Author's Note: Um, I don't know why I wrote this. Even as I was writing it, I asked my muse, "What are you doing?" To which she replied, "No clue, just keep going." I don't even know WHY we did it, just that it's done, it's written, and it's out of my system (good GOD, I thought it'd never END!) I liked being able to explore the different POVs though, and Uhura is still the hardest for me (why, I'll never understand), but oh well. I'm just relieved I survived to the end of this. I am now exhausted.
The first time they encounter each other is completely outside of class, as Uhura has yet to sign up for a course offered by the half-Vulcan, and it isn't a particularly 'cute-meet', as only one of them can recall the other.
Cadet Uhura is struggling to drag a certain Orion female back to the dorm building, crossing paths with the half-Vulcan — unknowingly — and Spock doesn't pay them much attention — nor do they even notice him — but when he hears one of them muttering under her breath, words of clear frustration in five different dialects, with flawless intonation — one of which is Vulcan with a strand of Romulan, as well — his curiosity is piqued.
He turns back to look at their distant forms, notices a long ponytail swishing in the air and, by the way the sound echoes on the walls, he knows it's her and not the Orion Cadet. He wonders who she is for a fleeting second — what kind of Cadet would be so fluent, early in her Academy years, as he has yet to encounter her in any of his classes.
He wouldn't get his answer that night, but it wouldn't be the last time he saw her.
The first time Cadet Uhura hears of the half-Vulcan instructor, it's from another student, in reaction to her course selection for the new semester: Advanced Phonology. She's also aware of the fact that the half-Vulcan is also teaching Interspecies Ethics, and while she had been trying to save that one for last, as an elective — knowing enough about it to pair it up with some of the hardest courses at the end of her study, as to lessen the load — the rumors she hears about him excite her to a point where she thinks she'd rather have two classes with him instead of one.
She has heard that he is strict, cold, a typical Vulcan perfectionist, impossible to please, hardly one to give compliments, among other things. These are the qualities that would have most students dreading any sort of course with the good instructor, but Uhura knows better.
She knows that the more difficult the instructor, the better chance a student has to thrive, and with the Commander, she plans to do just that.
The first time he sees her in class, he notices her, immediately, by the way her long ponytail is sprawled over her shoulder — the same ponytail he remembers moving in the distance as she disappeared into the night.
He begins the lesson normally, as if her presence hadn't alerted him in the least — and, truth be told, it really hasn't — as he scarcely thought about the Cadet, but then again, that is only because he had very little to think of. Her ability to speak Vulcan, the way her hair moved — they're not things one can go over again and again, without pause, and although he'll never see the relevance of admitting it to himself, he believes his mind often tried to do just that.
The first time their eyes meet, his eyebrows rise, and the look doesn't linger for more than half a second, but it makes her stomach clench.
It's a strange thing to think, probably unlikely, but through that look she feels like he knows her, or knows of her, or that she broke something of his when she was a kid — the last of which is just a hypothetical way to explain the feeling his gaze gave her, as it is clearly impossible, but still, the feeling is there, and she can't explain it at all — not with any reason she knows.
The first time he calls on her to answer a question, using the very two dialects the question is about, he asks her to point out the similarities and differences of the speech patterns within the dialects that are so closely related, in terms of origin.
He notices how her eyes widen and her lip quirks up, ever so slightly, before she answers — using both dialects, as well, but struggling with the last word in her answer — with an absolute grace he had never even contemplated could exist.
He approves of her answer.
The first time she answers a question for him, in class, he complimented it to be 'well done', and she's stuck between shock, delight and outright confusion.
She knows she could've said that word better and, in her head, is already making the necessary corrections for it. And, as the lesson goes along, she wishes he'd pick her again, even if it means half the class will look at her like she has a second head growing out of her shoulders.
She got a compliment from the impossible instructor. That's worth more than anything their stares can give her.
The first time he sees her sitting outside his office, he stops his walk — unnoticed by her — and tries to study the strand of emotion she evokes in him.
Curiosity is the clearest, and a slight fascination towards her mind, but other than that, there's something he has never encountered before — an emotion he has no name for, not because it doesn't exist, but because it's new and, thus, he's yet to associate it with its accurate name.
The first time she talks to him outside of class, she's not quite sure how to approach him — as if he is a walking mystery that shouldn't be taken lightly — but she goes about it with a forced normalcy, treating him as she would any instructor, and he's obviously okay with it as he lets her inside his office.
His office is a lot like him: organized, clean and full of fascinating things many would find boring; but she doesn't. The books alone absorb so much of her attention that she hears, but doesn't really register, the question he's asked her, what the purpose of her visit to his office is.
She pulls out a PADD to ask him about a couple of ancient dialects that have recently been discovered, and are being carefully deciphered. She knows it's probably rude to even suggest it as a topic for his course, so she hopes he doesn't mind her asking about it outside of the class. When she mentions her interest towards using it as part of her dissertation, he almost looks surprised — almost — because she's planning ahead, way ahead, and choosing something as obscure as a newly-discovered dialect isn't something many would do. It means more work, but she likes it and, as the conversation goes along, she discovers that she very much likes talking to him outside of class.
She likes it a lot.
The first time he thinks of requesting a student aide, the thought alone is curious — and startling — as he had only been listening to a video transmission from his mother, voicing her general greetings to him, sharing with him details of her small garden and how proud they — although, he's fairly certain his father is not included in the sentiment — are of him. She also asks whether he's found someone — a friend — to spend his time with, a colleague even, and that it would very much please her to have her hope affirmed, as she'd like to know he has finally found someone to share himself with, even if it's just a small part.
A small part of her son is a rather large part of the universe, she says, and he is aware that the statement makes little sense.
So, he thinks of Uhura, of her visits to his office and their conversations on their known dialects and culture awareness. When he discovered that she has yet to take Interspecies Ethics, it made him make a mental note to challenge her with things she's yet to learn, and the fact that he's already anticipating having her in another of his classes, for another year, brings it to his attention. He enjoys her company and — would enjoy, even more so — her collaboration to him as his aide.
As for the undefined emotion, he's pushed it aside, until he sees her again.
The first time she hears of a position of 'aide' that's available for the Advanced Phonology class, she almost presses her forehead to the bulletin for confirmation, because it's not something she had expected at all. Yes, most instructors are known to take aides, but the good Commander is certainly not one of them — or rather, was.
There is a list, and a certain criteria you have to meet, but she knows she's eligible, and adds herself to the list, hoping that whatever the department is looking for before assigning the post is something she has. Being his student is something exhilarating for her; being able to talk to him during his office hours — sharing thoughts and ideas that both challenge and entertain her mind's current path — is something she looks forward to often, but being able to work with him as his aide?
It'd be a learning experience to remember, and though she has yet to give much attention to the thought, it'd give her an excuse to be around his company more often — something she's beginning to enjoy a little too much, and she knows very well that it's not the type of attraction she should entertain, but be that as it may, it's there, and the only thing she can do is work through it.
The first time he visits her dorm room, the halls are empty — as it's much too early — but having received the news from the department some time during his sleep, he chose to alert her as soon as he readied himself for the day. If she means to be his aide, she'll have to be ready for an early start, and he already has a substantial amount of work set out for her, something he had prepared even before he knew she had been chosen. The person who opens the door, however, is not Uhura, but the Orion Cadet wearing what looks too short to be a bathrobe, looking at him with drooping eyes and squinting at him before calling behind her, "Uhura! You have a visitor!"
"Who is it?" he hears Uhura call from inside the dorm, her voice seemingly muffled by a door, and Spock keeps his posture straight, ready to say his name to her, until the woman cuts him off.
"A very tall person," she says before turning around, "It's too early for you to be asking me these questions." She walks away from Spock, leaving the door open, and looks back at him with tired eyes, "You can come in, y'know, she'll be out eventually."
So he does, but keeps himself close to the door, as to not invade the privacy of their sleeping quarters, which seems like a good thing for him to have done, as the Orion Cadet throws herself on the bed with a groan and keeps her head under a pillow.
"I'm sorry, Gaila," he hears Uhura speaking, from what seems to be the bathroom, "I forget mornings make you the equivalent of a drunk."
When the bathroom door slides open, Spock meets her eyes, and avoids looking at the rest of her body — but that doesn't mean he doesn't see it — how she has the towel wrapped around her figure, and rolled up on the side so that it doesn't fall to the floor.
The first time Uhura contemplates on committing homicide on Academy grounds is actually after Gaila let in a certain Advanced Phonology instructor — failing to mention that it is her Advanced Phonology instructor — and Uhura, not expecting to see him waiting for her inside her dorm room, slides open the bathroom door wearing nothing but a wrapped towel around her chest, and her hair flowing wildly over her shoulder.
She's very quick to have the door slide closed, and smart enough to not scream or even mutter a word until she recovers from the shock, "Commander?"
"I hope you'll forgive me, Cadet, as I am now aware I should have announced my presence before entering your quarters."
She swallows back a laugh at the constant propriety in his tone. "Yeah, that would've been less embarrassing," she mutters, and then speaks out loud, "Is there something you wanted, Commander?" 'Other than to see me half-naked,' she thinks, but considers the thought to be wishful thinking and not really good for her mental health at the moment.
"Yes, to inform you that the aide position had already been chosen, as of last night, and as I took the liberty to survey your schedule, I see that you'll have no morning courses for today, and may join me in the office at 0800."
She blinks once, and twice, before she pulls down a robe from a hook — one of Gaila's, which looks more like a dress than a robe, and really doesn't make her feel appropriately dressed, but it'll have to do. She can't continue this kind of conversation locked inside the bathroom. She lets the door slide open again and he's still standing on the same spot he had been before, and more importantly, he's looking at her eyes and not the rest of her body.
"I got it?" It's a rhetorical question, but he replies with a curt yes. She furrows her brow, trying to understand, "And you came all the way here... to tell me in person..." When you could've waited till our class in the afternoon, she almost finishes, but thinks it's too presumptuous to throw that hint there — even if Gaila is probably sleeping deep enough for an engine to explode on her head without her notice.
"I thought you would appreciate an early start on your work, as there is a sizeable amount of it awaiting your attention," he keeps his eyes focused on her, and only her, and it shouldn't flatter her, but it does.
"You thought right, thank you, Commander. I'll see you at your office, 0800, though, if you'll excuse me, I should probably get dressed first," and eat, but food isn't really on her priority to do list at the moment.
"Certainly," he gives her a curt nod, and as he moves to turn around — to the door — she waits till he's completely gone before pulling Gaila's pillow off her head and slamming it down on her with as much force as she can muster.
The first time Spock learns the name of that curious feeling that only tugs at his stomach when Uhura is around is right after he leaves her quarters, the memory of her wearing only a towel still fresh in his mind, and it's abundantly clear why its name only made itself apparent to him now.
Before today, he had seen Cadet Uhura only as a student, someone whose brilliance nearly matched his own — and is well on its way to surpass it — someone whose future in Starfleet is as bright as the stars that adorn Earth's sky. Before today, he had only seen her mind, and now, the most primitive side of his mind — the one many attribute to physical attraction, desires of the flesh — has been awoken, alerting him of what he has been feeling for Uhura, but hadn't realized till now, because he hadn't seen past her intelligence to imagine her that way.
What he feels for Cadet Uhura is an unrivaled attraction, one that appears when two beings find themselves matched and aligned towards each other, and it is incredibly new, and unexpected, so that his desire to explore it is nearly limitless, but he decides, for now, that caution would be best, as with every new thing, it must first be observed before being experimented on.
The first time Gaila accuses Uhura of having a crush — and is actually right — is not long after Uhura nearly smothered her friend with a pillow, though not with as much force as she would've normally applied.
"How was I supposed to know he was your instructor?"
"Black uniform!" Uhura spits back, "Didn't you notice a certain black Academy uniform!"
Gaila pinches the bridge of her nose, "Err, no, not really. I don't think I really remember what he looks like... except that I nearly broke my neck trying to look up at him."
Uhura rolls her eyes at her friend's exaggeration, "You are unbelievable."
Gaila pouts, "I'm sorry, Uhura, I... I haven't been feeling well, you know that." And on that note, Uhura looks back on her Orion friend, as she finishes zipping up her uniform and frowns.
Gaila doesn't often like to 'discuss' her Orion biology and all that it entails, but Uhura has to say she admires the woman for wanting a career hand-in-hand with the needs of her other 'appetites'.
"Did you speak with a medical officer?" Uhura takes a seat on the edge of Gaila's bed, an arm around her friend's shoulder.
"Yeah. They think it might be the drugs they've been trying on me... While it does keep certain," she gives Uhura her 'obvious' look, "effects at bay, the side-effects aren't very welcoming. I don't think they're worth the trouble, if you ask me. I'd rather be trying to shove my tongue down several throats than stay another day like this."
Uhura gives her a look of sympathy, until Gaila turns her face to act out the 'innocent' look, "So, you're not mad at me anymore?"
"Oh, no," Uhura begins, standing from the bed, "Don't you try that on me. I am still mad. You should've known better than to invite anyone in to speak to me when I'm still in the shower."
Gaila sighs in exasperation, turning over so that she's face down on the bed, her face in her hands, "I don't know what your problem is. He's the Vulcan, right? The one you're always talking about? I doubt the view affected his senses."
"Oh, now you remember him?" Uhura eyes her friend's appearance of a convenient memory with slight suspicion.
"Not really by appearance, just common sense. Who else would come to visit you personally... come to think of it, what did he want?"
Uhura looks away from her friend so that her smile remains unseen, "To tell me I've been chosen as his aide for the remainder of the semester."
"Oh. Why couldn't he just wait till you had class with him? God, Vulcans keep awful hours."
Uhura smiles at that, but says nothing, reading her bag and looking at the clock, knowing full-well she's got enough time to get some breakfast and still have enough time to spare. The Commander isn't the only one to keep early hours.
Her friend's exclamation alerts Uhura, so that she turns around in a spin, with a face of concern as she looks at her friend, "What? What is it?"
"You like him!"
"What?" She should've sounded a little bit more shocked, but her words are too low and sound poorly delivered for someone who's come to know her a little well.
"That's why you overreacted! You like him! A bunch of the guys I've brought over—"
"—have seen you in your underwear—"
"—this is ridiculous—"
"—and other than kicking them out—"
"—you're wrong, you know—"
"—you don't really care. You like him!"
"No, I don't," Uhura sounds cross, but to Gaila, nowhere near believable.
"Wow." Gaila looks at her friend with wide eyes, and the tiniest of smiles, "Of all the guys you could've picked, not only do you pick an instructor, but you go for a Vulcan? I thought you were the smart one."
Slightly insulted by that, Uhura corrects her, "Half-Vulcan."
Gaila grins, having caught her red-handed, "Right. I thought as much."
The first time Spock finds himself counting the minutes as they pass, he finds himself even more curious, and possibly shamed by the fact that these trivial emotions are beginning to evoke in him very humanistic behavioral patterns.
He had told her the time, 0800. It's currently 0742. Surely, staring at the time will not cause its acceleration or bring her closer to his door.
Impatience is most unlike him, and yet, it's not impatience that has him staring at the time.
The first time they work together, Uhura's stomach is made of knots, not only because it's her first day as his aide, but because the man managed to see her almost-naked not too long ago. She's relieved when she sees the mound of PADDs waiting for her, and takes the chair he had set out for her in a small but comfortable part of his office. She does his work without interruption, as his greeting to her had been brief, accompanied by his directions towards the work at hand.
Nothing incredibly exciting happens — nothing as exciting as that morning — and she's thankful for the work — which she finds quite gratifying, actually — though, she can't help but get a feeling that she's being watched, she does nothing to confirm this, as her work keeps her busy enough to keep her eyes from straying from them.
The first time she mentions her home, it's during one of their late nights at the lab, when an image from a cultural book from the dialect they're currently dissecting reminds her of it, and he doesn't stop her.
No, he listens and observes.
He listens as she describes the cool warmth of the morning air, the sky burning orange with the sunrise, the earth drumming under her feet, and he almost feels like she's describing his own home to him, which is impossible, yet that's what he sees, and feels. The look on her face is utter bliss, as well, and the feeling tugs at him again, but this time it's less wanting of her and more adoring.
When she asks him about his own home world, he tries to be brief, but finds that he can't, as she presses for more information — politely — and, for some reason, he realizes that he lacks the ability — the desire — to deny her.
The first time their bodies touch, it's Uhura's fault. She's been listening too closely to a stream of data — trying to discern the dialects from all the noise — from a recording the Commander had left for her, when she feels something passing behind her, and she turns with her hands up and her wrists are caught by none other than the Commander himself, who seems curious towards her reaction towards him, but other than that, doesn't give much of a reaction.
"I have startled you," it's not a question — that much she knows.
Though, everything she has ever thought herself to know stops being of any importance as she assesses the lack of personal space between them.
He had been standing right behind her — probably just passing by, as this part of the desk has limited space between it and the wall — and now is standing right in front of her, with her wrists in his hands — to avoid being accidentally struck by them in the midst of her surprise — and she can feel her chest far too close to his — but not close enough.
That is immediately corrected.
The first time they kiss, it's Spock's fault, as he had known she's been working intently on a data stream — so much so that she hadn't even acknowledged his presence — and due to that absence of consciousness from her part, he had chosen to walk behind her, close enough to... to observe that space on the nape of her neck that had been calling to him for longer than he'll ever reveal.
The attraction had been building for too long, and he had been unwise to think time would weaken it.
Now, with her wrists in his grasp, her eyes locked over his, he should step back, but takes a step forward instead. Her mouth opens slightly in reaction, perhaps struggling for a word, but says nothing as he leans in, slowly, stopping inches away from her face.
Reason tells him to pull back. Logic tells him that for an instructor on Interspecies Ethics, he is failing the most basic Earth one, but Uhura has a skill even she is unaware of. She manages to tap into his most human side, and to explore it, because, even though he had been the one to lean in first, she is the one to close the distance.
The first time they have dinner, it's Uhura's idea, as a sort of peace-offering ever since the breath-stealing kiss, and she knows he's surprised she managed to gather information on his vegetarian diet, as he looks upon the plate of food she has laid out on his desk.
They eat in silence, until their hands meet as they reach out for the water jug, and she smiles nervously, about to pull her hand back as to let him go first, until he catches it. Her heart starts beating at an increasing pace as she meets his eyes.
"Thank you," he speaks, softly, and she wonders if it'd be terribly wrong to jump over the desk and kiss him.
"You're welcome," she replies back, watching as his hand seems to hold hers in its entirety, and hoping he never lets go, but he does, and pours water in her glass, instead.
The first time he asks her to call him by his name, they'd been in the lab for more hours than appropriate, as he has been occupying his time with more work than necessary — some of it not even work, but simply distractions he finds he requires as the memory of a kiss interrupts his attempts of meditation on more than one occasion.
The fact that she calls him Commander has been bothering him for quite some time — ever since the kiss, he thinks — and though there's no logic behind it, as the title is necessary to remind themselves of the professionalism needed between them, he decides that if it will ease his mind, he should follow it as a wise course of action.
"Spock," she then repeats, upon his request, and the way she says it does ease something inside of him. "You may call me Nyota, then."
And he does, and it feels pleasant on his lips, as pleasant as that first kiss, and the mere memory of it makes him gaze at her for too long, and she's aware of it, too, because she stares back, and it takes her infinitely less time to cross the distance between them for another kiss.
The first time they fight, it's deliberate, and it's not so much a fight as it is a discussion begun by her in his personal quarters.
She doesn't give herself the chance to appreciate the space not unlike his office — just as businesslike — and settles her stare over him, conscious of the fact that he's trying to keep his face as unreadable as ever, though she's spent enough time around him to know this is not a comfortable situation for him, so she means to make it incredibly easier for him, though it all depends on him.
"Give me one good reason why not," she finally speaks out, in response to his second avoidance of the subject matter of 'them', even though the second kiss shared between them had been much more productive, and he responded to it infinitely well. He had excused himself, and her, stating they were far too tired to think rationally.
"Do you truly require only one?"
And she crosses her arms, choosing not to appreciate the rare humor in his tone, because it's not funny and, knowing him, he's not being funny in the deliberate sense, either.
"One that cannot be dealt with by two consenting adults with far greater reasoning capabilities than they give themselves credit for, yes," she agrees, "Only one."
He's silent for a while, as if contemplating the new criteria for her request.
"Academy regulations clearly state that—"
"No. That's not a valid argument, and you know it," she interrupts him with a flare of amusement in her eyes, because she had been expecting that one.
"It is incredibly valid given the circumstance that—"
"No, it's not," she interrupts him again, and by the way his lips thin, she can tell that she's pushing her luck — and his manners. She sighs, "Spock, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but if we go with regulations as the reason not to see this through... we already broke it on the night you kissed me, and again on the night I kissed you. The regulations issue is a moot argument at this point," the way his eyes seem to look into her, as if seeing her through a new light, makes her think she's reaching him.
She sighs again, tiredly, because she had rehearsed a much more compelling and passionate argument but, now, she just wants him to see things from a non-Vulcan point of view, and she realizes now how incredibly unfair that is, so she has to re-arrange her words substantially.
"I can understand your hesitance, Spock, and I... I feel that it's not based on a dislike towards me." She searches his face and, when she sees no argument from him, goes on. "I know what we're risking. I know that certain discretions will have to be considered, and I understand it won't be easy or fair for either of us but, Spock, I'm not going to be a Cadet forever." She crosses the space between them as he listens and he's watching her, his gaze as penetrating as ever.
"Eventually, I will graduate, and I don't know about you, but I don't want to wait until my graduation to be able to do what I want to do with the person I want to do it with — to kiss you, without worrying that you'll go into one of your speeches on logic and rules. I already feel like I'm with you, and I've enjoyed that very much, but I'd enjoy infinitely more if we could... if we could reach a mutual understanding where it's okay to touch." She reaches up to touch his cheek and he doesn't break eye-contact with her for a single second.
"Say something, please," she murmurs, when it feels like her discussion of things has turned into an all-out monologue.
"I believe words would not serve me well in my response," he murmurs back.
"And why's that?" She almost smiles.
His answer comes in a kiss, and she understands, knows what it means, as well as she knows everything else.
They've finally crossed that bridge, and little does she know that, even though she's the one who had to lead him there, he had been the one to build it.