Notes: I've broken my collarbone, so I'm digging through my golden oldie works and brushing them off a bit. This is just something short and a bit silly. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek 2009, and I make no profit from this work.
By Any Other Name
After a whole month, Uhura is beginning - just - to gain control over her reflex to roll her eyes whenever Captain Kirk opens his mouth. He's a - vaguely - competent officer. He - roughly - knows what he's doing. He's certainly more willing to learn and take advice and criticism than he was during the Academy.
Still a hick, though. And he's developed this problem lately where every time he turns in his chair to address her, he starts and finishes by eyeing up her legs. Whether Spock's on the bridge or not.
Still, he's her superior officer, and he's gotten distinctly less annoying since that disastrous emergency mission as cadets, and sometimes - sometimes - he's even likeable. Properly likeable, too, not just annoying-and-coincidentally-likeable.
She stops short of the turbolift, and turns on her heel.
"Need a favour before you go on duty," he says, catching up to her and trying to look like he hasn't just run down the corridor after her. "Technical thing. Sort of."
Her eyebrow tries to crawl up her face. It's been taking lessons from Spock. (He can raise his eyebrow in his sleep, she learned last night, and she's going to exploit that. Somehow.) She stops it, tilts her head, and waits.
"Um. What's Spock's mailing address?"
"...His internal code?"
Uhura blinks. "The same format as - oh, I see."
"Yeah," Kirk agrees.
"Come with me."
She leads the way up to the bridge. She's on beta rotation, to work on the dialect programme that the Tellarites have commissioned since the destruction of Vulcan. Without Vulcan, they're moving to take over as the primary trading species, as the Andorians aren't central enough, and Humans too tactless. The commission being due, of course, to the fact that Vulcans learned other languages rather than bothered to translate everything. Spock being trilingual - High Vulcan, Standardised Vulcan, and Standardised Human English - is practically unheard of. Only three? Psh.
As such, the bridge is quiet. They're on a research mission; the engineering and sciences crew are all planet-side, being decontaminated in sickbay, or sleeping. Communications are busy with their side projects. There is next to no chance of being attacked out here, and beta shift is for once a quiet and productive time to work.
That is, when Jim Kirk is not hovering at one's shoulder like an impatient little boy.
"Can you ping me his internal code?" Kirk is asking before she's even pulled up the messaging system.
"You could remember it," she says blithely, but it's a complete lie. He'll never remember it. Even she can't remember it.
The internal codes function much like civilian email, and they are computer-generated. In simplest terms, the internal code is generated by adding the first initials to the surname or clan name, followed by the officer number given when you signed on, followed by (finally) the ship registration. Only the last bit ever changed; even marrying didn't change the first part of the code.
She hated hers. It was alright for Kirk. JTKIRK was rather ordinary. NUHURA, on the other hand, read like an insulation brand. Like that NuWeave they issued in the United African Regiment.
Kirk hovers, leaning right over to watch her. Her inbox has special features to let her do her job properly - specifically, it lets her pick people out of the department lists. And the commanding officer, of course, sits at the top of the list.
She plucks Spock's code out, shoves it in a communication, and flies it off to Kirk's code.
Over her shoulder, her captain blanches.
"That's his code?"
"Seriously? That's a name? It has, like, what, two vowels?"
She is vaguely impressed that Kirk knows what a vowel is. He is good at speaking and hearing languages - very good, in fact, even she must admit it - but his grasp of the actual rules is shakier. He can barely write in Andorian, and that's hardly difficult.
"It's his clan name, sir. Like a surname for humans."
Kirk squints at her. "I bet you can't even say it."
She does. Flawlessly, of course.
"Jesus," Kirk mutters, garbles some horrific copy of what she has said (Uhura winces at the jumble of mess that comes out of his mouth) and snorts. "Where is he?"
She checks the computer. "Sickbay. He returned from the away mission about twenty minutes ago, so Dr. McCoy should be done with him."
If there is one thing she and Kirk share, it is intense amusement at the way in which the CMO and the First Officer react to one another. As she expected, Kirk grins - a small, sadistic little smirk that she rather likes, truth be told.
"Ping him and tell him to meet me outside his quarters in ten," Kirk says. "Command have sent over a fucking portfolio about the next mission, and it's all in tech-speak I don't understand. While you're at it, comm Scotty and tell him I want to see him first thing next alpha shift."
"He's on downtime."
"Fine, ping him too," Kirk waves carelessly, and is gone.
Uhura calls up Spock, hears the doctor swearing at him in the background, and smiles to herself. Sometimes, she rather enjoys even the mundane things in her job.
Spock walks into the turbolift that Kirk has boarded on the way down. He smells faintly of the decontaminant spray they use post-mission, and he carries his blue tunic over his arm.
"Indeed. Dr. McCoy has an obsession with my weight."
"Hey, me too," Kirk sympathises. "Too much or too little?"
Spock raises an eyebrow. "I believe the term he used was 'emaciated.'"
Kirk's own eyebrows fly up. Spock is anything but. He's seen those muscles in the gym. He's about as scrawny as a full-backer in zero-gee airball.
"I'm fat," he said flatly, and pokes mournfully at his belly. "Look at this! Washboard, and Bones keeps saying I'm gonna explode like a pig in a microwave when I'm forty."
Spock refrains from comment; Kirk refrains from punching him in the shoulder. Spock is always tetchy after a physical. He just might punch back, and Kirk has no intention of cracking his jaw again.
"Anyway," he gracelessly changes the subject. "I need you to translate whatever the fuck Pike just sent me."
"If it is for my department, as Lieutenant Uhura indicated..."
"You can use her first name, you know. Just us guys in here."
Of course, that is when the turbolift stops and ejects him on Spock's deck, and the yeoman who boards as they exit gives him a funny look. He needs to work on the 'fear and control' aspect of his captaincy.
"Tea, Captain?" Spock offers as he keys them into his quarters. Kirk had been surprised to discover that he locks them during the day, but when he had asked, Spock had revealed that after 'what happened last summer' he doesn't trust Uhura to stay out of them and out of mischief in them.
Kirk can't get the actual story out of either of them, which sucks.
"Nah, I'm not stopping long," Kirk said. "Just wanna show you this thing. If you can give me the gist of it now, cool. If not, I have to talk to Scotty in the morning anyway so just swing by."
Spock doesn't pretend not to understand, sliding into the seat at his desk and flicking on the terminal almost idly. His quarters are surprisingly messy: the sheet on the bed has a crease in it, and the toes of the boots by the room divider are not perfectly in line.
Kirk considers their dainty size, and decides they're definitely Uhura's boots. Which explains it.
"Is this the document to which you refer, Captain?"
Kirk leans over to peer at the identical copy of the ping that he got that morning. "That's the girl. Holy cow, Spock, you have a lot of pings."
Kirk eyes the screen as Spock loads the document onto his terminal drive. One jumps out at him: an ad for 'Fleet insurance. With the option to link it to the health plan, for this month only.
"You get firewood?"
"I beg your pardon, Captain?"
"Firewood. You know, scrap. Junk mail."
Spock's expression clears. "Naturally, Captain."
"Really? People have actually managed to copy your internal code? Because seriously, Spock, it's..." he bends to count. "Jesus. That's eighteen letters. You have a seventeen-letter surname! With two vowels!"
"I do not have any vowels in my clan name, Captain, the system merely generates a glottal stop as the letter 'u' for the purposes of coding."
Kirk is brought up short. "No vowels?"
"No, Captain," Spock opens the loaded document, and it obscures the inbox. "I see." He starts scrolling immediately, his skim-reading skills and boredom threshold way, way out of Kirk's league.
"So...what would my name be, in Vulcan?"
Spock eyes him. "Less than a word, Captain."
"Like a syllable?"
"An expletive would be closer," Spock almost mutters, and Kirk pulls a face at him.
"Almost every language has words considered to be curses, Captain, yes," Spock agrees. "Vulcan curses are somewhat archaic and very rarely heard, but they do exist."
Kirk rolls his eyes. Swearing, he figures, wouldn't be logical, or some other bullshit like that.
"So how do you get firewood, if you have a seventeen letter surname?" he prompts.
"Likely, the code list was leaked to an external organisation," Spock replies, quite unperturbed. "It happens frequently, even in Vulcan institutions. Where there is money, there is someone willing to provide the information." He glances up. "I believe I will need to summarise these mission parameters for you, Captain. I will also have to consult with Mr. Scott myself."
"Knock yourself out," Kirk waves a hand. "Pike was pretty clear we wrap up here first. Send me a message so I can keep your code in my favourites list."
Any human would have cracked a joke - or even a flirt - at that one, but Spock ignores him. He's good at that, and Kirk's stopped minding. Sometimes it's better when that scary-smart brain ignores you.
"Can Uhura say your clan name?"
"It is widely considered impossible for the human throat to manage," Spock replied. "What the lieutenant can manage would be understood by any Vulcan, however, and therefore it is a passable impression."
Kirk closes the document for him, ignoring the sharp look, and squints at the jumble of letters. When he tries to say it, sounding it out using the basic knowledge of Vulcan that he picked up at the Academy (the salute, how to say that live long and prosperity thing, and a selection of sounds to never, ever make in any circumstances, including coughing and clearing one's throat). He thinks it came out pretty good. Certainly better than his first attempt.
The look Spock gives him says otherwise.
"Goodnight, Captain." Dismissed.
"How close was I?"
"Approximately as close as we are to Saturn," Spock replies coolly, and Kirk almost laughs. Between them, Bones and Uhura have got his sarcasm mode fully operational.
"Okay, okay, but you've heard worse, right?"
"What if I practice?"
"You are quite free to do so, but not in my company, Captain," Spock says, and actually stands up. Kirk darts away for the door. He knows a warning when he sees it.
"So, yeah, summary over breakfast? 0800, usual?"
He zips out the door before Spock can answer him, and strolls towards the turbolift, mouthing that incomprehensible muddle of letters. Clan name his finely, captainly ass.
He grins, and calls for the turbolift to head down to Sickbay. He's going to try and get Bones to say it.
Where there's credits and booze, there's a man willing to take up a dare, after all.