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[From: +55384390]
Boom

Spock stared at the text. He did not recognise the number. The sender must have clearly sent this message to the wrong person. He ignored it, putting down his communicator and going back to his reading. The library had recently acquired a copy of Dr. Aab’Bk’s book on cross-race genealogy and Spock wished to finish it as soon as possible.

A few hours later, just as he was reaching a rather fascinating dissection of Humanoids’ common ancestors, there was another text on Spock’s comm.

[From: +55384390]
What’s your opinion on pandem iv’s moon

Once again Spock ignored the message.

It was nearly an hour and a half later, just as he was finishing up reading the chapter on the differences in gender norms amongst the Federation planets, that Spock received a third text from the same unknown number.

[From: +55384390]
It’s honestly such a gorgeous moon it makes earth’s one look like shit

Spock was just about to start in on the next chapter of the book, and he would prefer to finish it in peace and quiet. As the messages he had been receiving had been sporadic, he deemed it only logical to inform the sender that he wished for them to cease their contact.

[To: +55384390]
Please desist from contacting me any further.

[From: +55384390]
You exist! Holy shit :D

The figure at the end reminded Spock of Uhura’s style of messaging. She often incorporated textual facial expressions in order to more clearly convey her intent. Those intents were lost on Spock. He had intended to ignore the sender, but two more texts came through.

[From: +55384390]
I can’t believe it

[From: +55384390]
Wow

Spock did not think his existence warranted disbelief from a stranger. He composed a message telling the sender as much, but stopped midway through. Perhaps the sender was not native to Earth, and therefore had a poor grasp of the language structure and meanings common on the planet. He created a new text.

[To: +55384390]
Why would I cease to exist?

[From: +55384390]
Idk man got this number off a bathroom wall wasn’t sure if it was real or not

It made sense now.

A few days ago Spock’s number had been scribbled onto the bathroom wall in the Madame Kussaru building, and it had taken two days before the vandalism had been discovered. It was immediately taken down, and Spock was pleased to know that he had not received any unsolicited calls or messages since the incident.

Until now, it seemed.

[To: +55384390]
My number was not intended for the public’s use.

[From: +55384390]
You got pranked huh? At least it was a mild one

[From: +55384390]
One time I passed out drunk at poker night and one of my buddies glued long eyelashes to my own and sharpied my lips bright red

[From: +55384390]
It was a bitch to get off but I looked pretty af

One of Spock’s eyebrows rose. He was not entirely certain which part of the message to address first. Before he could come to a decision, two more messages came through.

[From: +55384390]
Idek where he got the eyelashes from

[From: +55384390]
Anyway how come you text so formal? I feel like I’m talking to an academic article

[To: +55384390]
I am utilising my Standard vocabulary to the best of my ability. Often things get lost in translation.

[From: +55384390]
You’re non-Human then? That’s cool

[From: +55384390]
I’m Human myself

The sender was Human. There was no excuse for their poor understanding of the Standard language.

[From: +55384390]
How’re you liking Earth?

Spock did not have time for this pointless exchange. He had yet to complete Dr. Aab’Bk’s book, and there were four more chapters remaining.

[To: +55384390]
Adequate. Now please desist messaging me.

Spock turned off the notifications on his communicator, making a mental note to turn it back on once he had completed his reading.

*

[From: +55384390]
Hey know where I can get some bleach

[From: +55384390]
?

Spock glanced at the message. He was grading papers for Professor Poole’s Theoretical Engineering class, as the professor herself had travelled to Starbase 6 for an educational conference. He had two papers left to grade, but the unknown number’s message piqued his interest. Spock decided to finish the papers first before replying to the message.

[To: +55384390]
Why exactly do you require bleach at 2 am?

[From: +55384390]
Sheesh what’s with the third degree

[From: +55384390]
I’m doing laundry

Spock stared down at his communicator.

[To: +55384390]
It is an odd time for laundry.

[From: +55384390]
2 am is the BEST time for laundry

[From: +55384390]
No one’s here and you get your pick of the machines

Spock deemed it to be a reasonable argument. Another text came through.

[From: +55384390]
Why are you up at this hour

[To: +55384390]
I was completing my assigned work. I have finished now and intend to sleep.

[From: +55384390]
Alright I’ll leave you to it

[From: +55384390]
Good night!

Spock chose not to reply to the last message and set down his communicator.

*

Spock did not partake in many extracurricular activities. His schedule consisting of his own classes, aiding various professors with their grading, meditation, and his physical training, prohibited him from engaging in many other activities.

However, he made sure to pay a visit to the Chess Club at least twice a month. It was the only club, apart from the Xenolinguistics Society, that Spock avidly attended. There were a surprising amount of students who were part of the club, but Spock found it preferable. It gave him a wider sample of adversaries to play against, and even though none of the opponents he had played so far had proven to be a challenge, the practice helped keep Spock’s abilities honed to a certain degree. Ideally he wished for an opponent who matched his own skills, but they were few and far between on Earth. The last time he had played against an opponent Spock deemed worthy, he had been sixteen Human years of age. He had won.

It was nearing the end of the evening when a fellow club member asked, “Hey Spock, you up for a game?”

“I am afraid I must decline, Cadet Dawson. It is getting late and I have prior engagements I must attend to.” Spock explained, thinking of fitting in three hours of meditation between his dinner and bedtime.

The cadet frowned, but nodded. “Alright, I’ll catch you around then.”

“Farewell.” Spock returned, and turned to leave.

However, he did not notice the manner in which a cadet was sprawled in their chair, their leg stretched out and in Spock’s path. Spock’s leg hooked on the cadet’s, and he propelled forward, falling face first into a hard lap. Spock heaved himself off the lap, and looked up to see a blond-haired cadet staring down at him with their mouth open. A moment of tense silence passed between the two before the cadet suddenly broke out in a wide grin.

“At least buy me dinner first.”

Spock immediately hauled himself up to his feet, and gave a short, stilted bow to the cadet. “My apologies.” He said, and quickly walked out of the room, ignoring the warmth in his cheeks.

*

The room was crawling with noise, full to the brim with the sound of over three hundred students mumbling, conversing, and talking. Spock had seated himself at the very back, near the exit.

Professor Poole had asked Spock to sit in on Dr. Keeger’s lecture and take notes on their teaching method. Professor Poole was part of the Starfleet teaching committee, and they were considering hiring on another professor to help share the workload of Professor Fukinara’s Cultural Ethics module. Spock was chosen as the representative to go observe Dr. Keeger’s lecture, since, as Professor Poole had said, she ‘trusted Spock to give a truthful, unbiased opinion.’

Spock was bringing up the notes app on his PADD, preparing for the start of the lecture, when his communicator vibrated. He placed his PADD down and swiped across the screen of his comm, revealing a new message from the unknown number.

[From: +55384390]
Hey what you up to today

As the lecturer had yet to appear, Spock deemed it acceptable to reply.

[To: +55384390]
Today I will be observing Dr. Keeger’s lecture.

[From: +55384390]
HA hope you brought a pillow because his class is boring as fuck

[From: +55384390]
Honestly everything he says is just copy and pasted from the internet it’s not even worth going to class unless you’re some sort of masochist

Spock contemplated the unknown number’s message. This was most disconcerting.

[To: +55384390]
You speak from experience.

[From: +55384390]
Fucking yeah I’m speaking from experience

[From: +55384390]
The few times I went I sat behind this girl who would always watch that holoshow ‘Summer Skies on Leshka’s Moon’

[From: +55384390]
S’not bad

[To: +55384390]
It is abysmal.

[From: +55384390]
Please like you’ve watched it

Uhura had made him watch several episodes, and whenever she suggested it now he would ensure there was a reason he could not attend their holothons.

[To: +55384390]
I have been forced to endure several episodes by a friend.

[From: +55384390]
That’s exactly the kind of things friends do

[From: +55384390]
Useless the lot of them

[From: +55384390]
So why’re you willingly sitting in on his lecture

There was a loud shriek of laughter from down near the lecture stand. Spock looked up, but it was nothing more than a gaggle of students chatting loudly. He returned to his communicator.

[To: +55384390]
I have been assigned to observe Dr. Keeger’s lecture to deem whether he is an appropriate candidate to co-teach the Cultural Ethics module together with Professor Fukinara.

[From: +55384390]
Wait you’re a professor???

[From: +55384390]
Holy shit is what we’ve been doing illegal

[From: +55384390]
I mean not that it would be my first but it would definitely be a new area of illegal

Spock noticed that the unknown number had a strange habit of sending several messages in succession. They also had not improved their rather unfortunate grasp of Standard grammar.

[To: +55384390]
As far as I am aware, exchanging messages with students is not illegal. And I am not yet a professor.

[From: +55384390]
Good to know… otherwise we’d have to put our chats on hold for another 1½ year

[From: +55384390]
Why one and a half years?

[From: +55384390]
Jfc you seriously spelt out a number? Ugh

[From: +55384390]
It’s when I graduate

[From: +55384390]
I’m doing 3 years at Starfleet

[To: +55384390]
That is not possible.

[From: +55384390]
It is if you do the accelerated course

Spock’s eyebrows rose. As far as he was aware, he was the only cadet at Starfleet who had managed to complete an accelerated course.

[To: +55384390]
What programme are you in?

[From: +55384390]
Wouldn’t you like to know

[From: +55384390]
Gotta head off, talk to you later

Spock set down his communicator. He was curious as to who the unknown number was. They had said they were undergoing an accelerated course, but they could have been dishonest. Spock had enough information now to look into Starfleet’s database and find any cadet who was undertaking an accelerated course.

Just then, the door opened and Dr. Keeger walked into the room, heading down the stairs to the lecture stand. Spock discarded his thought process, and picked up his PADD once more, readying himself for some intensive note-taking.

*

Dr. Keeger’s lecture had indeed been tedious.

The lecture slides they used were filled entirely with information, which even though Spock preferred, was not appropriate in helping students retain facts. A quick internet search on Spock’s PADD had also revealed that the information on the slides had been immediately copied and pasted from various online sources. Not a single word was Dr. Keeger’s own. This was an extreme mistake, and Spock made sure to highlight it on his PADD and bring it up with Professor Poole. How the man had had acquired a doctorate remained a mystery to Spock.

Dr. Keeger’s voice had been slow and droning, lulling many of the students to sleep. Spock had seen several nod off and wake up suddenly, realising where they were and falling back to sleep again. A Ferengi three rows down from his was watching the Terran winter sport ‘curling’ on their PADD, and Spock saw several students behind them watching the screen instead of focusing on the lecture.

Overall, Dr. Keeger’s performance had been poor. As soon as the lecture ended, Spock compiled the notes he had taken and sent them off to Professor Poole. He then gathered his belongings and exited the lecture hall.

Spock found himself amidst the flow of students, all of them ambling in different directions. The hallways echoed with chatter, the volume decreasing as Spock managed to steer his way through the masses and head towards the building’s east exit. He had decided not to pursue his curiosity and look up the unknown number on Starfleet’s database. He was not at the mercy of his whims.

Spock reached the east exit, but just as he laid his hand on the door handle he noticed it raining heavily outside. He hesitated. San Francisco’s dire climate and weather was an aspect Spock found highly displeasing about the city, but unfortunately quite common.

He turned back and headed towards the teacher’s lounge, hoping one of the professor’s possessed an umbrella they could lend him. Indeed, someone did have an umbrella, and they gladly lent it to Spock, knowing it would be returned undamaged. Spock thanked them, and returned to the east exit. He opened the door and stepped outside, keeping himself in the small alcove that protected him from the rain. He held the umbrella out and opened it.

Or, attempted to, would be the more accurate term. The umbrella would not extend. Spock tried to push up the handle once more, pressing down harder on the button, but it would not budge. He held the umbrella up and peered at it, but nothing seemed amiss. Spock gave it one more try, twisting the handle while pushing the top half upwards, and this time the umbrella extended.

However, Spock was not aware of a stranger opening the door behind him and exiting the building, causing him to strike said stranger in the crotch with the handle of the umbrella.

The stranger immediately hunched over, clutching at his crotch and groaning loudly. Spock whipped around, appalled at his actions.

“I apologise, I did not see you.” He uttered. He did not know what else he could say. He was too surprised at his own actions.

The stranger hissed and looked up at Spock. “I don’t get it, man. One minute you’re loving my dick, the next you’re abusing it.”

Spock thought it an odd choice of words, until he recognised the blond hair and realised the stranger was the same person he had fallen onto in the Chess Club. Spock had only caught a brief glimpse of his face in his hurry to get out of the room, but now that he had the time to take in all of the cadet’s features he noticed they were extremely aesthetically pleasing. The cadet was as tall as Spock, and he wore his red dress uniform rather handsomely, the material enunciating the muscles hidden beneath. He had light eyes, very different from Spock’s own dark ones, and his face was incredibly symmetrical, his nose straight and lips stretched into a smirk.

“You know,” The man began, attempting to straighten himself. “I wasn’t joking about that dinner.” His eyes roamed up and down Spock’s person, as if sizing him up. Spock stiffened slightly.

“I will have to decline.”

“Shame. You’re not half bad-looking.” The man winked at Spock, who inwardly reassessed his opinion of him. He did not appreciate his blatant flirting.

“Once again, I apologise for my actions.” Spock repeated.

“I’d say it’s fine but… yeah, it’s really not.” The man winced as he stretched his leg. “Right, how about I head off first, that way there’s no chance of you hurting me again.” He then added as an afterthought, “Hopefully.”

Spock stepped aside, letting the man pass. He looked back at Spock and winked. “You’ll also get to stare at my ass. Lucky you.”

Spock felt his cheeks heat, his annoyance with the man increasing. The man waved at Spock, then hobbled off into the rain sans umbrella. The water immediately drenched him, darkening his hair and uniform, but the cadet did not look to care. How peculiar.

Lifting the now open umbrella over his head, Spock stepped out into the rain, beginning the journey back to his quarters.

*

[From: +55384390]
What’s up

Spock set his knife down on the cutting board.

[To: +55384390]
Do you seek out my companionship when you are bored?

[From: +55384390]
Hell yah

[From: +55384390]
Also because I actually enjoying talking to you, shocking I know

[From: +55384390]
Besides no one’s forcing you to talk to me

[From: +55384390]
And if you’re talking to me that means you haven’t blocked my number

[From: +55384390]
Which means you probably like talking to me too ;D

Spock chose not to reply to the multiple texts.

[To: +55384390]
You are not utilising the education offered to you to its full maximum.

[From: +55384390]
So sew me

[From: +55384390]
*sue

[From: +55384390]
Sorry I’m tired

[To: +55384390]
The reason you came to Starfleet is to get an education, is it not?

[From: +55384390]
I already got an education

[From: +55384390]
I actually went to college for two years before this

[From: +55384390]
It was alright but just points needed to get into Starfleet

This unknown number was turning out to be more and more mysterious with every bit of detail revealed. So far Spock had noted that they were taking on an accelerated course at Starfleet, had a past of delinquency, and now it was revealed that they had gone to college for two years when almost all institutions offered four year degrees. Spock wondered if they had done an accelerated course at college as well.

[To: +55384390]
You did not enjoy it.

[From: +55384390]
It was okay

[From: +55384390]
Just a repetition of skipping classes and reading up on others

[To: +55384390]
That is not what college is about.

[From: +55384390]
I’m sorry I didn’t realise I was speaking to A Fully Functional Adult here

[From: +55384390]
It absolutely is what college is about

[From: +55384390]
Skipping one class to study for another

[From: +55384390]
That and setting off the fire alarm when cooking

[To: +55384390]
I must emphasise how hazardous that is.

[From: +55384390]
Yeah I know the firemen told me the same thing

[From: +55384390]
Thing is I didn’t mean to set it off my cooking skills are just that tarrible

[From: +55384390]
*terrible, srry

[From: +55384390]
*sorry AUGH

[To: +55384390]
I cannot identify with your misfortune, as I enjoy cooking and am quite proficient at it.

[From: +55384390]
That’s cool man

[From: +55384390]
You should cook for me sometime shoe me your tricks so I can stop living off chinese food

[From: +55384390]
*show

[From: +55384390]
I can’t spell today

Indeed, the unknown number seemed to be struggling more so than usual with their spelling.

[To: +55384390]
Perhaps.

Spock stilled, looking down at his response. Even for him, this was a bold response to a stranger’s request.

[From: +55384390]
Woah seriously?? You’ve said it now the evidence is clear as day no takebacks

Spock took a moment to lament the stranger’s poor grammar skills.

[To: +55384390]
I wrote ‘perhaps’, which implies either ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

[From: +55384390]
Pfft technicalities

[From: +55384390]
You owe me a dinner stranger ;)

*

Spock had not been entirely active in the Xenolinguistics Society for the past month, and so when at their previous meeting Nyota asked if anyone would be willing to distribute flyers for the society, Spock volunteered himself. It was only right to do so, considering his poor attendance.

Spock had previously distributed flyers for the Chess Club, and the act had not been strenuous. This time however, it was extremely challenging.

Though perhaps that could be accounted for the presence of one blond cadet who was intercepting all of Spock’s potential targets.

“Come along folks, test out your debating skills at the Debate Society! If you’re good at arguing, this is the perfect thing for you! If your partner’s good at arguing, then bring them along! Just remember, this is all words, no fists, though that doesn’t mean you can’t hash out your debates once society hours are over!”

Spock did not understand why the cadet had taken up handing out flyers next to him, when there was an entire campus for him to choose from. Perhaps he should have accepted Nyota’s offer to help with the distribution task.

“You look like someone who’d be good at verbally beating me up, why not try out for the Debate Society? Everyone’s welcome.” The cadet smiled, handing a flyer to a passing Ferengi. The very same Ferengi Spock had prepared to invite to the Xenolinguistics Society.

This stealing of his potential targets was getting out of hand. Spock abandoned his post and walked up to the cadet.

“Cadet, you are intentionally intercepting students that I aim to recruit for the Xenolinguistics Society.” He accused. The cadet looked to Spock with a raised brow.

“No, I’m not. I’m just aiming for everyone.” He said cheerily, handing off a flyer to a passing student. “Some of them are bound to be your targets.”

Spock kept staring at the cadet, not believing a word he had said. The cadet turned to Spock.

“What?”

“I do not appreciate being lied to.”

The cadet looked at Spock, and after a few moments where Spock did not relent with his staring, the cadet sighed.

“Look, I don’t know what you want me to say. I’m sorry for taking all of your… people, but this spot is great for handing out flyers. It’s a hub of students passing through to get to other places.”

“Which is precisely why I chose this location.“

“So we can share then.”

Spock supposed they could, but he did still not appreciate the cadet’s act of intercepting his potential targets.

“I still do not appreciate you intercepting my potential targets.” He said.

The cadet opened his mouth as if to speak, then immediately shut it again. He placed his stack of flyers under the opposite arm and patted around his chest. He seemed to have found what he was looking for, because he stuck his fingers into his breast pocket and pulled out a slip of paper. The man held the paper out to Spock, but seemed to hesitate momentarily.

“Here,” He said with finality, extending the paper to Spock. “It’s reconciliation for me taking all of your customers.”

Spock simply stared at the piece of paper held between the cadet’s fingers.

“It’s a coupon for $3 at Burger King.” The cadet explained.

“I can see that.” Said Spock, still staring. An awkward moment of silence passed between the two, the hubbub of students around them deafening.

Finally the cadet spoke. “A ‘thank you’ would be nice.”

Spock looked up at the cadet. He seemed to genuinely think that a thank you was in order. Spock straightened up. He turned around, took his stack of flyers with him, and went to seek out a new location to distribute the flyers.

*

[From: +55384390]
Do you know RENT?

[To: +55384390]
Pardon?

[From: +55384390]
It’s an old earth musical do you know it?

[To: +55384390]
I do not.

[From: +55384390]
What is with people nowadays

[From: +55384390]
We had a discussion today in my universal history tutorial about pop culture from different planets and when I mentioned how awesome (trust me on this) RENT was and NO ONE knew what it was

[From: +55384390]
Can you believe it????

[To: +55384390]
That is far more many question marks than necessary.

[From: +55384390]
?????????????????????????

[To: +55384390]
If it is an Old Earth musical as you mentioned, it would make sense for many not to know of it.

[From: +55384390]
Yeah but it’s SO GOOD

[From: +55384390]
And it was so so important in displaying the struggles of the queer community since at the time they were still being hidden from mainstream news

[To: +55384390]
What is it about?

[From: +55384390]
Okay

[From: +55384390]
SO

It took 5.25 minutes before Spock received what he deemed the equivalent of an essay in text format.

[From: +55384390]
RENT is the wonderful tale of six seven individuals living seven individual but still entwining lives. Almost all of them are queer, poc, and most of them are living in the same neighbourhood in New York or somehow involved with it. It’s an awesome rock musical that touches upon topics such as homelessness, AIDS and its affect in the queer community (a very important but discarded subject during its time), drugs, and so much more! It’s crazy good and was quite a hit in its time because it dared to discuss the above subjects during a time where the government was brushing that issue under the rug, and the music is amazing, the storyline is great, the way it handles each of its characters is terrific, and ohhhh my goddd, it’s just fucking awesome!!

[To: +55384390]
You feel very passionately about this musical.

[From: +55384390]
Fuck yeah I do it’s amazingggg!

[From: +55384390]
Honestly if I didn’t end up being a delinquent I totally would’ve been a theatre kid

[To: +55384390]
You certainly possess the dramatics.

[From: +55384390]
Wow rude

[From: +55384390]
But thank you

[From: +55384390]
Theatre isn’t all about dramatics you know loads of other stuff involved

[To: +55384390]
I believe dramatics is your strength.

[From: +55384390]
You’re so charming

[From: +55384390]
Yeah you say that but wait until you’ve heard my voice

[From: +55384390]
You’ll be singing a different tune then!

Spock found it odd that a stranger could incite such a feeling of fondness within him only via text messaging.

*

It had been three weeks since Spock last sat in on a lecture for Professor Poole, and today he found himself doing it again. Since Dr. Keeger had been deemed an undesirable candidate to help co-teach the Cultural Ethics module together with Professor Fukinara, the teaching committee had had to re-evaluate their choices and procure a second possible candidate. That had turned out to be the visiting regular Professor Riba.

The professor was giving a lecture on the history of Betazed and its impact on Earth and the Federation. A large number of students had shown up to the lecture, which was promising.

Spock, once again, was sat at the back of the lecture hall near the exit. He preferred to have a full view of the lecturer as well as the cadets, as he believed that seeing their reaction to the lecture would better help him determine whether the professor was a worthwhile candidate or not.

Professor Riba was midway through his lecture when Spock’s communicator buzzed in his pocket. He instinctively reached for it, not processing what he was doing in the middle of a lecture. He opened up the screen and saw he had an unread message from the unknown number.

[From: +55384390]
If you had to hold an intervention for me what would it be for?

Spock looked up at the lecture stand. Professor Riba was discussing the first agreement between Betazed and the Federation. Spock knew this information by heart, and so directed his attention to his communicator.

[To: +55384390]
I find your lack of proper grammar knowledge disconcerting.

A sudden loud laugh rung out through the lecture hall. Professor Riba stopped their teaching and placed their hands on their hips, glaring at a certain area in the middle of the lecture rows.

“Mr. Kirk, would you like to share with the class what’s so funny?”

A voice Spock vaguely recognised replied. “Sorry, Professor Riba. I promise it won’t happen again.”

“How much does a promise from you hold true.” Mumbled the professor, returning to delivering their lecture.

There were a few snickers at the comment, but Spock deemed it unnecessarily rude. He documented the incident in his notes.

*

For the past two months Spock had ensured that he meditated for at least six hours a week. It was an adequate number of hours that helped him keep his mental state balanced. However, for the past two weeks he had been extremely occupied with assessments and aiding professors in grading papers, and had therefore not had the time to properly meditate for the required number of hours.

He had recently handed in his Theoretical Physics essay, the last of his coursework for the week, and decided to catch up on his meditation. Spock closed all the doors and windows to his quarters, blocking out any and all noise that could disturb him. He lit incense sticks and placed them in the corners of his bedroom, then changed into the appropriate meditation garbs before situating himself in the middle of the mat placed on the floor.

Spock approximated that 1.87 hours had passed before his eyes snapped open. His communicator had vibrated. He immediately got to his feet and headed to the night stand, picking up his communicator.

[From: +55384390]
You gonna dress up as anything for halloween?

It was the unknown number. For once, Spock abandoned his meditation in favour of composing a reply. He sat down on the edge of his bed and began typing.

[To: +55384390]
I am not entirely familiar with this occasion.

[From: +55384390]
You never celebrated it before

[To: +55384390]
I have.

[From: +55384390]
Well then you know it’s just a dress up game and people getting drunk

[To: +55384390]
That indeed seems to be the tradition on campus.

[From: +55384390]
It’s a great tradition

[From: +55384390]
So you going as anything?

[To: +55384390]
I do not usually partake in the activity.

[From: +55384390]
‘Usually’

[From: +55384390]
I’m learning how to read between your lines

[From: +55384390]
What did you go as previous years?

[To: +55384390]
I wore my Vulcan robes and went as myself.

[From: +55384390]
Ahahahaha that’s a shitty costume

There was a brief moment before a second message followed.

[From: +55384390]
You’re a vulcan?

[To: +55384390]
Yes.

There was another short wait before the next message arrived.

[From: +55384390]
How many vulcans are on campus?

This was intriguing.

The durations between the messages indicated that perhaps the unknown number knew of him. Or knew him. There were many people who knew of Spock, he was after all the only Vulcan in Starfleet, having foregone entry into the VSA, an educational establishment all Vulcans attended.

His notoriety was not abnormal, but still he was overcome by a small bout of nervousness at the stranger knowing who he was, yet Spock did not have any knowledge as to who they were.

[To: +55384390]
As far as I am aware, I am the only one.

This time several minutes passed before Spock received another message.

[From: +55384390]
You should go as Kevadra for Halloween

The sudden change in topic cemented Spock’s suspicion that the unknown number indeed knew of him. He contemplated their suggestion of costume choice. It was not entirely unappealing. Kevadra was a well renowned scientist, and together with their trusted companion, a botanist known as Oorera who humorously cared more for their plants than anything else, they made for one of the most famous literary pairs in the universe. The two of them were part of the written works of Miss Cruz, a Filipina writer who excelled in murder mysteries. Spock possessed several of her books on his PADD and would often read them on shuttle journeys.

[To: +55384390]
That is not a displeasing attire.

[From: +55384390]
No very modest actually + easy costume

[From: +55384390]
And a character I imagine you’d enjoy

[To: +55384390]
I have not told you I enjoy the works of Kevadra and Oorera.

[From: +55384390]
You strike me as the kind of being who does ;)

*

Reading Week had arrived and the majority of cadets at the academy had planned some manner of travel during this time. Mauritius appeared to be a favourite destination this year, though many intended to return back home to spend time with their families. Nyota had taken a shuttle back to Kenya to visit her grandmother, and she would often send pictures back to Spock. He appreciated her effort, as he had never before visited the continent of Africa nor Nyota’s grandmother. If she had raised a woman as brilliant as Nyota, Spock thought it an honour to be met by them.

Spock was spending the Reading Week at the academy. He did not possess the time to travel to Vulcan as it took three days to travel back and forth, allowing him only one day planetside. He did not mind, as he regularly kept in contact with his parents, more so his mother than his father, and he had already planned to travel to travel back for the winter holidays.

Most cadets left at the academy were from off-planet, like Spock, but there were a handful of Humans staying as well. One of them unfortunately was the blond cadet from the Chess Club. He and Spock’s paths would often cross when at the gym or the library, and the cadet would always smile and wave in greeting. Spock would not.

After a gym session where Spock and the cadet’s workouts had overlapped, Spock made sure to enter the locker rooms twenty minutes after the cadet. He did not wish to converse as he was changing. Spock never sweated much whenever he engaged in rigorous exercise, but he still elected to take a sonic shower. Once he was clean, he changed into his attire and started to pack his belongings. He picked up his comm and saw that he had an unread message. He swiped his thumb across the screen.

[From: +55384390]
Do vulcans kiss on the mouth

Spock stared down at the message.

[To: +55384390]
That is an intimate question.

[From: +55384390]
Yeah sorry I’m just curious

[From: +55384390]
I spoke to this girl who knows pretty much everything about anything and she said that vulcans use their fingers to kiss

[From: +55384390]
But I just don’t get it how does that happen

[To: +55384390]
Vulcans possess the majority of their nerve endings in their fingers, making them extremely sensitive.

[From: +55384390]
Ohhhh so that’s why you guys never shake hands or anything

[From: +55384390]
Man they really should teach us this at school or something this is important information

[To: +55384390]
I have inquired of Starfleet if they will be holding a Xenocultural Training seminar in the future, but they have yet to return to me.

[From: +55384390]
Can tell you right now that’s very unlikely to happen

[From: +55384390]
Since Starfleet is made up of mostly Humans and none of us know anything about different cultures outside of Earth we’re not qualified to teach these things

[From: +55384390]
You’d have to get volunteers from different races and planets to partake in the lecture

[To: +55384390]
That is indeed the challenging aspect of arranging the seminar.

[From: +55384390]
Wish you the best of luck with it! Gotta head off now talk to you later

Spock took a moment to re-read the message before pocketing his comm. It was exceptionally windy outside and he was not looking forward to experiencing it. Hefting his bag over his shoulder Spock exited the locker rooms.

*

Every year on All Hallow’s Eve Starfleet would arrange a celebration for all of its students, and this year was no different. It was a popular event on campus, and even though certain cadets forewent it in order to attend previous engagements, the majority of them attended every year. The appeal of copious amounts of alcohol, creative costumes and spending time with their friends was too great for them to resist.

Spock had taken the unknown number’s advice and decided to go as Kevadra. His costume had not been handmade, but purchased from a local shop that specialised in festive costumes. He had arranged to leave for the event together with Nyota at 21:00, however complications with her costume forced Spock to go alone.

He entered the auditorium where the event was held, and was blasted in the face with heat, loud music, and a multitude of colours. It seemed the cadets had not restrained themselves when putting together their costumes, as almost everyone was dressed up. Most of them were lost on Spock, and so he decided to seek solace at the bar.

Several students greeted him on the way, many of them from either the Chess Club or Xenolinguistics Society, and commented on his appropriate choice of costume. Spock thanked them, and oddly enough felt a flare of appreciation for the unknown number's suggestion of costume. Spock managed to make it to the bar and order a glass of water before he was accosted by someone. Turning around he was greeted with the sight of someone painted in white with a black star on one of their eyes, wearing a red beret, striped shirt, and holding a loaf of bread. Spock quirked a brow.

“So what do you think, Spock?” The person yelled, trying to get themselves heard over the suddenly loud song that came on, and Spock recognised it as Nyota.

Leaning forward so he did not have to strain his voice, Spock replied, “I am not entirely certain I understand your outfit.”

Nyota shook her head with a smile, looking as if she expected that reaction from him. She held up a finger, indicating he should wait, then pointed up. ‘The music’ she mouthed, then pointed to her throat. Spock nodded in understanding. Three minutes later when the song had come to a very welcome end, Nyota sidled up next to Spock.

“It’s a play on words. The beret, striped shirt and baguette are stereotypical indicators of someone from France, and the makeup is common to the Old Earth band KISS.” She explained, gesturing at herself.

“It is popular culture.” Spock noted.

“Exactly. And um, if you combine the two of them, it becomes ‘French Kiss’, which is a type of kissing.”

“I… see.”

“It’s okay if you don’t.” Smiled Nyota. She seemed to find his lack of knowledge amusing. She turned to the bar and looked at the bottles behind the counter. “Know what’s good here?”

A sudden booming voice shouted out, “My dear Kevadra!”

Spock and Nyota both turned around at the shout, and were greeted with the sight of the blond cadet from the Chess Club dressed in a red velvet trenchcoat, with black gloves pulled up to his elbows. He had two belts wrapped around his waist, and knee-high leather boots. Even his hair was spiked up, and looked to be dyed red. He looked to be the spitting image of Oorera.

“It has been much too long! How fare you?” The cadet grinned, and clapped Spock on the shoulder who immediately tensed.

“Spock, play along.” Nyota whispered to him, mirth evident in her eyes. She had apparently abandoned her quest in acquiring a beverage.

“I do not wish to.” Spock noted that the cadet’s eyes were not brown as Oorera’s were described in the books.

The cadet’s lips twitched. “It’s alright, Uhura. Can’t expect everyone to get into the spirit now, can we? Good thing I’m so well-versed in roleplay, I’m really nailing this part.” The cadet gestured at himself. “What do you think of my outfit? Neat, huh?”

“It is acceptable.” Spock relented, as it was indeed passable.

The cadet quirked an eyebrow and smirked. “Wow, anyone ever tell you you give great compliments? Because seriously, I’m feeling the praise.” He drawled.

“You must excuse me.” Spock said suddenly, placing his drink on the counter. He managed to direct himself through the crowds of people dressed up, drinking and jostling each other rambunctiously. He ignored Nyota’s call informing him that she would remain at the party, and headed towards the exit.

He had stayed his fill.

*

[From: +55384390]
So what do you call me?

[To: +55384390]
Pardon?

[From: +55384390]
On your phone

[From: +55384390]
What’s your name for me

[From: +55384390]
Yours is ‘Nerd Alert’

[To: +55384390]
I do not have a name for you. It is simply a number.

[From: +55384390]
I’m aghast!

[From: +55384390]
You need to have a name for me, it shows we’re buds

[From: +55384390]
I can help you if you want

[To: +55384390]
I would prefer to have your name.

[From: +55384390]
Woah someone’s getting serious

[From: +55384390]
What next you gonna ask for my hand in marriage?

[To: +55384390]
Illogical. Asking for someone’s hand is an outdated custom.

[From: +55384390]
Can’t help but notice that’s not a ‘no’

[From: +55384390]
My name is James

Spock immediately changed the contact name of the unknown number.

[To: James]
Thank you, James.

[From: James]
Not going to tell me yours?

[To: James]
You would not possess the vocal chords to pronounce it.

*

Over the past few weeks Spock and James exchanged messages frequently. More often than not James would be the one to instigate a conversation, but sometimes Spock would find himself doing so. On occasion when he was in the middle of composing a text, he would desist and wonder if James would enjoy the message or not. He found himself sharing the pictures Nyota had sent him with James, and that prompted a discussion on the various countries and cultures on Earth. James had a deep fascination and fondness for new worlds and exploration, and Spock was mostly certain that he would be the type to accept long-term missions in space.

Spock still helped his professors with their grading, but only had two courseworks left to complete, which was a huge difference from his classmates who had yet to start any. He lessened his time at the gym as he did not enjoy braving the cold, and instead took to engaging in physical exercises at home.

As November fell into December, Spock received more calls from his mother informing him of things he should bring back with him from Earth. His mother often informed him of the various foods and activities (‘Make sure you bring a gingerbread house with you, Spock, we’re building one whether you’ll eat it or not!’) she had prepared for Spock’s return, and even though he consistently reminded her he had no preference for any of what she suggested, he felt warm at her considerations.

His mother had always been a loving and openly affectionate parent, an aspect of her person Spock learned to appreciate when he was older. As a child, her behaviour had embarrassed him and been the cause of much scorn and ridicule from the other Vulcan children. However, as an adult, Spock was immensely grateful for her existence. Had he been less biased he would have congratulated his father in acquiring such a warm-hearted wife.

Spock’s boots crunched as he stepped through the snow on the streets. He had recently sat through a meeting with Professor Poole, who had informed him that Professor Riba had been chosen to co-teach Cultural Ethics. Spock was repeatedly thanked for his time and notes, especially by Professor Pike, who had been scarce this past term.

Pike had been occupied with work on the Enterprise, Starfleet’s newest flagship, said to be unlike any other previously created. There had already been talks on who would be fortunate enough to be drafted as members of its crew, one certain candidate being Montgomery Scott, an especially brilliant engineering student who Pike, along with every other admiral, had sung praises about. Although they too spoke of his insane passion in regards to machines and crazy theories which he would test out. Admiral Archer had taken to sitting out with his beagles whenever he let them out in the garden because Scotty had once told him about a theory he had on transwarp, hinting that a test subject, such as a canine, would be useful in the experiment.

However, the Enterprise had yet another year at least before it was completed and ready for voyages, and there was plenty of time to find crew and personnel for it.

Pike had sidled up to Spock and asked him about his studies, how he was finding his time at Starfleet, and caught up with him on his personal interests. Professor Pike was one of the few people Spock would deem a friend, along with Nyota, and gladly traded stories with the man. He had not realised how much he had missed the presence of his friend until their conversation. Pike’s comm beeped, calling him away for more business, but before he went he invited Spock around for dinner with himself and his wife, stating it would allow them to catch up properly. He had not stated a time or place, but Spock immediately accepted.

A particularly biting gust of wind hit Spock, and he pulled his scarf up to cover his nose. He was almost positive his cheeks were flushed green from the cold. Clenching his fists Spock continued the trek back to his quarters. He could see the building ahead of him, and approximated that he would be back inside his warm rooms in 2.3 minutes. The snow was not as heavy as it had been the previous year, but it was still an obstruction to transportation. Several students who used bikes had been forced to walk as the snow was so thick it hindered any other form of transport.

Spock reached his building, and was just rounding the corner to reach the entrance when he was suddenly hit in the face with icy coldness.

He reached up with his gloved hands and wiped at his face. Traces of white snow crumbled, some of it falling inside his scarf. Spock looked up and saw the blond cadet with his arm in the air and mouth hanging open. There was another dark-haired man staring at Spock with his eyes wide.

There was a tense moment where neither of the three of them moved. Suddenly the blond cadet burst into motion, running towards Spock.

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry!” He cried. “I’m so, so, fucking sorry! I didn’t mean for you to get hit, it was for my friend but he dodged out the way last second and then you came around, and oh my God, I’m so sorry!”

Silently Spock stepped back, out of reach from the cadet. He then slowly walked around him, and continued to head towards the entrance of his building.

*

Spock was feeling off kilter.

He had been studying for his upcoming exams in January when he had received an incoming vidcall from his mother. Spock stepped outside into the hallway before answering the call, expecting to see his mother’s jovial expression on the screen. Instead, he opened up the vidcall to an image of her looking tired and dejected. Immediately Spock’s instincts were on high alert.

It took a few tries before his mother could speak, and when she did so she informed Spock that his father had been hospitalised. The blood was rushing in his ears. Suddenly Spock felt as if the Earth had fallen out from beneath his feet. His expression, however, betrayed nothing.

She went on to explain that he had been present at a diplomatic meeting on Elyseti II, when a set off explosions went off in the building he was in. All beings present had been immediately evacuated, and those injured had been taken to be medically treated. They had ascertained that his father had not been grievously harmed, but still he required time to recover. He was currently in a Vulcan trance, which made Spock both scared and relieved. The Elyseti II law enforcement suspected terrorist activity by a local group, but they would have to undertake further investigations before they could determine anything.

Once he had ended the vidcall with his mother, Spock could not bring himself to return to his revision. For the remainder of the day he found he was not entirely present, and felt as if he were always one step behind how he normally behaved. Thankfully he only had self-study hours and lectures, no activities which would give away his odd behaviour.

As soon as he got home, he decided to send a message to Nyota informing him of his wish to speak with her, though he was aware she would not finish her classes until another two hours. But when he reached for his communicator he realised he did not have it on him. A search through his bag revealed it was not there either. The logical conclusion would be that he had left it somewhere on campus. For such a thing to happen, Spock must have been extremely unsettled. His mental state was suffering. Spock would need to retrieve his communicator immediately. Hopefully it had been handed in to the lost and found section.

*

Braving the cold Spock walked the entire way to lost and found section on campus. He entered the building, noting how the cold he had felt previously was suddenly drowned out by the overwhelming warmth in the building. The student manning the lost and found counter pointed Spock to a corner of the room where four small boxes were placed. Approaching the boxes, Spock noticed there was already someone present. As he neared, the person turned around, and Spock saw it was the blond cadet. Looking down he saw he had his hands full of tiny bottles of lube. The cadet followed Spock’s gaze.

“This isn’t what it looks like.” He defended immediately.

Spock did not wish to know. He did not have the energy to care.

“Has someone handed in a communicator today?” He asked evenly.

“Oh, uh, yeah… hang on, I just saw it.” The cadet awkwardly dropped the lubes onto the counter and reached into the box. He pulled out a communicator and handed it over to Spock. “Here you go.”

Spock accepted the communicator, and turned to leave, not sparing a glance or a thank you to the blond cadet.

Spock stepped back into the thrashing cold, plains of white surrounding him. He began his journey back home, deliberately trying to ignore the wind howling around him. It was futile. Spock felt restless and uncomfortable, and he was unsure how to go about handling these sensations.

He procured his communicator from his pocket and opened up the messaging app, sending a quick one to Nyota. She had yet to be let out of class, and so there would be no reply for a while. Spock opened up a new message and began composing a second text.

[To: James]
My father has been hospitalised.

The reply was instantaneous.

[From: James]
Woah you okay?

[From: James]
Do you want to talk about it?

Spock felt irrational, and wished to speak to a friend, so he opened up his contacts screen and dialled James’ number. The call was immediately declined.

[From: James]
Sorry I can’t answer right now but texting is fine!

[From: James]
What happened with your dad

[To: James]
He was the victim of a terrorist attack when on a diplomatic mission.

[From: James]
Fuck

[From: James]
Is he doing alright?

[To: James]
He is in a Vulcan healing trance.

[From: James]
???

[From: James]
What does that mean?

[To: James]
A Vulcan healing trance is when a Vulcan falls into a trance-like state, focussing all their energy on repairing the injury.

[To: James]
Vulcans undergo it when they have suffered severe injuries.

[From: James]
Shit Spock I’m so sorry

[From: James]
He’s going to be fine though right??

[To: James]
Yes. He will survive.

Spock had reached the entrance of his building. He momentarily placed the communicator into his pocket as he inputted the code and opened the door.

Once back in his quarters he shook off any traces of snow left on his person. He hung up his jacket and unwrapped his scarf. He could not feel his face. A look in the bathroom mirror revealed his cheeks and the tips of his ears to be green. He sniffed. He hoped he would not catch a cold.

A sudden though occurred to him. Spock went and retrieved his communicator from his jacket. He opened up his most recent chat with James.

[To: James]
I did not reveal my name to you.

Almost ten minutes passed before Spock received a reply.

[From: James]
I know

This was evidence. James knew who Spock was. He was unsure how he felt about that. Another message came through.

[From: James]
Hey would you want to meet up sometime soon? We could talk more about your dad in person it might help

For all the times Spock had imagined finding out who James was, he found himself hesitating. If they met then their relationship, which had been entirely textual, might change. For better or worse, Spock did not know. There was no guarantee that once they met they would share the familiarity they displayed through their messages.

His comm vibrated.

[From: James]
I’d say it’s about time wouldn’t you?

Spock re-read the message. He was not entirely certain what he wished to do.

[To: James]
Do you wish to meet?

The response came without delay.

[From: James]
Absolutely

[From: James]
If you’ll have me that is

Reading James’ words, Spock came to a decision.

[To: James]
I would be amenable to meeting with you.

[From: James]
Awesome :) When are you free? I can make time whenever

[To: James]
I will remain on Earth until December 22nd. I am free this coming Wednesday.

[From: James]
Wednesday it is then

[From: James]
You want to meet at the campus café? At like 2-ish?

[To: James]
That would be acceptable.

[From: James]
Awesome, see you then!

[To: James]
Until Wednesday, James.

Spock let his hand drop. He had acquired a meeting with James. They would finally be seeing one another. They would no longer remain strangers through a screen.

Spock’s comm vibrated in his hand. He brought it up and saw it was a message from Nyota asking if she could call him. Spock called her instead.

*

The campus café was busy at this time of day, but it was not overwhelming. After much consideration, Spock had decided to arrive at the arranged meeting place ten minutes earlier than agreed. He reasoned that he would need to time retrieve a cup of tea for himself and pick out a table. Once he had acquired his tea, still steaming hot, he perused the establishment.

Almost all the tables were filled. There were several students taking coffee breaks from their bouts of revision, and some sat talking with their friends. Spock saw two cadets with their PADDs open and typing furiously across them. He surmised they were attempting to finish essays in time for their deadlines. Spock spotted the blond cadet from the Chess Club sat at a table, and as always he smiled and waved at him when their eyes met. Ignoring the cadet, Spock continued to browse the room. He spied an empty table for two in the back, and made for it. However, on his way he was intercepted by the blond cadet.

“Hey.” He smiled shyly. “You doing okay?”

“I am adequate, Cadet.” Spock replied, stepping aside to go around him. The cadet stopped him with a hand on his arm.

“Would… would you like to sit with me?” He asked uncertainly.

“I have prior engagements I must attend do.” Spock informed him, gently pulling his arm out of the cadet's grip. He did not appreciate being touched without consent.

The man looked to be contemplating something, grinding their lip between their teeth.

“I know.” He said, then swallowed. “I thought you might want to talk about your dad.”

Spock stilled.

He looked into the eyes of the cadet, who was staring right back at him.

“How did you acquire this information?” He asked, voice sounding strange even to his own ears.

The cadet reached into his trouser pocket and pulled out a communicator. Spock’s heart beat loudly in his chest as the cadet busied himself with the comm, and even though he had deduced in these past few seconds what exactly was about to come, he was still surprised when the man held up his communicator. There, on the screen, were the latest messages Spock and James had exchanged.

The background noise of the café seemed simultaneously impossibly loud and drowned out. Spock could not process the facts presented to him. The cadet eventually dropped his hand, and pocketed his comm. He looked up at Spock.

“Do you want to sit down now?” Spock could not reply. He was still in shock at the revelation. This was James. His James. The cadet he found irritable beyond reason was the same person he had been exchanging messages with for the past months.

When he continued to remain silent, the cadet cautiously reached for his sleeve and pulled at it. Spock did not respond. The cadet pulled a little more, stepping back as he did so. Slowly, Spock followed. The cadet continued to drag Spock with him, leading him back to his table where his jacket and bag were already occupying one of the seats.

He sat Spock down, and once he had placed his jacket and bag on the floor, took a seat opposite him. He quirked a grin at Spock, which dropped as quickly as it had appeared.

“So um, maybe I should tell you a bit about myself.” The cadet cleared his throat. “My name is James Kirk, though everyone calls me Jim.”

He paused for effect, but when it was obvious Spock would not be speaking, he continued. “I’m on the Command track at Starfleet, doing an accelerated course. I’m twenty five years old, from Riverside in Iowa, and I have an older brother called Sam. I’m not sure where he is right now.”

There was more silence, and so he went on. “My mom is Winona Kirk, she’s an engineer in Starfleet. My dad is George Kirk, you might have heard of him.” He laughed uncomfortably. “I’m allergic to a lot of things, which drives my best friend crazy with how he has to look after me. He’s a doctor, so he thinks he has to take care of me, but I’ve lived with my allergies for almost my entire life, I know how to handle them. Um, I like space, obviously, and driving faster than is legal, and also reading journal articles on Theoretical Physics.”

Finally Spock had found his voice. “Cadet, why did you deceive me about your identity?”

“Jim, please.” He corrected automatically. “Alright, I can see it’s going to take some more effort to win you over.” He fidgeted, playing with the hem of his sleeve. Eventually he sighed. “I… I didn’t know it would get this serious. When I started messaging you. I thought it would just be some texts whenever I was bored, pass the time or something, but it… yeah, I fucked up. I ended up really enjoying talking to you. You’re interesting, you know, and actually really funny. Though in a dry kind of way.” He smiled suddenly. “I like it.”

“That does not explain the deception.”

The smile fell from his face. “Right. That. I really am sorry if I tricked you, I can promise you I didn’t mean that— or well, I did, but I didn’t mean to, I just— aw man, this is so difficult to explain.” The cadet ran his hands through his hair, making it stick up. He rubbed his chin, looking to be considering his next words. Finally he came to a decision.

“Okay, so I got your number off the bathroom wall. I thought it would be fun to message it because it seemed fun. You ended up replying, and you were kinda interesting, so I decided to message you more, and eventually it just became a regular thing for me. You’d become my friend and I would message you about dumb shit because that’s what I do with my friends. I didn’t know who you were until that talk we had about Halloween costumes.”

Spock remembered. “When you inquired as to whether there were more than one Vulcan on campus.”

“Exactly.”

Another thought occurred to Spock. “Is that why you created your All Hallow’s Eve attire to match mine?”

The cadet laughed. “Yup. And you gotta admit Spock, we looked damn good together.”

When Spock did not react in any way or form, the cadet coughed. “So, yeah. I realised who you were then, and honestly, I didn’t know what to do. I knew you didn’t like me— like actual me that you met in person— and that kind of sucked, but I know not everyone I meet will like me. But uh, yeah, I knew you didn’t like the me you had met in person, and I wasn’t too crazy about you either, I just liked riling you up, but I really liked talking to you via chat. With every text you became more and more interesting to me. And funny. And I really liked you. But I… yeah, I started to get overly attached to you, and Bones— my doctor friend I was telling you about— started making fun of me because whenever I got a message I would kind of jump for my comm, and when I saw it was from you I’d apparently get this manic grin on my face.” He pointed at his lips, then shrugged. “I don’t know, Bones said it’s super obvious to everyone, and that’s including blind people. I thought he was being ridiculous, he’s an asshole after all, but I… yeah, once he pointed it out I became aware of it, and I realised that I was like super into chatting with you, and well, I… I kind of realised I might like you more than a friend.”

Spock stared at him. It was a lot of information to take in.

The cadet leaned forward a little. “Also, when I say I like you more than a friend, that means I’m interested in you romantically. But if you’re not feeling that we can just stay text buddies. Or I could just leave if you want.”

“Do not.” Spock said immediately. The cadet’s eyebrows rose.

“Um, okay.”

“I have yet to… ascertain all the facts.” Spock explained slowly. There was undeniable truth that the cadet before him was indeed the James he had been conversing with all this time, but Spock had learnt some additional information just now and he was struggling to arrange it all in his head.

“Take your time.” Said the cadet— James— Jim. “If you don’t mind, I’ll go grab a coffee real quick.”

“That is fine.” Spock said absently. James— Jim, reached into his bag and removed his wallet, then rose out of his seat and headed for the counter. It left Spock alone with his thoughts. It was a most disconcerting experience.

Spock knew Jim as the cadet from the Chess Club, and as the stranger-turned-more that he had been exchanging messages with. He had finally come to terms with that. It was possible for someone to display certain traits in person and different ones entirely through other means of communication.

As to whether Spock approved of Jim now that he knew both of his sides, he was not sure. When he thought of Jim as the blond cadet, he became infuriated with the antics and foolery he exhibited whenever he and Spock crossed paths. However, when he thought of James, he felt fondness at his specific brand of antics. James was indeed foolish at time, and could do with proper Standard lessons, but he was also highly intelligent, inquisitive, and at times amusing.

The only difference between these two people was their first meeting. Both had been strange, but one of them had turned into a deep friendship, and the other dislike.

“So you reached a verdict yet?” Spock looked up. Jim was looking at him as he took a sip of his coffee. He had not been aware that Jim had returned.

“I am not certain.” Spock admitted.

“How about you give me a try?” Jim reasoned, putting his cup down. “I mean, I know you’ve only ever met me when I’ve been kind of a dick to you, but I swear I’m more than that. The messages we’ve sent each other shows that. I am still that same guy.” Spock observed that Jim spoke with his hands, often gesturing along to his words.

“You are not inaccurate in your argument.”

“Thanks.” Jim grinned. “I kind of have a lot riding on this. Emotionally, that is.”

Silence fell over them. Spock was not entirely present as he was still in his head, going over his thoughts on the situation at hand, and Jim was idly fingering the handle of his cup.

“So, did you grow up on Vulcan?” Jim inquired quietly.

It took Spock a moment before he replied. “I did.”

The conversation was stilted, and Spock was not being entirely cooperative when it came to holding up his end of the conversation. However, Jim persevered, asking Spock question after question about himself. He showed remarkable understanding and respect about a culture that was not his own, and when Spock explained major differences between Earth and Vulcan, Jim reacted only positively.

Slowly, Spock could see the traits of James bleed into the Jim before him, and it became easier to imagine the two as the same person.

Even though Spock was not good at keeping up a conversation or asking questions at the appropriate intervals, Jim was very good at talking. He shared anecdotes about his life, his friends and roommate, as well as his classes and some of his childhood, always ensuring that Spock was not bored and got a chance to speak. At one point Jim brought up an opinion he had on Dr. Aab’Bk’s latest book, and Spock perked up. They had a heated discussion on the particulars of cross-race geneology, which lead to their disgust on the most recent journal article by Dr. Jones. They bonded over how close-minded and xenophobic the book was, and Jim got exceptionally emotional over how small the sample sizes used were, proclaiming he could not fathom how it ever got approved to be published in an academic journal.

At one point Jim inquired about the well-being of Spock’s father, but Spock did not feel comfortable enough in Jim’s presence to share that information. Jim simply nodded and changed the subject. Spock’s remaining suspicion of him melted away.

It was two hours later when a worker at the café approached and informed them they were about to close that they realised how long they had been talking. Quickly donning their outerwear, Spock and Jim both headed towards the exit. Spock wrapped himself up tight in preparation of the cold outside, and was glad for it when there was a blast of wind as soon as he stepped out.

It was that time of the year where darkness fell early. All around them the skies were dyed black, and the sheets of white snow spread across the ground made a sharp contrast. There were few stars twinkling in the distance, and the street lamps had already been switched on, illuminating the paths around them. It was eerily beautiful.

“So…” Jim turned to Spock. He looked uncharacteristically sheepish, his cheeks stained a fetching shade of red. He slowly held out two of his fingers.

Spock looked down at the gesture, and this time it was his turn to blush. He recalled the chat he had had with James about Vulcan kissing. Had he known the information would be used on him he was not certain what he would have done.

Spock brought up his own two fingers and gently slid them along Jim’s. The action caused the man to startle.

“Woah. I didn’t think I’d feel that.” He breathed, lips quirking into a smile.

“When interest in someone is strong, both participants will receive the emotional reactions.” Spock explained.

“’Participants’,” He mocked with a chuckle. “You are such a nerd.” He looked at Spock with a bright smile, his breath coming out in puffs of fog. “So does that mean my interest is strong, or yours?”

Spock took in the bright eyes, the light from the street lamps reflected in them. His cheeks were still red, but Spock believed it to be a reaction to the cold rather than Jim’s own embarrassment. Even the tips of his ears were turning red.

“I believe it is both.” Spock replied.

Jim grinned.