A/N: I saw the new Star Trek movie for the first time about a week ago (I know, I'm late to the party, but better late than never, right?) and the idea of Spock and Uhura's relationship intrigued me. This fic started mainly as a way for me to explore how these characters could have conceivably been brought together, despite it clearly being against Starfleet regulation (I mean, he was her instructor…) Anyway, this is set during the three-year time break that is skipped in the movie.
Chapter 1 – Everything Is Changed
"Everything is changed
Except for this sickening feeling
Inside that I can't seem to shake
Cause this love I have for you
I wish it were fake"
"Great. Just great."
"What is it?"
"I can't see! What is it?"
With clear annoyance, she tapped twice on the bulletin.
"We're going to middle of nowheresville Iowa."
Red eyebrows pulled into a frown.
"Because nothing's there and they use the empty space for constructing new ships. And we need to learn how these things are put together for Advanced Engineering. And we'll probably be picking up new recruits."
"Maybe it won't be so bad," she said brushing a curl away from her face, "Think of it as a field trip! Not to mention, if we do get any new recruits, we might get some new guys…"
"Gaila, come on, neither of us will ever need to know how to take a ship's engine apart and put it back together. And who cares about new guys? Besides, I'd rather not miss my Advanced Xenophonology class."
"Yeah, I bet," she said raising her eyebrows suggestively
"I don't know what you're getting at."
Her friend smiled, causing a shocking contrast of sparking white teeth against bright green skin. Her pink lips pursed together for a moment and her eyes sparked with mischief. But the Orion seemed to realize this was a conversation that she shouldn't pursue.
"Oh, Nyota, calm down, it was just a joke."
"Hilarious," she said mildly as they headed back to the room.
Nyota punched the room code into the door and it unlocked with an audible click and whirred open. Upon entering, a wave of smells overtook her, mainly Gaila's flowery perfume and the faint smell of fresh laundry. Nyota wrinkled her nose.
"There's nothing wrong with it, Nyota!" Gaila insisted, "I mean, everyone gets crushes on their instructors."
"No, they don't. And neither do I," she said very matter-of-factly while ducking into the bathroom to collect a toothbrush.
"I mean, what I don't get," her friend ignored the denial, "Is why you'd be interested in Commander Spock."
Nyota stared at her reflection. She could see the annoyance in her own dark eyes. She wasn't interested. There was nothing inappropriate about her relationship with the commander. He had been her instructor for the past year and a half. She was a second year student and he was a member of the Starfleet Academy personnel. There was nothing but mutual awareness and respect. He was her mentor. And there was nothing wrong with that. It was…perfectly adequate.
She sighed and smoothed her long dark hair and opened the medicine cabinet. She shook her head and grabbed her toothbrush. The only reason she was disappointed about missing her class tomorrow was because she didn't want to fall behind. She had ambitions to be assigned to the USS Enterprise. She couldn't afford to miss any classes and miss out on any information. It had nothing to do with who was teaching the course.
"I feel like you'd get more out of talking to the wall than him."
"That's not true," Nyota said pulling her rucksack from underneath her bed, "You just have to ask him the right questions."
"And that hair! Why would he purposefully get that haircut? No sense of style. None."
"It's the traditional style of his race, Gaila," she said with a defeated sigh.
"Well, I think it looks stupid," she said flipping through a magazine.
"You should be packing."
"I will," she said lightly, "We have time."
"We leave tomorrow at 0600 hours."
"And we're only going to be there for two days. I'll pack light."
Nyota paused. The two had very definitions of what packing light meant. Gaila would be scrambling tomorrow and as always, Nyota would somehow manage to get her and her roommate out the door on time. It was a skill she was becoming quite proud of.
"Well," Nyota said, "I'm going to drop off my homework to Commander Spock and my notes to Captain Becker.
"Have fun," she said in a singsong voice.
Nyota left the dorm and stepped into the San Francisco heat. The sun was just starting to dip below the horizon. Commander Spock would most likely be in the Acoustical Engineering lab. Carrying her PADD, Nyota walked across campus shoving Gaila's words out of her head. Despite being so flighty, Gaila somehow always knew how to press the right buttons. Nyota refused to examine why her roommate's words bothered her so much.
She entered the engineering lab and heard the gentle tapping of fingers against a touch-screen monitor. Spock sat at attention at the first station, perfectly alert and focused on the sounds coming out of the monitor. Judging from the phonetics it sounded like an Andorian dialect. She walked to the station and stood at attention. He would acknowledge her when he was ready so she decided not to interrupt. The sound clip finished playing and the commander touched the monitor a few times and then stood and clasped his hands behind his back.
"Cadet Uhura," he said politely, "Your presence here is somewhat unexpected."
She looked up at him and smiled faintly. He looked back at her coolly and tilted his head slightly, waiting for her to speak. She took out her PADD.
"I wanted to be able to give you my assignment in person. I won't be in class tomorrow due to a trip to-"
"To the shipyard in Iowa," he finished, "Yes, I was aware. However, as I am sure you know, it would have been perfectly acceptable for you to hand this in electronically."
Nyota smiled sheepishly, "I know. Think of it as a testament to my commitment to this course."
He raised one delicately arched eyebrow and nodded.
"Your effort is noted. If I may?"
She handed him the PADD and he hooked it up to the machine with an audible click. His monitor beeped twice and he unhooked the device.
"I have successfully received your document."
"Thank you, Commander."
He nodded once, "Is there anything else with which you require assistance?"
She looked up at him and quickly studied his features, memorized them. She followed his arched eyebrows down to dark brown eyes that studied her impassively. They were indecipherable and she could never stop herself from wondering what he was thinking when he studied her like this. She moved from his strong cheekbones to his prominent jaw and then rested on his mouth. Not wanting to seem like she was staring, she flicked her eyes back to his quickly and smiled politely.
"No sir," she said quietly.
"Then good luck with your trip tomorrow. I trust the experience will be educationally valuable."
She knew their conversation was over, so she looked at his face again quickly, ignoring any lingering disappointment that she would not be seeing him for a while. She chided herself that it would only be a couple of days, turned and quickly left the lab, leaving Spock with his Andorian translations. She left the Science and Engineering building and sat on a bench outside. With a sigh, she got out her PADD. A few clicks later, and her notes were successfully emailed to Captain Becker.
She sighed and looked out at the Golden Gate Bridge. She hadn't been lying when she told Gaila that there was nothing inappropriate regarding her relationship with her instructor. Her growing attachment to him, however…that was toeing the line. And moving closer to being inappropriate. She sighed and looked up at the sky. He was her mentor; it was expected that she would look up to him, respect him, and form an attachment. But for whatever reason, this felt different. In all honesty, she didn't know how to stop it. Worse, she knew she didn't want to.
The tiny room was filled with an incessant beeping.
"Okay, okay! What is it?"
The Orion bolted up and hurled a pillow at Nyota, who caught it with her free hand. The other held up an alarm clock to Gaila's face.
"It's 05:34. The alarm has been going off for the past half hour," she said evenly
Despite typically being slow in the mornings, Gaila bolted out of bed and the room was filled with a whirlwind of activity.
"Why didn't you wake me?" she cried
"I was in the shower," she said stifling a yawn.
Gaila glared as if this was somehow her roommate's fault and continued to hurl objects into her rucksack. Nyota watched her pack various hairstyling products and face crèmes.
"Is all of that really necessary?"
"Don't be so judgmental!" she chided, "Just because I've made a commitment to Starfleet doesn't mean I have to look disgusting."
She looked at Nyota very pointedly. Nyota laughed. Gaila had tried futilely to teach Nyota the importance of moisturizing and good foundation. However, she had never really felt the need for it and mostly ignored her roommate's attempts. Nyota yawned and gave Gaila a five-minute warning. Despite her roommate's pleas and protests, they were both out the door on time and arrived at the hangar with two minutes to spare. Gaila was clearly both frustrated and tired, but did not fail to pick up on Nyota's dour mood.
"Nyota?" she said as she poked her friend in the ribs.
"Buckle up," she responded
Gaila paused and watched her friend look out of the aircraft's window. From her seat, Nyota had a clear view of the Xenolingustics building.
"You know…" Gaila said slowly, "Advanced Xenophonology will be there when you get back."
Nyota nodded imperceptibly and ignored the statement as the ship's engine roared to life.
"The first thing you need to know about a ship's engine," the instructor began, "Is the power system."
Nyota breathed in deeply and tried to clear her mind. Whatever the reason for her disposition this morning, it was less important that her own aspirations. For a moment, she thought of her father. He had been a medical attendant for Starfleet and had disappeared during a deep space mission. Nyota had never given much thought to joining Starfleet before, but her adoration for her father coupled with his disappearance cemented her ambitions. A part of her longed to see him, but she knew the likelihood of survival in deep space after losing contact with the rest of Starfleet was less than minimal. She would never see him again. Which was why she had to succeed. She had an unappeasable desire to be worthy of his legacy. There would be no distractions.
"First off, spacecrafts need an electrical power generation and distribution system to power the craft in addition to its various subsystems. One clever thing is that most of Starfleet's crafts are outfitted with solar panels in order to generate solar power that can be used to generate electricity for the subsystems. However, powering the main engine that's a different subject all together-"
Gaila poked Nyota and asked for a quick explanation. She condensed everything as best she could and watched Gaila's blank face as the information flew over her head. She smiled and said she would explain it all later. Gaila heaved a sigh of relief and went back to making eyes at a human cadet a couple feet away. Nyota could almost smell the pheromones Gaila was letting off. Any male in a five-foot radius didn't have a chance at paying attention to the lecture.
"Now can anyone tell me the importance of thermal control? And I'm not talking about the A/C," the instructor paused as the half-hearted chuckles quickly died, "Yes, Cadet Uhura."
"The craft needs to withstand transit through atmospheres and space environment so it needs to be able to endure temperatures ranging across hundreds of degrees of Celsius, not to mention plasmas. High melting temperature elements like reinforced carbon are needed to protect the hull."
"Precisely, although you neglect to mention specific radiative properties of elements. This allows for active thermal control."
Gaila was licking her lips at the cadet now. Nyota rolled her eyes. She suspected that yet again she would not be able to return to the room until late that evening. Her suspicions were entirely correct when after the day's final lecture, she tried to return to the room and was immediately halted from opening the door after hearing a low pitched moan. Apparently Gaila and her new friend had opted to skip the final lecture in favor of more…extra-curricular activities.
Unfortunately for Nyota, her roommate had a sexual appetite that was not easily sated and would most likely claim the room until the early hours of the morning. Nyota felt a pang of longing to be back at school. In cases like this, she would usually go to one of the linguistics labs and kill time picking up radio transmissions for translation. At the moment, she could understand the majority of federation languages, and it was admittedly due mostly to being forced to study late into the night. Oddly enough, she didn't mind that part so much, especially when Commander Spock also happened to spend late hours in the labs.
Nyota shook her head. It was time to let off some steam. It seemed most of the other cadets were treating the weekend lesson plan as what Gaila called a "field trip". And after classes were over, the only thing left to do in the middle of nowhere, Iowa was get obliterated at the local bar. That, like languages, was well within her realm of expertise. So, with a self-satisfied smile, she headed to the local (read: only) bar.
Even before entering the bar, she could hear the music thrumming. She pushed the doors open and felt the bass beat through her veins. This felt good. The room was filled with cadets, who were pleased to see her and jokingly asked if she would be singing tonight. Nyota quickly declined, all too aware of her tendency to monopolize karaoke after too many drinks.
Determined to eliminate all vestiges of Commander Spock from her mind, she ordered seven different drinks, most of which she had never heard of before, but held the promise of harsh, bitter, and most importantly, strong, liquor.
"That's a lot of drinks for one woman," a voice slurred.
Nyota peered past an alien on the bar stool next to her and saw a pair of drunk blue eyes staring back at her. The last thing she was interested in was unwanted male attention. So she ordered another drink.
While he talked, she downed one of her drinks. He asked her name, which she denied him immediately. She felt her first drink buzz through her and the only thing she could think of was how he was the furthest thing from what she wanted. The closest thing on the other hand was probably much more…Vulcan. She quickly chased that thought from her mind and he sat next to her. He asked for her major and she gave it testily. She thought back to the advanced phonology course she was missing.
He made poor attempts at flirting with her until a fellow cadet tapped her on her shoulder and asked if he was bothering her. She answered honestly that he was, but that he was nothing she couldn't handle. She downed another drink and her thoughts came to her in hazy drips.
Morphology. Phonology. Syntax.
Just think of it as a testament to my commitment to this course.
She looked into the bottom of her third drink and was pulled out of reverie by raised voices. The situation between the townie and the cadets was quickly getting worse. She frowned, sensing that this was going to get out of control imminently. In one quick motion, the cadet had the townie clutching the bar to stay on his feet and bleeding from the lip. She shouted at them to stop it. She stood quickly and the room slid out of focus for a moment before snapping back into place. She shook her head and wished she was sober enough to stop the bar fight that was happening in front of her. It was stupid. Irrational.
He was hit back into her and clutched at her chest. Rage flared inside her and she hit him as hard as she could. Another cadet took over and kicked him in the gut. She heard a beer bottle break across someone's face and she shouted for them to stop. How could they allow themselves to get so carried away? Become so…illogical?
A loud whistle cut through the noise. Nyota bit her lip. It was Captain Pike. He told them to leave the bar immediately.
It was a spectacular ending to what she had been hoping would be an unremarkable evening. She knew punishments would be handed out in the morning. Right now, all she wanted was to pass out in her bed and finally allow her mind to wander where it would. Gaila's friend had left and she was getting into bed. Nyota crawled into bed without changing out of her uniform, feeling mentally exhausted. It was difficult to keep her mind from wandering places it shouldn't.
"Rough night?" Gaila asked sympathetically
"You have no idea," Nyota sighed
The lights went out and Nyota buried her face in her pillow.
"You said everyone gets crushes on their instructors, right?"
There was a long silence. Truthfully, Gaila had been joking when she made that comment. She had said it to play off of Nyota's embarrassment. Gaila had no idea that Nyota legitimately had feelings for her instructor. She had assumed that Nyota was attached because she saw Commander Spock as a mentor. She never would have guessed that she was actually interested.
"Of course," Gaila said slowly, "Why?"
"It's not important."
Her infatuation with Commander Spock could jeopardize all her ambitions. If she ever faltered and allowed emotions to take hold…she couldn't afford any distractions. But at the same time she knew she wouldn't be able to ignore this bitter sense of longing and the dull ache of unrequited affection. She never would have thought this could happen. But something about Commander Spock had resonated with her sense of duty, intellectual discipline and devotion. He had afforded her something she very rarely received. He had judged her work for what it was, and deemed it worthy. Judged her for what she was, fairly and unemotionally, and judged her valuable. His approval had been one of the most gratifying feelings of her life. He respected her for her abilities - nothing else - and in doing so had reaffirmed her own sense of worth. His harsh criticism that broke other students only served to cause her to seek out his approval as an indication of personal merit.
Nyota bit her lip and stared at the ceiling.
"Is it Commander Spock?"
"I don't know what you're talking about, Gaila."
Despite his detached stoicism, he was thoughtful, kind, and even funny at times, even if it was unintentionally so. And under all his cold logic and mental arithmetic that he judged every situation with, she felt an unbelievable loneliness coming from him. She could feel it because it was the same aching feeling she felt when she was in the lab late at night all by herself, thinking of her father and wondering if she would amount to anything. And then he would be there, doing late night work in the lab. He would say nothing, only nod at her presence and sit at a station close to her, but not so close that they would interfere with one another's work. And when he was there, the biting loneliness she felt would ease. And there they would work, early into the morning, at the edge of one another's existence, until Commander Spock would gently tap her shoulder and inform her that she had fallen asleep at her station exactly 7.4 minutes ago. Without realizing it, the commander's presence became something she relied on, and her feelings had grown so organically that she hadn't even noticed. She had tried to ignore it and keep it from interfering with her work, but she was only human, and apparently Vulcans had a monopoly on controlling emotion.
Tentatively, she quietly whispered his name into the dark.
It left a bittersweet taste in her mouth.
A/N: And there's chapter one! Love it? Hate it? Lemme know what you think, I rely a lot on constructive criticism when writing. Oh, and if anyone's interested, the little drabble that I put at the beginning of the chapter came from something I saw on the website weheartit, so I claim no ownership of it (thus the quotation marks). I plan on using short little drabbles at the start of each chapter. Most likely, none of these will be my own. Many will probably come from song lyrics or weheartit. It's a great site; I highly recommend you check it out. If anyone wants to know the specifics of where I get the quotes (or if you want to claim ownership), message me and I'll do my best to oblige. Thanks for reading!