A/N: It's been a hot MINUTE since I wrote Trek fic (and by that I mean over a year), and it feels so good to get back to it - it always feels like coming home. This was supposed to be a quick 1k thing, but I just. kept. writing. I love these two ships so heckin much
Little background note: I headcanon that Jaylah is from a snow planet called Snohdenna, and she crashed on Altamid at the age of 8. And I am fully aware that Chekov lost most of his accented pronunciations in Beyond but I refuse to accept that
Nyota meandered through the bustling Yorktown marketplace, content to let herself be distracted by the wide variety of beautiful crafts on display, her path dictated only by whichever clusters of baubles or smiling vendor caught her eye next. To her, it was the perfect finale to the shore leave the crew had been granted after the Krall incident.
Spock, on the other hand, was less than thrilled. He had said nothing, but he had spent the better part of the last twenty minutes with his hands tucked firmly into his jacket pockets, a rare display of discomfort. Temperatures on the base were programmed to vary somewhat, a measure to both add realism to the environment and not show preference for any one race's comfort levels, and while winter on the base was typically quite mild, the temperature had dipped a little too low for Vulcan comfort as evening neared.
"Come here," she murmured, looping her arm around his, thankful when he didn't try to pull away. She slid her hand down his arm and into his pocket, twining their fingers together before pulling his hand out. She covered the back of it quickly with her other hand, bringing it up to her lips and blowing warm breath on it. "Better?" she asked, rubbing some warmth into the chilly appendage.
He nodded, leaning into her human heat. For a moment, she imagined she could feel the scar on his side through the layers of the fabric, the remnant of the wound that had nearly taken him from her. "Thank you, Nyota."
She left just enough of his hand exposed just long enough to press a kiss to his knuckles before tucking it back into his pocket. "One more stall," she promised. "Then we can take a nice hot meal in our nice warm quarters."
His shoulders slumped a fraction of an inch in relief. "I would appreciate that."
"And maybe we should buy you some gloves and a thicker coat," she teased, keeping their arms looped and her hand around his in his pocket as she led him to a stall with a colorful array of paintings on display near the edge of the marketplace, where the crowd was thinner.
"And earmuffs," he added.
She chuckled. "And earmuffs."
A familiar voice caught her attention and she paused, turning. A smile crossed her face at the sight of Pavel leading Jaylah through the crowd, enthusiastically pointing things out as she looked around in awe. "Those two have gotten pretty close."
Spock followed her gaze, his eyebrows furrowing. "You believe they are more than friends?"
"Not yet, but they've been almost inseparable these last two months."
"Jim and I are fairly inseparable."
"Different kind of inseparable, sweetheart," she said. As she spoke, Pavel wrapped his arm around Jaylah's shoulders, drawing her close as he demonstrated the virtues of a yo-yo. "Unless you and Jim do that when Carol and I aren't looking."
He pursed his lips. "No, we do not."
"That's reassuring," Nyota said, making sure enough amusement tinged her tone for him to hear. "For all the leaps and bounds you've made in understanding emotion since befriending Jim, you still have a lot to learn about crushes."
"Indeed I do," he agreed, voice distant and brows still furrowed as he studied the two younger people.
Nyota patted his arm, pulling away. "I'm going to talk to him."
He leaned after her, chasing her heat. "Nyota," he very nearly whimpered.
"I'll be quick," she promised. "Unless you want to help me give romance advice to a young man who's hopelessly in love?"
He straightened back up, and she almost could've sworn he stuck his bottom lip out ever so slightly in a pout. "All right."
Shaking her head in amusement, she wove through the crowd. "Pavel!" she called.
He spun around, startled into dropping his arm from Jaylah's shoulders, and in the moment of distraction, the soaring yo-yo whacked him in the cheek. She clapped a hand over her mouth to muffle her laughter. "Are you all right?" she asked, resting her other hand on his shoulder.
Pavel nodded, straightening up and trying to brush off the incident as if Jaylah weren't openly laughing as she detangled the yo-yo string from his fingers. "I did not know you were shopping, Lieutenant."
"Clearly," she said, regaining enough control to lower her hand. "And we're still off-duty, Pavel, you can call me Nyota."
"Right," he said, running a hand through his hair.
"I need to talk to you for a moment," she said, placing her hands on his shoulders to guide away. "I'll bring him right back, Jaylah."
Jaylah nodded absently, already absorbed in trying her hand at the yo-yo tricks.
Pavel cast a longing glance back at her the further away they moved, Nyota trying her best to ensure Jaylah's heightened hearing wouldn't overhear them. "What is zis about, Nyota?"
Satisfied she had put enough distance between them, she answered, "It's about you getting the girl before she leaves for the Academy."
"I- I don't- we're not-" he spluttered, his cheeks suddenly flaming red.
"Pavel," Nyota said, angling him so his back was to Jaylah, "we've lived on the same ship for the majority of the last four years. I know when you have a crush."
He deflated. "Ok," he mumbled. "I like her."
"It's just zat she is so new to normal life. I don't know if she like likes me, or if I should ewen try to ask her out," he admitted.
Nyota flashed back to several girls' nights out, to how Jaylah inevitably brought up Pavel when she and Carol began playfully complaining about Spock and Jim or talking about their favorite things about their boyfriends. "If you weren't careful of how her past would affect her in a relationship, I wouldn't trust you with this very important information: She does like you back."
His eyes widened, hope and joy alight within them. "Really?"
Nyota nodded, smiling. "And when a Snohdennan pair wants to start dating, they go shopping together and get each other a gift."
He blinked slowly, glancing back at where she was still engrossed in the yo-yo. "Zis trip was her idea."
He looked back at Nyota, biting his lip. "What do I do?"
She turned him back around, hands still on his shoulders. "Find something that you think she would like and, in your adorably awkward way, offer to buy it for her. Or maybe she'll find something she thinks you'll like and offer to buy it for you. Either way, just enjoy the evening. Ok?"
"It's zat simple," he said, watching Jaylah the way only Pavel watched her: With utter adoration and awe.
"It's that simple," she confirmed, beginning to guide him back to her.
She let go, and he started to walk away. Only to turn right back around, his hands fidgeting in front of him. "Are you sure?"
"Yes," she said with affectionate exasperation, turning him back around and giving him a nudge. "Go."
He swallowed. "It's zat simple," he repeated under his breath.
"You've got this, Pavel," she encouraged him.
Taking a deep breath, he straightened up, lifted his chin, and strode back to Jaylah.
Watching until he was close enough that she trusted he wouldn't chicken out, she finally returned to her own date, wrapping her arm around his waist and tucking herself beneath his arm. He leaned into her, holding up an abstract painting of a mountain range in hues of red and orange. "I believe this would look aesthetically pleasing in our quarters, would it not?"
She looked at it and knew he was seeing the lost mountain view outside of his childhood home, even if he wouldn't admit it until they got home. "It's beautiful."
"We shall purchase it, then."
Nyota let him take care of that, lifting one hand to rest it over the scar. If she pressed, she could actually feel it through the fabric, bringing back the memory of the heart-stopping moment she first saw him being beaten to the ground, uncharacteristically helpless, but if she stretched her fingers up… There. His heartbeat, steady beneath her fingertips as the heel of her hand curved slightly over the scar.
I almost lost him two months ago, and I wouldn't even have known until the next day.
He finished his purchase and carried the painting in one hand, wrapping his other arm around her shoulders as they began walking back to their building, leaving the crowd behind as the artificial daylight faded to reveal the very real stars, winking into view one by one. "I am still here, Nyota," he murmured. "If not quite as whole as I once was."
But I didn't.
"I know," she murmured, reaching up to hold his hand, squeezing it tight. "But maybe there was something a little deeper than their happiness on my mind when I pushed Pavel to ask Jaylah out."
He didn't say anything, nor did she expect him to. No matter how much he embraced his emotions, he was still Vulcan, still Spock, and she accepted that. But he did squeeze her hand in return, brushing his thumb once along the back of it, and he didn't once try to let go of her no matter who walked past them. Those gestures, so tiny to anyone else, spoke all the words she ever would've needed to hear.
"You know, for someone who knows very little about crushes, you know a lot about love."
He furrowed his brows. "There is a difference?"
By the time Pavel had woven through the crowd back to Jaylah, she was crouching beside a young Andorian boy, sharing with him the joys of the yo-yo. He stopped a few paces back so as not to disturb them, smiling at her smile, at the gentle way she showed the boy how to use it, talking with him in the basic Andorian that Nyota had been teaching her.
It was a softness she didn't often get to express, deterred as people often were by her intimidating stripes and blunt personality. To see her eyes soften, her walls drop – it was a rare treat.
The boy's mother came to fetch him, thanking Jaylah before leading him away. Pavel moved to her side as she stood, returning her full attention to the yo-yo, slinging it again. "I like this toy."
"I zought you might."
Offer to buy it for her, Nyota's voice echoed in his mind.
Surely she did not mean to buy her a simple toy.
It's not simple to her.
He bit his lip, the triumph in her expression as she successfully pulled off a slightly more complicated maneuver setting off a flutter of nervous butterflies in his stomach.
Do it, Pawel. It might be years before you get anozer chance. If you get anozer chance.
Pavel took a deep breath, wondering if he should be holding the yo-yo when he asked. Opting instead to just cross his arms, he opened his mouth to try to force the words out.
Jaylah put it down, perhaps with a bit more force and speed than the action really required. "I want to keep shopping," she announced, not looking at him as she hurried off.
"That's rough, kid," the vendor said behind him, with the tone of a man who had seen hundreds of almost-couples end in the same awkward way.
Pavel refused to look back at him before following Jaylah. Maybe she didn't notice. Maybe zat wasn't because of me. She's been uncomfortable about getting luxury items before.
He caught up to her in the crowd, and when their arms brushed together, she shifted away.
That move was hard to misinterpret.
He crossed his arms again, rubbing them in a half-hearted attempt to disguise the gesture as one of physical rather than emotional discomfort, as if the station's version of winter was anything compared to a Russian winter. It must be too soon – of course it is. If… if she feels ze way I feel.
Nyota wouldn't lie to him, but even her ability to read people occasionally failed her.
Jaylah led the way to a stall full of scarves, hats, gloves, and a variety of other garments meant to ward off the cold. "I miss snow," she sighed, picking up a pair of fingerless white gloves that looked grey next to her skin.
"Me too," he said, pushing the sting of rejection down to dwell on later. Dating or not, he wanted to enjoy the time they had left before he got his new assignment and she stayed on Earth to attend Starfleet Academy. "Maybe if I ewer make it back to Earz, I can take you to Russia."
"I would like that." She tried one glove on, wriggling her bare fingers. "What is the point of this?"
"Style, I zink," he said with a shrug. "I don't know."
"There are many Earth customs you do not understand."
"Humans hawe newer been my strong suit. Zey're too weird."
"I agree," she said, flashing him a smirk.
"Hey! Only humans can insult humans. And Mr. Spock."
She just kept smirking, pulling the glove off and putting the pair back. The next thing she picked up was a massive floppy green hat that she plopped onto her head. "What do you think?" she asked, striking a ridiculous pose.
Pavel wanted to say that she made the hat and pose look pretty. Instead, he picked out a neon pink scarf and flung it dramatically around his neck, lifting his chin like a disdainful bratty rich lady. "It looks about as good as zis," he said loftily.
She laughed, hanging her hat back on its hook and reaching up to undo the scarf. If her fingers brushed over his chest, lingering half a heartbeat too long over the touch, he did his best to ignore it.
"That looks bad," she said, hanging it back up. "But this one…" She angled her body to hide whatever she was reaching for. "This one is perfect."
She turned around, sinking into a mock bow to present to him a thick feathered boa. "For you, Your Majesty."
He laughed, taking it and donning it proudly. "Why zank you, madam."
She straightened up, taking a camera out of her pocket and snapping a picture of him. After letting her photograph him to her heart's content, he took it off and hung it back up, shaking his head as she looked through the pictures.
The thick bundle of scarves swayed beneath his touch, a breeze further stirring them. The vast majority were neutral in color, ranging from white to grey to black to brown, with reds and golds and neon splashed in. But as they swung apart, a flash caught his eye – a shimmer, buried amongst the furs.
He dug for it, and his fingers found silk as soft as a tribble's fur. Pulling it out revealed a blue that was pale yet stunning, like a winter sky arching overhead on a clear day. It shimmered faintly, just enough to give it life as it rippled over his fingers.
With the high body temperature of a species evolved to live in a snow-covered landscape, she didn't really need it. But he knew exactly who it was meant for.
Finished with her pictures, she turned away from the earmuffs she had been searching through. Her eyes fell on the scarf and immediately flew wide, her breath catching. She ran careful fingers over it, her breath escaping in a sigh of longing. "It's beautiful," she whispered.
Pavel draped it over her shoulders, twining it around her neck. The ends fell eagerly around her, as if they had waited a lifetime just to hold her. He stepped behind her, lifting her silken hair out of the scarf's wrap, readjusting it before smoothing her ponytail into place. When he stepped back around, her fingers were lingering over the soft fabric. She looked up at him, thick eyelashes flickering out of the way, and the shimmer of starlight on the scarf matched the shimmer of her amber eyes, set above a tiny, glowing smile.
The words slipped out before he could stop them, and he meant it in every way imaginable. He meant the way the splash of blue made her white skin glow, the way the shadows of the night fell across her face and arms and accented her striking stripes. He meant the ferociously graceful way she moved when she sparred with him, the way her warmth enveloped him when they hugged. He meant the fire of her determination to learn English and work her way onto the Enterprise, the charm of her love for the stars she had always looked to for comfort, the sharpness of her boundless intelligence balanced by the adorable way she fumbled common phrases and activities.
She was just… beautiful.
She ducked her head, trailing her fingers along the curve of the scarf. "I- I know humans do not do it this way, but among my people, when- when two people want-"
Pavel pressed his hand over hers, curling his fingers to wrap around both her and the scarf. "Let me buy it for you," he blurted.
Jaylah stared up at him, her heart racing beneath their hands. Pavel's heart beat just as fast as her silence stretched on, an eternity in the space of a breath, waiting, waiting, waiting for her to say something.
She bounced onto the balls of her feet, her lips meeting his in the briefest of pecks.
Pavel's whole world froze, narrowing to that one spark of contact, the lingering taste of her strawberry chapstick and everything it meant for him, for her, for them.
Because she wanted there to be a them.
His arm went to her waist, and her arm went to his waist, and they were pulling each other in. She stretched up and he bent down to meet in the middle, their lips crashing together and staying together. Her arm encircled him, her hand reaching up to rest in his hair, enveloping him in that warmth that was uniquely hers. The world faded away as he tucked her close against him, twining his fingers into her hair, her lashes tickling his cheek.
They pulled back only to breathe, their hands slipping out of each other's hair to cup each other's cheek as she sank back onto her heels.
"I am sorry I fled earlier," she murmured, one finger tracing the curve of his cheekbone. "I knew, somewhere in the rear of my mind, why I wanted to come to this place with you, but… Two months ago I did not expect to ever be free of Altamid. I did not expect to ever be free to have this. When I realized that you might ask, and what that would mean… I was afraid."
He started to step back, lowering his hands. "If you're not ready to date-"
"No!" She caught his hands, cupping hers around them. "I think I am ready, if it is you I am dating."
The air hadn't seemed cold until he lost her embrace, and he treasured the heat of her grip all the more for it. "I don't want to rush you."
The corner of her mouth lifted in a sad smile. "In a few days, we will be many light years apart. I do not think you could rush me from that distance."
Pavel huffed, twisting his hands to squeeze hers. "Maybe zis is not ze time to start dating."
"I do not need to be near you to know how I feel," she said. "Or to know that I do not want to lose you to someone else."
"If you are willing to take ze risk…"
She nodded decisively. "I am."
He slipped the scarf off, kissing her cheek as he did so. "Zen let me buy zis for you."
She grinned, mischief sparking in her eyes again, and pointed at the feathered boa. "Only if you let me buy that for you."
Pavel feigned hurrying to put the scarf back. "I take it back, I'll stay single."
She laughed, nudging the scarf away from the rack. "Do not worry – I already know what to buy you."
"You will see, Pawel. You will see."
After enduring a long-suffering attitude from a vendor who was clearly tired of watching couples kiss at her stall to pay for the scarf, Jaylah took Pavel's hand, their fingers twining together, and together they ran through the crowd, lighthearted and carefree as kids.
Nyota saw Pavel late the next morning just as he left the lobby of their building. She jogged to catch up with him, reaching him by the fountain in the center of the courtyard. "Pavel! How did it go last night?"
He didn't need to speak to answer – she saw it in the bounce in his step, the light in his grin. "We kissed."
"That's wonderful," she said, smiling. "What did you buy for her?"
His tone dipped, taking on a dreamy quality. "She looks beautiful in it, doesn't she?" Nyota asked.
"She looks beautiful in anyzing."
Nyota chuckled. "Keep talking like that, and you'll make a great boyfriend."
"I hope so." He ran a hand through his hair, chewing his lip. "I hawe newer had a long-distance relationship before. I don't want to mess up."
She patted his shoulder. "If you have any questions, my door is always open."
He let out a breath of relief. "Zank you, Nyota."
"Of course. Hey, what did she buy you?"
"A calculator," she echoed, amused.
He unzipped his jacket and pulled an ancient brick of a calculator out of its interior pocket. "It's a TI-84 from ze early twenty-first century," he explained, thumbs flying as he started entering in some functions. Nyota gripped his shoulder to steer him away from tripping hazards and other people. "I had a small collection in my quarters before zey were destroyed in ze crash. We spent ze night fixing zis one's battery."
"Why am I not surprised that you collect antique calculators?"
"Because I like mazematics. And… zere! Look what we figured out how to do."
He finished inputting his functions, triumphantly hit enter, and held up the slightly cracked screen. Together, they watched the graph draw a little heart. "Well," Nyota said in a tone of mock offense, "Spock has never graphed a heart for me."
Pavel laughed as he turned it off and tucked it lovingly back into its pocket. "Maybe for your next anniwersary."
"Oh, definitely," Nyota agreed. She nodded down the path they were on. "Speak of the devil."
Walking towards them, heads bent together in conversation, were Spock and Jaylah. He was bundled up against the winter weather in his new coat and gloves, but the only winter clothing she wore was a shimmery blue scarf around her neck. The scarf Pavel bought her, Nyota realized. It is perfect for her.
Nearing them, Nyota caught engineering phrases uttered in a mixture of English, Snohdennan, and Vulcan. "Learning new languages and engineering terms before lunch? Nerds," she teased.
Spock and Jaylah looked up, startled. "I like languages," she said defensively. "And engineering."
"It is logical for a spacefaring individual to know as many engineering terms in as many languages as possible," Spock said.
"I know," she said, greeting Spock with the traditional two-finger touch of Vulcan couples. "I am Starfleet's best linguist, after all. But it's always easier to learn on a full stomach, isn't it? Oh, and I love your new scarf, Jaylah."
She beamed, glancing at Pavel. "Thank you. And I would like to eat," she allowed. She and Pavel fumbled a little before deciding to greet each other with a kiss on the cheek, and Nyota smiled, remembering the early days of her own relationship when she hadn't quite known how to greet Spock, nor he how to greet her. "Perhaps we could eat together?"
"As in a double date? I could go for that. Spock?"
"That would be agreeable."
"I would like zat too."
"I know just the place," Nyota said, taking the lead to a quaint little place with a vintage Earth vibe and delightful comfort food to match. "Maybe you could teach Spock how to graph a heart while we're there."
Spock furrowed his brows. "What would be the purpose of such an activity?"
"To show your affection for Lieutenant Uhura, but wiz maz."
He considered that for a moment. "That is logical. How do I do this?"
Pavel took out his calculator again and he, Spock, and Jaylah all bent over the ancient device, pointing and asking questions and explaining and making little mathematical revelations. Nyota joined in only after guiding them to the restaurant, taking her turn to memorize the functions, learning a new set of phrases in Spock's favorite language.
Their entire lunch revolved around that little calculator. That, and some stories about early mishaps in her and Spock's relationship, one of which managed to turn the adorable little tips of his ears green in embarrassment. She offered her two fingers in apology. "It's for the kids," she said, suppressing a chuckle as they spluttered protests that they were in their twenties. "It's good for them to know that every interspecies relationship has bumps to look back on and laugh at."
He returned the touch grudgingly. "I suppose that is logical. For a human."
They exchanged amused grins. "Zat is high praise, Mr. Spock."
"Do not become accustomed to it."
They laughed before returning to the calculator, to the math that would put him at ease.
We make an odd little group, Nyota reflected. Two humans, a Snohdennan, and a Vulcan. A study in opposites, yet pulled together by undeniable similarities, held together by something so simple and powerful as love.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
A/N: Can you tell that interspecies relationships with a noticeable body temp difference is one of my favorite things ever? Can you? And can you also tell this was my completely self-indulgent way to cope with the trauma of my superhero fandoms? (The Spuhura wasn't really necessary but I couldn't pick which ship to write so I wrote BOTH aren't I a genius)
Anyways, if you stuck with my self-indulgence this far, I hope you enjoyed it, and thank you for reading!
Inspired by two Tumblr prompts: A quick kiss followed by a long kiss, and the word messaline, a type of satin-weave silk. The title consists of the Swahili, Vulcan, Russian, and Snohdennan words for love (or at least my best attempts to find them. Even searching for the Vulcan word brought up a couple different options. The only one I'm 100% certain of is miavati because I invented it lol).