The first thing to jar Jim out of his dazed revere was the sight of Uhura out of uniform. The floral patterned dress she wore blossomed over dual curves. Delicate bolander's lilies and bold peonies burst against the backdrop of her dark skin. Long raindrop earrings centered her angled face and accentuated her tall neck. A low beaded belt dangled off her hips. Her smile was melody and became the only sound in the room.
This woman is beautiful, Jim thought.
Once he could find the strength, Jim looked pass Uhura to see Scotty, his face cracked with a grin and his eyes crinkled. Also out of uniform, but far less distracting.
To Scotty's left, Chekov and Sulu leaned toward one another with red drinks in hand.
Bones appeared at the group's right, not really smiling, but not really not. Christine pushed a drink in the doctor's hand and smiled for him.
The bridge crew gathered at the front and to the back a murmur of ensigns and lieutenants.
After the crowd dissolved, Jim could finally took in the room. Tacky streamers fell from the ceiling in all the wrong colors. Punch bowls held strangely colored liquid, and the buffet table looked like a cluster-fuck of protein chips and replicated food rations. The one thing that stood out was a two foot tall cake, layered and smeared with thick colorful frosting, that, and the amount of love and adoration needed to put together such an event.
Spock took a step to form a perfect line with Jim.
Jim smiled and put up a command hand that stopped all sound in the room, save for Uhura's smile.
"Thank you. I don't know of any crew that sticks around after two days of shore leave to see off their Captain. It means a lot to me to see so many faces." His smile turned into mock disgust with his crew. "What is wrong with you people?"
The crowd laughed a beat.
"Really, I am proud to call you my crew. Thank you for this." Christine appeared in front of him with a similar drink to Bones.
"To the best crew in the fleet!" He took a sip and gestured to the table. "Let's eat!"
Everyone filtered near him but not really approaching. Except Uhura who slinked directly toward him like a predator or disapproving mother, both felt equally threatening.
Her olive dark eyes appraised him and Jim couldn't help but blush.
He darkened when her hand clutched his arm.
"I trust you're doing better."
Jim nodded and tried once again to take a spot in line for the dessert table.
"Nuh uh, sugar."
"Uh, the rec room looks nice." Jim tried and again stayed in her grip.
"I think you owe me an apology." She purred.
"Apology?" Jim swallowed.
"You've gotta promise me, Mister, that you won't ever let yourself into such danger again!"
"Can I tell you a secret?"
Her eyes narrowed.
"Does your secret include an "I'm sorry for scaring the, excuse me, the shit out of your crew?" then by all means continue."
"Yes, and a promise that it will most likely never happen again."
"Spock likes me." He whispered and levered up and down on his toes.
Uhura rolled her eyes and looked him up and down.
"Hardly the secret, darlin', and how's that an apology anyhow?"
Jim started to grin like he was about to say something crass, but his eyes softened and the most unexpected feeling passed with his next words.
"It means I got something worth staying alive for."
"Now aint that inspiring." Uhura glanced at Spock hardly ten steps back. "I'll hold you to that Mister, or I'll be after you."
She slinked away, hips cocking from side to side.
Spock locked in place next to Jim.
"That woman will kill me someday." Jim sighed, gazing at her retreating backside.
"I doubt Lt. Uhura has a truly violent thought in her head."
"A violent thought with good intentions is still a violent thought, Mr. Spock."
"If she could kill with her mind that would undoubtedly be true."
"She wasn't surprised when I told her you liked me."
"So I heard."
"Well, cake, Mr. Spock?"
Jim found Scotty in line next to him. The Scotsman gave him a sideways glance and stood quite still.
"Did you…with my replicator…and…"
"Clever. And thanks."
Scotty plopped a piece of cake on his plate and tilted the handle toward Jim. Jim took it and watched Scotty walk a perfectly straight line to the rec room couch.
"He's at level two." Jim informed Spock directly behind him.
"Level two, sir?"
"Scotty hits four levels when he drinks. Level one he is loud and boisterous and he cannot walk straight. Level two he becomes monosyllabic and seems quite sober until you talk to him. Level three is when he can't stop looking at Uhura, trust me that level was hard to discover. And four is him finding some place to sleep; either curled up in a Jefferies tube or on lucky occasions his own bed."
Spock declined the cake handle and followed his captain to some of the food that supposedly took the place of a cheese plate or other some other party cuisine. Spock picked up a large amount of the purple mounds.
"What is that?"
"A Vulcan delicacy."
"How can you tell?"
"It is the only thing that replicates purple."
"Do you want to-" Spock offered.
Jim and Spock took the center of the large banquet table.
They ate, drank, laughed, and Spock stayed at his side in quiet reserve. It was pleasant.
Scotty found stage three. Stage three had become a drinking game to the rest of the crew who knew of it and something completely oblivious to the engineer.
Every time Scotty blushed or stared too long in Uhura's direction, the crew took a discrete drink.
"Jim I have noticed-"
"Lt. Uhura does not drink when-"
"She doesn't know either."
The party lasted another hour. Scotty finally moved on to stage four. His feet hung out from under the buffet table.
"Should we wake-"
"No, no. He takes pride in stage four. He likes to retell all of the places he's been able to sleep."
"Come on, first, let's go to bed." Jim sidled up to Uhura standing at the door after everyone had filtered out.
"I have another secret."
Uhura gave a look only a woman could give.
"Only if it's better than the last one."
Jim cradled her ear between his hands and whispered something telling.
Spock tried, but he could not pick up the muffled words. But he could see Uhura's eyes widen and lock on a pair of naked hairy feet.
Jim left her speechless and followed Spock out of the room.
Uhura approached the fallen Scotsman. She flipped up the tablecloth and peered at his prone form. It was left field. It was crazy. It was wholly unexpected. It was devastating. What to do? How to act! It changed everything, and nothing.
It was nice. Uhura decided. The embers of her heart had died long ago, even before she joined the academy. She felt excitement brush against the hardened muscle. Scottish pyrite struck within her chest. A spark here. There.
His face held bits of dried frosting; his chin was light with unkempt stubble. His eyes were dark and sunken from overwork. A small bit of drool dripped from his huffing mouth…
Who are you Scotty, to give the joy of being wanted? Or the rush of newfound affection.
It was unfair, Uhura thought. So unfair.
Slowly she knelt. Slowly she reached out and touched the remaining hair on his head. Soft. It was so soft. He sniffled, grunted, but did not wake.
"Come on, Mr. Scott." She cooed. "Come on." She cupped his head and pulled him as upright as he could be underneath a table. His eyes opened. Flew wide. But unseeing. Foggy, hazed. Uhura coaxed him out of his drunken cave. Steered him out of the recreation room. He followed like a he was in a dream. A very, very good dream. She opened her cabin. And her bed.
She watched him sleep.
"I assume you told the Lt. about Mr. Scott's affection?"
"Scotty shouldn't be lonely through stage four. I hope to get reports of two people sleeping under that table."
"Do you mind?" Spock said following Jim to bed.
"Do I ever?"