Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Most importantly, I have never been a fan of Star Trek. I have only seen the 2009 movie, and I have tried to keep this story as canon as possible, but I'm sure I've made mistakes and will continue to in the future
Grateful thanks to my dearest kathrynthegr8 for the beta!
They're two hours past frustration while negotiating a ceasefire on Ergos when Kirk switches tactics. She is standing next to him, waiting to assist in translation, but so far he seems to be communicating just fine all on his own.
"Hey, I understand that you both need water. There's got to be some sort of mutual compromise that we can come up with."
The tribal leaders are silent, doubtful.
"It's not like a woman." Kirk gestures toward her. "Can't split them in half." Her mouth drops open. The leaders share a laugh, and the ice is broken.
This is how it starts. Without the cleansing scapegoat of alcohol, pain, loss, triumph. There is just Uhura and Kirk and angry whispers inside his cabin.
"That was a bad move today on the bridge, Captain.
"You need to calm down." He offers her a drink, and she doesn't even give him the dignity of a refusal.
"This is a starship, and you are supposed to be the one setting a professional example." She is standing stiffly, arms folded.
"Come on. Eros is a patriarchal society. I was just speaking their language."
"So it's okay for the Federation to condone the subjugation of women?" She is angry enough to strike him.
He shakes his head and walks over to her. "Look, have I ever done anything to you to make you hate me this much? God, Uhura, you act like I killed your puppy."
"You don't deserve to be here."
He flinches as if bitten, and she sees the good humor leave his face. "Yeah? Well maybe I could say the same to you." His words reach deep and she raises a hand to his face.
He grabs her wrist and his lips go for her neck. She grabs his shoulders, his hair and she says, "You don't know."
She can see it as if she were watching from far away. He wraps his hands around her face and pulls it toward him. She takes a sick sort of joy in turning her face, denying him the contact of her lips that his so desperately want.
It all stops for a moment. "You don't know anything about me," she whispers.
But then she's pushing her hips against his and he sucks air through his teeth like he's been burned. She remembers how to breathe when he slides two hands under the hem of her dress.
"You don't know anything about me," she says softly, and the words sound so desperate to her ears. This feels like an explanation, like some sort of reasoning for this, this crazy moment where she can practically hear herself say that she has lost her mind, but then he's pulling off his shirt and her dress is past her hips and she's all but growling as she kneads the muscles that knot his shoulder, his chest.
She doesn't even remember how they got to his bed or how he entered her so quickly. She only knows that in one moment there was just their burning flesh on top of one another and then he was there, inside of her. Kirk is inside of her and she tries to come to terms with that.
It's almost like he can see her hesitation. He slides out of her and for a moment she thinks Thank God because its over now, before anything truly terrible happened. Instead, he lays down next to her and flips her over him as if she weighed nothing.
It feels totally natural to slide her body onto his and she goes slowly, so slowly. She watches his face as she does and what she sees there is utterly unreadable. He looks mad and elated and confused. But all expression leaves his face when her thighs start to pump him and he feels so deliciously warm all over. She can't tell where they are separate anymore. She reaches her arm around, holds onto one of his knees for leverage. His hands cup her breasts, and she throws her head back.
His eyes are wide, shocked when she comes and she can't look away from them, not even when she hears her parched throat whispering his name as she rides out the last waves.
She swears that this is a one-off.
He is a good captain (the best, it's said), so no one complains about his absence from the bridge. He's not gone all that much, but maybe a little more than a new captain should be.
"He likes the wine and the women," jokes one of the older bridgehands. He shrugs, like its okay. Expected.
"Shouldn't a Captain make a point of being on the bridge for most of the day?" Her voice sounds so angry, even to herself.
"Hey, I've served with Captains who never leave. One of 'em used to sleep in his chair." He shook his head. "Trust me, you want a captain with hobbies."
Kirk's current hobby is named Juliana.
Spock is so quiet during sex but it's always…productive. She likes the way that he moves over her, the way that he touches her face, her fingers. He kisses her softly and tells her that she is very pleasing to him, in all ways.
She loves his long, lithe body, the heat that radiates from him as he sleeps. The way his body seems to warm hers.
But at night, during those few precious hours when he is sleeping, he pulls away from her touch, shivers if her leg brushes his.
She has an amazing talent for poker, loves cleaning out the credits of Sulu, Chekov, even Bones during their weekly game. Spock won't play, but he does watch from the chair in the corner, barely blinking as he observes and thinks. He's always thinking. She doesn't know what about.
"Miss Uhura, you are very good. Really." Pavel leans back in his chair, fans the sweaty curls that lie limply on his forehead.
"Well, she's…pretty okay," says Kirk, as he leans back his chair and looks at her from across the table. His lips have that smirky grin that he gets when he knows he's pissing her off.
"I don't see your PADD out of the red," she replies waspishly.
"Hey, don't get mad. You're definitely good at what you do. I'm not fighting you on that."
"How wonderful for me."
Bones rolls his eyes. "Can we move along, here?"
Kirk raises two fingers. "In a minute. I need to make my point clear to Ms. Uhura here, so she can't bring it up later and accuse me of being a meanie." His smile is meant to be disarming, but she doesn't take the bait.
"You're an average poker player. But you've got an amazing poker face." He stares at her, and his eyes are a painfully unblinking shade of blue. "That's what makes you good. Now show me your cards."
She makes a face at him.
"Sometimes that works," says Kirk, laughing.
"We know where she gets that poker face from, okay?" Bones says, and he throws a shoulder in Spock's direction. Everyone laughs except for Kirk. Uhura laughs the loudest, just to make a point.
"Stop scheduling me with you all the time," she says, shimmying back into her uniform.
"I don't make the schedules." He is lying in his bed, completely nude, his legs spread provocatively. His body has a sheen of sweat, marred only by the small tattoo on his hip. It's some triangular sign that she doesn't understand, never asked for an explanation. "Anyway, I miss you when you're gone."
She rolls her eyes at his sarcasm. "I mean it. It looks suspicious," she says.
"It doesn't look any way," says Kirk. "No one is watching but you." He leans over toward her mouth, and she turns her head.
"Don't be stupid."
Kirk looks pouty. "I don't like your 'No Kissing' rule."
She sighs and stands up. He's always impossible in these moments, the first man she's ever known that's unhappier after an orgasm. "I only kiss boyfriends."
"You have a very loose definition of the word," says Kirk.
"Don't talk about him."
"Gladly," says Kirk, but she knows it's not like that. Neither of them enjoy hurting Spock.
"If anyone ever finds out, I swear…"
"Who's going to?" He sits up, lays his head against the small headboard. "You don't even like me, remember?"
She remembers. It makes her feel terrible about herself, so she tries to forget.
She did like him, a lot, in the beginning. When they first met at that bar, she'd thought him arrogant but in a humble way. Like he didn't really believe all that self-confident swagger - he was just saying it to put you on. A contradiction. She's always been drawn to complicated men, and Kirk fascinated her. Just when she thought she had him pegged, he would surprise her. She liked that.
Of course by that time she was already hips deep into the crush of her lifetime, nearly sick with longing and love for her Vulcan-serious, brilliantly witty professor.
"Cadet, I find you…appealing," he'd told her over Winter Recess. She'd been shocked to see him on her parents' doorstep. He'd said those beautiful words, and kissed her firmly.
It was like a bad/wonderful Terran movie, and when she cannot sleep she plays it in her head as the perfectly soothing love story that it is.
He watches her when they work.
He thinks she doesn't notice him, but she does. Maybe he wants her to notice.
"Uhura, are you detecting any subspace communications?"
"Not at the moment, Captain." She is impersonal, respectful, and as detached as she knows how to be.
Spock is so deep in his work that he doesn't notice.
He fucks her like a lover. It's intense and…consuming. She can see what the talk is about, can see why Gaila broke her two-week-max dating rule for him.
He goes down on her every time. She's never returned the favor, and he's never asked. Sometimes she secretly hopes that he will, just so she can have a good excuse to end it.
"Next time we're on the bridge, if I cough like this -" Kirk makes a ridiculous sounding sort of harumph - "Then you should know that I'm thinking about this."
She's got one leg up over her shoulder and his short, almost-blond head is between her thighs.
"God," she says, and not in a good way.
What is she doing?
Juliana works for Bones as a grunt. She's very good at what she does, it seems. Highly efficient. She has a tiny waist and large breasts. She is adorably rounded in all the ways that Uhura is not.
"It's great to meet you," says Juliana when they are introduced. "Jim says that you're the reason he went into Starfleet."
Uhura smiles. She genuinely likes this girl already. "He's lying, as usual."
"Not at all," says Kirk as he leans back in his seat at the crew bar. "Saw Uhura in that Cadet uniform, knew I wanted to surround myself with a couple hundred other girls just like it."
"He got his ass kicked that night, you know."
"All for the honor of one lady."
"You called Bill Gagnon a cupcake!"
"In the name of my pride, I did!" Kirk is smirking at her.
She shakes her head. "Ah, your pride. How could I forget?" She gives him a dismissive sort of smile, one that has her real grin living in the corners.
That's when she realizes that both Spock and Juliana are sitting there, silently, watching the two of them bicker like, like…
They're having sex more often.
She spends most evenings with Spock, but they've never been the attached-at-the-hip type. She slips from her room, perfectly groomed and business-like in her pressed uniform.
Kirk is on the bridge even less because he's waiting for her. Tonight he barely got her inside his room before he dragged her to the floor and tangled his fist in her underwear.
"They're gonna figure it out. We've got to stop," she says, as she zips her boots up, standing in a place where he can't see her and get distracted.
"I believe you just got done telling me not to stop."
She throws his gold shirt at his head. "Ass." She watches the way his chest ripples when he lifts it over his head, surprised at the way he looks so young when tugging the neckband over his hair.
"You should have more respect for my Captaincy."
She folds her arms. "Are you pulling rank to get me to keep sleeping with you?"
"We don't sleep." He's suddenly totally serious, and it makes her swallow her original response. "And Uhura, just so it's clear. I'll never beg you. For anything."
This time it's him who flounces.
He takes her with him on missions, both diplomatic and exploratory. "My xeno's a little rusty," he says to no one in particular. The whole bridge laughs at his incompetence. Dismisses it. That's why he has a crew, right? Someone to fill in his gaps of knowledge.
Uhura would agree but that she saw the way he sped through the Academy on little more than force of will and charming smiles. He could have learned basic Romulan, Ferengi, hell - Spanish. But he didn't and now no one cares.
She gives him a dirty look as they stand on the transporter pad, arms folded and her temper just barely smoldering underneath the surface. She feels so many mutually exclusive things when it comes to him.
The blue of his eyes are the last thing she sees before desert, a mission, a purpose where she must be professional.
Spock makes her, physically makes her the most adorably lopsided birthday cake. The frosting is an unappetizing shade of blue, the flavor is medicinal and almost…burning to the tongue.
"God, I love it!" She throws her arms around his neck, pulls him down for a kiss.
"I realize that this is not a completely accurate representation of a Terran cake," says Spock, and she can tell how much the sloppy lines anger him. "I am afraid I have never baked before. My apologies. But I do wish you a happy birthday, Nyota."
He kisses her softly and she smiles. They make love. It is pleasant and pleasurable.
He still shivers when she touches him. He can't help it.
Spock is hours deep into meditation when she slips out of his room. She prefers to sleep in her own bed at night, anyway.
She taps lightly at his door, not wanting to attract the attention of anyone happening to pass by. Kirk has probably been asleep for hours but it only takes him a few seconds for the door to open.
"Morning." His hair is rumpled, his eyes barely open.
"Should I go?"
He's already got her skirt up around her hips when her PADD buzzes, and she pushes him back, grabs it from the small table by his bed.
He doesn't seem to mind. He strokes her thighs while she reads. "Mm, God. Thought about this all night. God, that uniform…"
She ignores him, frowns deeply into her PADD instead. "Is there any reason why I'm suddenly scheduled for the Dopterian diplomatic envoy tomorrow?"
Kirk's tongue is trailing along the inside of her thigh. "I need a translator."
She shakes her legs, and he sits up, clearly disappointed. "What?" He sounds exasperated but not angry.
"A translator is a piece of equipment. If you are referring to me," she waves her hands around her head, "then lets try Communications Officer."
He gives her a smile and laces his fingers around the back of her neck. "Woman, I don't speak Dopterian."
"Good, because Dopterians speak Standard. They love our media. Tell me that you remember this from--"
And then he kisses her. On the mouth. Just the briefest of pecks but it sends her skull slamming back onto his headboard.
"What the hell?" She holds her mouth like he's hit her.
She has no good reasons. She has tried to find them. She's bored with Spock? Not at all. He is stimulating, interesting, kind, talented. And flawed, but she sees his flaws as quirks that are interesting.
On the other hand, she could easily list ten things that she hates about Kirk. None of the reasons are particularly well-formed, but they do exist. She hates the way he seems to charm just about everyone on the ship. The way he can smile his way out of a confrontation. The way that intelligent women all but throw themselves after him, the Captain, the boy with the blue eyes and a killer smile. She hates that Spock so easily defers to him now. It took her years to earn Spock's respect and trust, and now Kirk has it in only a few weeks.
Kirk acts like an idiot when they play poker that week. He's 30 credits down when he starts making up rules. "I believe there is an exception for all captains: three discards! Aces are wild for everyone named Jim in the room. Your poker chips have been found fraudulent, please replace them with real ones."
Uhura just shakes her head and throws more chips into the pile.
"Too steep for me," says Sulu. "I fold."
"Me too." Chekhov rubs his face. "Ai-yi-yi."
Kirk gives her a long, surveying kind of look. It makes her uncomfortable. "You know what? I'm staying in."
Uhura gives him a quick nod, discards one and pulls a new card up to her face, careful that Kirk can't steal a peek.
In a quiet corner of a Dopterian ale house, Kirk gets drunk with the local envoy as they hash out some trading laws with a nearby Federation planet. He's charming them, too, and she only gets madder as she stares into her drink in silence.
"Your comrade is very serious, no?" The local magistrate is just trying to be friendly.
"Aw, Uhura's got a wicked sense of humor. Loves poker. Loves to really let go sometimes, you know?"
She feels his hand brush her thigh, just the lightest of knuckles hidden under the table.
She reams him for it the minute they are alone, waiting for transport. She pushes his shoulders, hard, and he turns toward her with a stunned look.
"Goddammit Jim Kirk, you can fuck me but you better not ever fuck with my career."
Before his confused eyes can ask 'What?' she says, "That little grab ass routine at the alehouse?" She's near tears, feels them burning in her eyes. "Can you imagine what people would say? They'd say I slept my way to the top. Don't ever touch me like that while we're on duty."
He is silent.
She doesn't know why her courage is here tonight but it is so she goes with it. "Actually, don't ever touch me again. I've worked too hard to get here. I won't let you fuck things up for me."
He looks shocked and he starts to reply, but then the world is swimming in the dark and when she can see again, Spock is in the transport room, welcoming her back.
Kirk dumps Juliana a few weeks later, which is not surprising. What is surprising is that there is no replacement, informal or otherwise.
"Settling down, see?" says that same older bridge hand. "They get it out of their system. It all goes back to normal."
She overhears Pike and Spock chatting during one of their weekly calls. Spock mentions the dedication that Kirk has taken on over the last few weeks. Both men seem extraordinarily pleased with themselves.
Uhura grows more bitter every day. She never speaks to him now, unless she must for work. At night she dreams of fucking him in a ravaging way, before he can do the same to her.
He doesn't look at her any more.
Spock is not stupid, but he often fails to catch the subtle points of human interaction. Still, it doesn't take him long to sense the coolness between the captain and her.
"I know that you've never been a particular fan of Kirk, but I believe his behavior is much improved as of late. Do you agree?"
"I agree that Kirk can make anyone believe anything." The bitter words are out of her mouth before she can catch them.
Spock takes it the wrong way. He nods, satisfied. "Indeed. One of the most important attributes of a successful captain. Well said, Nyota."
That night she dreams of his body on hers, and she wills all of that old anger to replace the memory of his hands on her breasts, the way his hips bucked up against hers and always, always the way he was looking at her, wanting to find something that she would not show him.
They don't break up, exactly. Spock is apologetic. "I just feel that human intimacy is beyond my level of comprehension right now."
"I'll teach you," she says desperately. "I'll start right now."
"You've taught me much, Nyota." He presses a kiss to her forehead. "I am ultimately in your debt. You've improved my life in every way. I'm very grateful to you."
It was getting better. She wonders what she did to break it all apart.
Not everything's broken, though, because Kirk and Spock are just as close as ever. On the other hand, Kirk and her are still not speaking. She's decided that she would rather die than be the first one to break the ice, and from the determined way that he ignores her when they are alone in the turbo lift, it seems he feels the same.
"Lieutenant, are you detecting any subspace communications?"
She keeps her head down. Eats in the mess hall. Visits with friends. Has tea with Spock on rare occasions. Switches most of her shifts to the night blocks, because it's just easier that way.
And that's that.
The transporter is not a hard science, so she's not surprised when things get screwed up and she's separated from the away team on a routine mission. She doesn't recognize this area of Gemarian V, with its surface of crusted mud and viscous maroon pools of heavy water. She's attempting to contact the bridge with her coordinates when her footing gives way and she half-slides down a small rise of cliff and into one of the larger pools.
The water is heavy, like parting dark, liquid lead and the edge of the pool seems so far away.. She's never been a strong swimmer and she puts her energy into floating, keeping her head above the water. The liquid is so bone-achingly cold as she floats and counts the minutes as they pass and pretty soon the pain of the cold is gone. She barely has to move to stay afloat and she feels like she's inside of a helium balloon, helium like the birthday party Gaila threw for her the very last year in their dorm. Kirk came and so did everyone else and they drank Tequila and danced to her favorite Tataul's Dream album and on the slow song Kirk said he was going to dance with the birthday girl and she nearly slept on his shoulder as he guided her slowly, slowly and how could she have forgotten that this happened? She had had too much tequila but she shouldn't have forgotten the way he held her, his palm on the back of her neck and those whispers, whispers of words she can't remember.
When she opens her eyes she is on her back and she can feel the sticky mud under her neck and fingers but what she sees first are those bright blue eyes above her and they are panicked, wet with anger and frustration and he is yelling at her to wake up.
Finally he sees her parted eyelids he doesn't say anything except a soft, "Nyota", a word that he has never called her before.
He pulls her up to him and she doesn't struggle as he presses her face into his chest and shudders. He's covered in maroon water, too. He must have jumped in, she thinks, and she's angry and glad all at the same time.
Back on the ship, Bones is waiting for her. He takes her out of Kirk's arms and straight to sickbay.
"What happened?" she asks, when she finds her breath to speak.
"Transporter crapped out," says Bones. He's always terse, but to the point, something that she had always respected.
"Did the rest of the team make it?"
"Just take it easy."
"Look, I'll panic more if you don't tell me." She's already imagining the worst.
Bones rolls his eyes. "No one's hurt, all accounted for. Able got caught in a little wind storm, but he's fine. Now lie down." Bones all but pushes her onto one of the beds.
She lets him run diagnostics for a few silent moments before a thought occurs to her.
"Hey Bones. Why was Kirk there?"
"You need to rest," says Bones, all business..
She suddenly feels sick, knows the answers to her questions already but she has to press on. "How did Kirk end up down there?"
Bones shuts his PADD and looks down at her, serious but not unkind. "You know the Captain. He takes the safety of his crew very seriously."
She's given a clean bill of health and sent to her cabin to rest. Everyone gives her strange looks in the hall. Worse, there are those that simply look away and won't meet her eyes.
He just took a shower, she can tell from the humidity in his cabin and he carries a small towel in one hand.
"What did you do?" Her uniform is still covered in maroon water, it's sticky and she needs a shower herself but she has to know.
"Excuse me?" He's casual in dark pants and shirt.
"No one will look at me and you weren't on my away team. You weren't supposed to be down there."
She sees the breath leave his body and he sits on his bed, slowly. She's never seen him look so tired. When he speaks it sounds defeated; a new emotion from him. It scares her. "Look, I'm tired of fighting you. Just yell at me or whatever it is you think you need to do. Get it out of your system so I can take a nap." Kirk keeps his eyes on the ground while she speaks.
"You were on the bridge, weren't you?" She feels tears budding and she can't keep the hurt from her face. "You heard and then you came. You probably ran there. You wanted to save me and you care about who would see."
"Damn right I did!" Kirk throws his towel on the ground and jumps up to face her. "They said you were missing and then I didn't think about it! I just ran!"
She feels her tears spill onto her cheeks. "All of the Academy and most of the people on this ship think Spock and I are together. People are going to think I got the Enterprise by sleeping my way to the top."
"Why is it my fault that you dated him first?"
"Everyone knows about you and me. How could you…do something like that to me?"
He grabs her shoulders. "What, want to save your life? Need you around me like I need oxygen? Follow you around the whole damn planet and half of space besides, just to hear you call me an asshole?"
"You've ruined my life," she says. It's not an accusation. It's a statement.
"Yeah, well you ruined mine. So we're even." He releases her and walks toward the window. The stars are bright and far off she can see Eros, shrinking in the distance.
She is more scared than she has ever been in all her life. He pretends not to hear her leave.
She can practically feel his skin burning when she reports to the bridge in the morning. He will not look at her, won't even turn his head in her direction. She feels the tension and is sure that everyone else does too. But they are professionals, and no one says anything.
Her relief arrives early and she takes advantage of it – Kirk and Spock are deep in conversation about the fastest course to the Norcom system, and neither of them seem to notice when she slips away.
Kirk gave her his password long ago, and she doesn't bother looking out for passing eyes as she enters it. She sits down to wait. She sees the poker set on one of the sideboards, and she runs her fingers along the edges, fingers the poker chips. She lifts the small pack of cards and fans them face up on his bed.
He seems tired when he enters a few minutes later, she's surprised to notice the way he's walking, almost like an old wizened man. But his back straightens when he sees her, and he stops walking.
She stands up from his bed, folds her hands in front of her. She feels so small.
For a long while they just look at one another. It's not a contest, for once. She doesn't know where to start.
She breaks the silence. "Cards on the table," she says, gestures at the bed behind her.
"I never lied to you," says Kirk.
"You were gone before I even had a chance to show you what I was about." Kirk looks angry, like its her fault that she was in love when she met him, that she planned all of this.
"I fight you because I have to." She bites her lip. "I'm so scared not to fight you. I don't know what to do."
He takes a step closer to her, and she backs away. He smiles quickly and then its gone. "Swear to God, Uhura, it's like trying to feed a wild deer. I move and you run."
"I'm here now, aren't I?" She feels her hackles rise, but she forces them down, refuses to let her anger and fear own her.
"Yes, you are." He walks over to her purposefully, and she doesn't flinch.
"I am terrified of you," she says.
"I'm harmless, I promise."
"Don't do that," she says. "Don't charm me. It makes me feel like everyone else."
She watches that old grin slide from his face, and for a moment they are just staring at each other, their toes almost touching.
He raises his hands to her face, cups her chin and jaw so softly. "Nyota, you are not like everyone else."
He moves so slowly that she's imagining the way his lips taste before they press against hers. Their first kiss is slow but she can feel the dam of emotion behind both of them. She can't not wrap her arms around his neck, and when she does he sighs against her lips and pulls her closer to him.
Their second kiss is less searching, more driven and she feels the way that they move together. It's as natural as fire and the wind that fans it. It builds between them and she's still scared but it's not of him anymore. There is a tumult of emotions inside of her, but which each kiss he gives her she's able to let one go.
"You know, I did kiss you once before," he says.
"I remember. On my birthday."
"Yeah, your birthday like two years ago. You were wasted and I was glad. That was the only time I thought I'd ever get to hold you."
"You're holding me now," she says simply. She pulls her head back and gives him one long, slow look. And then she feels herself smile at him. It's genuine and its something that she thought she could never do in front of him.
He looks so happy that it nearly breaks her heart. "Better get used to it," he says, and then he kisses her like this is how it's supposed to be.