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Only the Ring Finger Knows

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James T. Kirk, a command track cadet with a growing reputation at Starfleet Academy for being headstrong and charismatic. Spock overheard a few statements concerning his person in the last few months. A ‘nerd’, as some would state, but also a ‘hottie’ to others. To clarify, it seemed that he was renown for his attractive appearance as well as his studious nature. What Spock found more interesting was that he was bound for an early captaincy; atypical per Starfleet's protocol. It is almost unheard of to become a Starship Captain before the age of 30. Experience had to be gained and earned. Despite what Spock thought of this rumor, his peers were more concerned with his latest romances. Many lamented them.

"I am ze most unlucky of them all!" the young man cried, accent thick and downing a third of glass of vodka. "Another beautiful woman in the throws of James Kirk!" Spock remained silent, watching cautiously as his peer intoxicated himself over his emotional qualms. It was an interesting behaviour that apparently many humans shared. His presence was also something that he'd been told was just as significant; the ‘friend’ to drink with while they vocalized their objections. Vulcans were not intoxicated by alcohol and the flavor was detestable, but he drank anyway to appease cadet Chekov. In small sips.

"He has only just arrived this semester and he is already surpassed my level!" Chekov continued, huffing like a child.

"He is dedicated and eager to attain his role on a starship-"

"So am I!" Chekov interrupted, looking affronted.

"Yes, you are eager, but are also an intellectual that enjoys deviating his attentions to sciences and engineering. While command track does cover these on a basic level, you deem it necessary to investigate further, delaying your advancement by taking extra classes rather than taking exams to complete the courses earlier."

"It is important to be prepared, no? And if I wanted to get on a starship faster, I could branch to navigation!" Spock already knew this and realized that Chekov was insecure about making decisions. This was something every captain should excel in. Even so, certainty one's actions came with experience over time, not racing into danger. He was still young.

"Ack! I can't believe him! Chasing the stars and dragging my beautiful Anna with him!" Spock frowned. He had never met Cadet Kirk in person, thus did not wish to think ill of him. Cadet Chekov was certainly exaggerating his plights.

"And I bought these matching rings for nothing…" the cadet huffed, looking down at his palm where two metal rings lay. They were of different widths, but matching designs. Spock barely kept the surprise from his face as he spoke.

"You wished to marry this woman?" Spock had only been on Earth for 18 months. While he knew enough from his mother, there were a considerable number of things that he found baffling. Bearing rings, especially a set or pair, represented a married couple for humans of many cultures. His mother had embraced Vulcan norms and had never worn one.

"What? Oh! No! Well… maybe… But it is not like that! It is just a thing…” Pavel struggled to explain. “Everyone here knows about this... I did not realize… no one has told you." Spock continued to stare at the rings, his gaze flickering down at his own hand. The ring he wore had no such significance. Wearing his accessory was merely his way of adapting to human culture.

Had he been doing something wrong by wearing this? He fretted internally before Pavel continued.

"We wear matching rings to show our relationship status. Right ring fingers show a close friendship, right middle finger if you are single, and left ring finger signifies a couple!" The man was obviously charmed by the idea. “It is a known habit of the school. I have heard that it is meant to help us feel grounded when we are destined for space.”

Spock nodded. His ring certainly made him feel more connected to this place. Although, it was a fair bit awkward to know that he had been unintentionally sending a message about his romantic interests to his peers. Many students wore rings at the academy. He had assumed it was a regular affair, a trend or a common accessory. It would seem that it was more significant than a fashion statement. Although less so than a marriage.

"You wear a ring,” Chekov pointed out. “It is the proper position for someone who is single and it is the same one for as long as I have known you. I bet the whole school thinks you are either single or have unrequited love…” Chekov grinned over his glass.

Spock made no remark. Surely the ‘entire school’ did not care for his affairs. If anyone had thought such things about him because of the ring he wore, he could only be content with the fact that they had noticed him participating in a human custom. Now he thought it might have been an error on his part. Suddenly the way he had obtained the ring seemed to make more sense.

The man’s head lolled to the side pensively. “Well I heard someone say you were probably engaged…" Chekov put the glass down gently on the table. "I admit to some confusion Mr. Spock. It is a Vulcan custom to be engaged early in your life, but I believe it is only a human tradition to wear rings as a symbol of marital status, no?"

Spock hesitated for a moment. He did not like discussing his personal life. Humans commonly enjoyed sharing their own life stories and Spock would listen avidly. He answered Pavel’s inquires carefully.

"This is true, and while I was raised in the Vulcan way, I have accepted that I will be surrounded by humans for the rest of my career. I accept your customs, but this ring was given to me quite… randomly." Spock thought back to that particular moment. "I was given this ring on a tour of the Enterprise. The cadet looked quite harried upon giving it to me and left rather quickly.”

Chekov leaned in with interest as Spock came up with a theory.

“It not unlikely that someone had rejected his proposition of romantic interest. Perhaps he had been turned away as you have been-" Spock snapped his mouth shut, realizing his error too late. Chekov gave a weak whine, deflating instantly. He took another swig of alcohol.

Spock looked down again at his ring while his companion downed a few gulps. He admitted that if he'd worn this on Vulcan, it would be viewed as perverse. No Vulcan wore jewelry on their hands unless it was for a ceremony. A material possession with emotional attachment, rubbing against his sensitive skin, only inches from his finger pads? He'd be a disgrace!

"You are not suffering of unrequited love as I am! My beautiful Anna! Spock, you have been spared this cruelty! Anna and I would be staring lovingly into each others eyes by now… Damn that James Kirk!"

Spock just raised his brow at the man.