The Seasons Change [Part 1 of 2]Author: le_culdesac Pairing:
PG-13Summary: Set almost immediately after the film, something wakes up in Kirk as he and Spock eat together for the first time. The mess hall's a rather unremarkable backdrop but it sets the stage for the start of something grander. It takes an intimate linguistics lesson and a disastrous landing party mission that results in the two being stuck in a biotent with only one sleeping bag before they realise the obvious.
His expression is unreadable but his eyes are fixed on Kirk’s lips. “Vulcan is a musical language that requires its speakers to have well developed oral muscles.” He brings his fingertips to Kirk’s jaw and gently presses the flesh beneath. “These are your suprahyoid muscles. They are more developed in Vulcans. You must tense them in order to articulate the softer vowels.”
The Seasons Change
The mess hall’s deserted because they’ve just come off the night shift and it’s two in the morning. As usual, some dramatic catastrophe kept them from taking so much as a bathroom break, let alone finding the time to sit down and eat.
Kirk hasn’t had anything besides an apple and three cups of coffee since 0700 hours and he’s fucking ravenous. Seriously, he’s dizzy with hunger. He can’t remember the last time he’s been this hungry. He attacks the bread roll the moment it materialises in the replicator. Fuck cutlery, his goddamn life is on the line here. He makes a beeline for the nearest table as Spock keys in his own meal.
“What is that stuff, anyway?” Kirk mumbles, his cheeks bulging with bread and mashed potatoes. Spock takes the seat opposite from him, carefully lowering his tray.
It’s the first time they’re eating together. Alone.
“It is Plomeek soup,” the science officer replies, sipping his spoon.
“It’s fluoro orange,” Kirk grimaces. “It looks like it’s radioactive.”
“The Plomeek plant is renown for its many nutritional benefits. It contains all the essential vitamins for Vulcan physiology.”
“Yeah. And it’s orange,” he repeats. “You know the Japanese have a saying? A man eats with his eyes first?” He begins cutting his steak into small, bite-sized pieces and cramming them into his mouth, three at a time.
“Perhaps it has escaped your notice that Vulcans are of the persuasion that aesthetics are superseded by practicality,” Spock quips, taking another delicate sip.
“Yeah, I totally missed that one. It went whoosh right over my head,” Kirk chuckles. I could really get to like with this guy.
“All right, give us a taste.” He picks up his spoon and reaches over, dipping it into Spock’s bowl. He leaves a thin trail of soup between their trays as he brings it to his lips and Spock raises an eyebrow, but he doesn’t say anything. “That’s not half bad,” Kirk frowns, as if he’d been expecting to spit it out into a napkin. “It kind of tastes like onions.”
Spock nods. “That is a plausible comparison.”
Kirk forgets his hunger for a moment as he watches Spock spoon his soup. He's been noticing small things about Spock, just from watching him at his station. Like how the points of Spock's ears will actually quiver slightly when he's calculating numbers in his head, or how he stops every two hours to flex his fingers. It's kind of interesting watching him.
He’s been captain for less than a week and you’d think it’d take him a while to get comfortable around a self-important stiff like Spock but, as it turns out, it’s pretty easy. Beyond easy.
Maybe it’s because he’s beginning to be able to read the fucker now or Spock’s starting to warm up to him. And by ‘warm up’, Kirk means going from ‘icy cold’ to just ‘cool’. Either way, he’s starting to realise it’s all about compromising. Adjusting his standards. A raised eyebrow from Spock can be roughly the same as a “What the hell have you been smoking?” growled out by McCoy. An almost imperceptible nod equates to Scotty pumping his fists in the air. Or something.
There’s something about them that just clicks.
***Kirk leans on the wall of the turbolift, his arms crossed. He’s survived Day 1 as captain, but only just. Talk about fucking demoralising. He’s not the kind of guy that struggles at things. When he puts his mind to it, he excels. It’s as simple as that and it’s not arrogance.
His cockiness had begun to unravel when he’d realised he didn’t know jack shit about authorising budget overruns, drafting up safety evaluations or even how to have his logs officiated. And don’t get him started on the fucking performance reviews.
He doesn’t really give a crap about redtape but there’s just so much of it and it’s got to be done right-the-fuck-now-Sir. His hand feels like it’s about to fall off from having spent most of the day signing things. Hell no, he doesn’t have the patience for this kind of thing. The captain’s chair is a power trip and a half but he’d rather be planetside, phaser in hand and adrenaline in veins.
He’s not used to doubting his decisions. He closes his eyes and rests his forehead against the cool metal, sighing quietly. He's tired.
It’s not that he doesn’t want to go to his rooms because, lord, he does. It’s that he can’t quite bring himself to say ‘captain’s quarters’ just yet. He feels like a bit of a fraud calling himself 'captain' right now.
The turbolift jerks into motion. Apparently, someone besides him was off duty and still awake. When the lift stops at the observation deck and Spock gets on, Kirk doesn’t bother to get off the wall. They stand in silence for a few moments; Jim leaning against the lift as if his shoulder’s been glued to it and Spock standing perfectly still, facing the doors with his hands held behind his back.
Well, shit. This isn’t weird at all.
“Are you going to use the lift anytime soon or are we just gonna stand here the whole night?” Kirk demands, regretting it as soon as the words tumble out of his mouth. It wasn’t supposed to come out so... bitchy. Spock had spent the day quietly correcting him, making suggestions and showing him the finer details about bureaucracy.
He'd even been subtle about it, as if he’d known that each time Kirk had to ask him something it cost him a little dignity. He’d addressed Kirk as ‘captain’ throughout the day, tacking it onto the end of his sentences maybe a few more times than was strictly necessary. He'd stressed the word as though he felt Kirk needed reminding. Even so, there hadn’t been even a hint of derision in his voice. Not even a ‘you-should-be-familiar-with-these-administrative-protocols’ eyebrow twitch.
Kirk doesn’t mean to be so ungrateful.
Spock starts talking, as though he intuitively knows that Kirk’s about to say something awkward. “Jim.”
It always makes Kirk pause when he hears Spock call him that.
“Observing your behaviour and body language,” Spock says evenly, “You are no doubt beginning to acknowledge your distaste towards the more mundane administrative tasks associated with captaincy.”
Kirk just stares at Spock’s profile. Yes, he’s had a reality check. Thank you for pointing out the obvious. Now go away.
“It is not in your nature to value bureaucratic processes. As first officer, it is my duty to remind you that such formalities ensure the welfare of your crew and the Enterprise’s contribution to the Federation. I believe you would agree that the importance of this significantly outweighs a few moments of restlessness on your behalf. The greater good, as you may see it.” Spock hasn’t turned to look at him. Instead, it’s like he’s talking to the lift doors.
Kirk nods. He’s right. It’s selfish of him to be moping because he has to sit out a few landing parties. He shouldn’t need Spock to point this out to him.
“You are a natural leader, Jim,” he says, “But you must learn to express those qualities in oppressive circumstances.”
In other words, grow up and stop being such a gratuitous thrill seeker. Serve the Federation and do your goddamn job. It’s as if Spock’s channelling Admiral Pike.
“First officer’s quarters,” Spock says into the voice command panel, bringing the turbolift to life. In moments, he’s gone.
It takes Kirk a few more seconds to realise that Spock was reassuring him..
“Captain’s quarters,” he finally says.
He only realises he’s staring when Spock looks up at him quizzingly.
He shakes his head, coming back to the present. He goes back to his food, appetite kicking in again. “Nothing. I was just thinking.”
The corners of Spock’s lips twitch upwards, fleetingly. It’s so quick that Kirk would’ve thought he’d imagined it if it weren’t for that lingering amusement in Spock’s eyes. Some quiet place inside him stirs just a little, knowing he’s just seen Spock smile. He’s beginning to appreciate the power of subtlety.
“If you make a cheap shot about me and thinking, I’ll throw you off my ship,” he says jokingly. He’s getting more comfortable with calling it ‘my ship’ now. It’s beginning to feel like it almost is.
“And whom would you choose to fulfil my position?” Spock asks, breaking his bread roll and dipping it into the last of his soup.
Kirk chews thoughtfully at this. “You know what? I’ve got no clue.”
“Surely of the four hundred and thirty eight crew members present, there would be a suitable replacement.” Spock folds his napkin and places it on the tray besides the now empty bowl. “Ensign Chekov has a suitable background in the sciences, I believe.”
“Yeah, but he’s not you,” Kirk replies, pushing his tray away and leaning back in his seat. “Excuse me,” he burps.
Sprock regards him. “Fascinating.”
“What? My burping?” Kirk breathes into his hand and sniffs, self-conscious. “It’s not that bad. I mean, I just ate—“
“You believe that I am the only individual aboard this vessel capable of serving as your first officer,” Spock looks mildly confused, as if he’s being confronted with Furmat's theorem.
“Yeah, I know. Illogical, unfounded, unjustified, etcetera, etcetera. Can we take that part of me as a given?” he says, gathering their trays. He waves away Spock’s hands as he makes a move to take them from him.
“You’ve been on your feet longer than I have.” He heads over to the storage shelves and deposits them into the automated cleaning slots. “You worked a double shift yesterday, too.” He’d checked the officer’s work logs earlier that day when he’d noticed Spock blinking more than usual during the morning. It was the only sign the Vulcan had shown of tiring, which was nothing short of a miracle. He’d clocked in a total of forty two hours in the past two days. “You’re off duty for the next twenty hours.”
Spock’s too logical to argue the point. “I appreciate it. Thank you.”
“You want anything while I’m up?” Kirk calls back as he punches in a replicator code for chocolate cake. He can almost hear the damn cogs turning in Spock’s head, hesitating to ask for anything.
“A cup of chamomile tea, please, if you would be so kind.”
Kirk carries the drink and his cake back to their table. “Anything else, sir? Sugar? A foot rub, perhaps?” he grins despite himself and gently passes the cup to Spock, who closes his eyes and inhales deeply.
“Thank you, Jim.”
Kirk doesn’t notice that Spock happens to have really long, dark eyelashes that flutter as he sips his tea. That would be stupid. “It’s the least I can do.” He throws himself into his seat and takes a forkful of cake, rolling it around his tongue. “This stuff’s got no right to call itself chocolate cake. It tastes like cardboard,” he sighs. “I’m tempted to give Starfleet the finger and warp back to San Francisco. There’s a no-name café about ten minutes from the academy that does a mean chocolate slice. I think they’ve got a vegetarian menu, too. I’ll show it to you next time we’re at the Academy.”
There's something weird about talking to Spock about the Academy and San Francisco. It's like he's talking about a chapter in his life that never happened. It's been less than a month since they've left Earth but there's something incredibly freeing
about leaving that fishbowl.
Spock raises an eyebrow from over his cup. “Are you speaking of the café located in the cul de sac adjacent to the Academy Boulevard?”
Kirk’s surprised. “You know it? It’s a total hole in the wall.”
“Though I have not sampled their,” a measured pause, “Cakes
, I am well acquainted with their vegetarian options. It is adequate.”
Kirk snorts into his plate. “High praise from you indeed. You’d better not tell that to the owners; they’ll go into cardiac arrest.”
Spock finishes his tea, eyeing Kirk’s plate.
“What, you want a bite?” he lifts a forkful towards Spock, who boldly ignores it. “Your loss,” he shrugs, taking it for himself. “Actually, scratch that. My loss,” he makes a face and spits it out. Screw it, he thinks, pushing the plate away.
“I understand that cake is associated with celebration in human culture,” Spock lowers his mug.
“Maybe I am celebrating." Kirk rests his chin on his knuckles, breathing contentedly. He’s beginning to feel sleepy from all the food. Damn he’s comfortable right now. He doesn’t have to open his eyes to know that Spock’s waiting for an explanation. Let him wonder
, Jim thinks. He yawns loudly. “We done here?” Spock nods, rising. He doesn't push the point.
They make their way to the turbolift in silence. They’ve become too tired to talk. Even so, Kirk notices that their gaits are perfectly matched. “Commander’s deck,” he says. In seconds, the lift doors open at Spock’s floor.
Spock turns to face him, his expression even. “Your company has been most stimulating.”
He clamps his mouth shut. Now's not the time to laugh at awkward sexual innuendos. “Yeah, Spock. You too.”
It isn’t until Spock begins to move away that he realises the night's over, that this is the part where they say goodnight and go back to their own rooms. He reaches out and grabs a black sleeve without really thinking. Spock stops, reflexively pulling his arm free. He frowns at the sudden physical contact, looking at Jim curiously. “Was there something else you required, James?”
They look at each other, both equally lost. Why'd he just do that? “It's nothing, never mind,” Kirk finally says. "Good night, Spock."
“I believe the appropriate parting would be good morning, Jim,” Spock replies as he leaves.
Kirk's alone now. He feels it sharply. He falls into bed and heels off his shoes. As tired as he is, it's a long time before he falls asleep.
The double-gamma shift is approaching its end. Spock turns away from his station to inform Kirk, only to see that he’s asleep in Chekov’s seat, feet propped up on the control panel.
For a fleeting moment, Spock pauses, as if he’s reluctant to wake him. It would be illogical not to, as Kirk would obviously be more comfortable in his own quarters. As the science officer approaches, he notices something resting on Kirk’s chest.
“You are familiar with Sir Conan Doyle.” Spock picks up the book, savouring the feel of paper. It’s been a long time since he’s held a real book.
Kirk jerks awake, blinking. His eyes are bloodshot. “What time is it?”
“It is currently 0307, captain. You are off duty until 1200 hours.”
Kirk rubs his eyes. “Fucking gamma shifts,” he yawns and stretches.
“Expletives are uncalled for,” Spock says without really thinking, still absorbed in examining the book.
“I packed it with me last shore leave,” he yawns again, louder this time. “You know you almost slayed me when you quoted Holmes? ‘If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’
It’s my favourite line.” The captain grins, taking his feet off the control panel. Trust Spock to enjoy a book about a prickly detective with a hard-on for logic.
“You are surprised that I am well read?” an eyebrow rises, as if to say 'seriously
“No, I just always pegged you as the kind of guy to think you’re above human classics. They're pretty emotional,” he smirks.
At this, Spock raises an eyebrow. “My mother was a school teacher before marrying my father,” Spock says, running his hand across the tattered book spine. His voice softens, “She ensured that I appreciate the classics from both Vulcan and Terran culture from a young age.”
Kirk doesn't know what to say to that so he just watches Spock admiring the book. It’s dog-eared, yellow with age and paperback, retrieved from a dusty box of his father’s old things but for some reason, there's that small, pleased twitch of lips again-- the one that makes Kirk's stomach do funny things.
“There is no justification for dismissing great scholarly endeavours. Also, I believe your species’ capacity for emotion makes human literature much more...” he pauses. “Interesting.”
“I’ll say.” He notices Spock’s hands—pale and long, with slender fingers—slowly flipping through the pages. Maybe he’s just too tired to think straight but there’s something in Spock’s expression which makes him think of kids at amusement parks back on Earth. He’s pretty sure anyone else would swear it’s just a blank deadpan. He can tell Spock's quietly thrilled, in his own way. “It’s yours if you want it,” he blurts out.
Spock frowns slightly. “No.”
“I want you to have it.” Kirk means it. He reckons he’s probably looking overly earnest because Spock eventually nods.
“Thank you, captain,” he says softly.
"What's Vulcan literature like?" Kirk quickly changes the subject. "I tried reading the Kir'Shara
translations at the Academy but it gave me a headache."
Spock looks at him, his gaze slightly furrowed. "The teachings of Surak are the essence of Vulcan culture. I did not expect you to have encountered them."
"Our ancestors cast out their passions on these very sands," Kirk quotes. "Kolinahr
." He's probably jumbled the word, but the Vulcan regards him with a curious expression on his face.
"Your enunciation is remarkable for a human," Spock says evenly. "You have not received instruction?"
"I didn't think it was possible for humans to speak Vulcan fluently. I’m just going by phonetics."
Spock nods. “That is true. However, with the correct method, it is possible to acquire the ability to pronounce basic phrases.”
Kirk frowns, puzzled. “Can you show me?”
Spock hesitates. “It will require physical contact.”
“I’m all right with that. I mean, if you are.”
Spock steps around the chair to stand behind him. “Please tilt your head towards me.”
As he does, Spock looms above. The lighting of the bridge obscures everything but his silhouette. His expression is unreadable but his eyes are fixed on Kirk’s lips. “Vulcan is a musical language that requires its speakers to have well developed oral muscles.” He brings his fingertips to Kirk’s jaw and gently presses the flesh beneath it. “These are your suprahyoid muscles. They are more developed in Vulcans. You must tense them in order to articulate the softer vowels.”
Kirk swallows, feeling slightly light-headed. Spock’s hands aren’t just warm, they’re hot. “Let me try something.” The pressure beneath his jaw distorts the words slightly.
“Kashkau wuhkuh eh teretuhr
,” says Spock. The words seem to run into each other.
Kirk closes his eyes and repeats them. It doesn’t sound as rich or languid coming from him, but apparently, Spock approves. He withdraws his hands and returns to Kirk’s side.
“With practice, you will improve,” he says evenly.
“What does it mean?” Kirk asks. He absent-mindedly strokes the spot where Spock had been touching him.
“It is an ancient Vulcan phrase,” Spock replies after a pause. “Do you require anything else before I retire to my quarters?”
Kirk shakes his head, frowning. Way to avoid answering.
He’ll remember to look it up later. Spock crosses the floor, heading towards the turbolifts. “Where’d you learn how to do that, anyway?” he calls after him.
Spock stops and looks at him from over his shoulder. “I would have thought that much was obvious, Jim.” He raises an eyebrow. “My father devised the method when he married a human.” End of Part 1.
I'll post up part 2 tomorrow.
I know this one's slow paced (or more accurately, pace does not exist) but I guess that was kind of the point? Or something? I don't know! Comments and crit are always really appreciated!
sorry I'm running so far behind with the sequel to this. Patience is always rewarded! I know I said 'tomorrow night' but I'm just. So. Tired. I've been running around with writer's block, trying to churn this one out and I think I'm slowly getting there. I just really don't want to put up something dodgy, you know? AGAIN, I AM SORRY, but rest assured it's coming! Okkk falling asleep.