Authors note: OK, so all my stories are slow in coming these days. My bad. I just don’t have the same time that I had before to work on them due to the personal electronic device ban at work. I am considering changing my working hours (even possibly changing jobs) to have some semblance of a life again to have time to write, so patience, my lovelies.
Now, as for this story, Spock finally makes his appearance. I know you all think (or thought) it was going to be a Uhura/Gaila story, but I assure you it is not. It definitely smells of Spuhura as you will see for yourself very shorty.
Sometimes when I write (who am I kidding, most times when I write) my thoughts come to me so rapidly that I have to put them all down before I forget them. This was just such a chapter. Unfortunately, after working on it ALL DAY I still could put it into in kind of order, so some areas will appear rather wordy and rambley.
I know, I know I should just set it aside and let it stew for a few days, but I have delayed this story too long already and I really just want to get it’s “heaviness” off my chest.” So please, forgive all it’s faults. I do reserve the right to go back a patch it up as the spirit moves me, but these days, with no time to write, the spirit will probably not “move me” anytime soon.
Enjoy… or not.
From the mere touch of his fingers on the controls, sometimes, he could sense the impression of her consciousness as it radiated out from her being by means of the panels of the adjoining communication’s console.
Spock had never purposely sought Uhura out this way. It was one random, uneventful day, several weeks after she had first joined the Enterprise’s crew, when her essence had simply found him and he could not help but feel astonished at the energy of a non-telepathic mind.
Over the years and at certain periods, especially during particularly quiet intervals upon the bridge, he could generally perceive the level of her fatigue, knew when she was especially happy, and even frequently he was able to ascertain whether or not she was about to fall from her chair, which, on more than one occasion proved to be quite helpful. From that point on and for some unknown reason, he found himself becoming especially watchful of her.
However, after her brush with NOMAD nearly three years previous, he began to comprehend that this simple state of watchfulness, was beginning to bear all the markings of a certain level of over-protectiveness.
He reduced the number of away missions she was assigned to; he purposely stood by her chair whenever they engaged in a battle; and, on more than one occasion, he questioned the need for her to communicate face-to-face with any alien species whose civilization ever had the remotest leanings towards any types of violence in their distance past.
It was after their encounter with the Tholian’s which gave him the first hint that something was amiss in their professional shipboard relationship. He merely wished to protect her from her own self when he sought to disprove her theory that she had actually seen their missing Captain in the mirror in her quarters. However, once her observation had proven correct, he found that her demeanor towards him for several weeks after the incident was rather cool.
This culminated in the event where she snapped at him in the middle of a staff meeting for denying her suggestion, that she, as the only person on-board fluent in Cormari, should to act as interpreter on a trade negotiation with several Cormarian dilithium miners. He rejected her resolve to beam to the male-only mining camp on the surface for the simple reason that he thought they might look at her in a certain lascivious way.
It took exactly three weeks of intensive meditation until he finally convinced himself of the logical rationale of not permitting himself to become so over-protective of a woman who was not his mate, eventually deciding after feeling the waves of her abhorrence for those same three weeks that perhaps it was best not to use his connection with her through the ship’s console too often.
Personally, a year or two after Uhura’s encounter with NOMAD where her memories of their time spent together had been erased, he eventually had a few fleeting relationships himself, but nothing of any significance, and definitely nothing and with no one that he cared to remember. He sometimes wished that her memories would return, even though he knew deep within himself that wishes were too much like regrets and regrets were always highly illogical.
Once in the final year of their five year mission and with harmony and equanimity finally restored, their relationship was back to being as cordial as ever. He had some consolation in the fact that she took Ka’athyra lessons from him once a week where they would sit together in a quiet corner of the recreation room and make music to their heart’s content.
Here he would offer guidance, give gentle encouragement, and on occasion, be permitted to touch her hand as he glided her soft fingers to the proper string. And she was the perfect student: always punctual for her lessons, always performing more than adequately and always listening attentively.
That afternoon, precisely thirty-two days before the end of their mission, Spock felt that Uhura’s emotions were especially strong and it didn’t take long to figure the reason why.
The very presence of Admiral Gaila Nogura onboard the Enterprise had caused Uhura’s usual calm radiance though his fingers to send out waves of emotions that signaled that her control had begun to fray. However, when he looked over to gauge the situation for himself, she continued to portray the cool, collected Starfleet officer that she always presented to the world.
Minutes later, Spock suddenly sensed a fleeting wave of panic within her and he glanced over again. The first shift was now over and Uhura was standing up to turn her seat over to Lieutenant Palmer. His relief, Ensign Chekov approached the science station, so naturally Spock arose and joined several of the bridge crew, including Uhura, as they all entered the turbolift together to exit the bridge.
Spock stood on the far left of the lift and watched Uhura out of the corner of his eyes while she silently huddled on the far right, as the three other officers standing in between them chatted happily about their plans for the evening.
It was not unusual for Uhura to be the center of such discussions. Yet, at the present moment, she didn’t seem to be listening to any of the conversation going on in front of her. She appeared distracted, detached even.
Reaching deck five, the other crewmembers bustled out noisily, but she remained, having held herself back, not realizing that the lift had stopped, her forearms wrapped tightly around her body.
Startled, she looked up, suddenly surprised by his voice and his presence.
“Oh, Mr. Spock; I’m sorry; I didn’t see you there.”
Whether it was because of guilt or embarrassment from having not noticed him, she glanced away. This only compelled him to take a small step forward.
“Is there something wrong, Lieutenant? May I be of assistance?”
She glanced up and favored him with a small smile, before biting her lip and looking away.
“Oh, no, sir; it’s all right; thanks for asking, though.”
He nodded for her to proceed and she had no other option but to move out of the lift herself. Their living quarters, though not in the same corridor, where in the same general direction, so he naturally followed her until they had reason to separate. However, a few meters from her door, she stopped in mid-stride and looked left then right as if trying to make a decision.
He moved around to face her. “Miss Uhura?”
She reluctantly glanced up. “Yes, Mr. Spock?”
“You seem somewhat indecisive. Are you certain that I can not be of assistance?”
She shook her head. “I’m sorry, sir.” She turned away from him slightly and huffed impatiently. “I’m just—I’m just not ready to go to my quarters yet.”
He had already deduced from her earlier conversation with the captain that Admiral Nogura was sharing her quarters; he sought to provide her with an alternative.
“The recreation room, perhaps?”
“No, too many people.” She nervously chewed on her lip again, glancing back towards the turbolift. “I was only trying to determine where I could hide for the next hour or so.”
“Hide?” He raised a brow. “Hiding is most advantageous when one seeks to remove oneself from a perilous and hazardous predicament? Since you are safely onboard the Enterprise, I assume that your need to hide for one of those reasons is highly unlikely.”
“Yes, both perilous and hazardous,” she replied, grinning, clearly amused with something he’d said, “something like that.”
He did not understand.
“Might I suggest the observation deck, then? The number of crewmembers using that area of the ship is reduced significantly during this time of the day.”
“No, the observation deck will be the next place they look.”
“It would appear, then, that your only option is to pilot a shuttlecraft away from the Enterprise. Of course, the difficulty lies in getting the shuttlecraft off the ship without detection.”
He observed the rolling of her eyes. “Are you trying to be funny, Mr. Spock?”
“The thought of being funny never occurred.”
He watched as Uhura pressed her lips together into a dissatisfied line; whether she was dissatisfied with him or with her predicament, he could not determine.
She groaned. “This is a big ship, there has got to be somewhere I could go to be off the grid for a little while.”
He had an idea.
“You are welcome to join me in my quarters for your Ka’athyra lesson, if you wish. No one would think to look for you there; then again, it would be a simple matter of seeking you out via the shipwide–”
She cut him off, her face covered with a grateful expression that even he had to admit warmed him immensely.
“That’s an excellent idea, Mr. Spock! Oh, but my instrument—?”
“You are welcome to use mine.”
She reached out to grasp his upper arms, but at the last second, she restrained herself.
“Are you sure? I mean, I wouldn’t wish to intrude.”
“It is of little matter. It presents an excellent opportunity to practice the higher-pitched notes that you have been having trouble with. You can now do so without disturbing the others in the recreation room.”
She cocked an amused eyebrow up at him. “Why Mr. Spock, are you saying that my playing is somewhat lacking?”
“No,” he said, raising an eyebrow of his own, “in this instance, I was endeavoring to be funny.”
The first thing he noticed was the way she hesitated at the entryway. She stood there looking all around, taking it all in.
“You may enter, Miss Uhura.”
She slapped her forehead and then chuckled. “Yes, of course.” Spock didn’t understand this either.
“Does something amuse you, Miss Uhura?”
“I was thinking how funny it is that after five years of serving together, I have never been inside your quarters before.” She glanced casually to the left and studied his sleeping alcove. “Boy, you really like red, I see.”
He, of course, knew that she had been inside his quarters before, but that particular memory, along with several others, were now gone.
“And the sight of the color red makes you laugh?”
“Actually, it’s Captain Kirk who makes me laugh.”
“Thinking of Captain Kirk amuses you?”
“No,” she smiled and shook her head. “It was just something he said at lunch today; something about working together for so long and not knowing whether I liked spaghetti and meatballs. Do you?”
“Do I what?”
“Like spaghetti and meatballs?” At his raised eyebrows she quickly corrected herself. “OK, spaghetti, then?”
“How does my liking or not liking spaghetti fall into the realm of things that amuse you?”
“It really has nothing to do with spaghetti; the captain was simply trying to understand why he does not know certain things about Sulu and me.”
“I assume you mean the fact that you have a long-standing acquaintance with Admiral Gaila Nogura, in addition to the fact Admiral Gaila Nogura is also Lieutenant Sulu’s aunt by marriage.”
Her brow furrowed. “How do you–?”
“Miss Uhura, I am sure you are aware that as the Enterprise’s first officer it is my business to know everything about the crew. As captain, Captain Kirk has many more important considerations. What is currently unclear to me is why you seek to hide from the Admiral?”
“I am not hiding from the Admiral; I’m just… hiding.” At his doubtful look, she ducked her head.
“You both attended the academy together and shared a dwelling within the Archer Residence Hall. I always understood that such connections often increased the bonds of friendships in humans that often extend well into later life.”
“Gaila and I—Admiral Nogura, I should say—lord, I’m never going to get used to saying that—we haven’t spoken in–our relationship is complicated.”
“And no doubt personal; understood.” He quickly changed the subject. “Now, before we begin the lesson, shall you require a beverage?”
She reached out and placed her hand on his sleeve.
“I didn’t mean to make it sound like some sort of deep, dark secret or anything, Mr. Spock. I mean, I don’t mind if you know. I find that I really would like—I really do need to talk about it. Since Sulu isn’t here, there’s no one else on the ship to talk to who could listen to me objectively and without judgment.”
He looked down at the hand resting on his sleeve and then looked into her eyes. She immediately removed her hand and looked down at her feet almost as if she knew she was asking too much of him.
He immediately sought to put her at her ease.
“I have no objection to listening.”
When she glanced back up, he indicated one end of his sofa. After she sat down, he took the other end and waited patiently. As she ordered her thoughts, Spock calculated that she was silent for exactly sixty-four seconds before she spoke.
“Gaila and I met on the opening day at the Academy. She’d been assigned another roommate—a Deltan–who was apparently under some Starfleet ordered vow of celibacy. The Deltan took one look at the Orion who was not under a similar order and knew immediately that there was bound to be trouble. You see, both cultures sexual natures are such that you can’t very well deny one of them something while permitting the other–”
Spock felt the beginnings of a flush in his cheeks. “I understand Miss Uhura; there is no need to explain further. Please continue.”
She nodded and pressed on. “I was assigned to the room across the hall. My roommate had changed her mind at the last minute and decided not come. I was looking forward to having a room all to myself, but then, there was Gaila, cast off first by her people and then by her roommate… and she was sitting in the middle of the hall, surrounded by the few ragged possessions she had to her name… and she just looked so sad.”
“I can well understand what occurred next.”
“Oh, you do?
“I have always found your compassion for others both pleasing and reassuring.”
She bit her lip and lowered her eyes, slightly embarrassed by the tacit compliment. Once she regained her composure, she continued.
“As you can probably imagine, Gaila and I were as different as night is to day, but surprisingly, we got along very well. Of course, there were those times I just wanted to kill her.” Uhura gave Spock a small smile. “You see, Gaila had a habit of bringing guys back to our room, for, you know—” Uhura simply held out both her palms hoping he understood what she meant.
Spock nodded in understanding.
“As time went by our love for each other grew stronger and stronger—we were, if you can believe it, like sisters. Being an outcast, she couldn’t very well go back to Orion Prime for obvious reasons, so, almost every holiday, break, or odd weekend, Gaila came home to Tanzania with me. My family loved her, even all my friends—”
Here Uhura stopped talking, only to stand and walk over to the desk, fingering a few objects there. With her back to him she spoke next in a small, strangled voice.
“Would it surprise you, Mr. Spock, to know that I never intended to travel into deep space?”
Spock sensed the question’s rhetorical nature and said nothing.
“You see, I had a young man back home. His name was Djefre. We were very much in love. He was studying Comparative Biology at the university in Nairobi while I was at the academy. We were planning to get married as soon as our studies were completed. Djefre had been offered a teaching post in Munich and with that is mind, I had requested and was granted an assignment on Starbase One as an interpreter. That way I could beam down from the Space station and be home every night to be with my husband.”
When she finally turned around to face him, just from her expression, Spock immediately sensed where the story was headed, but said nothing.
“For some reason and I never exactly figured out how, Djefre and Gaila had never met; conflicting schedules and school breaks, that sort of thing.”
He swallowed involuntarily; illogical, he knew, but there it was.
“My parents threw Gaila and me a huge party upon our graduation from the Academy, and when I mean huge, I mean the entire village came, along with the chiefs and people from the surrounding villages. As you can probably imagine in such a crush of bodies and music and celebrations, I lost track of Gaila and went in search of her. I found her–she and Djefre were—they were—comparative biology my ass!”
Her face crumpled and Spock was on his feet and standing before her in an instant when he saw the tears glistening in her eyes.
“Miss Uhura, there is no need to go on; you are clearly distressed.”
“I know it’s silly of me; it was all so long ago, and yet it feels like it just happened.” She met his eyes with her own. “One day, Mr. Spock, you will have to explain to me why all you men just can’t seem to resist every Orion female that crosses your path.”
He reached out then to remove a single tear from her cheek that had finally broken free.
“I assure you, Miss Uhura, I have personally never had that particular inclination.”
Something in the way he said that made her smile. She brushed forcefully at the dampness of her own eyes and turned away to reigning in her emotions. “Will you look at me? Behaving like a school girl.” When she turned back, her face was bright and it was as if nothing had happened.
“She did apologize, you know, saying that she didn’t have any idea who he was and that if she had known she never would have done that to me, etcetera, etcetera. At the time, I couldn’t and didn’t want to hear any it. I mean, I had photos of him in my room; she had to know what he looked like. Perhaps she just didn’t care; I don’t know. Funny, I never heard from Djefre again after that and I was hoping to never hear from Gaila either. But the Fates were not finished toying with me.”
She took her seat back on the sofa; Spock followed, but this time he sat down right beside her.
“Gaila, who already had a plum assignment onboard the Constellation, somehow, and no points awarded for guessing how, got herself reassigned to Starbase One, she said, to be near me and to try to be my friend again. But she had a really funny way of showing it; I had to watch as she got special commendation after special commendation, and none of them were based on her professional abilities, if you know what I mean.”
Spock simply nodded.
“After her promotion to Lieutenant-Commander after only one year of Starfleet service, I should add, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I requested a change of assignment to a starship and here I am. Until today I had only heard bits and pieces about her through the usual Starfleet channels… and from Sulu of course. Sulu was in the year above us, but he knew Gaila, hell, everybody knew Gaila. When she got her hooks into his uncle, the Admiral, I can tell you Sulu was none too happy. And, of course, when his Uncle Heihachiro died on Orion Prime trying to rescue Gaila’s sister, I thought I was going to have to physically restrain him from going AWOL.”
Spock had a question. “And she was traveling on the Starcruiser Atraides because–?”
“Because she wanted to see her husband again, I gather..”
Uhura stood up to look at something glowing on the far wall before she leaned against his desk and crossed her arms.
“Since the Enterprise discovered that planet where anyone can have any experience they want simply for the asking, people from across the quadrant have been flocking to it like seagulls, all wanting to adventurers or to fight a Gorn or to reconnect with lost loved ones—and Gaila, I’m assuming from something she told me this morning, wanted to recapture the life she had with her husband. You know, I must admit, I’m having a very hard time wrapping my mind around that one.”
“Because that would mean that she loved her husband. The Gaila I knew never loved anyone—a man, I mean. On the outside, when it came to men, it was always about indifference with her, and yet, on the inside… she must have had a deep and lasting love for him. How can people do that to themselves? How is that possible, Mr. Spock?”
Spock stood, clasped his hands behind his back, and slowly took a few tentative steps towards her. And he was just about to explain to her just how possible it was to give all the appearance of disinterest and logic on the outside, while longing for someone desperately on the inside, when his communication’s console beeped.
“See, I told you they would find me,” she mumbled under her breathe.
He leaned around her and pressed a bottom on his console to open the comm.
“Palmer here, Mr. Spock; I have an incoming transmission for you from the planet Vulcan, sir,” the communication’s officer said. “It is coded priority one; shall I patch it down to your quarters, Commander?”
Spock released the comm. bottom.
“Well, that sounds like my queue to leave,” Uhura said quietly as she turned to go; Spock stopped her with a touch to her elbow before opening the comm. once more.
“Lieutenant Palmer, please relay the communiqué down to me in exactly two minutes.”
Spock again closed the comm., and stood tall, looking down into the Lieutenant’s eyes. They were standing so closed that he could feel her sweet breath upon his chin.
Uhura looked up at him in her usual, friendly, though impassive way.
“Thanks for listening, sir. Perhaps, if you ever get tired of being the Enterprise’s science officer, you could take a stab at being the ship’s counselor. You are a great listeners, you know, and counselors are always great listeners.”
“My door is always open to you, Miss Uhura. Any time you feel the need to talk, you only need ask.”
“Thank you, Mr. Spock. Keep suggesting nice things like that and I just might have to consider making you as my new B.F.F.”
“An old Earth term; it means: best friend forever.”
There it was again, the friend word. Spock took a small step back.
“It would seem that there will be no time for a Ka’athyra lesson this evening. Our regular practice time on Thursday evening will have to suffice?”
“Yes, of course. It will give me a chance to practice those high-pitched notes in my playing that you find so irritating.”
He cocked his head to one side. “I never said that your playing was irritating, Miss Uhura.”
“OK, lacking then. Perhaps, if I’m lucky, those high-pitched notes will be enough to irritate the Orion currently inhabiting my quarters and drive her away.”
“As you wish,” he said, unemotionally. The door swooshed open as soon as she approached it.
“Yes, Mr. Spock” she replied, turning back to him and pausing before making her exit.
“Djefre was a fool.”
She flashed him the largest, the most blinding smile Spock had ever seen and his heart fluttered wildly in his side. When she was gone, he sat down at his console and sighed deeply in satisfaction. Perhaps he had been too quick in giving up in his pursuit of the Lieutenant. Perhaps he had been wrong to keep certain things from her. Perhaps, when this mission was finally over he would—his console beeped. Reaching out to turn on the viewer he was somewhat surprised by the sight of his father’s face filling the screen.
“Greetings, my father.”
“Greetings, my son; you appear to be in health.”
“I am in the best of health, my father.”
“Your mother will be most pleased.” And almost as an after thought, he added. “Your mother wishes me to extend her regards.”
“Thank you, father. Please extend my regards to her, also.” That was the usual extent of the greeting portion of their conversation. Spock waited to hear what else his father had to say. It must have been important for his father had never have contacted him outside of the prearranged times that they already had in place. He didn’t have to wait very long.
“Spock, a delicate situation had been brought to my particular attention and I need your assistance. In fact, you and your shipmates are the only ones who can help with this most important matter.”