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just thinking slowly

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EXT: USS ENTERPRISE, at normal warp, floating through the expanse of deep space.

 

SPOCK V.O.

First Officer’s Log: Stardate 98724. We have left the Nyalee system, where we have spent the majority of the past four weeks surveying and star-charting. Three hours ago we returned from a first contact assignment on Sobble 7.

 

INT: FIRST OFFICER SPOCK’s quarters. It is evening, some time after Alpha shift has completed. Spock sits at his desk, narrating to his computer his records of the last mission’s events, while fidgeting with a small alien looking cube. His brows are furrowed in consternation.

 

SPOCK (continued)

That mission, as has been recorded in the files, was a success, however my unfamiliarity with the freely melancholic society caused me to make a minor scene which nearly wasted our efforts. During a memorial service for the fallen soldiers during their civil war, it was common practice to weep openly. As I was unable to summon up the tears however, the leaders we dined with judged me to be disrespectful and condescending. I was not shocked by the misconception, but I do have some consternation that I would have been unable to defend my behavior had the Captain and Chief Medical Officer not been there to avert the crisis.

As such, I approach our next assignment with some trepidation. Our new orders take us to Ausculum, for their anniversary celebration of their Federation membership. Our command team is being held up as the shining example of what Starfleet has to offer, and so I and the Captain have been put on the front lines regarding “diplomatic dinner duty”, as Dr. McCoy has referred to it.

Ausculum, unfortunately, is one such culture where my shields and boundaries will be tested in a consular sense. While I am the son of the Vulcan ambassador and am well versed in adapting my habits to other’s, I am still fearful of committing another transgression so close after this offense. In order to avoid a repeat occurrence I will be consulting with a crewman who is somewhat of an expert in the behavior I will need to replicate, so that he may assist my efforts to be a better representative.

End First Officer’s Log.

 

Over the course of the log, Spock has moved from his desk to stand and take a long, grounding breath. He now clicks off the device, and then walks out of the room and into the hallway, coming to a stop before the door next to his. He takes another breath, before buzzing to announce himself.

 

KIRK

Come!

 

The door to CAPTAIN JIM KIRK’s quarters opens. Spock walks in, hands behind his back in mock parade rest, expression impassively serious as always. Kirk turns in his chair towards him, smile already on his face.

 

KIRK

Ah, Mr. Spock, what can I do you for?

 

A pause where usually there would be none. Spock’s posture, where it is usually straight, seems rigid. It is best to get this over with quickly. 

 

SPOCK

Actually, Captain, in this case it is more accurate to ask what you may do for me.

 

KIRK

I think you may have misunderstood the expression, Spock- Oh! Are you asking for a favor?

 

Spock dithers, where it is not logical to do so.

SPOCK

Yes... although you may feel free to decline. It is of a more personal nature, and I would not ask had I seen a more logical and practical alternative.

 

KIRK

I am sure you won’t be putting me out at all, Spock, so ask away. After all, if it’s the logical and practical choice...

 

Spock nods, his eyes now warmer. Jim, seeing that Spock will not take a seat, stands to face him. Had he sensed any more nerves from his friend, Jim would have brought a hand to his shoulder.

 

SPOCK

It is regarding the ceremony on Ausculum in 6.2 days.

 

KIRK

This favor you are asking of me - does it have any relevance to the traditions of the Ausculs?

 

SPOCK

As always, your skill for critical thinking remains astute. It has every relevance, Captain.

 

KIRK

Flattery will get you nowhere, mister. 

 

He sighs, and leans to perch on the edge of his desk.

KIRK

Unfortunately, I can’t accommodate you this time, Spock. While I understand that I am asking something of you which may go beyond your comfort level regarding physical boundaries, I have no say in the matter. Starfleet expressly requested our command team specifically to be present for the festivities, to put on a good show for the press and the donors. They’re already expecting us.

I promise you that if I had had it my way, you would have been spared being in the landing party and having to take part. I’m sorry.

 

A pause.

 

SPOCK

That is not the request I have come to make, sir.

 

KIRK

It’s not?

 

SPOCK

You are correct to say that the traditions of the Ausculs are somewhat beyond my comfort level. However, as it is my duty to be present at the ceremony, I shall endeavor to do so.

 

KIRK

But?

 

Spock dithers again.

SPOCK

But I am afraid of a repeat of the events on Sobble 7, where my apprehension and reticent temperament were received as wildly hostile in an overfamiliar, emotional culture. With regards to the importance of the function we are attending, I wish to avoid further embarrassment by preparing myself to the fullest extent possible of the traditions.

 

KIRK

I can see that. How… exactly… would I play a role in your, er. Preparation?

 

SPOCK

You have read the mission brief regarding their chief custom when greeting a person of honor?

 

KIRK

Yes.

 

SPOCK

This custom is my main concern. I have participated in this behavior before, on a few token occasions, however I would like to rely on more than just these experiences by consulting with an expert in the subject.

 

KIRK

And me… I’m the expert?

 

SPOCK

Yes.

 

KIRK

I see.

 

Neither of them move, though their eyes haven’t left each other’s once since Spock had called attention to this specific custom. Then...

JIM

Come here, Mr. Spock.

 

Spock walks the two steps to where Jim is still half-seated on his desk’s edge. Jim beckons him with his hand.

 

JIM

Closer.

 

Spock steps further into Jim’s space, almost between his spread knees.

 

JIM

Why am I the expert?

 

Spock’s voice takes on the same hushed quality.

SPOCK

I have seen you partaking in this activity on multiple occasions, and have observed positive results among both participants and witnesses. You would be able to provide adequate experience and advice.

 

JIM

Just adequate, Mr. Spock?

 

SPOCK

I have not yet had the opportunity to ascertain for myself whether your expertise goes beyond that distinction, sir.

 

JIM

Ah.

 

SPOCK

So you would be amenable, Captain?

 

JIM

Yes. Mr. Spock, I would be honored to share with you my qualifications on the subject.

 

They each stare for one moment.

 

SPOCK

Very well. I suggest we schedule the first of our practice sessions tomorrow evening, at the completion of Alpha shift. I have some work to complete in the Bioinformatics lab, however I am sure-

 

JIM

Spock, Spock! Slow down.

 

Spock slows to a stop, especially with the introduction of Jim’s hand on his chest. Suddenly there is not much distance between them.

 

JIM

I was wondering if you would want to get a headstart on your studies now.

There’s that eyebrow. Is that an affirmative, Spock?

 

SPOCK

It is. We may begin.

 

JIM

Thank you.

 

Slowly, Jim rose to full height, and stepped even further into Spock’s space, his left hand still on Spock’s chest. With the other, he takes Spock’s hands and brings the fingers to his lips, before changing his hold to grip his palm, as if in reassurance. He lets go, and then moves to Spock’s face, his thumb tracing his cheekbone, his fingers skimming his jaw. Spock’s eyes flutter shut.

 

JIM (his voice just above a whisper)

My people and I welcome and greet you, Commander Spock.

 

Spock raises his right hand to cover Jim’s on his chest.

 

SPOCK

I and my people are welcomed, and greet you in return.

 

His eyes remain shut, as Jim gently draws their faces closer, until they are mere centimeters apart, and they open once more. Their eyes so close have a wordless conversation, before Kirk understands and closes that last remaining distance. Their lips meet, and the both of them release a level of tension in their bodies at the contact, melting into each other and becoming one being.

It lasts an indeterminable amount of time, and when at last they remember themselves, they separate with only a breath between them. Wordlessly, Spock finds himself curling his palm tightly over Jim’s hand on his chest.

 

SPOCK

I find that adequate is not an apt enough description after all.

 

JIM (chuckling)

Oh, yeah? What would you classify it then?

 

SPOCK

I am unable to determine just yet, though I could surely benefit from further instruction.

 

Jim leans in to comply.

 

END SCENE.