The recruiter waits. She swallows. Says yes.
She pauses at his office door. Turns away. Turns back. Knocks.
They talk for hours. She makes herself leave. Eventually.
The exam begins. Her mind blanks. She panics, curbs it, starts writing.
She knows he’s waiting for some sign, some permission. She wonders if he would even recognize it. She thinks he might not.
She wonders if he’ll just keep waiting. She thinks he might.
She touches his jaw. He inhales sharply. She kisses him. He kisses back.
She can see them through the café door, smoothes her skirt, tucks her hair behind her ear.
Spock catches her eye, stands as she approaches.
“Nyota,” she says, holding out her hand.
“Amanda.” The other woman smiles.
“Relieve the Lieutenant.”
She’s dreamed about this.
Her palms are clammy. Her heart races.
She sits, steadies her hands, makes her report.
She imagines following him onto the turbolift.
She imagines not.
She stands, crosses the bridge, steps close to him.
She holds the commission letter, looks up at Kirk.
She imagines doing it without Spock. This was never their plan.
She blinks stinging eyes, swallows, swallows again, says yes.
“Do it, do it.” Sulu’s voice is tense, strained.
She looks back through the glass doors, meets his eyes, throws the lever.
He disappears in a rush of ash and smoke.
She runs silently reviews verbs and pronouns, mouths past participles as Kirk hands her a phaser to tuck underneath her jacket.
Spock squeezes her hand. She squeezes back, walks out of the ship, breathes the acidic air of Qo'noS, keeps walking.
They will get home.
“Can you beam someone down?”
She needs him back. She needs them both back.
She doesn’t think, just moves.