Nyota Uhura had never believed in Prince Charming. When she was little, she read those fairy tales, and she knew there was something wrong with them. It seemed ridiculous for a girl to wait for a guy to come along to fulfill her dreams, and feel happy just because the guy existed. Her mother had once told her ‘a woman makes her own happiness’, and Nyota agreed.
She wouldn't be like those silly girls in fairly tales. She wouldn't wait for a Prince to make her dreams come true. She had dreams besides marriage and children. Even though society had evolved and a woman’s role was her choice, she looked around and she saw the same goal in every female classmate she had: find Prince Charming.
Well, not her. She had a lot of dreams, and none of them included a man by her side. “You will change your mind when you fall in love,” her grandmother used to say, smiling kindly. She was sure that she wouldn't. Love couldn't control you unless you chose to let it, and she had made up her mind: love would never control her.
Losing her grandmother was hard on Nyota. She admired her deeply; the older woman was very intelligent and always advised her. She felt like a small part of her had died as well and, as she watched the casket disappearing from sight, she sobbed quietly, thinking of how hard life would be now without her grandma.
“Nyota,” her mother said with resignation, “remember the story your grandmother told you? The one about souls sending messages through the wind?”
“Yes,” she said, trying to sound calm. She was four when her grandmother told her that if you listen closely to the wind, you can hear the ‘goodbyes’ souls give before going to a better place. She was seven now, and too old to believe in that.
“Maybe your grandmother is saying goodbye right now… She has to go to a better place, you know this is something bound to happen to every living thing. Death is as natural as breathing.”
Sometimes people said that her mother treated Nyota too much like an adult. She liked it; her mother always told the truth but also let her be a child. Protecting children shouldn't mean lying to them, and she knew her mother was right. Death was, as ironic as it sounded, part of life.
As she grew up, Nyota became aware that communication was an art. Nobody really knew how to use language correctly, and sometimes body language spoke louder than words. Like her mother, saying she wasn't sad while her eyes looked cloudy, or when she said she wasn't angry, but her posture was rigid. She learned how to combine every communication channel to interpret messages. She started looking up what could she could do with this skill which, according to her mother, was rare.
That was how she read all about Starfleet. She liked discipline and control, and thought there was nothing else that could give her a sense of belonging like that place. It also could help with her goal of seeing more of the universe than just Earth. While all the girls around her planned their lives around having a Prince Charming next to them and being mothers, she started planning her life around Starfleet and how she could be the first female Captain in the fleet.
“Mother, I know what I want to do when I grow up,” Nyota announced solemnly during ‘knitting time’ (she hated that, but her mother often used guilt to trap her for an hour of just staring the unfinished sweater she started when she was 10).
“I'll enlist in Starfleet.”
“I see.” This got her attention. She looked at Nyota calmly. “And why would you want to join a place like that?”
“It's perfect for me. Remember how granny used to say I wasn't an ordinary girl? Well, this proves it.” Nyota smiled.
“Yeah, I think she meant it in the ‘she doesn't like cooking like the rest of us’ sense, Nyota. You are only 16; you are far too young to think about this.”
“I can enlist when I turn 18.”
“You can also get married when you turn 18, that doesn't mean you'll do it.”
“Must you always question my decisions, mother?” Nyota sighed.
“I'm just saying you're still a child. Besides, don't you want a less… demanding career? You could be a good teacher, kids love you. Maybe settling down isn't as bad as you think.”
“Yeah, settling down has worked so well for you,” Nyota spat. As her mother raised her eyebrow, she immediately regretted it. Just because she didn't want the traditional role of a woman in this society didn't mean she had to judge the ones who chose that path.
Although she had a valid point; her mother could have done great things, but she settled for marriage. Her father was amazing, he was kind and noble, and probably exactly what a Prince Charming should be; but Nyota wanted more than a traditional life. She wanted to break boundaries and defy every stupid stereotype women still held.
“You should be thankful that I 'settled', as you call it,” her mother finally said. “Otherwise you wouldn't be here, being rude and narrow minded and judging this life without having any idea what it really involves.”
Yeah, that was an argument Nyota wasn't winning anytime soon. Apparently she had no idea what ‘settling’ involved since she hadn't experienced it; until she had a taste of what it was like, she couldn't form a valid opinion. Her grandmother and her mother agreed on something: Nyota was judgmental. When she thought things were right, she saw no reason beyond that, and she was stubborn.
There's more to life than black and white, Nyota. Her granny said this endlessly, yet Nyota disagreed. Either you did the right thing or you didn't; lying, cheating, hurting… no matter what the reason behind it, it was wrong. She had strong values, she wouldn't compromise her beliefs for anything. She didn't mind others judging her as well, being called a stuck up and proud girl was better than changing her morals just to make everyone around her comfortable.
She was a good person, and if nobody else saw it, too bad.
Nyota turned eighteen and her present was her application for Starfleet… delivered by her own mother.
“I thought you didn't approve of this.” Nyota was surprised.
“We raised you to be free and make your own choices, Nyota.” Her mother smiled. “I don't approve of your attitude, but it's who you are, and I'm sure you'll learn to open your mind in Starfleet.”
Nyota nodded. As long as she parted ways amicably with her mother, she didn't mind hearing how stubborn and proud she was one more time.
James Kirk was everything Nyota hated in a man. He was a good for nothing jackass who thought his pretty face meant he could hit on everything that moved; when she saw that actually intended to hit on her, she felt sorry for the poor idiot. Nyota was used to guys only seeing her for her looks; her breasts and legs called attention to her, but as soon as she spoke, guys ran away – they just wanted a pretty mannequin with no brains and, of course, no opinions whatsoever. She was resigned to the fact that she wouldn't find her Prince Charming mostly because he didn't even exist the way she wanted him. James Kirk had a tragic story behind him, but he was still a stupid hick who would probably marry a pretty, dumb girl and have a kid repeating the same pattern.
She was surprised when Kirk actually knew what her specialty was; he even sounded like he was familiar with the subject, which was astonishing since Nyota wouldn't have thought the guy could write his own name properly. Could it be that Kirk was obnoxious, but also smart? It wouldn't be the first time, she knew guys who were smart but preferred to take the easy road, one without effort and hard work. Unfortunately, Nyota had no opportunity to see if Kirk was smart but conformist, or stupid but pretending to be intelligent to get women in his bed. Giotto interrupted and, well… she no longer cared if Kirk got his ass kicked.
He'd probably done something to deserve it anyway. She was starting classes the next day, and Kirk would be in the past.
Or so she thought. A few days later she saw Kirk… in a cadet's uniform. Unbelievable; she was sure he hadn't done an exam or gone through the whole screening process like everyone else, he just used the ‘my father was a hero’ card and Pike fell for it. It was no secret that Pike and George Kirk had been friends, and Pike probably had a soft spot for Kirk. How was possible that Kirk got things so easily and yet she had to struggle to be here? It wasn't fair.
She was fuming when she entered her new assigned room for the next four years (three if everything went according to plan). She threw her schedule on the bed, still angry about the whole Kirk thing.
“Wow… careful there, honey.”
Nyota realized she wasn't alone in the room. Of course, every cadet had to share with a classmate; as she tried to smile to ease her mind off Kirk, she noticed her roommate. An Orion girl was smiling back widely.
“Um…” Nyota didn't expect to see an Orion in Starfleet, although she had read that a few of them joined after the liberation of the planet.
“I'm Gaila.” The girl extended her hand. “You know Orion was freed a while ago, right?”
“Of course,” Nyota squeaked. “I was just surprised… I… well…”
“You've never seen an Orion in person before. Yeah, I get it; I got stares from every guy I've crossed paths with since I got here.”
“It probably had more to do with your… um… uniform,” Nyota pointed out. That dress was too tight and short, probably wasn't even allowed under the regulations.
“You like it? I thought of making changes to the original. Don't worry, this is my campus uniform. I'll dress up for classes the way Starfleet wants, even when it's boring.”
Nyota frowned. This girl was every stereotype Nyota hated about her own gender; relying on her body to get what she wanted. Living with her for three to four years didn't bode well for either of them.
“So? Are you going to tell me your name or what?”
“Sorry… I'm Nyota Uhura… I'm specializing in linguistics.”
“Cool! Then you know how to use your tongue.” Nyota flushed; this girl was too bold. “I'm going for the engineering field, mostly programming. It's time for the boys to step back and let a woman do the job, don't you think?”
Okay, Nyota liked her a little bit more.
Gaila, contrary to what Nyota had thought at first, knew how to get what she wanted, even if she had to use her body and her Orion advantage to do it. Nyota disagreed with the method, but she admired Gaila for not caring and just doing what she wanted. This led to some hurtful comments about Gaila. And even though she and Nyota disagreed on almost everything, Nyota was starting to consider the Orion a friend; witnessing the gossip that surrounded her was hard.
“I just don't get it, Gaila.” Nyota tried to reason with her. “I mean… don't you care that everyone talks about you that way?”
“Why would I care?” Gaila shrugged.
“Well, it could make everyone get the wrong idea.”
“Like you did when you first met me?” Gaila laughed. “God, Nyota, you're so judgmental.”
“I am not!” Nyota defended herself. This was like listening to her mother all over again.
“Then why are you so worried about what people say?”
“I'm just worried about you, Gaila. I mean, after all you've been through…”
“You sound like Leonard McCoy.” Gaila shook her head. “You and him actually have something in common: You're both friends with the campus sluts.”
Nyota knew McCoy was rooming with James Kirk, and he also was his friend, or becoming his confessor or something. They were hardly ever apart, and McCoy got defensive if anyone said something negative about Kirk, despite the way the guy slept around.
“Please don't compare yourself with Kirk, Gaila,” Nyota snapped. “You are way better than him.”
“I still don't get why you hate Jimmy so much, Nyota.” Gaila looked at her with a frown. “He hasn't done anything to you so far, right?”
“So he's Jimmy now?” Nyota asked in a clipped tone. “Getting all cozy with that idiot?”
“Hey, just because you hate him doesn't mean I have to. He's cute, smart and funny, he could be a great Orion.”
“I'm sure he has potential to sleep around.” Nyota clapped her hands over her mouth quickly. “Dammit, sorry, Gaila. I didn't really mean it.”
“I'm not offended, Nyota. Do you think you're the only one who's said that to me? At least you're the first one to regret it.”
“Look, maybe if you turned down the whole… physical pleasure thing, people wouldn't talk about it so much.”
“Again, why would I do that? People will talk. Even if I wasn't an Orion, they'd still call me a slut. They believe what they want, without bothering to get the whole story. Just like you; if you think something is wrong, the circumstances don't matter, it will always be wrong. I admire that, but I don't agree.”
“I… I'm not that close minded, right?” Nyota heard the echo in Gaila's words, and everything her mother and grandmother had said came rushing to her mind.
“I wouldn't say ‘close minded’, but you are judgmental when you think you're right. You think I'm acting out because of my sad story, however, let me ask you something. Remember when you told me how your mother made you knit with her?”
“Yeah.” Nyota frowned, not getting where Gaila was going with this.
“Okay, she forced you to knit, and you did it for years without wanting to. Let's say that suddenly you discover you actually like knitting, only you didn't enjoy it because you were forced to do it. Would you stop doing something that you like now that you're free to do it without having someone coercing you?”
Nyota felt ashamed. She was judgmental, even though it was hard for her to admit it. She'd thought Gaila was using sexual relations as an escape from her past; it never occurred to her that Gaila actually enjoyed it. Probably because when people saw Orions, they only saw sex slaves who didn't feel or need things. People saw them as objects without considering their opinions and desires. And she was one of those people, but instead of just not considering Gaila's point of view, she'd made up one of her own for her. Nyota hated it when others put words in her mouth or thought for her, and she'd done the same to Gaila.
Just because she thought things were right it didn't mean everyone thought the same way. There's more to life than black and white. She finally got it and, as crude as it sounded, she now saw another color: green.
“I'm sorry, Gaila,” Nyota said sincerely.
“As long as you get it, it's okay,” Gaila smiled. “Look, I had to do things; awful, degrading things, but now I'm free, and if I want to sleep around and enjoy it, I have the right to. I'm no longer a slave, and you're lucky you've never known what it's like to have someone imprisoning you.”
Gaila was right, she didn't know what was like. Nevertheless, as she watched her friend chatting freely without judging others, she knew she had been imprisoned by someone worse: herself. Nyota didn't believe in destiny, but as she started seeing everything differently, she was grateful that she got the Orion as her roommate. She needed someone to push her out of her own mind and color her world.
Her friend brought wildness to her life and pushed boundaries between them. Sometimes Nyota backed up and understood, sometimes she drew the line and Gaila respected that. They both helped each other: Nyota learned to see things differently, Gaila learned to consider things more carefully before she jumped.
After her second year, she saw the elective in Vulcan language. She considered joining the class, but according to what she read, there was nothing like a Vulcan to teach the language, and as far as she was aware, no Vulcan was listed as an instructor. Learning from someone who wasn't a native would be disastrous; languages were butchered by atrocious pronunciation.
If she wanted to see someone butchering a language, she could just watch Jim Kirk get drunk every Saturday night. She and Gaila only disagreed strongly on one subject, and that was Kirk. Neither backed down. Gaila affirmed that Nyota was judging him without knowing him, and Nyota said Kirk didn't even try and never took things seriously. It got worse when Gaila actually started dating Kirk.
“I can't believe you are considering Kirk as something serious, Gaila,” Nyota chastised.
“Why? He's great in bed,” Gaila smirked.
“His only talent, apparently,” Nyota bit out.
“Okay, okay, I know you don't like him, but could you please at least tone down the insults? He's sort of my boyfriend.”
“Fine, fine… what elective are you taking?”
“I'm not sure, maybe simulator programming. You?”
“I wanted to take Vulcan language, but I'm not sure. To learn Vulcan… well, you should only learn from a Vulcan, so you can get it right.”
“And what's the problem? I'm sure that elective was implemented by Professor Spock.” Gaila laughed. “He's really stuck up, if you ask me. Vulcans are so cold.”
“What? There's a Vulcan professor at the Academy?” Nyota was shocked. She hadn't realized this; perhaps Gaila was right and she should listen to the campus gossip more often.
“Yeah; he's a loner, he eats in his office, he only comes out when necessary, and most of the students think he's a collective hallucination since nobody notices him. I only met him because I took one of his classes. He's a real hardass. I almost quit, but at least I got a decent grade.”
“Let me guess, he didn't fall for your charms.”
“Oh, please, I didn't even waste my efforts on him. I knew I lost the battle as soon as I heard he was a Vulcan. Contrary to Orions, Vulcans are control freaks; too boring.”
“Yeah, Jim Kirk must be a hoot,” Nyota spat.
“That cutie's a firecracker.” Gaila winked. “Anyway, you should join the class, you think like him; only inside the box. I've to go, Jim is waiting for me.”
“I still don't understand what you see in him,” Nyota said, lying down on her bed.
“I can't tell you why, but he gets me. He understands what it's like to be powerless and alone. He gets me, and I get him; he could actually love me for who I am, Nyota.”
“Don't say that, Gaila. Tons of guys would be lucky to love someone like you.”
“You don't understand.” Gaila chuckled as if Nyota had said something funny. “People see me the way they want to, and sure, they could love me for what they think I am, but nobody sees me, only Jim. And he could love me for that.”
Nyota didn't understand what Gaila meant, but she looked happy to have someone see her. Even if it was that annoying idiot Jim Kirk, Nyota cared for Gaila and she was willing to give Kirk a chance. But if he dared hurt her friend, she would make sure to take Kirk's balls as revenge.
Nyota enlisted in the class with high expectations. She'd always wanted to work with a Vulcan, they were a very disciplined and methodical race. She wished she was surprised that she was the only person who wanted to take the class, but as Gaila said, Professor Spock had a reputation, and everyone either hated him or feared him. Who would volunteer to spend eight hours per week with him learning a language most found difficult and useless?
“Good afternoon.” Professor Spock entered the classroom, apparently not surprised either to see only Nyota there.
“Good afternoon, professor,” Nyota said solemnly.
“I must say, I find myself perplexed. I apologize if I sound discourteous, however I must ask. Are you here for the elective class of Vulcan Language?”
“Yes, I'm a linguist and I think it will help me in my field to know as many languages as I can,” Nyota explained quickly, blushing slightly. Professor Spock was… well, handsome. She'd never expected to have a professor so young and attractive.
“I see. Very well, as I thought this class was going to be unfilled, I was planning other projects to occupy my time. I foresee an interesting interaction, Miss…”
“Nyota Uhura,” she said, still blushing.
“Miss Uhura; in that case, I must welcome you to the Vulcan Language class.”
Oh, Nyota felt very welcome already. She'd given the speech about how Prince Charming didn't exist and women deluded themselves into believing in the perfect guy so many times that now she felt like a hypocrite. As the classes went by, and Nyota started prying about Vulcan culture to get to know the professor better, she had to admit she had finally found her Prince Charming.
Of course, her Prince Charming had to be a guy from another planet; a Vulcan, no less.
“Nyota, are you coming to the party?” Gaila asked for the tenth time that evening.
“I told you, I don't have time to go to frivolous reunions, I have to study. Spock will be quizzing me on this.”
“Spock?” Gaila scoffed. “Since when are you and the Vulcan on a first name basis?”
“He thought that since I'm learning a difficult language, formalities should be called off. It makes sense, it's easier for me to learn when I'm in a comfortable environment.”
“Oh, yes, I'm sure he provides a very comfortable environment,” Gaila mocked.
“What?” Nyota knew that tone. Gaila disapproved of something.
“Look, I'm the last person who should give moral lessons, but God, Nyota, a professor? And a Vulcan professor on top of that!”
“You make it sound like I'm committing a crime, Gaila,” Nyota said forcefully. “What? Am I not allowed to have a crush? It's not like I'm jumping on the guy.”
“Well, no, he wouldn't let you,” Gaila smirked. “Okay, sorry, I just… I wish you could set the bar a little lower. There are tons of guys here who would be happy to date you.”
“Like who? James Kirk?” Nyota sneered.
“Point taken. Still, I'm not sure a professor is a good idea…”
“Don't worry Gaila, I doubt things will go any further with Spock. We're friends; that's all.”
“We all start as friends,” Gaila smiled. “Jim and I are best friends, and it didn't take very much for us to jump into bed.”
“Unlike you and Kirk, Spock and I have self-restraint.”
“We'll see about that.”
Even though she told Gaila she didn't expect anything, deep inside she wanted to be with Spock. She felt she really understood him, and they both were intelligent and had a lot in common. Looking at things from the Vulcan's perspective, Nyota was an ideal mate for him, and she was determined to show this to Spock. She'd found her Prince Charming, she wasn't ready to be defeated by the ethical dilemma of student-teacher relationships. She could wait until she graduated to pursue a relationship with Spock. She could be patient.
Or at least, that was the plan. Having the Vulcan so close, sharing experiences and knowledge… she couldn't resist. She touched Spock's hand during one of the sessions, knowing very well that was one of the ways Vulcans express romantic feelings. More accurately, they kissed with their hands. She feigned ignorance, and Spock accepted her apology and explained the culture differences between humans and Vulcans, particularly in the way they express affection.
Spock sounded melancholy when he talked about his mother; he probably missed her, although he wouldn't say it directly. From what Nyota had observed, Amanda Grayson had been the only source of affection in Spock;s life, since his father was a traditional Vulcan who raised his son to exceed the expectations placed on him because of his ‘disadvantage’. Nyota liked to think she was filling the role of emotional support now, as Spock refused to acknowledge his needs as half human. Nyota didn't mind, she was happy just being around Spock.
Unfortunately, Gaila was having problems with this development. She claimed Nyota was becoming ‘a heartless bitch’, which Nyota knew was an exaggeration. She was seeing the logical side of everything, she hardly called that ‘heartless’. They fought a couple of times, but they made up quickly, until a debate in the ethical behavior seminar.
Gaila was in the same team as James Kirk, supporting the claim that a Captain could be still in charge even when he was emotionally compromised. As expected, Nyota opposed. They had been arguing for an hour. Kirk and Gaila had very good points, Nyota conceded that. However, she remembered Spock's words about how humans were volatile and changed their minds as often as their emotions, leading to bad decisions.
“The regulation exists for a reason. If it didn't exist, bad decisions could come up as emotions change,” Nyota said mechanically.
“Well, the only reason why Captains aren't robots is exactly that,” Kirk countered. “Or else we would have machines piloting our ships.”
“Oh, you better than anyone should know the value of this regulation, Mister Kirk.”
“And may I ask why you would draw such a conclusion, Cadet Uhura?”
Nyota knew she would piss off Gaila with this, and probably make her friend mad at her forever. But she had to win; she had to prove she could see the rational side over the emotional. She could be as balanced as a Vulcan, as feeling as a human.
“Your father, the deceased Commander and later Captain George Kirk, sacrificed his life to save over 800 crewmembers. If he had allowed his emotions to cloud his rational judgment, he probably would have made a risky decision, and endangered the lives of every crewmember on the ship.”
The auditorium went dead silence after her argument. Kirk looked like he was about to have a stroke, and she could see Leonard McCoy and Gaila throwing daggers at her with their eyes.
“I'm afraid you have your data wrong, Miss Uhura. He also saved me, and my mother, and may I say, I think that was an emotional situation for him. He deceived his wife so she could go away with the promise that he would join her. He was emotionally compromised and yet he made the best decision. If that doesn't prove what humans can overcome, I don't know what could.”
The entire audience started clapping. She had overlooked a vital detail – she should have known that as soon as she used George Kirk as an argument, the pity element would take over, and that mistake allowed Kirk to win the debate. However, she was glad she had lost. She knew it wouldn't feel like a win if she did it using a dead man's memory.
“I hope you're proud of yourself, cadet,” Leonard McCoy said with venom. “Sinking that low to win a stupid debate that doesn't even have an impact on your curriculum.”
“I was trying to give another point of view.” She felt like everyone was attacking her for hurting poor, orphaned Kirk. It was a debate, nothing more, and it wasn't personal, no matter what McCoy and Gaila thought.
“Well, congratulations. You're a b –”
“Now, Bones, don't be like that.” Kirk approached his friend, patting him on the back. “No hard feelings, she just wanted to win, right?”
“I…” Nyota wasn't sure what to say. The last thing she expected was Kirk siding with her.
“Besides, aren't you supposed to be a gentleman? That's not an appropriate word for a lady,” Kirk smiled.
“I suppose,” McCoy grumbled. “Sorry, ma'am.”
“Um…” Nyota wasn't sure if she should say anything or just kept quiet.
“Come on, Bones, we have to celebrate. Pike thinks I'm two steps away from being a responsible adult.”
“I would pay to see you acting like a responsible adult,” McCoy mocked.
And just like that, McCoy and Kirk walked away like nothing happened. McCoy even gave her a tiny smile as he passed next to her. It was almost like he knew Kirk wasn't hurt, and as long as he was fine, McCoy would be fine as well.
Nyota entered her room tiredly. This had been a long day, and even when Spock congratulated her on her effort, she could sense a small note of disappointment in his voice (he had heard her arguments over and over, however he didn't know she'd used Kirk's story). She just wished this day was already over. A few minutes later Gaila came to the room and, as expected, she was angry.
“I didn't know you were here,” Gaila said quickly. “I'll grab my things and go.”
Nyota tried to subdue her disappointment. It was girls' night; they were supposed to spend time together. She knew Gaila wouldn't be happy and willing to hang out as if nothing had happened, but she'd hoped she would at least gave her the chance to explain herself.
“Are you spending the night with Kirk?”
“More like the weekend; I'll try to be gone from this room as much as I can.”
“Look, Gaila, it wasn't personal, I was just…”
“Don't even try it, Nyota. Please, at least be honest with yourself: you wanted to win to show off to your Vulcan. I respect that, but using Jim's personal life to obtain it? The high and mighty Nyota, who always knows what's right, doing something that foul? Or what, as long as it pleases the Vulcan, it's okay? You're changing, and I'm not sure I like this new you.”
“What are you talking about? I'm the same person.” Nyota was getting angry as well. Gaila kept talking about how much she was changing for Spock and how she didn't care about their friendship anymore.
“Right, you're becoming a robot, and you're the same person,” Gaila hissed.
“If I don't meddle in your illogical relationship with Kirk, then you shouldn't meddle in my business,” Nyota spat.
“My illogical relationship?” Gaila laughed bitterly. “Are you hearing yourself? I'm not meddling in anything. I've tolerated your nasty attitude and snobby behavior. I've accepted that you don't like my boyfriend, I don't even bring him here, even though I'd be within my rights to do so, I live in this room too in case you've forgotten. But I'm a good sport and I try to make you comfortable with the situation, and I don't get the same courtesy? Well, fuck you, Nyota. I hope the Vulcan is worth it, since you'll be completely alone if in the end you don't manage to be with him. Guess what? You're not a Vulcan, and you never will be, no matter how much you try to act like one. You know what the worst part is? I miss my friend, the one who use to care what happened in my life. I bet you wouldn't even cry if I died, just to prove to Professor Spock that you don't feel anything.”
They both knew this had gone too far when Gaila's words sunk in. Without saying anything else, Gaila left the room, leaving Nyota too stunned to say anything. She hadn't change that much, had she? It was stupid to ask herself that, apparently she couldn't see the whole picture. She didn't feel that different – sure, she acted less emotional, but that didn't mean she was a bitch, as Leonard McCoy thought. You're not a Vulcan… She tried to remember the last time she spent time with Gaila and actually talked with her instead of just criticizing her about every decision she made.
Then she realized the ugly truth: she was a bitch. She had been so absorbed in proving what an ideal mate she could be to Spock that she forgot no-one could become something they weren't. Spock's father had accepted a human as a mate, so why was Nyota trying so hard to change her nature? It probably wasn't even necessary. If someone is going to love you, it has to be for what you are, not what you could become. Her mother, Gaila and everyone else had been right the entire time. She was trying too hard to impress Spock. All she had to do was be herself, without faking or showing off. She was intelligent, attractive and kind, and that should be enough for Spock; he'd said that he valued morality more than intellect.
She'd become one of those silly girls who changed just to impress the guy they were interested in; irony noted. Well, at least she now had a right to criticize, as she was experiencing this situation, and yes, she maintained her point: It was stupid and a waste of effort.
“I was under the impression you had a previous engagement,” Spock said when Nyota appeared in his office late that night.
“Gaila is mad at me… I think she will stop talking to me,” Nyota sighed as she sat in front of the desk.
“Close acquaintances often converse about disagreements,” Spock noted. “I am sure you can overcome this difficultly. May I ask what the problem was?”
“I… well, in the debate, I was opposing Gaila's boyfriend. I used an argument that held emotional connotations for the guy.”
“Is this person the famous James Kirk I have heard so much about?”
“Yeah, the campus slut,” Nyota snapped. “Sorry, I just… well, Kirk and I have history.”
“He thinks I'll sleep with him just because he's handsome.” Nyota shook her head. “He even hits on me in front of Gaila, honestly, I don't know why she's with him.”
“Humans often choose partners for illogical reasons,” Spock theorized. “Although Miss Gaila is an Orion, I am sure she shares this particular trait.”
“Must do, but she's happy with him, and I guess I should deal. So you've heard about Kirk?”
“Admiral Komack is fond of speaking of the rebellious, ‘smartass’ student he has; Captain Pike has clarified that Mister Kirk, while intelligent and bright, is also defiant and outspoken. I assume he is the same James Kirk who was born during the Narada incident?”
“The one and only,” Nyota scoffed. “Pike has a soft spot for the guy; apparently he was friends with George Kirk and feels guilty because Winona Kirk was discharged a few years after Kirk's birth. Now he lets Kirk wander around like he owns Starfleet.”
“I am sure you are exaggerating.” Spock lifted his eyebrow. “Captain Pike is one of the most respected and reasonable humans I have had the pleasure to meet.”
“You've worked with him, right?”
“Indeed. He lacked formality, yet his ability to make logical decisions was commendable… for a human, of course.”
“Yeah, of course,” Nyota smiled. “Spock…”
“Yes?” Spock asked after a few minutes of silence.
“Have you considered…?” Nyota bit her lip. “Um… I…”
Just do it, her mind screamed. And since she had stopped listening to her impulsive side to try and imitate the logical behavior Spock displayed, she decided to hell with it. She was human, and if Spock couldn't deal with that, well, then he wasn't the Prince Charming she needed. Spock looked at her with curiosity as Nyota stood up and came closer to him, touching his face gently.
Then she did it. She kissed the guy she had been in love for the past year. She kissed him, and there were no fireworks or explosions or butterflies. There was no magic feeling, no fairies dancing around. It just felt… right.
It felt right, even though Spock was rigid as death and hadn't made the slightest movement. Nyota closed her eyes, but she was sure Spock had his open the entire time. Finally she let go, completely red, and wondering what to do next.
Run, her mind screamed, but her body didn't respond and she just stood there, as Spock looked at her with a blank expression. Of course, she didn't expect for Spock to act shocked or anything, but a little reaction would have been nice.
“Ah… that's how humans kiss,” Nyota said, feeling really stupid. With her high IQ and her communication skills, that was the best thing she could come up with?
“I am aware of the fact,” Spock said in a cold tone. “However, I did not think there was a need for a practical demonstration… is this part of some lecture on human culture that I disregarded?”
“No… Spock, I like you. I like you as more than a friend, and well… I know you said that you never considered the idea of choosing a human mate, but still, could you contemplate the possibility of giving me a chance? All experiments need corroboration, either to see if they work or to see if they fail. I'm willing to try my best.”
Spock inclined his head, blinking.
“I admit I have considered this possibility. However, I was under the impression that you preferred to wait until after your graduation.”
What? He knew?
“You knew?!” Nyota asked with a squeak.
“I am afraid so. You projected some of your thoughts very loudly, and even when I tried my best to block them, on occasions where your mind was very confused you would not stop thinking about it, and it was impossible for me to avoid… ‘peeking’, as you said last time.”
“God, I'm so embarrassed.” Nyota begged for the ground to open up and swallow her.
“May I ask why? I thought this was a positive development,” Spock asked. “Did I interpret your thoughts wrongly?”
“No! No, no… but you could have said something, Spock.”
“I did not want to pressure you, since I thought your decision held merit, and it would have been rude for me to approach the subject when you had never spoken of it.”
“So basically, you would have lied,” Nyota smirked.
“Negative. I would have told you what I perceived when you decided to broach the topic in the near future.”
Her Prince was dense and logical… right now that didn't seem like a good thing, but Nyota smiled; it turned out that Spock accepted her human traits and liked her for them, and the only one who thought it necessary to become someone else to fit perfectly with Spock was her.
Again, the irony didn't go unnoticed.
Gaila didn't return to the room the entire weekend. On Monday she came, showered and changed her clothes, and left again without even glancing at Nyota. Nyota didn't blame her, she was trying to think of a way to fix this. Now that she and Spock were in a relationship (sort of), she realized she'd done a lot of stupid things. Kirk probably was smarter than she was in this area, as he'd never tried to change for Gaila like Nyota had tried to do for Spock.
As she walked on the hallways, she noticed she was being followed. By Jim Kirk.
“Can I help you?” Nyota turned around, making Kirk jump at the sudden movement.
“Uhura! Fancy seeing you here! To what do we own this honor?” Kirk said.
“You know very well that I use this hallway to go to my morning classes. Do you want something?”
“Okay, okay, no small talk. Look… It's Gaila…”
“Is she okay?” Nyota asked, worried.
“She's fine… or at least, she tries to pretend she is. I know you don't like me.”
“Clever,” Nyota snapped.
“Can we do this without the sarcastic comments? I'm not that fond of you either, but I care about Gaila, and she's miserable over losing her best friend.”
“I care about Gaila as well, and she hasn't lost her best friend. We had a disagreement.”
“Yeah, it must be a big one, she's thinking of moving out.”
“What? She can't do that!” Nyota couldn't let that happen.
“She asked Christine Chapel about it. I don't know what the problem is, but if I'm the one causing you two to fight, tell me what to do and I'll fix it.”
“The world doesn't revolve around you, Kirk,” Nyota said bitterly.
“That's why I said ‘if’,” Kirk clarified. “Gaila won't tell me what's wrong, and since I'm banned from your room, I know I couldn't have had anything to do with it unless this is about that stupid debate. I told her I don't mind, but she gets defensive. I don't want her sad, so… what can I do?”
“You really care for her, don't you?” Nyota was starting to see Kirk in a new light.
“I could love her someday. She gets me.” Kirk shrugged. “And she's suffered enough already, don't you think?”
“At least we agree on something.” Nyota crossed her arms in front of her chest.
“Miracles happen,” Kirk smiled.
This was hard to admit, but she had been extremely hard on Kirk. Sure, he was obnoxious, and he could be so annoying… yet he was smart, he cared about Gaila, McCoy practically bit the head off of anyone who bad-mouthed him, and Pike kept using him as a point of reference (good and bad).
Bottom line, Kirk had never done anything to her, and the fact that he was here, talking with her, just to make Gaila happy… she could make the effort as well.
“Just… look, I'm sorry. I've been insensitive and narrow-minded. I honestly don't know you at all, Gaila doesn't even talk about you.”
“Because she knows it annoys you. She doesn't talk about you with me either; I don't even know your name! She won't tell me, and trust me, I've tried to pry it from her in some extreme moments and yet she doesn't cave.”
“Okay, I don't need details.” Nyota cringed. “Make her happy, and I'll tolerate you.”
“And you can't be in our room. If I don't bring dates there, neither should Gaila.”
“Okay, I must say I'm surprised to hear you say you date… I thought you were a nun or something.”
“Kirk!” Nyota raised her voice.
“Sorry, okay, I'm still banned from the room, got it. So… are you going to talk to her?”
“If she lets me, yes.” Nyota groaned. Gaila hadn't given her the chance to even say good morning.
“Oh, that I can help you with. Just be at the bar outside the campus tonight.”
“A bar? On a Monday? Don't you ever take your education seriously, Kirk?”
“Live a little, Uhura,” Kirk laughed “one night won't hurt you.”
“I guess… I'm doing this for Gaila, though.”
“Then that makes two of us. See you around.”
As Kirk walked away, Nyota felt a small pang of loneliness. The girls around the Academy weren't kidding; Kirk did have a certain charm. Too bad the rest of him was so insufferable.
Spock didn't agree to the whole plan, particularly because it involved breaking the rules, but Nyota explained that sometimes you have to do things for friends, some that you like, some that you hate. She left Spock's office after hearing the ‘how illogical’ he said in response to her long clarification. Spock wouldn't get it anyway. He had no friends but Nyota, and she wouldn't ask for anything Spock wouldn't give freely.
Gaila never returned to the room that day, so she probably got ready in Kirk's room. As Nyota walked to the bar, she saw Leonard McCoy heading in the same direction.
“Cadet.” McCoy was formal as usual.
“Doctor,” Nyota answered politely.
“Jim put you up to this?” McCoy asked curiously.
“He seems to think he knows what's best for Gaila and me.” Nyota smiled.
“Oh, yes, he's the expert on friendships. The only reason I'm here is because I want my bottle of Vodka back. He drank it all, and he stole my tequila! I should kill him”
“What a beautiful relationship,” Nyota smirked.
“I know, we're like brothers. Shall we?”
“We shall.” Nyota waited while McCoy opened the door. Kirk was right, the doctor was a gentleman.
It didn't take long for them to locate Gaila and Kirk. They were laughing loudly at one of the farthest tables.
“It will be okay,” McCoy said kindly, probably seeing how nervous Nyota was about this.
“I hope so. I really screwed things up with her,” Nyota admitted.
“Friends fuck things up. Good friends forgive”
“Very profound,” Nyota grinned.
“I read it on a coffee mug today. I was looking for an excuse to use it. I just changed the ‘make mistakes’ to ‘fuck things up’. It seemed more accurate.”
As they approached the table, Kirk glanced at Nyota and smiled widely. Gaila, seeing this, turned around as well, and frowned.
“What the hell is she doing here?” Gaila sounded angry.
Nyota took a step back, colliding with McCoy's chest. The doctor took her arms gently, making her stand straight again. He squeezed her arm gently, in a show of comfort.
“Small world.” Kirk kept smiling.
“Yeah, Uhura in a bar on a Monday… this has Kirk written all over it,” Gaila grumbled.
“I'm wounded, Gaila!” Kirk used a fake tone of surprise. “You know Uhura hates me. Would I risk my life to set you two up?”
“Yes, you're an idiot.” Gaila glared at Kirk.
“Just for that, I'm going to bunk with Bones tonight,” Kirk complained.
“I don't see why I have to suffer,” McCoy spat.
Nyota felt out of place there. It was clear that McCoy and Kirk were really comfortable with each other, and Gaila was still mad at her. She would probably get angrier if Nyota said the wrong thing. Perhaps it would be best to let things settle for a few more days.
“Come Bones, you're hosting tonight.”
“OK. I stole your credits last time I found you passed out on the couch,” McCoy smirked.
“So that was what I felt! I thought you were a gentleman.” Kirk stood up, leaving the sit next to Gaila available.
“I am, I asked your permission first; not my fault you were unconscious.”
“Jim, if you leave me alone with her, I'll chop your dick off,” Gaila said curtly.
“Maybe this wasn't a good idea, Kirk,” Nyota agreed.
“Could you two stop? You've been friends as long as Bones and I have; you can't end things because you're too stubborn to actually talk about it. Uhura, you're a linguist, and Gaila, you're a programmer, can't you two apply some of your skills and have an actual conversation? God, I need a drink, come on Bones.”
Kirk and McCoy walked away, leaving the girls in an uncomfortable silence.
“Can I sit?” Nyota asked.
“If you must,” Gaila scoffed.
Okay, she needed to do this. Gaila was angry, it was understandable that she was acting this way. Still, it kind of pissed Nyota off to see Gaila being this rude. This was a valuable lesson: Gaila could be as bitchy as Nyota when you tested her patience. Nyota sat down, noticing how Gaila moved a little away from her.
She thought about what to say next. Perhaps she'd start by explaining why she said so many stupid things, or the reason behind her attitude. She wanted Gaila to understand everything, but she wasn't sure how to say it. For a linguist, Nyota often found herself at a loss for words.
“I was wrong,” Nyota said honestly. That got Gaila's attention.
“I was wrong. I was close minded and judgmental, I acted like a child, and most importantly, I was a terrible friend to you. I demanded things from you without giving anything in return, but mostly… I wasn't there when you needed me, and I regret that I let myself forget how valuable you are to me, Gaila. I don't have siblings, and I always wanted a sister. Now that I have one, I didn't appreciate her. I know I'm asking too much… but I will do anything to get you to forgive me.”
Gaila looked at Nyota with a small frown.
“Why should I forgive you? You never admit when you make a mistake. You're perfect, the rest of us are stupid,” Gaila snapped.
“I think I'm more stupid than the rest, Gaila. I know I hurt you, and I know I can be difficult and stubborn, but you're my best friend, and I want my sister back. I'm willing to apologize to Kirk and make amends”
“Really?” Gaila widened her gaze “You would apologize to Jim?”
“Oh… okay, I forgive you.”
Nyota was taken aback by this reaction. Gaila smiled broadly and hugged Nyota tightly.
“Not that I'm not thrilled about this development but… why are you forgiving me so easily?” Nyota hugged Gaila back.
“Sweetie,” Gaila said as she let go of Nyota “I don't hold grudges, you know that. Jim told me you apologized to him already, I was just messing with you.” Gaila kissed her cheek loudly. “It was fun, seeing you at the other end of the judgmental road. No fun when someone does it to you, right?” Gaila winked, chuckling. Yeah, no fun indeed.
“Come on, I'll buy the next round.” Gaila pulled Nyota to her feet. “We have to catch up!”
Nyota allowed Gaila to drag her to the bar where Kirk and McCoy were chatting. Gaila hugged Nyota again, to prove Kirk that they had fixed things, and Kirk clapped, saying ‘about time’. She liked the way Gaila never fixated on what others did to her. One time they crossed paths with a guy from her past, and she waved at him happily. ‘I'm free now, I can't waste my time on stupid resentment’, she explained when Nyota asked how could she act like nothing happened. It was admirable, she had to be the strongest woman Nyota had ever met; she wasn't sure if she could have survived half of what Gaila had experienced.
Gaila was a breath of fresh air to everyone who met her, and Nyota was happy to have her as best friend. She was proud of her, and loved her like a sister.
Ten shots later, Kirk and Gaila were dancing rather obscenely while she and McCoy observed from the side.
“Everything patched up?” McCoy asked suddenly.
“Yeah… Gaila isn't rancorous; she just wanted to see me suffer.”
“I get it; Jim sometimes does that too.” McCoy laughed. “It's not often, Jim is the screw up in this friendship, but I have messed up occasionally.”
“It's hard to believe that you could do something wrong, McCoy,” Nyota mocked.
“Hey, I'm not perfect, no matter how much I try.”
“Does that mean I should stop trying then?” Nyota joked.
“No, ma'am, it means you have to be humble enough to admit when you're wrong, and maybe lighten up a little.”
“Gaila said the same thing.”
“The green woman has her moments. I guess we are alike, cadet.”
“How so, doctor?”
“I found my brother in Jim, as you found a sister in Gaila; we both hate to lose and make mistakes, and we both try hard to avoid seeing our friends hurt.”
“And we're both sober right now while our siblings are wasted and practically having sex on the dance floor,” Nyota pointed out.
“Right… you take yours, I'll take mine.”
Nyota dragged Gaila through the hallways as she sang really out of tune. She was glad her friend was happy, even though she would probably have a killer headache in a few hours.
“Hey, Gaila?” Nyota said softly.
“Yes?” Gaila slurred.
“I would cry.”
Gaila looked at Nyota with a small frown, as if she doubted she'd heard correctly.
“If you died … I would cry.”
“Oh, honey… I know you would.” Gaila leaned on Nyota, humming lightly.
As she saw how Gaila hummed her favorite song, Nyota felt like this was a new beginning in their friendship. Who knows? Maybe she would even end up liking Kirk eventually.
Everything went to hell after a few months; Kirk cheated and Spock put him on trial, while Gaila and Nyota each supported their boyfriends. Gaila had helped Kirk with the deception, and Nyota didn't know if she should he pissed, or just amazed at how Gaila's skills had allowed Kirk to beat a sophisticated piece of software Spock had been developing for the last three years. Then the mission, and the destruction of Vulcan … Kirk defying Spock and Spock marooning him on Delta Vega … Nyota was trying so hard to focus on the moment; she tried to be there for Spock, and tried to help him mourn.
However, Kirk always beat her, and he compromised with Spock to get the Captaincy of the Enterprise. She had to say goodbye to Spock since he wanted to join Kirk in the suicide mission to Nero's ship. She didn't care that Kirk was there, and that he saw everything. She just wanted to be with Spock.
It was bittersweet; Kirk and Spock managed to defeat Nero, and saved Pike's life. But Vulcan was gone, Spock's mother was dead, and others had lost their loved ones as well. Perhaps this was what Kirk had felt all his life since losing his father.
Nyota convinced Spock to rest in the medical bay; she glanced at the bed next to Spock's, and saw McCoy petting Kirk's hair. They both had more than what they could handle.
“How is he?” Nyota asked as she walked over to Kirk's bed.
“He'll be an idiot again in no time,” McCoy answered, sounding really drained.
“I'm glad… well, not about the idiot part, but I guess it can't be helped.” She smiled weakly.
“You got that right.” McCoy smiled as well. “Uhura… can we talk?”
“Sure…” Nyota frowned. She wasn't sure what McCoy could possibly want with her.
“Let's go to my office… well, not my office, but…”
“Spock promoted you, McCoy,” Nyota said gently. “It is your office now.”
“Yeah, I guess…. Come.”
Leonard took her arm gently, leading her to the office. When they entered, he closed the door and shut the curtains. This didn't bode well.
“Am I in trouble?” Nyota joked to ease the tension.
McCoy took a deep breath, which made Nyota even more anxious.
“I received a document informing me about the casualties during the mission. The USS Pegasus and USS Archimedes received the hardest blows; Pegasus was almost destroyed …”
“USS Archimedes?” Nyota repeated. “That's Gaila's ship… is she okay, is she injured?” Nyota felt something twitching in her stomach.
“Uhura… Gaila is listed as one of the deceased … I'm so sorry,” McCoy said quickly, probably thinking it was best to just blurt out the news.
“What?” Nyota scoffed, incredulous. “That can't be… maybe she was put on the wrong list or something. Maybe she's just injured, maybe she…”
“Uhura.” McCoy grabbed Nyota by the shoulders. “I checked, twice. She didn't make it… Gaila is dead.”
“No… she can't be…”
“Gaila can't be dead, McCoy, she just can't! She promised! She promised we were going to dance at our weddings, and we would make it a double to freak out Kirk and Spock! She promised I was going to be the godmother of Kirk Junior, and she was going to make Spock that awful tea she only manages to get right! Gaila promised! She can't leave me! She can't leave me alone! Please, don't let her leave me alone!”
McCoy caught her before she even touched the floor, as she cried her heart out. She'd promised they were going to be together, they were sisters. Sobbing, she clutched at McCoy's uniform, feeling hopeless. Gaila couldn't leave her… she needed her, she loved her! Without Gaila, who would help her keep her feet on the ground? Who would mock her? Who would tell her how annoying she could get? Who would be there when she was alone and hopeless to give her a fresh start?
Nyota blinked, feeling disoriented. As she glanced around, she noticed she was lying in one of the beds in Sickbay. What was she doing there? Then she remembered. Gaila was dead… Gaila was gone. She sat up quickly, and felt a hand squeezing her own.
“Spock?” she asked, surprised to see him sitting next to her.
“Doctor McCoy thought it prudent sedate you,” Spock explained. “After a traumatic event, rest is necessary.”
Nyota smiled weakly; that was the argument she'd used to get Spock to stay in Sickbay after he returned from Nero's ship.
“Gaila is dead, isn't she?” Nyota said sadly, knowing the answer already. No matter how many times everyone said it, she still couldn't believe it. She probably never would.
“I am afraid so.” Spock tried to sound sympathetic.
Nyota heard a loud thud. She and Spock turned to their right, seeing Kirk hitting the wall for the second time. McCoy was next to him, trying to calm him down. He probably just heard the news. They watched Kirk for a few more minutes as McCoy grabbed his arm forcefully to stop the guy from hitting the wall a third time.
“I grieve with thee,” Spock said solemnly.
“And I with thee,” Nyota added.
They didn't say much after that. Spock lost his mother and his home; Nyota lost her sister and her support. As she heard Kirk yelling profanities, somehow she felt he had lost it all.
The memorial was nice… as nice as could be expected. She walked to the wall, to see her friend's name being part of the reminiscences of lost battles. She saw Kirk and McCoy standing there. Kirk was touching Gaila's name. After his breakdown in sickbay, he had bounced back easily, saying that Gaila died doing what she loved the most: protecting others. Gaila gave everyone a chance, and Kirk said her sacrifice should be honored the way Gaila would have liked it… with a smile.
Kirk knew Gaila even better than Nyota did. He got her.
"I could have loved her, you know?" Nyota heard Kirk saying.
"She was something." McCoy sounded sincere.
"Eventually, I could have loved her. We could have been a couple. She understood me better than anyone."
Kirk and McCoy walked away, stopping in front of Amanda Grayson's name. They stood there for a while, and then they were gone. Nyota came closer to Gaila's name when McCoy and Kirk were out of sight, touching it as gently as Kirk had. She started crying again; her best friend was gone, her accomplice, her conscience… her sister.
“I told you I would cry,” Nyota said between sobs.
The sorrow became less overwhelming with each passing day. Life goes on, and Gaila would always live in Nyota's heart.
Assignments were given, and Nyota was pleased to know she was assigned to the Enterprise, with Spock in command. He deserved the Enterprise, he was Pike's Commander and he did a very good job during the Nero incident. She was glad the admiralty saw this and granted Spock a ship worthy of his efforts.
The only thing missing from the Enterprise crew was a First Officer, and Nyota was curious to see who Spock would choose.
“The crew is finally complete,” Spock announced during their dinner together.
“Oh?” Nyota saw him with curiosity. “Did you find a Commander then? Excellent! Who is it?”
Spock kept eating without saying anything, almost like he didn't want to say who he had chosen.
“Spock?” Nyota pushed.
“James Kirk,” Spock said after a prolonged pause. “He will be the First Officer for the Enterprise.”
What? Kirk? Kirk was going to be on the crew too? This was unbelievable! The guy who made Spock snap? The one who couldn't take orders to save his life? What the hell was Spock thinking?
“Kirk?” she scoffed.
“Spock… did the Admirals force you to take Kirk? Because we can appeal against it…”
“My decision was not coerced; Admiral Komack seemed rather baffled by my choice. Kirk has been reliable and confident.”
“Also insubordinate and rude,” Nyota snapped.“He will question every decision you make, Spock! Kirk is rebellious and infuriating; he doesn't know how to follow orders! It's no secret he wanted the Enterprise, do you honestly think he will be a team player?”
“I believe Mister Kirk can behave during certain circumstances. He has proven to be… an interesting character.”
“Try obnoxious.” Nyota just couldn't understand the logic behind this decision. Spock himself had tried to trial Kirk for being unethical, and now he wanted him on the Enterprise? What the hell?
“I have high expectations of our working dynamics. I am sure we can find common ground.”
Spock hinted that this was it, and the topic wasn't open for discussion anymore. She didn't like this, not one bit. But at least she would be on the Enterprise as well; if Kirk dared do anything to sabotage Spock's work, she would be there to stop him.
Contrary to what Nyota believed, Kirk actually behaved well. He was polite, he obeyed… almost like a trained dog. It was refreshing. However, there was something bothering Nyota, and it was the fact that Spock seemed to be spending less time with her, in order to be with Kirk. Spock kept saying it was work related, and Nyota didn't want to sound like a jealous, crazy girlfriend, but it was getting on her nerves how every time she wanted to be with her boyfriend, he already had a date with Kirk.
Finally she managed to squeeze herself into Spock's busy agenda with Kirk. She had a lot planned for this dinner; they hadn't been together in almost three weeks, she missed him. But once again, Kirk screwed her over.
“Spock!” Nyota saw him walking to the Recreation room. “Did you forget something?”
“Pardon me?” Spock seemed surprised to see Nyota approaching him.
“You're going to the Recreation room, I thought you were ready for our dinner.”
Spock lifted an eyebrow, and Nyota already knew what that meant: He forgot.
“Nyota, I am terribly remorseful. I have arranged a meeting with Commander Kirk to discuss the crew's schedules.”
“Well, can't you rearrange it, then? We talked about this dinner two weeks ago.” Nyota tried to sound calm, but she was beyond pissed.
“I am afraid this is a pressing matter. The captaincy can be demanding and Mister Kirk has been kind enough to give up some of his free time to work and improve the ship.”
“Yeah, he's a saint,” Nyota bit out.
Spock knew by now that this particular tone of voice meant sarcasm.
“We could reschedule our dinner,” Spock suggested.
“What for? Kirk will just meddle again.”
“I do not understand why you are distressed; have I not explained the situation logically?”
“You know what? Go, Spock, go with Kirk. I'll see you when he stops hogging you.”
She turned around, walking away quickly. Dammit, she was jealous! She was jealous of that stupid, obnoxious underachiever! Spock was working, he wasn't fooling around or doing something wrong… still, she felt like she was losing a battle neither Kirk nor Spock knew they were having.
She tried to calm herself; it wasn't that Spock was ditching her, he was Captain now, he had other responsibilities. For some reason, she sucked at convincing herself of that. Two days later, Kirk was asking her all about her shifts. Well, then Spock was telling the truth, and they were only working.
The way she doubted Spock just because Kirk was involved still amazed her.
“Okay, I think I got everything I need,” Kirk said. “Do you want to peek and see how the new shifts will be?”
“Sure,” she said without any energy. She wasn't interested, but she'd promised Spock that she'd be civil to Kirk.
As she glanced at Kirk's PADD, she couldn't believe it. Kirk changed the entire timetable so her and Spock's shifts were scheduled at the same time, having the same off time, while Kirk and Spock would rarely spend time on the bridge together.
“I thought you'd like it.” Kirk smiled. Could he have noticed Nyota's jealousy? “We only need Spock to approve, but I'm sure it's a done deal.”
When Nyota mentioned this to Spock, the last thing she expected was for him to disagree. Spock objected to the new schedule, and justified it with the ‘necessity for higher ranks to spend time together and familiarize each other with their command skills’. In other words, he wanted to continuing spending time with Kirk, and leaving her behind.
Spock was too dense to see how much this was affecting Nyota; she was no longer angry, now she was just depressed. She was losing Spock, and nobody else knew it but her.
Nyota knew many different ways of communication, and decided to observe Kirk and Spock. Those two were loud enough without saying anything. The way Kirk smiled and Spock inclined his head. How Spock encouraged Kirk to talk and let him win arguments, and Kirk measured his words and tried to be controlled.
The way Kirk wanted to be more Vulcan for Spock, and Spock wanted to be more human for Kirk.
She wondered how everyone could be so blind; the relationship between Kirk and Spock was changing. They seemed more comfortable around each other, Spock even said things that could be considered jokes, and Kirk started clapping Spock's shoulder and giving him friendly pats on the back. She wasn't losing Spock… she had already lost him.
She had to end this relationship. Spock didn't even notice how they'd stopped acting like a couple, and become more like friends. He was so painfully naïve, and Nyota could have fought. She could have held onto the last thread of their relationship. But hey, if you love someone, set them free…
In this case, Nyota knew Spock wouldn't come back.
“Are you certain?” Spock asked, perhaps only out of politeness.
“I'm afraid so. Spock, this isn't working out, you feel it too, right?”
“I admit we have not spent much time as a couple lately, and I cannot guarantee that will change in the future. Perhaps once the Enterprise is running smoothly, we can resume our liaison.”
Spock was just suggesting this to be safe, Nyota knew. There was no turning back now. She'd set him free, and she was sure Kirk would keep him. She should hate him, yet she had never seen Spock so comfortable with anyone before. Not even her.
And she couldn't hate Kirk for making Spock more at ease with himself.
After Amanda came, things started to get more personal. Spock and Kirk were the parents, McCoy even started a rumor about how they were adopting the girl; she wished he was exaggerating, but the way those two acted around the baby was sickeningly sweet. Spock was like the overprotective father who didn't want any dangerous things near his daughter; Kirk was like the caring mother, spoiling the kid rotten.
And worse of all, they looked good with Amanda. They looked like a family.
When they took back Amanda back home, McCoy was worried about Kirk. Apparently the baby was the first woman to break Kirk's heart (except Gaila), and he was going to take it hard when he left her. She was walking in the hallway when she saw McCoy at the other end, heading to Kirk's room. She was going to get the crib too, Rand asked her to do it as a favor since she had a vaccine appointment in Sickbay. She stopped when she saw Spock knocking on Kirk's door. She saw them chatting, and Spock entered the room after a few moments.
Nyota was surprised. Spock… Spock went to Kirk because he knew he needed a friend. And perhaps Spock needed a friend as well. When she glanced up, McCoy was staring at her intently, since he had also seen what just happened.
They both knew what this meant. They had lost their friends. She went to her room, thinking about the situation. Kirk pissed her off, no doubt about that, and Spock could be infuriating when he didn't get obvious things; the fact that they were getting closer should be irritating. It was no such thing. She did feel confused and somewhat perplexed, but deep down she knew it made sense. Spock seemed fond of Kirk, why else had he chosen him for the Enterprise? It was almost like they had reached a balance, and she'd started to get in the middle.
Ironic, how she hated love triangles and she became part of one; good thing she removed herself from the equation before she started obsessing about it. However, this was still lingering in her mind. If she loved Spock, if he was her Prince Charming, how come she'd let him go so easily, without a fight?
Maybe because she knew you couldn't fight for something you never had. Spock liked her, but she doubted he loved her; at least, not the way he could love Kirk. Yeah, she was ready to admit that those two were heading down that path; she wasn't thrilled about Spock's choice, but at least it comforting to know that he hadn't picked Kirk over her deliberately. He wasn't even aware of his feelings; that was the problem with Vulcans, they spent so much time rationalizing things. Spock chose Uhura in the first place because it was logical. Since no female Vulcan would be interested in marrying a hybrid, he probably thought it best to find a human mate. With Spock, gender wasn't important, he valued intelligence and character. Now that he was feeling, he just acted on it without realizing that he was falling deep.
She wondered if she should point that out. She knew Kirk was a player, but during the last six months of his relationship with Gaila, he'd managed to be faithful and committed, helping her to make amends with her friend. She only feared that Kirk would hurt Spock because he was emotionally immature sometimes. Spock not wanting to feel, and Kirk feeling too much… it could be a disaster. Badmouthing Kirk wouldn't work anyway, Spock always jumped to his defense (‘he is capable’, ‘he is an outstanding crewmember’, ‘he is kind enough to give his spare time to help Mister Scott’; Nyota was getting tired of hearing how Kirk was better than oatmeal), and if she continued doing it, she would probably sound like a child. She knew how to lose, even when she didn't like it.
She could lose to Kirk, as long as Kirk knew what was at stake.
Nyota decided to let things flow, and just observe carefully. When they were assigned to get that plant, she was surprised that the golden duo decided to break off their needy relationship of beaming back glued to the hip. After what happened with Amanda, Spock made it his personal goal to beam down with Kirk, who by the way got the most stupid injuries she had ever seen. There was not a single mission that Kirk unscratched, which she thought was amusing. So Spock thought it prudent to watch Kirk's back (meaning: stalking him).
Spock was detained in the lab, and Kirk beamed down instead. Nyota saw the look the Vulcan gave her: don't let him get hurt. Oh, Spock… he was so oblivious. He was probably just asking as a friend, but who would ask that of their ex-girlfriend? Well, she didn't blame him, he hardly knew the proper etiquette after a breakup. Besides, as far as Spock was concerned, things were exactly the same as before. They still talked and sometimes shared meals, which was basically what they did when they were dating. The more Nyota thought about it, she realized they'd never actually been a couple, but just good friends; best friends.
They never connected, and they never would. Kirk was a lucky bastard; he related to others without even trying.
Fortunately, Kirk thought the look was for Sulu, and Sulu did as well, since he nodded and then Spock was gone from the Transporter room.
When she saw Kirk start swelling up, she knew Spock would have their heads.
“I'll call Captain Spock,” Uhura said as she tried to drag Kirk through the hallways.
“He's busy, Uhura,” Kirk was wheezing. “After Bones fixes me, I'll report to him.”
“But… he needs to be informed.” Uhura knew that Spock wanted to know everything as soon as it happened.
“Why don't we wait until we're in Sickbay?” suggested Sulu. “The Commander is heavy, and he's hurt.”
“I'm not heavy!” Kirk complained. “It's muscle!”
“I'd call it fat,” McCoy said from the Sickbay door.
“You knew I was injured?” Kirk asked, surprised.
“Not really, but since you manage to get hurt every time you beam down, I was ready. Why didn't you beam directly into sickbay?” McCoy frowned.
“Last time I landed on the floor. I'll reserve that for when I'm unconscious.”
McCoy helped them, and Kirk ended up in one of the nearest beds, still looking rather ill. McCoy injected him with something, and after a few seconds of Kirk's protests, the swelling was disappearing. McCoy was good. That was when Kirk decided to report to the Bridge, thinking that Spock would still be busy with the lab. As soon as Spock heard about Kirk being in Sickbay, he rushed to the place.
What worried Uhura the most was Spock's reaction when he saw Kirk hurt. He actually looked concerned; Uhura had never seen this side of Spock, and she wasn't sure of how good this would be. When McCoy said ‘I'm done, he's all yours’, she knew he really meant it. Kirk was slowly becoming a crucial part of Spock's life.
A few days later, the dynamic between Kirk and Spock changed. It was tense, and Spock even stopped interacting with Kirk altogether, using her as an excuse a few times. She should be offended that before Spock only wanted to be with Kirk, and now he was using her to avoid him, but this was Spock. He had no idea about human behavior and its implications. She didn't know why he was pissed at Kirk, but she suspected she was going to find out soon.
And she was right. Kirk showed up at her table during dinner, like they were best friends or something. After hearing what Kirk had to say, she was surprised. Not only because Spock hadn't shared that he was single, but because Kirk was asking for her help. That showed how desperate Kirk was about this, and looking closely, he seemed sad. Sad that Spock had decided to stop hanging out with him. Kirk still had McCoy, it wasn't like he was losing his only friend… however, she knew that Kirk's motives were unconscious. He needed Spock, he just didn't know why. It was painfully awkward for her, seeing the obvious, and being unable to intervene.
She knew that if Spock and Kirk got together in the future, it had to be on their own, and not because of others pushing them. Nyota decided that she could help by getting to know Kirk a bit more. Everyone liked him. Gaila said she never gave Kirk a chance, and Spock was letting him get close to him. She should see what all the fuss was about this guy.
Nyota wouldn't interfere between Kirk and Spock, but that didn't mean she couldn't step in and give a friendly hand when they needed it. She had resigned herself to this situation already, and she was tired of being the evil bitch who only ruined things for others. She had been the bitch for years; it was time for a change.
“Do you believe we renounced our romantic liaison too hastily?”
Nyota glanced up from her book, frowning. Spock had wanted to chat with her, and she had no idea of the topic, but now she felt curious.
“Sorry?” she asked to make sure she heard correctly.
“I was talking with Commander Kirk.” Oh, now this made more sense. “He believes my approach to romantic relationships is flawed.”
“Yeah, like Jim is the romance guru,” Nyota joked.
“If he is, he did not mention it,” Spock deadpanned. Right, Spock never got jokes unless you said it was a joke.
With Kirk, however, he quickly learned when he was joking, and he made witty comments back.
“No Spock, we ended up things because it wasn't working out,” she said patiently.
“That was what I thought as well. Mister Kirk seems to think that it is wrong to believe romantic relationships will have an end.”
“Well, yeah, humans often don't like to think about when the relationship will break up; it's tacky.”
“I see. Mister Kirk seems experienced in several topics where I am at a loss.”
“He should, he's human. Don't beat yourself up, Spock; we are better as friends.”
Spock nodded, but Nyota knew he was still holding something back.
“The Enterprise has a mostly human crew. Mister Kirk would be a better captain for this ship, correct?”
Nyota dropped her book entirely, looking at Spock with surprise. Was he having second thoughts about his command because he thought Kirk was better? This couldn't be possible! Kirk made Spock feel insecure!
Maybe later, when she stopped being so stunned, she would laugh about it.
“Spock, all ships have mostly humans, I don't see how this is relevant.”
“Mister Kirk acted with more logic than myself, he trusted his instincts, and he was right. He deserved the captaincy, and the Admirals decided against it because of his record. It seems unfair.”
“You did an internship with Pike and you worked with him as his Commander for three years. Jim was lucky.”
“He was not lucky, he had a strategy,” Spock defended.
“Yeah, being lucky.” Nyota kept arguing. “You're a good Captain, Spock. Kirk thinks so as well.”
“Of course, I know my abilities and I am aware of my capacity”
Nyota thought this topic was closed, when she heard a faint whisper. However, he could be better.
Spock would say later that he was just exploring other possibilities, and that particular chat didn't mean anything but curiosity.
“Hi, Uhura!” Jim smiled at her.
“What do you want?” Nyota knew that tone.
“Damn! How do you do it?”
“I'm a linguist, Jim. It's my job to know these things.” Nyota winked at him. She was starting to actually like him. Charming bastard.
“Right, right. Okay, I need a favor.”
“Let's see. If it's reasonable, maybe I'll consider doing it.”
“You'll find it reasonable. I want you to convince Spock to stay on the ship when we reach Advani.”
Nyota lifted her eyebrow.
“And why would I do that?”
“Because it's dangerous!” Kirk snapped. “He wants to risk his life! He's the damn Captain, he has to be safe.”
“I assume this argument didn't work with Spock,” Nyota said, amused.
“No, and Bones sided with him. Imagine, the only time those two actually agree on something, and it's to be against me”
“It must have been fun,” Nyota chuckled.
“Yeah, yeah… so… can you talk some sense into him, please?”
“Jim, I don't know what you want me to do. Spock already made up his mind.”
“I just…” Kirk fidgeted, and Uhura saw the faintest blush on his cheeks. “I want him to be safe.”
Uhura finally saw how much Jim cared for Spock. He just wasn't good at showing it.
“I'll talk to him,” she conceded.
“Thanks! I know you can do it!” Jim smiled happily.
If he only knew that Nyota was no longer the person Spock listened to.
Shore leave was very welcome, since she was tired of being on the ship. Good thing Edwards was an idiot, even though McCoy complained about the paperwork. The crew decided to go to a bar to let off some steam, and she thought it could be fun. Spock stayed on the ship, meditating.
When she got to the place, she saw McCoy at the bar, talking with Sulu. When she came closer, Sulu stood up.
“No need to run, Sulu,” Nyota joked.
“Miss Uhura! I just wanted to go with Chekov.”
“Where is he?”
“Outside, I think he wasn't feeling too well,” Sulu said, sounding sad. “I'll see you later.”
Sulu walked away, leaving the bar-stool next to McCoy free. Nyota took that as an invitation, and sat down.
“You don't look too happy,” Nyota observed.
“Everyone thinks I'm a counselor. Talking to me about their problems… I have problems of my own!” McCoy complained.
“Oh, don't be mean. You gave that wise and ancient vibe we all love.” Nyota winked.
“Funny.” McCoy shook his head. “Where's the hobgoblin?”
“Spock and bars? You know those two don't mix,” Nyota smiled.
“I suppose. Jim's with Mitchell. That guy unnerves me.”
“I thought you were friends.”
“He's Jim's friend; I honestly think he slept with Komack to get the captaincy.”
“But isn't the Archimedes being used as a cargo ship?” Nyota wondered. She was sure of that, Spock had told her.
“Yeah, I didn't say he was a good lay,” McCoy grumbled. “At least I know the Vulcan earned his place. No way would he sleep with Komack.”
“That's right. Spock thinks Kirk deserves it more, though.”
“What?” Leonard looked at Uhura with wide eyes.
Damn, the alcohol made her spill things without thinking.
“Don't say anything,” Nyota warned “but Spock told me he thinks Kirk deserves the captaincy more than him.”
“I can't believe you. The hobgoblin would never say that out loud,” McCoy smirked.
“I'm telling you!” Nyota pouted. “And you'd better not say anything about this.”
“Yeah, like anyone would believe me anyway.”
They kept drinking in silence.
“Doctor, I guess we are alike,” Nyota said formally.
“How so, Lieutenant?” McCoy played along.
“Our best friends are in love… again,” Nyota said, smiling sadly.
“You noticed it too, huh?” McCoy smiled as well. “They're too dense to get it.”
“That makes sense, Spock is a Vulcan.”
“And Jim is an idiot.”
McCoy looked at Nyota with a sorrowful expression. Of course, she knew she'd be getting those eventually; the ex watching the romance develop was bound to attract pity looks.
“I'm fine,” she assured him. “I guess he wasn't my Prince Charming.”
“Yeah, he could be your enchanted toad… who ran away with the village idiot,” McCoy mused.
“I'm still surprised by how you talk about Jim,” Nyota said.
“He loves it. Tough love is the only way to knock some sense into his thick head,” McCoy theorized.
They were aware of the relationship blossoming in front of them, and both agreed to help out if needed. This was less sour than she thought it would be.
Mitchell was sneaky. Nyota noticed that when she saw what happened with Giotto and how Riley was officially assigned to the Enterprise. She didn't know why Jim was so touchy about the cadet. Nobody could look at him wrong without Kirk jumping to his defense. He was fighting a lot with Cravers because Jim forbade the guy from sparring with Riley. It intrigued Nyota.
“Riley!” Uhura called him out after lunch.
Riley was very formal. She liked him.
“Oh, call me Nyota, please.” She smiled to make him feel comfortable. “I've noticed that you are very proficient in linguistics.”
Riley had asked her about a book in Andorian she was reading one time, and he understood her answer perfectly. That intrigued her as well.
“Yes, I can learn languages easily … but I prefer security, I think it's more fun.” Riley smiled.
“Would you be interested in learning a few more dialects? It couldn't hurt, and it could be helpful on a mission.”
“Um… I guess. But I don't want to waste your time, Lieutenant.”
“Nyota. And you would actually be helping me. I need to practice my teaching skills; Jim is a bother when he wants to learn new languages.”
“Jim is a bother in general,” Riley mumbled.
“I agree.” Nyota winked.
“I apologize, Lieutenant, I thought you wouldn't hear me!” Riley blushed. “I didn't mean any disrespect!”
“Relax, Riley, I don't mind. Jim can be a pain in the ass.”
Nyota started having lessons with him after lunch, and it was fun. The kid was bright and polite, and smart enough to go into any field he wanted. She thought it was a waste to have this amazing linguist in security. Perhaps she could convince him to change his field; it would be great to have Riley onboard as a linguist.
When the rescue mission to help the Pegasus was assigned to the Enterprise, Nyota had a bad feeling about it. Kirk fought endlessly with Spock to keep Riley on the ship. Spock didn't cave, and Nyota agreed with him. They needed security officers, who were the experts in rescue missions. After a few agonizing hours, Riley and Kirk were trapped in the mine. This increased her anxiety; she helped Scotty with everything he needed, and then, just like when Gaila died, everything went to hell in seconds.
Scotty was asking for permission to beam out Kirk, and Kirk refused to leave Riley. Spock gave the order, and as soon as Kirk was beamed out, the walls collapsed entirely. A few more seconds, and Kirk would have died too.
She knew it was her job to give the final report. She had to say it, yet she refused. She didn't want to, they all knew Riley was dead, why force her to say it?
Scotty patted her arm, nodding. He looked sympathetic, and he probably understood the predicament Uhura was in. She had to do it, she was just trying to delay it as much as she could.
“No life signals from the mine, Captain.”
As soon as the words left her mouth, she knew she had broken Jim and Spock's friendship.
Kevin's death left a depressing environment on the Enterprise. The crew had gotten attached to Riley, he was a nice kid, very similar to Jim in many ways… he was a charmer. McCoy was keeping Jim in Sickbay, completely isolated. Perhaps that was best, he would take Riley's death personally, and no-one had a clue how he would react. Not even the McCoy imagined what his friend would do.
He reacted worse than anyone could have predicted. He was cold, distant... a real jerk. Nyota was trying to swallow her frustrations; this was expected, Kirk was mourning. She needed to be tolerant. The last straw for her was seeing Spock walking down the hallway, looking completely defeated.
“Spock?” Nyota caught up with him. “Are you okay?”
“I am well” Spock said coldly, and she knew that meant he was sad. Why would he be sad?
“Spock, I know you, please, tell me what's wrong,” Nyota pleaded.
“Nothing is wrong,” Spock said curtly. “Mister Kirk and I had a disagreement, it is of no consequence.”
She heard the way Spock's voice changed when he mentioned Kirk. Spock looked miserable, like he had lost everything valuable to him. As he walked away, Nyota clenched her fists with fury. Kirk… he was acting like an idiot, and hurting people like they were to blame for what happened to Riley.
Kirk hurt Spock. And she couldn't forgive that. As soon as she saw him, she couldn't help it. She slapped him; hard. After walking away from Kirk, who still was too stunned to say anything, she started to freak out. She hit a Commander! This was a major mistake, she could be discharged! How could she be so stupid as to let emotions get the better of her? Dammit, she was angry at Jim for that exact reason! Why was she so upset anyway?
Then it hit her. She was angry because Spock was in love with Jim, and he was treating him like scum, not caring about Spock's feelings. A Vulcan feeling love was so rare, and Kirk was willing to give that up and hurt him just because he was mourning. That slap was full of anger and disappointment, but mostly resentment at seeing Kirk throwing everything away. She regretted it immediately, but what was done… was done. Now she had to think about what to do if Kirk asked for her discharge.
Nyota decided to come clean with Spock. He had the right to know why she was probably going to be transferred.
“Spock, can I talk to you?” she asked politely.
“Of course,” he said, stepping aside to let her in.
Uhura sat near the desk, and Spock sat on the chair in front of her.
“I have to tell you something… I… I slapped Kirk.”
Spock lifted an eyebrow, as if he didn't believe what he'd just heard.
“You slapped Commander Kirk?”
“May I ask why?” Spock sounded almost amused.
“He was being an idiot,” she shrugged.
“I do not believe that is a valid reason to hit a superior officer.” Spock blinked.
“Well… I did it anyway. I'm sorry, and I'll apologize to him too. I'm sure he already gave you his complaint.”
“As a matter of fact, he has not. If you had not told me about this incident, I probably would not be aware of it at all.”
What? Kirk didn't file a complaint against her? That was shocking.
“Then again, the Commander may have thought that unnecessary, as he is planning on transferring away from the Enterprise,” Spock said in a clipped tone.
“What?” Uhura frowned. Kirk was thinking about transferring? Why?
“He was very clear when he said he was waiting for the year to end to ask for his own ship. I suppose it is logical, he always desired the captaincy.”
This was what made Spock so depressed! Kirk was going away, and Spock couldn't deal with that. Kirk had ambitions, she was aware of that… but after hearing what Spock said, she had to admit she felt a little depressed. They had been working amazingly these past months, and he and Spock made a great team. Nyota doubted Spock could work as well with someone else. Mostly, they were falling in love, what was going to happen with that?
She couldn't let it happen. She had to stop Kirk, whatever the cost.
Scotty was having dinner by himself, as usual. He didn't gossip or spend time with the Bridge crew, he was fixated on sandwiches and machines. It was endearing in an odd sort of way.
“Miss Uhura,” Scotty greeted.
“Call me Nyota, Scotty, I've told you this.” She smiled as she sat down. She liked Scotty's exotic accent.
“Sorry, force of habit. Mister Spock likes formality,” Scotty said between bites.
“So, Scotty… have you heard what happened with Kirk?” She decided to get straight to the point.
“No… I haven't seen the Commander Captain in a while. Not after what happened with the lad, Riley.”
“Lucky you,” Nyota sneered. “I want to kick him in the nuts”
“That could be considered insubordination,” Scotty said calmly. “Is the Commander Captain mourning?”
“I guess… but he's acting like a jerk! You're lucky you're away from him. He'd probably make you feel like shit too.”
Nyota was venting, and at the risk of Scotty thinking she was crazy, she continued anyway. She trusted Scotty, even when they hadn't really interacted that much. There was something about the Scotsman that made her feel comfortable and secure. It was weird.
“Maybe.” Scotty shrugged. “We sometimes do hurtful things to those we care for most.”
He had a valid point; mistakes happen when you feel upset, like taking out all your frustrations on the ones who worry about you. However, Kirk could use McCoy as his stress release, he had no right to drag Spock into it. It wasn't fair to Spock.
It wasn't fair to McCoy either, but he was used to it.
“I still maintain that he's a jerk.” Nyota sighed, feeling slightly less annoyed about the situation.
“It would be rude of me to disagree with a lady,” Scotty smiled “but people can fix their own mistakes, like with machines. If someone messes up my equipment, then I drag that lad to fix it. You can't learn if you don't fix your own mess.”
Scotty had just said something so important that Uhura started wondering if he had missed his vocation as a counselor. She was fond of fixing everyone's mistakes, trying to help, and defending causes that had nothing to do with her. If Kirk and Spock were having problems, that didn't mean that she should jump in and fix them; she had to let them solve their own issues, like the big boys they were. They didn't need a mother, a caretaker or a protector… they needed a friend. And she'd overwhelmed Spock and neglected Kirk… in the end, she tried so hard to help others and be there for them that she forgot about herself. Riley's death had affected her too. He was becoming her friend, he was a bright kid… he was, in a lot of ways, like Gaila.
And Nyota had thought she could finally fill the void Gaila left in her life with the smart, enthusiastic kid. Now she knew: that void would never be filled, no matter how many Rileys appeared in her life.
She and Scotty kept talking, mostly about the picture McCoy sent around of Kirk in drag. She clarified to him that McCoy was using the term ‘miss’ very loosely, and Scotty laughed, saying that a gentleman never says anything inappropriate about a lady. She felt better after talking to the engineer; he had this ability to make her happy with jokes that he didn't even intend to make.
She was ready to apologize to Jim, who, surprisingly, took it very well. She was still taken aback because he wasn't filing any sort of reprimand. He looked like he thought he deserved the slap (he did, but she hardly was one who should throw the first stone), and they agreed to let things go.
Nyota hoped Jim fixed things with Spock… she didn't want to see either of them suffering.
She saw Spock in the Observation deck after dinner. He often went there when he was feeling confused.
“How are you?” Nyota asked, standing next to him.
“I am well,” Spock said in a monotone. Jim still hadn't talked to him, then.
“Be honest, Spock,” Nyota pleaded. “Maybe it will be good for you to say what's bothering you.”
“I admit it is disconcerting to lose a crewmember; we have not been in the mission long enough for the Enterprise to start losing members.”
“Being in Starfleet is a risk, we all knew that when we enlisted.”
“Sometimes I wonder…” Spock trailed off, and Nyota waited patiently. He was opening up, she could wait to see what was going on in his head. “… Mister Kirk has suffered losses his entire life, correct?”
“You mean his father? I hardly call that ‘his entire life’.”
“He never met him, that I believe is a loss to carry each day,” Spock theorized.
“Maybe. Jim seems okay, though. He doesn't talk about his dad, but he doesn't look that depressed over the subject.” Nyota knew she was lying. Gaila had told her Jim carried things he couldn't let go of; she assumed his father was one of those things. She wanted to make Spock feel better, so it didn't seem prudent to say that out loud.
“His father died, and now Mister Riley as well… and yet he chooses to serve. Is that not illogical?”
“You were the one who told Jim that you could die at any time, not necessarily in Starfleet; serving only increases the possibilities.”
“Perhaps he will decide he is better having a more… routine life.”
“You mean you think he's quitting? I don't think Jim would do that, Spock. I'm sure he'll come around eventually.”
“And if he does not?” Spock asked, looking at Nyota directly. She saw the sense of uncertainty in Spock's eyes. He was really worried about Jim leaving the Enterprise… about Jim leaving Spock forever.
She felt a small pang of hurt. Just because she had made peace with Spock falling for Kirk didn't mean she didn't feel sometimes envious of the connection those two were creating. It would have been so wonderful if Spock loved her like that, or at least looked at her with half as much interest as he looked at Jim. She wasn't the one, she got it; it was hard to realize that no matter how much you work to be perfect for someone, it's useless when that someone needs something else.
“He will… I know Jim, he just gets things slowly, emotions aren't exactly his forte.”
Spock inclined his head, blinking. Nyota knew he was smiling in his head.
“I'm sure everything will be okay,” Nyota said, and then she noticed Kirk standing near the entrance of the Observation deck. She left them alone, to work out their problems in private.
When she looked at Jim before she left the room, she patted him on the arm. When Jim looked back, she winked at him: I step aside, he's all yours.
She hoped he got the message.
Nyota didn't like memorials since Gaila's death. Well, it wasn't like she had gone to many of them, but every once in a while Starfleet invited all members to attend a service for someone's father, brother, or son. This would be the first memorial she'd been to since Gaila's.
“Ready to go, Miss Uhura?” Scotty asked. For once, his uniform was completely clean.
“Come on, Scotty, don't make me beg. Call me Nyota.”
“Sorry, sorry.” Scotty smiled. “Like my uniform?”
“It looks different without the oil stains,” she admitted. It looked nice, and he looked very handsome.
“Aye, this is the formal uniform. Only for big things… do you want to go to the service with me?”
They started walking, chatting about trivial things.
“Still wanting to kick the Commander Captain in the nuts?” Scotty smirked.
“Nah, he made amends. I'm saving it for the future though,” Nyota said with glee.
“I bet you are.” Scotty nodded.
They stayed together during the service. Nyota saw how surprised Jim was to see everyone there, like he was the only one who cared for Riley. As Admiral Komack was making his speech, Nyota felt a small rush of wind by her ear. Maybe her mother was right… maybe this was the way souls said goodbye.
A few days later, Jim was complaining about how his room was messy and his things were changing places without him touching them.
“I'm telling you, Bones. My room is haunted.”
“Yeah, stop drinking that,” McCoy snorted. “Just because it says alcohol on the label doesn't mean you have to drink it.”
“I talked with Rand and she says she doesn't move my things. This ship is haunted!”
“I hardly believe the Enterprise is ‘haunted’,” Spock intervened. “It probably has to do with your lack of organization.”
“Name one time when I've been disorganized,” dared Jim.
“The time you delivered the reports in the wrong order; you gave incorrect shifts to the yeomen because you had your files misplaced; you –”
“Okay, I said one time, and also I fixed all those things,” Jim said sourly. “The point is that my room is haunted, no, the whole ship.”
“Well Jimbo, it could be Riley's way to mess with you.”
The entire table went silent after McCoy's comment. Nyota noticed how Spock went completely rigid.
“Yeah, the first thing Kevin is going to do after dying is come back here, when he's got … I don't know, Heaven, or somewhere else more interesting to be,” Jim snorted.
Nyota let out a breath. She'd been afraid of this topic, they'd only had a few days of getting back to normal and she was worried that McCoy was pushing Jim's boundaries. She should have known Leonard knew Jim well enough to risk making those comments.
“If you ask me, souls can't haunt people,” Nyota said. “But my mother used to say that souls send messages through the wind… to say goodbye.”
“That's stupid.” Jim shook his head.
“How is that stupid?” Nyota asked, confused.
“Well, it's just wind,” Jim shrugged.
“Yeah, but haunted rooms are realistic,” Nyota mocked.
“They could be!” Jim defended. “Haven't you read anything about ectoplasm?”
“I'm with Uhura on this one,” McCoy piped in. “Just clean your damn room.”
“Spock will side with me; you believe in that shit, right?”
Spock arched an eyebrow, while McCoy scoffed. He still wasn't used to seeing Jim turning to Spock for support. She could relate.
“You know, the souls haunting thing? Vulcans believe in souls.”
“And may I ask how you are aware of that piece of information about Vulcan culture?” Spock kept his eyebrow lifted.
“Um… I read a lot? You know, I like gossip, Vulcans are control freaks, it was a challenge…”
Nyota saw Spock blinking. He didn't believe Jim's excuse one bit. She didn't believe it either, and McCoy must be in the same boat, since he scoffed again, now with disbelief.
“We do believe in katras, which I assume is similar to the human concept of ‘souls’. However I am afraid I do not believe in souls in the general way you mean the term.”
“Why do you always side with everyone but me?” Jim pouted.
“I will ‘side with you’ when you make logical arguments. Haunted rooms and souls are by no means, rational.”
They kept discussing the possibility of Jim's room being haunted; Nyota felt comfortable, and even felt a sense of belonging. As if this was the right way: Jim and Spock together, with her and McCoy as their friends.
Serving in Starfleet was bound to screw her eventually. She had heard about weird missions, people disappearing and appearing years later, strange bacteria… she had heard it all. Except adults becoming children. That was a new kind of weird.
Jim wanted to tell Spock everything, but Nyota knew explaining to a child about how he was really an adult and overwhelming him with information wasn't the best course of action. She was a woman, she was more sensitive and she could deal better with Spock at this age. He had a human mother, it was natural for Nyota to connect with the child.
Or so she thought. Spock overheard their conversation (she had to admit she had been a little loud), and preferred Jim's honesty. Little Spock clung to Jim like a baby duck, and clearly felt safe with him. If seeing Spock as an adult being painfully oblivious about his new feelings for Jim was somewhat disconcerting and unpleasant, seeing Spock as a child showing how much he wanted to be with him without any restraint (by Vulcan standards, of course) was even worse.
She'd never had a chance. Jim would charm Spock no matter what the age.
Jim left Spock under her care while he went back to his room to sort things out. She hoped she would be able to connect with Spock now, but the kid wouldn't stop asking about Jim. It was unnerving, he only wanted Jim with him, and he even barged into McCoy's office when Leonard said he was making sure Jim was okay. She tried to stop him, but the kid was stronger than he looked. She should have known that, she was aware of Spock's strength; but she forgot when she saw him looking so innocent.
At least something positive had come out of their breakup… this wasn't weirder because of the romantic factor. If she had still been dating him, having him back as a child could have been… upsetting, for lack of a better word to explain how disturbing, weird and bizarre that would have been.
Jim took his sweet time coming back to Sickbay, and McCoy damaged a Tricoder to keep Spock busy. Oh, Jim would have his head, he was so touchy when things broke around the Enterprise; he was even worse than Scotty, who had once cried over a pair of wires. Yes, a pair of wires. The guy was very passionate about his machines. When Jim finally came to Sickbay to retrieve Spock, he asked to talk with her first.
“I need you to do me a favor,” Jim said quickly.
“Okay.” She nodded. She was a team player. If Jim needed something, in the current situation, she would probably do it.
“I need you to go to Spock's room and hide everything that could lead to the kid finding out about what happened.”
“What?” She wasn't expecting this. “Why me?”
“You're his ex-girlfriend, and you're his best friend. He trusts you… and you're the only one who can do it. Please, Uhura,” Jim implored.
He had a point. But the thought of going through Spock's personal items made her uncomfortable, they'd never been that intimate. She reluctantly agreed, and asked for the security code (contrary to common belief, she wasn't aware of every detail in Spock's life) and went to the room, wondering how hard it would be.
It wasn't that weird after all; the whole ‘my ex-boyfriend is a child’ dilemma was still the top one. She saw a small chess piece in one of the corners on the desk. She held it, smiling sadly. It was the piece that started all, when Spock found out Jim played chess, and when they started spending time together and sharing anecdotes. It was the piece little Amanda had with her when Jim tried to teach her how to play chess. Spock kept it, like it was a treasure. Perhaps it was, for him; a reminder of the baby who brought him and Jim together.
A memento of their daughter.
Jim made a mistake. At least, that was what she gathered from his ranting as Leonard checked Spock's vitals while he lay unconscious on the bed.
“I fucked up, I fucked up,” Jim kept babbling.
“Calm down.” Nyota touched his arm gently. “I'm sure it's not that bad.”
“He knows, okay! I was stupid enough to leave a picture of the memorial wall in plain sight! He knows his mother is dead!”
Nyota's eyes widened. This was why she didn't want to tell Spock anything! He must be so traumatized, Amanda was the only good thing in Spock's childhood, the only source of love and comfort… she was everything to Spock.
“At least he doesn't know about Vulcan, right?” McCoy interceded.
“Not helping, Bones!” Jim snapped.
“He knows,” Nyota said. “Now what?”
“I… I had a thought about what could be the thing… his true nature.”
“Okay…” Now even McCoy seemed interested.
“They said Spock had to find his true nature. Spock always denies his human side… maybe if he accepts it, he can change back.”
It made sense. Jim was a genius, yet he acted really stupid sometimes. They agreed to wait for Spock to wake up; he would call Nyota if she was needed.
And she was needed really quick. She was trying to set things right with the documents for Starfleet when she was called.
“Your turn,” Jim said sadly as he left the room.
“Is he upset?” Nyota asked.
“He hates me. Hopefully you'll have more luck.”
Hopefully. She nodded, trying to look sympathetic, and entered the room. Spock was sitting on the bed, looking rather miserable.
“Hi, Spock. May I sit?” she asked politely.
Spock didn't answer; she decided to take that as a yes. She kept a prudent distance between them, to avoid making Spock more uncomfortable than he already was.
“I grieve with thee,” she said quietly.
Spock snapped his head up to look at Nyota, surprised.
“How did you know about that?” Spock asked.
“We are friends, remember?” She looked at him sweetly.
“I do not have any friends,” Spock said curtly, looking back at the wall.
“You have friends, Spock. And friends make mistakes; I know you're hurt, but …”
“I am not hurt,” Spock snapped. “Death is a natural event in weaker races like humans.”
“Vulcans die as well.”
“Not as easily or as soon as humans. Humans are weak and useless. They die…”
And leave their loved ones alone. Nyota understood the unspoken words; she'd felt the same way when Gaila died.
“You are human, Spock, it's a part of you. Perhaps a tiny part, but still, it's there with you…”
“I am not human. I embraced the Vulcan teachings and I am Vulcan. I am not weak. Please, leave the room and contact my father.”
Nyota was familiar with that tone. It was the cold tone adult Spock used when he gave an order that wasn't open for discussion.
“You are not perfect, Spock. You are human, whether you like it or not.”
She stood up, walking away to deliver the news. She had not succeeded, and they would have to contact Spock's father to take him back home; if such thing existed at this point.
Jim sacrificed his wish to get Spock back. Nyota had zero doubts about his devotion to Spock at this point. He could have had his father, Kevin or even Gaila, and he chose to bring back Spock. She'd feared this wouldn't work and Spock would be stuck as a kid forever… or at least until he grew up again (it was confusing), but when she saw Spock coming out of the chamber, she felt like she was breathing for the first time since this mission started. She couldn't help it, she ran into Spock's arms, hugging him tightly.
She had her friend back; she wasn't alone anymore.
Nyota glanced up to see if Jim was coming over to them to congratulate Spock or something, but he was just watching them with a melancholy look on his face. Oh, she hoped he wasn't misinterpreting this, it was just a friendly hug! Before she could call to him, he beamed up, disappearing quickly.
With Spock back to normal and remembering nothing about the mission, the Enterprise was celebrating; she would clarify things with Jim later.
The next day, during lunch, Spock sat with her.
“Good afternoon, Nyota.”
“Hi Spock. How are you?”
“I am well. The past four days must have been interesting.”
“Yeah, interesting is about right.”
“Nyota… if I may… did you share any personal information with Mister Kirk?”
“What?” She looked at Spock with a frown.
“I am not reproaching you, I am aware of the extraordinary circumstances you were facing.”
“So you think I gossiped with Jim? What the hell, Spock?” She was pissed. Like Spock didn't know her!
“I apologize, I did not mean any affront, I was just merely curious,” Spock tried to back track.
“Curious about what?”
“If I recall correctly, Doctor McCoy said that Mister Kirk ‘ended my childish rant’ by touching my hands. I am sure the Commander was not aware of the meaning of the gesture…”
“So you think I said something,” Nyota finished. Well, it made sense now. McCoy always spilled more information than necessary.
“I apologize once more; I should have known you never share information.”
“Jim said he read about Vulcans when we talked about souls. Maybe that information was also in the data.”
Spock didn't seem too sure, and Nyota was intrigued as well. There was something about the way Jim was acting around Spock that showed a certain closeness, which was surprising given the small amount of time they'd spent together.
There was more to this, and she was going to find out what it was.
During dinner time, Spock and Jim started arguing about the next mission, while McCoy snorted and Nyota observed carefully. Yes, there was something deep here; Spock lifted his eyebrow and Jim laughed. Nyota laughed as well. She may no longer believe in Prince Charming (not after Spock), but as she watched Jim and Spock interacting, she did believe in soul mates.
Strange as it sounded, that gave her hope of finding her own soul mate one day.
Maybe in the future… she would find the Kirk to her Spock.