Fandom: ST XI Reboot
Pairing: Pike/Spock for now, later Kirk/Spock
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.
Chapter summary: Hot chocolate and other outdoor sports, and an unexpected visitor that is up to no good
Prologue | 1.1| 1.2 | 1.3| 1.4
He joins Pike at the flying pad two days later. They both take a moment to adjust to the sight of each other out of uniform. Pike grins at Spock and claps him on the back.
“There’s one condition on which I’m taking you with me,” he tells Spock, winking at him. “While we’re there, you’re calling me Chris, deal?”
Spock knows the request is logical, but is uncertain he can adapt.
“I shall endeavor to comply... Christopher,” he says at last.
Pike grins. “Good enough. Let’s go.”
Pike pilots the shuttle himself. It’s a small Academy vehicle to which he, as a professor, has full access. The trip takes about two hours. It could have been faster, but Pike takes his time to show Spock the ocean. San Francisco bay is magnificent, no question, but too domesticated. Spock has never seen such a huge, unruly body of water before. He is fascinated.
Pike’s ‘cottage’ turns out to be an old three-floor chalet, more of a size of a small family hotel than a private residence. Spock is enthralled by the original wood panels covering the wall; the sounds the stairs is making; the feel of the house itself that is clearly several centuries old. Pike shows him his bedroom, a nice cozy room on the second floor with its own fireplace.
Pike’s guests arrive soon, and Spock’s worries about being an imposition dissipate almost instantly. The people he meets treat him in the same manner they treat each other – with friendly attention and welcoming warmth. They take note of him being Vulcan, but in the best possible way. Far from teasing him about his ears or his logic, they all try to take care of him, demonstrating good general knowledge of his species.
They pass him vegetarian dishes at the table before he asks for them; he’s offered various spare articles of clothing ‘in case he gets cold’; he’s used as an example of propriety for misbehaving children. All in all, the experience is a bit overwhelming, but highly enjoyable. Spock decides that the old axiom that a man is known by his friends in this particular case works perfectly.
Pike’s cousin Robert and his sixteen-year-old daughter Claire are the only blood relatives of the captain among the guests. The two of them take a walk to the nearby village together with Pike and Spock.
Spock feels as if he is on an entirely different planet. He has never seen so much snow at once, and it fascinates him, as he had never before understood its beauty. The mountains and the frozen lake they pass on their way are magnificent, and Spock’s heightened sense of aesthetics is inundated. His eyes are wide and restless, trying to drink down the breathtaking beauty of this place, and it just doesn’t end.
The village is decorated for the holidays. It’s all bright shimmering lights, the sounds of a dozen different languages, Christmas carols from all over the world, the thick smell of fresh chocolate, carefree laughter, and an intoxicating mood of joy hovering over the rooftops. It’s the most incredible place Spock has ever visited.
Claire grabs Spock’s arm and tugs him into a small shop to buy homemade sparklers. Spock questions the safety factor and the chemical components used to produce the hand-held fireworks. The store’s owner wants them to leave, but when Spock suggests an improvement to his formula, he gives them a box of sparklers for free and a roman candle to boot. Pike only shakes his head as Spock hands him a sparkler while Claire tells the story. Robert laughs.
They drink hot chocolate from chunky ceramic cups with elves and dwarves on them. Spock catches Pike’s speculating gaze and realizes that the captain must also be victim of the misconception that Vulcans get inebriated from chocolate. Spock almost smiles into his cup.
He is slightly drunk, from the abundance of colorful impressions, and from his own incredulity at being here. He notices that Pike keeps close to him on their way back just in case, and he doesn’t mind.
They say goodnight in the corridor. When Spock walks into his room, he finds that someone has started the fire, and his toes almost curl up in pleasure. He doesn’t turn the lights on, but undresses in the heated glow of live flame, feeling it stirring the air, washing over his sensitive skin in slow caress. He dives under the blankets thinking that he had never experienced such contentment in his life.
Pike gives Spock one day to acclimate himself with winter before introducing him to Alpine skiing. Spock has only had a very fleeting knowledge of the sport, but he isn’t about to refuse Pike. Not when the human is looking at him with this insufferable mischievous smirk on his face. A skiing suit wasn’t on Spock’s shopping list, but the problem is solved immediately.
“This color looks good on you,” Pike tells him, when Spock fastens the last of the clasps on his silver-blue suit, fresh from the renting store. “And it’s bright enough for me to see you should you get in trouble.”
Just as last night, they keep company of four. Robert and Claire are experienced skiers, and Pike had been spending every Christmas in this house since he was five years old and until the service took him off-planet. Spock is the only newbie here, but seeing the ease with which his companions slide downhill, he thinks it must not be all that difficult.
He realizes his error when he tries to move for the first time and hits the snow faster than he knows what has happened. Claire giggles as Spock gets up and tries again only to topple over in a moment. By the time he makes the fourth attempt, all three humans are doubled over with laughter. Far from being offended, Spock suddenly realizes how he must look to them rising and falling on the spot, and has to fight back a laugh himself.
Pike slides over to him, offers a hand and lifts him up, steadying Spock. His eyes are alight with mirth and affection, and for a moment, Spock loses his connection with the time-space continuum, lost in that blazing gaze. They stand very close, hips centimeters from grinding into each other. Spock is higher on the slope and keeps sliding down, little by little, not knowing yet how to control his motion.
He distinctly hears Pike’s breath hitch as Spock’s hips press into his, and then Spock is falling backward, having lost his shaky balance, and takes Pike down with him. They land in a mess of limbs and gear. Spock hears several clicks as they roll over the slope, and suddenly his feet are free, the safety clasps on his boots having released the skis at the collision to prevent trauma. Their motion stops with Pike on top of him, laughing uncontrollably again, their faces just inches away. Spock looks up at him, breathless and disoriented, and for a brief moment, he smiles.
“Smooth, Uncle Chris.” Claire’s laughing voice breaks the moment. “He carries on like this, he’ll make a nice snow-Vulcan.”
She and Robert help Pike and Spock up; Pike grins, watching Spock brush the snow out of his hair.
“Nah, he’ll be fine. He’ll give you a run for your money in a couple of days, you’ll see.”
Pike’s prediction proves to be a valid one soon enough. He appears to be just as capable an instructor in Alpine skiing as he is in advanced space battle strategy. After two hours on the bunny slope, Spock’s well-developed sense of balance adjusts to his now slippery footing and he completes his descent without falling. Pike then shows him the correct technique of descent and is surprised at how quickly Spock grasps the basics.
“Someone’s in great shape,” Pike comments with an approving smile as Spock mirrors his motions sliding down. “I’ll take you up to one of the green trails after lunch. I can’t quite believe it, but I think you’re ready.”
They eat at a charming little café, and Spock practices his French by talking to the waitress. Pike speaks all four local languages fluently, and they run a rather entertaining comparative analysis of European dialects over food.
Spock conquers green trails with an ease that frightens Pike a little. Unlike most newbies, Spock is predictably unaffected by the views of pits and rocks that usually frighten most people. He also likes the speed, and judging by Pike’s expression, he likes it a little too much.
“Hey!” Pike stops next to him, raising a cloud of snow. “I never took you for a hothead. What’s with the racing?”
Spock is unrepentant. “I calculated the acceleration rate and determined that it was safe.”
“Bullshit.” Pike grins. “I bet you just loved the way the wind sang in your ears. Your hair is a mess, by the way.”
“This trail” – Spock glances back - “does not present much of a challenge.”
“Oh really? You’ve been skiing for one day – this should be perfectly challenging for you.”
“That is debatable. However, you must be bored.”
“I’m never bored when I’m with you, Spock,” Pike replies on the spot. Spock looks at him, one eyebrow raised. Pike glances over at the mountaintop. “Tell you what: if you feel up to it tomorrow, we’ll go to a blue trail with Rob and Claire.”
“Can we not try it today?” Spock asks, sounding too hopeful to his own ears.
Pike laughs. “No, I think you’re done for the day. It’s no small feat, Spock, and I don’t want you to overdo it, okay? Besides, tonight’s Christmas Eve. Wouldn’t want you to be too tired for the party.”
The party is a success. The dinner is more festive than the night before. “It helps when your friends cook,” Pike tells Spock with a wink. After the tables are cleared, the party migrates to the huge living room, occupying most of the ground floor. People are chatting, drinking Glüwein, and admiring the impressive Christmas tree.
Something is bothering Spock, however. Unusual as it is for him, he’s experiencing a headache. It starts as a dull pain at the back of his neck, and then spreads up and around, pulsing at his temples unpleasantly. Perhaps Pike was right cautioning Spock about overdoing it, Spock thinks bleakly. He tries to suppress the pain.
“Spock, there’s someone at the door asking for you,” Claire tells him, looking at him curiously. “She’s pretty.”
Spock thanks her, hiding his surprise. He is at a complete loss as to the visitor’s identity. She’s not at the door, though, or at least not at the front door. Spock steps out into the crispy December night and catches a glimpse of a hooded figure hovering at the gate. Briefly, he considers and dismisses the idea of getting a coat. He walks across the yard, and when he’s almost at her level, she throws the hood back gracefully.
Spock is stunned.
And suddenly, his headache is starting to make perfect sense.
“T’Pring.” The name comes out in half a word, half an exhalation. “What are you doing here? How did you find me?”
Her beautiful features remain seemingly immobile, but the impression of a scoff is conveyed perfectly.
“I thought your manners would improve over the years. I see I was mistaken.”
“I ask forgiveness for the breach of protocol; however, my surprise is legitimate. I was not expecting you.”
“Obviously. Now that you have had your emotional outburst, I will state the reason for my being here. Please desist from interrupting me.”
Spock inclines his head softly. “As you wish.”
“You left Vulcan in a rather abrupt manner,” she states coldly. “Instead of accepting a position with the Vulcan Science Academy, thus making yourself as respectable as is only possible for someone of your lineage, you chose to run off to live with humans, playing their childish games. In doing so, you humiliated yourself, your family, and me, Spock. I had my doubts whether you would make a worthy bondmate before. After such a display, I am certain you will not. I wish to dissolve our betrothal.”
Spock suppresses a shiver caused by the frosty air around him. Mostly.
“I understand your logic,” he says quietly. “However, I cannot release you from our engagement until we are officially bonded.”
“That will not happen until your pon farr, which might never come due to your human genes. I refuse to be bound to one such as you any longer.”
Spock closes his eyes briefly. Her attitude isn’t news to him, though she never sounded quite so ardent before.
“I have found a way in which I can divorce you now,” she says. “That is why I came. You will beam back to the ship with me. It is a Vulcan transport equipped with a healer. He will conduct a compatibility test of our DNA.”
“I fail to see what you intend to accomplish with such a procedure. I have been tested before. I am fertile.”
“I am aware. However, your genetic makeup is split. You, at the very least, look like a Vulcan, Spock. Your offspring might not be that fortunate. And I will not become mother to a human child.”
“Our child cannot be human.”
“Not fully, but I am told it is possible for it to attain more human characteristics than Vulcan. Their genes are resilient, like those of any savage species. Why do you think they used genetic engineering to conceive you? Ambassador Sarek would not be humiliated by a human-looking son. Neither will I. That is why we have to take the test. If there is more than a five percent chance that the child will be more human than Vulcan, I can divorce you on the ground of not wishing to contaminate my bloodline.”
Spock looks at her, studying her glittering almond-shaped eyes, framed in long thick lashes; the graceful line of her nose, straight and full of dignity; the elegant sweep of her eyebrows; the seductive, perfectly outlined curve of her lips. She is perfect. Timeless and precious.
“When can we take the test?”
Her eyebrow arches very slightly. “Right now if you are agreeable.”
Spock glances uncertainly back toward the house. The party is in full swing; happy relaxed voices, music, and laughter fill the air, sparkling with joy. Emotions. Freedom. It strikes Spock suddenly that he doesn’t belong there. Nor does he belong with T’Pring and her cool, brilliant world of flawless logic.
The only place for him is right here. At the gate, between two worlds. Out in the cold, out in the dark.
T’Pring relaxes ever so slightly. Spock watches her pull a communicator out of her robes and steps closer to her as she calls her ship. The response is almost immediate.
Only when the heat maintained on all Vulcan ships engulfs him does Spock realize how much time he has spent in the cold. He fights to suppress the shivering. The sudden change in temperature makes him slightly dizzy.
T’Pring guides him along the corridors of the transport, gliding ahead of him like a queen in her domain. Spock trails behind, trying not to pay heed to seemingly impassionate glances he gets from other Vulcans. He’s dressed like a human, and in this Vulcan environment, he feels like one.
The healer is ready for them, evidently forewarned by T’Pring. He collects blood samples from both of them, cleansing his hands twice before turning from Spock to T’Pring. Spock doesn’t show he noticed.
They wait in silence for the computer to complete the analysis. Spock is calm, almost apathetic. He does not require a human intuition to know the outcome of the test. It is pure logic. T’Pring would not have come all the way from Vulcan to find him if she wasn’t sure of the result.
“The probability of your offspring attaining more human features than Vulcan in its physiology is 12.1 percent,” the healer announces finally. He looks at T’Pring. “I am authorized to sever your bond if you wish to do so on this ground.”
“I do,” T’Pring replies immediately. Spock can feel the excitement radiating from her, despite the shielding. She must have desired this for a long time.
The healer looks at him. “Are you consensual to this decision, Spock?”
Spock pauses just for a moment, and T’Pring shoots him an openly anxious glance.
“I am,” he says in a voice he doesn’t recognize.
“Very well,” the healer intones blandly, coming to stand between them. “Clear your minds.”
Spock closes his eyes and forces his mind to still. The effort is enormous, but he succeeds quickly. Vaguely, he feels the healer’s fingers pressing into his meld-points. There’s an emotionless, clinical presence, searching through his mind for the weak but stable link with T’Pring. Spock feels it resonate within him for a brief moment and realizes it’s the last time he’ll ever feel it. Then, the healer withdraws, and T’Pring’s presence is gone with him.
“It is done,” the healer declares, and Spock opens his eyes.
T’Pring bows to the healer elegantly. “I am grateful for your services.” She looks over at Spock. “And for your cooperation.”
Spock bows to her silently, as an ironic observation enters his mind. She has never been so nice to him before.
“Spock.” The healer addresses him. “Should you so desire, I shall enter your name into the database of unbonded Vulcans. Thus, when your pon farr comes you will be provided with a surrogate to preserve your life.”
Something snaps in Spock at these words and he tilts his head up sharply.
“Spock,” T’Pring’s voice is surprisingly soft, almost sympathetic. Now that she is free of him, she can be generous. “It is not logical to endanger yourself needlessly. It is... doubtful that you will be able to find a woman – a partner willing to become your bondmate.”
“I am honored by your concern,” Spock says. “However, it is unnecessary. I shall endeavor to see to my own needs. And should you prove correct” – he pauses and meets her eyes squarely – “I will not beg anyone for my life.”
“The choice, of course, is yours,” the healer says blandly, though it’s clear that he doesn’t approve. T’Pring says nothing.
Spock raises his hand in salute. “Live long and prosper.”
He turns on his heel and leaves, but he’s not quick enough to miss T’Pring sighing.
“Proud. So like a human.”