Notes: You'd have to be fairly slow to not get it from the summary, but this is Spock/Uhura. There. I warned you. Just because I write slash doesn't mean I don't write het. I like Spock/Uhura. There, I said it. I ship K/S and S/U. Anyone else? (Also, nu!Uhura? Hot. Certain scenes in that movie are just awkward to watch in mixed company.)
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek 2009, and I make no profit from this work.
"I just don't know how you do it. I mean, does he ever say he loves you? Or...well, anything?"
Jenny was a nice enough woman, but she did tend to harp on about the wisdom - or not - in dating Vulcans, and so Nyota had been mostly tuning her out for the last four months.
"No, I suppose he doesn't," she said mildly, settling down at the lab stations. They were star-mapping, so Kirk had granted her request to get the communications department started on setting up the universal translator to handle High Reman properly, instead of spitting out barely-comprehensible gibberish as it did currently.
"What do you even talk about? Do you talk?"
"Of course we talk," she replied absently, sorting through her inbox. Paperless society. What a joke. Nobody had hit on maybe using one padd for multiple requests; instead, they just left piles upon piles of metal in the traditional inbox trays. Maybe it was an exercise in murdering crew morale.
At the bottom of the tray sat a small case, which she opened to find a personal padd (though not one she recognised) and several small black plastic caps. Emptying them out, her work area was suddenly covered in a small scattering of old-fashioned keys from a keyboard, the flaking remnants of a painted 'x' on each one.
"What on earth?" Jenny blinked.
Nyota had a faint idea, and opened the padd to find a simple message: the Captain informed me that an x was once used to denote kisses in electronic communications. He hadn't signed it, but then he hadn't needed to.
"Just the Vulcan sense of humour," she chuckled, gathering up the keys and putting them back in the case.
She could return them after shift.
Nyota huffed a tired breath, and curled up along Spock's side, resting her head on his shoulder and feeling his breathing beginning to settle again. She had just about grown used to the fact that he didn't break a sweat during sex, but the fact that his breathing was permanently a little faster than hers was still...unusual.
Still, sometimes she fooled herself it was because of her, and that was a great feeling.
"I'm going to miss this," she said as his arm came up around her back.
"Cuddling," she said, kissing his chest to make her point. "The ship bunks are just too narrow to do this."
"Indeed," Spock said. He wasn't as into the cuddling as she was; he seemed to like it well enough, but he didn't tend to initiate it. As long as he was willing to indulge her when they got leave like this, Nyota didn't really care.
"Plus you'd pull my hair if we tried it, and just about rip my head off," she mused.
Spock shifted uncomfortably. "Please do not visualise such...graphics."
"Sorry," she said. She wasn't, and his hand tightened on her hip in warning. "Fine, I'll think of something else. See, people who have casual sex don't have this problem. They have sex in Jeffries' tubes and things. They don't need beds."
"That would be most illogical?"
"Why?" she raised her head. "We wouldn't get caught; I know for a fact that the emergency grate above the primary communications lab is..."
"That was not my meaning."
"Then was what?" she pushed. Literally - she prodded in the chest, and received that tell-tale relaxation around his jaw that would have been a smile for a human man.
"Casual sex is only appropriate for casual affairs; as this is not a casual affair..."
Judging from the way he trailed off and brought a hand up to stroke kisses over her cheekbone, she had let that strange, fuzzy humming feeling in her chest show on her face.
"I see," she said, raising herself to straddle his hips. "In which case, we'd better make use of having a proper bed. Is that logical enough for you?"
He blinked and almost smiled. Again. "Quite."
She had ignored it for a while - a whole lot of dating Spock was just letting the little odd things he did slide sometimes, because questioning him on something was a sure-fire way to get him to stop doing it at all, which wasn't always the point - but eventually her curiosity won out.
Spock played with her hair.
That wasn't necessarily odd in itself; Nyota had dated plenty of guys who were into the long hair. (Plus if she turned around really fast, she could hit people with it, which was great.) No: the odd thing was that the first time Spock had touched it, he hadn't actually liked it.
Apparently Vulcan hands were so sensitive, the slide of human hair over them felt unpleasant. He didn't avoid it, so to speak, but he didn't really touch it either. And Nyota hadn't minded, or even really thought about it - until he started playing with it.
Maybe playing with it wasn't the right word.
When they were in one of their quarters, he would simply...touch it. Whatever they were doing - talking, playing music, eating together, dancing (she was absolutely determined to get him to slow dance with her at the Christmas party, but that was going to be a long work of persuasion), having sex, even just going through pre- and post-shift routines, he would start to reach out and touch her hair, whether it was tied up or let down, and pass it through his fingers.
"I thought you didn't like that," she eventually...not-asked, and he offered her that very faint smile that meant that he knew what she was getting at.
"The sensation is...not particularly pleasant, but I will accustomise myself to it."
"Why?" Nyota pressed, folding her fingers over his where they were still stroking over her hair.
He gave her that look that meant he thought he was missing something. "It is a part of you."
She...hadn't seen that coming.
"Okay," she said, fighting down the urge to just...oh, who knew, shove him on the bunk and have her way with him? Whatever. Anything. Something. "So..."
Actually, that wasn't a half bad idea.
"How about we make some new connections, then?" she suggested, beginning to push him back towards the bunk.
An eyebrow flew up. "New connections?"
"Yep," she said. "If we get you to associate my hair with good sensations too, then maybe you won't feel so odd about it."
He let himself be pushed until he was sitting down, and drew her to straddle his lap almost an afterthought.
"I do not believe that this is a scientifically proven method, particularly amongst telepaths."
She shrugged. "Worth a shot."
He had had an early start in the labs - it couldn't be helped, and Nyota didn't want to be annoyed, but it was her birthday. It would also sound ridiculous if she complained about it - birthday or not, the job had to be done, and Vulcans didn't even celebrate birthdays.
She had not expected this, though, and blinked when she opened the box to find a gift that could only have been from him.
In the tiny box, nestled amongst the pale blue tissue paper, lay a pendant on a simple back string, with a brilliant red flower perched on the knot that formed it into a necklace. It was a small cube of clear glass, distinct for the pink threads that always ran through genuine Vulcan glass, and three-quarters filled with water. Some kind of blue oil had been added, swirling in mesmerising shapes through the water, and she bit her lip.
Water had been a precious resource on Vulcan, and presents revolving around water had been a tradition that logic had never quite erased. It was...serious. Vulcans did not casually dole out gifts that even hinted at water; they were special gifts, precious gifts...
"That's pretty," Yeoman Rawls enthused when Nyota held it up to examine the twists of pink and blue.
And it was special, because out of everyone on the ship, Nyota highly suspected that only they knew the significance.
"And oh, a flower. How lovely!" Rawls enthused.
"Isn't it?" Nyota smiled, looping the necklace over her head and tucked the bead of glass and water away into her uniform, like a secret - just for them.
She knew he was going to comment the moment that he walked in the door, and sure enough, he inhaled sharply at the smell of nail polish in the air, and his dark gaze flickered down to her spread fingers.
"Don't ask," she said. "It's an illogical human thing and nothing that you need to worry about."
"I do not worry," came the clipped response, but he was still frowning at her nails. "Is this part of your preparations for the celebration this evening?"
It was Earth New Year, and the crew - read: the communications department - had organised a party. Kirk had firmly ignored all knowledge of it, going so far as to put his hands over his ears and leave the room when people began to discuss it, and therefore bought himself plausible (just about) ignorance of the rampant trampling of regulations.
And then he'd gotten in the way of a phaser blast and ended up in Sickbay, so Spock had had to take over. Nyota was disappointed that he would not be attending the party, but they weren't really his thing anyway, and she hadn't held out much hope of wheedling him into a dance. Not without a couple of pints of hot chocolate, anyway.
"Yes," she said, waving her hands delicately to dry the nail polish. "When are you back on duty?"
"In approximately fourteen minutes," Spock replied flatly. "I do not feel overly comfortable leaving Lieutenant Sulu in charge, considering the particular form of painkiller he is currently taking."
That was a fair point. It was almost like having a drunk flying the ship. Still, if he was in the big chair, then somebody else had to actually fly her.
"Nyota, I was led to believe that such...efforts are in order to attract a mate," he said finally, and Nyota chuckled.
"So that's why you don't like it."
"I expressed neither like nor dislike."
"Yeah, you did," she said. "And it's not always to attract someone. Sometimes it's just to...feel pretty."
"...To feel pretty."
She laughed at the expression on his face. He was quite clearly wondering at her mental state.
"It's a woman thing, Spock, don't worry about it," she said. "It just makes my hands look nice."
"I...see. May I?" he added, sinking down onto the bunk across from her and reaching for one hand.
He brought it up, tracing the stiff outline of her fingers and examining the polish clinically from all angles, watching the light bounce off the colour. She couldn't remember having worn nail polish in front of him before, and if she had, he hadn't paid it any attention - but now he conducted a thorough examination of her right hand, before exchanging it for her left and repeating the process.
"I fail to see any change in aesthetic appeal," he surmised finally - but before Nyota could even muster a twinge of annoyance, he did something very strange.
He pressed the tip of his index finger to the back of her left hand, and drew a clumsy but clear heart shape over the skin.
"There is no logic in trying to improve your hands," he concluded, giving her back her hand and rising from the bed again.
"Get back to shift," she said around the face-splitting smile that was kind of hurting her cheeks, and he bowed his head to her almost formally before turning to go. "And I love you too."
She glanced up from her desk at the tall, shirtless Vulcan standing in the doorway of her bathroom, and couldn't help the small smile. As she had given into that, she figured that she might as well go for gold, and rose from her chair to cross the room and stretch up to kiss him, her bare toes curling into the carpet as his hands came to her hips to support her, and her kiss was returned with so much more certainty than the first one.
"Stay the night," she offered.
"As you wish," he said in a voice that was a murmur, no matter how much he would have claimed it was not.
"Always," she returned, stroking her fingers over his collarbone as they kissed again. It did nothing for her, but she had learned all the little things that 'produced pleasurable sensations' (not enjoyed, obviously) over the years, and they came as naturally as breathing now.
"Nyota," he tried again, disengaging only enough to rest his forehead on hers and take a calming breath. "I...am aware that I rarely express myself verbally, or discuss my feelings with you, but..."
She watched the struggle creep in, and suddenly knew - quite simply knew, what he was trying to tell her.
"You don't have to," she murmured, closing her fingers around his and brushing his fingertips in just the right manner. "You do perfectly well without words, you know."
"Nevertheless, humans typically require..."
"Yeah, maybe," she shrugged, leaning up to kiss him again. "But I don't. I know."
He paused, examining her face - and quite possibly the shallower waves of emotion and surface thoughts of her mind - before something unidentifiable shifted in his eyes and he nodded.
"Good," he said.
It sounded so human, so utterly human, that Nyota had to laugh, and kissed him again. Both ways.