On nights like this one, Nyota Uhura feels as if she has melted into the glass partition in her dorm room. She feels alone, the isolated viewer of poorly performed entertainment, increasingly repelled by what she sees. After so many evenings spent in the sensor lab, she senses that she has become a stranger in her own room.

One bed away, her roommate, Gaila, is half-reclining on a fellow male cadet and simultaneously engaging in some ridiculous snatch-the-fruit-with-your-mouth game with another companion. An empty cone shaped glass dangles loosely from Gaila's hand, and every now and then, her roommate says loudly, "Come join us Uhura!" as if Uhura were too far away to hear.

After all, Gaila had intended the evening to be one of mutual amusement, one guy for each of them, but Uhura had briskly declined the advances of the medical student with a polite, yet hostile, "No, not at all interested in familiarizing myself with your anatomy ."

It was all too clear what the medical student had wanted. Some groping, a quickie, and then he would be able to crow to his friends the next morning about "You know that chick who's always hanging onto the professor's every word? The xenolinguistics major? Well, she showed me some of that oral sensitivity last night."

No, Uhura doesn't want that. The guys that Gaila brought were always too easy to decode, too transparent in their lust to decipher.

Around ten, she notices the time, gets up from her desk, and says over her shoulder, "I'm going out."

There's a muffled reply, but Uhura understands what that implies as well. She grimaces and dreads coming back to the room that will surely be dirty and reeking of alcohol and sex.

The open court of the campus is mostly deserted, and it's easy for her to locate the lone figure descending the steps of the Academy. He's been working late as usual. Suddenly, indecision strikes her. Uhura knows that he's serious about his work; she admires that in him, but what if he considers her a distraction, just a silly, infatuated human girl? Anxious, she turns around and begins walking quickly back.

Except out of the silence, she hears him call her name, and then he is there, beside her.

"Commander Spock," she acknowledges.

For a moment, he holds her with just his gaze, and then his hand comes to rest lightly on her waist.

"What you conveyed to me last week deviated from my expectations," he says, his voice low. "Are you still certain that this is the path you want to follow?"

"I wouldn't lie to you," Uhura answers, watching him, searching for the signs of rapid-fire calculations and decisions. Instead though, Spock says, "Walk with me."

She does, in silence, half expecting a flat-out rejection, half holding onto hope.

When they've nearly reached the student dorms, he stops and says, "I would be in contempt of the administration's trust in me as your mentor."

"Well, it's not like either you or I would tell them." She pauses. "You have more to lose from this than I do so I understand perfectly if you say no."

Unexpectedly, he gives her one of his half-smiles. "I never predicted that a student like you would bring such trouble."

And finally, Uhura gets the response that she wants. One of his hands encircles her waist, falling upon her back and drawing her to him. Slowly, he dips his head to kiss her, a chaste brush on the lips, and she almost wants to protest, but then his lips are skimming the sharp protrusion of her clavicle. He exhales, a puff of warm air against her skin, and she notes that his breathing has changed. It's faster now, erratic even.

Underneath all this ice then, she ponders, there is a furnace. A sigh – and he's dissolving her or maybe she's dissolving him, but this is what she wants. Cryptic and difficult and – and she no longer can gather the strength to postulate theories because his mouth is moving again.

This, she knows, will never be easy.

When Uhura returns to her room, the guys are gone, and Gaila is surprisingly panicked.

"Where were you?" her roommate demands. "You were gone for hours. I thought that you had been abducted or something.

"I was fine, just taking a walk around campus," Uhura replies smoothly while adjusting the collar of her dress.

"You do know that the administration doesn't like students wandering out after curfew right?"

Uhura touches the brand his lips have left on her. "Yeah, I know, but someone was willing to bend the rules for me."