Jim tugged on his dress uniform, smoothing the creases with nervous hands. He felt somewhat ridiculous being anxious. It was simply a concert. It wasn’t like a date. He could argue he was attending it on behalf of Starfleet.
Except he wasn’t. He was attending it with Spock. Not his First Officer. Spock.
Even if he wanted to, he couldn’t quite give this evening the official stamp of Enterprise business.
Because Spock had invited him. He’d asked shyly and hesitantly over a chess game in Jim’s quarters two nights ago. His very manner indicated that this was personal, important. And Jim had said yes, without reservation. Spock’s look of relief and almost joy, made Jim very glad he accepted.
But now, Jim was flat out nervous. What was this evening? What was their relationship? Was it slipping into a realm beyond friendship? What if he was misinterpreting Spock’s gesture? Would he be relieved or disappointed? Jim simply didn’t know.
He ran a comb through his thinning hair and winced at his reflection. He might be overstepping thinking Spock found him attractive. That other men and women sought Jim out was irrelevant. Spock was different, elegant, beautiful in a unique way. He was out of Jim’s league romantically. Spock, to the best of his knowledge, preferred women. Or did he?
But he’d asked him to share this evening. Tickets for the concert had been sold out for months and how Spock had obtained them was a mystery. The expense must have been astronomical. There had to be a reason Spock had invited him.
The soft ping of Jim’s ancient ship’s clock reminded him of the time. With a last sharp look at the mirror, he straightened, put aside his doubts and made his way to the transporter room to meet Spock and beam down to Tagasia.
They made their way down the crowded aisle of the Hall. Spock deftly sidestepped unwelcome contact, his mental shields firm, while Jim distractedly looked for their seats, eyes taking in the architecture. Without thinking, he grabbed Spock’s elbow, which granted him a raised eyebrow. Jim pointed to two seats, four rows from the stage. With a rueful smile, he stepped in and gestured to the aisle seat. “Here we go, Mr. Spock.”
Spock looked pointedly at his elbow, still held by his Captain. Jim’s smile dimmed. He released Spock with a pat on the arm and took his seat. The seats weren’t designed for humanoids so their shoulders brushed slightly. Spock sighed and silently opened his program file.
“You’ve probably already memorized what we’re seeing.” Jim smoothed his dress uniform and continued his survey of the theater.
Spock glanced up from his pad, and corrected Jim. “What we are going to hear. This is a concert, Jim. Other than the orchestra and the choir, there will be nothing of note to observe.”
Jim’s eyes had been on the ceiling, following the curves and colors of the beams that made Madrus Hall acoustically famous throughout the sector. His eyes snapped to Spock in profile. Now, he felt like an idiot. “Of course, Mr. Spock. Still, the Hall is an engineering feat and the design is exquisite.”
“Certainly, Jim.” Spock turned toward Jim contritely. “Madrus Hall is peerless in its beauty.”
Jim smiled slightly. “Beauty, Spock? Isn’t that illogical?”
“Appreciation of beauty in its many forms may not be logical but it is sometimes unavoidable and yet satisfying.”
Jim nodded, his grin turning mischievous. He was about to tease Spock a bit more when Spock held up an elegant hand and settled back in his seat. “For now, Jim. I believe you will find the music . . .”
Spock stopped as a deep chime resonated throughout the Hall, letting the audience know it the concert was about to begin. The two officers listened to murmuring voices, the shuffling of feet, and the swish of opulent fabrics around them. As the theater darkened, Jim sent Spock a delighted smile and settled back into the plush seat.
The Hall lights dimmed and a breeze, filled with scents designed to create anticipation in the audience, moved through the aisles, filled now to capacity with beings from all over the Federation. The breeze changed then, redolent with a myriad of scents, aimed at a dozen different species. Jim was reminded of snow and the sharp smell of trees captured in ice. He wondered what Spock perceived; maybe hot winds blowing across Vulcan’s barren landscape. He wished he knew how or if Spock experienced the concert’s beginning salvo.
With a slight movement of his head, Spock indicated the stage filling with the dark forms of the musicians, shades moving soundlessly across raised platforms. The stage was intentionally obscured so that the audience wouldn’t be distracted by mere visuals. This was a concert that would stimulate every sense. Finally, everything stilled. The audience held it’s collective breath in anticipation.
Without introduction, the famous Hall was filled with a soaring sound that grabbed Jim’s gut and sent joy thrumming through him. If there was a melody, he couldn’t grasp it, the music was woven too tightly, he could only respond with unbounded and undefined emotion. Jim could see images created by the sounds, memories, pieces of half forgotten dreams flash across his mindscape too quickly for him to grasp. The music was physical, running through his bones and sinews, caressing one moment, pushing and pulling, another. Minutes or hours later the sound stopped, leaving Jim gasping.
He glanced over at Spock. He didn’t expect to see emotion on the Vulcan’s face but there it was. Practiced in reading his First Officer, he noted the half closed eyes and tight mouth indicating Spock was trying to control his emotions but mostly failing.
Spock schooled his expression as he turned to Jim. “Have you found the performance acceptable so far?”
Jim searched for words. “It is incredible. The density, the complexity. I can’t . . . It’s almost like a dream I can’t quite grasp.” He paused and added with wonder, “Spock, with your hearing, it must be something completely different for you.”
Spock was pensive for a moment. “I think it is different for every sentient being. Truly, it is a wonder.”
They sat wrapped in their own thoughts for a space of minutes listening to the hushed whispers around them. Finally Spock asked, “Would you care to find out what I experience?” Spock held out his hand, palm up, inviting Jim to place his hand on his.
Jim was stunned. This was a very intimate gesture for a Vulcan; Spock’s offer to share his insight, even more so. Spock, sensing his disquiet, frowned slightly. “It is not a meld, Jim; merely a sharing of perceptions. You will hear the music as I do.”
“I am honored, Mr. Spock.” Jim placed his palm on Spock’s and was surprised when Spock linked their fingers. At first, he felt nothing. Gradually, he became aware of heightened senses, a warmth and feeling of contentment and incipient joy. Spock was right, it wasn’t like a meld. He felt only the vague brush of Spock’s mind. Jim gave his hand a gentle squeeze and was surprised by a thrum of satisfaction coming through their connection.
The Hall quieted again as the audience prepared for the music to start anew. The scents were stronger now, buoyed by Spock’s perception coupled with Jim’s. He realized that the link went both ways. Spock was intentionally embracing Jim’s emotions without shielding. Jim couldn’t hide his joy that Spock would be willing to experience their mutual emotions so eagerly.
The level of excitement and anticipation set the stage for the music to come. The deep chords of the orchestra and the soaring harmony of the choir were clear and crystalline in their clarity. This time, Jim could hear nuances and tones he hadn’t noticed before. As the music flowed over them, Jim’s eyes drifted closed and he began to see the tapestry the orchestra wove. Spock visualized the music as it played, instruments and vocalists individually and together creating harmony and melody. Jim saw geometric shapes, mathematical formulas, colors, images he couldn’t fathom, playing behind his half closed eyes.
The music touched a deep part if of his soul and Jim worried that his human emotions might overwhelm Spock. As soon as that thought surfaced, Jim felt Spock reaching for him through their contact. Spock radiated a calm acceptance and understanding while his emotions bled over into Jim. They were muted but present, anchoring him. Occasionally, an exquisite phrase of music would wash over them and Jim felt them twine together, reaching for something, some sense of completion. He delighted when heard Spock gasp as a tendril of joy touched him. They were one with each other beyond what Jim could understand.
The performance was filled with elation, mixed so that it became a force of nature. It told a story of great joy, met with an unfathomable tragedy. It spiraled down through desperation, fear, and eventually a grief so profound, Jim wept unashamed. He felt Spock’s mind then, comforting him even while sharing the shards of pain that seemed to cut them. Finally, in the midst of desolation and grief, there was a shadow of hope and burgeoning joy.
When the music faded to a whisper and the scents dissipated, Jim continued to clutch Spock’s hand. He was gasping, holding on to his tenuous grasp of Spock’s mind. Spock turned to Jim wordlessly. Jim covered their joined hands with his and smiled even as he felt their connection begin to fade.
“Thank you, Spock. I don’t have the words, just, thank you.”
Spock nodded. “It is I who should thank you, Jim. This has been a profound experience for me. I did not know.” Spock trailed off.
“You didn’t know what?”
Aware of the crowd around them, Spock looked away shyly. When he turned back, he spoke with absolute conviction. “Why, Jim, what you mean to me.”
Jim grinned from ear to ear. When they returned to the Enterprise, he was confident he could convince Spock to explain that statement, clearly.