Author’s Note: Has it really been 3 months since the last chapter? Gosh I suck!
Chapter 8 (this chapter 8, I should say) was not a planned chapter. Chapter 9, was really chapter 8, yet, as I was putting the finishing touches to it, I felt that there needed to be a scene in between to bridge the two. Sorry for the continued angst, but you know me, I get off on this stuff…
Spock would never be considered particularly loud. His movements were concise, yet silently elegant, his actions crisp and smoothly deliberate, and his voice, both soft and deep had always been calm and reassuring.
And yet his very presence did have a certain resonance which was easily missed when no longer about. The tea set which usually sat on her table gently steaming and perfuming the air with his favorite Vulcan brew, now appeared cold and long forgotten. His lyre was also gone, missing from the corner which was it’s usual home, and his meditation robe had been removed from the hook on the back of the bathroom door and with his absence from her quarters all was eerily still.
She noticed all these missing things moment she entered her quarters, barely an hour after her hearing, and it was this new kind of silence which hurt the most.
The day following the hearing, after a sleepless night, Uhura had sent a voice message asking him for time that evening to talk over their issues.
His response: a curt, five-word text message:
Talking both illogical and impossible.
The day after that, a desperate, late-night buzz to his door; she knew he was within, but it went unanswered.
And, a day later, a mere glance across the bridge during their shared alpha shift was followed by her unexpected and inexplicable reassignment to the beta shift.
The day before their arrival at the Vulcan planet of Haven, the Captain requested Uhura’s presence in his quarters to go over the schedule and to review his speech. He needed to sort out some of the trickier Vulcan pronunciations and phrases before he stood before the Vulcan High council.
As usual, Uhura was punctual and thoroughly prepared. However, Kirk had another concern that he wished to address with her before they began. He nodded towards the sofa and when she sat down primly and rigidly on the edge of it, he looked at her askance.
“Are you sick or something?”
“I haven’t seen you on the bridge.”
“No, Captain; yesterday was my usual day off,” she replied, taking her computer tablet out of her work bag and placing it on the top of his coffee table.
“I know it was your day off yesterday, but I’m talking about today; you weren’t on the bridge.”
Uhura blinked; she had assumed that the captain knew. It took everything that was within her to answer him unemotionally.
“I am assigned to Beta shift now.”
The Captain just stared at her as if he had a question on his lips, but she deftly changed the subject.
“The Vulcan’s have transmitted the final itinerary and I’ve been going over it carefully. We will need to move the reception on board the Enterprise back one hour to compensate for the length of the High Council’s usual weekly meeting.”
But Kirk’s mind was far from the Vulcan itinerary.
“Beta Shift? Since when?” he asked, looking at her narrowly, seeing the stylus quiver in her hand.
“Since today,” she said with false brightness before immediately moving on to what had brought her to the Captain’s quarters in the first place. “Shall we go over your speech now?”
She refused to lift her eyes, but she could feel Kirk’s glare. To look up, she thought, would do nothing but reveal the weakness she was certain was in her own eyes. She would remain professional; she would not complain.
“Captain, I thought that we could take a look at this part of the speech where you talk of the Federation working in harmony with the Vulcan council. I thought we could replace the expression krilan-vo’ektaya with kril’es, it means virtually the same thing, but it would be so much easier for you to pronounce.”
But Kirk was hardly finished.
“I hope you didn’t switch shifts because of Spock.”
“No, Captain. Of course not.” She just swallowed and pressed on. “And this word here, rish-tor, when you pronounce it, you should put an emphasis on the “rish” sound to state the Vulcan’s unique ability to battle back from adversity.”
Kirk said nothing and simply stared at Uhura until his suspicions fully formed in his mind.
“Son of a bitch!” he spat, reaching across his desk and angrily pounding the comm switch. “Kirk to Operations.”
“No, Captain, please,” she cried, alarmed that the Captain had guessed her real predicament so quickly. Uhura had tried to reach over to stay his hand but he was too swift for her. The comm screen blinked to life.
“Operations. Carstairs here.”
“Carstairs,” said Kirk, livid. “Until further notice, Lieutenant Uhura is permanently assigned to Alpha shift. Is that understood?”
“But sir, Mr. Spock–”
Uhura tried to interject again, “Please Captain, don’t–”
Kirk effectively cut them both off with his bark of command.
“I know perfectly well who makes the crew assignments on the Enterprise!” he snapped. “Would you kindly remember that I am still the Captain of this vessel and I can make changes when I wish, wherever I wish. Is that understood, Mister?”
“Yes, sir. I mean, of course sir. Sorry, sir.”
Kirk didn’t want to hear any apologies.
“Kirk out!” he said, slapping at the off switch.
Uhura was mortified. She couldn’t look at him so she just sat there, staring down at the carpet, quietly, listening to the captain’s ragged breathe.
When he finally got a hold of himself, Kirk finally spoke, though, a little harshly.
“You should have come to me!”
“No Captain, I couldn’t,” she whispered, turning her head away.
She shut her eyes tightly. “Haven’t I caused enough trouble as it is?”
Kirk’s nostrils flared and his mouth formed a grime, dissatisfied line. He wanted to curse, shout, or punch someone, preferably his first officer.
“Look at me, Uhura; look at me.” When she did not comply, his voice grew stern. “Lieutenant, look at me!”
She winced, but slowly opened her eyes and turned towards him.
“You should have come to me–!”
“–as your friend.”
His brows lifted. “We’re not friends?”
Her rigid postured seemed to slump slightly and her face contorted into a wince of absolute pain.
“Uhura,” he said, sadly, his voice lowered. “I don’t know why, after all this time, I still have to convince you that I am your friend. Other than Bones, out of everyone on this crew, you and I–we have the most in common, the most history together. We have shared many of the same friends, these same friends who were lost to us–and yet—I never understood why–you never turn to me for help or to share–.”
Her agitation was great and her hands flexed nervously.
“But Captain, don’t you see; I can’t talk to you–not about this. It’s far too personal. I always had Spock to—I just miss—and now I have—no one.”
Kirk, watched her for a moment. Seeing the lost look in her eyes, sensing where her thoughts had now strayed, and the immanent breakdown that was sure to come, he was out of his chair, sitting down on the sofa, and had her in his arms,
“You have me. I know I can never replace Jen or Gaila. I miss them too. ”
“I’m sorry, Captain,” she said, sniffing lightly, “I know I have let you down so much this week. I don’t know what has gotten into me lately.”
Stroking her back, he sighed. “I’ll tell you exactly what has gotten into you lately. Your Captain announces that this ship and crew are going to the new Vulcan home world, which can only serve to conjure up all of our collective pain and sorrow… pain and sorrow, I might add, that everyone was hoping to forget. Then, one of my most promising young lieutenants, who has loss the most out of all of us–” here Uhura drew back, ready to protest, “–the most of us,” Kirk emphasized before continuing, “feels that she, once again, has something to prove.”
“Yes, again. She wants to prove to her captain that she is capable of handling any situation. She wants to prove to her boyfriend that she is just as indestructible as she thinks him to be. She feels she needs to prove to the crew that she isn’t asking for any special treatment. And, she also feels she needs to live up to the memory and sacrifice of all her lost friends.” He flashed her a saucy grin. “Stop me when I’ve said something that isn’t true.”
“None of that is true.”
“Oh, isn’t it? You don’t want to prove to me that you are capable?”
“Well, yes—I mean, I don’t what you to think that I’m not doing all I can to be the best. I only want to show you that I deserve my position here on the Enterprise.”
He was incredulous here.
“Uhura, if you didn’t deserve a spot on the Enterprise, believe me, you wouldn’t be here.”
“But I thought I was only here because Captain Pike placed me in my position.”
“So, from that, you concluded what? That I hadn’t gotten around to removing you?”
“Something like that.”
Kirk scoffed impatiently.
“Uhura, you should hear yourself right now. It’s ridiculous! You are my chief communications officer because you are smart and resourceful and you speak about a million languages that half the people in Starfleet, which includes myself, can’t even begin to understand. I don’t know about you, but who is going to get me out of a jam when I say an inappropriate word to a Kazarite dilithium trader?”
“The Kazarites don’t speak with words, sir, only in clicks and whistles.”
Here he laughed. “See! You’ve saved my ass already.”
Despite her low spirits, Nyota laughed slightly. Kirk pulled back and caressed her cheek and heartfelt compassion was reflected in his eyes.
“There, isn’t laughter better sadness? See, you haven’t thought about the Vulcan for the last five minutes.”
Instead of the humorous moment he was hoping to create, the lighthearted atmosphere was immediately broken. Uhura reached out and gripped Kirk’s sleeve, laid her head upon his shoulder and began to sob.
Kirk started to rock her back and forth, cursing himself for his unfortunate slip of the tongue.
“My actions—I can hardly think of them.”
“Shh,” said Kirk, smoothing her hair, “there’s no need to bring it up again.”
“I can’t help it. I keep thinking about what Spock told me of the Katric Arc cave on Vulcan, collapsing all around him and his mother. And there I was in that archive on the planet, the roof collapsing in on top of me. He must have felt—he must of thought–. How could I have been so careless as to remind Spock of the day his mother died?”
She cried even louder now and bitterly. Kirk managed to grab a few tissues from the table.
“You didn’t do it on purpose,” he said, handing them to her.
“But you don’t understand, I’ve always pushed him too far—even from the beginning. I made him take me on as his T.A., even though I could tell he didn’t want to. I made him reassign me from the Farragut to the Enterprise when he knew it was playing favorites. I made him take me down to Gamma II just because I knew I could.”
Kirk snorted. “Damn Uhura, maybe I should make you the first officer.”
“Captain–” she whined, looking up and seeing the sparkle of mischief in his eyes.
“I mean, come on Uhura, I had no idea he was so whipped.” At her look of protest, he quickly added, “–which tells me that he would do anything for you. Clearly, the guy loves you—not that he would probably ever say the words. I guess what I’m trying to say is, there’s hope. Perhaps not today, or tomorrow, but soon. Let him be mad for now.. I give him another week, and if he hasn’t come around by then, I could always sick Bones on him.”
That had the desired effect, she laughed a little louder and wrapped her arms around his neck.”
“There now, that wasn’t so hard, said Kirk, stroking her hair. “See, we can be friends.”
She pulled back and wiped at her cheeks. “It would be taking advantage, Captain.”
“It’s Jim,” he said. “And you let me worry about who I let take advantage of me, Uhura.”
“It’s Nyota,” she said, smiling weakly.
Kirk smiled in return, reaching out with his thumb to remove the tears from her face that she had missed.