Cultural Oddities
by Camilla Sandman

Disclaimer: Not my characters, just my words.

Author's Note: Set some undisclosed time after the 2009 movie. I used information about pon farr from both TOS and Voyager, but this can probably be called my take on the concept. Many thanks to ishie for beta.

II

"Something's wrong with Spock," Kirk tells Uhura as he sits down next to her; she doesn't look up from her food. "He just called me a dumb hick."

"I've called you that," she says breezily, not really listening.

"Yes, Lieutenant. That's why I figured you had taught him that particular insult. But Commander Spock called me a dumb hick in front of several of the crew."

She looks up sharply, meeting his gaze and seeing genuine worry in it.

"Spock?" she repeats. "Spock?"

"Yes," he confirms. "Something's wrong."

II

On occasion, Nyota has opted to cook for Spock and he always seems pleased with it, even when she is pretty sure she is less than successful. (Similarly, she has never told him he usually overcooks the rice.)

He hasn't touched the food she brought, hasn't thanked her for bringing it or even touched her since she walked in.

"What's wrong?" she asks simply.

"Wrong?" he repeats, as if the word is foreign to him.

"You haven't eaten," she observes. "You're snapping at the Captain, you've been impatient with the crew. I know you. Something is wrong. What is it?"

"I am experiencing a neurochemical imbalance." Spock says matter-of-factly. "I can only surmise I am entering pon farr."

She stares at him, trying to remember her Vulcan vocabulary. Pon farr, pon farr, has she heard that term before?

"Normally, I would return to Vulcan and a pre-arranged mate," he continues, sounding as if he's talking to himself more than her. "I have neither."

"You got me," she says lightly and the look he gives her always makes her take a step back.

"I would not do that to you, Nyota," he says. "I shall attempt to overcome the pon farr through extensive meditation. It would be wise if you did not approach me for some time."

"Spock!" she protests, stepping close and touching his cheek. Only a breath of a second later he's kissing her fiercely, her elbows and arms pressing against his chest. She can feel his accelerated heartbeat faintly and heat from his skin even through cloth. He's warm. A fever?

She feels his fingers against her temple, the touch so much lighter than the force of his kiss. For a moment she thinks he means to mind meld with her, but his fingers ball into a fist instead. A moment later and he's stumbling back, pushing her away at the same time.

"No!" he says harshly, breathing heavily. "I will not do this to you."

She calms her own breathing as he does, her mind already considering the implications of his words and actions and current state. She needs more data.

"Please, Nyota. Leave me."

She does; she has a lot of research to do, after all.

II

"Lieutenant Uhura," McCoy offers, barely looking up from his scanner.

"I need medical files on Vulcans."

"Don't tell me what you want them for."

"Wasn't planning to."

"Good," he says. "Too many do. I'm a doctor, not a sex advice columnist."

"Good," she counters and gives him a brief smile.

II

"What are you doing?" Kirk asks behind her and Uhura makes herself count to five before giving him a smile. It's not that she dislikes him (anymore) as such, it's more that he's very Kirk even as a Captain she's learned to respect (somewhat).

"I am off-duty," she says. "I am merely using my work station to access a few files."

"I can see that," he says brightly, leaning in a little. "Vulcan, huh? Interesting topic considering our chat earlier today."

"Idle curiosity."

"You know Lieutenant, nothing about you strikes me as idle," he says, returning to his chair calmly.

He really needs to work on making compliments sound less like making a pass, she thinks.

II

"What is pon farr?" Uhura asks, but Spock doesn't even look up as she enters. His attention seems focused on his meditation lamp, but she knows he's aware of her. "I found only vague references to it, even in available Vulcan texts."

"It is a highly private matter," he says after a moment, voice strained. "I am surprised you found any."

"I am resourceful."

"Indeed you are."

She waits, watching the sweat on his face and the tension in his fingertips as he presses them together.

"It's a biological state," he finally offers.

"I gathered that," she says. "The stress on it being such a private matter coupled with your actions when I was last here leads me to believe this might involve sexual desire."

"Your logic is sound," he admits, finally looking up at her. He doesn't look good at all, she notes.

"You're ill. You need to see Doctor McCoy."

"I need..." he begins, biting down the rest of the sentence and balling his fists again. "There are Vulcan rituals to satisfy the pon farr."

"What happens if you don't?"

He doesn't say anything for a moment, then lowers his head. "You may accompany me to Doctor McCoy."

She's starting to get a very bad feeling about this.

II

Uhura knows it's not good news the moment McCoy insists the Captain hear the results of his examination too and she's very right.

"It's a mating urge," McCoy says bluntly and Kirk makes a slight noise. "I got that much out of him. He's got chemicals being pumped through his body, causing severe discomfort and stress. He is fighting the urges, but they may overwhelm him and cause aggressive behaviour. The way it is building in his system, I predict death within a week unless relieved."

"What do you mean, 'death'?" Uhura asks, and both men look at her. "He actually has to... mate or die?"

"There's a pickup line," Kirk says in slight wonder, then seems to check himself. "Can anyone at New Vulcan help?"

"From what I understand, he has no mate there," McCoy says. "With the destruction of Vulcan and the limited Vulcan population that is left, I don't know if there are any easily available to find. However, I understand humans are... Compatible."

Both men look at her again, McCoy's face carefully neutral, Kirk's carefully not.

Pon farr, an abstract cultural oddity suddenly become her half-Vulcan boyfriend clinging to control by his fingertips and a very serious problem.

Human curses won't do, Nyota decides, and opts for Kligon ones instead.

II

Spock is shivering as she approaches him, the usual calm in him seeming to crack more and more with each breath.

"We're in a relationship," she says firmly. "Would not your pon farr be relieved with our normal activities?"

"No," he says darkly. "We have copulated. We have not mated, as Vulcans do."

She nods slowly, understanding dawning. "Vulcans are telepathic."

"Under the influence of pon farr, I would attempt to mind meld with you, The link might trigger you into entering pon farr as well. It has been known to occur."

His mother, she thinks. Has to be.

"Furthermore," he continues, struggling with the words, "the rituals surrounding mating during pon farr may be viewed in the same context humans see marriage."

"I see," she says. For a race so logical, 'mate or die' certainly seems a bit of a departure from norm and she's not sure how she feels about 'mate and be married' either.

"I do not wish to force you, Nyota," he says and she fights the urge to want to kiss him for that then and there.

"I will not let you die," she tells him in return; she does mean it.

II

"Spock has confined himself to quarters again," Kirk tells her as he sits down next to her in the near-empty mess hall. "What are you doing here?"

"Thinking," she admits.

"Just sleep with him," Kirk suggests, and Uhura gives him a long, wiltering stare. "Okay, it's not ideal circumstances, but I assume you don't mind under normal ones."

"No," she breathes, an understatement that she has no particular desire to explain to Kirk why is so massive. "But this feels forced, this feels..."

"...predestined," Kirk finishes and she looks surprised at him. "A bit like being told you have to become someone's best friend because you will be in the future."

She looks at him; he smiles a little distantly.

"You're not just a dumb hick, are you?" she asks and his smile touches his eyes too.

"Easier to put people at ease sometimes being one," he says, getting up. His voice is strangely gentle when he goes on. "Sleep with him, Lieutenant. Make it something you want to. If I am to be his friend, I'd like him to be around for it to happen."

"Captain?"

"Yeah?"

"That's 'sleep with him, Nyota', not Lieutenant. I'm not taking a Captain's orders about my boyfriend. I might consider Jim's friendly advice."

"Understood," he says and seems to. "Nice first name!"

II

She slips into Spock's quarters quietly, kneeling down next to him before he notices her.

"We're going to mate," she says gently. "I understand we will link telepathically and this may have an affect on me. I understand the act of mating can be seen as a Vulcan version of marriage. I understand you don't want to force me. I choose to, Spock. After all, a boyfriend may be viewed in the same context Vulcans see a mate."

He links his hands with hers slowly, keeping his eyes on her face.

"I'm the logical choice," she offers half-jokingly.

"You're not just logical," he says, which sounds oddly romantic coming from a Vulcan. "I did not wish to..."

"You may make it up to me later," she says, holding still while he leans his forehead against hers. She can hear him murmur softly in Vulcan, without quite catching the words. (She will ask about those later; she cannot not wish to know.) His fingers are soft too, moving to her temples and pressing lightly.

"Two bodies, one mind," she hears herself saying, his words from his mind as it suddenly seems to be in hers, everywhere in hers. The sensation is utterly unfamiliar and familiar at the same time; his familiarity with it blending with her unfamiliarity. She can feel his desire too, burning much like his skin, physical and mental sensations seeming to merge.

It does hurt a little at first, the intensity of it and the slipping control in him, and she cannot hide that from him. She doesn't try to, instead kissing him and feeling what it feels like to him too.

It makes her rather wonder how the rest will feel to him too and she can feel his lips curve into a rare smile against hers.

"Your curiosity has always been an admirable trait, Nyota," he whispers. "I shall try to serve it well."

II

It is not the best sex she's ever had.

There's too much need in him, seeping into her, and the control she's so used to in him is gone. It's rather unfamiliar and overwhelming, everything felt twice over. There is pleasure too, but not only.

It's not the best sex she's ever had. But it is the most intimate.

II

She wakes in the middle of the (artificial) night to find him not sleeping, his arms still around her but his skin so much cooler now. The fever has broken.

She tilts her head a little to look at his. He seems stiller now, composed and she strokes his cheek fondly.

"How often do Vulcans suffer pon farr?" she asks.

"Every seven years from the first pon farr."

She considers that. "I think I can live with every seventh year."

"I am sorry," he says. "I had thought maybe my human blood would spare me having to undergo it at all. I may remove the memories of this encounter from your mind, should you wish me to."

"You're half-Vulcan."

"We have established that," he comments just a touch dryly.

"I love all of you," she says frankly. "Not just your human half. Not just your Vulcan half. Just the person made from both of them. I don't wish the memories removed."

He considers her words, his hand settling on her hip as his mind seems to wander a little.

"It would be logical for me to observe I love you too at this conjecture, would it not?"

She tries not to smile and fails miserably. "It's usually the logical moment to, yes."

"Then I shall choose a more illogical moment, as a human would."

She smiles as she drifts back to sleep, dreaming of nothing in particular.

II

It's three days later when Captain Kirk joins her in the turblift, looking somewhat pleased with himself. (But then, he often does. She's working on finding it charming rather than annoying.)

"Captain."

"Uhura."

"Commander Spock seems to be back to normal."

"I believe so."

"But perhaps you might explain to me why he's asking my advice on illogical moments to express feelings... Nyota?"

"Maybe someone suggested you were an expert... Jim," she says, waiting a beat before continuing. "Or maybe he wants the advice of a friend."

She doesn't look back as she exits the lift and walks onto the bridge; she still knows Kirk is smiling at her back.

Spock could make a worse friend. Kirk couldn't make a better one. And she, she's the not just the logical mate of a half-Vulcan, half-human and she rather likes that.

She just hopes future cultural oddities will come with more advanced warnings and maybe less aching thigh muscles, too.

FIN