Title: Symphony for Stars and Planets
Pairing(s): Kirk/Spock, background Chekov/Sulu
Summary: From this prompt at st_xi_kink: "The Star Trek theme was awesome. It deserves an awesome Musician AU in it's honor.
My thought is SpockxKirk AU where they are both musicians. I totally see Spock as first chair violin, and Kirk as a crazy band guy - maybe as percussion, cause those guys were always the most fun. They're both part of an Orchestra group ensemble thing, and they're scoring a soundtrack for a movie.
Bonus points if you get in
cute Cello playing Sulu x Flute playing Chekov."
Notes: Some credit for instrument choices must go to the posters in that thread. Thanks, anons!
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek, XI or otherwise. I only wish I were that cool.
Symphony for Stars and Planets
The room is a riot of sound--rehearsal begins in two minutes and the tension is palpable, building in the air like a crescendo. Cellos sigh; an oboe trembles in a test of vibrato, and a horn rings out in triumphant fifths. Below it all, the drums rumble like thunder gathering at the horizon.
Spock can feel it, itching along his spine, but he keeps his face carefully blank. Now is not the time to appear nervous, after all. He is first chair, and he must be an example to the others. Besides, there’s nothing to worry about, he reminds himself for the thousandth time; he’s practiced enough so that he could play the score in his sleep.
He’s just checking the pitch of his A one last time when a boy with golden-brown hair saunters in from stage right, trumpet slung over his shoulder.
He claps one of the clarinets hard on the back on his way in, and the resulting noise blares sharply out into the room. Someone carrying a bass stumbles into the projection screen at the front at the shock, and Spock’s stand partner almost drops her violin in surprise. Spock frowns and glances over at the boy, who’s now laughing at his spluttering companion, head thrown back in delight.
He knows who the boy is--one James T. Kirk, lauded across the nation for his amazing skill at the trumpet. He goes to Columbia, if Spock recalls correctly, where he double-majors in Music and Jazz Studies and minors in Mechanical Engineering.
He can play everything from big band to classical to jazz with exceptional skill. Spock’s seen videos of him on Youtube before, and, if truth be told, has been hoping he would get a chance to play beside him, because Kirk is incredibly talented. He's inspiring even through a computer screen; Spock assumed he would only be moreso in person. He’d even once imagined them discussing music and their craft, and perhaps, if he were lucky, becoming friends. Kirk looked, he’d thought, like the kind of person he could have been friends with. Watching him now, though, he feels he must revise his assumptions. He can see he and Kirk are entirely too different.
For one, Kirk’s come into rehearsal exactly on time--which means he hasn’t warmed up at all. Spock, in contrast, has been on stage for an hour already by now, tuning his violin and practicing the section of the score they’re meant to begin working on today. While it’s true that it’s not a written requirement that one must show up early to rehearsal, it’s common practice. It helps speed things along if the conductor doesn’t need to warm them up as much, and it’s extremely irresponsible of Kirk, Spock thinks, to not come earlier on the first day.
Moreover, unlike the rest of them, Kirk is not wearing anything that could be called professional attire. He’s dressed in jeans, converse, and a simple black t-shirt with a fermata and the words “Hold Me” emblazoned across it in white. Amusing, perhaps, but not the time or place to wear such a thing by any stretch of reasoning, Spock thinks, pursing his lips. Their conductor is Christopher Pike, internationally renowned conductor with ten Grammys behind him--if there’s any conductor who deserves a high level of respect, it’s him. That outfit is about as blatantly disrespectful as it can get.
Not to mention Kirk’s behavior just now with the clarinetist, a useless and unnecessary interruption that could easily have resulted in injury. With a slight pang of disappointment, Spock writes Kirk off as not worth talking to. A shame, as he’s long admired him, but there you have it, he thinks, turning back to his violin.
Their conductor walks in at that moment. "Hello, everyone!" he calls, a welcoming smile stretched over his face.
The noise quiets almost immediately--Pike is the type of person who commands attention and loyalty in an instant, though you'd never guess it from looking at his sedate grey hair and calm eyes. Spock straightens minutely and watches others do the same as Pike walks to the front of the room, anticipation and terror thrilling through him. It’s really happening, he thinks, setting down his violin as silently as he can manage. He's really here.
He forgets all about Kirk as Pike introduces himself formally and talks them through the process of the next several weeks. Sectionals every day from ten to twelve, Pike tells them, then group rehearsal from two to four--Spock’s excited just to think of it, itching to set fingers to violin and show Pike exactly what he can do. Under his direction, the violins will be the best and most moving section of the orchestra, he vows firmly to himself.
After the formalities are through, Pike calls out the names of the first chairs of every section and has them play thirty seconds of music, “just to give us an idea of who you are.” Spock can instantly tell when Pike reaches his name, because the conductor frowns at the paper and moves his lips silently, as if trying to match letters to sounds.
“It’s almost unpronounceable to most English speakers,” he announces, projecting clearly across the room. People turn to observe, but he pays them no mind. “I usually go by Spock,” he adds.
Pike smiles at him. “All right, then," he says, clapping his hands together. "Thanks for saving me the embarrassment, Spock. Spock’s our first chair violin, everyone, hailing from Juilliard. Go ahead and play us anything, Spock.”
Spock nods and cradles his violin under his chin, positioning it carefully until it’s sitting in just the right place. As he’s about to begin, he catches sight of Kirk across the room by chance. The trumpet player is leaning back in his chair, legs crossed and a half-smirk curled on his face. At the sight, Spock’s stomach twists hard, and his grip on the bow tightens involuntarily. What right does Kirk have to look as if he expects nothing . . . ? As if Spock and this whole thing doesn’t matter at all?
Confusion burns into determination and purpose. Perhaps Kirk doesn’t take this seriously, but Spock does. He is first chair; he will not make a mistake. He grimly sets bow to strings and plays.
He chooses the climax of his latest piece: a battle challenge whose notes seem to stab and slash at the air in the room. When he sets his bow down, he catches awed looks around him with a certain hidden pride. Montgomery Scott, manning percussion at the back, calls out that that was “awesome, truly!” Spock merely nods his thanks, and keeps his smile to himself when he notes Kirk staring. They won’t be friends, but he won’t allow himself to be written off by the arrogant trumpet player if there’s anything he can do about it, he thinks to himself. He sets his bow down exactly on the edge of his stand, and turns back to Pike, waiting for further instructions.
Nyota barges unceremoniously into his room late that evening. “Kill me now,” she groans, collapsing onto the bed beside him. “Kill me and then kill that Rand girl.”
He lays his book down, hiding a smile. “Hello to you too,” he says, raising his eyebrows at the back of her head. “Should I even ask how your day went, or would that be pointless? And the answer’s no, by the way. I rather like you alive.”
“You’re an uncooperative bastard and I hate you,” she grumbles into his pillow. She sighs, rolls over, and shoves her feet companionably over his without asking. Typical Nyota, no concern whatsoever for personal space; he’s glad for it. By some chance, he ended up with a single room, and he doesn’t quite know what to do with himself in all the emptiness.
“What’s so awful about her?” he asks, nudging her feet lightly back.
“She just sucks!” Nyota explodes, scowling and crossing her arms over her chest. “I swear, I’m going to smack her if she messes up the descant one more time. It’s really not that hard.” She sings a piercingly beautiful line to demonstrate, wrinkling her pert nose at the ceiling.
He tries not to smile. “Dearest,” he says, “not everyone’s as good as you are. Perhaps she’s just feeling a little intimidated?”
“Yeah right, flatterer,” she scoffs. “And like that’s even an excuse. She should know her shit by now! It’s like she hasn’t even looked at the score. Which would be fine if she could, oh, I don’t know, sight-read better than a first grader--but she can’t, and she keeps messing all the other first sopranos up, too! I don’t know why she even got selected.”
“She must have a decently pretty voice,” he says, to be devil’s advocate, keeping his amusement to himself.
She snorts. “Yeah, a pretty voice doesn’t mean much if you don’t have the theory to back it up. You know that, Spock.” She fixes him with a glare. “Look, stop being logical and fair for once and let me whine, okay, Vulcan?”
He grins at the old joke. “As you like.” He pauses, and admits, “She does seem rather . . . deficient in mental capacity, so to speak.”
“Thank you,” Nyota says, smacking his leg affectionately. “If I call you and I’m freaking out, you’ll know I need you to come help me hide her body, okay? But enough about my day--how was yours?”
He can’t help but shake his head, amused. “Fine,” he says. “Pike is a brilliant conductor. Today was very successful. You’ll like working with him, I believe. And everyone I’ve met seems decent.” He hesitates. “Though I must admit there is a trumpet player who I’m not looking forward to seeing on a regular basis.”
“Oh yeah? Girl or guy?”
“Guy. James Kirk.”
Her pretty mouth twists. “Oh, him,” she says, rolling her eyes. “I just met him like five minutes ago. God, what a tool. He and Gaila are in my room right now--think they’re gonna hook up. That’s why I booked it so fast.”
“Lovely,” says Spock, pursing his lips. “I see he shows the same lack of respect for other people in all aspects of his life. He came into practice exactly on time today and was wearing the most ridiculous--well. Anyhow. James Kirk and the Rand girl aside, we’ll settle in, I’m sure,” he says, pulling himself away from things that don’t matter. “It’s only the first day, after all.”
“Yeah,” she says, snuggling into his side. “God, I can’t believe we’re working on the Star Trek score. How amazing is this? Pike is my hero.”
It is extremely unusual to have a movie soundtrack be made almost entirely by student musicians and not seasoned veterans, Spock agrees. Pike encountered some resistance for it, but claimed in the press release that he wanted to “bring fresh blood to the universe he loved so much,” going on to cite that the movie was meant to inspire new and old fans alike, and take chances that other films wouldn’t. Spock doesn’t much care what the reasons are, in the end; he’s just fiercely glad for them. All that really matters is that he auditioned and got here. He’s loved Star Trek as long as he can remember, since his mother first sat him on the couch to watch Captain Picard sail through space, and to be allowed to contribute to the Star Trek universe in some way is nothing short of a dream come true.
First chair, he lets himself think, and smiles.
Kirk accosts him on his way to practice the next morning.
Well, perhaps “accosts” is too strong a word.
He catches Spock walking to practice, apparently not planning on being late to warm up again. He’s wearing jeans and a t-shirt again, though, this time a plain dark red that stretches tightly across his chest.
“Hey!” he says, all eager grin and sparkling eyes. “Spock! Just the man I was looking for.”
“Oh?” Spock asks, lips tightening. Being this close to Kirk is--well, he is one of those people who has a tangible presence, and it sets Spock a little on-edge. This close, he can almost feel the bright energy radiating out of Kirk.
“Yep. Wanted to introduce myself; Jim Kirk, trumpet player,” he says, holding out a hand. Reluctantly, Spock takes it. Kirk shakes it in a very no-nonsense manner and smiles up at Spock, eyes crinkling at the corners.
A flash of something uncomfortable flares in Spock, and he frowns to cover it. “You appear to already know my name,” he says.
“Believe me, I paid attention after what you played yesterday!” Kirk says. “That was amazing, man, is it one of your own compositions? Don’t think I’ve heard it before.”
Spock shifts his violin case into a different position. “Yes. And thank you. You played well too,” he admits, because honesty won’t let him keep silent, and Kirk’s thirty seconds of jazz improv were quite breathtaking.
“Thanks,” Kirk says, smiling again. “I try. So hey, I was thinking maybe we could discuss music over breakfast?”
Spock blinks, and his stomach flips. There could be no harm in sitting with Kirk, could there? Perhaps he was having a difficult day yesterday; perhaps he’s not actually as bad as he appears. (Perhaps they could still be friends, he doesn’t let himself think.)
“Don’t you mean lunch?” he asks.
Kirk lets a lazy grin simmer on his lips. “Nah,” he says conspiratorially. “Breakfast. We could head out right now.”
Spock’s stomach flips again, but this time unpleasantly. He can feel disapproval tightening into a thick knot in his chest. “Do you mean,” he demands with deceptive calm, “to skip rehearsal?”
Kirk shrugs. “Nah, we’ve got a half hour till then, which gives us forty minutes, as I figure it. It’s early days yet, and it’s only sectionals; Pike won’t mind if we’re ten minutes late.”
Spock stops. They’ve reached the set of rooms which are used for sectionals, where he and Kirk will separate. He turns to Kirk and draws himself up to his full height, which leaves him staring down a mere inch directly into Kirk’s infuriatingly bright blue eyes.
“You don’t appear to be taking this seriously,” he tells Kirk, fury pressed down until you almost can’t hear it in his voice. “I am. I have no idea what kind of ulterior motive you’re hiding in trying to pull me away from practice, but I can assure you I’m not interested. I’ll thank you to leave me alone.”
Before the Kirk can respond, Spock turns and goes into the room where the violins are. A place, he thinks with vicious satisfaction, where Kirk can’t follow him. He pastes a smile on his face and goes to the front of the room to warm up, shoving all thoughts of the useless trumpet player firmly out of his head.
Kirk refuses to give up, however. Over the next few weeks, he makes it his personal mission to get Spock to befriend him.
He meets up with him every morning and chatters at Spock for the length of the hallway, no matter how fast Spock walks. He ambushes Spock after sectionals and walks him to the cafeteria, talking and trying to make Spock talk, and every day inviting Spock to join him for lunch. He comes up to Spock’s stand in the breaks they have and attempts to engage him in more conversation; he charms Spock’s stand partner so she doesn’t protest.
It makes Spock’s blood hot. He can guess exactly how else Kirk uses that charm: slimily, sleazing up to people and getting under their skin, twisting them up until they’re so dependent on him that he can do anything he likes. Until he believes he can just smile that smile and everything will work out. Well. As far as Spock’s concerned, Kirk won’t succeed with him, and he tells Kirk as much.
“I assure you, my feelings on the matter will not change,” he says one morning on the way to practice, forcing himself not to grit his teeth. “We have nothing in common. Why do you persist with this?” It’s a puzzle, and one that twists in his stomach and distracts him when he ought to be thinking of the music.
“Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong,” Kirk says, nudging Spock’s shoulder with his own. “Just because I’m willing to miss ten minutes of rehearsal and you’re not doesn’t mean I don't take it extremely seriously, or that we have nothing in common. We’ve got lots in common, man! You’re just too stubborn to see it.”
“Do tell,” Spock murmurs sarcastically.
“We’re both pigheaded,” Kirk says with an immediate grin. “I think you call it ‘determined,’ though,” he goes on airily. “And we’re both smart. And I’m pretty sure you have an awesome sense of humor underneath all that blustery logic. And we’re both awesome musicians who are passionate about what they do. See, that’s four things already, dude. We,” he announces, leaning closer, “are practically soulmates.”
“Everyone here is passionate about what they do,” Spock retorts, ignoring the rest because it’s too absurd to address. “We would not be here if we weren’t.”
“Yeah, but there’s passionate and there’s passionate,” Kirk argues. “There’s loving something and there’s living it, you know? And when you play your violin, you just--everything, of you. It’s right there. You feel it all and you put it into your music.” He pauses. “And I think that’s pretty awesome, ‘cause I try to do the same with my trumpet.”
Spock stops abruptly, heart beating close beneath the skin on his chest and breath caught somewhere lower. He’s never been able to put into words what music means to him, and the fact that Kirk can just look at him and see it, understand him so easily--
“Excuse me,” he mutters, and takes off down the hallway at a fast clip.
“You’re gonna have to talk to me again sometime!” Kirk calls down after him.
“You wish,” Spock mutters to himself, but he’s badly shaken.
Kirk keeps challenging his convictions, and it’s extremely confusing.
“Dammit!” mutters Sulu--Hikaru, if Spock remembers correctly--flipping between two pages of his score, forehead pinched in a frown behind his glasses. “I’m never going to get this measure,” he moans, drooping until his chin rests against the body of his cello.
Pavel Chekov--everyone knows his name, because he’s a prodigy; only seventeen and plays the flute like James Galway--Chekov cocks his head at those words. He sets his flute down gently against his stand and hops off his stool, twisting between the rows until he’s by Sulu’s side, peering at the music over Sulu’s shoulder. “What are you heffing trouble with?” he demands cheerfully, speaking in the thick accent Nyota refers to as “adorable.”
Sulu shakes his head a little, looking embarrassed. “Pavel, no--I just suck, man. There’s nothing you can do about it. Seriously, don’t worry about it. I’ll get it. Eventually,” he sighs.
Chekov shakes his head and takes Sulu’s face in his hands, turning the cellist until they’re facing each other. “We weel figure it out together,” he tells Sulu, nodding firmly. He then presses a quick kiss to Sulu’s mouth and grins, bright and sweet. Slowly, Sulu grins back, reaching up to tug on one of Chekov’s curls.
Spock swallows and drops his eyes to the floor. Chekov and Sulu are dating, and no one seems to think--well. No one seems to take notice of it whatsoever, unless it’s to say how “cute” they are. It--it unsettles Spock, to say in the least. He’s not used to it. The people he knows like that usually keep their romances off the stage.
He ignores the burning in his stomach and the embarrassed flush he can feel creeping up his neck, and turns back to his score. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Kirk staring at him from across the room, but he pretends not to notice and tucks his violin under his chin, pressing hard so he can concentrate.
After that, Kirk switches tactics, and starts flirting with him.
It’s not subtle, because Kirk never is. It begins with exaggerated winks whenever they cross each other in the hallways, moves swiftly on to obvious innuendo (Kirk inviting Spock to “polish his instrument” and “help him with his fingering”) and finally, settles into bald statements.
“You know, I’m awesome at blowjobs,” he says one afternoon, leaning against Spock’s stand with a slow grin teasing at the corners of his mouth. “Trumpet players usually are.”
Spock doesn’t react in any way except perhaps to tighten his fingers on his bow a fraction and furiously ignore the fluttering in his stomach. He reminds himself, for the hundredth time, that Kirk’s only doing it for shock value. He flirts with everything on two legs--Spock is only a challenge to Kirk because he doesn’t respond. It’s only another way for Kirk to tease at him and get under his skin, another one of his bizarre attempts to conquer Spock. It’s only another example of how cruel he is.
Acknowledging these things and moving on would not be such a problem if Spock’s body would listen to logic.
Kirk is brash and impolite, barging his way into rooms and lives without a care for how he affects them. He has that insidious charm and laughs things off when he should be attentive; he only respects authority when it suits him, and is constantly stirring things up. He is Spock’s opposite in every way, and it should be quite repellant. It is quite repellant.
And yet--and yet Kirk stands next to him and his heartbeat kicks up, and he feels warm, and his stomach flutters, against all reason.
Kirk is very physically attractive, it must be granted: the strong jaw, the body that is sturdy and powerful without being stout, the mischievous bow of his mouth. None of that should affect Spock, though, because Kirk’s personality is so abhorrent to him. He’s never had this problem in the past; it’s always been easy to separate his body’s--reactions, and set them aside.
Not so with Kirk. For all he annoys Spock, he fascinates him, too. It’s hard not to be fascinated with someone so bright and energetic, he tells himself, but he knows he’s rationalizing. Just a week or so ago he despised Kirk. Now, he finds himself equal parts disgust, fascination, and curiosity. It’s dangerous.
He turns a page of his score with imagined calm, and says, “Please leave me alone. I am attempting to practice.”
Kirk opens his mouth to retort, but whatever he’s about to say is cut off by Pike’s piercing whistle, announcing the end of their break. Kirk shrugs and gets up. “See you after rehearsal’s over!” he calls over his shoulder.
Spock immediately works out a plan to be out the door before Kirk’s done putting away his trumpet. As long as he can stay away from Kirk, this disturbing--thing need not interfere with his life. He nods to himself and dives into “Enterprising Young Men” once more.
And then somehow he gets roped into playing chess with Kirk nightly, which makes his original plan much more difficult.
It happens like this: they all go to dinner together at Pike’s insistence. “I need you to be a cohesive team. Thick as thieves,” he tells them. “And I know how insular it gets. So I want you to sit at a table tonight with no one who plays your instrument. Mix, mingle! Get to know everyone, because you guys need to be a well-oiled machine. Go ahead and find yourself a group right now, then come back and report to me with the members’ names and instruments. I expect to see you all sitting together tonight; I will be checking.”
Spock looks at Nyota immediately, thankful that the choir has finally started practicing with them so he needn’t go into this completely alone. She nods back and pats Gaila’s shoulder before heading over to his side of the stage. He’s waylaid by Chekov and Sulu on the way to meet her.
“Hey, d’you mind if we sit with you?” Sulu asks with a smile, arm slung around Chekov’s shoulders.
“You’re welcome to,” Spock says, puzzled but not displeased.
“Awesome, thanks!” says Sulu. "I was hoping to ask you a couple things about that piece of yours . . . "
Scott--who prefers to be called Scotty, he told Spock--comes up behind Sulu and claps him on the back just as Nyota arrives. “Hey lads, and the lovely Miss Uhura," he chirps. "Can I come along? I promise I won’t be a bother.”
Nyota smiles at him. “Go right ahead," she says. "Your drums are awesome, by the way--”
“Hey guys!” Kirk interrupts, grinning and leading Leonard McCoy over into their group. “We don’t have anyone to eat with yet, so can we chill with you?”
Spock scowls automatically, but Sulu and Chekov are smiling up at them, Sulu urging them to join in. Nyota rolls her eyes at Spock behind Scotty’s back but gives a tiny shrug. Spock nods back. Not an ideal situation, but he wouldn’t like to be rude. They give their names to Pike and arrange to meet in the cafeteria at seven.
Spock’s stomach knots itself up long before then, but from unhappiness or some twisted sense of anticipation, he can’t decide.
“You are a clarinetist, but you also play the sexophone, yes?” Chekov asks McCoy over his drink. Sulu chokes back a laugh, and Chekov swears in Russian. “Saxophone,” he repeats carefully.
McCoy laughs. “Saxophone, sexophone--sometimes it depends on the occasion."
Kirk rolls his eyes. “Don’t mind him, he’s dirty.”
“From what I hear, you’re one to talk!” Scotty accuses, grinning.
“Yeah, I guess people around here pretty much think I’m the definition of manwhore, huh? Which I probably deserve,” Kirk admits, grinning. “But I swear I’m not actually that bad. I’ve got moral lines. I’ve never cheated on someone, for example, and I never will.”
“No, seriously!” Kirk insists. He gestures earnestly with a breadstick to emphasize his point. “That’s just something I’ll never do. Bones, back me up on this one, will ya?” he asks McCoy, slapping the clarinetist’s chest with the back of his hand.
“Get your paws off me,” McCoy grumbles. “But yeah; I know it’s hard to believe, but as much of an idiot as he is, he’s actually not lying about that,” he tells Nyota.
This is dangerous territory, Spock thinks. He does not want to discuss this. Any of it.
“Fascinating as your sex lives are,” he says, tone measured and not hinting at all at the bizarre flips his stomach is doing, “I believe we’re meant to be talking about our interests, not--Kirk’s habits in bed.”
“What, sex isn’t interesting?” Kirk quips. “Fine, fine. What do you guys like to do in your spare time? Scotty, you look like you’ve got hidden depths! Enlighten us.”
Scotty grins, viciously. “I like video games. Put a controller in my hands and I’m gold--I beat Portal in an hour.”
“Dude, awesome,” says Sulu, reaching out for a high-five.
Scotty smirks. “Thanks. What about you sorry bastards? Sulu here’s obviously all right, but anyone else share the best passion in the world? Kirk?”
“Nah,” McCoy says, slapping Kirk’s shoulder. “This sorry bastard likes chess.”
“You do?” Spock finds himself asking, before he can stop himself.
It’s the surprise of it, he thinks; Kirk does not look like a chess player. He looks like a Grand Theft Auto player. But Kirk's grinning that golden grin that always feels like a jolt of lightning to Spock’s stomach, and he immediately wishes he hadn’t said anything.
“Yeah, I do. I was on Chess Team four years running in high school, man. Do you play?”
“Yes,” Spock admits, grudgingly. He doesn’t like to lie when he doesn’t have to; it never made sense to him.
“We should play together,” Kirk says, voice gentling a little. His expression, for once, is friendly without being suggestive. “I’ve been dying for a real game. Bones here sucks at chess.”
“Because it’s boring,” McCoy sing-songs.
Kirk rolls his eyes. “It’s not boring. It’s a fascinating game of tactics. Which you happen to suck at.” He ducks McCoy’s punch and smiles up at Spock. “Whaddya say, wanna play a game after dinner?”
Spock thinks later that perhaps he’s also starved for chess. There’s no other logical reason for him to say yes and risk his attraction to Kirk getting out of hand; it’s not worth it. And yet the words that come out his mouth are “yes, all right.”