The Logic of Languages
by Camilla Sandman
Disclaimer: Not my characters, just my words.
Author's Note: Set pre-movie in the reboot universe. Mostly I'm just making up a possible way their relationship might have come to be.
The first time Nyota translates from one language to another, she feels a moment of silent triumph that she keeps still inside her, wanting no emotion to reveal it.
She can translate. She can learn to travel between languages like they were stars, bridging them in the process. She can unlock words and worlds with them. She can understand. She can make others understand too.
She can learn.
"Well done, Nyota," her teacher says, leaning down over her shoulder. Around, the rest of the class seem to still struggle. "There might be a future in communication for you."
There will be, Nyota decides.
The first time now-Cadet Uhura sees Commander Spock, he is standing still in a room full of motion and the calm in him seems strangely stronger than all the blustering around.
Center of gravity, she thinks. So much force everything else responds to it and it creates the illusion of being unmovable.
He's obviously Vulcan and she pauses for a moment to consider, just watching. His gaze falls on her after a while, lingering as hers does. She can't read any emotion in it, but she wouldn't expect to.
The first time Nyota realises she is good at this is when she breezes through a class her roommate struggles with, a class where everyone else also seem to have great difficulty.
"It's just logic," Uhura says and Gaila just groans.
"To you, maybe."
"All languages have patterns of speech. You just have to learn them."
"Easy for you to say, top student."
"Easy for me," Uhura agrees, smiling faintly. "I'll help you."
The first time she knows she has impressed Spock, she's just challenged him in perfect Vulcan in the middle of class and not backed down.
"It's a mistranslation," she maintains calmly. "It's not 'devoid', it's 'deficient'. There is a subtle difference that could escape most."
"It was translated by the Vulcan Science Academy," he counters.
"They got it wrong."
After a moment, his eyebrows rise a little and she knows it's an admission she's right as good as saying it.
They do feel, she thinks. They just use a different vocabulary and a more subtle grammar, but like any language, it can be learned. It has a pattern, a logic.
"They did indeed," Commander Spock says.
The first time she aces an exam, she drinks to it with her friends and thinks about her future.
She knows what ship she'd like to serve on eventually, and she's beginning to sense in herself what sort of officer she could make. Chief Communications Officer, she thinks. She has the skill and the drive, she needs not to let either down.
Some of the guys with more balls than brains laugh at her specialty, but they don't get it.
To master a situation, you must understand it. To master a universe, you have to be able to speak its language.
She wonders if anyone gets that.
The first time Lieutenant Uhura gets a little personal with her instructor, it is almost accidental.
"You did not seem to have much to add," Commander Spock says as the class empty around them and she looks up a little surprised to see him standing just a few feet away, hands behind his back. His tone is not accusatory, but it does tell her he's been observing her. Noticing.
"I was listening," she says calmly, watching his face intently.
"I see," he says. "As they say, 'we have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak'."
"Epictetus," she notes and she can see on his face she is right. "You've read human philosophers."
"My mother read to me extensively."
She smiles a little. "My grandmother read to me. She's the one who inspired me to join Starfleet."
He doesn't volunteer what inspired him to join in turn, and she doesn't press for it. She just starts walking out, and hears him fall into pace next to her after a few seconds.
"What did she read to you?" he asks and she wonders if this is the Vulcan version of flirting.
The first time Uhura fails at something, she is irritable all day and following morning, running the test over and over again in her head, trying to spot where she went wrong.
She is trying to stab her breakfast to death when Spock sits down next to her and she knows he can read her like an open book.
"Not all tests are passable, Lieutenant," he offers. "You made a commendable effort on an impossible task."
"Is that my evaluation?" she asks a touch testily, but he doesn't flinch.
"My evaluation of you is one of the highest I have ever given," he says, and she can hear just a subtle hint of something in his voice that makes her breath catch a little.
He moves to get up, but she puts her arm on his before he can fully rise.
"Have breakfast with me," she offers.
The first time Uhura thinks she might be falling for him a little, she and Spock are watching a falling star across a dark sky. They've both observed it's a misleading name for a meteor and she has briefly talked about how a name should have enough meaning not to be given lightly or erroneously.
Now they are just watching, sometimes each other as much as the sky.
"Why science?" she asks. "You could have mastered any tracking at the Academy. Why that one in particular?"
"Science is the language of the universe, Lieutenant," he says. "You of all should understand the desire to master its logic."
"Nyota," she corrects lightly. "You may call me Nyota in private."
"Thank you, Nyota," he says and she likes the way he says her name.
The first time she kisses a Vulcan, he is no longer her instructor and she thinks she might like to promote him to boyfriend instead.
Spock is restrained, but not unresponsive, leaning into the kiss in a way she rather thinks is speaking very loudly. His right hand is on her back, holding still but holding, his left wandering slowly down her arm. His touches are still a little alien to her skin but growing familiar.
She smiles when she pulls back, the sun warm on her face and his eyes dark as he looks at her.
"You seem happy, Nyota," he tells her.
"I am," she says and when his fingers brush her temple, she knows that he is too.
The second time Nyota sleeps with Spock, he whispers Vulcan words when she leans over him, just a tad breathlessly.
She understands, and also what he is actually saying, beyond the meaning of the words. Understanding a language is also knowing its logic, seeing its patterns.
She is learning his and teaching him hers.
Maybe they can manage a translation between them.