Pairing/Characters: implied Spock/Pike, Uhura, Gaila, Kirk, McCoy, Gary Mitchell
Summary: Christmas time at the Academy.
Notes: Please visit the Master Post for elaborate navigation/pairings/summary.
The end of the term doesn’t mean Spock gets to have any time for himself, at least not instantly. A lot of cadets are staying on campus for the holidays, and it’s a long-standing tradition to debauch as many of the nearby drinking establishments as possible on Christmas Eve.
Strangely enough, those parties are usually more loud and wild than New Year ones. It’s almost as if those students who can’t go to visit their families or have no families to visit compensate for it by going as crazy as possible. Knowing this, the Academy board usually leaves someone in charge of the security detail kept around to deal with this kind of disturbances before the police can interfere. Starfleet prefers to take care of its own.
Which is why Spock’s comm frequency has been dutifully transmitted to every bar in the vicinity with the instructions to contact him in case of any disorder. Spock had been in charge of such a duty a year ago, but back then, he had a partner. This year, he knows he’s in for a busy night.
The first call comes at nineteen-hundred, a brawl. Spock sends a pair of the security guards. By oh-one-hundred, Spock has run out of people to send and has long since joined them. After he has restored order in the third bar in a row, he muses with a touch of irritation that the illogical nature of human festivities is not destined to ever be in dispute.
Being subjected to so many volatile emotions is taxing, and as it comes at the end of somewhat eventful several weeks, Spock has no qualms admitting he is tired. He stares at his comm thoughtfully, but it is silent, at least for the moment. This might be partly due to the fact that his shift is already over, and Spock almost wishes that the comm would chirp at him again. He is strangely reluctant to go home.
He looks at the nearby bar. It’s relatively quiet at the moment, but Spock decides to check for himself since he is here anyway. If nothing else, he can get a cup of Vulcan spice tea before he comes off duty.
He enters, looking around warily, but although the place is filled with cadets, they seem to be behaving themselves. Spock walks toward the bar and catches the bartender’s eye. Spock is surprised when he places a steaming cup in front of him in a moment, without even asking for his order. Spock inhales the scent, but he already knows it’s the right blend, the one best used as a restorative.
“Tough night?” the bartender asks him with a sympathetic wince.
Spock realizes he’s seen the human before, probably a year ago. For a human, the man shows remarkable visual memory.
“Indeed,” Spock agrees. “I am somewhat surprised that no disturbances have been reported here.”
He glances around, spying Gaila amidst one of the groups. His astonishment doubles. He’s used to the unbreakable rule that wherever Gaila goes, trouble follows.
“I know how to do my job, Commander.” The bartender chuckles softly. “You can have your tea in peace here.”
Spock nods gratefully. The bartender still wouldn’t leave, though, watching Spock take a cautious sip. He smiles, catching Spock’s questioning look.
“It is very pleasant, thank you.” Spock inclines his head and reaches for his credit chip, but the young man stops him with a raised hand.
“It’s on the house.”
“That is an expensive beverage,” Spock tries to protest. He knows import prices on Vulcan tea only too well.
The bartender smiles wider. “I can afford it.” He winks at Spock. “By the way, I’m Will Fisher.”
Spock blinks. “I am—”
“—Spock,” Will finishes for him with a grin. “Yeah, I know. Been seeing you around campus when we did catering and stuff.” Spock finds it strange that he blushes and looks away as he says it. It makes Spock try to recall if there had been any unusual incidents involving catering services on campus lately. Will glances up at him again. “Listen, just so you know. I run a respectable place. I know it’s noisy now, but it’s a party, so... But usually it’s pretty quiet here. I know you’re probably not much of a bar hopper, being Vulcan and all, but should you happen around our neck of the woods on a normal day, I think you’d find it nice in here. Our chef even knows a few Vulcan dishes. He’s pretty decent with them, too, I think.”
Spock blinks again, then eyes his drink warily before looking up at the human again. “Mr. Fisher, I am not a restaurant critic.”
Will lets out a laugh. “No kidding.” He shakes his head, obviously deeply amused. “Enjoy your tea, Commander.”
Spock does just that as he watches Will walk over to another patron. Humans are not getting any less illogical, no matter how long Spock lives among them.
He turns his head to locate Gaila, because there is something distinctly not normal about her and especially people around her behaving themselves under the influence of alcohol. But there she is, in a sky-blue and seemingly fluffy dress and a blue pointed hat with a white pompon. Spock attempts to deduce what kind of Christmas character she tries to impersonate when he notices Nyota to her left. Nyota doesn’t wear a hat, but Spock thinks that that her simple white sweater and jeans suit her incredibly. She has her hair falling freely along her back for once, and she’s smiling and looking so homey that it makes Spock’s heart clench.
He squashes the undue feeling of yearning, which surprises him a little because usually he’s not prone to being homesick. Instead he concentrates on Nyota, remembering that her parents are anthropologists on an in-depth undercover mission, studying a pre-warp civilization on a planet in the Cerulean Cluster. ‘It takes eighteen months of traveling at high warp just to get there, Spock. I’ve been on my own since I was thirteen.’ Because Nyota’s grandmother is a strong-willed, fascinating woman, but she is also one hundred and twenty-eight years old. Nyota visits her whenever the doctors allow, and it’s been years since she last cried because her grandmother doesn’t recognize her anymore.
Spock thinks about it and thinks about Gaila, who is a Starfleet rescue, bought by a starship captain from her master when she was five because there was no other way to free her. She lived in a Starfleet orphanage for the better part of her life because her numerous and speedily changing counselors and advisors considered her a problematic candidate for adoption. Spock thinks that he has never seen anything but a brighter-than-the-sun smile on her face and the not-a-care-in-the-world glint in her eyes, but he has never asked himself what hides beneath this expression. Somehow he is certain that nobody ever has.
Spock cranes his neck a little to be able to see the other side of their group and is surprised to discover James Kirk among others and that tall dark-haired cadet who’s usually seen with him. A medical student, if Spock is not mistaken. Spock’s surprise is valid, because Nyota’s opinion of Kirk rarely lifts above the floor molding level and it is unusual at best to see them socialize together. Spock looks at Kirk’s companion, taking in his grumpy expression, and trying to remember Pike’s words about him. ‘One hell of a CMO one day’ and ‘Scares the shit out of everybody’ seem to be fitting.
Spock isn’t all that familiar with the doctor’s personal circumstances, but Kirk is another matter. Even if his family history wasn’t common knowledge, Christopher seems to be capable of talking of nothing else lately, and Spock has discovered that the best way to deal with it is let him. As a result, he knows for a fact that Kirk’s mother has resigned from Starfleet some time ago and has returned to Iowa. Spock wonders vaguely why Kirk hasn’t gone home for the holidays, but the next moment all thoughts of this nature leave him, because another cadet enters his field of vision.
A bottle of beer in his hand, his laughter sounding almost too loud, Gary Mitchell leans over the back of Gaila’s seat casually to say something to Kirk. To say that Spock is surprised would indeed be an understatement. Spock would expect Mitchell to use the free time to catch up on his studies. However, the cadet seems perfectly at ease and enjoying himself.
Spock lifts an eyebrow and sets his tea aside, without noticing. He hasn’t been paying attention to the group’s conversation, but they are within earshot, at least for a Vulcan.
“I could put you under the table any time, Kirk,” Mitchell is saying, pointing at the battery of empty shot glasses on the table in front of him. “Imma even give you a head start.”
“In your dreams, Gary,” Kirk replies with an insolent grin and winks at Nyota, who scowls. “And by the way, aren’t you supposed to be packing?”
Mitchell laughs. “Won’t get rid of me so easily, Jimmy-boy,” he says gleefully.
“You don’t even go to classes,” Nyota tells him, eyeing him strictly. “I thought they didn’t stand for negligence here.”
“Oh, they were gonna throw me out all right,” Mitchell smirks at her. “But can you believe my luck? Of all the professors they could have sent to deal with me, they send an idiot who buys my poor-sick-momma story and gives me a free pass! Told him I’ve got three jobs to pay the bills and he ate it up!”
“Three jobs?” Kirk laughs, staring at him incredulously. “Gary, you haven’t worked a day in your entire life!”
“I know, right?” Mitchell laughs, too. “I mean how thick does someone have to be to believe a cock-and-bull story like that? Jesus. Told him my dad’s left when I was three. Should have told him daddy’s just sent me that beauty hovering at the parking lot, just to see his face!”
“You’re an incredibly lucky devil, Mitchell,” the dark-haired cadet says sourly. “Or the guy you whammed really was an idiot.”
“Yeah, and imagine they say you can’t fool a Vulcan!” Mitchell snorts. “I’m awesome!”
At some point during the conversation, Spock gets up to his feet. His first impulse is to walk over to their table and—
Spock unclenches his fists with an effort. Really, to lose control like that. Most unbecoming. Either he is more tired than he believed or it has been too long since his last full-scale meditation. Probably both.
Forcibly, Spock steels himself and weighs his options. The utter humiliation at the face of his own stupidity washes over him in hot waves, but he is reluctant to make a scene. Not when his control is so precarious. His anger, he knows, is misdirected. Mitchell is right, Spock is an idiot, and the only person he should be angry with is himself.
Not trusting himself to act logically, Spock decides to leave, because it wouldn’t do to cause the cadet physical trauma punishing him for Spock’s own mistake. It doesn’t help to realize that by the end of the holiday break, the whole Academy is going to be laughing at him. He turns to go with an effort, rigid with angry tension, and catches Gaila’s gaze.
She’s staring at him, her incandescent blue eyes wide, and the way her lips, covered with aggressive violet lipstick, form a perfect ‘O’ is almost comical. Spock whirls on his heel and walks out without looking back.
He doesn’t walk too far away, though, when he hears two sets of light footsteps following him. Somehow it’s not a surprise when Gaila and Nyota appear on either side of him, trying to look into his face. He walks on determinedly, ignoring them, when Gaila slides a hand around his arm. A moment later, Nyota does the same on his other side. Forced to acknowledge their presence, Spock stops.
“You know Mitchell’s a jerk, right?” Gaila says, leaning against him and looking him in the eye intently, her hat sliding slightly to one side.
“She’s right,” Nyota nods emphatically. “Even Kirk can’t hang out with him, and that’s saying something.”
“Ny!” Gaila protests indignantly.
“Sorry,” Nyota sends her a sweet smile. “I keep forgetting Gaila’s got a crush on Kirk.”
“Oh, shut up.” Gaila sticks her tongue out at Nyota, who snorts. “Really, Commander, it’s not your fault you wanted to help that piece of shit. He’s taken drama classes; if there’s one thing he can do, it’s act.”
“He really is a sneaky patak.” Nyota adds the Klingon curse pointedly. “And you’ve got a softer heart than you’d care to admit,” she says, smiling at Spock fondly.
Spock lets out a quiet sigh and tilts his head to the left slightly.
“Cadets,” he starts, then remembering it’s holiday time, amends, “Ladies. Is there anything either of you require of me at this time?”
“Weeell,” Gaila intones, exchanging a glance with Nyota. “We were about to retire to our room and have a bottle of Martini to celebrate our survival of another year here.”
“We’d love it if you joined us, Spock,” Nyota says softly.
Spock pauses. “My watch isn’t over yet.”
“I know the regs, Commander; it’s been over at midnight,” Gaila supplies, grinning. “You’re just a workaholic.”
“Who can barely stand on his feet, too.”
“I—” Spock stops. “It is inappropriate.”
“Oh, come on,” Gaila pouts charmingly. “It’s Christmas, Commander.”
“If anyone asks, we’ll say you’re just one of the Santa’s elves who fell out of the sledge,” Nyota suggests, looking at his ears and chuckling.
“You will do no such thing,” Spock tells her strictly, though he already knows he’ll give up. He suddenly has a mental image of an old mangy street cat who expected another beat-up and instead is confronted by two gentle, neatly groomed kittens, who should be terrified of him and somehow totally aren’t. He sighs and retracts his claws hesitantly. “Do not either of you have other plans?”
“Nah.” Gaila shrugs carelessly. “We’re all yours, Commander.”
“Gaila!” Nyota admonishes her.
The Orion girl giggles. “In a completely innocent, totally friendly kind of way!” she declares sweetly. “Come on, you two. I’ll freeze my ass off in this wind.”
“One would assume you would concern yourself with this notion prior to choosing such frivolous attire,” Spock says dryly.
“Aw, Commander, I’m choosing my attire more by the speed factor.”
“Meaning the speed one can take it off with,” Nyota remarks coolly.
Gaila makes a face at her. “You’re such a prude.” She smirks. “Let’s go drink, eat and be merry!”
Spock exchanges a glance with Nyota as they start walking, realizing that his night is going to be more eventful than he thought.
At some point, three bottles of Martini, two boxes of chocolate, and numerous Cardassian Sunrises later, after they have discussed Surak, Spinoza, Milton, the relation of Orion dancing to Russian ballet – or was it Cirque du Soleil, and for some reason the fate of Admiral Archer’s prize beagle (Gaila postulated its slipping into another dimension) - Spock blinks to find himself sitting on Nyota’s bunk, leaning against the wall. Gaila is nowhere in sight. Spock seems to remember vaguely her declaring her desire to find more ice. His time sense is slightly off, but it seems like a long time ago.
Nyota’s curled up on the bunk beside him, closer to her pillow. She’s lithe and neat like a puma, her long hair covering her shoulders as she stares at the ceiling unseeingly. Without thinking, Spock reaches to run his fingers through the silky strands. He doesn’t know if he expects her to purr or to bite him.
Nyota blinks and looks at him.
“Spock, do you think – after I graduate, do you think we could... I mean—” She makes an uncertain, feeble gesture with her hand. “You and I – do you think—?”
Spock closes his eyes, part exhaustion and part lack of certainty.
“It is unwise,” he says, “to speculate about the future.”
“Very unwise,” she agrees. “But I... would like that. Would you?”
Spock looks at her. She’s asleep before he can find an answer.