Fandom: ST XI Reboot
Pairing: Pike/Spock for now
Story summary: Struggling to find his place in the universe, Spock meets exceptional people along the way. Slow-building Pike/Spock, and in time slow-building Kirk/Spock.
Part I summary: Cadet Spock meets command training instructor Captain Pike. What happens is only logical...
Prologue | 1.1
Cadet Moira Jones becomes Spock’s friend. Well, of a kind. They never took any notice of each other before. Spock preferred his solitude, and Moira was too shy to befriend anyone. They wouldn’t have approached each other now, either, except that they had no choice.
Pike’s recommendation for the two of them to continue with advanced command training while the rest of their training group was dismissed has created a lot of rather unpleasant buzz among their peers. Such distinction is viewed as strange, at best. As a result, whenever the necessity arises to work with a partner in class – and they are sharing quite a few – Spock and Moira have no one to turn to but each other.
It starts as an uneasy partnership of sorts. Moira is intimidated by Spock and isn’t good at hiding it. Soon enough, though, his ever-calm if somewhat detached manner begins to have a soothing effect on her, giving her something reliable to refer to. Spock, for his part, discovers that it is quite agreeable at times to have someone to converse with. It is a pleasant surprise to find out that Moira’s grades are relatively high in all the subjects they share, and that she is as interested in computer science as he is.
They are both scheduled for more special classes with Captain Pike where they join other cadets recommended for advanced command training. Spock and Moira stand out among this group, too, but oddly, it’s not as noticeable or distinct as with the rest of their class. Spock doesn’t spend much thought on this, anyway. Pike’s classes are simply too fascinating to let his attention wander. Mercifully, the cadets are not subjected to any more volatile demonstrations.
Pike concentrates on battle tactics, general strategy, and interpersonal relations aboard a starship. The last part is of particular interest to Spock, who still struggles to understand human behavior. Pike’s lessons on team building and the means to maintain authority without sliding to cruelty or familiarity are intriguing and, to Spock’s surprise, ultimately logical. He discovers he’s looking forward to Pike’s classes even more than to his astrophysics lectures.
It’s probably because of his diligence and punctuality that Spock ends up being the first to enter Pike’s classroom this afternoon. He steps in and immediately hears a muffled curse coming from the captain’s desk. Spock’s eyebrow creeps up, and he’s about to apologize and step out, when Pike lifts his head and notices him.
“Mr. Spock,” the captain smiles at him. “Come on in, don’t mind me. Just a little computer trouble, that’s all.”
Intrigued, Spock comes closer. “If I may ask, sir, what is the nature of your difficulty?”
Pike shrugs, staring back at his screen and frowning. “Some kids have taken into breaking through my firewall to get the questions for the next test, no doubt. It’s the third time that it’s happened. I change my codes, but it doesn’t seem to have much of an effect.”
“Curious,” Spock says, placing his own PADD to the nearby desk, and drawing closer. “Have you not reported the attempts to the Academy security?”
“I have, but those kids are obviously smarter.” Pike sighs, then smiles tiredly. “It looks like I’m going to have to resign to using quills and parchment.”
“A drastic measure,” Spock remarks, feeling strangely elated when Pike chuckles softly. “If you would permit me to take a look, perhaps I could be of assistance?”
Pike looks up at him, and Spock freezes, held by that suddenly piercing gaze.
“You’re good with computers?”
“I hold an A5 degree in computer science.”
“Impressive,” Pike says with a grin, but he doesn’t sound impressed at all. If Spock is reading his expression correctly, the captain is highly amused for some illogical reason. “How do I know you’re not the one who’s been hacking my computer all along?”
“Sir?” Spock is appalled. “I would never... That would be... Highly illogical, and unethical. Sir.”
“Sorry I asked.” Pike laughs softly, shifting to give Spock some room. “Be my guest, Cadet.”
Spock moves smoothly to look at the screen, feeling a blush creeping up on his cheeks. He suppresses the reaction violently, or at least tries to. He doesn’t know if he’s succeeding, but mercifully, the captain is watching the screen, not Spock’s face.
“Interesting,” Spock says after a minute of checking various systems. “I believe they are using the so-called kamikaze-virus, Captain. It is designed to collect the information, transmit it, and then disintegrate, leaving no traces. Effective, but not entirely reliable, as it is difficult to be precise in finding the required information.”
“Well, that would certainly explain why they didn’t manage to actually steal the questions,” Pike grunts.
“Unfortunately, it also prevents us from tracing them,” Spock says. “However, I am familiar with this form of cyber intrusion. There are means to counteract it.”
“Really?” Pike says. “Well, our security experts told me there was nothing they could do.”
Suddenly unable to look at the captain, Spock says quietly, “I could write an additional subroutine for your defense program, if you wish, sir. I am positive it would be effective in preventing these incidents in the future.”
“You’re telling me you can do something our security experts can’t?” Pike asks and Spock loses his battle with his blush spectacularly. When he finally summons enough courage to look up, Pike is grinning at him. “That’s a rather brave statement from a cadet.”
Spock straightens up, reacting to the challenge in the human’s voice almost against his will.
“I ask forgiveness for overstepping my bounds, sir,” he says evenly. “I spoke out of place. Please excuse me.” And with that, he turns to leave, in blatant defiance to protocol.
“Whoa, whoa.” Pike’s voice stops him in his tracks. “I didn’t say no.”
Spock turns back to face him, clasping his hands behind his back tightly. Pike is studying him with an unreadable expression on his face.
“How fast can you do it?”
“It should not take more than two days, sir. I can have it done by Thursday.”
“Aren’t you scheduled for field training tomorrow?”
Spock isn’t exactly sure how Pike knows that, but he doesn’t allow his focus to sway. “Yes, sir. However, I’m positive that I can—”
“Friday is fine, Cadet,” Pike says, and Spock knows instantly that’s the end of the discussion. “You do realize that this work will bring you no bonus points in my class?”
Spock purses his lips. “I am not motivated by personal gain, sir. The problem presents an interesting challenge.”
“No doubt.” Pike smiles, his eyes drifting toward the cadets who are walking into the classroom at that moment. “Friday it is then. And Mr. Spock? I’ll be really interested to know what you’ll come up with.”
Spock concludes his calculations in two days. The work doesn’t take that long, but his studies and duties hardly leave him an hour a day to himself. He works at night. He didn’t lie to Pike – he does enjoy the task immensely. It is not overly complicated, but for some reason Spock feels the need to outdo himself for this one. He checks and rechecks his algorithms in between classes. He smuggles the PADD with him at his field assignment by fooling the detector. He doesn’t get to sleep in two days at all, but the subroutine is finished by Thursday.
He doesn’t deliver it, though. Despite the undeniable eagerness he exhibited while working on it, he is reluctant to let it show. It would be an emotional response. But mostly, he doesn’t want Pike to know how honored Spock feels to have been trusted with the task. Somehow, it seems... inappropriate to show his enthusiasm, even though Spock can’t discern any kind of logic behind the feeling. He spends the next day polishing his flawless design even more, and then Friday comes.
Trouble is, Spock doesn’t have a class with Pike scheduled for Friday, which means he’ll have to just ‘drop by’ the captain’s office. Suddenly, Spock is hesitant, wishing he’d have asked for a precise appointment. Moira rolls her eyes a lot at him during the morning classes, and finally shoves him bodily in the right direction when their lunch break comes.
“Just go already,” she says, her exasperation burning where her fingers grip his arm. “Honestly. You’re obsessed.”
Spock wants to protest against such a forceful treatment and to explain that Vulcans don’t get obsessed, but something in Moira’s eyes advises him otherwise.
Moira is a fascinating human in that way. She’s shy and completely self-conscious on a personal level, never drawing attention to herself. But when there is a situation, she is the first to step forward and take control of it, and nobody really questions why she was recommended for command training anymore. Spock can easily see her fifty years from now as either a renowned Starfleet admiral whom nobody wishes to cross or the head of a large household where everything works according to her quietly spoken but stringent instructions. Spock, who had grown up under T’Pau’s sharp eye, feels an instinctive surge of obedience.
He walks along the Academy corridors stiffly, mentally rehearsing what he’s going to say. Appearing in front of the Vulcan Science Academy board didn’t feel as intimidating as this seemingly small experience. Spock doesn’t know what to make of his feelings. Moira has called them butterflies, and the analogy, while illogical, does appear to be apt. He resigns to meditate on that later.
The door to Pike’s office is open, but when Spock knocks on it, there’s no answer. He steps in and freezes in the doorway.
Pike is there, and so are Commander Martin, a harsh-looking woman who teaches Federation Law, and Admiral McGregor, the head of Starfleet Science. They are in the middle of a lively conversation and Spock feels suddenly awkward to have interrupted, even though it’s not his fault.
“Mr. Spock.” Pike notices him, still grinning at some joke one of his companions must have just made. “Come on in.”
“I apologize for the intrusion, sir,” Spock mumbles, looking down and berating himself mutely for the most irrational reaction.
“Is it ready?” Pike asks.
“Yes, sir.” Spock lifts up the PADD. “I have it here.”
“Great.” Pike nods. “My terminal’s over there. Would you mind installing it?”
“Of course, sir,” Spock says, feeling his butterflies die.
As he goes up the low podium toward Pike’s desk, the captain returns to his conversation. Spock isn’t sure what he has been expecting, but somehow he can tell it’s not this. Pike’s reaction is perfectly normal and appropriate. Spock realizes he’s making a habit of inexplicable emotional reactions to the most ordinary things. He presses his lips together determinedly and proceeds to install his subroutine.
“...Anyway, the worst reception ever,” Commander Martin is saying.
“Oh, come now, Sally,” Admiral McGregor reproaches gently. He looks incredibly spry for a man of seventy, and judging by the looks he keeps giving the commander, his thoughts are nowhere near retirement. “It wasn’t that bad. I actually enjoyed the evening.”
“Which part?” The commander frowns. “The three-hour-long speech that made no sense whatsoever, or the Regulan ambassador spilling his drink all over me?”
“He spilled his drink over you?” Pike asks with a chuckle. “Surely he didn’t do that on purpose?”
“He most certainly did!” Martin whirls on him. “I saw him coming from across the room, like a goddamn torpedo. I thought he wanted to talk about the treaty; you know, like a normal diplomat? Instead, he came close to me, all smiles and everything, lifted his glass and poured it over my head! I mean seriously, how crazy is that? I looked like a total idiot.”
“Maybe he didn’t like your hairstyle,” McGregor suggests, chuckling.
“I have no idea what he didn’t like, but honestly, since when is that sort of shit someone does at a diplomatic reception?” Martin rages. “I mean, clearly he wanted to insult me – he could’ve damn well just said so!”
Spock, who has been listening while allowing his program to integrate into the firewall on Pike’s computer, raises his head at that, looking at the humans incredulously. He has no intention, of course, on correcting a senior officer, but the gap in her knowledge appalls him. Spock’s eyes meet Pike’s suddenly, and Spock looks away quickly, not wishing to appear as if he’s been eavesdropping.
“Something wrong, Cadet?”
Spock looks up again. Of course, Pike wouldn’t let him off the hook so easily.
“No, sir,” he says. “It’s just that...” Now all three humans are watching him expectantly, and Spock suppresses a sigh. If only he had better control of his outward reactions… He stands up and assumes an at-ease posture. “The commander is incorrect regarding the ambassador’s intentions.”
Now he’s done it. Martin is gaping at him as if he was one of her shoes that had suddenly developed the power of speech and told her that her interpretation of the first amendment was wrong. McGregor raises his bushy eyebrows, regarding Spock curiously. And Pike... Pike’s expression is calm and expectant, but there’s a subtle glint in his eyes, giving away that he’s fighting back a grin.
“Incorrect?” Martin finds her voice at last. “You’re telling me that deliberately spilling a drink at someone isn’t a filthy insult?”
Spock bows his head slightly, indicating that he, at least, doesn’t mean any kind of insult by his defiance.
“Not on Regul V, sir.”
“Pray tell what the hell he did mean by it, then?”
Spock clasps his hands behind his back more firmly. “Regul V is a desert world, sir. Water is a rare and treasured resource. As such, it has a prominent cultural significance and plays a major part in many social rituals” – Spock pauses - “including the mating.”
Martin’s jaw drops like it’s been surgically detached from her face. “What?”
Spock realizes he has to choose his words very carefully if he doesn’t want to end up scrubbing floors for the rest of the week. “The exchange of liquid is considered an equivalent of a... declaration of romantic interest.”
The grin that spills over Admiral McGregor’s face is blinding, while Martin looks stunned and outraged.
“You mean that son of a gun was – I can’t believe this! – he was hitting on me?”
Spock lifts an eyebrow at the colloquialism, but confirms smoothly, “It would appear that way, sir.”
“Way to go, Sally.” McGregor loses it, resolving into laughter that he no longer tries to hold.
Pike is chuckling, highly amused as well, and the look he throws at Spock is so full of mirth and approval that Spock feels suddenly dizzy.
“Well, that’s... that’s just... outrageous!” Martin explodes; her fair coloring does little to prevent her face from turning completely red. “And how do you know so much about this, Cadet?”
Spock stiffens. “My father serves as a Federation ambassador. I have acquired a thorough diplomatic background over the years.”
She nods, scowling slightly. “Ah. One of those.”
Spock lifts his eyebrow, but doesn’t ask for a clarification. Despite him standing right here, it is clear that the remark isn’t meant for him, and he refuses to explore the implications. Somehow, he knows they are not favorable. He looks at Pike instead, though he doesn’t quite focus on him.
“Captain, I have finished the installation of the subroutine. I am confident it will prevent the breaches from reoccurring. If I may be excused, sir, I must proceed to my next class.”
“Of course, Mr. Spock,” Pike says. Spock knows he’s being studied, but his own gaze is glazed, expression tight. “I appreciate the help.”
“It was my pleasure, sir,” Spock inclines his head, somewhat mechanically.
Spock collects his PADD and leaves, the weight of the silence following his progress pressing heavily on his shoulders.
He isn’t sure what has affected him so and doesn’t want to dip into it just yet, even though he knows, responsible Vulcan that he is, that he will have to address the issue in meditation before long. He is relieved that his visit is over, but he also feels strangely dull, as if all the energy has been sucked out of him. He is unable to feel his usual enthusiasm at the problem his astrophysics professor has presented the class with. He works without a partner again, and he’s actually grateful for it - that is, more than usual.
The surprise comes when he leaves the classroom after the lecture is over. Captain Pike is standing at the opposite wall of the corridor. He acknowledges the cadets’ salutes as they pass him on their way out, but his eyes are fixed on Spock.
“Is there a problem, Captain?” Spock asks when it gets clear that Pike has been waiting for him.
“No, no problem, Mr. Spock. But I was wondering if you have a moment to talk me through the additions you made to my firewall. That is, of course, if I’m not keeping you from anything?”
His smile is soft, but his eyes are serious, and Spock wonders briefly at the disaccord. He also feels a strange tingling at the back of his neck, almost as if someone was blowing cool air down it. It is very doubtful, after all, that the captain requires help with the programming.
“I have no more classes scheduled for today, sir,” Spock says neutrally. “I am at your service.”
Pike’s smile relaxes a bit, and they start together for the other wing of the building. Spock doesn’t expect a conversation to begin, but Pike asks him pleasantly about the class he’s just had. Spock replies, carefully monitoring the length and detail of his response. He’s been told many times that he tends to give more information than is required. He also isn’t very proficient in distinguishing so-called small talk from serious requests for information. This time, though, he seems to have ‘hit the bull’s eye,’ because the dialogue flows easily and Pike doesn’t show any signs of boredom or exasperation as other humans often do when talking to Spock.
They arrive at Pike’s office and Spock takes Pike through the upgrades he’s made. He still has the feeling that Pike’s request has been merely a subterfuge, because even though the captain asks him several questions, it is clear that he has a good grasp of the program.
“This is excellent work, Mr. Spock,” Pike says when they’re done. “I had the time to examine it on my own, and I’m really impressed. You seem to have excelled where our security couldn’t.”
Spock looks down at his hands. “I- It was not a... hardship. Sir.”
Pike laughs softly. “No one taught you how to accept praise, did they?”
Spock doesn’t have an answer for that. The next moment, he feels a warm hand patting his shoulder lightly and all but bolts at the sudden rush of sensation. He’s not reading Pike, but the overload caused by the very thought of what is happening is shattering. Casual contact is a rare occurrence for Spock, and he knows he’s blushing. Most inappropriate.
“It’s okay,” Pike is saying, and his words come to Spock through a daze. “It’s not like I paid you a compliment, you know. Everything I said was a statement of fact.”
“Yes, sir,” Spock replies quietly, without a clear idea of what he’s agreeing with. He lets out a soft sigh of relief when the contact is broken.
Pike chuckles, and Spock dares to look up, only to meet a kind, luminous gaze. Somehow, it gives him the courage to ask the question that has been bothering him for two hours.
“What did Commander Martin mean when referring to me as ‘one of those,’ sir?”
Pike’s expression dims slightly at his inquiry, but he doesn’t appear to be particularly surprised.
“Some of the cadets here come from Starfleet families,” he explains. “Their parents are Starfleet officers, sometimes in several generations. Sometimes kids like that expect special treatment on that account. They believe they’re entitled to it, because they’re somehow better than other cadets.”
“That seems to be an illogical point of view.”
“Oh, extremely. But it’s human. The problem is, Starfleet kids often aren’t as talented as their parents have been, but still think they’re better than everyone else here. Attitudes like those sometimes create problems.”
“I see,” Spock says, still mildly perplexed. “But my parents aren’t Starfleet officers.”
“Federation officials and diplomats are close enough.” Pike looks at him closely. “Spock, the commander doesn’t know you. When she said that, she made an assumption as humans often do. It’s not exactly logical or fair to you, but it’s what we do sometimes.”
“I do not expect any kind of special treatment.”
“I know you don’t.” Pike smiles at him. “And you’re certainly not getting any, not in my class, Mister. Not that you need it, anyway.”
Spock looks at him and realizes that, while true, the words are meant as a reassurance. Always slightly uncertain where human emotional reactions are concerned, Spock suddenly has no difficulty discerning the humor behind the remark and the respect. He can feel his own lips curve; the corners of his mouth lift up slightly. He could check the reaction, but chooses not to. Pike’s grin widens.
“Well, thanks for your help with this thing,” he says cheerfully, nodding at the computer. “Hopefully it’ll stop your colleagues from trying to cheat on my tests.”
“It was my pleasure, Captain.”
Spock bows and leaves. He feels strangely galvanized and as he passes an empty classroom, the temptation is too great to fight. Spock stalks in and stays long after the darkness falls, searching for another proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. He’s so engrossed in the process he doesn’t hear Moira walk in.
She surveys the even rows of an + bn = cn and shakes her head.
“The things you do for kicks.”
Spock allows a small smile to himself.