A/N: An awesome thing was brought to my attention by a wonderful reviewer. Apparently, I have made Tumblr! This is kind of awesome, because when I first published Tumblr didn't exist, so I didn't realize it was another outlet. If anyone else has found my story this way, please let me know, because I would be interested in seeing how much traffic this story gets because of this wonderful site.

Chapter 6-

Nyota had tossed and turned fitfully all night, finally sitting up around 05:00 and grabbing her PADD to read. Sunday was the only day she had no official duties, and she normally slept in as late as she could. It was a futile battle, though, because her emotions were in turmoil. There was a bitter tint to them, as though the silent walk across campus and Spock's curt words had struck a dissonant chord. It left her unsettled, and as hard as she tried to push away her hurt thoughts, they buzzed in her head insistently. Distraction was to be her only solace.

Even reading provided no respite from her irritated thoughts. The first literature that pulled up was Vulcan, a post-Awakening treatise on first-contact communication. It infuriated her, so she exchanged it for a Xindi dialects guide. Failing to find relief in that, she finally switched to a piece of fiction, F. Scott Fiztgerald's The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald's genius was never lost on her. It remained an immaculate piece of Earth's history, the spirit of the raging '20s captured in literature, as stirring as it was tragic. Soon enough, she was lost in the novel. She had first read The Great Gatsby in high school, and Gatsby had been her secret flame. She would never admit out loud that she had idolized the enigmatic playboy. As a teenager much of the context had been lost on her, but now, reading it as a young adult, the intricacies of the plot and Gatsby's less-than-spotless past held more context. The tragedy, more than the glamor, held her attention and tugged at her heartstrings.

This is how Gaila found her when she tried to creep back into their dorm at 08:00. Realizing her roommate was awake, Gaila dropped any pretext and tossed her heels to the floor. They clattered loudly on the laminate floor. "Morning, roomie," she said, belly-flopping on her bed. "How were the cornfields?"

Nyota set aside her PADD with a sigh, sitting up to face her friend. "The Enterprise was fabulous. Gaila, it's the best of everything. Just spending a day in those labs almost made me want to switch to the science track," she said. "But…something weird happened."

This got Gaila's attention. The Orion woman had thought she had smelt pheromones when she walked in the door, but it was such a faint scent she had ignored it. She fixed Nyota with an intense gaze. "What happened?"

Nyota bit her lip, suddenly very ashamed she had said anything. It had been eating at her all night, though, so it had to come out eventually. Nyota just was not sure Gaila was the person to whom it needed to come out. Too late, she thought. "I kind of…touched Commander Spock's hand. I didn't do it on purpose, but, he didn't exactly move his when he saw contact was imminent."

Gaila quirked an eyebrow, her alcohol-reddened eyes brightening suddenly at this new information. "Set-up or accidental?"

"Purely accidental. I invaded his personal space, leaning over his console to see his programming, and I wasn't paying attention to where my hands were…"Nyota shrugged, lifting her hands in a motion of surrender.

Gaila bounced, giggling a bit. She quickly stopped, her brain beating a pounding staccato with every heartbeat. "What was it like?"

"It was kind of like…touching a door knob after walking across carpet in fuzzy socks. It was a shock, but followed by what felt like a tornado of thoughts. It happened so fast I couldn't sort through any of it. He processes so many things at once…I felt like my head was going to explode." Nyota could not stop the flow of thoughts that ran through her mind and straight to her mouth. Before she knew it, she had confessed everything to her green friend, including the Spock's apparent rejection on the dormitory steps. "And he just…walked away. He didn't even look back. I'm…I'm scared I may have broken something that can't be fixed."

Gaila heard the intense disappointment in Nyota's voice, saw it on her face, and her heart ached for the sad woman. "Ny, if he doesn't take advantage of the permission you've given him, he doesn't deserve you as a friend, or anything else. Don't let it bother you. Besides, the 'accidental' hand brush obviously wasn't your fault. He didn't move his hand, and you know how protective he is about his damn personal space."

Nyota shook her head, the discontent sitting in her chest heavily. "But what if he saw something he didn't like? What if, by my slip-up, I've lost a friendship?"

"Then it's a friendship he doesn't deserve, if such a small infraction could drive him away." Gaila's tone left no room for debate, placing finality as certain as a VOID stamp on an envelope. "Now get your pretty ass into some civvies and I'll take you to breakfast."

Nyota acquiesced, pulling herself out of bed and stripping off her sleeping clothes. She grabbed dark blue jeans and a teal crewneck t-shirt with the Starfleet emblem on the hem. It was a soft jersey-t, and her favorite. Her brother, Brian, had sent it to her when he found out she had applied to Starfleet Academy. "You'll need it, little sister, when you get to San Francisco. You won't get out of uniform very often so you might as well represent when you do," he had said. He was right. Her uniform was very rarely discarded, and nearly every civilian casual outfit was branded by Starfleet.

She donned her normal boots, zipping them up. Gaila surveyed her appreciatively, nodding her approval. She had changed out of her clubbing clothes into civvies as well, a surprisingly conservative outfit. Nyota said as much, and Gaila snorted a laugh. "Girl's gotta take a break from being fabulous sometime."

They walked off campus to a café a mile away. It was their favorite place to grab Sunday brunch because it offered a wide variety of Terran and galactic cuisine, appealing to both their palettes. It was a popular place, but was intimate enough that a private conversation could be had easily. They quickly found a seat at a corner table, placed their orders with the waitress who knew them by name, and turned back to their conversation. Gaila had been telling Nyota about the night before, and due to her theatrical nature, was just getting to the good part. She had yet to reveal the identity of the man she had gone home from Shallow End with, but Nyota had a sinking feeling she knew who it was.

"Oh my gosh, Nyota, his hands are so amazing! I didn't know callouses could feel so good. And don't even get me started on his tongue. I'm surprised he's not in the communications track, that's how talented it is," the Orion purred, her eyes fluttering at the mere memory. "He spoke three languages to me, all in the middle of…well, you know. He knows how to charm an Orion girl. How do you not like him?"

"Considering you have yet to tell me his name, I couldn't tell you," Nyota said, sipping her coffee. It was black and had a wonderful aroma that only fresh beans gave, and it made her feel slightly better than she had.

"Oh, oops. Jim, Jim Kirk," her roommate said. Gaila's eyes were bright as she said his name. "But seriously, how do you not like him?"

Nyota rolled her eyes. "As long as he's not flirting with me he's tolerable, but when is that? He's a misogynist, with absolutely no respect for women. Anything that even looks feminine is a target for him."

"He has a few rough edges," Gaila admitted, "But I don't think you've spent enough time around him to really know him."

"Gaila, you've spent the night with him once. We've hung out with him and his…" Nyota searched for a creative way to describe McCoy. "His pet sidekick, what, four times since starting the Academy? That hardly constitutes an actual relationship. Plus, I have PT with him, and that's more than enough time around Kirk for me."

"He's really sweet on his own," Gaila replied, her body language pleading with Nyota to be fair. "I think his bravado is really just a show for the benefit of others. I like him."

"He's male, of course you like him," Nyota teased. Their food arrived, and they dug in, still arguing.

"I don't like McCoy," Gaila shot back, waving her fork at Nyota. "He's too rough. And crude. And downright rude. No, he'd be attractive if he weren't so angry all the time."

"Anger is how he copes with the world." Nyota was fond of Leonard. He had always been kind to her, in his own way, and his care for her during her latest visit to the hospital had earned him a permanent place in her heart. "He's really just a big teddy bear, and he doesn't want anybody to figure it out. Plus, his daughter is just about the sweetest thing you can imagine."

"There's that, too. Ugh, children." Gaila shuddered artistically. "No, thank you."

"Why would it matter to you, Gaila? All you do are one-nighters anyway." Nyota's voice was light and teasing, and Gaila laughed, nodding.

"You never know, though. Someday I might settle down, but I definitely don't want a premade family. I don't want kids at all, to tell you the truth." Gaila had wolfed down her food at a surprising speed, and Nyota glanced at her own plate, still half-full.

"Starfleet makes that a little challenging," Nyota said, chewing her pancake thoughtfully. She had never given much thought to having children, or even getting married. She had had a serious boyfriend in college who had gotten too serious, so she had dumped him faster than yesterday's trash. He had taken it fairly hard, to the point she had taken out a restraining order on him. He just did not understand why Starfleet would take priority to settling down. He had even picked out a wedding dress for Nyota. Since then, Nyota had avoided relationships altogether, outside of the occasional friendly date.

"There are plenty planet-side careers available," Gaila shot back. "Just look at your Commander. He's young and planet-side."

"He's not my Commander," Nyota said absently. "Besides, the only reason he's teaching is because they placed his captain planet-side during construction of the Enterprise. Family doesn't really seem like it's his thing."

"Captain Pike, right? That's who's slated to command the Enterprise?" Gaila asked, feigning interest. Command structure was only somewhat interesting to her, since she had no aspirations to the command track. Who commanded her ship made no difference to her.

"Yeah. He's going to be an amazing person to serve under, if I ever get the chance." Nyota was starting to sink back into the depression earlier that morning. She was incredulous. "I may have lost that, too, come to think of it."

"What do you mean?" Gaila was genuinely confused over their conversation now. It had shifted too quickly for her, Nyota falling back into her funk.

"Commander Spock makes, or at least approves, all the appointments to the ship. Captain Pike has the final say, but without a recommendation from Commander Spock, who knows what will happen? I want to be aboard the Enterprise, more than anything. And if the Commander decides he doesn't want me there, there's absolutely nothing I can do." Nyota did not think that Spock would keep her off the ship just because of a petty misunderstanding, but her more emotional, less logical side was terrified that it was a very real possibility.

Gaila waved aside Nyota's concern. "That statement is entirely unfounded. You're impressive enough on your own, you don't need somebody else's recommendation. Besides, remember how Spock acted when you were hurt the other day? You said he practically broke down the door to proclaim his undying friendship. I highly doubt a little mind-meld would chase him away. Hell, it wasn't even a full mind-meld."

Nyota stared at her nearly empty plate, deciding she had had enough.

"Let's go back to campus, Gaila. I have a tutoring session I have to get ready for." The two women paid their check and left their little café. Fall in San Francisco was warm and sunny, with cooler nights. This morning was no different. Many people were out enjoying the last day of the weekend, walking the pretty streets or lounging in the many parks that had replaced the innumerous buildings that had once lined the streets before expansion off-planet had occurred. Nyota felt a stirring of longing, wishing she could spare another hour to lie out on the green lawns of the open spaces.

Spock had not slept most of the night, except for an hour before dawn. Upon waking, his mind was still filled with the beautiful colors and images from Nyota's mind. His perfect recall, and a miniscule amount of human curiosity, cursed him with the inability to banish the wonderful images that pervaded every corner of his brain. Deep purples, teal, green and blue mashed together with browns, whites, and reds to form the images that formed Nyota's thoughts. They had a nonsensical quality to them, having been attained through the briefest of contacts. But he held them, afraid that if he rose from his bed and went on with the day's callings, they would be lost.

After fifteen minutes of lying on his back, staring at the ceiling, he could no longer justify his inactivity. With as much reluctance as a Vulcan can exhibit, he rose and dressed. For no particular reason, he put on his civilian clothing, despite his intention of walking to his lab. He was certain someone would find it unusual, were he to encounter someone. Being a Sunday, it was unlikely he would come across anyone. It was his custom, however, to always dress in uniform when on campus. Spock found he was unconcerned.

His morning lacked its usual vigor and focus. There was little that could hold his attention. A message beeped through on his com, and he activated it to see his mother's face. She smiled broadly at him.


"Mother. You look well."

Amanda smiled more at that, genuinely pleased with his compliment. "Your mother is old, Spock. Flattery is unnecessary," she teased. She went on to ask about him, about his teaching, and about the trip to the Enterprise. When Saturday's journey came up, Spock hesitated. His pause was noticeable, as was the slight discomfort his eyes and the corners of his mouth betrayed. Amanda inquired gently, only to be stone-walled by her only child. She was thwarted again as she asked after his pretty teaching assistant. Spock changed the subject, and their conversation ended after another 10.43 minutes. His father once again made no appearance.

He found himself walking across campus soon after, unable to remain in the confines of his apartment any longer. He was restive, and what work he could do at home was undesirable. The morning was warm and fresh, unusual for this time of year. It was still cool for him, but he could expect little else from San Francisco. Even its hottest day was degrees cooler than a Vulcan winter. Spock busied himself as he walked, flipping through his PADD. There were a few students lying out on the sweeping lawns that stretched between the majestic Academy buildings. Spock took little notice of them, as usual. He would have continued to do so, if he hadn't heard a surprised, "Commander Spock!" He looked towards the voice, recognizing it immediately.

"Cadet Uhura." He spotted her, lying on her stomach in the grass. She appeared to be studying, her PADD propped up on a sweatshirt. She smiled, an uncertain, uncomfortable smile that he had never seen directed towards him. It disturbed him that it was, especially after touching her mind so briefly. Surely she had seen his regard for her in his own mind?

"How are you, Commander Spock?" Uhura was still looking up at him from her position on the ground. It seemed a very long way down to where she laid, her hair falling loose around her teal-clad shoulders. She had an expectant look and a timid, hopeful smile.

"I am well, Cadet, though my rest was quite uneasy," he admitted, surprising himself.

Spock's answer caught her off guard. This was their traditional greeting, but he was usually succinct and close-lipped. Looking down at her, he seemed immensely taller. He stood there, smug-looking in his dark jeans and long-sleeved t-shirt, staring down at her. His hands were clasped behind his back, as though he were in his officer greys and not civilian clothes. He was handsome, if austere. Six weeks as his TA, and his gaze still gave her butterflies, made all the worse by the events of the previous day. She tamped down the feeling, meeting his gaze evenly.

"What could possibly disturb the rest of a Vulcan?" she asked him, sitting up on the grass.

"Many things. Perhaps they might become one of the topics of discussion during one of our breaks," Spock replied. Nyota realized he was being intentionally elusive. She could almost see the corners of his mouth turn up. He was teasing her. It was a breadcrumb.

"So we take breaks, now?" she replied, quirking her eyebrow at him.

"Studies have shown productivity to reach its maximal level if appropriate rest is allowed. It would be ill-advised for us to do otherwise. Perhaps you are in need of one now?" Spock waited for her reply, seeing humor and eagerness joined on Uhura's face.

"I believe you are correct, sir. May I be of assistance to you? Your course suggests you are on your way to your lab." Nyota rose, pulling her PADD and sweater into her arms. Spock turned, and she fell in stride with him.

"Astute observation, Cadet. I have several tasks to accomplish before classes tomorrow, and I find myself to be quite unproductive in my apartment."

"What sort of tasks, if you don't mind me asking?" Spock always walked quickly, and Nyota had to double-time it to keep up with his long strides. He saw her struggling, and slowed to accommodate her.

"I do not mind. It is general preparation for the week. I must also submit my report on yesterday's inspection."

"Did you like what you saw?" Nyota asked, calling up the designs again on her PADD. They were nearing the science building, and Spock's lab.

"I found it favorable. There a few minor details that must be addressed, but none that will significantly slow the remainder of the fitting." They were still behind schedule, but everything was progressing as efficiently as it could. Suggestions had been made about regaining ground so the Enterprise could launch on the designated date for its shake-down cruise. "Should you wish to accompany me again, I would welcome your input. You were of great assistance yesterday."

"Thank you, sir." Uhura felt her confusion settle, and the comfort and ease of their friendship return.

"It is Sunday, Cadet, and you and I are off duty. I would consider it acceptable to our position and our association should you desire to abandon formality. You may call me Spock."

"Very well. Don't call me 'Cadet,' then." The doors to the science building whooshed open. The building was completely deserted, save a single security officer. He greeted them with a nod, and turned back to his station. Nyota heard a soccer game's progress that had his attention.

They reached Spock's lab, and Spock commanded the lights to 80% power. He walked over to a replicator in the wall and ordered two steaming mugs of water. He had a stash of tea he kept nearby, and selected two tea bags to steep. Instead of starting work immediately, he pulled two chairs next to an empty table, motioning Nyota into one. He placed the tea and a jar of honey in front of her, and took the seat opposite.

"Real tea," Nyota sighed, inhaling deeply. "You can't beat it."

"I fail to understand you, Uhura. Why would you take offensive action against tea?"

Nyota laughed at him. "I mean nothing measures up to real tea. It's another euphemism."

Spock nodded. "It seems despite my time spent in the company of humans, I will never fully grasp your vernacular."

"You should spend more time with Dr. McCoy," Nyota commented, taking another sip of her tea. "Half his vocabulary is metaphor, the other half medical jargon."

"I doubt very much Dr. McCoy and I would be good companions. He seemed distressed by my presence both on the evening of your attack and the morning after, when I dropped off your uniform. He does not seem to 'like' me, as you might say." Spock had nearly finished his tea, but was reluctant to begin his work. "He seemed to treat you with some deference."

Nyota rolled her eyes. "There's nothing there, if that's what you're getting at. He's a friend, nothing more. He's a good person to have drinks with on a Friday while Gaila and his roommate are off doing their own thing."

"A person of the medical profession is most logical to include in such pursuits."

"He's handy," she admitted. Her tea was gone, but she did not want Spock to go to work. "He's gotten Kirk out of more than one tight spot, and he always looks out for me and the other women in the group. You could say he's like an overprotective big brother."

Spock stayed silent for several moments, turning his mug in his hands. It had gone ice-cold. He set it aside and took Nyota's from her hands. "That is an interesting description, since you bear no family resemblance."

"There is more to family than appearance, Spock," she said, rising to grab her PADD. "I thought that would be something you would know about, having served on a star ship before."

"I must admit to having difficulty in developing relationships in my previous postings. I made many acquaintances, but I doubt any of them would consider me family. Captain Pike may be the one exception. He and I have developed a very close working relationship, and have spent leisure time together on numerous occasions." Well, more like Chris had forced him to come to the officer's club for drinks on numerous occasions, or to bars when his travels happened to bring him by the Academy's grounds.

"I've been meaning to ask you about that. Why did you choose an Academy posting instead of a short-term post on a starship while the Enterprise has been under construction? Didn't you get offers?" Nyota had taken her seat again, and was flipping through her study material. Spock took her distraction as an opportunity to study her, as he often had.

"I received twelve different offers, and all would have been choice placements. However, I wished to act as Captain Pike's liaison while the ship was under construction, and had no desire to serve under another commanding officer." An appropriate, to-the-point answer, and one he was certain she knew.

"That's all?" Nyota asked, feigning mild disinterest. "I would have thought such a long-term posting involved…other pursuits."

Spock knew what pursuits she was talking about. He considered his answer for several moments before speaking deliberately. "To what pursuits do you refer, Uhura?"

Nyota pursed her lips into a thin smile, not looking up from her PADD. "Pursuits of a…romantic nature. Only a woman keeps a man Earthbound for so long."

Spock turned to his console, focusing on the keystrokes. He had not expected her to be quite so blunt, but he should have. He had known her for too long to expect anything but frankness. "Do you know how long we have known one-another?"

"About two years, I think," Nyota replied, looking up at him with confusion. He was not looking at her any more, focused fully on whatever task he had begun. He was difficult to read.

"Two years, twenty-two days, eleven hours, and 18 minutes. In that time, I have been back on a starship on two separate, three-month missions, so your assertion that I have remained Earthbound is somewhat inaccurate." He made eye contact with her briefly as he spoke his last words.

"You have an incredibly good memory," Nyota commented dryly. "But then, that recruiting trip was a long time ago for me. But you said somewhat. What do you mean?"

"You once spoke of love at first sight when it came to the Enterprise. I believe I understand what you felt when you first saw her. She is the only lady that has kept me earthbound. Her, and my loyalty to her captain." Spock had turned back to his console, and was typing away casually, as though admitting to his attachment to the flagship and the commanding officer was the most normal thing a Vulcan could do. Though he had said it very matter-of-factly, and without any emotional inflection, it was the closest thing to emotion Nyota had seen him express. She smiled, and let the silence stand between them. She knew in that comfortable silence that everything was alright.

Two and a half hours later, Spock wrapped up his work, and Nyota looked up at him from the more comfortable position she had taken up on the floor. Their unique lack of professionalism would have gotten them both written up if someone had walked in on them, but it did not concern him. She had moved to the floor an hour previous, still creating tutoring plans and studying her own material. Little conversation had passed once they both began their own tasks.

"Done?" Nyota asked, knowing it was a frivolous question.

"I have completed the tasks I set for myself today," Spock replied, gathering up the set of PADDs he had pulled out. He reorganized them, backed up the information, and returned them to their slots above the consoles. "How are your studies progressing?"

"I'm far enough, for now. I already sent you my tutoring plans and the schedule for next week." She sat up and stretched her arms above her head, then cracked her neck. Her chosen position had left her somewhat sore, but her ribs were the worst where they were still bruised.

"Very well," Spock said. He could always look over them later. "I will attend your next tutoring session, and if you desire to have them in the evening I believe it would be wise for me to escort you to your dormitory afterwards."

"I won't argue that point. I don't really want to be by myself at night anymore."

"It would be unwise. I had thought speaking of the incident several nights ago would be undesirable, but I feel that you must know something about the perpetrator. I touched his mind briefly, and everything there was malicious. He is connected, as well, so I fear your troubles may not be over. I apologize for not informing you sooner, but I had thought it unnecessary." Spock sat down cross-legged in front of her. "You have the right to know."

Nyota mirrored his posture, sitting erect. She was unhappy with where this was going.

"I advised the arresting officer of my discovery, but he dismissed my concern. Even from my brief contact with him I was able to discern a malevolent intent towards your person. There may be nothing behind it, but I would prefer to be cautious. I ask that you always walk with someone when you desire to go somewhere. If one of your friends is unavailable, you may call me and I will be at your disposal." Spock held her gaze evenly, searching her face for the reaction he knew was coming. As he expected, her expression shut down.

"I don't think that's necessary, Commander. As you saw, I can take care of myself. I welcome your escort at night, but I doubt I'll need baby-sitting during the day." She went to rise, but Spock reached out, grasping her bare arm gently, stopping her ascent. Nyota stared at the hand, shocked. A soft buzz filled her head, more gently than it had been the previous day.

"Please, Uhura," he said, removing his hand. She met his eyes again, but hers were slightly glazed. He was very concerned he had overstepped his bounds, but she focused intently and the glazed look vanished. "Please," he said again.

"Show me," she replied. Her body language had changed, and she leaned towards him. "Show me, and I'll listen."

Spock had no sense of hesitation. He nodded, and reached up to her psi points. He had been anticipating the request, and could not deny his own desire for it, despite the darkness he was about to show her. Before making the contact, he held her eyes. "I will start slowly, so as not to overwhelm you."

She nodded, her expression serious. He made the contact, laying his fingers gently against her forehead, temple, and jaw, and he whispered the words, "My mind to your mind, my thoughts to your thoughts."

Nyota was immersed in Spock's mind, and it was unlike anything she had ever experienced. It was a deep pool, and she felt as though she was swimming in it. Everything was blue and white and clean, organized, beautiful. She heard Spock speaking to her, and his voice seemed to echo through itself and surround her. Then, she saw him, or rather, his own memory of himself, only an hour before. She saw herself through his eyes, laying on the floor, looking in his direction as he spoke. Their words were a lower volume than a real conversation. "Present" Spock materialized next to her.

"Uhura, I have given you a brief demonstration of how a mind meld feels," he said. "I must warn you that the images I am about to show you are much more graphic."

Nyota nodded, and the image dissolved, then reconfigured around them. It was Spock's perspective of the attack. He had not seen much of it, and what little he saw dissolved when he touched the skin of the perpetrator. Nyota was surrounded by darkness and a sullen rage overwhelmed her, fueled by alcohol and adrenaline. There was dark intent, all focused at her. The man had focused all his energy on her as he struggled against Spock. The cruel thoughts directed towards her caused her to shrink back into herself, but she felt Spock wrap his presence around her like a safety blanket, and everything went black.

Thanks so much for reading!