Disclaimer: Characters contained within do not belong to me.
Author's Notes: I'm so sorry it took so long to get this chapter out. Life interferes, the muse takes a vacation...all the usual excuses:) If you're here reading it, thanks for sticking with the story! I hope you enjoy it! Thanks to Lisa for all her help.
If Tomorrow Never Comes
by Kristen Elizabeth
Sulu made a smooth landing in the shuttlebay, ending the short, but silent journey from the planet to the ship.
As soon as it was safe, Spock was out of his seat, unaware that Uhura was only inches away from him, ready to follow him off the shuttle. "Transporter Room 2 in twenty minutes," he told Sulu.
The pilot nodded. "Aye, sir." He hesitated before adding another, "Sir?" Spock turned his head slightly, impatiently acknowledging him. "I'm really sorry for..."
Spock cut him off. "You are not responsible for what happened on the planet, Mr. Sulu."
"Of course not, sir, but I just wanted you to know that..." Before he could finish, Spock ducked out the door. Sulu let out a sigh. "We cared about her, too," he finished to himself. "Both of them."
Uhura turned to Chekov as Sulu locked down the shuttle. "I know you don't want to split up, but I have to stay with Spock."
"He's going to beam over to the Grissom," Abrigine reminded her. "You won't be able to go with him then."
"All the more reason to stay with him while I can," Uhura told the nurse between clenched teeth. "I have to get him to see me somehow."
The other woman shook her head. "I've already told you that's impossible."
"Make it possible!" Uhura looked back at Chekov. "You have the most brilliant mind in Starfleet. If anyone can figure out what's happened to us and how to reverse it, it's you, Pavel." She paused before adding in Russian, "I know you can do this."
Blood rushed to the boy's cheeks; he looked down at his shoes to hide the blush. "I will do my best."
"I'll meet you in Sickbay," Uhura promised.
"Why Sickbay?" Abrigine asked.
"Because it's only two decks up and I'm pretty sure the turbolifts aren't going to work for us." Spock had to be almost out of the shuttlebay; she'd have to run to catch up to him. "We'll have to use the Jefferies tubes to get around the ship by ourselves." Uhura started off. "Good luck," she called out over her shoulder.
"We're going to need a hell of a lot more than luck," Abrigine sighed.
Chekov opened his mouth to reply, but stopped when Sulu unknowingly walked straight through him on his way out of the shuttle. Startled, Chekov nearly lost his balance. When he'd recovered, he swore in Russian. "I truly do not like that."
"It gets easier."
"How are you knowing that?" Chekov frowned. "Are there things you have not told us?"
Abrigine offered him a sad smile. "Come on. We've got some climbing to do."
News of the loss of two officers had rippled through the Enterprise, turning the bustling ship into a silent graveyard.
He had never known just how many people were aware of his relationship with Nyota, but clearly he'd underestimated the number. As Spock made his way through the blinding white corridors towards the bridge, every single person he passed avoided all contact with him, mumbling generic apologies as they moved out of his path.
They meant well. He'd been around Humans long enough to realize that their actions were an acknowledgement of the grief they assumed he couldn't feel for himself, as well as an expression of their own shock and sorrow. Nyota had been popular amongst the crew, as she had been at the Academy. She'd always made friends so easily.
Spock stepped into the turbolift and waited for the doors to close. The first time he'd seen her she'd been surrounded by three or four other women who were taking his advanced subspace communications class. After that, it seemed like he saw her all the time, but she was never alone: in the mess hall with her roommate, on the quad with her study group, or walking across campus late at night on the arm of a male cadet. It was only when the latter began to bother Spock that he realized she'd gotten to him, too.
Nyota had been so full of life and energy and promise that people had flocked to her naturally. He'd never been able to figure out why, with all of that Human interaction, she'd chosen to be with him.
And now he never would.
Spock's hand shot out and hit the button to stop the turbolift. He held onto the panel, drawing in deep calming breaths until the sudden tightness in his chest passed. When he regained control over his pulse, he pressed the button to resume the lift and a few short moments later, he arrived on the bridge.
With all eyes on him, or perhaps on the Klingon blood splattered across his uniform, Spock addressed the crew. "I am putting together an away team to beam over to the Grissom. I will be taking a security team as well as two volunteers. We will be leaving in twenty minutes from Transporter Room 2."
He hesitated, unsure if he should, or even could address the proverbial elephant in the room. "As many of you are aware, two members of the crew have been...lost. It is my belief..." He involuntarily swallowed. "...that they would not want us to mourn for them until our mission is complete." A moment passed in awkward silence until Spock finished with, "I trust you will all continue..." Once again, his throat closed up without warning. "...continue performing admirably."
Spock turned on his heel and retreated back into the empty safety of the turbolift. Once upon a time, when he'd lost the first woman he'd ever loved, Nyota had followed him here, held him, kissed him and asked him what he needed her to do to help him make sense of it all.
But there was no one to follow him now. And even if someone had, what would he have told them?
The only thing he needed was gone forever.
McCoy's hand felt like lead as he punched his authorization code into the Grissom's shuttle's keypad, making the record of Chekov and Uhura's deaths official. Killed in the line of duty. He snorted. Murdered was more accurate. Senselessly slaughtered.
"Dammit," he swore, pushing away from the console. "It doesn't make any sense!"
"They were vaporized, Bones."
Kirk's voice made McCoy swear again. "Vaporized, my ass. Vaporization leaves traces." He gestured wildly. "There's nothing out there, Jim. No DNA, no nothing."
"Well." Weary, Kirk lowered himself into the co-pilot's seat, ignoring the dried blood. "I guess the Klingons are really, really good at vaporizing."
McCoy let out a reluctant sigh. "Maybe."
A moment passed before Kirk asked, "Did you..."
"Yeah." McCoy hit a button on the console. The computer began reading the death certificate that McCoy had just composed.
"Lieutenant Nyota Uhura of the United States of Africa, senior communications officer on board the USS Enterprise under the command of James T. Kirk, deceased on stardate..."
"Computer, stop." Kirk ran his hands down his rugged face. "She's really gone, Bones."
McCoy lowered his chin. "Did you talk to him?"
Kirk didn't need to ask to whom he was referring. "For a minute."
"Let me guess. He's holding up," McCoy muttered.
"On the outside," Kirk mused. "But inside...he's a wreck."
Just then, Scotty thundered up the steps and into the shuttle. "Captain, I think I'm starting to figure out this..." He stopped upon seeing the blood-splattered walls. "Fuck me! What the bleedin' hell happened here?"
Kirk ignored the question, focusing instead on the weapon in his engineer's hands. "What have you figured out, Mr. Scott?"
Blinking, Scotty looked down at the Klingon's gun. "Ah, well, it is a disruptor, there's no doubt about that, but it's been refitted. See here?" He indicated a cross section of the weapon. "Something's been added to it; you can tell where it's been taken apart and put back together again." He frowned. "Downright shoddily, too. Like it was done in a hurry."
"What's been added to it?" McCoy asked.
Scotty shrugged. "Won't know that 'til I can get it back to Engineering, sir."
"A new weapon." Taking the disruptor, Kirk turned it over in his hands. "Capable of traceless vaporization."
Scotty frowned at this. "I don't know about that." The other men waited for him to go on. "Well, it's just simple physics, Captain. Just like you can't create matter, you can't destroy it. Doesn't matter how good it is, no phaser or disruptor can ever make something just up and disappear."
"Do you have another explanation as to how Chekov and Uhura died, then? Because I saw them each hit with a blast from this weapon. I watched them vanish right in front of me. I saw their faces as they died." Kirk gripped his knees hard enough that his knuckles turned white. "If you've got another theory, I'd be happy to hear it. But trust me...they're gone."
"Aye, laddie," Scotty murmured. "Aye."
McCoy glanced at Kirk. "We should head back to the Enterprise."
Kirk nodded his agreement. "But we're taking this thing with us." He looked around the bloody shuttle. "I don't think it's told us everything just yet."
Not being able to hold Spock was killing Uhura.
Ever since he'd almost lost control of his emotions in the turbolift on the way to the bridge, her fingers had literally been aching to touch him. Now, as she followed him back to his quarters, it had become almost unbearable to be so close to him and yet so far away.
Uhura hadn't spent a lot of time in Spock's quarters; by silent agreement, they spent most of their private time together in her room. Spock had once said that his room was a sanctuary for his mind, a place of spiritual reflection and meditation. Her room, on the other hand, was a sanctuary for his heart, even if he'd never been able to admit it.
She'd allowed him to be Human in her quarters. Here, he was entirely Vulcan.
And yet the first thing he did after the door slid closed was to violently strip off his uniform shirt. He stuffed the stained garment into the garbage disposal, rather than the laundry unit. When he looked down at his black undershirt, it must have seemed stained to him as well. He got rid of it just as quickly and permanently, along with his pants.
Uhura followed him into the bathroom and watched as he programmed the shower to the hottest setting possible. He stepped under the steaming spray a moment later, closing the shower door behind him.
On the other side, Uhura watched him. He wasn't bathing so much as he was letting the near-scalding water cascade over him. After a long moment, his palm slammed against the frosted glass, like he needed support to keep standing.
She reached out, placing her hand against his, lightly, without any pressure that might send her fingers through the glass. With just the shower door separating them, it was almost like touching him.
Spock stepped out a minute later and wrapped a towel around his waist. His dark hair was slick and plastered to his forehead; she would have given anything to be able to run her hands through it, spiking it in crazy patterns as she'd always loved to do whenever they had showered together.
He dried off and started to dress, but only managed to pull on a fresh pair of dark uniform pants before he sank down onto the edge of his bed.
"Computer," Spock said after a moment. "Play communication file 105."
Uhura's own voice filled the room. "Well, Spock, here I am on Risa. Remind me again why I agreed to spend my spring break here with Gaila instead of with you on Vulcan? Oh, that's right! You told me I needed more Human interaction." The voice on the recording laughed softly and the sound made Spock close his eyes. "Human interaction...on an alien planet with my alien roommate. If you were nervous about introducing me to your parents, you could have just said so." There was a pause. "I miss you. That's not logical, I know. It's only been a few days. But I do. I miss how you put your hand on my back. I don't think you realize how much you do it, but I miss feeling it. And...I miss kissing you. Again, not logical. We've only kissed once. I guess it left an impression. I can't wait to get back so I can kiss you again."
Another pause followed. Uhura could remember everything she'd felt when she'd made this recording, and at the moment of this pause, her heart had been beating so hard and so fast that she'd been afraid he'd be able to hear it.
"The only good thing about this trip so far is that it's made one thing very clear to me. Whether either of us is ready for it or not, I'm falling in love with you, Spock."
"Stop." Spock's voice was strangled. "Computer, stop!" Bending at the waist with his elbows on his knees, Spock bare back rose and fell with each heavy breath.
Uhura knelt down in front of him. "Spock," she whispered, ignoring the moisture collecting in her eyes. "Please...I need you to see me. I'm not dead. I'm here...I haven't left you." Her shoulders trembled. "Please, Spock..."
His head jerked up. "Nyota." Tears rolled down her cheeks as his infamous composure cracked. His jaw clenched; his forehead crumpled in agony.
"I never told you...I should have told you..." Spock opened his blood-shot eyes and looked straight through her. "I was falling, too."
To Be Continued