A/N: Prompt: "Shh, stop fussing. I am just braiding your hair."
Summary: Spock is exhausted, but, in true Spock fashion, stubbornly refusing to sleep. Nyota convinces him otherwise.
Nyota sat by the corner of the cavernous shelter they resided in, next to the pair of cots she and Spock had been given. It was an underground structure carved out of the stone that composed much of the planet's crust. Intricate designs had been etched into the grey walls, depicting a number of the native culture's myths and legends that she and Spock had learned about in great detail during the first two hours they had been sequestered away down here. The sconces adorning each wall at regular intervals held orbs with no power source that Spock had been able to figure out, yet each one cast a steady, warm light over a fair distance, floor lamps with the same orbs lighting the center of the room.
It was a large room, consisting simply of four walls, designed only to protect every member of the town from the fierce storms of acid rain that occasionally struck. A few families had strung up their blankets as curtains for privacy, each one colorful and woven with beautiful abstract patterns that Nyota greatly admired, but the majority of the town's residents chose to stay in the open area at the center, singing, dancing, praying, or simply chatting to pass the time.
They called themselves the Khuqiel, a people small in stature but grand in heart. They were slender, most of them hardly reaching Nyota's shoulders, their pale purple skin covered in a fine layer of white fur that almost seemed to glow when they were happy, which seemed to be all the time from what Nyota had seen. She was rather certain that, had she not been there as a buffer, their boundless enthusiasm would've overwhelmed her husband.
As it was, however, they were approaching their sixteenth hour in this shelter that the Enterprise's transporter couldn't penetrate, and with little else to do, he had decided to brave their propensity for physical affection even amongst strangers for the sake of scientific inquiry. Nyota had smiled and set to work on the collection of children's schoolwork she had been provided with, taking advantage of their sudden abundance of free time to familiarize herself with their two most common languages, a pile of papers and books spread on the ground before her, centered around a computer programmed with interactive lessons.
She was just beginning to wrap her mind around their second language's extremely complex rules of verb conjugation when, after four hours of discussions with their town's foremost scientists, Spock returned to her. He picked his way carefully through her work to sit beside her, and only a mere handful of people in the galaxy besides herself would've been able to detect the heaviness with which he sat, or the slight blankness in his eyes that spoke of profound exhaustion.
Though she wanted to gather him close and insist he rest, Nyota left the option of touch up to him. "Did you learn anything?" she asked.
"I learned that I will never again take for granted how restrained humans are with touch," he answered resignedly.
Nyota looked at him sympathetically. "When the storm passes, I promise I'll convince Jim to give you plenty of time off to hide in our quarters."
"I would appreciate that," he said, just a little too desperately.
She couldn't hold back a chuckle. "We'll be out of here soon enough."
"I doubt that," he muttered, eyeing a Khuqielan that appeared for a brief moment to be heading in their direction.
She shook her head affectionately, shifting slightly so anyone would have to talk to her before him. "You could sleep," she suggested. "They wouldn't bother you then."
"You know I do not like sleeping with so many people around."
"Yes, you might slip up and crack a smile during your dream," she teased.
Looking around, she found him staring at her with pursed lips, his limbs gathered protectively close to his body. "We could be here for another thirty-eight hours, sweetheart," she pointed out, "and you haven't slept in nearly a week. Sooner or later, you may have to sleep here whether you want to or not."
He paled. "I rather hope this is not one of their two-day storms."
She sighed, knowing he wouldn't give in on this. "All right," she acquiesced. "Can you at least try to meditate? That's a little restful, at least."
He considered, conceding with a nod. "I will meditate."
He settled into his preferred meditation pose, and she returned to her study. They continued this way in amicable silence for a short while, accented by the soothing background of the Khuqielans' chatter, until Nyota heard a new noise: Snoring.
It was tiny. Faint. And coming from behind her.
Not that she needed that last detail to recognize Spock's snore.
She hardly had time to arch an eyebrow before it cut off, no doubt by him jerking awake as he began to slump over. She pressed her lips together, focusing on her struggle not to laugh, and jumped a little when she suddenly felt fingers in her hair.
"My apologies," he said, his voice dangerously close to slurring. "I am only braiding your hair."
"Because you fell asleep and are now trying to stay awake?"
She turned around, smiling at his sheepish expression. "Spock. Just go to sleep."
"I do not want to."
He sounded like a petulant child. "Spock."
Getting onto her knees, Nyota gripped his shoulders and gently pushed him down until he lay on the nearest cot. He resisted slightly, but she suspected it was more for show than anything, because he melted readily enough onto the soft surface. Knowing he found it easier to admit he needed sleep if she did as well, she closed her borrowed computer and snuggled onto the cot beside him. They barely fit, her back pressed snugly against his chest, his knees drawn up so his feet didn't dangle, thus pushing her own knees over the edge, but once she pulled the pink blanket with a floral pattern over the two of them, he was all but hidden from sight, and that was the final push he needed. Giving in to his exhaustion, he nestled his face into the back of her neck, seeking her warmth, and wrapped his arms around her. "Good night, sweetheart," she murmured.
He didn't respond, already out like a light, faintly snoring in seconds.
Content as she always was in his arms, Nyota was quick to follow him.