Chapter One: Lingering Scent
Nyota Uhura stepped onto the Starfleet Academy campus as if she owns it. Her chocolate brown eyes danced with merriment as she surveyed her surroundings, cadets dressed in the academy's standard red uniform hurried along to their next destination while some, such as her, realized this was the last step to obtaining their dream.
As a child, the mahogany beauty has always known her passion for words would lead her here, to go beyond the confounds of earth's sphere, to use her gift to explore new worlds. Her parents often teased her that by naming her Nyota, which means 'star' in her native language, was a premonition of things to come.
Hoisting her duffle bag over her right shoulder, Cadet Uhura walked to the nearest stop to catch the next shuttle bus to Robert McNair Hall, her home for the next four years. The ride to the dormitory was uneventful as she took this time to call her parents via the video cell phone she received as a going away gift.
"Call home." she said, a few seconds later the images of her mother and father appeared on the small screen. "Hi." She smiled, "I made it in one piece."
"Are you sure no one tried to accost you?" her mother asked, reaching out to touch her youngest daughter's image, she tried to keep the worry out of her voice but was rapidly losing the battle.
"Mama!" she whispered harshly, feeling a little embarrassed. "I'm not a child any more; I can take care of myself." She was about to continue but her father eyes caught her gaze and held them.
"Don't be so hard on your mother Ta." Her father replied softly, "its not easy letting go of someone you love… no matter how grown they think they are."
Upon hearing her nickname, Uhura's face softens. "Sorry daddy." She apologizes, tucking a long braid behind her ear. "Please forgive me mama." The bus came to a stop; she peeked out the window, a wave of excitement washed over her. "Mama, daddy I'll call you back later, okay?" she said quickly before disconnecting the call.
She placed the video cell in her pocket, slid out of her seat, grabbed her duffle bag from the overhead rack, and followed everyone off the bus. The scene before her was chaotic, some of the second and third year students was helping the newer cadets find their dormitory rooms, while a few others was handling out care packets.
There was a band playing subterranean music on a make shift stage and several kiosks scattered here and there promoting everything from safe sex to better food in the mess hall.
"Welcome to the Academy." An Annorian female greeted, thrusting a packet in her hands, her thin lips curled in a smile, noticing the somewhat confused look on Uhura's face she giggled and lean closer so Uhura can hear her over the noise. "Don't look so petrified." She giggled, brushing her orange unruly hair out of her face. "This is just a little impromptu welcome bash Admiral Bartlett decided to throw at the last minute."
"Something about promoting better relations between the cadets and faculty, I don't know…" she trailed off, "but hey a party is a party right? So live it up because come Monday morning its back to business as usual."
"Okay thanks." Uhura replied, wondering where to begin.
Captain Pike and several members of the Starfleet faculty were also on hand to greet the influx of students, Admiral Bartlett thought it was a great idea; it was part of his we-care about-the-whole-you campaign. Captain Pike thought is was stupid, although he knew it was important for teacher and student to form some kind of a bond, he was NOT a babysitter.
At this very moment, he had an over abundance of messages from parents who are worried about their baby. If he had to listen to any more messages about Little Logolos is allergic to such and such, or Betty Lou left home a virgin and she is expected to come home the same way, he was going to set his phaser to stun.
Despite all of his complaining, he didn't have it as bad as the young Vulcan standing at his right, Commander Spock stood erect with his hands clasped behind his back, his face expressionless, his seemly cold demeanor made a person think twice about approaching him.
"Smile my old friend, it's about over." Pike said, slapping him hard on the shoulder. "I know how hard this is for you, knowing how much you hate crowds."
Spock tilted his head and raised an eyebrow. "I am here by a direct order from Admiral Bartlett." He replied matter-of-factly. "My discomfort is not a top priority."
Pike cleared his throat and nodded, he couldn't figure out why Admiral Bartlett wanted Spock at the meet and greet; many people perception of Vulcans, in general, were they are a race of cold-hearted, emotionless, walking, talking mathematical geniuses. However, Pike knew that was farther from the truth; in the years he had known Spock he can attest that he had never met a more loyal friend or colleague.
"How about joining me for a drink once we are done?" Pike suggested. "It's been a while since we sat down and shoot the breeze."
Spock looked at him confuse, "Excuse me Captain, but I had never 'shoot the breeze with you,' is that some form of human entertainment that you wish to introduce me to?"
Pike chuckled, confusing the young Vulcan even more, his eyebrow threaten to hide underneath his bang. "I want us to talk." he said, rewording his sentence.
"Oh." Spock replied, wondering why humans never say what they mean, he concluded shoot the breeze was one of those ridiculous idiom humans were fond of saying. "I'm sorry Captain but I am otherwise engage this evening."
It was Captain Pike's turn to raise an eyebrow. "What's her name?" he teased, hoping his friend had a date with an actual female instead of tinkering with the computers in the science lab.
"Perhaps some other time?" he suggested, ignoring Pike's question. Vulcan's doesn't discuss such private matters.
"Umm…sure, how about this Friday?"
"I have nothing schedule."
"Friday it is." Pike grinned, happy that by not answering his question, Spock's silence spoke volumes.
Christine Chapel hummed softly to herself, checking her appearance for the umpteen time, looking for a strand of hair that might have wondered out of place while she was setting the table or a piece of lint she might have overlooked in her previous inspections. Satisfied she was fit for company, she went to her small kitchen to check on dinner, the plomeek soup was simmering nicely, the chopped salad was chilling in the fridge, and her stuff mushrooms and spinach hors d'oeuvres turned out perfectly.
Everything had to be perfect.
Commander Spock, the Vulcan of her dreams, has finally agreed to a home cooked meal. After stalking…uh…pursuing the handsome alien for one year, four months, and two days; it was the one year, four months and third day that was the charm. If there was anything to could be said about Nurse Chapel – she was persistent, especially when it came to something she wanted.
And she wanted Spock…
"Computer dim lights fifty percent." per her request the lights lowered, she shook her head, 'to subtle', she didn't want to scare him away - not when she was so close. "Computer lower lights thirty-five percent."
Her face lit up.
By the time Uhura made it to the informal meet and greet session she was exhausted, the only thought on her mind was going up to her room, stake claim on a bed and crashing. But since her professors were gracious enough to take time out of their busy schedules to be there plus, being raised with good manners, it would be considered rude if she did not at least say hi and introduce herself.
She recognized her advisor, Captain Pike, right away. He looked as drained as she felt. 'Might as well go and get this over with.' She said to herself, adjusting the strap of her duffle bag on her shoulder and walked towards him.
Upon her approach, she couldn't help but noticed the tall pale man with the quirky haircut standing next to him; he looked way too young to be wearing a Starfleet instructor's uniform. She discreetly gave him the once over and noticed his ears…
Spock, aware that he was the subject of this human female curiosity, did a quick summation of his own: the first thing he noticed was her body radiated a faint scent of vanilla and strawberries which was quite pleasing to his sensitive nostrils. Her clothing, according to human standards were modest, he found it didn't adequately protect her long legs from the sun. It was puzzling to him why humans insisted on wearing little as possible when the weather gets warmer.
Her long tresses, braided in the tradition of her people, stopped in the middle of her back. Her ears, partially hidden underneath her hair, were decorated with two silver round objects. Spock had to admit she was aesthetically pleasing, and judging by the looks of her male counterparts as they passed by, his assumption was correct.
"Hello Captain Pike," Uhura greeted a warm smile on her lips. "It's nice to see you again." She extended her hand for him to shake. "Cadet Uhura."
It took Captain Pike a moment to recognize her, his face lit up. "Cadet Uhura." He exclaimed, engulfing her small hand in his. "Welcome to Starfleet Academy."
"Thank you sir," she responded. "I-I will try not to disappoint you."
Captain Pike let out a hearty laugh, "I hardly doubt that cadet." He turned to Spock. "Commander Spock I like for you to meet Cadet Uhura, she is majoring in xenolinguistics, fast tracking on the path to becoming a Communications Officer."
"The best Communications Officer… sir." She corrected him, not ashamed of voicing her goal. Uhura could have sworn she saw a faint smile on the Commander's lips. But Vulcans don't smile. Spock's facial expression remained unchanged.
"Well then I stand corrected." Pike replied, "The best Communications Officer in the history of Starfleet Academy."
Uhura extended her hand for Spock to shake before remembering from her interspecies culture class that Vulcans do not like to be touch. "Sorry…" she muttered, embarrassed about the oversight.
Her scent began tickling his nose…
"There is nothing to apologize for Miss Uhura." Spock said dryly, noticing the weariness in her deep brown eyes. "I assure you no offense was taken."
Swirling around his neck…
"It's an honor to meet you Commander Spock." She said in flawless Vulcan. If Spock was stunned he didn't show it.
Brushing against the tips of his ears…
"Welcome to Starfleet Academy." He responded in High Vulcan, a warm sensation whirled inside of him, both brows shot up, threatening to disappear into his hairline. What was happening to him?
"Thank you sir." She responded in same, wondering why the tips of his ears have turned a bright green. "And again I do apologize for my grievous error." She said switching to Standard Vulcan.
Captain Pike marvel at the exchange between his young Vulcan friend and the freshman cadet. He had a feeling that maybe; just maybe Spock had met his intellectual match in Cadet Uhura.
Her scent played against his skin…
His body went more rigid if that was possible, "I had never met a human who has such a masterful hold of the Vulcan language." He continued, switching to his native dialect. I control my emotions, they do not control me. He said as the human in him threaten to take over.
"Thank you for the compliment Commander." She answered in the same, enjoying this little game of one-upmanship between them. "Coming from a native Vulcan it is an honor." She knotted her brows; Commander Spock looked a little green around the gills, for the lack of a better term.
"Are you ill Commander Spock?" she asked, switching to Romulan, "do you need some water?"
"Thank you for your concern Miss Uhura but I am quite well." He responded in the same, now in full control of himself again.
"I umm, hate to break this up." Captain Pike broke in, "but I'm sure Cadet Uhura is exhausted from her travels and you Commander Spock have an appointment elsewhere?"
A slight flash of disappointment raced across Spock's face, he was beginning to enjoy himself despite the slight… discomfort.
Uhura and Spock gazed into each other's eyes briefly before turning away. Was that disappointment she saw in his eyes? "You are correct in your perception Captain Pike." She readjusted the strap on her duffle bag.
"Are you in need of assistance, Miss Uhura?" Spock offered.
"I'm okay Commander." She replied, smiling warmly. She bid them goodnight and head for her dorm.
Her scent lingered in the air…
"She is fluent in 28 Federal Languages." Captain Pike inform Spock, "not including the earth languages she knows."
"Fascinating." The corner of Spock's mouth quirk up in a smile.