A Vulcan man in a black collared shirt sat to one side of the room trying not to be overwhelmed by all the stomping and hollering. Two different chemistry texts were perched on his lap, each to its own knee, and he took notes on them both into a PADD as he compared them. He looked somewhat as if he was trying to be swallowed into the PADD, or at least fall through the floor.
A pair of blue eyes watched him intently from the contra line every time the male-acting half of the dance line had occasion to face in that direction. He knew the eyes were there, and every once in a while when he no longer felt their stare, he felt safe in lifting his own eyelids towards their owner. It was easier not to meet gazes; he didn't want to be nagged about not dancing yet again.
The evening had wended its way through dance after dance, gigue and reel, square and circle and contra, with a couple of waltzes thrown in right before the band had taken its break. Len had danced with just about everybody in the room, mostly female; there were quite a few women who had been forced into looping ugly neckties around their necks and fulfill the "male" role in the dance, because even in the twenty-third century, there were never enough men at these things.
Spock glanced at a clock. Hopefully this all would be done soon, and they could go back to McCoy's sister's house in the middle of the woods and not have to deal with strangers with banjos anymore. "C'mon, Spock, I grew up with this!" Len had protested, when Spock started making up excuses not to go. "At least come for the tradition. It might be interesting for you to study. This dates back to the old settlers of these north Georgia mountains, bringing their music and dance with them from what used to be Great Britain."
Watching traditional folkdance had seemed like an appropriately educational enough way to spend an evening. Spock had not expected the immense community pressure for him to participate. "It's part of the fun! Everybody gets involved!" Len gesticulated.
"Your Southern accent has gotten considerably stronger," pointed out Spock dryly, arranging himself with his books and his PADD.
Len shook his head at him and muttered something that had the words 'green' and 'blooded' in them, and took the hand of a woman in a gingham skirt.
Spock had endured periodic friendly teasing from the other patrons of the dance, but his Vulcan manners had discouraged them and now nobody was bothering him. He still snuck glances at his friend every once in a while. Leonard McCoy was definitely enjoying himself.
He looked back down at his diagrams.
Suddenly Len was standing there right in front of his nose again. "Spock, they're playing the last reel. It could be years before you have another chance to experience this!"
"What a delightful prospect."
"Look at you, hiding behind your books. I bet you're too embarrassed to dance in front of all these people."
"Vulcans do not dance in groups. It is not considered dignified."
"Or else, you don't think you can handle it, Spock?" McCoy crossed his arms in satisfaction. Spock was silent. "Have I come up with something humans can do better, perhaps?"
Spock's dark eyes looked up through thick lashes. "There is nobody for me to dance with," he tried again.
"You?" The eyebrow shot up.
"Me. I'll dance with you."
"I do not see other men dancing with men here."
"Shut up, Spock, that's just an excuse. There's a male shortage at these things and always has been, and half the women have been dancing male all night."
Seeing no further logical argument, Spock arranged his books and PADD on the chair next to him and let Len lead him out onto the dance floor just as the band was setting the tempo. They rushed into position at the end of the line. "You better let me take the male part, since you wouldn't know how to lead in one of these things," said Len.
"Logical." McCoy rolled his eyes at the word and then the caller began.
"I thought they went through the steps before the dance started!" Spock protested in a hiss.
"It's the end of the evening, I guess they got lazy," McCoy shouted over the music. "You'll be okay! Just listen to the caller, and follow me! People will help you along."
The tune was upbeat and in D major, and Spock had to strain to hear the caller's directions-- half of which he did not know the meaning of. He let McCoy jostle him around and mimicked the actions of the people to his left and right, and internally observed that he would feel inadequate... if he were human. Luckily, they didn't seem to mind his inexperience.
Eventually his brilliant mind managed to piece together the directions for the dance. First, everybody held hands with the people next to them and the lines approached each other and one sort of jauntily bowed to one's partner, who was directly opposite. Then one walked in a circle around the person to one's right, who was apparently labeled 'neighbor' for this purpose.
Apparently, there was a method to this.
Then he had to approach McCoy, who took him around the waist and "swung" him. The first time this happened, Spock almost got dizzy, but soon adjusted his physiology not to mind being whirled around several times in a row at intense speed. The swings left him wobbly, but luckily the next step after that was simple. He, McCoy, and their "neighbors" made a star with their hands and walked in a circle. Eventually the lines shifted and they were faced with new neighbors to Do-si-do.
He had to admit, the music was full of energy. And there was the swing...
Fly around my pretty li'l miss,
Fly around my Daisy,
Fly around my pretty li'l miss,
Y'always drive me crazy
McCoy must have picked up on Spock's reticence each time he reached his arms out to the Vulcan to swing him. "Spock. Try leaning back against my arm this time."
Spock once again gingerly put his hands around Len's waist, trying to ignore the physical contact he was unfamiliar with, and prepared to be flung around in circles again. Only this time, he followed the Doctor's suggestion and leaned his body back againt the human's arms.
Suddenly the entire experience was transformed. No longer dizzy, Spock felt as if he were flying. His feet had sprouted wings, and his body wasn't subject to the laws of gravity. Air rushed past his face, which was now free to look right into McCoy's face instead of peering nervously over his shoulder.
His first instinct was to choke down the sensation, but McCoy had caught the glimmer of jubilance that darted across his eyes. "Don't you dare tell me you aren't ecstatic right now!!" the human barked, his own eyes twinkling.
"This is... exhilarating," Spock gasped. McCoy deposited him into his place at the end of the swing and went off to go make a circle. Spock blindly waded through the next round of the dance until the next swing, which this time he enthusiastically almost ran into.
"This gives me a sensation of flying," Spock observed as Len whirled him around over and over, faster and faster.
"Fly around, my pretty little Spock, Fly around my Vulcan...."
"It's the song. Aren't you listening? Fly around, my pretty little Spock, aren't you glad that you stopped sulkin'..."
"I wasn't sulking." The swing ended and they made the circle with their neighbors again.
"Admit it, Spock, you're having fun!" Len grinned.
"I cannot hear you over the music, Doctor," Spock said, fooling nobody.
Len didn't care that his dance partner wasn't smiling. He knew what was going on in Spock's mind, and that was enough.
The music ended, and McCoy caught Spock's wrist. "Was that totally horrible, Spock?"
"It was enlightening," Spock replied evenly.
"Oh." McCoy crossed his arms and looked at him challengingly. "Just 'enlightening'?"
Spock looked at the band. "They appear to be starting a waltz," he sidestepped.
"So they are, Spock." McCoy hadn't uncrossed his arms. "Are we waltzing?" he asked brazenly.
Spock stood motionless for a moment, and then silently put a hand on each of McCoy's wrists. Len let his arms be gently pried loose and then somehow he and Spock floated into a more relaxed posture, one hand resting on Spock's waist and the other on his shoulder.
The music was wistful and earnest, with the sweet simplicity characteristic of all old-time waltzes. Spock had time to note that the music's emotional high point coincided with the progression of a VI chord to a IV chord before he realized that Len was resting his head on his shoulder... and that although he would have jumped down a well rather than admit it, he didn't want him to move it for anything in the world.