kumquatix: Uhura smiling (uhura)
[personal profile] kumquatix
Title: Nyota asks Spock about himself a lot
Author: Kumquatix
Fandom: Star Trek reboot
Pairing: Uhura/Spock
Spoilers: None
Rating: G
Word count: 1000
Summary: Nyota is always curious about Spock, and she enjoys getting to know him a tiny bit better every day.

Nyota is curious about Spock's Zen garden. The other Human works of art he has are books, music and images on his player; the only thing he has on display which isn't Vulcan is the little lacquered tray of sand.

She looks at it almost every time she comes to his quarters, and she can tell he uses it. One day the sand is raked this way, the next day it's raked the other way, but the patterns are not aesthetically pleasing to her. And he hasn't placed any rocks in it.

When she goes to look at it, Spock just smiles at her, and doesn't say a word.

"Spock, what is the word for what you are doing right now?" she asks him. It bothers her with an irrational intensity when she doesn't have the vocabulary to talk about her experiences, far more than when she has to translate a concept which has no equivalent in the target language.

"Specify, please," he tells her.

"I can feel your attention on me, and that you are happy and relaxed. I was thinking that you're smiling at me, but it's not a facial expression," she explains. Though it is a facial expression too, when he looks softly at her. But it's not a 'smile'.

He reaches his fingertips out and touches hers, so she feels a brush of affection and how cute he thinks her constant linguistic thirst for knowledge is, and tells her about low level empathic connections and how they work and the cultural context. She notices that he has code switched to the local language he grew up with, rather than use Surak's Vulcan, and when she asks some clarifying questions in Surakian he stumbles and can't answer.

Nyota is from the United States of Africa, where the language of schooling and government is Swahili, but at home she speaks Gikuyu, so she understands Spock's problem. She's glad he's willing to teach her his language, because if they had to speak Standard all the time like they did at first, she would feel like they were on duty.

Some weeks later, Nyota and Spock leave from a diplomatic reception together. The honored guests are from an ice planet, and Captain Kirk had ordered the temperature of the lounge set to 280 K. The ambassador and her entourage wore light flowing colored gauze draperies, that Nyota sincerely hoped were glued on for the sake of everyone's modesty and the Captain's concentration, and Nyota herself wore long pants and a long sleeved sweater over a thermal undershirt, but she still feels chilled to the bones.

"Your quarters are warmer, but I have real cocoa for making hot chocolate at my place," she tells Spock.

"I have coffee and whiskey," he counters.

"Your quarters it is!" she decides, and rubs her arms briskly.

While he makes them Irish coffees – he even has whipped soy and brown sugar – she goes to look at his Zen garden again. This time it looks like he has smoothed the sand with the flat of his hand, and there is the mark of a thumb in the sand close to the frame. She still does not see the aesthetic appeal.

"How come you have all the ingredients for Irish coffee?" she asks. "I don't remember you drinking that at the academy?"

Spock tells her about trading his Denobulan silk yarn for the coffee and brown sugar, and she asks him where he got the yarn. It is a long and convoluted tale of favors and stakes in games and souvenirs from shore leave, and she knows he mostly engages in all the wheeling and dealing for fun. He loves figuring out what makes people tick, and using his negotiating skills, though he also sometimes enjoys the things he barters for in themselves, especially when he knows that it's a treat for her.

Nyota just laughs at him. She doesn't understand his hobby; like chess, it seems rather boring and monotonous to her. When she wants something, like cocoa or perfumed soap or any other small luxury item, she just goes to the rec room and takes requests for songs or impressions. Of course she also does that when she doesn't want anything.

"Do you want to play?" he interrupts himself. He is just putting the finishing touches on the coffees by sprinkling some of the brown sugar over the foam.

He uses the verb meaning to play a game, and she glances down at the sandbox she's been absentmindedly dabbling her fingers in.

"Oh!" she says, "I didn't know this was a game. I thought it was a Zen garden." She takes it off the shelf and carries it to the table with her.

Spock radiates bemusement at her. "I thought this was a common game on Earth as well," he says. "But maybe not in Nairobi."

He teaches her to build a sandcastle while they slowly sip their coffees. His building is different from the kinds of houses and shapes she used to make in the dirt when she was little, but the principle is the same, and she feels a warm glow inside her at having this in common with him.

She needs to meditate on her subconscious assumptions, she thinks. Spock grew up with a Human mother, and he went to the academy on Earth. He would never display a Human work of art as an exotic curiosity and use it wrong, she knows better than that.

"Sometimes I feel like I have so much catching up to do," she tells him. "You know as much about Earth cultures as I do, but I know almost nothing about Vulcan." And it's making me feel insecure, she thinks.

He brushes her hand in the sandbox, and sends comfort at her. "You only have to ask," he says.

And she does.
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