Officers don’t sit with cadets on these types of shuttles, which is fine because officers don’t date cadets either, and Nyota doesn’t date professors to begin with, which doesn’t go very far to explaining how she has been doing exactly that, but does account for why, despite what is now two dinners and three lunches and one touch of his hand to her back that set her heart racing, she’s two rows behind him, staring out the window and wondering what, precisely, it is that they’re doing.
Returning from Spacedock is the easy answer, another training sim successfully completed and a weekend of homework waiting for her, though that doesn’t erase the entirely more intricate and complicated and deliciously messy fact that he had very much and very slightly smiled at her when she had gotten done and that he could have left for Earth already but had instead waited for her and her shuttle and her similarly alphabetically disadvantaged classmates that had them returning to campus later than anyone else on a Friday afternoon.
She shuts her eyes and smiles and lets out a breath that she tells herself isn’t a sigh, over which she hears the Lieutenant next to him say, “I think I slept the entire way back from my first space jump, too.”
“Enduring the gravitational forces can be fatiguing.”
“Listening to Johnson explain the procedures is fatiguing,” the Lieutenant says.
There’s silence again and the soft sounds of her classmates dozing like she might if he weren’t there so near to her, and then, “Any weekend plans, Commander?”
“Perhaps,” he says and she lets the corner of her mouth curl, lets herself entertain the idea of giving in to that flip in her stomach.
“That, uh-” It must be the Lieutenant shifting because Spock wouldn’t do that, make his chair flex like that enough that she could hear it, someone turning around to check behind them. “That one? In Comms? O’Conner said… That’s your girlfriend?”
There’s a pause. “Yes.”
“Nice,” the Lieutenant says and Spock doesn’t say anything else and when the shuttle lands her heart is still a pounding flutter. She finds him in the crowd where he’s lingering in what she’s sure is a very logical way and watches how his eyes brighten when she smiles at him.
She can nearly see the dance around each other that they normally do. She’ll ask what he’s up to, he’ll have some reason to walk back towards campus right then and her dorm will be on the way, and when they get close to somewhere that serves food one of them will mention being hungry and the other will say they’re not in any rush to get wherever it is that they’re going that they’ve ended up walking together, again, like they have so often now. She can almost hear it, the delicacy and the prevarication and the careful casualness that hasn’t felt anything other than earnest and important and more significant than most other things she’s ever done, ever since that first time that she admitted to herself that he makes her smile in a way that nobody else has.
“Dinner?” she asks and it’s as easy as that because he nods and they leave the shuttle behind them as they walk away together, the night stretching out in front of them with an openness that makes her heart pound as surely as does his presence beside her.