistant communications officer, conveniently taking him away from a future posting on the Enterprise since scuttlebutt is that he and Captain Pike don't get along.
Commander Spock gets his fair share of attention, and she hears two Ensigns discussing speculation that Pike might be tapping him for a senior position, that he's only at the Academy while waiting for construction to be complete at Riverside, that he's also programming command cadet training sims because he's so efficient he can teach in the computer science department, the xenolinguistics department and have time left over to do programming, and did you hear who is father is, and, more importantly, did you hear that he was asked to accompany the Deltan diplomatic envoy the other week and damn, he's hot, they were all hot, and can you just imagine that?
She hears other cadets talk about him like that, hears officers talk about him like that, hears Gaila talk about him like that, and resolutely does not think about him like that. He's quiet and serious and reserved and she very much doubts he had a telepathic orgy with the visiting Deltans, no matter how many scenarios Gaila comes up with.
He's an officer, and a professor, and a Vulcan, and she believes in respecting and treating him as such. It's not hard when he's restrained and formal and she rarely sees him.
It has been months since he handed back her term paper, and when she does talk to him again, it is stilted, fairly awkward, and she is quite ready to leave before their conversation really begins.
"I was told that I could find Cadet Chekov here," he says, and she has to crane her neck to look at him from where she sits at the small table in the linguistics lab.
"He stepped out to take a call," she replies, quickly packing her bag. "I'm sure he'll be right back. We were finished, anyway."
He looks at her, looks around the lab packed with students, the languages rising in a clamor of voices, and at the empty seat across from her. He sits, seeming vaguely put out, and she grabs the Standard primer from in front of him so he can set his padd down.
"Sorry, sir, I just…" she doesn't bother to finish the sentence, just adds the primer to the stack of language materials in front of her as she tries to organize her belongings.
"You are playing chess with him?"
She is surprised at his question, glancing at the old fashioned, 2D set on the table. They have never spoken about anything other than coursework. She wouldn't peg him for small talk.
He is watching her intently and she nods, glancing up at him for a moment before returning to her packing. He remains quiet and she wonders if she should speak, if his silence is inviting her to join the conversation as he would if she were also Vulcan, but when she looks up again, he is studying the board.
"Cadet Chekov is quite an advanced player," he says, glancing between the neat row of white pieces Chekov had captured and the lonely pair of black pawns she had taken.
"Oh, I'm just not very good," she says.
"That is apparent," he replies. He is Vulcan, and therefore rather blunt. It is illogical to be offended, she tells herself, jamming padds into her bag. "Mr. Chekov has utilized the same formation as Reshevsky did in his match with Mieses. Quite accomplished."
She zips her bag shut quickly, and reaches for her comm. She is not sure if she's free to go, since he hasn't exactly dismissed her, but she's not even really sure why he's there, so…
"You are majoring in xenolinguistics, correct?" he asks suddenly, looking up from the board and she nods, caught off guard by the change in subject. "May I ask how many languages you are fluent in, Cadet?"
"16, sir, and another 5 that I speak with some proficiency," she answers automatically. He nods, and she surmises her skills are not quite accomplished or even quite acceptable.
He reaches out and moves one of Chekov's knights as if he's experimenting since he then moves it back to its original square. He does the same thing with a bishop, then a rook.
"May I further inquire as to why you and Mr. Chekov are playing chess?"
She puts her bag on the floor, hoping that Chekov will hurry back, and hoping that the Commander will stop alternating between studying the board as if it is the most fascinating thing ever, and catching her eye for a moment too long each time, since she did not intend to spend any more time in the lab than her meeting necessitated.
"It's a good way for him to practice his Standard, sir. It's hard to just sit and talk about nothing, and he's… shy, so it's a good conversational tactic," she answers. She had suggested it to him after finding him playing on his padd before one of their sessions. She had been dreading the thought of another hour of him stammering and blushing and her thinking of things to ask him that didn't involve him repeating his reasons for joining Starfleet and about his courses.
"That is quite logical," Spock says, his eyes trained on the board again.
"It's the best way to learn," she says, then pauses, stops. "I mean, um, not that your class…"
She trails off and glances at the chronometer on the wall behind him. He seems slightly amused when she looks at him again, but she can't really tell because he quickly reaches out and moves Chekov's knight again, leaving it where he places it. He makes a small gesture towards her and she has a paper to finish, and an afternoon run with Gaila, and a date that night, and, apparently, a very high ranking, former professor sitting in front of her with no intention of dismissing her.
She keeps herself from sighing, sets her comm on the table, and moves her queen.
"That was ill advised," he says, and she wishes for the easy conversation about language and academics from his office hours, their discussions after his classes, and not the fact she is becoming slightly annoyed and really, really needs to head out soon if she's going to finish her paper in time for dinner and drinks.
They are silent for a three more turns, he because he seems to actually enjoy chess and seems to be making quick, sure decisions, and she because she is outlining her paper in her head and wondering how fast she can lose the game so she can go.
"You did not apply for the opening for a teaching assistant for Advanced Phonology," he says finally, moving his rook and capturing one of her few remaining pieces.
She feels him watching her for as she puts her hand over her pawn, then draws it back and frowns at the board. She does not enjoy performing poorly at anything, and especially does not enjoy performing poorly with an audience.
"You should not give such obvious indications as to your thought process," he says, nodding at her hand straying towards a bishop.
"You should not make such obvious statements when you really want to know why I didn't apply to be your assistant," she says, then claps a hand over her mouth, going cold and hot at once. "Oh God. Sir. I'm so sorry I said that. That was really inappropriate."
He is definitely amused now, and she quickly moves the bishop even though it allows him to take it so that she doesn't have to look at him.
"It is quite alright, Cadet. You are, indeed, correct, that I wished to ask that and did not. Perhaps I should be appreciative of your… succinct observation."
"I'm sorry," she says, again, quietly, and moves her last pawn one space forward, a rush of words spilling out of her to cover the fact she just snapped at a Commander. "I'm working for the acoustical engineering department this semester and I couldn't do both. I'm helping with the new translation software they're developing." She feels some of the heat receding from her face. This, she can talk about, she thinks, as she moves her knight forward. "They've got this new program that can distinguish between dialects and related languages much better, since with languages like Romulan and Vulcan, as you know, over subspace the transmission can be quite…"
She trails off and looks at him as he takes her knight with his pawn.
"You're the programmer, aren't you, sir?"
"Indeed," he says. "I was unaware you were the one identifying the subspace anomalies, Cadet."
Before she can respond, he suddenly looks over her shoulder, and she turns to see Chekov hurrying towards them, mouthing apologizes.
"Perhaps you will consider applying for the Advanced Phonology position next semester, Cadet Uhura. I had not realized that it was your work being used to refine the programming, but I am quite impressed and would welcome to opportunity to work with you further," he says as she finally stands, leaving her chair for the breathless Chekov.
"Thank you, sir, I'll consider your offer," she says, and quickly swings her bag over her shoulder, her face still hot from his compliment. "Have a nice afternoon."
"Cadet," he says with a nod, and she feels him watch her walk out.
If you leave a note with why you think Spock was meeting Chekov, I'll put the best one up in the author's notes of the next section, since I certainly have no ideas or explanation.