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vocalisation (or, a lack of it)

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If nothing else, Nyota Uhura is a good people person.

She has always been: she’s apt at knowing when to speak and when to not speak; she knows when someone’s upset, or hurt, or angry. It’s not a telepathy thing - it’s never been a telepathy thing - it’s a being raised with brilliant, smart women, who emote so beautifully that she has been raised to know how to respond sort of thing. It’s what makes her so good at linguistics: she is, if she dare say so herself, quite good at reading people.

The Enterprise is doing well, on their five year voyage. Space is as warm and as welcoming as it ever gets, and she wakes up early after a good night’s sleep. Nyota gets dressed, and goes down to breakfast with a spring in her step.

Kirk and McCoy are arguing again over some matter or another, and Spock is sat with them, eating serenely. How he manages to stay uninvolved is beyond anyone’s comprehension, especially when the two of them bicker so well.

“Good morning, Nyota,” Spock greets her, as courteous as ever, and she offers him a smile in return.

“Morning, Spock,” she says, placing her tray at the table and slipping into a seat. “What are they arguing about now?”

“My allergies,” Kirk says loudly, interrupting their little conversation and broadcasting his own around the mess, “do not need a bi-weekly check up, Bones!”

“Hey, I never said anything about bi-weekly,” McCoy responds, fork halfway up to his mouth but apparently forgotten. He aims it at Kirk, prodding closer to Kirk’s face to bring emphasis as he speaks. “Just an occasional check up or, I don’t know, actually telling me about them would be nice!”

“Bi-weekly,” Kirk repeats, taking a vicious bite of egg, expression daring McCoy to respond.

“Bi-daily,” is all McCoy mutters in response.

Kirk’s mouth settles into a flat line, but twitches at the edges, amusement clear in his expression. McCoy, meanwhile, has finally eaten his forkful of food, and is steadfastly ignoring Kirk and anyone else at the table, eyes on his plate.

My family, Nyota can not help but think. Her boys - her brothers. For her Uhura family, full of sisters and mothers and aunts and nieces, it is odd that she has, somewhere along the way, lay claim to her crew. They, to her, are family in all but blood.

“So,” Kirk says clearly, clapping his hands and getting to his feet, “today is going to be a good day! A happy day! Full of first contact and new friends.” He grins as though he actually believes those words and bounds away, dumping his tray and disappearing into his ship.

“My God,” says McCoy, “some people are far too cheerful in the morning.”

Nyota finishes her granola contentedly, only half-listening as McCoy and Spock snipe at each other. She knows it’s their way of getting along, and Kirk is usually the instigator, but breakfast and coffee comes first.

They enter the turbolift some twenty minutes later, finally ready for Alpha shift to begin. 

“What are we doing today, Spock?” Nyota asks, brushing one hand against his upper arm. Every day is new on the Enterprise - she is never truly sure whether she will be translating a new language or dipping into an old one.

Unusually, his eyes do not focus in on her; instead, he stares at the wall of the turbolift, an eyebrow raised. For a moment, she wonders if he is ill, but suddenly he is back with pin-point focus.

“I apologise,” he says quietly, as McCoy leaves the turbolift and Sulu gets on. “I am… distracted.”

“I noticed,” she responds shrewdly, worry etched on her expression. “Is everything alright, Spock? Is your father well?”

“My father is fine, thank you,” he says slowly, as though thinking of other things. “I am… satisfactory.” Spock pauses. “More than satisfactory,” he amends, and when he meets her gaze again there is some of that usual warmth back in his eyes.

Her hand comes to rest on his lower arm as she smiles. She has always liked Spock - even after they broke up - and to know that he is doing well is a relief to her. “I’m glad,” she says, as the turbolift doors open.

Spock steps out, prompt as ever, and she watches closely as Kirk’s eyes meets Spock’s for a split second, something passing between them. Nyota’s never sure of what passes between them when they look at each other like that; perhaps it’s Kirk’s way of berating Spock for his Vulcan-ness, or Spock’s reminder that Kirk is, in fact, human, or just an acknowledgement of presence - you’re here, I’m here, let’s go.

They finally relieve Gamma shift. There’s nothing pressing at the moment - they are travelling to a planet with a new species to introduce themselves to and hopefully get up a treaty to join the Federation. Nothing new - just an average day on the Enterprise.

Shift is uneventful for a good two hours. They pass by random objects floating around in space and get close enough to an information relay to beam some back to Starfleet command. 

Nyota sits, deep in thought, thinking about the interactions between XO and Captain; they’re acting oddly. More oddly than usual, in fact, and Nyota wants to find out why.

“Captain,” Sulu smoothly interrupts Nyota’s thoughts. “We have Admiral Barrows hailing us.”

Kirk smiles brilliantly. “Patch him through,” he says, as though his day has just been made.

The viewscreen flickers out of a view of the stars and into a picture of a tired looking Barrows, whose mouth is set in a hard line. “Captain Kirk,” he greets shortly, tone about as exhausted as he looks.

“Admiral Barrows,” Kirk responds carefully, nodding respectfully. Spock has gotten to his feet and stands just behind Kirk, looking like the dream command team they have always been.

“I have some bad news,” Barrows begins. “We need you to make a decision.” He pauses for a long moment, eyes moving as though he is searching Kirk’s own. “We’ve had a faction gone rogue - we need you to either intercept and stop them from being… rogue, or continue on your current course.” He sighs, as though he is carrying the earth. “It’s a risk either way, and we can’t let them continue.”

Kirk turns to Spock; he makes a gesture as though he begins to speak, but his mouth stays shut. His arms begin to wave wildly, gesturing to and fro - even pointing at Nyota herself for a second. But they’re not speaking. In fact, no noise is coming from either of them - there’s dead silence on the bridge.

The crew look confused - she’s confused. No-one, including Barrows, has any idea what’s going on. The two of them appear to be communicating, but with their mouths closed. There’s no visible sign of language anywhere; just Kirk’s movements and Spock’s tiny expressions in response.

Kirk continues to make short movements, hand moving fluidly, pointing towards the Admiral and then back again. When Spock raises an eyebrow, his gesturing becomes more frantic; finally, Spock nods, and Kirk calms again.

“Okay,” Kirk says finally, after long minutes of silence. “Commander Spock and I believe we should assist in the defeat of the rogue faction.”

“…Excellent,” says Barrows, confusion layered with relief in his voice. “Um.” He actually pauses, as though unsure, and shoots Kirk and Spock an odd look. “The rest of this is level 4 classified, Captain - I would prefer it if you took it somewhere… private.”

Kirk nods sharply, and Spock falls into step behind him. “Sulu, you have the conn.” They enter the turbolift, doing that thing again, and then the doors close and they can be seen no more.

“What,” says Nyota, undoubtedly echoing the thoughts of everyone else on the bridge right now, “the hell was that?”

She watches them at mess that evening that well, after shift is long over. They seem to be communicating again - Jim is making wild gestures and the corner’s of Spock’s lips are upturned in the closest thing that comes to a smile.

“What are you watching?” McCoy asks, coming over to sit with her. He plonks himself down, following her line of sight. “Oh, those two. Again.”

“Again?” She turns to him, confused. “What do you mean, again?”

“They did it in the medbay when Jim got knocked out on Alpix,” McCoy explains shortly. “I mean - no words. They were just communicating through goddamn gestures and eyebrow raises.”

Nyota’s confusion deepens as she watches them walk away together, still apparently conversing. She needs to speak to Spock about this - oddity.

She corners him at the beginning of Alpha the next day. “So,” she says, as casually as she can manage when curiosity is burning her up, “uh, what were you doing with the Captain yesterday?”

Spock’s eyebrow raises; across the room, his eyes meet Kirk’s, but then he looks down at her again. “Nyota, the Captain and I played chess in the recreational loung-”

“No,” she interrupts, feeling rude for doing so, but the desperation to know is burning her up. “I mean, yesterday. On the bridge. The silent act between you and Kirk. Have you developed your own sign language or something?”

Already she knows it’s not that, because languages have rules and regulations and all of Kirk’s wild hand waving had none of that to it; it was simply, dare she think it, illogical. And either way, she’s excellent at recognising languages, either spoken or non spoken…

She gasps.

“Oh my God!” she exclaims, her face lighting up in sudden, sparking understanding. “You and the Captain are bonded!”

Silence falls across the bridge; people turn in their seats to look at the corner in which she and Spock are standing. Spock’s mouth almost drops open in shock, but then he closes it and something close to desperation enters his gaze.

Across the room, his eyes meet Kirk’s; Kirk shrugs, and Spock raises both eyebrows in response. She watches, fascinated as the two of them communicate from several meters apart, without even touching.

“Oh my God,” she repeats, delight undoubtedly brightening her features. “You two totally are!” Already she’s fascinated; who knew that a half-Vulcan and a seemingly psi-null human could bond successfully? And successfully enough to clearly communicate between each other? She wonders what their language is like; rapid fire images, sent to one-another? Or fully formed language, something she may be able to decipher and understand?

“What?” says Sulu, breaking into her thoughts. “You mean, you’re Vulcan married?”

Spock shoots Kirk a dirty look as if to say your crew, you deal with it. Kirk sighs. “Uh, yeah,” he begins slowly. “We were trying to keep it a secret, but someone worked it out.”

“You weren’t exactly subtle,” Nyota hears herself laugh. “When Barrows commed yesterday - the two of you actually forgot to verbalise.”

Kirk scratches the back of his neck guiltily. “Um,” he says eloquently. “I thought something was wrong with that conversation.”

“So wait,” Chekov interjects, turned in his seat and facing the rest of them with fascination, “you mean you got Vulcan married and didn’t tell us?”

“It was a secret,” Spock interjects quickly, trying to calm them all down.

Kirk continues the sentence: “And anyway, Vulcan bonding is… enthusiastic.”

“Can I listen in on your discussions?” Nyota asks as Spock slinks away from the corner she’d backed him into and towards Kirk. “I mean, touch telepathy…”

“No,” they both respond, voices just as flat as each other’s and with identical expressions.

“Just a second,” says Kirk, finally vocalising while talking to Spock, giving Nyota some much needed insight into their bond. “Can we literally-”

“-finish each other’s sentences?” Spock continues, without a pause between Kirk’s end of speech and his beginning. “Yes,” he concludes.

“This,” Kirk laughs, grinning broadly, “is kind of awesome.”

Privately, Nyota agrees.

Anyway, the bond comes in useful when Kirk gets kidnapped (again) and Spock has to rescue him (again). And undoubtedly useful for many other things, as well. They’re just things that Nyota would really prefer not to think about.