I'm at the telescopes this week, tucked in an observatory on an Arizona mountaintop.
I grew up in the Arizona desert. I grew up with clouds being objects of interest, rain a novelty, brown the default landscape, and I grew up hating it. But, dammit, it was mine. Now I live in Boston, where the rain smells only of wet dirt and pavement, and it's not right. Not home, not quite.
So I get why Spock's hanging around again. Maybe some things about the desert you just can't shake. It's not his desert, true, but it's something.
We walk to the telescopes at sunset, me and Spock. Mountain dust scuffs his Starfleet boots. But his stride is easy and he seems almost relaxed - better than either of us have been in weeks, because school's a damn pain, and being stuck in my head must be as well.
We're early, can't open the domes till the sun's gone clear behind the mountains, so we climb to the roof to watch it sink. Nothing like a desert sunset. Spock's holding something between his fingers with great care - it's a twig. A little branch with rounded duplex leaves, from one of the scrubby, tenacious shrubs lining the road, but it's my favorite of all the plants here.
I'm a little surprised he knows it, though. "I don't suppose you had creosote bushes on Vulcan?"
"We did not," he says.
Creosote is what makes my desert rain smell like, well, rain. It's a greenly resinous odor I'd know anywhere, branded so deep in my memory that I wake in Boston missing it. "Here," I tell him, and sprinkle a few drops of water on a leaf.
He brings it to his face with his curious delicacy and sniffs gently at it. I see the corner of his mouth shade almost into delight before he hides his face - maybe our deserts are more alike than I'd thought. "It has," he says "quite a pleasant aroma."
I leave Spock on the roof, with his pungent leaves and the emerging stars. Come nightfall I'll be lost in a world of spectra, stellar and galactic, and also buried in homework, because school doesn't quit being hell just because I'm cross-country. But the stars here are without compare, and the rain, if it falls, will smell of creosote. Spock's almost smiling, and that'll have to do.( Just his head and he's wearing a shirt. )