Chapter 1: Touch
I'd like to thank everyone who helped with this chapter, including Jake, Leo, Betsy, Dave, and Roy. Special thanks to my beta Paula (vampirealchemist13 at Fanfiction.net), who has been here every step of the way as I worked to expand this from one chapter into a real story. I couldn't have done this without them.
Last edited: 05/13/13
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Today had been the final day of Nyota Uhura's most difficult term in over three years at Starfleet Academy. She'd completed her last two exams that morning, and all day she'd been looking forward to a long shower and an early night's sleep.
Gaila, of course, was bouncing atop her pink bed sheets, her green skin aglow.
"You've got to come with me to The Stardust, Ny!" Gaila flopped onto her back, copper curls fanning around her face. "After, if you feel like staying home alone and being boring, I won't bug you. I don't plan on being around tonight, anyway..."
Nyota's plans to slip into bed and catch up on a semester of sleep evaporated in the presence of her friend's exuberance. It had been a hard semester, and damn... dancing and drinking sounded great right now.
"What should I wear?" she yielded with a soft smile, and Gaila squealed in delight.
Nyota slipped on her favorite gold minidress at Gaila's suggestion and borrowed a pair of black stilettos and some glittery gold eyeliner from her roommate. With the semester over, Nyota's academic stress had abated for awhile. She hoped a few shots of something strong would help to ease the stress of her personal life.
They'd been at The Stardust for less than ten minutes when Gaila winked at Nyota and sashayed over to a muscular Andorian, her hips swinging in her little red dress. When she reached him, she cocked her head and twisted one of her curls around a graceful green finger.
Nyota watched one of the Andorian's antennae quirk involuntarily. Yep, he's a goner. Nyota found the antennae slightly off-putting, sexually speaking, but she and Gaila had always had different taste in men.
The Stardust was near the spaceport, which meant more non-Terrans than most places in the city. Since Nyota would be working as an aide for two courses next term, sexual encounters near campus created the potential for awkwardness with future students. This far from campus, they were much less likely to unknowingly bed a fellow cadet.
At Gaila's insistence, she had turned off her personal communicator for the first time in months. No responsibilities tonight, she thought with relief.
Newly on her own, Nyota made her way to the bar and took a seat near a man with a brunet helmet cut. Inwardly, she berated herself for thinking of someone more familiar.
Rather than think of that, she ordered a double shot of Jack and downed it in two swallows, then ordered another.
"That's... a lot of drink," commented Nyota's bar companion.
"I have a high tolerance," she said, glancing at him.
The stranger's black eyes glittered with amusement. He was attractive, with upswept eyebrows and pointed ears, and his cheeky grin marked him as non-Vulcan. "Romulan?" she said, trying to conceal her surprise. She had studied all three dialects of Rihannsu for almost five years now, but she had never met a native speaker before.
"Born under the raptor's wings," he confirmed, chuckling at her. "I'm Sorel."
She smiled and grasped his extended hand. "Uhura."
"Uhura," Sorel repeated appraisingly. "A strong name."
"Thank you," she replied in Rihannsu, guessing the dialect based on the trace of an accent she had detected in his Standard. Sorel looked impressed.
"Are you Starfleet, Miss Uhura? Or perhaps a diplomat?" he replied in the same dialect.
Nyota smiled. "I'm a fourth year at the Academy. Xenolinguistics track."
He whistled on an exhale. "I might have applied there had nonhuman cadets been more common when I was young." He looked wistful. "I'm strange for a Romulan. For one thing, I prefer alcohol to cocoa." He tipped his glass toward her. It was half-full of rum, which would have no effect on a Vulcanoid, instead of the intoxicating chocolate liqueur Nyota had expected. "I drink for the taste, and I come here for the conversation. What about you?" he continued in Standard. "Are you a fan of chocolate, Miss Uhura?"
"Mochas are my secret weakness," she admitted to him. "And pointy ears," she added under her breath. Sorel laughed, and she belatedly realized that his hearing was almost as good as a Vulcan's.
"I'll take that as a compliment," Sorel said as he waved over the bartender.
She'd blame the Jack for her slip.
In three years of acquaintance, Spock had never known Cadet Uhura to be without a communicator. He had also never known her to disregard one of his calls when she was not occupied in an academic or professional pursuit.
Cadet Uhura had informed him that she had the night off from professional and academic duties, but she had failed to answer any of his several communications. Based on his knowledge of her personality and habits, Spock estimated the likelihood of her being both out of contact and uninjured to be less than seven percent.
Furthermore, Spock had questioned the cadet with whom Gaila Falan-Raz shared her shift in Professor Arturo's communications lab. Based on the cadet's answers, Spock had estimated a greater than sixty-eight percent likelihood that Cadet Uhura and her roommate had gone to a drinking establishment known as "The Stardust."
Spock had come to accept the irrational practice of consuming alcohol as normal behavior for humans. However, given his inability to contact Nyota and the fact that Cadet Falan-Raz was likely to be otherwise… occupied, Spock was concerned.
Spock was seldom concerned. He found the emotion uncomfortable.
"I kept a straight face until we were almost ready to leave," Sorel was saying, "and then I gave that waitress a huge grin."
Nyota's mouth dropped open, and after a moment she tossed her head back in a laugh.
"You should have seen the look on her face!" Sorel said, touching her arm. "I guess some people in Texas haven't heard of Romulans."
Nyota suspected that her high spirits were due in part to the amount of alcohol she'd consumed, but she couldn't deny that the company was stimulating, as well.
"I'm sure you would never be fooled by my Vulcan impression, Miss Uhura," Sorel said, his face settling into a mask of control and calm. It was a good act, but his lips quirked upward just the slightest bit, and his eyes were still so warm, almost human… Nyota's heart sank. "See?" His face relaxed into a grin. "It wouldn't fool anyone who knew better."
She forced herself to smile. It wasn't Sorel's fault that she was letting personal problems follow her here. "Let me buy you a drink," she said brightly.
Spock had covered the short distance from the transport station to The Stardust as efficiently as possible. It was his duty as Cadet Uhura's friend and colleague to ensure that she was safe. Checking on her was… logical.
He located her at the bar, deep in conversation with a dark-haired man. Spock noted her attire and felt a surge of heat that he quickly suppressed.
"Cadet Uhura," he called out over the noise of the bar when he reached her.
Nyota's eyes widened, her cheeks darkening slightly. "Spock! What are you doing here?"
Spock was suddenly unsure of how to explain his presence. "Your personal communicator appears to be non-functional," he stated.
"I turned it off for the night," she said, sounding concerned. "Is something wrong, Commander?"
Spock took a moment to consider Nyota's male companion more closely. A Romulan, with highly symmetrical facial features and a muscular physique. Spock forced his jaw to unclench.
"I attempted to contact you with a question regarding your revisions of our current translation project," he explained. "After repeated attempts received no reply, I became concerned for your safety and determined that the most rational course of action was to obtain visual confirmation of your well-being. I see that you are safe, albeit quite intoxicated." He glanced with concealed disdain at the sober Romulan and his glass of bourbon.
"It's fine, Commander," Nyota said firmly.
"Nevertheless, Cadet Uhura, perhaps you should allow me to escort you back to campus."
Nyota bristled. "Excuse me?"
Spock brow creased slightly as he seemed to realize how disrespectful he was being. "I had merely hoped–" he said, backtracking "–that you would be in full possession of your mental faculties tomorrow morning."
They both knew she hadn't forgotten about the meeting, but she let it go. Tonight, she had been gloriously close to forgetting her feelings for him – until his unexpected arrival had jerked her back to reality.
Reality had sapped her desire to stay here.
She drew a breath. "If you'd give us a moment, Commander?"
Spock looked between Nyota and Sorel, then nodded sharply and left.
"You did mention your weakness for pointy ears," Sorel noted.
Nyota was mortified, but when she glanced at Sorel she saw only understanding and amusement. He placed a hand on her arm. "A lot of us are looking for reminders," he said. Nyota wasn't sure what he meant, but she knew he meant it. "If you ever feel like practicing your Rihannsu, I'm the only Sorel in the San Francisco directory."
Nyota swallowed. "Perhaps I'll look you up sometime."
Sorel quirked an eyebrow at her – an expression that would have reminded her of Spock were it not for the Romulan's wry, knowing smirk.
The flitter station was only a few blocks from The Stardust, but Nyota was unaccustomed to walking in stilettos, and the Jack Daniels was not helping matters.
Her feelings regarding her companion distracted her further. What had begun as a harmless crush three years ago, when she'd been his student, had grown into something more troubling during her past two years as his colleague and friend. Lost in thought, Nyota didn't notice when the point of her borrowed high heel lodged in a crack in the pavement.
Spock caught her as she fell.
His fingers were hot against the bare skin of her arm. Nyota felt a flash of emotion through the contact before he pulled away; the feeling was too quick to identify, but it left her cheeks warm and her heart pounding.
Spock froze but did not look at her. After a moment, he moved onward exactly as before. Nyota stood there a half-second longer, inhaling a breath of clammy night air that did nothing to fill the sudden ache in her chest.
The title comes from a Nietzsche quote: "Love is not consolation. It is light."
As always, concrit is welcome, and I will reply to each review, even if it's just a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.
Chapter 2: Longing
Special thanks to Jake, Leo, Dave, Roy, and my beta vampirealchemist13 (Paula). Several months back, Paula and I worked through the plot of this story together, and she has continued to help me edit right up until the day before I posted it. I couldn't have done it without her.
Last edited: 05/13/13
When her alarm chimed at 0700, Nyota was already awake with a throbbing headache and thoughts of the previous night circling each other like le-matyas. She slapped the "off" button and dragged herself out of bed to retrieve a small green lozenge and a glass of water.
Last night, Spock had touched her. Nyota drank the water and placed the pain relief lozenge beneath her tongue, wincing at the bitter taste as it dissolved.
Vulcans were contact telepaths, she knew. She hadn't considered the implications beyond what she'd been told during her Vulcan language courses and in the proxemics unit of her Intercultural Etiquette course: Vulcans don't like to be touched. It was practical knowledge for a xenolinguistics major like Nyota, whose career would entail significant interaction with non-Terran species.
Nyota recalled with involuntary thrill the few occasions that Spock had made physical contact. Once, with her consent, he'd adjusted her fingers to correct a particularly complex Andorian hand sign she was having trouble mastering. Twice, he'd awakened her with a gentle hand on her shoulder when she'd fallen asleep in her chair at the xenolinguistics lab after a late night of grading assignments. Until now, she hadn't realized how mentally restrained these brief moments had been. Last night's touch, so different from the ones before, had been instinctive and raw. If only he had maintained the contact for a moment longer, she might have deciphered the emotions she had felt from him…
Nyota downed the last of the water to rinse away the bitter taste of the lozenge. She wouldn't allow herself to indulge in daydreams. The spark of emotion she'd felt from Spock had been far too brief to identify, and it had probably been innocuous anyway. Perhaps it had been annoyance at being unable to contact her; after all, he had seemed annoyed at the bar.
It was simple: Spock was half-Vulcan, and in his behavior he was more Vulcan than that. He had emotions, but he didn't - couldn't - return her romantic feelings for him, and it was harmful to imagine otherwise.
Nyota wished for a fraction of his control.
Spock had meditated all night.
Despite his human DNA, he had been born with a Vulcan eidetic memory. Usually this was advantageous because it meant that he did not have to rely on written memory aids as the vast majority of humans did. Today, however, his memory served only to plague him.
A single scene from the previous evening forced itself repeatedly to the forefront: Nyota, lit appealingly by street lamps, her long legs emphasized by her footwear and the high hemline of her dress... a moment later, the failure of said footwear and Spock's calculation that her trajectory would result in injury...
And his instinctive reach to steady her before he could properly shield his emotions.
The rate of his heartbeat increased by eleven percent.
Vulcans were taught from childhood to avoid breaching the mental privacy of others at all costs. Aside from Spock's parents and his half-brother Sybok, with whom he shared a natural familial link, Spock had known only one foreign mind. He had once been bonded to a young female Vulcan named T'Pring. After an incident at the age of nine, however, in which Spock had physically injured an older child, the two families had agreed that the already unusually weak bond be dissolved.
Spock had touched Nyota's mind without her permission, and she was neither his family nor his bondmate. Under most circumstances, such a violation would be inexcusable. In this case, of course, the emotional contact had been unavoidable, and Spock was not at fault. Nevertheless, Spock found himself unable to put the moment out of mind. In those .47 seconds of mental contact before Spock had been able to erect his emotional shields, he had felt a surge of what could be classified as... longing.
Given Nyota's obvious disappointment as they had departed from the bar, Spock found it likely that this emotion had been directed toward her Romulan companion.
It was impossible for Spock to ignore the distress this conclusion caused him.
Nyota arrived at Spock's office at 0756 to discuss their linguistics research, comparing the Old High Vulcan and modern Low Rihannsu dialects. Recently, they had completed their straightforward study of syntactical structure and had begun to look at nuances in vocabulary and usage. Neither she nor Spock had the background to parse the idiomatic structure of the texts, and it was becoming clear to Nyota that they needed another perspective.
Romulan scientists as a whole were less prejudiced than were most of their species, but so far Earth's two resident Rihannsu linguists had politely declined to work on the project, citing reasons that were more likely excuses.
A tentative truce between Romulus and the Federation had been signed almost twenty-five years prior, when the Federation had begun seeking out new member worlds and, barring that, truces with previously hostile nations. Prejudice was long-lasting, however. Romulans were beginning to venture into the stars for non-military pursuits, but few of them liked Vulcans, and the feeling – though Vulcans might object to use of that term – was mutual.
Nyota had thought of a possible solution to their research problem, but she was unsure of how Spock would react.
Acknowledging her arrival from his seat at the small table in his office, Spock offered her breakfast – today, a whole-wheat English muffin with avocado and egg white – from a café near his morning route to the lab.
Nyota accepted the food and in return handed him a cup of rooibos tea and a fresh pear from the market near her dorm.
Their routine was filled with small moments like this. Normally these casual rituals were a comfort, but today the familiarity between them made her chest ache. Nyota shook her head and forced the feelings aside.
"I've been thinking about how best to approach the next phase of our research," she said. "I'd like to bring in a native speaker."
"If you are referring to the Romulan from last night, I am unsure if that is wise." He raised an eyebrow.
She mirrored his expression. "Why not?"
Spock looked up from his tea. "Cadet, he attempted to intoxicate you, and given the circumstances I doubt that his intentions were altruistic."
"Commander, I bought most of those drinks myself," she said sharply. It was unusual for him to speak so condescendingly to her – almost as unusual as it was for him to comment on her personal life. "I hardly think Sorel's intentions are relevant. His knowledge could be valuable to our project."
Spock's lips were a thin line. "Many other Romulans could provide the same knowledge."
"How many do you know?" she asked, already knowing the answer. After a few moments, she took his silence as validation.
"We need a native speaker, Commander. Logic dictates that we pursue all viable candidates." Nyota knew she had him here. He tilted his head, and after a moment he gave a small nod. "I'll contact him later today, then." She allowed herself to feel a little bit victorious.
Spock again said nothing, merely sipping his tea.
After a long moment, Nyota's triumph began to fade. She opened the first translation file, unsure what she wanted him to say.
Nyota stopped by her favorite coffee shop on the way back to her dorm room. This morning she and Spock had successfully translated two folk tales from Old High Vulcan into Low Rihannsu, noting similar idioms between the two languages. It was meticulous work that computer programs could not properly accomplish, and they couldn't be sure of their results until Sorel could assist them.
Normally her work with Spock energized her, but today it had left her in desperate need of caffeine and chocolate. "A small mocha, please," she told the middle-aged Jewish woman behind the counter. "Skim milk."
"I started making it the moment you came in," the woman said warmly, pouring out a cup of hot coffee and adding sugar. "Bad day, ketzile?"
Nyota smiled. "It's only morning, Mira."
"Exactly," Mira replied, stirring in the milk. "You're coming in here before lunchtime, you're having a not-so-good day."
Nyota took her drink with a sigh. "With any luck, a mocha will help. Thank you."
Mira smiled at her. "See you tomorrow, Nyota."
Nyota sipped her mocha as she walked back to the dorm. By the time she entered her room, her cup was empty and her mood somewhat improved. Gaila had just showered and was drying her curls with a diffuser, wearing nothing but a lacy bra and panty set that matched her blue eyes. She set down the hair dryer and twirled to show off her outfit. "I was in the mood for blue today, Ny." She sighed. "Last night was delicious. You can't even imagine what Andorians can do with those antennae."
Nyota rolled her eyes with a smile.
Gaila giggled. "How was your Romulan?"
Nyota gave a half-shrug. "He wasn't. Commander Spock stopped by to follow up on a message he'd sent and ended up walking me to the flitter station."
Gaila flipped her head upside down to dry the underside of her copper locks. "He came all the way to The Stardustto ask you a question?" she said skeptically.
"My communicator was off," Nyota explained, feeling defensive. "He couldn't contact me."
"He was worried!" Gaila giggled from her bent-over position.
"You're reading too much into it." She slipped off her boots.
"You think so?" Gaila said impishly. She turned off the hair dryer and went into the bathroom to brush her teeth. "You could have been getting some hot, pointy-eared Romulan lovin', but your Vulcan wasn't going to let that happen."
The familiar tightness settled around Nyota's chest. "He's not my Vulcan, Gay," she said firmly. "Anyway, I should be meeting with Sorel soon. I'm calling him now to see if he's interested."
"Wooo!" Gaila catcalled from the bathroom.
"It's for research," Nyota insisted, amused despite herself. It was hard to feel down around Gaila.
A few minutes later, following a quick search of the San Fransisco directory, Nyota found herself face-to-face with Sorel by vidscreen.
"Miss Uhura," he greeted her with a smile. Damn. He was just as attractive when she was sober. "It's good to hear from you."
"You weren't kidding about being the only Sorel in the San Francisco directory," she said, licking her bottom lip.
"I was not," he confirmed with a roguish grin. It took her a few moments to realize she was staring, and she cleared her throat.
"I'm afraid this isn't a personal call. Wait, was I wrong to assume 'practicing Rihannsu' wasn't a euphemism for something?" she teased.
Sorel chuckled, low and sexy. "The idea crossed my mind, but my offer was sincere."
Nyota smiled and felt her neck flush, but she forced herself to focus. "What do you think about assisting with a research project regarding your native dialect?" She explained the project and the difficulties they had encountered in finding a native speaker to assist them.
Sorel smiled archly. "I'd love to help. I've always been a 'dark sheep.'"
Nyota grinned, the ideosyncratic turn of phrase reminding her of Gaila. "Are you free to meet tomorrow?"
Perhaps this weekend would be pleasant after all. Meeting with Sorel might be a clean break from routine.
Chapter 3: Parallel
Summary so far: Nyota and her roommate Gaila go to a bar to blow off steam after Autumn term finals. Nyota meets an attractive Romulan named Sorel. Spock shows up, concerned that Nyota has left her communicator off, and walks her to the flitter station. She trips and he catches her - and they accidentally transmit their emotions to each other through their skin contact. Meanwhile, Spock and Uhura's linguistics paper needs a native speaker; Sorel agrees to help.
Special thanks to Paula (vampirealchemist13) and Leo. Thanks, too, to StarTrekFanWriter for the messages of support!
Last edited: 05/13/13
Sorel and Nyota spent a late lunch at Mira's on Saturday, going over the translations she and Spock had made. Sorel pointed out several errors, and Nyota noted them to bring to Spock's attention. In an hour they had corrected the finished translations - a much quicker task than Nyota had expected, given the time it had taken Spock and her to translate them in the first place.
"We couldn't have done this without you, Sorel," she said with a relieved sigh. "I'm not sure how I can thank you."
He waved her off with a charming grin. "It's my pleasure. When do I see you again?"
Nyota felt a rush of nerves as she got up to recycle her serving tray. It was a seemingly neutral question, but his phrasing suggested otherwise. "Can you come by the lab on Friday afternoon?"
Sorel was helping with her work. Nyota happened to find him attractive. Why did she feel so strange about it?
"I'll be doing more translations from Low Rihannsu while the Commander is out of town," she said. "It would be helpful if I didn't have to struggle through them alone."
"Sounds good," Sorel said with a warm smile.
Nyota swallowed. Mira winked at her from behind the counter as they left.
Spock had spent a productive afternoon grading final exams from his Interspecies Ethics course. At the beginning of fall term he had been assigned an aide, but to his confusion and Nyota's quiet amusement, she had quit on her first day after he had reprimanded her for arriving nineteen seconds late.
Nyota, his only aide who had lasted for more than one term, had offered to assist him with the ethics course during her free time in addition to their research work. Contrary to his usual disinclination to what humans termed socializing, Spock welcomed her company. It was only logical to work with her; he had been fascinated to note that in her presence his own efficiency consistently increased by three to seven percent.
Most humans irritated and distracted Spock with their irrational behavior, and as a result he had many acquaintances and few friends. The friendship that had developed between Nyota and him over the past two years, therefore, had come as a pleasant surprise. Though Nyota was most definitely human, she was far more agreeable than any other human he had known. He appreciated her efficiency, her dedication to her work, and - perhaps the most unusual - her understanding and apparent enjoyment of his experimental attempts at humor.
Lately their dynamic had been uncomfortably different, however. The quality of her work had not declined, but they did not joke with each other as they normally would have. Comments and expressions aimed to elicit laughter from her now brought only small smiles that did not seem genuine. Most noticeable to Spock, her teasing - an art that few had the boldness, quickness of mind, and personal knowledge of Spock to attempt - had all but ceased.
Winter break was usually the least stressful part of the year, but Spock found himself unable to focus on what little work he had. Nyota's behavior was as professional as ever, but for the first time, she distracted him, and no amount of meditation could purge her from his mind.
Every night in his dreams he caught her in slow motion, the skin of her arm cool under his fingertips. He did not pull away, and he found that her longing was for himself alone.
In the next moment she was in his bed, her lithe body covering his, her full mouth pressing wet kisses over his skin. Then he was inside her and she was around him, sliding slick and cool. He was thrusting into her body with one hand on her hip, his fingers on her temple, crying out things a Vulcan would never say, claiming her with his body and with his mind.
It was inappropriate in every way.
Nyota was aware of Spock's superior hearing, so when she entered the lab she was disconcerted to realized that she had startled him.
"Good afternoon, Cadet Uhura," Spock exclaimed, blinking twice.
"Is this a bad time?" The Commander's keen senses were legendary on campus, and in three years she'd never seen him startled by anything.
"As good a time as any, Cadet," he replied. His expression and his voice held nothing of the previous surprise, and Nyota found the shift in demeanor both reassuring and disorienting.
Nyota handed him a PADD, careful as always not to let their fingers touch. "I was nearby, so I thought I'd deliver the most recent translations by hand. Sorel offered some useful amendments this morning."
Spock nodded tersely. Even this acknowledgement was a compromise compared to normal Vulcan behavior. "I have some free time," Nyota said. "Would you like help grading exams?"
Spock paused, and for a moment she thought he was going to turn her down. Then he handed her a stack of PADDs. "Thank you, Cadet."
She smiled and took a seat across from him. As usual, she would grade the half of the exam that consisted of short answers regarding the semester's material while Spock graded the longer essay questions.
They spent an hour or so in silence. Nyota grew uncharacteristically distracted and found herself watching his long fingers, curved gracefully around his stylus, making efficient notes... She imagined reaching for his hand and uncurling his fingers from around the stylus, bringing them to her mouth...
Spock's office felt warmer than Nyota was used to. She willed her mind and her gaze away from his fingers and forced herself to focus.
A few minutes after Nyota had completed her work and gone to heat water for tea, Spock finished grading the essays and joined her in the kitchenette. "Sorel seems quite willing to assist in our research," he said without preamble, measuring green tea leaves into an infuser. "As he is not a linguist or even an academic, he has no vested interest in being credited in our paper. I must question his motives."
Nyota frowned at the unusual topic of conversation. "I think he's being friendly."
Spock reached a long arm around her and collected his own mug from the cabinet. He did not step away. "While that is possible, It seems more likely that he harbors non-professional interest in you."
He held her eyes for a moment. Then his gaze flicked to her lips, and Nyota froze. Her heartbeat vibrated in her ribcage.
The electric kettle chimed to signal the water was hot. Spock blinked twice, as he had when she ad entered, and abruptly turned his back to her to pour water for his tea.
When Nyota returned to the dorm room Gaila was naked and giving herself a French manicure. "Ny!" As usual, she was in a teasing mood. "When are you gonna hit that?"
Of course she starts in immediately. "Gaila," Nyota warned.
"I know you like that Romulan, Ny," said the Orion gleefully, brushing translucent green polish over her white-tipped pinky fingernail. "Your pheromones are all over the place. You're like a female fox in heat."
"When have you smelled that?" Nyota decided not to admit that she had seen Spock again after her morning meeting with Sorel. Gaila would be far too smug about the fox smell then.
"San Francisco has one of the best zoos on Earth, silly. I can smell the animals. Don't worry -" Gaila blew on her nails to dry them. "The foxes don't smell so bad."
Chapter 4: Stars
I uploaded this chapter to Fanfiction.net a year and one day after I posted what I thought was a one-shot. How far I came in that time!
As always, I couldn't have done it without my fabulous beta Paula (vampirealchemist13)! I'd also like to thank Roy, Connor, Dave, Betsy, Ryan, and Leo for helping with the body of this and Tony and Rotem for helping me edit the Vulcan erotic poem! It took a village to raise this child, folks.
This chapter has some Nyota/Gaila femslash, if you squint, but if that's not your sort of thing, it can be taken as close friendship. Up to you!
Last edited: 05/13/13
Winter break had begun in earnest, and Nyota and Gaila were both staying at Starfleet Academy. For Gaila, The Academy was home base for all social and sexual operations. While Nyota's home would always be Nairobi, her research was here, and the sub-orbital out of Africa would be a nightmare commute during the holiday season. She didn't celebrate Christmas like some of the other cadets did, so there was no reason not to wait a couple of months to spend a weekend at home. She couldn't bring herself to leave right now, just when her research was picking up.
Gaila was all a-flutter. "Ny, you have to wear something cute today!" she insisted, already engaged in a full-scale invasion of Nyota's closet. "If you don't feel like propositioning Sorel, we'll just encourage him to do it for you!"
Today was Thursday, and Nyota had planned to meet with Sorel again. Spock had a faculty meeting this morning, so rather than translating ancient Vulcan poetry at Mira's, Nyota had invited the Romulan to the lab. She tried not to think about why she was so intent on keeping the two Vulcanoids apart. "Encourage him?" She smirked, content to watch Gaila in her element.
"Like I always say: you should never underestimate the power of a little cleavage on humanoids of the right persuasion." Gaila giggled and turned from haphazardly searching through Nyota's closet to give her an endearing grin.
"You say a lot of things, Gay." Nyota shook her head with a laugh, rising to join Gaila in the search.
My eyes thirst for you
Your cheeks, flushed and glistening
Your lips, swollen with desire
And as I drink your beauty like wine, you are a stream flowing through my parched desert.
"That's only the first stanza," Nyota murmured, stunned. She and Sorel had spent the past two hours translating several Old High Vulcan poems into Low Romulan, a surprisingly closely related language with which Nyota was more familiar. This was the first poem that was blatantly erotic.
"Emotions run deeply in the Vulcan race," Sorel commented.
Nyota raised an eyebrow. "This poem was written millennia ago. Aren't modern Vulcans above such things as lust?" As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she felt a twinge of guilt. It was speciesist of her, and she should know better - but the notion of lustful Vulcans sent her mind down a tempting and unwise path.
"Miss Uhura," Sorel said with his trademark smirk, "I think you'll find that Vulcans and Romulans share more in common than pointy ears and similar linguistic roots - even if Vulcans would never acknowledge it."
A wave of dangerous curiosity made her belly tighten.
A few minutes later, Sorel and Nyota had translated the second stanza, and Sorel read aloud in Romulan.
"My skin hums for you
Your legs like li'pon, dark and strong
Your hips curved and smooth as a lyre
Your elegant back, strung tightly with need"
Nyota tried not to let her imagination run wild with thoughts of long Vulcan fingers.
Sorel read on: "I pluck cries from you with my body; my hands play music down your sides - isn't that exquisite?"
Nyota's mouth was too dry to speak, so she merely nodded and took a gulp of lukewarm tea. Spock's entrance did not help her to restrain her imagination.
"Commander Spock," Sorel greeted. "I hope the meeting went well."
"Indeed it did," Spock said tersely, staring coldly at Sorel. The second hand on the wall clock ticked sharply as Nyota watched the two men.
Finally, Sorel cleared his throat, breaking the stalemate. "Miss Uhura." He rose from his seat at the table. "Why don't we pick this up later? I don't want to take up more of your time this morning."
"So soon?" Nyota asked, both disappointed to see him go and relieved that she didn't have to endure more of this uncomfortable atmosphere.
"I'm afraid so." He gave a tight, lopsided smile.
She rose to walk him out of the lab, feeling a surge of warmth. "Thank you, Sorel."
"As I said, my pleasure." He looked like he was considering something. "Would you like to join me for dinner tonight? Don't feel you must - I really am enjoying the work."
Nyota glanced at Spock, who was apparently deeply engrossed in pressing matters on his PADD. She felt a stab of something she didn't want to name. "What did you have in mind?"
Sorel tossed her a grin. "Dinner, seven, at Fondue Cowboy?"
Sorel was easily as physically attractive as Spock was, and he liked her. She enjoyed his company. Why shouldn't she go out with him?
Realizing she still hadn't responded, she offered a smile. "Okay."
After Sorel left, a cautious glance at Spock revealed that he was impassively reading his emails at his desk monitor. She began cataloguing the translations, waiting for him to speak.
"I was correct in my suspicion of the Romulan's romantic interest," Spock said finally.
He had been paying attention. Why would he pretend otherwise? "You dislike him," she accused.
"I do not dislike him, Cadet," he said calmly. "I have no opinion regarding him."
Nyota snorted at the obvious lie. It was clear to her that Spock was still annoyed about her evening at the Stardust, which was ridiculous. She shut down her PADD, leveling an unseen glare at him. "I'm gonna grab some lunch," she said, watching for a reaction from him.
Spock said nothing, and if he was put out at her tone, he didn't show it.
His silence hurt more than it should have.
Nyota stared into her mocha, Mira across from her. "I tried to convince myself that it was just a harmless crush," she murmured numbly. She couldn't remember when her feelings had progressed past harmless, but she was far past that now.
"Feh!" Mira scoffed. Nyota looked up in surprise. "A girl like you? If he doesn't love you back, he's not like any man I've ever met."
Mira had an uncanny ability to cut to the heart of things.
Yes, Nyota was in love with Spock. She had never allowed herself to think that word before now, but what other word could there be?
Sexy, funny, brilliant Spock: half-Vulcan and completely Vulcan, and human when you least expected. He was difficult to pin down, impossible to define in simple terms.
And because of who he was, he didn't love her back. Couldn't love her back. It wasn't in his nature.
Mira touched her arm, and Nyota covered the older woman's hand with her own. "There are plenty of stars in the sky," Mira said softly.
Nyota blinked back her tears. She knew that.
That night at Fondue Cowboy, conversation came more easily than she'd expected. Sorel made her laugh, and the wine was lush and sweet.
She did not allow herself to think of Spock. Sorel brought up jazz, and she held back an anecdote about improvisation on the Vulcan lyre. They discovered a shared fondness for sweet potatoes; she did not ask if he had ever tried plomeek soup.
After dinner Sorel suggested they try the balsamic strawberry ice cream at Tosci's a few blocks away, and Nyota obliged him. Waffle cones in hand, they explored a secluded area of a nearby park, a small garden filled with non-Terran plants. Nyota bent to smell a luminescent Cardassian Star Lace, and when she stood, Sorel's eyes were on her.
She took his hand on the walk back. A few meters away from her dormitory, she tugged them to a stop on a quiet sidewalk nestled between two old academic buildings. A moment of tension hung in the air. Sorel stepped forward and cupped her chin. Then, deliberately, he closed the gap and pressed a raw kiss to her mouth. Nyota squeezed her eyes shut and yanked him closer. She grabbed his hips, and his hands slid up her ribcage as he kissed from her mouth along her jaw to her neck.
She brushed her fingertips over the points of his ears, and in response his hand closed around the bare skin of her arm.
Long fingers, hot and strong...
She stiffened and her eyes flew open. Sorel pulled away raised his left eyebrow in a silent question.
Nyota had a sudden need to be far away from hot skin and pointed ears and upswept eyebrows.
"I'm sorry," she said hurriedly in Standard. And then, in Vulcan, "I will see you tomorrow."
Gaila could barely contain herself. "Oh my goddess. You smell like fox again! You know you could have kicked me out, right?"
When Nyota didn't respond, Gaila frowned. "Ny, what's wrong?"
"Gaila… what am I doing?" She slipped off her heels.
"What do you mean? Sorel is sexy, and you smell like you like him, and he has delicious pointy ears."
"Not Sorel. Spock." She peeled her sweater over her head and unzipped her skirt. "I can't be around him, Gaila."
"What do you mean?" Gaila asked, confused. She sat up on her knees on the bed.
Nyota went to her dresser, trying to keep herself in check. "Have you seen my pajamas?" she asked a little desperately, suddenly needing to focus on something practical and uncomplicated. "Because I think maybe I dropped them into the laundry receptacle this morning by accident."
"Spock's your friend, right?" Gaila pressed on, coming to help look. "Which thing are we? I still get confused sometimes about which labels involve monogamy and which involve mating."
Nyota flung aside bras and camisoles, feeling the pressure build in her throat, her nostrils flaring.
"Friends are what Terrans call people who love each other but don't pair-bond, right?"
An almost silent sob escaped, but Gaila noticed. "Leaflet!" She was there immediately. She guided Nyota over to sit on her bed, kissing her softly on the lips before going to her own closet and returning with a pair of lavender silk pajamas. "I wear these when I don't have someone over," she said, setting them down and scooping Nyota into a hug.
"When do you not have someone over?" Nyota joked through tears. She buried her face in red curls.
Gaila stroked her hair, humming an Orion lullaby, and Nyota was wrapped in the scents of grapefruit, vanilla, and freshly cut grass.
Chapter 5: Light and Shadow
Thanks to my incredible beta Paula (vampirealchemist13) and my friend Leo. I couldn't have done this without them!
Last edited: 05/13/13
That night, thoughts of Nyota with the Romulan consumed Spock - the other man touching her skin, tasting her lips, feeling her cool body molded against his. Had he slid her clothing from her? Had he claimed her?
It is of no consequence, Spock repeated for the seventeenth time. He unclenched his muscle groups one by one, then seated himself in front of his asenoi. After several hours of meditation, he had regained enough control of his thoughts to sleep.
Spock's efforts were undone by his subconscious.
He found himself in the school of his childhood, face to face with the Romulan.
With a savage yell, he knocked his rival into a learning pit. Straddling the Romulan's chest, Spock beat him brutally, relishing the sticky heat of green blood under each strike. He felt the Romulan's left cheekbone snap under his final blow.
Then Nyota was with him in the pit, naked and glorious, her hair spilling down to her waist. Spock forced his rival to watch as he lifted her with one arm against the curved wall of the pit. With one smooth thrust he claimed her, her legs around his waist and her rough moans urging him deeper into her cool wetness. Her mind cried out for him. Thrusting wildly, he grasped a handful of her hair and tilted her head back, biting her neck to mark her as his mate.
Spock awoke damp with sweat and filled with shame.
Several more hours of meditation allowed him to suppress the images, but the shame remained even as he readied himself for the day. When Nyota entered his office almost an hour earlier than usual, he was unprepared.
"Commander, may we talk?" she said in the voice from his dreams.
"Certainly, Cadet," Spock said, motioning for Nyota to sit. "What is the topic?"
Nyota remained standing and steeled herself. "I must resign as your aide." Spock raised both eyebrows, and quickly she continued. "I can recommend a qualified replacement for this spring, should you require one."
Spock blinked twice. "Cadet, this is short notice." It was unusual for him to state the obvious this way.
Nyota forced herself to breathe. "I apologize for not informing you sooner." This was the right choice. She had waited too long already.
"Please explain," Spock said, his tone intense and his eye contact unwavering.
Nyota was taken aback. She had expected calm logic. Why was he reacting so strongly?
No, she told herself firmly. Stop.
When it concerned Spock's emotions, her overactive imagination had led her down a treacherous path, a path she had to end. "I must resign for personal reasons, Commander."
Spock softened. Hesitantly, he said, "I understand that human friends discuss personal problems in order to provide emotional support to one another. I consider you to be my friend."
Friend. "Friends are what Terrans call people who love each other but don't pair-bond, right?" Gaila had never understood the different kinds of human love. She gave the same kind of love to everyone she was close to.
Nyota could not say the same. "I... I'm sorry, Spock. This decision... impacts the non-professional aspects of our relationship, as well," she said softly.
Spock took in a small breath, a deep crease forming in his brow. "Have I made some... error?"
Nyota's eyes prickled, and she blinked several times in rapid succession. She shook her head. "It's nothing you've done, Spock."
Nyota's eyes began to glisten, and Spock felt a pang of fear.
"You are crying," he said. He was acutely aware that he was stating the obvious for the second time in as many minutes.
"Spock." Nyota took a shaky breath and met his eyes. "I have realized that my personal feelings prevent me from continuing our friendship."
Spock's side tightened painfully, and he almost missed the implications of her phrasing. Personal feelings. His breath caught in his throat. "To what feelings do you refer?"
Nyota bit her lip. For 9.7 seconds she did not look at him.
Then her dark eyes met his, and Spock found he could not breathe.
"I'm in love with you," Nyota said.
Spock's heart pounded in his side. Against his will, possibilities flashed through his mind.
Nyota waking with her hair splayed across his chest, her skin glowing in the morning sunlight.
Her voice and his ka'athyra filling their home with music.
Their minds, one and together, touching and touched. His longing reciprocated. Shame replaced with joy.
A little girl with caramel skin and pointed ears, smiling in his arms.
A fresh wave of fear rushed through him.
Nyota understood him better than any other with whom he had not shared a bond. She accepted him for who he was and challenged him when he fell short of his ideals. She was intelligent, strong, and worthy of respect. She had the power so few did to make him emotionally compromised.
She was everything he could not allow himself to want. These feelings were dangerous. Nyota had made the decision he had been too weak to make.
She was waiting for a response from him. Spock willed himself to remain impassive - to remain Vulcan. He called his shame to the forefront, forcing out everything else. "Please forward me a list of qualified replacements by the end of the weekend," he said with none of the emotion he felt.
Nyota nodded, her lips trembling. She squeezed her eyes shut and turned on her heel.
She was gone before Spock remembered to breathe.
Chapter 6: Reminders
Thanks, also, to my beta Paula (vampirealchemist13), to Tony and Rotem (who helped edit the Vulcan poem), and to Leo (who roleplayed the Amanda and Spock conversation with me to help my writer's block a couple of months back).
Last edited: 05/13/2013
Somehow Nyota had made it through the weekend.
On a normal Monday afternoon, she would be in the lab. During term she might be finishing a reading assignment, editing a paper, or working with Spock on translations.
Nyota had often told herself (and a certain nosy Orion) that she liked Spock's lab because it was quieter than the library. In truth, she had gone there because she enjoyed his company, whether they were working together or separately.
Now, having severed all ties except for this research paper - now their final collaboration - Nyota was working as much as possible away from the lab. This afternoon she sat in the library in a secluded corner, watching heavy raindrops blur the air outside the towering windows.
To make matters worse, Sorel would be here any moment. Given this weekend's emotional distraction, his corrections of her work would be necessary, but the last time Nyota had seen him had been when she'd so abruptly excused herself from their date.
Right on time, her Romulan friend took the seat across from her and handed her a mocha. "Good afternoon, Miss Uhura," he said warmly.
Nyota accepted the mug and met his eyes. "Thank you," she said gratefully.
It appeared she hadn't lost another friend after all.
In half an hour their translation of the erotic poem from Friday morning, the words that had been swimming through Nyota's mind for days, was nearly complete.
My eyes thirst for you
Your cheeks, flushed and glistening
Your lips, swollen with desire
And as I drink your beauty like wine, you are a stream flowing through my parched desert.
My skin hums for you
Your legs like li'pon, dark and strong
Your hips curved and smooth as a lyre
Your elegant back, strung tightly with need
I pluck cries from you with my body; my hands play music down your sides
Nyota bit her lip, trying not to imagine pointy ears and even harder not to think which face should belong with them.
My heart burns for yours, t'hy'la
My fingers kiss your face like flames
We meld like golden sand poured into a boiling sea
We are together, one soul subsumed by the rapture of-
Nyota's stomach twisted. Again, she had to remind herself to breathe to avoid throwing up.
We are together, one soul subsumed by the rapture of love.
Sorel seemed to read her mind. "Enlightening, no? Vulcans would have you believe they aren't capable of love, but they're more similar to Romulans than they care to admit."
Spock didn't love her. This she knew. This he had made clear with his cold, humiliating dismissal of her feelings three days ago.
Until now, Nyota had believed that Vulcans were incapable of romantic love. She had assumed that as a half-Vulcan who chose to follow the Vulcan path, Spock was unable to fall in love.
Now that she was confronted with her mistaken belief about Vulcan emotions, her assumption about her friend made her sick.
Wasn't it possible that Spock was capable of romantic love, and that he simply didn't love her?
It was so obvious that she was ashamed to have missed it.
"You all right, Miss Uhura?"
Her instinct was to reply with a breezy 'of course,' but something in his expression stopped her. She looked down at her PADD and shook her head.
Sorel slid into the chair next to her. "I want to tell you a story, Miss Uhura."
She looked at him in surprise. She'd expected him to ask what was wrong.
Somehow he seemed to know she didn't want to talk about it. He looked out the window into the rain. For a long moment he was silent.
"Palas was my wife. She was the love of my life."
He said this with the rehearsed detachment of someone who has seen tragedy and cannot bear to keep it close.
"She had a rare genetic abnormality, something that could have been fixed before birth had it been discovered. The doctors didn't find it until she fell ill." His voice cracked.
Nyota touched Sorel's hand. He turned his palm over and squeezed her fingers gratefully.
"We can reach other planets faster than photons can, but there was nothing our doctors could do for my wife."
A moment of silence settled over them. "Let her memory be light," Nyota said in Rihannsu.
"I thank you," Sorel replied.
Nyota brushed her thumb over the back of his hand.
"I left Romulus. I couldn't stand to be reminded of her." Sorel's lips twitched into a humorless smile. "There's no running from memories." He drew in a thoughtful breath and looked at her. "Miss Uhura, I like you."
Nyota couldn't help but smile, and Sorel returned her expression.
"I like the sound of your laugh," he said. "I like the way your eyes glitter when you talk about Enterprise." He lifted his other hand and touched her hair, and she watched a loose piece slide between his fingers. "I like how your ponytail swings like a pendulum when you strut down a corridor.
"So many things about you are beautiful in their own right." He released her hand. "And you're all the more lovely because you remind me of Palas."
She blinked again.
And she found... she was relieved.
Why had she laughed with Sorel at the Stardust?
Why had she let him kiss her against the architecture building?
It wasn't just because she liked him, though she did. They both knew it wasn't just that; they'd known that from the night they'd met.
They were silent for a moment more.
"You love him," Sorel said simply.
Nyota nodded slightly. What was the point in denying it, now that she had cut herself off from him? For the first time since she and Sorel had met, she dropped her guard completely. "I'm just… I'm not doing so well today," she admitted.
Sorel squeezed her hand in return. "Let me know if I can do anything," he said, and she knew he meant it. "A hug." Then he smirked. "Or sex. I told you, you're lovely."
She laughed genuinely and embraced him.
"I expected you wouldn't go for sex in the library," he said, returning the hug.
They could bring each other comfort, at least. Nyota only wished it was enough.
"You're two minutes early, Spock."
Spock always appreciated his mother's gentle teasing. "Good evening, Mother."
"Did you get the yon-savas we sent with your Uncle John?" Fire fruit were among Spock's favorite foods, and they did not grow well on Earth. "We had an excellent season this year."
"Indeed," Spock confirmed. Then, as an afterthought even after all these years with a human mother, he added, "Thank you."
Amanda was silent for a few moments longer than normal, and Spock waited for the inevitable question.
"What's wrong?" She had always been able to read him despite his best efforts.
"'Wrong' is imprecise, Mother," Spock replied. "However-" He pursed his lips, trying to determine how best to phrase his emotional state. "Work has been... difficult of late."
"Is this about that quantum field project of yours? I thought you and that nice Russian boy had that one figured out." She smiled. "You're not going to try explaining it to me again, are you?"
Spock allowed his lips to quirk slightly. "I have more sympathy than that, mother."
Amanda laughed lightly at the joke. She and Nyota were among the few who understood his sense of humor - and at the thought of Nyota, Spock swallowed around a lump in his throat.
A lump in his throat. Recently Spock had come to understood certain human metaphors for which there seemed to be no accurate semantic substitutes.
"I had mentioned my aide. Do you recall?"
Amanda nodded. "You seemed impressed with her... efficiency," she said with an impish grin. When Spock did not elaborate, she prompted him. "Are you having problems with your research?"
"To describe the situation as such would be inaccurate." Truly, Spock and Nyota were having no problems conducting research over messages. The problem, he thought with a flush of shame, was his own emotional response to her absence. "She has resigned."
Amanda frowned. "You seemed fond of her. I'm sorry." Then, gently, she said, "I'm sure Miss Uhura is busy preparing to graduate. Perhaps she'll be able to help you more once this semester is over."
"It is winter here, Mother," he reminded her. "Autumn term has ended, and Spring term will begin next week. Regardless, I do not think Nyota will be returning as my aide - or otherwise."
She lifted her eyebrows. "Otherwise?"
The pain under Spock's ribs had returned. "Nyota has... terminated our friendship."
Amanda's face fell. "What happened, honey?"
Spock pressed his left hand into his side. It did not dull the ache. "Nyota confessed romantic feelings for me," he said, attempting to keep the tremor from his voice. "When I did not respond in kind, she departed."
"Spock," Amanda said.
It was a full sentence, not the beginning of one. Amanda seemed sad, and Spock was unsure whom for. "Mother, I am Vulcan," he reminded her. "I cannot ignore what this means." It had been his mantra for as long as he could remember.
She met his eyes through the vidscreen. "I never want you to compromise who you are, Spock. I love every inch of you," she said with conviction. "I just hope someday you'll learn to accept all of who you are - and what you feel." She looked wistful.
Spock felt a sudden surge of warmth for his mother. "In a nearby park I have recently observed a bioluminescent flower that I think you would enjoy," he told her. "Shall I send a few specimens to modify for growth on Vulcan?"
Spock was gratified to see Amanda smile. "I would like that," she replied, in the light tone that meant she would not press him further about Nyota. "Now, tell me about this computer error you mentioned last week."
Spock wished his mother were here. Uncharacteristically for him, he would have welcomed a hug from her.
Chapter 7: Contrast
Thanks as always to my beloved beta Paula (vampirealchemist13) and to Leo, whose last-minute edits helped me polish this up.
Last edited: 05/13/2013
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Spock's new aide for the spring term was a third-year cadet named Leila Kalomi. She was a botany student minoring in linguistics, and she had readily agreed to assist him with Advanced Phonology, replacing Nyota.
Succeeding Nyota, Spock corrected himself.
"Commander," Cadet Kalomi said, looking down at her PADD. "I've finished grading this week's Andorian transcription assignments." Nyota had recommended Cadet Kalomi for her exceptional work ethic and attention to detail, qualities that Spock valued.
"Thank you, Cadet," Spock said curtly. "You may begin grading the quizzes."
Miss Kalomi made eye contact for approximately .6 seconds before biting her lip and returning to work.
Spock found it inevitable, even logical, that he would compare his new aide to his former aide. Though Nyota was the best student Spock had ever taught, Cadet Kalomi was also near the top of her class and had earned high marks in Advanced Phonology as taught in autumn 2256 by Professor Arturo.
Cadet Kalomi was more than qualified to assist with the course. Despite the cadet's obvious competence, however, the dull ache under Spock's ribs refused to subside. He missed the precision and grace of Nyota's speech as she easily replicated complex xenophonemes. He missed the way her tongue would dart out to wet her top lip while she graded papers. He missed her habit of absently humming choral pieces while they walked to lunch together.
He loved Nyota's wit, her beautiful determination, her ability and willingness to debate him point for point (occasionally even pointing out a flaw in his logic)...
Truly, she was irreplaceable.
Cadet Kalomi had so far heeded his orders with shyly averted eyes and small smiles. Spock appreciated that Miss Kalomi's quiet nature did not distract from his work, but he found himself yearning for Nyota's lively company.
Logic no longer offered Spock the serenity it had before. Nyota had made him happy for the first time in his life, and he could not be satisfied with mere consolation.
In her absence his efficiency had decreased by fifteen percent. Allowing this inefficiency to continue would be illogical.
Nyota sat on her bed finishing her Advanced Andorian homework for the coming Thursday. It was only Sunday afternoon, but with her extra time now that she was no longer Spock's aide, Nyota had been able to throw herself wholeheartedly into her schoolwork.
Gaila, as always, heard the needs she couldn't voice. She'd left a note telling Nyota that she'd gone grocery shopping in the city, which Nyota knew would mean the ingredients for Nyota's favorite dishes from home.
The door chimed. "Forget your key, Gay?" she called.
"May I enter?" said a masculine voice over the comm.
Nyota's heart pounded instinctively, and she tried to calm her breathing. Why had he come here? They were able to conduct their research perfectly adequately over messages.
She realized he was still waiting for her response. At a loss, she palmed open the door.
Spock's face might have seemed stoic to someone who didn't know him, but Nyota was surprised to note a small crease in his forehead and a slight downturn of his lips.
Her anger returned all at once.
'Please forward me a list of qualified replacements by the end of the weekend.'
After how cold he'd been, he had no right to miss her.
"Permission to speak freely, Commander?" she said bitterly.
Spock nodded, an unfamiliar expression on his face.
"Who do you think you are?" she demanded in a quiet voice.
Regret flit over his features. "I have made a mistake," he said.
"Damn right you have," she snapped. She expected him to leave then, but he didn't.
"I was not referring to my decision to come here," he clarified.
Not that it mattered. She stared him down. "What could you possibly have to say to me?"
"Nyota," he said in a soft voice. "I find your absence most unpleasant."
She stared him down. She refused to let herself feel sorry for him. "You know, I never would have imagined you could be so cruel. I didn't expect you to return my feelings, but you didn't even acknowledge me," she spat. "How's Leila working out for you? I hope she doesn't fall for you, too."
"Nyota," Spock said hesitantly. "I miss you greatly. I do not wish to..." He pursed his lips. "I do not wish to lose you."
She shook her head. This was over. Her decision to cut off all unnecessary contact had been healthy for her. His cold reaction two weeks ago had only confirmed that.
Spock drew in a sharp breath, as if she had punched him. He looked stricken. "Regardless, I... Nyota, I find that words are inadequate. Please. Let me show you." He extended two long fingers between them, pleading with her.
Nyota had never seen him so vulnerable. Her resolve weakened.
Slowly, she brought her fingers up and touched them to his.
Immediately, painful loss washed into her mind like freezing water. She jerked her fingers away in shock and clutched at her right side, choking for air.
"I apologize," Spock said quickly. "I miscalculated how much I should shield my emotions."
It took Nyota a moment to realize what he was telling her. She looked at him. "Are you saying that wasn't all of it?"
Spock swallowed. "It was not," he confirmed. He seemed... ashamed.
Why would he be ashamed?
"Show me the rest of it," Nyota said. Slowly, she reached for his hand, and when he did not pull away, she took his fingers and placed them against her temple. More gently, she repeated, "Show me."
Spock searched her eyes. "If you are certain..."
"Please," she confirmed.
After a long moment, he said cautiously, "A mind meld is a deeply private exchange."
Nyota nodded her understanding and stepped aside to allow him into her room, palming the door shut behind him.
Slowly, giving her time to change her mind, Spock replaced his fingers on her meld points.
"My mind to your mind."
My thoughts to your thoughts.
A painfully cold wave of loss slammed into her, knocking her over.
Spock caught her as she fell. His fingers were hot against the bare skin of her arm, and a torrent of emotion swirled around them.
All at once Nyota was submerged in dark water that bubbled as if alive. It was black and red-orange like melted metal, swirling around her and inside her. It filled the deepest corners of both their minds.
She could not breathe.
This is Vulcan love, one of them thought.
Spock's fear and shame swirled around them like grit. He forced them aside, but she felt how much he was sacrificing to show her this.
Nyota felt his tenderness as he held her close. She opened her eyes in her room and realized that she was crying. "How were you able to hide this?"
"In the end," Spock said, "I could not bear to."
A sob came from her throat. She projected joy through their contact to reassure him.
"Your happiness would seem to imply that you have accepted my apology," he said tentatively.
Nyota smiled through her tears and nodded. "Next time, just do that instead of staying quiet, okay?" She stepped fully into him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders from underneath.
Spock drew her close, inhaling deeply. Nyota leaned back slightly to look at him, and he held her eyes for a moment. They came together without hesitation. Spock's arm slipped around her waist as he deepened the kiss, and with his free hand he cupped her face. They fit like she'd always known they would.
"I've wanted to do this," she said between kisses, "for three years." She brushed her thumb over his cheek and was astonished to feel a dimple form.
"So have I," Spock said, grinning against her lips.
In this chapter, I based Nyota's strong reactions on her characterization from the film, and I hope that came across.
For those of you who didn't catch the canon reference, Leila Kalomi is from a wonderfully Spock-centric episode of The Original Series called "This Side of Paradise." When I was first writing this fic, I watched many Spock-centric episodes to help me get into his head. Spock's relationship with Leila made me wonder why Spock Prime had been able to resist Leila in the prime timeline while alternate Spock was unable to resist Nyota in what I imagine to be a very similar situation.
If you've seen the episode, please let me know what you think of my take on Leila/Spock!
Chapter 8: Freedom
Thanks as always to my beta Paula (vampirealchemist13). This chapter I also had editing help from Leo and Rick.
I want to give a special thanks to NotesFromAClassroom - this chapter includes a line of poetry taken with permission from her epic Spock/Uhura fic "What We Think We Know." Notes is a pro, and I couldn't recommend her work more highly, especially this fic: http://fanfiction.net/s/6290860/ You can find some of her work here on AO3, too: http://archiveofourown.org/users/Notesfromaclassroom/
Last edited: 05/13/13
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
As Nyota entered the lab, Spock rose from his chair and handed her an eggplant panini with a glint in his eyes that Nyota had come to think of as a Vulcan smile. His fingers casually brushed hers as she handed him his tea, and she felt a spark of amusement through his skin.
The irrational part of her, the part that had worried that even after his confession yesterday he might shut her out again, was silenced by the casual touch of his mind.
"Shall we begin..." He quirked an eyebrow. "...Nyota?"
She smiled, and they sat at the round table as Nyota pulled up the next text on her PADD - a poem from the S'lan Period. Spock had translated the first two lines.
I am drawn to you against my will.
I ravish you in my dreams.
"I'm leaving," Sorel said.
Nyota blinked in surprise. She lifted her eyes from their work. "What did you say?"
He looked out the library window. "San Francisco has lost its charm for me," he admitted with a smirk on his lips, leaning back in his chair.
"You can't be you serious," she said. But despite his capricious tone, he seemed not to be joking about the subject matter.
"San Francisco is perpetually charming - as are you, Miss Uhura."
Skipping over the compliment, she frowned. "Then why?"
"Don't be so upset." He chuckled. "I've finally decided to enlist in Starfleet."
Warmth filled her as she remembered something he had told her long ago. "You're kidding," she said, hoping he was serious.
He shook his head. "They're sending me to a training facility on Mars. It's time for something new." He seemed softer - calm in a way she hadn't seen in him before. "Who knows? Maybe you could pull some strings - get me assigned to Enterprise scrubbing plasma ducts." He winked at her.
Nyota smiled brightly.
"If you ever feel like practicing your Rihannsu..."
"I'll look you up," she promised.
Where would she be had she chosen a different bar companion that night?
On impulse, she pressed a kiss to Sorel's cheek. "I'm going to miss you-" She laughed again. "-am I repeating myself?"
"You'll forget me the moment you leave atmo," he deadpanned.
She bit her lip and said slowly, "When do you ship out?"
"That's not much time."
"It's enough time to finish this research paper," he assured her with a smirk. "And plenty of time for ice cream, at Tosci's"
Taking the hint and reluctant to dwell on future goodbyes, Nyota packed up her PADD and slung her bag over her shoulder like the intrepid explorer she dreamed of being. "Let's go," she said with a grin.
That night, Spock and Nyota met at her favorite African fusion restaurant off campus, a cozy place where they could relax away from prying eyes.
Since he had instructed her in Intermediate Vulcan three years ago, a segment of the Academy rumor mill - curious about her presence at office hours despite her high scores and astonished that she had the nerve to challenge him during class - had buzzed with questions about the true nature of their relationship.
As Spock was no longer Nyota's instructor or supervisor, their changed relationship was well within regulations, but with a position on the Enterprise dangling before her like an almost-ripe fruit, she agreed with his suggestion that they remain discreet for the time being.
Spock was dressed in a green turtleneck and black trousers that hugged his elegant body. Something about seeing him out of uniform, away from the context of the Academy, had always felt intimate. She no longer had to hide her feelings about that.
Nyota was surprised at how effortless it felt to be with him this way. They had been playing roles before, she reflected. Now they were free, unconstrained by their old script.
Over dinner they talked about personal topics, and for the first time she did not have to hold back comments that might reveal her feelings. She told him about falling off her horse during showjumping championships. She laughed about an anonymous love note she'd left on her first-grade crush's desk.
In return, Spock told her stories of his own childhood, including his near-death experience during his kahs-wan - the Vulcan coming of age ritual - and his rescue at the hands of an older cousin.
Nyota talked about Africa and the songs of her childhood, and Spock invited her to an upcoming xenocultural choral concert in the city.
She did not notice how long they had talked until the restaurant officially closed and Spock suggested they continue their conversation at his apartment.
Nyota had been to Spock's apartment a few times in their two years of friendship. He had cooked for her sometimes, and they had spent hours talking about music theory and engineering, chemistry and linguistics. They had always been hungry for knowledge and eager to share with each other.
As Spock entered his access code with his right hand, the fingers of his left hand brushed the inside of her wrist, drawing tight, deliberate circles. They entered, and he waited until the door shut behind them before stepping close to her from behind, keeping his hold on her arm.
He breathed her in.
"I thought we were going to continue our conversation," she said with mild amusement.
His fingers were hot on the bare skin of her arm. She felt his consciousness tingling at the edge of her mind and projected an image of herself in stilletos, falling.
He drew in a sharp breath and slid an arm around her waist from behind, closing the distance between them. "Is that your wish?" he breathed into her ear.
Nyota turned in his arms and brushed her fingers from his hipbones up to his jawline. Spock kissed her fiercely.
When she rolled the tips of his ears between thumb and forefinger, he nipped her bottom lip, and a deep vibration of pleasure - almost like a purr - came from his chest. Fascinating.
Spock's pleasure and hers combined in her mind, transmitted through their skin, until she lost track of which sensations came from whom.
For a few minutes they were happy just to explore each other, but soon the depth of their emotions took them over, and they were overwhelmed with the need for more skin on skin. Spock slid one hand up her leg to her bare hip as he lowered the zipper of her gold dress with the other. She sighed into his mouth, and her breath caught when he sucked and licked the skin just below her ear.
The dress dropped to the floor.
More, one of them thought, and they were suddenly desperate to shed their remaining clothing.
The moments blended one into another: Her cool palm stroking him. His hands cupping her breasts. Her long leg hooking around his hip. His hot fingers curving deep inside her.
He paused to touch her temple, and her entire being cried out her certainty that this was what she desired.
Slipping his fingers from her he lifted her easily against the wall. She wrapped both legs around him, and then he was sliding into her, his fingers on her face, filling her body and mind completely.
Hours later, she fell asleep with him still inside her, and he slept for almost an hour beneath her cool body. Later that night, they awoke and made love again.
When Spock opened his eyes several hours later to see the sunlight streaming through Nyota's eyelashes, he felt peace settle over him for the first time in months.
"Ny," Gaila said from her bed. "You're wearing the same clothes as last night, and you smell like a vulpine."
Nyota smirked. "An unnecessary synonym."
"You've been so sexual lately that I was getting tired of saying 'fox.'" Gaila grinned as she rolled onto her side, propping head up on her elbow. "Proud of you. I'd hug you if I weren't so sleepy."
"You don't have to move to hug me," Nyota said, curling up next to Gaila.
"Not fair! Smelling him on you makes me want a Vulcan even more!" Gaila giggled. "Sorry, did I say 'on you'?"
Nyota reached over and smacked her friend playfully. Gaila flopped half on top of her, a mass of curls tickling her neck as the Orion hugged her tightly.
"You know," Gaila looked up at her, resting her chin on Nyota's chest. "If it weren't for me, you'd never have met Sorel. Therefore, you wouldn't have gotten all sad and blurted out your feelings for Spock. And he wouldn't have realized how much his life would suck without you and given you VIP access to his head to show you his undying love. So if it weren't for me..." She let the moment hang in the air. "-you never would have just banged Spock." She grinned excitedly.
Nyota smiled and gave a happy sigh. "I need a shower."
"You're welcome," Gaila called after her, rolling onto her back. "I've memorized the Vulcan smell for future use in my fantasies. You're free to go."
As Nyota turned on the shower, she heard her friend pipe up thoughtfully.
"Do you think a Romulan would smell that good on me?"
There it is. The final chapter. The culmination of many months of writing and countless hours of editing.
Sometimes these characters surprised me. I really enjoyed the ride. I hope you did, too!
Please leave a review if you got this far. I'd love to hear from you.
All my light,