Spock had meditated extensively on the subject of Jim’s dating preferences. He was glad to find that they seemed so simple and logical, for a human custom. Jim was clearly interested in making a connection with someone, and he didn’t care how much money his date might spend on him, or where they’d go to spend time together. He’d said all that really mattered was how he felt about that person, and that they enjoyed each other’s company. Indeed, his description of his ideal date wasn’t so different than what they already did together. It was as he’d thought before; dating activities could be the same as friendly ones, just with a different title. Spock could work with that.
While Spock very much enjoyed visiting the park or the library with Jim, he still wanted to find other things they might both; otherwise they would soon run out of things to do together. Limiting their visits to the park to one sight per time would probably help buy him some time to think, but Jim might want to do more than just see one place each time. They could re-visit some spots, but again, Jim might not enjoy that. He might also tire of the academy library if they spent too much time there.
All evidence so far indicated that he was very curious and intelligent; perhaps he would enjoy some other parts of the Academy grounds. Of course, with Spock as a student and Jim as a civilian visitor, there was only so much they could see together. Spock could show him some of the experiments he and fellow students worked on in the labs, but he didn’t know much pertaining to Jim’s interest in science. He knew from their discussions and library trips that Jim had a significant interest in history and engineering.
Perhaps he would ask Jim about more of his interests at a later time. It didn’t matter right now, since he wouldn’t see Jim until the next weekend. At the moment, he was using his time to go through the library looking for more information on the history of Canada. He’d originally thought to use the winter holiday break offered to all students. However, once he saw how cold it was going to be there at that point in time, he changed his mind. His summer break had been devoted to working ahead and spending time with Jim. It was nearing the middle of October, and though most of the work that he could do by himself was already completed, he still had some science projects that could only be worked on at the class schedule.
He was also apprehensive about going so far north any time of year so far. He had been on Earth for months, and California’s warmest summer temperatures were comfortable, at best. He wanted to have a chance to become accustomed to his current home’s various year round temperatures before he ventured elsewhere, especially north. If he ended up having to spend his final days on Earth, it would probably be in a desert area. As he was perusing the files on his mother’s native land, he failed to notice the sound of someone approaching him.
“Spock.” He looked away from the shelf to see Nyota Uhura stepping dangerously close to his personal space with a smile. “Hi. I was hoping to run into you again. I have some free time coming up in a few weeks, and I was hoping you might too. I thought if you did, we could make a date to start on the Vulcan language.” She looked at him expectantly, waiting for a reply. His mind had frozen on the word ‘date’. He had no desire to hurt her feelings, but this confirmed what Jim had told him, that she had a romantic interest in him. And he did not reciprocate it. He had to make that clear here and now.
“Miss Uhura, am I correct in guessing that you intend to use the proposed tutoring session as a way of assessing whether or not I would be a suitable romantic partner for you?” She looked shocked, and whether it was because he guessed her intentions or because he stated it so bluntly, he could only guess.
“Um, yes I was.” She said, looking flustered and unsure. “I hoped I was being more subtle than that. I know Vulcans don’t care for very forward behavior.” She studied him carefully. “I suppose you asked me that to make sure you knew what I wanted so you can tell me that you’re not interested. Could you at least tell me why?” Spock nodded.
“I find nothing wrong with you. It is simply the fact that I, as a Vulcan, can sense that you are not the right person for me. Were I lacking this ability, I would have seriously considered attempting such a relationship with you.” He paused. “I hope you are not very disappointed.” She sighed.
“I guess not. I might have been if you’d have waited long enough for me to get my hopes up, so I appreciate your honesty.” She looked at him curiously. “How did you know I was interested in asking you out? I thought I was being subtle enough to bring it up gradually.” Spock nodded.
“You were quite subtle. I only learned of your interest after my friend Jim alerted me to it.” She frowned a little.
“The farm boy from the art museum?” Spock was unable to prevent the stiffening of his posture at what he perceived as a derogatory comment.
“I fail to see what his growing up on a farm has to do with anything.” Uhura seemed to realize that she’d made a mistake.
“I didn’t mean anything by it. I’ve just met small town pretty boys like him who think they can talk anyone into bed. I could tell he wanted to flirt with me.” She sounded almost childish in the way she was trying to defend herself against his indignation.
“I highly doubt that.” He replied coolly. “You may recall that he left to use the restroom briefly? He did so because he noticed your interest in me. A misguided gesture, unfortunately.” Uhura had the good grace to look chastened.
“Oh. I didn’t know that.” She looked at him now with something that rather looked like suspicion. “You’re awfully defensive for a Vulcan. Is there something going on between you two?” Spock attempted to reign in his emotions.
“We are not romantically involved, if that is what you are asking.” She frowned.
“Do you want to be?” He looked away.
“I hardly see how that is relevant to my helping you study the Vulcan language.” He immediately realized that his words had come out colder and harsher than he had intended. Uhura looked taken aback.
“You sound like you’re the one who’s got his hopes up.” She remarked. Now she looked sympathetic. “Is that what it is? You like your friend and he doesn’t return your feelings?” Spock hesitated. Perhaps he could tell her the truth. She was clearly feeling sympathetic because of what she thought, that his feelings were not returned.
“My friend does not know of my feelings, so it is not accurate to say he does not return them.” She studied him.
“Why don’t you tell him how you feel then?”
“Because he has stated that he is not interested in pursuing any kind of relationship with anyone at this time.” Uhura frowned.
“Not that I want to upset you again, but he doesn’t seem the type to turn down an offer. Or at least not every offer.” Spock hesitated again. Jim might not appreciate him being so forthcoming with information about his condition. He’d already spoken to Doctor M’Benga about it, though he wasn’t sure that really counted since he was already aware of Jim’s pregnancy. But, Jim was beginning to show now, and eventually, people would be able to tell just by looking at him. Since he regularly came to see Doctor McCoy, plenty of Academy cadets and personnel would definitely see his expanding midsection. He made up his mind.
“Jim is not interested in pursuing any relationships because he is acting as a surrogate for his brother and his wife.” Uhura’s eyes widened.
“He’s having a baby for them?”
“Affirmative.” Replied Spock.
“Well, that’s a pretty big deal.” She remarked. “Does he think he’ll get dumped because of it or something?”
“He has said that he would not feel right engaging in a relationship with someone while carrying a child that is not theirs, or his for that matter.” Uhura nodded.
“Well, I guess that’s pretty responsible of him.” She shifted. “I’d still like to practice Vulcan. I have some time in the evening, next Saturday, if you’re still interested.” Spock nodded slightly.
“I am meeting Jim after his weekly doctor’s appointment. I do not know what time I will be available.” She nodded.
“Okay, can I give you my number and you call me if you have the time afterward?”
“Very well.” Agreed Spock. He quickly took down her number on his padd and they went their separate ways. Spock made his way back to his quarters to try and meditate away his negative feelings. He’d already known after the incident with Gary Mitchell that he felt an unusual aggression toward anyone who did anything against Jim, but he had not expected to react so strongly to one woman’s somewhat snobbish misconception of him.
He knew it would do him no good to make enemies with any of his classmates, even on a petty, personal level. He definitely didn’t want to give Uhura a reason to target Jim, if that was a possibility. She didn’t seem the type to behave unjustly toward someone just because she didn’t get what she wanted. On the other hand, she seemed to have an almost automatic dislike of Jim. She’d also seemed to easily accept that he was not interested in her. However, he didn’t know her well enough to know for certain. His only choice, as far as he could see, was to agree to meet with her and to try to assess how she might plan to handle the situation. He would wait a while to contact her. He had plenty of time to schedule the meeting.
When the weekend came, he sent her a message asking if she would be amenable to a five p.m. meeting in the library on the next Saturday. She sent a neutral reply in acceptance.
After another week had finally passed, Spock found himself in a waiting room of Starfleet Medical once more. Jim would be finishing soon and they would go on their typical outing. The door opened, and Jim walked out as usual. He smiled when he saw Spock standing up from his chair.
“Hey.” He said. “Ready to go?”
“Of course.” Said Spock, gesturing toward the door. They made their way outside. As they were leaving the building, they were intercepted by an Orion woman on her way out. Spock realized that it was the same Orion female he’d seen in Cadet Uhura’s presence once when he was about to go into the library. He had only seen her at a distance, but her bright red hair, a rare thing for an Orion, made her easily recognizable. She glanced at them briefly, then seemed to do a double take as she locked her eyes on Jim. She smiled at him brightly.
“Hi Jim!” She said, sounding happily surprised. “What are you doing here?” He smiled back at her.
“I’m here for my weekly checkup.” He said, rolling his eyes at the word ‘weekly’. The Orion’s smile widened.
“You’re still doing that?” Jim just nodded with a mixture of amusement and resignation. The Orion then glanced at Spock again and looked at Jim with a question in her eyes.
“Oh,” said Jim, “Gaila, this is Spock. Spock, Gaila.” She smiled at Spock and, to his surprise, held up her hand with her fingers parted in the Ta’al. He automatically returned the gesture.
“Hello Spock.” She said pleasantly. “I’ve heard about you from my roommate, Nyota Uhura.” She added, seeing the surprise on Jim’s face. “She mentioned you two are meeting later today.” She glanced at the doors behind them. “Well, I’ve got some vaccinations to cross off my list. I’ll see you around Jim.” She laid her hand on his arm briefly before smiling at them both and moved past them to go inside. Spock watched her until the doors closed, fighting the urge to maintain his casual stance and not try to forcibly put distance between her and Jim. It was shocking really, how much aggression shot through him at the moment her hand touched Jim’s arm.
“You know her?” He asked, hoping his voice came out sounding neutral. Jim turned to him.
“Yeah, we met at the library a while back.” He grinned, and they started walking in the direction of the shuttle station. “I think she was a little surprised I didn’t turn into a drooling idiot when I saw her. She’s uses pheromone suppressants, but she’s still hot. Even if she didn’t use the suppressants, I think being pregnant somehow makes me immune to the pheromones or something.” Spock relaxed a bit when he heard that. “Anyway, we hit it off pretty fast. I didn’t know she was Uhura’s roommate, though.”
“Neither did I.” Replied Spock. “I saw them together once outside of the library, but that was all.” Jim looked at him curiously.
“She said you have plans with Uhura today?” Spock nodded.
“Correct. I agreed to meet her in the library at five o’clock, to help her begin learning the Vulcan language.” Jim looked surprised.
“Does she know that your study date isn’t a ‘date’ date?”
“I asked her if she was hoping for our meeting to lead to a romantic encounter.” Replied Spock. “She told me she was, and I informed her that I was not interested in such a thing. She accepted that, but still asked for my help. It seems you were right about making myself clear right away. She said my rejection was far more bearable due to the fact that she had not gotten her hopes up beforehand.” Jim nodded.
“Yeah, it’s best to deal with that stuff before it actually turns into something. But you’re still meeting to study?”
“Yes.” Replied Spock. “I see no reason not to assist her in furthering her academic career. It would also serve as a way for me to build good relations with my fellow cadets.”
“Just not the kind of ‘relations’ that she wanted.” Remarked Jim. Then he flushed a little. “Oh, sorry! I guess Vulcans don’t really like that kind of humor.” Spock realized that the relations Jim had been referring to were sexual ones.
“Indeed not.” He replied, though he attempted to soften it by allowing some amusement to show in his voice. “Such talk would be considered quite scandalous on Vulcan.” Jim looked at him again and smiled a little.
“As scandalous as turning down the Vulcan Science Academy to enlist in Starfleet?” Spock inclined his head.
“Perhaps not that scandalous.” Jim laughed and they continued on walking until they boarded the shuttle. Once they were seated Jim turned to Spock again.
“So, you have to be at the library by five. What do we do until then?” Spock hesitated.
“I recalled you mentioning when we first met that you were going to the Botanical Gardens. I have not visited there myself; would you be willing to go back there?”
“Sure.” Replied Jim with an easy smile. “I wouldn’t mind going back.” They switched shuttles and were at the Gardens soon. They began by looking at the exhibit for California’s native plants. They gradually made their way through the various exhibits. Jim warned Spock at one point that some of the areas where quite humid and misty, and that he might not be comfortable. Spock found that he was right; there were some foggy areas that he felt very uncomfortable to be and breathe in. However, his scientific curiosity won out and he pushed his discomfort aside to study the plants. If he could, Spock might have spent all day here. As they studied one plant, Jim spoke up suddenly.
“Gaila told me about a plant on her homeworld like this. These are so exotic compared to what I’m used to, they almost look like they could be from another planet. Is something wrong?” Spock had stiffened up at the mention of Gaila, the Orion woman.
“No.” He replied. “You seem quite friendly with her.” Jim shrugged.
“Yeah. I can kind of relate to her. She’s always got guys hitting on her because she’s an Orion. I sometimes got crap from people in Iowa who think that just because I don’t really date, and flirt a lot, and just have a casual thing here or there means that I’ll jump in bed with anyone.” Spock frowned minutely.
“It is understandable that they would think that about an Orion female, but-” He was cut off by Jim suddenly raising his hand.
“Wait, what do you mean ‘understandable’? You think that it’s okay for people to harass her because she’s Orion?” Spock was confused.
“I imagine she would welcome the attention. Orion women are well known for drawing almost every type of male they come across, and for manipulating them with their sexuality. They rarely turn down offers for sexual intercourse and often use the infatuation and dependency that their pheromones cause to help their men take advantage of the males they mate with.”
“Yeah, because that’s what they’re expected to do! Snapped Jim. Spock couldn’t help but glance around just to make sure that no one was listening. Fortunately, he could see no one standing nearby. “That’s how it’s been for thousands of years. Orion females have a massive libido and incredible sex appeal. And because of that, they’re expected to seduce guys so that their owners can reap the benefits.” Now Spock’s frown was more pronounced.
“They may be slaves in name, but they allow themselves to be used. They can easily manipulate their men if they wish it. The arrangement is to their benefit as well.”
“The only benefit they get from that arrangement is that it gives them a certain amount of control over their situation. The men have ways of diminishing the effects the pheromones have on them. Do you know what happens to Orion females who don’t do what’s expected of them?” Spock just shook his head and Jim continued. “The glands that produce the pheromones are surgically removed and they get sold off to brothels, where they have no power and no options. They have to go along with the so called mutually beneficial arrangement, if only because it’s all they know how to do. The only other option is a lifetime of rape and abuse.” Jim’s eyes, bright and intense, focused on Spock’s. “What would you do?” He asked quietly. “If you had to choose between being raped, or going with it in order to survive and maybe walk away with something to show for it, what would you do?” Spock had to force himself to answer.
“I do not know what I would do such a situation.” He admitted quietly. “I did not intend to upset you. I was only stating what I have been taught.”
“Yeah, well maybe you should consider that there’s two sides to every story.” Muttered Jim. He checked his watch abruptly. “It’s getting late. You don’t want to be late for your study session.” He started walking back toward the shuttle station without waiting for a response. Spock hurried after him. They boarded the shuttle that took them out of the park, making the ride in silence. They came to the place where they would switch shuttles, and Jim started to board. Spock, feeling a little desperate, asked,
“What are your plans for next weekend?” Jim looked back at him with an unreadable expression.
“That’s when the next parenting class is. I’ll be free the weekend after next.” With that, he turned and boarded the shuttle. He hadn’t actually said anything about seeing Spock again.
Spock’s body moved almost on autopilot as he made his way to the academy library. He had no idea what to do. He hadn’t expected the way Jim’s anger, aimed at him, would make him feel like this. He felt terrible, not just in the sense that his feelings were hurt, but in the way that he was considered bad for thinking what he did. He held no animosity toward Orions, couldn’t Jim understand that? But then, he hadn’t said that, only stated his belief that they were carnal beings who had no real agenda but to use their sexuality to gain power.
Jim had said he could relate to Gaila. Spock wondered what he could have meant by that. As an Orion, even without her pheromones she likely drew many who hoped to engage her in sexual congress. And because she was Orion, there were probably many people who assumed, like him, that she would accept almost any request for sex. And that sounded…disturbingly similar to something Jim had said to him once. Jim had said before that his habit of being flirtations with so many people so often had led some to assume that he would have sex with anyone. He had been saying it again right before Spock had made his mistake.
Spock actually stopped in his tracks as he processed this. It made sense that Jim would defend someone against rumors, especially if he had been a victim of them himself. He’d said he could relate to Gaila because he was used to people having certain expectations of him that were fueled by rumors and stereotypes. He was saying that Gaila, like him, might enjoy sex, but not being expected to conform to said stereotypes because of it. Spock realized that what he’d said about Orion females might have actually caused Jim to question Spock’s opinion of him. This was bad. He forced himself to resume walking toward the library. He would have to wait until after his study session with Uhura to figure out how to fix what he’d done.
She was already inside at a table when he arrived. He had to look at the clock on the wall to make sure he wasn’t late. Uhura looked up and saw him as he approached.
“Oh, hi.” She said. “I wasn’t sure when exactly you’d arrive, so I already gathered up some of the materials I think we’ll need.” Spock studied the files on the table before taking a seat.
“I am sure you are adequately prepared.” They began.
After a good hour reviewing what she knew and the Vulcan alphabet, Uhura changed the subject abruptly.
“Are you okay? You seem like your mind wants to be somewhere else.” She remarked. He looked at her, startled.
“I apologize if I seem unfocussed.” She studied him carefully.
“Is something wrong?” He figured he might as well let her know why he couldn’t focus on fulfilling his promise to help her study Vulcan.
“I believe I have made a serious error in communication with a friend of mine.” He admitted.
“You mean that guy Jim?” She asked. He hesitated then said,
“What could you have done wrong?” She asked, confused. Spock hesitated again. He had no desire to anger someone who attended the same facility that he did. Telling her that he’d said such an insulting thing about her roommate would probably do that. On the other hand, Jim seemed to be on very friendly terms with Gaila. He might tell her what Spock had said, and then she might tell Uhura. It might be best if he admitted to it and expressed his regret for it.
“I made what he perceived to be a derogatory comment about another cadet. It was not my intent to be insulting. Vulcans simply state what is, with no emotion or judgment. However, my information may have been incomplete or erroneous. And he found it insulting to hear.”
“Who were you talking about?” Asked Uhura.
“An Orion female named Gaila.” He replied. “She identified herself as your roommate.” Uhura looked a little wary now.
“What did you say about her?” Spock hesitated again before answering.
“I stated that it was understandable that an Orion would have many males behaving in a lewd fashion toward her, and when I tried to explain my statement with what I have learned about Orion women, that they welcome such behavior, he told me some of the things he learned in return. I was not trying to be negative about it, but he was quite upset by what I said.” Spock tried not to let his dejection show. Uhura studied him.
“I admit, I had plenty of negative thoughts about Gaila when we first met, and most of them stemmed from what I’ve heard about Orions. But after I got to know her, and she told me a lot of the facts that most people don’t get to hear, I changed my opinion pretty quickly.” Spock nodded.
“I understand my information was incomplete, but that does not change the fact that Jim was upset by the fact that I stated what I believed.” Uhura shrugged.
“Sometimes, people who know facts that aren’t commonly known, or are ignored in favor of others, get upset when those other facts are referred to as the truth.”
“I still do not know what to do about this situation.” Said Spock. Uhura seemed to hesitate.
“Look, you were upfront about not wanting to date me, and you agreed to tutor me even though I had a little ulterior motive, so let me give you some advice in return.” At his nod, she continued. “Just try letting him know you were wrong. You do believe you were wrong, right?” He nodded again, and she kept speaking. “Then tell him that. And it probably wouldn’t hurt to just apologize for getting him worked up. I don’t really know what to tell you beyond that.” Spock considered her advice.
“Thank you. I will consider it.” She nodded and began gathering her things.
“I think I’d better get going; I’m meeting Gaila for lunch.” She looked at him. “Do you think we could do this again some time? Vulcan can be a really tricky language for non-native speakers, and I’d really like to have some preparation for what I’ll be facing in class.”
“If I have the time, I would be willing to tutor you again.” He replied. She nodded as if satisfied, then departed. Spock also left after gathering his own things together.
Later on, he tried to meditate in order to clear his mind. So far, he wasn’t taking Jim’s being upset with him very well. He knew that eventually, he would do as Uhura suggested, and send an apology. He would probably have to send it, since he had yet to encounter Jim at the Academy outside of their scheduled visits. What he was wondering right now was how he was going to word his apology. He knew Jim had found an insult in his words that reminded him of how some people had treated him in the past. He didn’t know much else though. He wanted to understand the situation a little better before he sent Jim any message. He wanted to be sure he knew as much as he could before telling Jim how sorry he was.
Part of him felt just a little resentful. He hadn’t meant anything negative by his comment, and Jim hadn’t given him a chance to explain that. Of course, that might have something to do with the fact that Jim was pregnant. He’d already displayed uncharacteristic reactions to things people had said to him. He’d stated that he normally would have physically beaten Gary Mitchell for what he’d said to him when he declined to sleep with him, but had started crying instead because of his hormonal imbalance. Perhaps he’d reacted so aggressively because the hormones had prevented him from reacting in a more rational manner.
After meditation proved ineffective, Spock gave up and began to prepare for bed. He got under the sheets and ordered the lights off. In the safe dark and privacy, he sighed and resigned himself to the fact that he would probably not rest easy until he heard with his own ears that Jim was no longer upset with him before falling into a restless sleep.