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Author's Chapter Notes:

And I continue on. Hopefully I'll be able to update this one more quickly than the last, but I'm sort of stuck picking up the slack from other coworkers either leaving or that are new. But we'll see.

 

"Spock," Uhura called for Spock's attention as he made his way out of the turbolift after their first shift of the mission was over.

"Nyota," Spock greeted, sounding rather pleasant considering he'd avoided her touch like she was poisonous all shift.

"What the hell was that about?" she asked angrily, not caring if there were people in the hall around them.

"I am afraid I do not understand what you are asking," Spock replied quietly, walking in a direction where there were less people milling through the halls.

"Don't understand it my ass," Uhura said venomously. "You know exactly what I'm talking about. On the bridge, you ripped your arm away from me like I was trying to bite it off."

"Our romantic relationship has been terminated, and I do not see the logic in continuing it," Spock said, no emotion whatsoever in his voice. "And it is inappropriate for an officer to touch another intimately, regardless of personal relationship status, while on duty."

"You ‘do not see the logic in continuing it'?" Uhura asked angrily. "Then why did you let it start in the first place?"

Spock took a breath and Uhura noticed that it was slightly unsteady. She instantly regretted getting angry like she had; Spock had enough to deal with without her dumping all her anger on him too.

"I'm sorry," she said quietly. "I'm just confused, that's all."

"That is not all," Spock said just as quietly. "You are hurting, I have hurt you. I am... sorry for this," he looked at her and for the first time, Uhura though she could see some emotion in his eyes, a small sadness there. "I will admit that logic failed me in that moment and I apologize for the pain my inability to understand what I was doing has hurt you."

Uhura nodded and then smiled. "Spock, whatever you say about our personal relationship, I'm here for you. No matter what, I'm still your friend, and if you need me, I am here."

Spock nodded. "I thank you for your friendship, Nyota."  He turned away from her then and made his way back down the corridor towards his quarters. She watched him go with a mixture of sadness and confusion. She didn't think she'd ever fully understand the man that was Spock. Something in the back of her mind told her that she was never meant to.

 

"Hi Spock," Jim greeted, seeing Spock coming down the hall as he exited the turbolift. He noted the look in Spock's eyes, a look of deep sadness and possibly anger and he stopped. "Spock, what's wrong?"

Spock looked up at him, obviously startled out of some form of personal contemplation. "Captain, I apologize, I did not see you there, my thoughts were elsewhere..."

"We're off-duty, it's ‘Jim' now," Jim said automatically before turning his attention to the turmoil he still saw in those chocolate brown eyes. "So, what's got that big ol' brain of yours working so hard you don't even notice my handsome self talking to you?"

Spock's eyebrow threatened to breach his hairline at that question. He wasn't sure what it was about this man, but he couldn't help but be truthful with him. "I was contemplating my decision to return. I find that I still cannot be certain that the decision was the correct one."

Jim's eyes softened and it looked to Spock like he was attempting to convey that he understood exactly what Spock was trying to say. "I saw the thing with Uhura... is everything okay there?" Jim began walking again, smiling when Spock followed.

"Everything is indeed... ‘okay' as you put it," Spock answered after a moment of silence. "However, I have caused her undue pain; I can only hope to rectify that."

"Spock, from my experience, Humans get over most pain pretty easily after they've had time to stew or they talk it out," Jim said amiably. "If you talked about it, which I think you did, judging by the look on your face, I think you'll both be okay. Besides, it looks like she's happy you came back."

"Indeed," Spock said softly, and Jim saw more turmoil enter those eyes.

"Hey," Jim reached out and put an arm around his newly-reinstated First's shoulders, more than half expecting it to be shrugged off immediately, especially considering what he had witnessed with Uhura that morning. He was understandably shocked when his touch was allowed, so shocked in fact, that it took him a full minute to remember what he had been about to say. "A little bird told me you like chess, would you care to join me in a game?"

"I would be amenable to that," Spock said quietly. "However, I feel it important to point out that I have never encountered a species of ‘little bird' capable of communicating with humanoid species."

Jim looked at Spock's expression and realized that the Vulcan was... teasing him, there was no other thing it could be. Jim laughed. "No, I guess it would be illogical to say that's what happened, huh Spock?"

"Indeed," Spock replied. "However, that is one idiom that I do not find very displeasing. In any case, I believe I find it... pleasingly whimsical."

"Pleasingly whimsical?" Jim repeated, dumbfounded by the generally ultra-Vulcan's use of the word ‘whimsical'. Of course, Jim corrected himself in his mind; Spock could have appeared ulta-Vulcan solely because Jim had paid so little attention to any other aspect of his First.

"Indeed," Spock said as they rounded the corner to the corridor housing their respective cabins. Spock looked thoughtful for a moment. "I believe the Human phrase is ‘your place or mine'?"

Jim choked out a nervous laugh, suddenly caught by the image of him and Spock getting up to much naughtier things than chess in one of their cabins. That little saying had obviously broke into Jim's pent-up sexual frustration. "That is a Human saying, but I'm not sure it'll... never mind. I have my chess board out, actually, so that might make it easier."

"That is acceptable," Spock, eyebrow raised at the laugh from his captain, followed Jim to the door to his cabin and followed him in politely. He looked around curiously; the room was sparse, just about as sparse as his own. His eyes snapped to the small shelf in the corner, holding several paper books; priceless antiques.

Jim followed his gaze and smiled lovingly at the shelf. "They were my dad's. He had a whole bunch of books. I couldn't bring them all with me, so I put the rest in storage. I just brought my favourites."

Spock read through the titles interestedly and several familiar ones leapt out at him, including the almost-complete works of William Shakespeare. "I had no idea you were so well-versed in ancient Terran literature, Cap-Jim."

"Always the tone of surprise," Jim said in mock irritation. "Just because I grew up milking cows on a farm doesn't mean I have to be stupid."

"I did not mean to imply..." Spock began but Jim's chuckle cut him off.

"I was kidding Spock," Jim rolled his eyes. "I'm used to people being surprised I'm a whole lot smarter than the corn growing in the fields behind my house."

"I am in no way surprised by your levels of intelligence," Spock said softly. "Need I remind you that it would take a great deal to change the parameters of my simulation. I would know, I developed it." Thos dark eyes twinkled in a way that told Jim he was laughing at him.

"Yeah," Jim chuckled. "Sorry about ruining your precious Kobayashi Maru. But I still don't believe in no-win scenarios."

Spock looked at him, his face slightly twisted into a wry expression. "Upon seeing your more... unorthodox methods, I am forced to admit that I no longer believe in them either."

Jim grinned easily. "Aha! I've converted you! That's so awesome."

"Awesome indeed," Spock said quietly. He sat down in the chair opposite Jim and regarded the chess board in between them.

"Black or white?" Jim asked.

"I believe I shall take black this evening," Spock answered, having sat on the black side of the board. It also seemed logical to him to allow Jim to go first to witness his strategy to better counter it. And, Spock thought as an afterthought, it was good manners.

"You got it," Jim smiled and, completely ignoring his pawns, moved his knight out straight away.

"I admit that choice is not what I was expecting," Spock said softly, mirroring Jim's move.

"Well Spock, since you think logically and I've never been known to fit into the category of things that are logical, I guess that goes without saying," Jim laughed and made his next move.

"And I believe you will continue to demonstrate this," Spock said quietly, doing his best to counteract Jim's peculiar non-strategy. He seemed to be doing this a lot with the Human; Spock found himself... looking forward to doing so for a long time.

 

Their game lasted one hour and four minutes, ending in a scraped victory for Spock. Jim smiled at him as he rose to his feet.

"That was the best game I've had my whole life, Spock," Jim said truthfully. "I hope you'll treat me to another sometime soon."

"I shall endeavour to do so whenever possible, Jim," Spock said with his own, Vulcan version of a smile. He too had greatly enjoyed the game, regardless of Jim's unorthodox playing method, in fact, Spock found that it was because of this unusual strategy that game had been so successful. He nodded at Jim and turned to leave.

"Oh, and Spock?" Jim called after him. Spock stopped walking but did not turn around. "I'm happy you came back, if that means anything to you."

Spock left Jim's cabin and reflected on what he'd said. Perhaps the Human believed it meant nothing to him, but Spock could not deny it. The fact that Jim was pleased by his return meant a great deal to him. A very great deal.

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