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Special thanks to beta Notes from the Classroom. Check out her latest "Crossing the Equator" for happier Spock/Uhura.

(Ever) After

The walk along the beach is lovely, even if Nyota finds herself turning into a bundle of confused nerves.

They play a guessing game of where was she before she had "cosmetic surgery" - and Jim actually gets it right, Tilonias III. She tells him about her colleagues there, and he tells her about the good times on Bajor.

Jim digs into the sand at one point and pulls out what looks like a the flower of a water lily with very thick petals. He places it her hand and she laughs in shock and wonder when it suddenly sprouts legs, hops a meter into the air, and then skitters off towards the water.

She's having a fantastic time, an amazing time, but what is going on? Is this a very elaborate game of seduction? She tests him a little bit, lets herself bump his shoulder, stands a little too close when he offers her another one of those lily crabs. When she does, he doesn't move forward for another kiss like she expects. Instead he draws back.

It's quite perplexing. Maybe after their kiss he just doesn't find her that attractive? Maybe she just doesn't do it for him? Maybe she has bad breath. She runs her tongue over her teeth and delicately coughs into her hand at one point just to check.

By the time they come to the tea shop - that's the best way to describe House of Dutifully Steeped Lar, Nyota's hair has worked its way out of its bun, and windswept curls are bouncing by her temples. She finds herself in another whirlwind of introductions as she's introduced to all the Cardassians in for their morning cup.

They get a table on the veranda that looks out over the water. The temperature is perfect for humans but chilly for Cardassians, so they're alone. Up until an hour ago Nyota would have expected the campy come ons at this point, but now she doesn't know what to expect. Fullfilling the expectation to defy expectations, Jim suddenly gets really quiet and serious.

"What's wrong?" she asks. He's almost scowling, staring out at the Bajoran ocean.

"Nothing," he says. He turns to her and gives here a quick tight smile, then looks back at the ocean again. One of his index fingers taps hard at the table.

Nyota stares at it and frowns. Well, she tried. If he's not going to talk, she's not going to force it. She takes her sip of the Lar, the best she's ever tasted, and stares out at the ocean. It's beautiful. And she had a lovely night. And if she's the only woman in the galaxy Jim Kirk has decided he isn't really attracted to - because she is getting that distinct impression, well, that's sort of an honor in itself, isn't it?

"Did you have a good time last night?" he says turning to her.

Smiling at the memory she says, "Yes, I did."

Turning his head away he scowls again. "So did I."

Jim says nothing more and Nyota turns her eyes back to the ocean. Holding the cup of Lar just under her chin, she breathes in its fragrant steam. She feels utterly at peace and at home in the universe. She made lots of new friends last night, had a great time, and this moment, well it's perfect just as it is. And she's glad Jim isn't making obnoxious passes...mostly.

"Deep Space Nine won't be like a starship," Jim says out of the blue. "It's more of a small town than the tiny village of the Enterprise. Still, it's pretty close quarters."

"Mmmmmm..." says Nyota sipping her Lar.

"This thing we've got going. It's great, it's perfect, but if you aren't serious, let's just stop right now."

Nyota doesn't choke on her Lar, but it's a close call. As it is she barely manages to cough out, "Excuse me?"

Thing? They kissed, and everyone else was practically kissing, too.

His blue eyes fix on her. "I'm not going to be your rebound guy. We'll have to work together occasionally, even if we're not in the same chain of command, and I don't want it to be uncomfortable. I'm in this for the long haul. As far as I'm concerned, you're the one, done deal. But if you don't agree, just say so, we'll call it quits, no hard feelings."

Other than how it pertains to subspace signals, Nyota's a little fuzzy on wormhole physics. Could a bit of the tail end of the wormhole have wriggled it's way into Bajor's atmosphere and plunked her down in another reality, because this obviously isn't her reality.

Considering how well she knows him, suspicions of an alternate reality, and general lack of sleep, the next words out of her mouth are somewhat excusable. "Was that some sort of...seriously unromantic...weird, proposal of marriage?"

His eyes narrow, his nostrils flare a little bit, and he looks for all the world like he is genuinely insulted. "Uhura, when do I ever do things halfway? When I propose there will be a ring with a damn big rock on it."

Drawing back, Nyota blinks at the ocean. When. He said when.

"And unromantic? I took you to a Bajoran wedding, a walk on the beach at sunrise, and have brought you to the best Lar house this side of Cardassia. Please explain how that qualifies as unromantic."

And the thing is, it was very romantic, and it was perfectly romantic for her. Alien cultures and languages, dancing, easy conversation on the beach...

But here's the thing. It's Jim Kirk. He slept with nearly half her class at the Academy, and he is not the sort of man that Uhura even entertains thoughts of dating.

The sort of man she entertains thoughts of dating...

Cheated on her.

Betrayed her.

...And never once took her for a walk on the beach at sunrise.

She blinks at Jim, "You're serious?"

"Didn't I just say that?" he asks indignantly.

She takes a nervous sip of her Lar. When Jim Kirk is serious about a thing...

"I know you've got trust issues," he says. "We both have a little baggage of one type or another. Would it help if I told you the number? In the interest of full disclosure, because I'm okay with that. And I can give you names, too." He swallows. "I can mostly give you names."

"The number?" says Nyota, looking down at the tray their Lar came on, trying not to look like she doesn't know where he's coming from, even if she doesn't.

"Only 39, which is probably a little less than you expect." He looks away, "39, more or less..." He cringes. "But if you include oral, which, depending on your definition of -"

"Okay, stop!" says Nyota getting what the number is. "That's all, really, that I need to know."

Her instincts are telling her to get out of her chair and bolt.

Her instincts told her to stick with Spock.

What is she afraid of? That things won't work out? Or that they will?

She looks over at him. He's sitting next to her, looking pretty confident, actually.

Well, he's serious, she can get serious, too, and scare him right out of his boots. Narrowing her eyes she says, "I want children." That pretty much scares them all away, or so she's been told. Really, she just knows Spock. The idea of children pretty much terrified him.

He shrugs. "I like kids." Then he smirks, "Of course, I've been told I am one, by some people." He looks off towards the ocean and says somewhat melodramatically. "They'll be beautiful, intelligent...talented. They'll be half me..."

She's about to huff at that when he looks back at her and says, "But they'll be half you, too, and that will more than make up for it." He blinks at her innocently.

Despite herself she laughs.

Grinning, he says, "So...yes?"

She looks at him. He's so much different than Spock. Human, dirty blonde, ruffled and a bit rough around the edges even in dress clothes. He's fun loving too, and just plain fun - whether he's on an exotic alien world, or watching holo. But that doesn't mean he doesn't work hard, it doesn't mean he lacks depth. When it counts he is very serious. And he is painfully honest...

He's still smiling but she can see him beginning to sink a little, and it occurs to her how much he's really laid it all out on the line.

She swallows. "If the question is will I marry you...right now the answer would be no."

He tilts his head, and unlike Spock she can see all the gears whirling in his mind as he digests that statement.

She licks her lips, "But if the question is, can we continue...this..." she looks around the veranda up the beach and back to him, "with the intention to explore the possibility of a future together...yes, I can...I would like to do that..." It comes out weak, and quieter than she expected, she puts her hand on table, and wraps them around her cup of Lar.

He doesn't look precisely happy.

Huffing she says, "Oh come on, you've got to give me a chance to wrap my head around this. Those are the terms, take them or leave them, Jimmie."

He leans back in his chair. "Fair enough," he says. "I accept." Then looking up at the sky, as though deep in thought he says, "Does this mean that we'll be having sex today?"

Jumping a little in her seat, Nyota rocks the table rocks. "No!"

He puts his hands on the table and just sits there grinning. Narrowing her eyes she says, "You're teasing me."

Shrugging he says, "About the sex thing, yes - well," he squints up at the sky and back to her. "Honestly, I expected you to say no, but if you said, yes...I'm adaptable." He takes a breath and says quietly, "Can I at least call you Nyota?"

Unable to repress a smile she says, "Yes."

Slipping one of his hands over hers he says, "That's better than sex."

It's terrible how those words make her go warm all over, how it makes her heart race. She glares at him, but she's still smiling.

He looks up, and then away as though confessing something shameful, "Well, for now."

She laughs a little and he says, "Well, Nyota, may I at least kiss you?"

"That would be acceptable," she says. She notices her cheeks hurting again, damn all this smiling.

Jim, bends forward in his chair and she leans into him. His free hand goes to the back of her neck, and he pulls her close, but he doesn't kiss her. Not right away. He just looks at her, like she's a lovely, precious thing. It's a long while, but when he does finally bring his lips to hers again she feels the same jolt at the base of her spine she did the night before.

She's not sure if she's going to marry Jim. Her mind is still reeling. But she is certain that whatever does happen will be fun, and that right here, in this moment, she is very happy.


Thanks for reading – special thanks to everyone who has reviewed, and everyone who has sent notes of encouragement. This fic got some real hate!

I may or may not write bad!Spock. "What would Surak Say" is getting about a third the number of readers as this fic. Although I've mapped out his reasoning, I don't know if I want to live in his head long enough to flesh it out. I don't like him. And if I don't like him, very few people are reading about him, and I don't get paid…that's just pain and agony - why would I do that to myself?

If this story was entertaining, and you enjoyed it, please leave a review. As I always say, it's the only way fan fiction authors get paid!