On a routine check of Engineering, Spock sees glimpses of herself in every darkened screen she walks past. The dimmed quality of the lights in this section mean that shiny surfaces reflect nearly as well as mirrors, and she does not like it. Every time she is meant to calibrating a sensor, her eyes inevitably drift past the graphs and numbers and focus instead on the outline of her own shorn head - hair barely two inches long, making her ears look larger than usual and her eyebrows seem too thick and dark.
If she wishes it to be, a Vulcan woman's hair is, in an otherwise simple and logical existence, her one concession to elaborate, ornate beauty. To vanity. Her hair is her glory - certainly it had been Spock's, thick and glossy and reaching, unbound, to her thighs. She is no beauty otherwise, and now, she has lost it, and along with it a certain feeling of femininity and self-possession.
Spock is well aware this is illogical. She is not maimed in any way, fortunately, though her attackers had been somewhat violent. She retains her intelligence, her skills, her position on board the ship, the respect of her crewmates.
It's only - her hair is so short.
"Commander." A female voice interrupts her thoughts, and Spock turns. It is Ensign Gaila - Spock notes, with perhaps a slight tinge of bitterness, that Gaila's hair, thick and wavy, is done up in a series of twists at the top of her head and held in place with curly metal pins. "Are you all right?"
"I am well, Ensign," Spock says steadily, turning back to the screen. Gaila does not speak for several moments. However, when she does, her words are somewhat surprising. Spock had not realized she was so...transparent.
"Your haircut isn't so bad, Commander."
"The length of my hair is irrelevant."
"Spock, we're both women. We know exactly how relevant hair is." When Spock turns to her once more, brows raised, there is a touch of a smile on Gaila's face. "It would look quite sweet if you added a bit of product to ruffle it up. You have the right face shape for short hair."
Spock has never considered facial structure as pertinent to a hair style. Styles, on Vulcan, are traditional, and one may wear them or not. Now, she has no choice, as her hair is nearly a non-entity. "I will look like a human male nonetheless," she says shortly, angry at herself for revealing such a feeling - and when Lieutenant Commander Scott is just happening by, as well.
"A human male?" he says, with some disbelief. "Have ye never seen a human male before, ma'am?"
"I believe I am presently looking at one, Mr. Scott," says Spock, dry as the desert, and Scott shakes his head.
"Beggin' your pardon, Commander, but if human males looked more like you, Scotty would'a spent far more time in the gay bars during his Academy days." He winks at Gaila before continuing. "Your hair is lovely. It's very...functional. Rather sporting."
Spock thinks this is a compliment. Possibly. "Kindly do not refer to yourself in the third person, Mr. Scott. It is illogical." As she walks away, though, she feels her mood lighten. A tiny bit.
She is not certain how she managed to end up having lunch with Ensign Chekov in the mess that noon hour. However, he is not an unpleasant man - boy - person - to be around, and though his chatter is occasionally incomprehensible to her due to his accent, it is sometimes fascinating, especially when he wishes to discuss physics. For a human, his understanding is truly exceptional.
Chekov is not keen on discussing physics today. He is instead discussing hair, the exact subject Spock had hoped to avoid. He is a human male, and even his hair is longer than hers currently is, at least at the top. Her eyes linger on the curly brown strands spilling over his forehead, as he waves his utensils around.
"And so Mikhail, he did not like this, and he told me he would have revenge on me. I was not frightened, because he could not scare a kitten - but then next day at the lunch hour he was chewing bubblegum - you know what gum is?"
"A flavored, chewy yet non-edible confection made of synthetic rubber. Please continue."
"Okay. Good. So Mikhail was behind me and he said here is your equation Tsarevich Smart Pants and he put his gum in my hair. It was terrible. Very disgusting and sticky." Chekov shakes his head at the obviously dire memory. "And both my mama and my aunt could not get it out, and they had to shave my hair off. My mama cried - ayyy, Pasha, your beautiful golden curls, they are all gone. Then when they grew back they were more brown, not blond anymore, and this is why I have brown hair and my parents and my brother and sister have blond."
As she sips her green tea, Spock ponders this. She has never considered it - that her hair may grow back differently. It should theoretically make no difference; however, if Chekov is telling the truth, apparently it is possible.
Disturbing. "Thank you, Ensign. This has been a most enlightening conversation," Spock says, as she gets up to return her tray, and Chekov beams.
It takes another young human, albeit a very different one, to distract from these fears. Spock has been in contact with Leonard's young daughter Joanna for some time now. She is, like most children, an amusing conversationalist; fortunately, she has inherited little of her father's sarcastic, abrasive manner, and much of his intellect.
Spock does not know how Joanna will react to her haircut. She has visited the Enterprise twice; both times, she had spent hours combing out Spock's hair, practicing her braiding, tying it into multiple tails and securing it with her own multicolored plastic barrettes. The length of her hair had truly fascinated the child, as if she were a living doll.
When Spock makes the promised call on her break, and Joanna sees her on her vidscreen, her brown eyes go big. "Your hair! Daddy sent me a comm and told me it was all gone."
"I am glad he sees fit to inform you of such things."
"What happened? Did bad people take it?"
Spock almost smiles. "They did."
"Oh." Joanna looks and sounds sad. "I'm sorry."
"There is no need to apologize. You are not the one responsible."
"Well -" The child seems to brighten in an instant. "It's okay. We'll just play dress-up when I come visit, 'kay? And you can play with my hair."
Spock is genuinely smiling when she signs off several minutes later. Joanna has the gift of cheering effortlessly. And she smiles even more when the terminal in her quarters beeps later that evening, signaling an incoming transmission - a holopic of Joanna, grinning widely enough to expose the gap of a missing tooth on the bottom, and her favorite doll, the black-haired one, her previously long hair cut inexpertly but more-or-less uniformly short against her head. The photo has the caption For miss Spock, I made my doll pritty like you.
When the Enterprise makes the first of its bi-yearly stops at New Vulcan, Spock finds herself making excuses to stay on the ship for as long as possible, instead of going out immediately to greet her brethren. To be perfectly sincere, she is nervous about what her father will think of her hair. Though he is seen as quite radical by Vulcan standards, in some ways, he is very traditional. There was a reason her mother had always worn long sleeves, and long skirts, and kept her hair long and pinned up and covered. It had been to please Sarek. That was his ideal of female beauty - most Vulcan men's ideal.
"Spock, what's up? Aren't you coming?" Jim asks as he walks by her station. "Thought you'd be the first one out the door."
Oddly, the radical transformation she had undergone on that away mission had seemed to surprise Captain Kirk the least of everyone on board the ship, though Spock had expected the majority of the commentary to come from him. Even the normally logical and undramatic Nyota had looked at her head as if she were about to cry - Jim, however, had taken one glance, said 'wow, that's different', and never made reference to it again. Apparently, he can be tactful and sensitive when he deems it necessary.
Spock nods at him. "I will be along presently, Captain."
"Your dad's waiting."
She stares stubbornly at her screen. "And I assure you that he is a most patient man and will not be going anywhere within the next five minutes."
Jim looks slightly troubled, but he nods back. "Okay. See you down there, then."
True to her word, Spock is standing on the hard-packed soil of the transporter landing grounds within the allotted five minutes. As she steps toward the waiting Sarek, holding up her hand to greet him, she cannot help but notice the slight shift in his expression. No one else from the Enterprise would be able to tell - but she is his daughter, and she is Vulcan, two facts which, when combined, make her uniquely qualified to read Sarek's face. "Father."
"Spock." His dark eyes flicker quickly upward and down again. "It - pleases me to see that you are well."
"Come. We have much to discuss." He turns and sweeps away, toward the nearest cluster of low buildings, and Spock, after a quick look at the Captain to let him know, follows.
"It was an attack, Father," says Spock in a low voice, as they walk together down a pristine, empty hallway. It is not as beautiful as the buildings on Vulcan, but the ancient concept of elegant, clean interior design still remains in this new settlement. "The result was, as you can obviously see...unfortunate."
Illogically, she feels like apologizing, but she forces her mouth to remain closed. "I understand," says Sarek softly. "Here." He turns to the left and they enter a small communications room, also devoid of people, but with consoles beeping and whirring and a neat tray of PADDs on a nearby counter, waiting to be used. Sarek picks one of these up and activates it. After a few moments of pressing buttons, he says, "Come here, Spock. I wish you to see something."
Spock looks, obediently, and the holopic he brings up makes her nearly catch her breath.
"This," Sarek says, "is an image of your mother as I first met her, which I discovered in an archive of news articles. It was taken during the educational conference both she and I attended on Earth in 2230. I, of course, as a representative of Vulcan, sent to observe, and she as a teacher. Mathematics and Biology."
She looks so very young, and pensive, and her hair - Spock remembers her hair being far past her shoulders, always. In the image, it is the same length as Spock's is now. And she is beautiful.
"You greatly resemble her."
Spock looks up at her father. "Thank you," she says.
"I will have a copy of the image transferred to the Enterprise's databanks," Sarek replies, taking one more long moment to look before shutting off the PADD.
"Thank you," Spock repeats - because Sarek is not prone to verbal sentimentality, and she knows this is his way of telling her exactly what she needs to hear.
"You look happier," Leonard remarks, as Spock steps onto the turbolift the next day.
"Bridge," says Spock, and almost immediately after the lift begins to move, Leonard presses the emergency stop. "I do not wish to be late for my shift, Doctor."
"You have ten minutes," he points out, with a half-smile. "I've barely seen you in two days. If all the time we're gonna spend together is ten minutes when Alpha shift switches over, then I'm damn well gonna take it."
"There may be others waiting for transportation."
"There are three lifts on every deck."
"Very well," Spock says serenely, turning to him and clasping her hands behind her back in her customary resting pose. "You seem to be in good health. How was your shift? Is the Sickbay running normally? The weather on New Vulcan was agreeable, was it not?"
"Oh, shut it, darlin'," says Leonard, amusingly blunt as usual. "And they say Vulcans've got no sense of humor. What did your father think?"
"He did not disapprove. In fact, he showed me a very similar image of my mother. If you have the time, search the databank for Amanda Grayson, New York City, 2230."
Leonard strokes one of the longer strands hanging down in front of her right ear. "I told you. It looks fine, Spock. Everybody likes it. You don't look like a man, your ears aren't big..."
"I implied no such feelings regarding my ears," she interrupts, but Leonard laughs. He traces the ridge of said ear with his thumb, up and over the point, and Spock closes her eyes briefly, enjoying his touch.
"All that time you spent in the bathroom the day after, tryin' to make your hair poof out behind your ears?"
"You must be mistaken, Leonard." As she says this, he leans close, to nip at the opposite earlobe, and she shudders in pleasure. They're on a turbolift. This is highly inappropriate. However, Spock knows from experience that, in a mood like this, Leonard McCoy will not be dissuaded from the task at hand.
His voice is soft and husky as he murmurs against her neck. "Don't think I ever mentioned the best thing about this new 'do."
"Which is?" She tries to keep her voice level. It is not easy.
"It's so much easier to get to my favorite spots. Say -" He kisses behind her earlobe, and along the nape of her neck, finishing exactly in the middle. She takes his uniform-clad shoulder to steady herself as he nibbles, right there, at the slight depression at the base of her skull. "You had so much damn fancy stuff before, I was afraid to mess it up," he rumbles, sounding satisfied. "Now I can do this." He shifts slightly, and then his strong surgeon's fingers run through her short hair, neck to crown, massaging, and he smiles against her cheek as she goes boneless. At the same time, she registers his other hand reaching out to press the emergency stop again. He stands back, the same hand smoothing her hair down and cupping the back of her head and then dropping back to his side, just as the door opens. "And nobody'll suspect a thing," he whispers. "Have a good shift, Spock."
She steps off and turns around. Leonard smiles lazily at her, eyes implying a promise, and he reaches up to neaten his own hair - twice the length of hers in the front, but this has ceased to bother her any longer - as Jim brushes past her and steps on. "Jim."
"Bones." Jim winks at her. "Spock. You okay? You're looking a little green."
"Captain," she says, narrowing her eyes. "Doctor."
The door closes. Spock, feeling somewhat overheated though she is wearing the short-sleeved uniform today, walks unsteadily to the command chair and sits down. She touches her hair, smoothing it - then ruffles the back up again, her own fingers taking just the path Leonard's had. The feeling is not nearly as satisfying.
"Commander," Ensign Chekov says hesitantly, "we have successfully passed out of the T-229 nebula. Samples were taken. Any further orders?"
"No. Please continue on our present course, Mr. Chekov."
Spock crosses her legs uncomfortably, slouches slightly in the chair, and touches the hair in front of her ear, again. Chekov and Sulu notice this, and exchange a short look.
Their scrutiny does not bother her. She is in command at present. If she wishes to play with her hair, it's not their place to comment on it.