The ship had been docked at Star-base One for a few days. The Enterprise, and her crew, had just completed a one year mission in the Alpha Quadrant, slowly expanding the Federation's star charts. The crew manifest in front of me was almost identical to the prior one a year ago; Almost every single crew member had stayed, including the entire senior staff. As happy as that made me, as much as I lived to be a member of Starfleet, the past 12 months had been nothing but geological and cosmological mapping. Our next mission wasn't for sometime as the ship underwent upgrades and minor repairs, so most of the crew was on leave. I was essentially stuck at my desk without plans when Spock entered the office.
“Captain, may I speak to you a moment.” His uniform was pressed clean as usual, and he appeared as ready as ever to embark on a mission. He was never one to take extended vacations, though he did appreciate his free time in his own way. It had been a few years with him as my first officer and we'd thankfully approached an enjoyable friendship. Which would be great if I hadn't caught myself stealing glances at him whenever I thought I could get away with it.
“Of course Spock, what's up.” I stood from the desk and leaned forward, both hands pressed down on the table.
“I noticed you are the only crew member who still remains stationed hear on Earth Space-dock”
I tilted my head slightly, “Well you are too but yes, I'm staying here for a lack of anything better to do.”
“Actually Captain, I'm taking advantage of the window between missions. I've been asked by the Vulcan Science Academy to appear as a guest to their annual cultural heritage conference on New Vulcan.” His weight remained evenly distributed, but he glanced down if only for a moment.
My heart sank slightly at the news I'd be alone for the entire docking period, but although Spock's expression remained impossible to read, he shifted his head forward. “Captain, I would not have come here directly without reason. Seeing as how you have 'nothing better to do' I thought it appropriate to ask if you'd wish to join me.”
As quickly as I deflated, the hair's on my arms stood at attention, and rather than hide any excitement, I beamed a smile at my first officer, “So a festival on New Vulcan-”
“A conference, Captain. I will also be assisting in the event itself.”, he interjected.
“- A conference on New Vulcan, some fresh warm air-”
He lowered his eyes into a confused stare, “It will reach degrees of 46 degrees Celsius-”
I stood up straight and gestured outward with my hands, “I mean Spock, are you trying to dissuade me from joining you?”
A nearly silent sigh escaped him, and he stood at attention, “Of course not Captain, the offer still stands. I leave tomorrow at 0500 hours if you wish to accompany me.”
“Good, that gives me plenty of time to pack.”
0500 is what most sane people would call an ungodly hour. Even in a space station, where time is regulated and could theoretically be adjusted with a few buttons, 0500 is too early for anyone to do anything. Unless you're Spock or his traveling companion. The night before I'd all too excitedly packed some light clothes, both casual and a single formal outfit, and sent notice to the admiralty that I'd be taking my time off after all. That excitement was considerably dulled by the fact that I was half asleep shuffling across the lower deck towards the airlock. While I had arrived no later than five past 0500, my first officer was already beginning takeoff procedure.
He again looked completely for a mission, fully conscious and neatly groomed. This time however, he was not in his uniform but instead a dark slightly metallic brown robe and pants. “You're late, though I've come to expect that.”
His tone was clearly non-hostile, and in my haze of having just woken up I clicked my tongue and tilted my head; “Awe, Spock you waited for me.”
He continued with preparations to leave, now sealing the airlock and the shuttles cabin. His gaze remained on the console in front of him as he signaled departure from Space-dock and took us out of the earth's orbit. “As I asked you to join me, it would have been rude of me to leave without you.”
“So you care, got it. I know Earth to Vulcan is-” I held back the words, silently upset I hadn't chosen my words better, “Was a short trip, how long until we reach New Vulcan.
His gaze remained on his work, though I could tell my words had reached him. “New Vulcan is two sectors further, and as such will take one full day to reach at our current speed. We are on schedule.”
I set my bags in the storage compartments built into the walls and took my seat next to him in the cockpit, watching out the front as we turned just shy of Jupiter and engaged warp. The sight of stars stretching into thin white lines was comforting, though I still felt bad at having misspoke earlier. The destruction of Vulcan was still fresh in everyone's mind, especially Spock's. He lost his mother, his home-world, and so much of his identity in a single day. Under my command. Time had passed, and the efforts of millions have begun to turn New Vulcan into a replacement world, but his heart still hurt from thinking of how Spock had been crushed when it was his job to ensure the safety of as many as he could.
I lowered my gaze to my hands on the console, inches from his and I felt a familiar sensation. For human's we call it magnetism but truthfully, it was the weak telepathic field all Vulcan's possessed. Ever since the mind-meld with Ambassador Spock he'd become sensitive to his own Spock's presence. It was like a warmth that reminded him of feelings he couldn't quite grasp at, those feelings being Spock's own thoughts. A few moments had passed and not only had I caught myself staring, I realized that Spock had almost definitely noticed. On top of that, he might have felt my own mental presence in his space, though if he did he made no sign of it nor did he move his hand.
In an attempt to not only gently deflect the connection but break the silence, I sat back in my chair and turned fully to face him. “So Spock, what can I expect at this conference.”
“It's a tradition of the Academy to display the works of it's best and brightest, often attracting other great minds of the Federation. This is the first year it will take place on New Vulcan, as this is the first year the Academy is fully operational.”
“So is it all sciences?”
He gently shook his head, turning slightly away from the screens to face me. “While that is typically the focus, the Academy holds the event in conjunction with other institutions. Typically student's in other fields such as the arts display their works as well.”
I perked up slightly at the the idea. I spoke Vulcan decently well having taken it at the Academy and I've known Spock for years, but I was far from knowledgeable about the finer aspects of his culture. “I look forward to it Spock, thanks for inviting me.
“I'm appreciative that you find interest in the event, I look forward to it myself.” He finished setting the autopilot and turned to get up. As he rose, his height registered in my mind after him being seated the whole time, his body stretching ever so slightly. “I will be in the quarters, you may return to sleep if you wish.”
He disappeared into the back cabin, and I watched him do so. Once he was gone I realized I had again been staring. I shook my head around and realized I was still half in my pajamas, and decided to follow him. He was in his bunk opposite mine, reading a data-pad no doubt containing the details of the event. I nodded quietly, Slid under the covers, and passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow.
I was deep under the blanket, in total silence. When I peeled it away from my face I paused for a moment, before remembering that I had indeed joined Spock on the shuttle. Across from me, he sat perfectly still in meditation, the data-pad off to his side. In this trance like state, I propped my arm against my head and looked at him. I had just been dreaming of being on the bridge with him, the lines between actual reality and those memories blurring together in my mind. Silently I slid from my bunk and into the bathroom. I did my morning routine now, since I skipped it to try and make it to the shuttle in time. I pulled my toothbrush from my bag and took it with me into the shower, brushing as the sonic waves hit me. It didn't quite feel as good as a conventional shower but was nonetheless relaxing.
I was still tired but as the vibrations hit me I realized how long I'd been in there. The door chimed, and I paused. The shower walls were mostly transparent, and Spock and I had of course served together for sometime. There was nothing wrong with it and he probably just had to pee or something. I faced away from the entrance and shouted he was clear to enter.
“Apologies Captain, I left some of my belongings in here.” He moved straight to the sink and picked up a few loose item's I'd failed to notice.
I glanced over my shoulder when I realized he was indeed fully dressed. Still, I was naked. The only thing stopping him from seeing me as such was some partially transparent walls. I kept turned slightly to avoid any accidental first contacts. “It's 1300 hours now right? I didn't realize I'd slept so much.”
His eyes remained fixed on gathering a few loose items on the sink, “It's of no consequence captain, we still have several hours before reaching New Vulcan.”
I raised my voice just above the sound of the shower. “Spock, we're on leave and I'm your guest, just call me Jim.”
His eyes ever so slightly glanced in my directly, “If you'd like, Jim.”
I poked my eyes over the top of the shower to look at him, “That's more like it Spock, we've been friends for years it's not like I still call you commander.”
He turned to leave, and in doing so looked back and stated simply, “You are correct, Jim.”
Once the door shut behind him, I relaxed a bit and finished my shower. The rest of the trip passed as I'd expect, Spock was deep in preparations and I'd brought along a few ways to entertain myself. It was late into the evening when Spock looked up from his work and at me, who coincidentally was also on a data-pad “Jim' what's that beeping sound.”
I looked up from my screen to see him with a single raised eyebrow. “it's Pong.”
“Yeah it's an old earth game from when human's first developed digital entertainment.”
“Captain I was under the impression you've been reading this whole time.”
I smirked and tilted my head back. “What, there's nothing wrong with it. It's simple, you move a board to keep the ball out of your end zone, either competing against a computer or to clear a blockade.”
“So it's a military exercise?” The puzzled look remained on his face, “Other cultures had similar games though all of them archaic.”
“Less military more just for funsies. Did you wanna try it?” and in saying so, I held the screen towards him, having paused the game between blips.
Spock's expressions were always easier to read off duty, and while it was just the two of us they were even easier. A breath escaped his nose as he outstretched a hand, his fingers brushing against mine on the underside of the data-pad The moment lasted just over a second, his telepathic field meeting my awareness, like seeing a blurry image of each other. The lingering sensation faded as quickly as it appeared as he retracted his arm now holding the data-pad Wordlessly, he resumed my game where I'd left off. I realized my arm was still outstretched and as I brought it back I quickly found myself looking for anything to do. The night continued in this fashion, the methodical beeping of his game had almost synced up to my heartbeat. Eventually I fell asleep in my bunk again, glad to hear the beep behind me.
The next time I'd woken up, it was because the cabin lights grew brighter to simulate sunrise. The bunk across from me was empty but neatly made, and the bathroom door was just barely open. Inside, I could see Spock in front of the sink. His hair was slightly messy, and he wore the same clothes as the day before. I wasn't expecting him to start stripping the clothing off and I definitely should have looked away faster. When I heard the sonic shower start, I gathered my blanket around my waist and shuffled to his side of the cabin. On the shelf in his bunk was my data-pad, the game was paused but the timer in the corner revealed he'd been playing for several hours if not the whole night. His score was, of course, in the thousands.
I kept myself away from the door to the bathroom and got as ready as I could with him in there. Eventually I had nothing else to do and knocked a few times. “You may enter.”
Spock's height made it so he was nearly a head over the shower walls, and he faced sideways. It wasn't for modesty that he looked away, we'd lived in close quarters on missions all the time and had seen each other in various states of undress a few times. Instead, he looked away as to give me privacy, because honestly I just needed to pee. “I saw the data-pad, did you get any rest at all?”
His hands ran through his black hair, the sonic waves making it messy, “Actually I found the game to be most relaxing, almost like meditation once I'd become accustomed to it.”
“Well I'm glad you enjoyed it, and now I have a new high score to beat. Also, the daylight simulators kicked in does that mean we're there yet?”, I stood and began washing my hands.
“Yes actually, we've been in orbit around New Vulcan for 37 minutes. You have time to get ready before I begin landing procedures.” Without warning, the shower door slid open automatically. Because it's a sonic shower, there was no steam. Which meant nothing was hidden, and I got a full look at a totally naked Spock. He moved casually, the same way he would if were totally dressed. Nothing he did had any hesitation as he appeared beside me, still naked, and began combing his hair. For some reason, that made me feel like the naked one. Our shoulders almost brushed but I was too aware of it and stepped back slightly as I finished brushing my teeth. The last thing I needed was Spock accidentally picking up on my thoughts and emotions while seeing him naked.
“Uh I'm gonna go get dressed, start getting everything ready for landing. I can shower where we're staying.”
“If you prefer, I'll be with you momentarily.”
I left the bathroom as blush finally reached my face. To distract myself, I unpacked a set of clothes for the first day in New Vulcan's heat. It was a linen shirt, a golden color decorated in a Vulcan print. Spock had actually got it for me as a gift a while back but this was the first time I've had a reason or the free time to wear it. By the time I was fully dressed, Spock emerged from the bathroom fully clothed. It was a black outfit, with longer sleeves and the inner lining was a silvery color with a slight shine. He looked at the shirt I was wearing and nodded, “An apt choice, I'm glad you liked the shirt.”
“Well I'm glad you've given me the opportunity to wear it.” I gave him a grin that spread across my face, and a slightly smile appeared on his face for a moment before subsiding.
“I notified Vulcan Flight Control of our arrival and we've been cleared to land at our temporary residency whenever we'd like.” He moved over to the console and slid his fingers across the display, and with that gesture the shuttle gently tipped downwards as we entered descent. As the view outside became clearer and we broke through the clouds, the view was breathtaking. Unlike Vulcan, New Vulcan had a light amount of vegetation and was ever so slightly more temperate. In the few years and months since the first colonists arrived, they'd already erected a small city. From this altitude I could see the majority of the buildings, including a large rust colored campus with several spires and curved rooftops; Spock noted this as being the New Vulcan Science Academy's campus and the reason for the trip. We descended further landing in a more rural area just outside the major district. The shuttle then touched down in front of a stone and metal structure. It was like if an earth cottage had done away with the fantasy element it invoked and replaced with good old Vulcan logic. It was warm out, the local plant life was pretty, and he wasn't alone. Better yet, he was with Spock.
I walked out after him, gave a friendly pat on the back, and smiled, “let's unpack Spock, I wanna take a look around the place.”
To my surprise, the inside was decorated. And not like hotel decorations, but personal ones (though Vulcan design sense may not be far off from that). Still, just walking in felt like stepping into someone's home. There were elements of personal taste that seemed a bit strange, decorations too niche to be standard issue, and photographs. Not just paintings and other artwork, but real photographs. Spock had been walking ahead of me and stopped just past the doorway, leaving me to peep around behind him. I was about to open my mouth when I realized what he was staring at. On the wall opposite the entrance, was a diagram. It was intricate, with at least a hundred small photos. Lines connected them like a star chart, thinning out and cultivating into two framed portraits. The first one was a wedding photo, of Sarek and Amanda. Beneath it, connected by a single silver line, was Spock's graduation photograph taken on the day he became a Starfleet officer.
I was close enough to his back that I felt his emotions seep out quietly. It was like hearing a hurricane tiptoe towards your window, the feeling of resentment and respect he felt for his father, and the utter grief he still held for his mother. My eyes widened when it hit me, Spock wasn't trying to suppress his emotions. His knuckles were a pale green, almost white, around the straps of his bags, his posture was rigid, and his jaw was set in stone. I didn't know what to do to help, I didn't know if I should help, but that storm was getting louder. I did the only thing I could think of, and I placed a hand on his back. It felt like touching stone with how tense he was, but he then softened. “Apologies Jim, it has been...some time since I'd seen this. I thought it destroyed with Vulcan. Sarek must have had it recreated.”
It was clear now this was no rented residency, but Ambassador Sarek's new home. I looked around briefly for the elder but remembered he was working on relations with the New Romulan Republic. “I'm sorry, Spock.”
A hand reached up and met mine, but rather than push it away he simply left it there for a moment. “It's alright, It was a moment of weakness. Let us-”
I pulled on his shoulder to turn him around. “Spock. You know emotions don't equate to weakness. Even the most disciplined Vulcan's acknowledge their importance, even the bad ones.”
His eyes studied me for a moment, his eyes lowering briefly, “You are correct captain, I simply meant it was your human behavior 'rubbing off' on me, as Dr. McCoy likes to say. I understand your point however.”
He stepped out from the entryway, guiding me through the common space, past the kitchen and dining area, up the stairs to second common area. He stopped in front of one of two doors, and opened it to reveal a bedroom. The inside was much less decorated than the rest of the home, with only a few small items on the shelves. When he set his bags down he turned to me, “Captain- Jim, we will be sharing these quarters. It is Vulcan custom that the bedroom is a private place, and the other is Sarek's. I will take the couch so you may take the bed.”
“Ah come on Spock, it's your bed, I won't have you sleeping on the couch. Besides I'm no stranger to-”
“Couch surfing, yes, I am aware. Still, you are a guest here.”
I hadn't expected to share a bedroom with him on this trip, but I knew better than to hope for sharing a bed as well. Lucky for me, the universe had decided to compromise. the only couch in the room was essentially the same unit as the bed. It seemed to be joined side to back, with the couch facing a small empty bookshelf and being just a few feet lower. “I mean they're essentially the same thing, but you win Spock.” I gently slapped his shoulder and dumped my bag at the foot of the bed.
“I was unaware there was a competition, though I am unsurprised at the outcome.”
“Well everything can be a competition if you make it one, especially a game of Pong. I'll beat that high score.”
The corner of his mouth lifted slightly, “Unlikely, Jim.”
“We'll see about that, I bet I can beat it by the time this trip is over. That aside, I still need a sonic shower, where is it in here?”
He gestured to a slightly indented panel on the wall which slid away when approached to reveal a full bathroom. “Perks of an Ambassador eh Spock?”
“On the contrary, this is downsized significantly from our home on Vulcan. Though you are correct in assuming his position influenced the design, the only purpose of the second bedroom is that an Ambassador is expected to have the occasional guest. He is widowed, with neither of his children living at home.”
A faint memory of Spock's sister flashed in my head, I think I'd met her years ago directly after the Romulan conflict. “Michael right, your sister?”
“Indeed, she remains on the Discovery currently.”
I nodded, genuinely interested in Spock's family life. Still, the warm weather was beginning to get to me, and I hit the door frame a few times, “We'll I'll be out of the shower soon, see you soon.”
'See you soon', as if I'm not living with him for the whole vacation. You're smoother than that Jim Kirk.