In Limbo

From the moment Nyota returned to duty on the Enterprise she was almost obsessively positive. She had a plethora of thoughts stored up to act as a stopgap in her mind whenever the anxiety and doubts tried to take hold.

Spock wasn't there, but that was all right! His mission would be finished soon and then he could come home and they could be together and build a marriage. It was just a month. Only one tiny month. Not long at all in the grand scheme of things… right? Right?

The month approached. It arrived. And then it went by. And still, she refused to acknowledge the situation. One day it finally sank in.

She was trying to distract her mind by meticulously cleaning every exposed inch of her quarters. And after a short time she found herself just standing there, paused in the middle of her room, doing nothing. She was trying to push her body forward across the room to continue cleaning, but the thought kept intruding that this was supposed to be not just her room. They were supposed to be sharing a room together. She forced herself to stop thinking about it by telling herself to 'toughen up and just deal with it, Nyota'.

She finally succeeded in making her legs move. Once finally across the room she found herself lifting one of her make-up compacts to clean the old-fashioned pressed powder that had accumulated on the outside of it. The next thing she knew, as if possessed, she found herself hauling off and hurling the make-up across the room. Nyota watched it hit the wall with only a slightly satisfying shatter as parts went flying. But then there was a huge brown spot staring back at her she knew she was going to have to clean. Personal disappointment at having lost it that way flooded her insides. What would Spock say if he'd seen her do that? How would he think of her, she wondered? Her lower lip trembled and she found herself unable to hold back the tide any longer. She fell to a puddle on the floor and let herself cry it out for the first time ever since that night he was about to leave for what she thought was only going to be one month.

She truly couldn't stand herself as she sat there in the middle of the floor of her quarters and hugged herself as she rocked back and forth. She just wanted him back, wanted to hear the door open and see his feet walking toward her. Wanted to hear his voice whispering in her ear, see the look in his eyes when she would catch him watching her…the borderline awe, the almost-adoration. And she was suddenly just so tired and didn't know what else to do about the grief threatening to overwhelm her.

She laid herself out on the floor of her quarters and fell asleep hugging herself. Her last thought as she closed her eyes was to maybe go to his quarters and sleep in his bed. But she knew that would be just a little bit too painful.

####

TWO MONTHS:

Nyota realized that the captain had been watching her out of the corner of his eye that day seeming to deliberate on something. Spock had been gone a little over two months by that point and she began to have a tiny bit of anxiety over what the captain might be trying to figure out how to tell her. Finally her shift ended and he went to her station before she finished signing out. "Uhura, if you would step into my office, there's something I'd like to discuss with you."

Instinctively she just knew he was about to deliver bad news. She saw spots in front of her eyes and felt as if she were going to pass out. But no, she remained standing, her face putting up a brave front; on the inside, she was shaking. "Yes, sir."

They both left the bridge and took the turbolift together. She couldn't help but remember the feeling of riding the same 'lift with Spock whenever they happened to take it together. She almost smiled and then remembered the true situation. She was frowning by the time they reached the officer's deck and she didn't even realize it.

They went to the office adjoining his quarters. "Nyota, how are you holding up?" asked the captain as soon as the door closed.

She swallowed back a lump of emotion in her throat. "I'm fine, sir," she lied. She most certainly was not fine. The positivity was not only gone, but had been beaten to a pulp by fear and the beginnings of intense anger.

He nodded. "Good. Because I'm not."

She sometimes forgot that this man was Spock's best friend, that he had been there for him before the two of them had ever been an item. "Captain, I'm so sorry," she was saying as she found herself sitting down hard in a chair. "I just gave you a fake ass answer when you wanted a real one." She rubbed her hands across her face and then forced herself to tell the truth. "No, I am not fine. And I'm sorry I tried to pretend I was, especially since I know we both love him."

"Don't be sorry, Uhura," he said with a small smile that didn't reach his eyes. "I can't blame you for being caught in your own private hell. I know I forgot that you would be because I was so busy worried about him myself. And McCoy," he shrugged. "Bones isn't taking it well at all."

She was almost relieved. "So you didn't call me here to give me bad news, then?" she asked as she was still holding her breath for said bad news.

He realized what it was she thought he was about to tell her and wanted to kick himself for it. "God, no! Nyota, no! I just…he told me that if he didn't come back when he should have to wait awhile and then to give you this." He handed over a data cartridge. "Take it back to your quarters. He made that for you before he left and dropped it off with me. He knew there was a chance that something could go wrong and…" He nodded as he put it into her hand. "Just take it."

She accepted the cartridge, "Thank you, sir."

Before she could leave, he threw out, "I only wish I knew if he were-" He didn't say anything else.

"I know," she said.

"And do me a favor, Nyota."

"Yes, sir?"

"Don't be a stranger. Anything gets to you, any worries, anything you need to talk about, you can come to me, all right?"

She hadn't expected to hear that from the captain and was touched. "Thank you, sir. I appreciate that more than you know."

She left and Kirk watched her go. As the door closed, he turned and punched his fist once. "Where the hell are you, Spock?" he found himself murmuring for what must have been the fifth time since his friend had gone missing.

####

She rushed to return to her quarters. But as soon as she stepped into the room all she found herself able to do was look down at the cartridge in her hand. It had been two months since she'd seen him in the flesh, heard his voice, loved the turn of a phrase he could put together. She missed him so much, everything about him. She closed her eyes and reached out to him again. As usual, there was no answer. She could feel him there, so close…and yet…

She sniffled and almost started crying again, frustrated. She wasn't a telepath and didn't know how to use the marital bond yet. She'd stopped short so many times from calling Amanda to ask her what to do just to speak to him. But the last person she wanted to worry was his mother.

Sometimes it was hard for her to believe that he really was her husband. It was so strange to say that to herself, 'my husband, Spock'. But of course it was strange, because he wasn't there. And yet there he was, a presence in her mind just out of reach.

She sighed heavily and slipped the cartridge into the slot. She gave it a second to activate and then finally saw his familiar face. She restrained herself from reaching out to touch the screen itself.

"Nyota," he said, his eyes aflame with something, "if you are listening to this, I have not returned at the proper time. Something unexpected must have gone wrong and I am unable to return at this time. It is unknown, most likely, when I shall be able to return. Under these circumstances if you wish to be free of our bond I would understand though I would not at all desire to be severed from your mind while I still live," he said as something quickly flashed in his eyes and then it was gone. She knew that look already. Possession. She had almost forgotten the intensity of his contained emotions concerning her. Her heart quickened as she continued to listen to what he had to say.

"I send this to you, k'diwa, not only to convey my deepest thoughts and words, but to alert you to several things you must know. Once the month has passed and I have not returned to you, Starfleet will wait a maximum of three weeks and then declare me Missing In Action. That is procedure and I do not wish for you to be distressed by this.

"But understand, my Nyota, while I live you will know it. And if I die, you will know it. That is why Starfleet cannot be allowed, under any circumstances, to declare me dead if I am, in fact, still living. If that should happen, if I am declared dead, it means they have decided to not pursue repatriating me to the Federation and that cannot happen. Do not allow them to declare me as such unless you know I truly am dead. You will be the one who knows for a certainty whether or not this is true and any Healer can substantiate that your bond mate is very much alive. This may force them to mount some form of help on my end.

"Despite your efforts, if it appears that Starfleet will not listen, you must have Jim contact Callis Stone. I am certain you remember Miss Stone from her days aboard the Enterprise. What you do not know is that at one point in time I retrieved Miss Stone from the Orion Syndicate when she was declared dead by Starfleet though she was still very much alive. You may reach her on Vulcan at the residence of Serinmar. You will remember Serinmar as also another former crew member aboard the Enterprise. He also accompanied me to retrieve Miss Stone. She will know the ins and outs of Starfleet Intelligence. You will also find that Jim is a vital asset in anything that you do. Most assuredly the captain can be more than trusted in this endeavor and he will most likely open doors for you that will otherwise remain closed to you.

"So long as I live, Ashayam, you must cleave to hope that I will return to your side someday." He paused then. "Do not forget me."

It ended then, and she found herself wide-mouthed. Starfleet would dare declare him dead though they didn't know for sure?

Callis Stone? She remembered her! The two used to talk on a regular basis. The girl had a resilient personality and a wicked sense of humor. At least she did when she'd first come on board.

It was true, Uhura remembered, Callis had disappeared from the crew at some point. Everyone that was close to her knew back then that she must have gone on assignment. Only no one knew that it was amongst the Orion! She also remembered the Vulcan, Serinmar. He nor Callis served in Starfleet any longer. She remembered how Serinmar had gone conspicuously quiet the entire year and a half Callis was gone. The two had been friends since their childhoods since Stone had spent a chunk of time on Vulcan growing up. Once the young woman had been repatriated the two finished the remainder of their time on board and then left Starfleet never to return.

And it was true, Callis had most certainly been declared dead for a time. She had been trapped behind enemy lines, presumed dead, for more than an entire year. She wondered what horrors that girl had seen and experienced. When she'd returned, Uhura remembered, she was almost quiet and introverted. Not her original personality at all. But she didn't seem cowed. She seemed contained, stronger on the inside in a strange way.

She couldn't help but wonder what her Spock was going through at that very moment, where he was at…did he need help? She reached out to him yet again but this time not only felt that he was still alive, but felt him respond! It was faint, as if he were so very far away…

My Nyota, I still live!

She tried to keep a hold of him, but the contact, along with an impression of his deep and abiding affection, slipped away like air through her fingers. She knew for a certainty that she had felt and heard his voice, his emotions, in her mind. Uhura found herself tearing up, joyful for the first time in so long.

####

THREE MONTHS:

Another month passed and he was still MIA. Only one out of ten times that she reached out to him was he able to respond mentally. She didn't know if he was unable to respond the other times or if she simply didn't fully know or understand how to reach him. His voice, at times, seemed faint, other times strong. Where was he? She felt as if she were living in some kind of nightmare.

She used to pen music for him on the nights she couldn't sleep. She had filled up an old fashioned notebook and her thoughts, poems, even sometimes songs, were all about him, missing him. It was all she could do to keep herself from screaming into a pillow. Some nights she did that, too.

On one of the nights she found herself unable to sleep she got up to pen another song for him. It usually soothed her troubled mind. But she sat at her desk that night and found she was unable to make another song. She was worse than tired, worse than exhausted. An hour passed and she threw in the towel.

The stress has finally gotten to you, Nyota, she found herself thinking. She crawled back to bed and slept like a rock.

The following week, she seemed to feel sleepier and sleepier. She didn't understand why. Finally giving in, she went to see Leonard.

####

Christine was the only personnel on duty at the time Nyota entered sickbay. The nurse felt herself tearing up the moment she saw her. It was an open secret on the Enterprise that Spock had been gone a little too long. Whenever that happened and the chain of command didn't acknowledge the absence, everyone knew that meant they'd been placed somewhere undercover.

"Nyota, are you all right?" she asked.

It was the first time the two had spoken beyond 'hellos' since their whole blow-up so long ago. Uhura nodded. "Yes, just a little too tired, that's all. The situation is um…" she found herself tearing up and she swallowed back the tears.

"Come and sit up here," said Christine as she patted the bio-bed.

Uhura got up onto the bed and as she sat there found herself tearing up worse as she looked at Christine. "I'm so sorry everything got the way it did between us."

The nurse also found herself swallowing back a wall of rising emotions. "I'm sorry, too. And I'm- I'm sorry Spock's been gone for so long." She looked as if she were about to reach out and touch her old friend. But she didn't know if it was too soon for that, just yet.

Nyota quickly wiped a tear away. "Well, you know, these things happen, right?" she tried to say casually as another tear found her eye.

She knew she must be feeling horribly, then. This had been a tactic Nyota had used since she'd known her in their academy days. Brush off whatever was bothering her, pretend it wasn't as bad as it truly was. Finally, Christine reached out and took her hand. "It's going to be okay. I know it will."

The two truly did start crying then and they found themselves going to hug one another at the same time. Christine laughed in the middle of it and then pulled back to look at her. "You're here for a reason, though, right? Not just to hug me!"

Nyota sniffled as she sighed, a little relieved. She had the feeling that things were truly better between them now. "I think the stress is getting to me and I wondered if I was deficient in something because I'm tired literally all of the time. I mean all the time. It's ridiculous. So I'm officially worried and wondered if I could see Dr. McCoy about it."

"He's not here right now, but I can check you out for now."

"That's good," she nodded. "Because I can't go on feeling like this."

She pulled out her scanner as she turned on the biobed controls. "Hmmm. You most certainly do have a deficiency."

"I knew it! What am I missing?"

"According to my scans, you're low on iron, calcium, zinc, most of your minerals. And your copper is rock bottom."

"What do I take for it?" asked Nyota, concerned.

Chapel seemed to be holding back a smile as she walked away to the storeroom. She came back with two bottles in her hands, but handed over only one. "These vitamins should help."

Nyota took them and read the bottle over and over again. Her vision blurred again as a fresh film of tears filled her eyes and brimmed over. She couldn't be reading this bottle right. "Why are you giving me prenatal vitamins?"

The nurse's eyes also watered. "Because you're pregnant with a baby that's eating all of your resources as we speak, Nyota." She sniffled as she held out another bottle. "Here, take this, too. It's a copper supplement that we usually keep for anemic Rigellians. The little one has eaten all your copper stores. Take a quarter dose for now and come back so we can monitor your progress."

Her mouth dropped open and then she forced herself to shut it. She thought of that three and a half days with Spock in the little beach house. She knew she shouldn't be shocked at all. She hadn't taken one single precaution before their adventures in the land of the newly married. She always thought it would be a serious undertaking to get pregnant from the hybrid Vulcan. Apparently not. "So I'm-"

"Thirteen weeks gestation, so you're officially fifteen weeks along, Nyota," said Christine, clearly excited.

They counted backward to when she most likely conceived. And there it was. It was that day. Something told her it was that moment in the rain when he'd peeled the little teal bathing suit off of her and taken her on the tiny porch. That was it right there. She knew that that was the moment… "I'm almost four months pregnant? And I didn't even know it?" She was a little bit disturbed and disappointed in herself.

"You were very distracted, Nyota," Christine reassured her. "Please don't be too hard on yourself about not knowing."

She nodded, dazed, trying to get her mind around what she'd just found out. "Thank you," she said, a little distracted still. She hopped down off of the table and was about to wander out of sickbay, still in a haze.

"Nyota."

"Yeah?" she said as she turned, remembered where she was.

"Let's have lunch tomorrow, all right?" asked the nurse.

She smiled, back in the moment again. "That'd be nice, Christine."

She left sickbay, numb almost, and made it to her quarters.

####

The truth didn't sink in until that night. She dropped off to sleep fast since she was still so tired, but then her eyes snapped open after less than half the night. In a rush, some emotion was filling her, overwhelming her senses. She was crying and sad and happy all at once. And the thought came to her that if something did happen she had this from him, this piece of him, as her hands covered her lower abdomen.

For the first time she felt something more than dread at the thought of facing another day without him, felt something more than just a spouse in limbo waiting for the return of her husband for her life to begin again. She felt hope.