For as long as Tuvok had lived he had never understood the human fascination with birthdays. It seemed like a trivial thing to be celebrating yet he had noticed time and again that humans would go out of their way to make a big deal about it.
Due to the small crew of Voyager, every birthday was celebrated how the person felt like it and the Captain always ensured they would have the day off. With the exception of his own of course as she had just figured out the date of it.
He had…appreciated the cake and her attempts for it, grateful she had at least chosen to limit the knowledge to the two of them. It should have been something that he put out of his mind afterwards but Tuvok had the niggling reminder that the Captain’s own birthday was coming up soon.
It was a thought that distracted him from finishing his kal-toh game properly and led him to decide that it would only be logical if he then returned the favour. Kathryn was after all his Captain, and more than that, his friend. Being so far away from home it was rewarding to have the friends that he did, even if he would not express such sentiments unnecessarily.
His first order of business was then to remind Neelix of the upcoming event, a simple thing to do. All he had to do was mention the upcoming stardate as a requested meeting and Neelix looked at his own agenda, brushing him off as he had to make something for the Captain’s birthday.
“Perhaps refrain from the use of Leola root.” Tuvok said drily, knowing how Kathryn didn’t enjoy it at all.
Neelix pouted, “But I have this amazing Leola root recipe with what the humans call chocolate cake. I promise you Mr. Vulcan, you won’t be able to taste the root at all.”
Tuvok merely stared at him and raised an eyebrow until Neelix fussed a bit and then agreed not to use it, dithering off to his kitchen to try to plan something without it.
Next he found B’Elanna, in time for their Klingon training holodeck simulation. It was trickier for him this time to think of a way to bring up Kathryn’s birthday but when they took a break and B’Elanna complained about lacking in replicator rations due to a stunt that Tom and Harry had pulled – that Tuvok made note of to shut down later – he saw his opening.
“Neelix is attempting to put a meal together as of now for the Captain’s upcoming birthday. I am certain he would not turn away someone to test it.”
B’Elanna made a face at the mention of testing it but he could see her brush it aside and pick up on the relevant information, which meant that Tom and no doubt Harry would be informed of it soon. The young Lieutenant would also inform Seven of Nine, excitedly telling her the details and she in turn would discuss the purpose of it with the Doctor.
As Chakotay no doubt already knew of the upcoming day it meant his work was done and he should have been able to meditate in peace but that night something was still distracting him.
Tuvok blew out the candles in his room and let it succumb to darkness, looking out the viewscreen in contemplation. Kathryn had, at first, been his only friend aboard this ship. It was a title that he had always respected between them though the crew was certain he didn’t care, Kathryn knew he did and that should have been all that mattered.
However it was apparent in his thoughts of the past years on Voyager that he had not been there on her birthday. It was still weighing heavily on his mind the next morning however, even as he stood in Kathryn’s office delivering his morning report.
“Tuvok,” Kathryn cut him off suddenly and then gestured for him to sit down. “What’s going on?”
Tuvok raised an eyebrow at her but only received one back in return and he knew that he wasn’t going to get out of this without Kathryn getting some kind of answer from him.
“There is nothing wrong, Captain,” He told her, meeting her eyes to show that he was telling her the truth, there was no logic in lying after all.
“Tuvok,” Kathryn leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms, “I think I’ve known you long enough to see when you’re trying to evade the question.”
“Vulcans do not evade.” Tuvok replied and Kathryn chuckled.
“Of course they don’t, my mistake.” There were crinkles at the edges of her eyes to show how amused she was while she tried to hide her smile, “They just try to distract you until you forget you asked it.”
Tuvok didn’t reply to that, just stood up and went over to the replicator to ask for a cup of coffee and a cup of Vulcan tea. The coffee he put in front of Kathryn.
“What’s this? Bringing me coffee after all Tuvok?” Kathryn teased him and then rested her arms against her desk, interlocking her fingers. “There isn’t some medical issue I should be aware of is there?”
“I have passed my last physical with the doctor,” Tuvok informed her and then, though he wouldn’t admit it, he hesitated, “There is perhaps something I have been wondering lately.”
“And here I thought Vulcans didn’t wonder.”
Ignoring her comment as it was just another attempt at humour Tuvok continued onwards, “It is customary for humans to celebrate their birthdays, specifically with family and close friends. As our many years on Voyager have shown me we have been most conscientious of this tradition and yet…”
“You have not requested my company for your birthday events the last few years.”
Kathryn blinked in surprise and then smiled softly at him, “Tuvok,” He was certain that if she didn’t know that he preferred not to have contact she would have reached over to pat his hand, “I was certain that Vulcans didn’t wish to get involved in such matters. Vorik certainly made it clear he didn’t wish to.”
Tuvok didn’t say anything at that for a minute, gathering his thoughts and uncertain how to explain that he did want to be there for what Kathryn would consider an important day, before he could speak though Kathryn cut him off again.
“Tell you what Tuvok, I’ll make it an order. Be at my party, have a slice of cake, leave whenever you like.” Kathryn took a sip of her coffee, warm eyes looking over the cup towards him.
“Very well.” Tuvok inclined his head and took a sip of his own cup, a silence fell over them that wasn’t uncomfortable but content instead.
When he stood to return to his duties Kathryn called his name, making him turn to face her again.
“Thank you Tuvok, I don’t say this enough, but I value your being here.” Kathryn said, complete sincerity in her voice.
He held up his hand in the sign of the ta’al, “I am honoured by yours as well.”
There was a glint in Kathryn’s eyes, the beginnings of fond tears that she pushed back, the moment between them was something bespoken of honesty and affection.
Perhaps years aboard Voyager had changed him more than his years on any other ship, and perhaps he found comfort in knowing that Kathryn treasured their friendship as much as he himself did, and perhaps – when he was older – he would allow himself to admit to those things more freely.
For now he walked out of Kathryn’s office and back to his station, catching Tom, Harry, and Chakotay in hurried whispers about the Captain’s birthday party.
It would indeed be a good one this year.