The sun blazed down on the transport, cutting through the through the windows and providing a clear view of the shining city below. Spock inclined his head toward the glass and took in the sight. It was not his first time visiting Earth, no, his mother had insisted that he visit the planet, wishing for him to learn a bit more about this side of his heritage; although it was the first time he was visiting voluntarily.
Spock clutched the data PADD in his lap tight enough to make his knuckles to go white. He was well aware that it was illogical to be nervous. All of the necessary arrangements had been made, his room paid for, and the academy was expecting him. He had secured a teaching position at the San Francisco Center for Visual Arts and he intended to make the most of his stay.
His father had not been happy when he was informed that Spock would rather study art than attend the Vulcan Science Academy as he was expected. In Spock's defense, it had not been an easy decision. He had actually lost sleep over the matter, something his father would have blamed his human genetics for.
After living for years under the unspoken scrutiny of his Vulcan peers, hearing their displeasure in his father's choice of mate finally vocalized at his acceptance hearing made him realize that his mind had already been made up for a long time. As he glared up at the elders with a fiery defiance in his eyes, he was met by Sarek's stony gaze. To everyone else, he appeared as indifferent as when Spock had entered the chamber. But Spock knew differently; the gaze that had met his own that day bored into his own with a deep disappointment with which he was all to familiar. The visual confrontation seemed to last for an eternity even though his Vulcan internal clock told him it was only 4.5 seconds.
That had been the last exchange he and his father shared before Spock's departure to Earth the next morning. Now that he was here, the gravity of his decision becoming real, he was not so sure he made the right choice. Would a life at the Vulcan Science Academy have been as terrible as his mind made it out to be? Even as he asked himself the question, he realized that it was that kind of human like insecurity that had made his life miserable on Vulcan.
"Hey man, are you alright?" The sound snapped Spock back into reality. An accent was rather prominent in the voice, Scottish, Spock identified. He turned his head toward his seat partner, a thirty something man with short cropped brown hair. He had on a well worn green jacket over a white shirt with the image of a silver flask printed at its center. The man spoke again "You look pretty tense, and I wouldn't want you to break that PADD, those things are expensive."
Spock relaxed his grip on the data PADD and glanced down to survey the damage. There were several dents where his fingers had bent the malleable metal protector.
"Too breakable if you ask me," The man continued "not worth the money the manufacturers charge for em'. I've made data storing units with twice the capacity in my garage. Of course I had the spare parts of the last transporter unit to work with. Hah, I'd like to see you try to break grade A Titanium with that crazy Vulcan strength of yours. Oh, my name's Montgomery Scott by the way."
Spock had not asked, and mentally reprimanded himself for being emotionally unstable enough to gain the attention of a human.
"I am Spock, and your concern is unnecessary Mr. Scott, I am careful enough not to break my own equipment."
"S'all the same," he brushed the comment off with a flick of his wrist, "Ya do seem a bit tense though, is that why you came to sunny California? To relax?"
Small talk, Spock identified, was strictly a human activity, one which he had little practice.
"I am here to teach and study art at the San Francisco Center for Visual Arts." He replied.
"Wow, its got to be a good school if even I've heard of it. Never had any talent for art myself, unless you count repairing transports as sculpture." Mr. Scott's face brightened with the conversation. "But there is a talented lad in my intro to Engineering class who doodles all over his homework, I'd be mad, but he gets all the problems right."
Spock quirked an eyebrow. He was only mildly interested in the conversation, but was fascinated by the effort the man was putting into engaging him.
Before either of them had a chance to say another word the intercom buzzed and an automated voice blared from the ceiling. "Attention passengers, we are now nearing central station in down town San Francisco. Please remain seated with safety harnesses intact until the transport comes to a complete stop. Thank you for choosing Air Alpha, have a nice day."
"Well, I guess that's our stop," Piped , gathering up his bag "I'm working over at the Star Fleet Academy, which is not to far from where you'll be working, perhaps we'll bump into each other again sometime."
Spock inclined his head "I would not be opposed to a future meeting," he said the words with sincerity, he was intrigued by Mr. Scott's openness and wondered if it was a trait that many humans shared. It was something he would have to look into.
Spock gathered his things, placed the now dented PADD into the carry on bag he kept at his feet, and slid into the isle. The transport had been relatively empty, so it was easy for him to make his way through the vehicle following Mr. Scott. A lady with hair braided in twelve different ways was at the door to make sure they made it out safely. Spock had a fleeting thought that a hive of Achalas, a flying insect similar to Earth bees, could be hiding inside her hairstyle and no one would be the wiser.
The thought tugged at the corners of his mouth, threatening to produce a smile. He nodded to the woman as he exited the vehicle, using the motion to hide his momentary loss of emotional control. He was met by a bright sun and a familiar face he had not expected to see so soon.
"Hello Spock," The face of Chris Pike was not an unwelcome sight, although it was not the one he had expected to greet him. "I knew you would need someone to show you around, and I thought this would be a good opportunity for us to catch up."
Spock was taken aback by the kind gesture from the former Admiral. It was not something he was used to, and he was surprised how much he appreciated seeing someone he knew.
Christopher nodded to Mr. Scott "Its good to see you again too, Scotty; how's that formula for transwarp beaming coming along?"
Mr. Scott grumbled something about "not wanting to talk about it" and "unfair accusations" as he walked away from the pair, slinging his bag over his shoulder as he went.
Raising an eyebrow Spock questioned the older man "I was not aware you were interested in the logistics of starship transportation."
Chris smiled "Oh, its just a joke from my last year with Starfleet, Scotty there thought he had figured out how to successfully transport objects to and from Starships while in warp drive. Needless to say he did not get the result he mean to." he chuckled at something Spock did not understand. "So, would you like to catch dinner with me? You must be hungry after your flight."
"That would be most agreeable Admiral." Chris held up a hand at the title
"Its Chris, Spock, I retired from Starfleet over a year ago. There's no reason to call me by that title anymore." They began walking
"I will admit that it is a difficult habit to break, it is difficult to think of you doing anything other than commanding a fleet." after a moments pause, he added "Christopher."
Christopher Pike had resigned as an Admiral from Starfleet a little over a year before to accept an administration position at the San Francisco Center for Visual Arts. According to Pike, having any sort of artistic ability was not required to choose qualified teachers for up in coming art students. He and Spock had become aquatinted in Chris' captaining days when he had accompanied Sarek on a diplomatic mission to Earth. Spock thought the trip would be educational and did not expect to find anyone else who knew how to play three dimensional chess. They got to know each other over several games that not only ended in the Captain's ruthless defeat, but a long conversation about the differences between Vulcan and Earth classical art techniques.
He and Spock had continued corresponding throughout the years; and when Christopher gave up his Starfleet career in favor of an artistic one, Spock had been one of the first to know. Congruently, Christopher had been the one who offered Spock the teaching position to give him a chance to promote his work in a different setting.
A gentle hand clapped Spock on the back and said "That's more like it, this isn't just about business, its nice to see an old friend again."
For the second time that day, Spock felt the corners of his mouth twitching upward. He followed his friend feeling a reassuring warmth in his heart he found himself not wanting to fade.