Summary: Kirk's reading Sense and Sensibility and Elinor reminds him of someone. Written for Lieran, who wanted "Kirk and Spock reading Jane Austen", and for Sensefille, Austen's biggest fan. ^_^ (& many thanks to Hypatia for beta-reading, as always!)

SENESCENCE AND SENSIBILITY

by Farfalla

"What's that yer readin' there?" Scotty asked Captain Kirk from across the rec room table.

Kirk held up an antique, paperback book with worn pages and a missing back cover. "It's Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen."

Scotty made a face. "Cap'n! I know about the Mr. Spock thing, but I never thought I'd see ye readin' a ladies' book."

"Now, now, Mr. Scott," said Kirk smoothly, sliding a leather bookmark into his place between the pages. "For hundreds of years, women read books centering around men. Moby Dick doesn't even have female characters. Why shouldn't a man read a book about women?"

"Ye got me there. What's it about?"

"Two sisters," Kirk began. "The younger one... passionate, irrational, full of strong and intense emotions; the older one stoic and reserved and restraining her feelings to a degree that the younger one finds almost reprehensible. But they have a wonderful friendship."

"That sounds like Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy," Scotty observed.

Kirk chuckled fondly. "I wonder what the Vulcans would think of it. The author sympathizes with Elinor, the older, more 'Vulcan' of the sisters."

"Who knows--it might be a bestseller. Somebody should tell 'em about it."

"I was going to discuss some parts of the book with Spock tonight. Maybe I'll bring it up."

"Spock?"

The addressed party looked up from his astrophysics journal at the human in the bathtub. "Yes, Jim?"

"What do dead leaves mean to you?"

"Dead leaves," Spock answered, "are the remains of a plant organ designed to trap energy from sunlight so that carbon dioxide can be converted into sugars. When the leaves begin to die, the plant reclaims certain nutrients from the leaf, such as nitrogen, so that when the leaf abscises from its parent stem, only a brittle shell remains. Once fallen, they are quickly broken down by decomposers and their remaining nutrients returned to the ecosystem."

Kirk grinned. "Beautiful. You'd have Marianne in tears of frustration."

"To whom are you referring?"

"A young lady in a book I'm reading," said Kirk. "Marianne thought of dead leaves in a very different way. She says--'with what transporting sensations have I formerly seen them fall! How have I delighted, as I walked, to see them driven in showers about me by the wind! What feelings have they, the season, the air altogether inspired!'" He put the book down on the rim of the tub.

"Human poetry," Spock commented, "and very emotional."

"Marianne was talking to her older sister, Elinor," Kirk explained. "She's a foil for Elinor, who's very reserved and restrained. A bit like someone I know, actually." His eyes lingered on Spock a moment longer.

"Is this book another human paean to the emotional spirit?" Spock inquired.

"No, just the opposite. Marianne is depicted as almost satirically irrational, and Elinor's behavior is clearly what the author herself thinks to be rational."

Spock was intrigued, just as Kirk had expected. "A human work of fiction supports the suppression of illogic and emotion?"

"Yes," said Kirk, picking up the book again with twinkling eyes, "but I'm reading it first."