spock: break down these walls

Fic: The First Move

Title: The First Move
Author: igrockspock
Characters: Spock/Uhura
Rating: PG
Notes: Sequel to Candle

Summary: Spock takes the initiative

Uhura stands in front of her mirror, wearing white cotton underpants and nothing else. Nearly every piece of clothing she owns is piled on the floor in an unruly, multicolored pyramid. Red ruffled top. Great color, too dressy. Kenyan wrap skirt, too casual. Bright yellow halter top. Nope. She's not going to the beach. Moaning in despair, she strides across the room, stubs her toe on the bed, curses, and flings open Gaila's closet. What does a girl wear when invited to her boss's private quarters on a Friday night? And if her boss is a Vulcan? Definitely not a gold metal bra, she thinks, and slams Gaila's closet shut again.

This is not a date, she tells herself sternly. Sure, it's Friday night...at 7 p.m....in Spock's private quarters...when they have never socialized outside of work before. And yes, like every other girl and a few of the boys in the xenolinguistics department, she's imagined the chiseled muscles rippling beneath his uniform shirt, even fantasized about his cool, pale hands exploring her body late at night. So what if her interest runs a little deeper than a casual fuck? Just because she wonders if she could be the yang to his yin, feeling his emotions for him, expressing the things that he cannot, doesn't mean that he does. No matter what his ancestry, Spock lives as a Vulcan. She has never seen him do anything less than completely logical, and even if he wanted to change that, dating a human female Starfleet cadet is not where he would start. No, if Spock had said he would like to thank her for her hard work and "unparalleled devotion to xenolinguistic and morphological research," that's what he was going to do.

Okay, she thinks. Professional meeting, professional clothes. Problem solved. She tugs on her most crisply starched uniform, picks up her bag, marches out the door...and straight back in again to exchange her sensible shoes for high heeled knee-high black leather boots. Her legs are nice, as Jim Kirk never tires of telling her. Can't hurt to show them off. Even to a Vulcan.

Fifteen minutes, two hair-and-make-up checks, a tiny dab of extra lip gloss, and just a bit of eyeliner later, she is standing outside Spock's door, hoping she looks serene. In the short space between her ringing the door chime and him opening the door, she has just enough time to wonder if the smell of curry flooding the hallway is coming from his quarters.

"Please, come in," Spock says, still in uniform, his voice as calm and measured as ever. You're an idiot, she tells herself, and hopes that Spock can't see her extra make-up.

His quarters look just like she imagined they would -- small and sparsely furnished, somehow elegant in their simplicity. This is her first time in a Vulcan's private home, and in spite of all her reading on Vulcan etiquette, she is slightly flustered. No matter how professional the purpose of this meeting, she knows that Spock inviting her here signals a shift in their relationship. Whatever thanks he wants to impart could easily have been delivered in the linguistics lab. Whether he is extending an offer of mentorship or friendship, she wants badly to be worthy of it, but outside the formal confines of the Academy, she doesn't know how to proceed.

"I have prepared a meal," he says in the same even tone, and ushers her to a small table lit by two tall, white candles.

"Please be seated," he says, pulling out a chair for her. "I will bring the food."

The smell of Indian spices is even stronger here than in the hallway, and sure enough, Spock emerges from the kitchen with two plates of curry vindaloo. It's her favorite dish, and Spock would know that well enough after a year of watching her order it from the street cart near the linguistics lab...just as she knows that Spock does not eat Indian food. Like most things their planet, Vulcan cuisine is about balance, simplicity, harmony, and avoiding illogical extremes. Like food with the burning heat of a thousand suns. It's good though; really good, actually, and she digs in to avoid having to speak. Just as she is about to inquire about his unexpected cooking skills, her favorite song, a slow, soft number from an obscure band on Rigel 7, drifts across the room from a hidden speaker.

"Is the temperature comfortable?" he inquires, and she notices that it is significantly cooler than she expected of a Vulcan's quarters.

"Yeah," she says, giving him a small smile. "It's perfect."

"Is the food to your liking?"

"Really good."

Alone at the Academy, researching late in the night, their conversations often veer away from academic topics to Vulcan music, human food, and the idiosyncrasies of both their cultures. Here, though, the atmosphere between them is tense and awkward. She can't pinpoint a single difference in the expression on his face or the tone of his voice, but she thinks he seems oddly expectant. As if the meal, the candles, and the endless solicitous questions are a message she can somehow understand.

"The shade of eyeliner you have chosen and the shape in which you have applied it enhances your eyes quite effectively," he announces abruptly, and she promptly chokes on her curry, forcing her to spend several humiliating seconds coughing and gulping down water, tears streaming down her face. Spock appears unperturbed, though concerned about her welfare. She excuses herself to the bathroom and sits on the counter, wondering if he would hear her if she called a girlfriend. But what would she even say? I think I'm on a date with Commander Spock? She can already imagine her girlfriends' responses. DeLynn, her best friend, would tell her to march straight to the Academy Ethics Board and file a sexual harassment complaint. Gaila, her second best friend, would probably advise her to take off her top and jump in Spock's lap. She channels her grandmother instead, imagining her standing in the bathroom, face stern, hands on hips. "If a Vulcan invites you into his home, it's a compliment," she'd say, "and you're damn sure going to mind your manners and live up to it. And if he hasn't learned how to interact with humans yet, well, you'd better help him along!"

Back at the table, to fill an awkward pause, she asks, "did you, uh, know this was my favorite song?"

"Indeed," Spock replies. "While you were at lunch, I removed your digital music device from from your bag, arranged its contents according to the number of times each song has been played, and eliminated those whose tempo seemed inconsistent with an intimate meal. I apologize for the intrusion on your privacy."

Intimate? she wants to ask. Did you just say intimate? Instead, she keeps her silence.

"Nyota," Spock continues, mysteriously managing to look more serious than usual. "If I asked you a question, would you promise to answer it honestly?"

"Sure," she says cautiously. She always speaks her mind anyway, even when she doesn't mean to.

"I notice that you appear ill at ease. Have I behaved incorrectly?"

"Uh," she says. That depends on whether this is a dinner date, a seduction attempt, or a seriously misguided attempt to establish a friendship, you bastard. The response seems harsh though, so instead she asks, "did you just dim the lights?"

"Your observation is correct," he answers, then continues, "judging from your unusually stiff smile and upright posture, I am not yet adept at this form of human interaction and have therefore failed to convey the message I intended to communicate."

"You got that right," she snaps and wonders if he looks relieved by the return of her normal personality or if she's just imagining it. A little more softly, she says, "maybe you could explain." She looks down at the table and licks her lips before continuing. "To be honest, it, um, seems like a date."

This time she doesn't think she's imagining the relief, although she still can't pinpoint the exact way his face or body shows it.

"Your observation is, again, correct," he says. His voice is as steady as ever, but softer too. She doesn't think anyone but her could hear the difference. When she looks up, she knows she is blushing -- she can feel the heat of it on her cheeks -- but he is looking away from her.

"Nyota," he says again, the sound of her first name, spoken so rarely between them, makes her stomach drop and her heart flutter. He still sounds like a Vulcan, but he draws it out just a little. Just long enough to make her think he is savoring every syllable. Still not quite looking at her, he continues, "please forgive me if I have...complicated matters between us. Relationships between species are...complex, and although empirical data is limited, relationships between humans and Vulcans are likely to be particularly fraught. I will of course understand if you do not share my attraction or if you prefer not to pursue the matter further, I did, however, want you to know that I find you...fascinating."

Now she's the one who can't meet his eyes.

"Nyota," he says for the third time tonight, and this time it's rushed, as if it might be the last time he says it and he has to finish it quickly. "I am aware that as your instructor and supervisor, this may seem like an abuse of my position, but please have no concern for your academic career. Your achievements are outstanding, and if you decline my offer -- and I must again emphasize that I will understand if you do -- I will do my utmost to find you a suitable assistantship next year. Furthering the career of a cadet as promising as yourself would only be...logical."

After that, he is silent and so is she. She feels her silence stretch from seconds into minutes, but one of her favorite things about Spock is that he knows when she's thinking and respects it. He always gives her time to frame the right answer, and this time, she wants to badly. This is the most horribly awkward and terribly romantic thing anyone has ever done for her. The intimacy of it -- that he has not only shared his feelings but taken the trouble to do so in such a human way -- is staggering. She needs to say the right thing, the exact right thing, to repay him, to let him know that it's more than okay. That she treasures it.

Finally, she raises her eyes and lets her mouth curve into her softest smile. "I find you fascinating too," she says and leaves it at that. That's the other good thing about Spock: he always accepts simplicity. She can feel her smile widening now, cutting into her cheeks so much they ache.

One corner of his mouth twitches, just for a second, the Vulcan equivalent of an ear-splitting grin.

They stay at the table for the rest of the night, saying little else except when they share a glass of wine ("Vulcans do not generally consume alcohol, but this occasion is worth honoring") and a slice of chocolate cake ("Forgive me, but I was unable to attain satisfactory baking skills and therefore purchased this from a local bakery. That I did not make it myself in no way reflects diminished desire for you to enjoy the evening.")

When Spock rises abruptly from the table and escorts her to the door just after 10 o'clock, she has to use all her cross-species understanding to remember that this isn't an insult. Bringing her to his quarters, planning this evening, confiding his feelings...it's a huge leap for a Vulcan, she knows, and he might not be ready for anyone else to know. If he needs her out the door before walk-of-shame time, she'll respect that. Or maybe he wants to avoid raising the possibility that she'll spend the night -- and the possibility of adding sex to an evening that must have already taxed him. Then, smiling slightly at the thought, she wonders if he's just showing her that he respects her. That he does not yet expect anything from her other than the pleasure of the company.

She turns to face him in front of the door, and she sees his muscles tense almost imperceptibly. As if he's drawing himself up taller, preparing himself for one last battle. But she doesn't need a good night kiss at the door. Their hours of shared silence at the dinner table has already been far more intimate -- and more passionate -- than a night between his sheets. She knows that he will force himself to kiss her if that's what she demands of him, but she does not need another concession to humanity tonight. Instead, she lays her hand on his arm and squeezes gently. For the first time since she walked in the door that night, they look into each other's eyes.

"Thank you," she says and hopes he can read all the nuances in her voice that show how much she means it.

"No," he says, "I believe the gratitude is mine."
This is just wonderful. I think it will become my personal canon for their first date from here on.
Loved both parts of this.
This is a great story, I love how he explains the chocolate cake and leads her to the door before walk of shame time. Shy, unsure Spock is simply adorable.
I adored this! You had me laughing and totally engrossed from the first paragraph. Again, you didn't take me where I expected you to go-- for which I am grateful.

I'm going to savor this one again. Thanks so much for posting!
Thank you - I'm really glad you enjoyed it.

Now I'm curious where you thought it was taking you originally :)
You see this, frat boys? THIS is how a gentleman romances a lady! Read and learn!

Spock is adorkable. I love this fic.
"As if the meal, the candles, and the endless solicitous questions are a message she can somehow understand."

Love that line!

"That depends on whether this is a dinner date, a seduction attempt, or a seriously misguided attempt to establish a friendship, you bastard."


"This is the most horribly awkward and terribly romantic thing anyone has ever done for her."

LOVE that line!

"Forgive me, but I was unable to attain satisfactory baking skills and therefore purchased this from a local bakery. That I did not make it myself in no way reflects diminished desire for you to enjoy the evening."

Now, THAT made me laugh out loud for real! Seriously, I can picture him earnestly saying that. So cute!

Love it. Write MOAR!
"Forgive me, but I was unable to attain satisfactory baking skills and therefore purchased this from a local bakery. That I did not make it myself in no way reflects diminished desire for you to enjoy the evening."

SPOCK!! Why are you so damned awesome!! this was a brilliantly written story. i love Uhura's nervousness, Spock's awkward determination to 'woo' her as best he can.

Spock's got moves for sure. lol I do hope you update soon on this.
I'm glad you liked the cake line. I slaved over it.

I have several half-finished stories that occupy this characterization of Spock and Uhura. I don't think I could handle writing a series in order, but I think there will be more one-shots from this.
I don't think I can continue it in a series since my story ideas don't seem to go in logical order, but I do have some half-finished stories that live in this same 'universe.' Thank you for commenting!
Thank you! I understand why most people feel that Uhura takes the lead, but I like a universe where Spock starts it.
This is the most horribly awkward and terribly romantic thing anyone has ever done for her.

This. Just this right here. It sums up all the beauty of this fic into one neat little package. Excellent work. :)