After the Battle of Vulcan, Nyota feels like she's got nothing but time on her hands. Before, it seemed like they were all hurtling forward into history with no time to stop and think about what was actually happening. Now, Nyota attends a seemingly endless round of funerals and memorials, everything slow and stately and gray. She is questioned about her role in the battle, about what exactly happened in general, and, more specifically, what she knows about how one James T. Kirk came to be onboard the Enterprise, and how he behaved once he got there.
She's honest with the officers who question her. Kirk is a smug, annoying blowhard who thinks he's god's gift to females everywhere, and he's got no respect for rules, but when their lives were on the line, he knew what to do and he saved them all.
"I would serve with him again," she says, and is surprised to find that it's true. She and Spock haven't discussed it, but he'd been the one to back Kirk's play, and she can respect that he's discovered something to respect in Kirk, even if she can't respect him herself.
There's a lot of waiting around after that. Classes and assignments seem less important, after having faced real life and death consequences, but they all finish out the term, in half-empty classrooms, with black armbands on their uniforms.
Kirk gets his command, but the Enterprise is still in spacedock, still being repaired, so it's going to be a while before any of them go anywhere.
Nyota visits the ship sometimes, after hours, watches as she becomes whole again, is restored to full strength. As a child, she'd fallen in love with language, with nuance, with all the ways people could and did express their thoughts, ideas and emotions. She'd known she was going to join Starfleet even then, but she hadn't expected to love flying, to love space, to love the Enterprise as much as she does.
It's sad to see her awkward and broken when she should be whole and fierce, winging her way through uncharted territory, keeping her crew safe.
She's not the only one visiting tonight. She sees a slim figure in the dimness that resolves into Kirk when she gets a little closer. He seems to be communing with the ship, one hand on the flight console, face lifted towards the currently blank viewscreen.
"She's a great lady," he says, and Nyota's heart jumps in startlement and she has to bite back a gasp. "We're going to do great things together, she and I. And you, too, Uhura." He turns and gives her that shit-eating grin that makes her want to slap him at the same time it makes her want to grin back. Tonight, she grins.
"Yes," she says. "We will."
Kirk says, "Warp speed, Sulu," and the Enterprise launches forward, great engines roaring, and Nyota's stomach lurches with it, her heart racing nearly as fast. The stars doppler around the ship and there is a low hum of silence in her ear.
She turns and the Captain is smiling. She knows him well enough to know how much he hides behind that smile, but this time, he meets her gaze and she sees a true depth of emotion in his eyes--this feeling never gets old, no matter how many times they do it.
It's almost enough to make her like him.
Nyota has some experience dealing with the oblique nature of Vulcan diplomacy, but even she is ready to throw her her padd across the table at this latest impasse over the new Vulcan colonies they're trying to build.
She can't relax, even though she's off-duty and she finds herself in need of a drink.
Everybody on the ship knows that if you want to get drunk quickly, you see Scott in Engineering, though Chekov's homemade vodka packs a pretty mean wallop, too. But sometimes Nyota wants something a little more civilized. She developed the taste for fine whiskey while dating a writer her first year at the Academy. And when she wants some, she seeks out Dr. McCoy, who keeps a stash in his quarters.
"For medicinal purposes?" she teases, raising an eyebrow before taking a sip of the fine single-malt scotch he's poured for her.
"If you want to call it that," he answers, raising his glass in a toast.
She looks over the bottles sitting on the table. "This is quite a collection."
"Whiskey doesn't taste the same from a replicator," Kirk says, clinking his glass against McCoy's.
"I've taught you well," McCoy says.
"You've taught me something, anyway," Kirk replies and they both laugh. Even though it doesn't make any sense, Nyota laughs with them, feeling the warmth of their laughter and the whiskey ease the tension in her shoulders.
Spock also raises his glass, and puts his other hand on her shoulder, warm and gentle reassurance, and she knows that between the four of them, they will come up with a solution.
Nyota's first roommate at the Academy had been from Poland, and she'd liked to cook pierogies late at night on the little stove in their suite, the smell of fried dough (and, unfortunately, fried onions) filling the room at one o'clock in the morning. Nyota had complained at first--the reek of fried onions stayed in her hair and clothes for days--but Brygitta had always invited her to share in these late night feasts, and they'd become good friends over the course of the semester, sharing their hopes and fears along with pierogies and beer.
Brygitta had been on the Farragut when it was destroyed.
Sometimes, as she works on her reports late at night in her own quarters, Nyota gets the urge for potato and cheese pierogies, topped with fried onions and dipped in sour cream.
She makes her way to the mess, surprised to find the Captain sitting by himself at a table, with the exact meal she'd come to get for herself.
"Pierogies, Captain?" she says.
"My grandfather used to make 'em," he says around a mouthful of food.
She finds a fork and jabs it into one of the uneaten dumplings on his plate.
"Hey!" he says, and then, "So does this mean you're warming up to me?"
Yes. "No." She takes a bite. "These are good."
"Just like grandpa used to make." He pushes the dish of sour cream towards her. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." He waits, chewing noisily. "These Romulan documents--something is off about the language, but I'm not sure what and it's making me crazy."
In between bites, she explains why things seem off, and he takes her concerns seriously.
It's not the same as her late night chats with Brygitta, but she thinks that maybe, she and Kirk could become friends.
They successfully negotiate a trade agreement between two colonies in the Beta Quadrant, and they have a little party to celebrate, turning the mess into a dancehall for the night.
"I have some music you should play," Uhura tells Chekov, who is handling the deejaying. She hands him the drive with the song files on it, grins when he cues it up, and then heads back out onto the dance floor, swaying in time to the fierce beats of Fela Kuti.
Through the crowd she can see the Captain, pushing his way onto the dancefloor, the light of excitement in his eyes. "I love this song," he says, loud enough for her to hear it even a few yards away, and starts, well, it's only if she's being charitable that she can call it dancing. He moves his hips and bobs his head in time with the beat in a way that is stupidly adorable.
She makes her way to his side and grabs his hand. "Anyone who isn't afraid to look so ridiculously goofy is okay with me," she tells him, and settles his other hand on her hip so that she can guide him along. "Dance with me," she says, and is rewarded with one of his heart-melting grins.
She thinks this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.