Nyota Uhura sighed for the seventeenth time in the last five minutes. From her bed, she reached for a different PADD to occupy her interest. That proceeded to be useless considering she had already read that essay comparing the Vulcan and Romulan dialects, finding many errors in it as well. Sighing yet again, she held her head in her hands and let the PADD fall to the floor.
Uhura's eyes popped open to see her beautiful, green roommate glaring at her with an exasperated look on her face.
"Nothing, Gaila. Sorry."
Gaila plopped herself down on Uhura's bed.
"Well it must be something. You've sighed like fifty times in the past half hour."
Uhura made a face. "Don't exaggerate."
"I'm not! Look, maybe you can tune out annoying noises when you study, but I can't." With her last word she poked Uhura in the shoulder.
Uhura made a frustrated noise. "I'm sorry! I'm just so…" She lay back on her bed. "Restless!"
"Restless?" Gaila thought a moment, and then smirked. "You mean horny!"
Uhura sprung up to sit on her knees. "Gaila!" She pushed her slightly. "I am not horny!"
This only made Gaila laugh.
"Yes you are! I can see it in your eyes!"
She got up and started singing and dancing to a song she had just made up. It goes something like this:
Yes she is!
She sure is!
I know who she's horny for!"
At this point she leaned over so that her face was level with her feverishly blushing roommate, and pointed one finger at her face.
This caused Uhura to shriek and not-so-gracefully tackle her giggling roommate to the floor.
"What? Are you afraid someone's gonna hear me? No one else is awake!"
"Really? But it's only—"
"TWO in the MORNING. The only people up now are the crazies, the insomniacs, and the hot students like me who require a few more hours of cramming before a test."
"Oh? And which one of those am I?"
"You're one of the crazies." Her voice was so matter-of-fact that it slightly stunned Uhura.
"Wh-What?! Why am I one of the 'crazies'?"
"Um, hellooo? You're the one pinning your poor, innocent roomie to the floor."
Uhura rolled her eyes, and let out another frustrated sigh. While pulling herself off of Gaila, she grabbed her boots and slipped them on over her long black socks. She pulled her black shorts and tank top back into their proper places, and walked over to the door.
"Hey! Where are you going?"
"Well, I'd tell you but…"
"But then every time I disappeared you'd follow me!"
Gaila grinned playfully at her friend, who had quickly grown to be like a sister to her.
"You know me so well."
Uhura grinned back, and walked out the door.
"Don't be too late, Nyota! You DO actually need to sleep sometime you know!"
Uhura walked to her favorite spot. Starfleet was by a large body of water, and when the students weren't in class they liked to play around in it. However, when her friends invited her to play their water games, she had never taken them up on the offer. Instead she preferred to walk the trails of the walking tracks that went around the perimeter of Starfleet.
One day when she was bored, Uhura wandered away from the path and into the trees. After a few minutes of walking, she realized that it would soon get dark and she needed to find the trail again. However, no matter which direction she went in, she couldn't find any path.
Luckily, Uhura still had her wits about her. She began to hear waves crashing, and walked toward the sound. It was only a short while before she emerged from the trees, and discovered that she was by the ocean. She looked down the beach, and saw that there were still a few students playing in the water. Taking a look back in the forest, she determined that getting back to the Starfleet campus would be far less than challenging.
Though instead of walking back to campus, she took a seat on the soft sand. She smiled and watched the sun set over the water. Ever since then when she wanted privacy, that's where she went.
And that's where she was now.
It wasn't the first time she'd gone to her secret retreat at night. In fact, she'd gone so many times that she knew the way by heart.
Out of habit, she looked around for any intruders before she sat down. The stars were reflecting in the water's surface. That mixed with the sound of gentle, crashing waves relaxed her. Her restlessness started to melt away. However, one thing still bothered her.
"It's hot." Clearly that statement was made to no one, but talking to herself out there kept her from feeling lonely.
She looked around again, hoping that no one would intrude her private sanctum. When she was sure that no one was around, she slipped off her boots and set them far away from the water. She maintained her balance as the slipped off her long socks, and stuck them in each boot. Glancing around again, she walked to the water.
Absolutely sure that no one was around; she waded into the water until it was up to the middle of her shin. She then proceeded to splash and play in the water. It had been a long time since she felt so free, and she began to laugh and sing.
When she got tired she sat down where the waves came just short of her toes. She pulled her knees up so that she could rest her arms on them. At that moment, she felt so content. She let her thoughts drift.
Why had she been so restless? It was two o'clock in the morning. She should have been sleeping. And, no, she was not horny.
Gaila could be so ridiculous sometimes. Her mind was mostly always filled with thoughts of sex. Uhura had tried to keep her personal life away from her. At first it was because she thought that Gaila was a really big gossip. It turns out that while she does know a whole lot about a good deal of people at Starfleet, she doesn't go around spreading their secrets to everyone. That was a privilege that she saved for Uhura.
Yes, that's right. Not only did Gaila know everybody's secrets, so did Uhura. And the majority of those secrets… Uhura did not want to know. She didn't care that one girl had confided in Gaila that she had had sex dreams about Captain Pike for two straight weeks. Nor did she care that while some couple was making out in an empty lab class they managed to spill a chemical that made them both appear scaly for a few days. (She didn't know what chemical caused that, but she made sure from that point on to keep far away from the chemical lab.)
She didn't care to know all of these things, and once she even told Gaila the very same thing. Gaila only responded with:
"I know. And I'm sorry! But if I don't tell someone, then I'll just EXPLODE!"
And that is why Nyota Uhura knows everything about everyone, even though she only has a close group of five or six friends.
She laughed at herself for no particular reason.
Uhura jumped at the unanticipated voice that had somehow gotten remarkably close to her. As she snapped her head around, she saw the last person she expected to see.
When she moved to stand at attention, he held up a hand to stop her.
"Please, stay where you are. I did not mean to disturb you. I was merely curious as to why you were here to begin with."
She looked up at him with a sheepish grin. "Well… I guess I just felt like getting some fresh air."
He quirked an eyebrow, and she laughed.
"I know, I know. It sounds like a lame excuse, but it's true."
She turned back around to her original position to look out at the stars. What surprised her further was when Spock took a seat next to her.
"I suppose it is quite relaxing out here."
She continued to look at the stars, but he studied her face. It took her a moment to realize this, and when she did she couldn't help but let out a small, surprised gasp. She immediately covered her mouth.
"My apologies. Have I done something to disturb your tranquility?"
She couldn't place what it was, but something twinkled in his eyes. Her hands when to rest on her knees.
"No, not at all. It's just… I didn't expect to run into anyone out here."
"Would you like me to leave?"
"No!" Uhura mentally slapped herself, and cleared her throat. "I mean… No. Please, stay. It's actually nice having someone out here with me for once. But, I'm sorry… If I had known that you would be out here, I would have dressed appropriately and not in my jammies." She laughed at herself, and played with her fingers.
"I can assure you, Miss Uhura, that your attire does not bother me." His lips twitched up into one of his rare smiles, and she felt her heart flutter.
She cleared her throat again.
"Well, good! I'm glad. I would hate to leave you on the beach all by your lonesome."
"You were alone moments ago, were you not?"
"Yes, I was. But I was merely trying to escape the taunting of my roommate."
"She was taunting you?"
"May I ask why?"
Uhura's eyes grew a bit wider as Gaila's song repeated itself in her head, and it was a moment before breath came back into her lungs.
"I was… getting on her nerves."
From his expression, it was clear that he was expecting more. So she went on.
"She was trying to cram in a few more hours of studying before one of her tests, and I kept accidently doing things to interrupt her concentration."
"I think that her main complaint was that I was sighing too much. But I couldn't help it… I was just feeling so… restless." She looked over at him, and saw that he was trying to comprehend her situation.
"What was causing this feeling?"
She looked back to the ocean, and tilted her head. They had spent enough time together now to know that when she was quiet, she was thinking. That was something that she was very grateful for. Finally, she gave up. With a loud noise, she laid back onto the sand.
"I honestly don't know. I really wish that I did, but I don't."
He turned back slightly to get a better look at her face. The moonlight reflecting off of her skin stirred something inside him. He had yet to discover what this sensation was, but it seemed to be happening more and more when he was around her. His solution was that if he spent more time around her, he could figure it out.
"Does this feeling occur often?"
She glanced at his face, and felt her heart flutter again. Suddenly, she felt very comfortable around him. Not that she had been uncomfortable around him. There was just something in his eyes tonight. They seemed… soft.
"It seems to be happening more and more these days." Laughing, she crossed her right leg over her left. She also determined that it would be a good idea to look up at the stars instead of continuing to look into his eyes. If she turned into a puddle of goo right before his eyes, it might hint that she felt more than friendship towards him.
"Nyota… If I may ask…"
The use of her first name surprised her, as did the tone of his voice. She looked over at him, but he was not looking at her face.
"What is that?"
Following his gaze, she realized he was looking at the back of her leg. At a long, slightly crooked, scar. Her eyes grew wide, and she snapped up to sit with her leg pressed hard to her chest.
"It's nothing, Spock." Her voice was quiet, and strained. She shut her eyes.
It was quiet for a moment, and Uhura didn't know what to do. Should she get up and run? No… She couldn't bring herself to run from Spock. Should she tell him what happened? She wasn't sure that was the best option either… Maybe he would just drop it, and they could continue their conversion on another topic. As her mind was spinning, she felt his hand touch her shoulder. It was warm, and surprising. She looked up.
The look he was giving her pierced her heart. To anyone else, his face would still seem hard and indifferent. But she saw something deeper. His eyes were gentle, and full of… concern. She could scarcely breathe.
"Nyota…" His voice was hardly above a whisper.
She hardened her eyes slightly. "I don't know if you want to hear this story, Spock. It might… change your opinion of me."
"Given what I have learned about you during the course of our friendship, Nyota, I doubt that whatever you choose to tell me will affect my opinion of you in a negative way."
She sighed. "I guess we'll see, now won't we?"
Uhura looked at the moon, and commanded her mind to bring back the memories that she had so desperately tried to forget. Taking a deep breath, she began.
"As you may already know…. I grew up in a small town on the shores of Africa. My father was a fisherman, and one of the best men that I have ever known." Her eyes glazed over. "… He died at sea when I was seven years old."
Spock removed his hand from Uhura's shoulder. She felt her heart drop. Had she already crossed a line? Maybe he had only wanted a vague idea of what happened. Before she had time to think more about the matter though, she felt Spock move closer. Their shoulders were slightly touching. A smile almost graced her lips. She felt honored by this action. It felt like, in his own way, he was trying to comfort her. With that in mind, she continued.
"My mother was a kind and strong woman. She did what she could to make ends meet, but after a while she just couldn't do it by herself. When I had barely turned nine, she met another man. Soon after, she married him." Uhura started to fiddle with the ends of her hair. "He worked down at the docks. They paid him and some other men good money to help unload heavy crates of food, and other supplies. So… He was very strong." She started to feel tears burning at the back of her eyes, and waited until they were gone before continuing.
"He was strong and seemed kind enough at first, but I never trusted him… I told my mother that there was something about him that just didn't seem right. She only smiled at me and told me that I would learn to love him. I knew that would never happen." With that last sentence she glared at the ocean as if it had somehow had played a part in all of this. In a way, she could argue that it did.
"The very same night that she told me that… was the first night he hit her." She felt Spock tense beside her, but she didn't look at him. "The next morning he apologized, and brought her a music box he had bought off a man at the docks. She forgave him. Her explanation was that there was nothing else she could do. We needed his money to live, and he had apologized. She said she still loved him." Anger was clear in her voice. "That wasn't the last time he hit her. It seemed like every time I woke up, she had a new bruise or cut. I begged her to make him leave. I told her that we would be fine. I could do work around the town for money, and I didn't have to eat so much. I told her I would do anything if she would just make him leave… But she would only give me a tired smile and say that everything would be fine. I would always get so mad at her after that. What could I do? I was just a scrawny child; clearly no match for him.
My father had had many friends. They came from all parts of the world, and he had always managed to get a book or two off of them. He always gave them to me and told me that if I studied really hard, then I could go anywhere I wanted in life. Every time that man would hit my mother… I would be outside studying my father's books. They were my escape."
Her fingers tightened a great deal around her knees.
"One night, that man came home drunk. I had been helping my mother set the table for dinner, and I didn't have time to get out before he started to beat her." Her fingernails started to dig into her skin. "I… I didn't know what to do. All I knew was that I didn't want him to hit my mother anymore. So, without thinking, I rushed at him. I tried to tug him off of her while screaming things like 'Why are you hitting her? She loves you! Stop it!'…. But it didn't affect him at all. He only turned around, and slapped me. I fell to the ground, but he picked me up by my shirt and threw me onto the dinner table. As I lay on the table, I thought he would leave me be… But he flipped the table over, and I landed in broken glass. That's when I got this scar. A large chunk of our flower vase cut very deep…" As her voice trailed off she was faintly aware of the drying tears on her face.
"I passed out after that. When I woke up, I was laying in my own bed with my mother by my side. Apparently when she saw him slap me, it lit a fire in her. She grabbed the music box he had given her once, and smashed him over the head with it. It knocked him out. Our neighbors heard the commotion, and ran in to help… He went to prison. In fact, he died not long after he got convicted. Apparently a few guys jumped him in the cafeteria… Let's just say when my mother cried after getting the news, she wasn't sad."
Uhura expected Spock to say something. However, minutes passed and not one word was said between them. She peeked at him out of the corner of her eye. He was looking at her, but his expression was unreadable.
"Why do you hide your scar? It is not your fault that you acquired it."
"Well, no. But… People would look at me differently if they knew I had this scar."
"They would only view you as a stronger human being than they had originally thought."
"History would disagree with you on that one."
Spock's eyebrow slightly twitched up, and she knew she would have to explain.
"I grew up on the beach, remember? Well… children can be cruel, you know." Something flickered in Spock's eyes, but she continued. "They mocked me for having my scar. Never once did they actually ask where I got it. Apparently it was just more fun to mock me. I spent most of my days in my room, studying." She breathed in and smiled. "But hey, it paid off didn't it? I'm here."
She looked over at Spock, and managed to see one corner of his mouth twitch upward before it faded. It was silent for a while, and Uhura knew that he was taking in everything that she said. This didn't make her uncomfortable. Silence was a big part of their relationship. She often welcomed the silence because she knew that whatever happened after it would be worth waiting for.
"Thank you, Nyota… for sharing your past with me."
She took a moment before answering. "Thank you for asking."
"May I share something with you?"
Her heartbeat quickened slightly. "Of course, Spock. Anything."
He took a moment to stare into her eyes before rolling up his sleeve (this in itself made Uhura's heartbeat quicken even more) to reveal a mark on his bicep.
"Oh, Spock… What happened?" Her tone was hushed.
"I also know the cruelty that children are capable of, Nyota. When I was a child, I was often harassed by my peers. During one class period, I was pushed into my monitor. The monitor cracked, and cut through my uniform."
Spock studied her, waiting for a reaction. It was not one that he had necessarily expected. Her eyes told him that she found his story sadder than her own. Slowly, she reached out and put her hand on his scar. He found it odd that his pulse started racing.
"Spock… I'm so sorry."
"It is no fault of yours, Nyota."
"I know… But I'm still sorry." Tears dripped out of her eyes as she placed a kiss where her hand once was.
She leaned back and locked eyes with him. Tears still dripped from her eyes.
"I shared this with you in an attempt to make you feel better…" His voice sounded slightly confused. "Have I somehow managed to accomplish the opposite?"
Spock reached up to gently brush away the tears that were pushing their way down her face. She put her hand on his to hold it there.
"Not at all." She smiled. "I feel better knowing that I'm not alone."
He looked at her before allowing a small smile to grace his lips. "Nyota, please know that you will never be alone."
Uhura knew what he was really saying. "As long as I'm here, you will never be alone." She beamed at him.
"Thank you, Spock." She covered her mouth before a surprise yawn could escape.
"If you wish to sleep before your classes, I believe you should go back to your room now."
"I suppose so…"
Spock stood first, and offered Uhura a hand when she stumbled while getting up. When she had steadied herself, she walked over to her shoes and put them on. Smiling, she turned to face Spock.
"Given the time, I believe it would only be appropriate that I escort you to your room." He stood with his hands behind his back.
"I believe that even if I tried to say no, you would follow me anyway." She winked at him.
He only quirked his eyebrow at her, causing her to laugh.
"I would be honored if you would escort me back to my room."
He allowed a quick smile before starting to lead her back to the path. She put a hand on his arm to stop him.
"Wait, Spock. This is my secret place. Feel free to come here whenever you like, but I have to ask that you keep this just between the two of us. Including… everything I told you." Her eyes dropped to the ground.
"As you said, Nyota… This is a 'secret place'. Keeping it a secret is… logical."
She smiled at him, and turned to walk back to the campus.
The next day after classes, Spock found Nyota in his office… sound asleep at his desk.