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sometimes (all times) i just want to punch you in that stupid (perfect) face of yours

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“You’re upset.”

“I am Vulcan.”

“I notice that wasn’t a denial.” Nyota sounds amused, and Spock wonders that he chose a linguistics expert to be his closest companion on Earth. Growing up with one for a Mother should have taught him not to hide behind turns of phrase, and yet -- he exhales, softly, and knows that Nyota will take it as a sigh.

“Kirk...”

“Super fucking hot, and probably knows it?” Nyota snorts, flipping her hair delicately over her shoulder. “Considering that shirt perfectly matches his eyes, he’s probably counting on his face to give him at least some of an edge today.”

Spock traces the lines of Commander James T Kirk as the man mingles with some of the students that make up the audience. It would seem that Kirk is naturally gregarious like many of his species -- Spock can see how the people nearest to the man are leaning slightly forward, their smiles open and genuine. He takes a few steps forward, just close enough to catch Kirk’s words, and realizes that he is expounding on the virtues of a specific type of genetically modified wheat and the protections it offers to new colony worlds, tying health benefits alongside social stability and safety, balancing for the potential cost of development.

Commander Kirk is brilliant, but Spock already knew this. Any being who can sustain a year long intellectual disagreement with Spock via published papers in the Starfleet Academy Journal must easily be amongst the best minds in the Federation.

What Spock did not know, was that Kirk was beautiful. Except, beautiful is not quite the Standard word that Spock means when he looks across the room. There are parts of Kirk that Spock might consider beautiful, his eyes, for one. The curve of his jaw. His smile as he looks up and notices Spock’s gaze, moving forward in Spock’s direction.

Oh.

“Commander Spock!” Kirk’s smile grows wider as he raises his hand in a ta’al. Spock nods, reciprocating the gesture as he wills the blood away from his cheeks. Nyota has mysteriously disappeared, and Spock spares a moment to wonder at her seeming abandonment until he notices her speaking to the Dean of Xenolinguistics. Without her, Spock does not know where to focus, what aspect of Kirk’s face does not fascinate him--

Enough. Spock takes a breath, lengthening it slightly more than usual, and brings his haphazard Human emotions back under the logical control of his Vulcan mind. He is Spock of Vulcan, and one human of aesthetically pleasing features will not take that away from him.

“Is there something wrong, Mr. Spock?” The light in Kirk’s eyes has dimmed somewhat, and his body language has shifted into something more insular. Spock falters for a moment, before dutifully trudging forward on the path of honesty. He is Vulcan, and Vulcans do not lie.

“Forgive me Commander, but I am simply attempting to reconcile the differences between your current appearance and that of your official photograph.”

Kirk laughs, and Spock feels a tension he had not been aware of leave his shoulders. He straightens his spine by an infinitesimal amount to compensate.

“That old thing? Jesus, I can’t imagine what you were expecting to show up today if that’s all you had to go off of.” Kirk frowns slightly, in what Spock assumes is thought. “My first paper was about to be published and I was a...wreck, to be perfectly honest. I don’t think I’d had a haircut since the start of the semester, and that was right before finals. Sleep schedule was shot, hadn’t shaved for a few weeks, and that was probably at the ass end of my breakouts too.”

Kirk shrugs, and his mouth turns in a wry smile. Spock is suddenly aware of an urge to respond in kind, to smile back, to make some sort of witty comment like he’s seen Nyota do. Nyota once explained that she was flirting , that that was how some humans signalled that they were interested in the other being.

Does Spock want to...flirt...with James Kirk?

“Speaking of pictures and papers,” Kirk begins, and as Spock is still debating the merits of flirting he is unprepared. “I read your last one about the Maru and I gotta say no matter how much you sugarcoat your bullshit, it’s still bullshit.”

There is an image Amanda Grayson once spoke of, trains of thought that come to a screeching halt. Spock thinks he understands, now. He suddenly recalls some of the more withering comments from Kirk’s many rebuttals on the subject of the Kobayashi Maru. Their academic rivalry has grown to the point that this debate today, about the ethics and practicality of such a test is Kirk’s first event since the end of the USS Farragut’s mission.

Was a pleasing face all it took for Spock to forget? He will have to meditate on this later.

“Bullshit.” The word feels awkward, overlarge as Spock repeats it, stalling to set up the perfect rebuttal. Because Kirk is wrong , and if he needs to use his face in order to trick Spock into lowering his defenses, that only proves how wrong he was in the first place.

“Absolutely!” Kirk grins, and Spock is torn between the wrongness and also how nicely Kirk’s grin lights up his eyes. Illogical. Impossible.

Captain Pike clears his throat behind the dais and calls for the two distinguished guests -- one Commander Spock and one Commander Kirk to come to the stage so the debate can begin.

Kirk begins walking, clapping Spock once on the shoulder as he passes.

“Good luck,” he calls, tossing another one of those grins over his shoulder.

Spock is Vulcan, and as a Vulcan he is not supposed to feel emotion. And yet, he does not lie, either.

In the privacy of his own mind, thirty seconds before he ascends the stage to debate against an apparently extremely attractive and intelligent Commander Kirk, he allows himself to acknowledge what he knows to be true.

He is, indeed, upset.