The Taste of Snow, Chapter 8
He was awakened by a stirring in the bed next to him.
"Shhh. I'm just getting up for a minute, and I'll be right back."
He watched as Uhura padded into the bathroom. The perfectly rounded back side of her lush body was all too visible in the low light, and he decided that he would much rather wait for her return than go back to sleep.
Before long, his wait was rewarded when she eased back through the bathroom door and approached the bed, her full breasts swaying gently as she walked. He ran his eyes over the soft curves of her body in appreciation, and she smiled when she saw that he was still awake.
"Sorry I woke you."
"It is of no consequence. Actually, I believe that I shall avail myself of the facilities as well."
Sliding out from under the covers, he realized when his feet hit the floor that the temperature had continued to drop throughout the night. His internal clock told him that it was 0220 hours. The storm had obviously blown over, for the room was not quite as dark and the house was very silent. He hurried as quietly as he could to the small bathroom.
She held the covers open for him when he rejoined her. "It's gotten cold out there, hasn't it?"
"Indeed it has. I would estimate that the temperature is well below the freezing point outside."
"Now, aren't you glad you stayed in here tonight?" she teased. "Just think how cold that sofa would be right now."
"I cannot deny that I am 'glad' to be here, but avoidance of the cold sofa is not my primary incentive. As I am certain you know."
She chuckled and rolled onto her back. Propped up on his elbow next to her, he studied her face and was struck by the fact that although everything had changed between them, nothing had changed between them. He decided that she would be pleased to hear him point that out.
"Nyota, I am currently contemplating a paradox."
"Oh, you are? What sort of a paradox would you be contemplating?"
"In the last twenty hours, we have entirely altered the nature of our relationship. One might expect, therefore, that the dynamics of our interpersonal interactions would change as well, but I am left with the definite impression that in fact nothing has changed at all."
She pushed herself back up onto her side so that she could face him.
"I'm glad that you brought this up. Your friendship means more to me than all the sex in the world, and I was so afraid that we'd damage it. In the end, though, I think the idea that it could grow into something better made us both decide that the risk was worthwhile. The fact that we can even have a conversation like this so soon after, well, so soon, tells me that we made the right choice. Don't you agree?"
"I have no regrets."
She nodded. "So, I suppose the next question is 'What happens next?'"
"As you said yesterday, perhaps we shall just have to wait and see. My most optimistic prediction, however, is that we will continue to explore this new aspect of our relationship once I return to the Enterprise." He paused. "I have great difficulty envisioning the possibility that we might not."
"I think that it would break my heart," she whispered.
He touched her lightly on the cheek. "I would never willingly break your heart, Nyota."
"I know. I trust you completely."
"And I, you."
"So I guess this brings up the next topic of discussion. Assuming then that this is more than just a one-night stand, will we, uh, want to go public? After all, we have close friends who probably deserve to know. And who will probably figure it out, anyway."
He frowned and looked away, having not considered that angle, but before he could respond she said, "Okay, I suppose that the look on your face answers that question."
"Forgive me, but the thought of sharing something so intimate, even with close friends, unsettles me. Are you greatly disappointed?"
"Honestly? A bit. I mean, right now I feel like shouting it from the rooftop, but you wouldn't be you if you felt the same way I did about it. I know all too well how intensely private you are."
"It is not because I am anything less than proud to be with you. You are an extraordinary woman, and any man would consider himself fortunate if he were to find himself in my situation."
She placed her hand flat on his chest. "Oh, you sweet talker, you."
"I am merely speaking the truth."
She smiled seductively. "Even better."
Scooting closer, she carefully began to trace a pattern on his chest with her fingernails, languidly outlining each nipple before moving across his stomach. As she worked her way down, he felt himself stir, and he was already semi-erect when she reached his genitals.
"And even better still," she whispered.
She continued to tease him with only the lightest touch of her fingernails, stroking the length of his shaft, tickling his testicles, circling his ridges. Although her touch was so light as to be nearly nonexistent, he was amazed at how quickly he became aroused.
Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath and shuddered.
"Nyota, are you not in need of sleep?"
Pushing him onto his back, she bent her head to his chest and carefully followed the same path with her lips that she had drawn with her fingertips. Between kisses, she murmured, "I can sleep tomorrow. And so can you."
As her lips moved lower on his belly, he could not help but agree.
"Nyota, wake up. Nyota."
Foggily she became aware of a very warm body close to her back and hot breath in her ear.
"Do not rouse yourself. I am moving to the sofa, and I did not want you to wake and find me gone."
She lifted her head and saw that the window glowed with dim light.
"What time is it?"
"It is 0553 hours. The others will stir soon, and I must return to the other room."
She snuggled back down into the pillow. "You're so warm. Stay just for a moment longer."
"Very well." He kissed her lightly on the back of her neck.
Already half asleep, she pushed herself back against him. "Mmmm. Do that again."
Just as she felt his teeth on the soft place where her neck met her shoulder, she was jolted awake by an excited voice from the next room.
"Spock! Spock, look! Nyota! Dr. McCoy! Look out the window!"
She and Spock both jumped up to a sitting position.
Saavik yelled, "QUICK!"
Uhura dashed across the room and pulled her nightgown and robe from her dresser drawer. She could hear Spock moving quickly, gathering up his clothing from the floor, and when she turned around he had already managed to pull his pants on and was trying to untangle his shirt.
She scurried close to him as she threw her nightgown over her head. "What do you think it is?"
"I cannot imagine. It does not appear that she is ill or in danger, however."
They heard the sound of a door opening and McCoy's sleepy voice. "Saavik? What's up?"
"Dr. McCoy, come here, come here!"
Uhura grabbed Spock's elbow. "Wait a moment, and I'll get Dr. McCoy into Saavik's room. Do you think he'll notice that you're not wearing your pajamas?"
Glancing at his attire, he said, "Perhaps he will simply assume that I have already been up for some time."
She nodded and adjusted his collar, and couldn't help but smile.
"Aren't we something? Caught like two teenagers. And here you are in my bedroom, no less. All we need is for my mother to come walking through the door and we'd be set."
She kissed him quickly and ran to the door before he had a chance to respond. Peering out, she saw that McCoy had already gone into Saavik's room, so she motioned for Spock to follow her.
He was right at her shoulder when they entered Saavik's room.
"What is it, Saavikam?"
The little girl stood at her window, gripping the window ledge. McCoy, beside her, turned toward Spock and Uhura and grinned.
Saavik pointed out the window and commanded, "LOOK!"
Uhura and Spock crowded around her, and Uhura gasped when she saw what Saavik had wanted so badly to show them. Leaning closer to the window, she put her arm around Saavik's shoulders and laughed with delight.
The rain last night had turned to snow. A heavy layer of ice covered every branch, every leaf, and every blade of grass, and the landscape glittered as if it were encased in glass. In addition, although not a great amount of snow had fallen, enough had accumulated on the ground to sparkle in shades of lavender and pink as the early-morning light crept in between the clouds and the treeline. A few flakes continued to fall, and as she watched, one landed on the window and left its lacy imprint for an instant before vanishing into a small wet spot.
Uhura turned to Spock. "Let's go out there."
Pulling his eyebrows together, he drew back and looked at her as if she were insane. "Now?"
She laughed and picked up Saavik, and carried her to her bed. "Yes, right now!"
Saavik cried, "Please? Please, Spock?"
McCoy started for the door. "Let me get my boots and coat."
Uhura grabbed some socks and boots for Saavik and looked back over at Spock. He stood bewildered in the middle of the room while everyone bustled around him. Holding Saavik's things out to him, she said, "Put these on Saavik while I get dressed."
"Come on, Spock!"
From the bed, Saavik chimed in again. "Pleeeease?"
With a defeated sigh, he accepted Saavik's footwear, and Uhura smiled and darted into her room. She pulled on some pants and tucked her nightgown into them, stepped into her boots, and grabbed her coat. By the time she made it back out into the hallway, McCoy was already waiting.
Laughing, he said, "I haven't done anything like this since Joanna was little."
"I haven't done anything like this since I was little!"
Soon Spock had donned his coat, and the four of them eased their way through the back door and into the cold sharpness of the fairylike dawn. Their footsteps crunched in the eerie silence. From her high vantage point in Spock's arms, Saavik gazed around herself with wonder. "Look at the trees! They look so fragile, as if they might break!"
"If the weight of the ice is sufficient, Saavikam, they very well might."
"Spock! I want to touch it!"
As he obediently carried her over to a nearby tree, Uhura picked up a handful of snow from the ground and packed it into a ball. Spotting a target in the distance, she threw the snowball and missed. She tried again, and soon McCoy joined her. Laughing at themselves, neither of them was able to hit the target. The snow had begun to come down harder now, and she had to stop and brush it from her eyes.
Saavik stuck her fingers into the snow and swept it from the branches with both hands. "Nyota! I am going to taste the snow!"
Trotting over to stand beside Spock, Uhura smiled when Saavik scooped up a huge handful of snow and touched just the very tip of her tongue to it and made a face.
"What does it taste like?"
"It is cold!" She tried it again. "It tastes like ice."
"You can do better than that!" Uhura filled her own hands with snow and brought it to her lips. "I think that it tastes like frost, and mittens, and evenings around a fire."
Saavik stuck her tongue back into the snow. "Peppermint, but without the mint!"
They all turned when McCoy spoke up from the other side of the garden. "It tastes like Christmas to me."
Uhura looked at Spock, who had been very quiet throughout the entire exchange. His eyebrow raised, he was obviously skeptical.
She stepped closer to him. "You try it, Spock. Tell us what you think it tastes like."
Turning in his arms so that she could see his face, Saavik offered him a handful of snow. "Yes, Spock! What do you think?"
He gingerly cupped her small hand in his own and brought the snow to his mouth. The others waited expectantly, but he shook his head.
"It simply tastes like snow. Nothing more."
Uhura shook her head. "You didn't use your imagination. Snow can taste like anything you want it to, Spock. Anything! Can't you try again?"
He met her eyes and did not answer at first. Finally, he lifted his hand and brushed the snow from her eyelashes.
"Nyota, it will still only taste like snow."
She gazed at him, wide-eyed, unable to believe that he had touched her like that. Although his gesture was simple and discreet, it was for him as public a display of intimacy and affection as it would have been if another man had pulled her into his arms and kissed her. She searched his face and tried to comprehend the significance of what he had just done.
After a moment of silent communication, the corner of his mouth turned up in an almost-smile, and she felt a huge grin spread across her face in response.
Saavik grew tired of the inactivity and interrupted them. "Spock! I want to walk in the snow."
Finally breaking eye contact, he bent to place Saavik gently on the ground. Uhura watched them for a second, but couldn't resist the urge to glance at McCoy. The doctor's eyes were narrowed, as if he wasn't sure that he understood exactly what he had just seen. She decided that if he couldn't figure it out for himself, she wasn't going to give anything away, so she smiled innocently at him before turning to help Saavik.
By the time the little girl announced that she was ready to go back in, the sky was thick with snow and they were all soaked to the skin. Uhura hurried to her room and peeled off her wet clothing. As she stood at her dresser and put on dry clothes, she looked over her shoulder and smiled. The events of last night had been so unbelievable that she might have thought she had dreamed them, except for the very clear imprint of two bodies on her rumpled bed.
She pulled out her suitcase and began to pack. It was almost time to leave.
Rubbing her eyes with exhaustion, Uhura walked into the welcoming comfort of her quarters on the Enterprise. Her trip from Dantria had been a long one, and she'd been needed on the bridge almost as soon as she'd stepped off the transporter pad. Pulling off her jacket, she scowled at the still-packed suitcase sitting against the wall and decided that it could wait; all she wanted to do right now was soak under a hot shower and crash in her bed.
Pulling off her boots on her way to the fresher, her attention was caught by a blinking light on her computer. A message? Somehow she'd missed seeing it come through, but that wasn't too surprising considering how busy she'd been. She smiled and settled herself at her desk. Boy, Saavik sure didn't waste any time!
"Computer, play message for Lieutenant Commander Nyota Uhura."
"Working. Transmission is from Spock on Dantria IV, stardate 3891.2."
Spock? She held her breath, uncertain whether to be elated or concerned. Surely it wouldn't be more bad news. She had just seen them two days ago and everyone was fine! As his image came on the screen and she listened to what he had to say, she relaxed.
"Greetings, Nyota. I trust that your journey was uneventful and that you and Dr. McCoy are now comfortably back on the Enterprise. Saavik and I are well. After your departure, she requested that she be taken back outside and therefore is sleeping soundly at the moment, having been thoroughly exhausted by the events of the day."
He paused for a moment, and Uhura tilted her head, wondering what he was going to say. Small talk wasn't exactly his forte, and she knew that he was working his way up to something. Soon he continued.
"I have a confession to make to you. After Saavik was asleep, I stepped back outside. The clouds had finally cleared, and although it was late, the light of the moon on the snow lit the landscape almost as if it were daytime. The view was quite striking, and I thought of you and wished that you were with me to see it. That is not what I wanted to tell you, however.
"Remembering your entreaty of this morning, I tasted the snow again. This time, I tried very hard to imagine that it tasted of something other than mere frozen precipitation. It took three tries, but finally I decided that it tasted cool and fresh, soothing, but invigorating. I decided that it tasted like... you."
He raised an eyebrow in self-mockery. "That was, of course, a most subjective judgment. At any rate, the house is once more very empty without you. I anticipate the day when I will see you again.
She covered her mouth with her hands and blinked, trying to steady her pounding heart. Her fatigue was forgotten. After a few moments, a slow smile curved her lips and she ran her fingers through her hair. Sitting forward, she addressed her computer.
"Computer. Record message to Commander Spock on Dantria IV."
The next story in this series is Almost a Kiss