A/N: Okay, so I watched the new movie and absolutely loved it. I loved the Uhura/Spock sub-plot and suddenly this story came to me after I thought about it a little more. It features a character, Christine Chapel, that wasn't part of the film other than an off-screen line that was spoken, but was part of the original TV series. Hopefully, I'm going to follow the movie as much as possible with the plot of this, and have scenes from different perspectives; namely hers. I've taken a few liberties with her, and basically re-written her character as I imagined her based on what I saw in the film. I've taken a few points from Memory-Alpha, but mostly she's a re-imagined version.
I disclaim, I don't own anything Star Trek related and I'm not getting any profit from this work of fiction. Please read and review. I hope you enjoy
The sound of something crashing into the door before it had had the chance to 'swish' open disturbed the young nursing student from her studies. Looking up from the computerized works of advanced bio-chemistry, she tucked a silken strand of strawberry blonde hair behind her left ear to see who else had come to the refectory. It was late; far too late for someone to be arriving for their evening meal. She never saw anybody here at this hour, and she'd been here at this time a lot over the past month to find their appearance odd. She'd dimmed the lights earlier in the evening as she always did, preferring to work from the light of her portable computer than in the glare of the room's fluorescent bulbs.
The shadowed figure moved deftly through the room, keeping to the edge of the polished flooring and avoiding the tables that were stacked with upside down chairs for the evening. She leaned back in her own seat, sliding the reading glasses from her face and placing them on the table in front of her. Almost unconsciously, she folded the arms together in a pattern she'd repeated every time she'd taken the spectacles off. There was something about the protruding arms that made her uncomfortable, and she couldn't rest until they were folded. An old boyfriend had commented that she had a touch of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; that she couldn't bear to have the clean lines of shapes interrupted. He had probably been right, not that she'd admitted it at the time, and she certainly wouldn't now. Deciding that thinking about Roger Korby wasn't the healthiest of activities, she refocused her attention on the figure moving quietly toward the counter.
They obviously knew what they were doing, the way they slipped behind the counter and moved straight for the refrigerators. The sound of the opening magnetically sealed door broke the silence of the night, and she caught a glimpse of a red cadet uniform as the light spilled out from inside the cooling box. A smile curved her coral pink lips, and she leant forward to rest her elbows on the table. She had plenty of time to wait for the late-night snacker to come out from behind the counter, so she may as well leave them in ignorance for now.
She didn't have to wait too long, as the snap of Starfleet-issue boots once more sounded across the floor. Struggling to hold back the grin, the strawberry-blonde cleared her throat. "It's a little late to be getting a dessert fix, isn't it Nyota?"
She'd obviously startled them, as the shadowed figure gasped, and the sound of something frozen solid clattering onto the floor made the strawberry blonde chuckle under her breath as it quickly followed.
Recruit Nyota Uhura's command was answered immediately, the computer taking the verbal command as law to increase the illumination within the refectory. The lights above flooded the room with artificial illumination, displaying the wide floor covered with tables and chairs. It danced over the metal legs and the polished sheen of the floor, and banished the shadows that had kept both women hidden moments before.
"For heaven's sake Christine," Uhura breathed, holding a hand to the middle of her chest, "you scared the deuterium out of me! How did you know it was me?"
"Sorry, I couldn't help myself." Christine smirked, shrugging her shoulders as if that proved her innocence. "And who else would be sneaking into the refectory at almost midnight to get a sugar hit?"
Frowning in mock admonishment, Uhura bent down to scoop up the tub of ice cream that she'd dropped moments before, mumbling something about sitting in the dark like a weirdo. Moving between the tables to where her friend was sat, she raised an eyebrow. "What are you doing here this late, anyway?" Spying the digital text books, she clucked her tongue, adding a disapproving shake of her head to her apparent displeasure. "What could you possibly have to study the day before we enlist in Starfleet, Chapel? We haven't been anywhere to earn an assignment yet!"
Powering down the computerized textbook, nursing student Christine Chapel placed her reading glasses on top of it. "I just wanted to get a head start on the first semester. I heard earlier that Doctor T'Kel from Vulcan is teaching the first term of bio-science this year, and she's a real ball-breaker. I'm trying to stay ahead is all."
"See, I knew I should've forced you to come out with us tonight." Pulling out one of the chairs at the table where Christine had settled, Uhura dropped into the seat. "Sitting around in the dark, studying work from lectures we haven't even attended yet is not acceptable, normal behaviour Christine. I may not be a medical student, but even I know it's not healthy to be studying every waking moment of the day. You need to learn to relax before your head has a warp core breach."
Both women giggled softly, as Uhura peeled back the lid from the ice cream. Producing a plastic spoon, she immediately dug into the softening cream coloured dessert. Placing it between her lips, she removed it, completely clearing it of the dessert. Offering the spoon to Christine, her friend accepted it and copied her movements by scooping out some of the dessert.
"Mmmmm, vanilla. If you're here eating this," Christine motioned toward the ice cream as she handed the spoon back to Uhura, "then I'm glad I didn't join you. You only indulge in a late night binge when something's upset you." Uhura frowned at how transparent she was, even though Christine was a friend who by rights should be able to pick up such queues. "What happened, Nyota?"
Uhura's beautiful African features twisted into a mask of disapproval. Her nostrils flared as she huffed out an agitated breath. She stabbed at the ice cream with the spoon, almost snapping it cleanly in half with the force of it. "Some stupid, inbred hick decided to flirt with me at the bar. A couple of the guys stepped in to defend my honour – which was totally unnecessary because I could handle him myself, and what it is with men feeling the need to have to wade in feet first anyway. Just because I'm a woman I can't deal with the drunken advances of a nobody? It is getting beyond a joke..."
At the amused expression her friend gave her, Uhura realised she'd gone off topic. "...that's not important. So the stupid farm boy starts running his mouth off and this fight breaks out. It took, like four of the guys, to take this hick down. And then they started pounding on him, like really badly."
Christine winced for the stranger; knowing exactly how heavy-handed her fellow recruits could be when the situation arose. Poor farm boy, she thought. Christine remained silent however, and allowed Uhura to finish her recount of the events of her evening.
Gulping down another chunk of ice cream, Uhura ran her thumb over her bottom lip to catch a smear of the dessert. "And at the worst possible moment, Captain Pike walks in. I wanted to crawl into a corner and die of humiliation. Not only was I made to feel like I was some pathetic, defenceless damsel in distress, but one of the most respected Captain's ever walks in and finds a group of our year acting like Neanderthals. How good could that have looked to him? I guess I can kiss goodbye my dreams of getting to serve on the flagship."
Sighing, Uhura stabbed the spoon into the tub and leaned back into her seat, crossing her arms over her stomach in a defeated posture.
"That's not so bad," Christine offered, "I mean it's not like you were behaving inappropriately or anything. And the guys...well they were just being the guys. Don't be too hard on them Nyota, they were just trying to do what they thought was right. They'll defend any recruit without much provocation. Besides, we all know Davis has a huge crush on you. He's bound to come to your rescue, whether you're in trouble of not. He can't help himself."
Uhura rolled her eyes. Focusing on her friend, she studied her with an appraising eye. Even in the artificial light, Christine Chapel was stunning. Petit and curved in all the right places, her face was delicately shaped with flawless, creamy white skin. Her high cheek bones made Christine's blue eyes resemble precious gems imbedded in orbs of porcelain. Add to that wave upon wave of strawberry blonde hair that framed her face and fell to the middle of her back, and it didn't take a genius to work out why the nursing student was the subject of most of the male recruits late night fantasies. A look from her could make even the most battle-hardened Captain drop shields and surrender his ship without question.
But for all her beauty and natural charm, Christine apparently wasn't interested in dating any of her fellow recruits. Despite her literal pick of any man she met, the would-be nurse preferred single life. That was the way it appeared to everyone else, anyway. Uhura knew better, and the real reason why her friend shunned the opposite sex when it came to romance. "The only reason he looks at me was because you knocked him back at the Starfleet taster event," she finally countered, "which, by the way you totally should not have done. He's cute, his father is a high ranking officer in Starfleet and Davis is on the fast track to getting his own ship. You could do worse than get involved with a future Starship Captain."
"Let's not go there," Christine groaned, knowing she'd had this conversation too many times already with Uhura and what not about to be drawn back into it now. "You know I'm not interested in dating right now. I want to focus on the next four years, pass my medical degree, get my commission and get onboard a ship. Guys will still be there once I've done all that."
"Honey, it's been a year since Roger." Uhura said gently, inferring the real reason why her friend wasn't prepared to get involved with someone. "Don't you think maybe it's time you put yourself back out there, just to dip your toe in the water a little? I hate that a guy hurt you so much, but you have to move on at some point, don't you? Just a date here and there would do you good."
"No," Christine snapped, her hair swinging in an arc around her head as she turned to stare into the distance, "this has nothing to do with Roger. I-I'm totally over him now." She turned back to face Uhura, and immediately regretted it. The look of sympathy in her friend's face was almost enough to reduce her into a blubbering mess. "Really Nyota, I am. Roger is busy securing his future in the field, and now it's time for me to get series about mine. Men are just a distraction that I don't need right now."
Picking up her reading glasses, Christine played with them between her delicate fingers, twisting the arms to make the spectacles turn in a full circle in her hands. Uhura knew it was pointless to push the subject of men with Christine. She clearly wasn't ready to date anyone else, and however much Nyota felt that her friend should get back out there, Christine would have to choose that option on her own. Deciding a subject change was in order, she smiled toward the reading glasses.
"Why do you still wear those anyway? You know you could get your sight corrected in a second by any doctor."
Christine smiled. "Because I like wearing them. It makes me focus more on my studies because I need to wear them to learn. And besides, just because we can correct every little imperfection doesn't mean we should. Aren't our flaws what make us human anyway?"
Uhura nodded. "Fine, keep your scaffolding. I have a feeling you'll be needing them when we get to Starfleet. Maybe I should get a pair. You think it would make me appear more studious? Like to Captain Pike, maybe?"
"You're plenty studious." Christine sighed, shaking her head as Uhura scoffed. "You graduated in the top three percent of your year Nyota and aced the entry exams. You can't get anymore studious."
"Maybe you're right," Uhura sighed. Reaching for the spoon, she started to stir the melting ice cream in lazy circles. "Being stupid apparently didn't hurt the farm boy's chances with the Captain, anyway."
"Farm boy?" Christine repeated. "Oh, you mean the guy who got beat up? What didn't hurt his chances?"
"Being stupid. Not that he really is." Seeing her friend's confused expression, Nyota explained. "It was just something he said. That guy was really this intelligent man wrapped up in the clothes of an idiotic rebel. When we were leaving the bar, I saw Captain Pike go over and start talking to him. What he could possibly have to say to someone as vulgar as that I don't know. But he's obviously not without his charms if a man like Pike wants to talk to him."
"I wonder who he is." Christine echoed her friend's as yet unspoken curiosity.
"Me too. Something tells me he relies on his good looks to get by, which didn't serve him that well when he had a few fists rammed into his pretty face." Uhura chuckled.
"Pretty face eh? Maybe he wasn't as bad as you're making him out to be. I think a little dalliance with a bad boy might help you relax before we start training." Christine grinned, nudging Uhura's knee under the table.
"Oh please. As if I'd ever fall for a handsome face and a few wannabe-charming words. Credit me with a little intelligence." Christine giggled and Nyota made a playful swat for her head. "It doesn't matter anyway. He was vile and piggish and rude. And we're shipping out tomorrow, so I'll never have to look at him again."
"Or at least you hope." Uhura grunted, and Chapel threw her head back into a laugh. Reaching forward, she began to gather up her computerized books, tucking them under her arm. "C'mon, we should head back to the dorms. We've got an early start tomorrow, and we don't want to be late for the shuttle. We want to keep you in Pike's good graces, right Uhura?"
"Right." Snatching up her ice cream, Uhura followed her friends lead, calling for the computer to shut off the lights as they made their exit. As far as she was concerned, tonight was just a minor bump in the road to her destiny as a ship's officer. Whatever Pike's opinion of her, Uhura was certain she could patch things up with the senior officer if she needed to.
And regardless of the Captain's connection to the man in the bar, Uhura hoped that it wasn't going to reflect badly on her. She'd worked too long and too hard to lose her shot at Starfleet now. The future was in the grasp of her more than capable hands.
And no pretty faced farm boy was about to make it slip between her figures.