What it's Like


Pat Foley

The official message might as well have been burned into the tablet that Uhura clutched, given her grim expression as she crossed the deck five corridor into that nose bleed niche of senior officers' country. Here the air wasn't just rarified, it was branded pure gold and sealed with Command braid.

She passed the cabins of the Chief of Security, the Chief Engineer, the Chief Surgeon, and there, lurking beyond the Chiefs, at the end of the corridor, with the Captain's sacred portal just beyond, was her destination. The lair of Commander Spock. First, Exec and Science Officer. She refrained from giving the door a good swift kick - she didn't care to break her foot. But she didn't bother to buzz for entrance. Spock had long ago coded the door to her palmprint.

Normally she still generally buzzed for admittance, giving some nod to Vulcan privacy. But now she slapped her palm against the door as if it were a smart-ass Vulcan's face, and leapt in as if prepared to do instant battle. That Spock wasn't in the outer room didn't deter her. She ran him to ground in his private cabin, where he was apparently preparing to shower after a long duty day. She didn't care. The way she was feeling, it was a good thing even senior officers didn't rate a water shower, or she would have happily held his elegant head down under the shower nozzle by his silky hair and drowned him in it.

"You gave me a reprimand?" she accused.

Spock paused in pulling his uniform shirt over his head and stood there only in a black thermal undershirt, regarding her with sloe-dark Vulcan eyes. "If your vaunted communication skills include actually reading Federation Standard, then that should be-"

"You gave me a reprimand?"

"I must speak to Engineering," Spock said meditatively, looking up to the ceiling, as if in appeal to the Great Bird of the Galaxy, or perhaps just for rescue, "Or have the good Doctor check my hearing. I believe there is an echo in this room."

"You gave me a reprimand!"

His gaze snapped back to hers. "Lieutenant, you deserved one."

"I did not." She squared off at him. "You know what it is? I think you're still smarting from the one Captain Pike laid on you. How have the mighty fallen. No longer quite his favorite, perfect Vulcan son, are you now? Attitude I believe yours was for, wasn't it? A human failing. And a warning you were supposed to assist your new Captain in rising to Fleet regulations, and not fall down to his impetuous level. But instead you decided to pass the pain around to me?"

""If you wish to contest it, there are official channels for-"

She dropped the clipboard and pointed her finger at his chest. "If anyone was going reprimand me, it should have been Jim Kirk. He was the command officer present. If he didn't have an objection to my discussing our relationship, you -"

"You did not even read my reprimand," Spock accused her.

"If I had actually read that garbage past the first word, I might need another stronger reprimand, this time for assaulting a senior officer."

Spock tilted his head, in a you and what army attitude. "I concur that Captain Kirk was the primary officer who should have taken exception to your unprofessional discussion of personal relationships during an emergency duty situation when we were on the Klingon world." He warmed to his role of Vulcan lecturer. "Engaging in an altercation of a personal nature, seconds before an enemy contact-"

Uhura cut into that, "No one here is going to pin a medal on your chest, so you might as well not puff it out with a blowhard lecture."

Spock gave her a truculent expression.

"If I wanted to be castigated I would have read the damn reprimand. But I didn't. And Jim would be something of a hypocrite for citing me as being delinquent in military decorum."

"That is the Captain's purview. I, however, did not reprimand you for that."

"Then for wh-"

"I cited you," Spock pronounced, "for lack of competence."

"Lack of competence? " Uhura said in amazement.

"There is that echo again," Spock muttered. "Perhaps I must have it surgically removed."

"Competence in what? Failing to knock your block off? And if you aren't reprimanding me for fighting with you, then what are you reprimanding me for? Being stupid enough to care about a Vulcan and expecting him to share my emotions?"

"Incompetence in your duty." At her gaping look of astonishment, he added. "As Chief Communications Officer, your Klingonese has no business being 'rusty'."

She stared at him, eyes narrowed. "You reprimanded me for my Klingon language skills?"

"As Exec, the Communications Dept is under my purview. And yes, I am."

"May I remind you of an incident six weeks ago," she said tersely, "when I was watching a film in Klingonese and you decided to get fris-"

"That was not a duty hour," Spock hastily intervened. "And even if you chose to engage in some personal activity-"

"How much choice did I actually have, being bowled over by an arduous Vul-" she demanded, her arms crossed.

"- it does not abnegate your responsibility to maintain your language skills at some alternate -"

"Kroykah!" Uhura got hold of her temper, even as Spock's bangs flew to his brows at her use of that Vulcan imperative. "Did it ever occur to you," she continued with prim officiousness, "that a human trader, as I was pretending to be during the mission, would not be expected to have perfect Klingon language skills? That the level of expertise, or lack of it, that I manifested was entirely appropriate to my masquerade?"

Spock's eyes widened. "Was that the reason for your two mistakes in the present perfect tense?"

"No, you idiot. But they still were appropriate."

Spock tilted his head, unconvinced. "A good try. But no, Nyota."

"Don't call me by my name. I'm still fighting with you," she shook her head. "I can't believe you reprimanded me for an obscure error in a verb tense."

"As it is insubordinate to 'fight' with one's superior officer, it is entirely appropriate that I call you by your name in this altercation, which must necessarily be of a personal nature."

"Don't you be logical with me."

"Someone has to be," Spock muttered in frustration.

Nyota let out a breath and calmed down. "You're right. I have no business letting my Klingon get even a little rusty. But there are only so many hours in the day. And maybe if I spent a little less time communicating in Vulcan with you-"

"Is that what you call it? I assure you, it is not, in general, a Vulcan method of communication."

"Don't you dare get cute," she warned him.

"Are you saying your incompetence is my fault?" Spock's brows rose to his bangs. A more innocent creature couldn't exist, his expression implied, if he was wearing bunny ears instead of Vulcan ones, and footie pajamas rather than a Fleet uniform.

"A couple of mixed up tenses hardly rates incompetence, given the nature of the situation we were in. And who waylaid me into bed the last time I was studying Klingonese?"

"I did not-"

"You can't kiss me and not expect things to progress. In spite of that super innocent who, me, not us Vulcans expression you're trying to pass off on me now."

Spock straightened into military formality. "I don't wish to discuss this-"

"You never want to discuss anything personal," Uhura groused. "When things are good between us, you are interested in everything but talk. When things are bad, you definitely don't want to talk. You might as well be a human male as far as that goes. "

"There's no need to insult me," Spock said, drawing himself up, all offended Vulcanness.

She laughed against her will. "No. It's actually not fair for you to pretend to act innocent, when you have just laid an official reprimand on me."

"It is not an official reprimand," Spock said, his shoulders relaxing from their defensive pose. "If you had bothered to read it, you would have noted that it is a personal one. I do not think those errors merit being attached to your service record. Provided you address them in a timely fashion, they never will-"

"A personal reprimand," she said, not liking the sound of that, but preferring it to a mark on her permanent record. Then she gave him a look. "How personal?"

"With you, everything becomes too personal," Spock noted darkly. He gave a sigh. "Perhaps it is this ship. When the captain is a tyro at military decorum, the crew must necessarily follow in his lead."

"I've kind of enjoyed being too personal with you," she teased. At his long suffering look, she sighed. "So what do I do with this reprimand? Turn in my commission? My cabin key? My uniform?" she said, with a edge of suggestiveness.

"Not yet," Spock said with a raised brow.

"The commission? Or the uniform?" She rose to approach him, and put one hand on his cheek.

He bit his lip against a betraying curl. "Nyota, you are entirely incorrigible."

"And you're lucky. Because if you had made it official, I would still be mad. Would you prefer we keep fighting?"

"No," Spock gave in. "I would not prefer we keep fighting." He bent his head down to her as she rose on tiptoe to kiss him.

When they came up for air, Uhura said. "I've realized we just missed a perfect opportunity."

"We are both off duty till 0800," Spock said, taking her hand and bending his head again.

"Not for that," Uhura said, putting a hand against his chest to stop him. "For remedying my terrible dereliction of duty."

"And how is that?" he asked, frowning slightly.

"Do you know Jim asked me how we fight?"

Spock drew back a little. "Indeed."

"I didn't tell him anything," she assured him. "But from now on, we should fight in Klingonese." As his brows rose in wild surmise, she added, "After all, it's a perfect language to fight in. And think of all the practice we would both get," she continued, not without some nod of irony to the sometimes tempestuous nature of their relationship.

"I agree," Spock said, sounding surprised himself. "It is an excellent suggestion."

"Really?" Uhura pulled away, looking up at him in surprise.

"Indeed," Spock replied. "We can fight all we wish in Klingonese." He bent his head back down to hers. "Just so long as we make up in Standard."

"Spock?" Nyota said, coming out of the kiss.


"If this is how we are going to make up," she said. "Let's fight a lot."

"Your Klingonese can use the practice," Spock agreed, with a gleam in his eye.

"And I wouldn't want to be delinquent in my duty," she said archly.

"And it is my duty, as your superior officer, to assist you in accomplishing that duty," he agreed, "in any way that I can."

"Mr. Spock," she said. "I think I could use some assistance now." She pulled off his dark undershirt and tossed it aside.

"I am ready to render such aide as I can," he returned and followed her down onto the bed.

But as for the allegedly duty-related activities that followed...they didn't need to be in any particular language.

- fini

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see also in this universe

Linguistics; Hello, Again; Guess Who is Coming to Dinner;

and the TOS/Reboot crossover, "The Last Unicorn"