Sunday, February 08, 2009
Ok,monkies. Enough with the music vids. This story is almost complete. I posted chapter one of this before and then totally slacked on it. I made some minor revisions to the first chapter. I'm on a roll so I think I'll finish the whole story by Valentine's Day. Don't kill me Iddy!
Also, more "Prodigal Soul" coming up. No, really.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters. The creative content belongs to me.
Archiving: ASCEM. THFFF. All others ask permission, please.
Summary: The three reclaimed days after Psi 2000
Uhura walked down the corridor on deck five, eyes watering from the powerful smell of the decontamination mist. Even with the cure for the infected crew and the inoculation of the uninfected crew, McCoy took no chances with the Psi 2000 intoxication. He ordered decon details to spray and scour down the ship the old-fashioned way and confined all but essential personnel to quarters.
Fortunately, the crew seemed to suffer no further effects of the intoxication other than a crushing fatigue.
Before collapsing onto his bunk, Kirk sent an eyes-only packet to Admiral Nogura then ordered the navigator to plot a meandering, looping course out in deep space. The Enterprise chugged along on impulse power, trying not to disturb the timeline.
They were going nowhere, very slowly, for the next three days.
Though she had not been infected, Uhura was coming down from the adrenaline high of the triple shift she just pulled—and from nearly dying a horrible screaming death in the atmosphere of Psi 2000. The captain instructed her to deliver Nogura’s reply to him as soon as it came in. After she dropped it off at his cabin, she looked forward to a long, hot shower and twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep. She sneezed twice, rubbed at her eyes and yawned hugely, tasting decon mist. She silently cursed McCoy for his overkill.
Kevin Riley nearly collided with her as he left the officer’s mess. He stared at her with wide eyes and a bright red face. Uhura grinned and poked him in the belly as she went by.
“I can’t believe you’re hungry after all this,” she said, walking backwards.
“I—I,” he said, looking back over his shoulder into the empty mess hall. “I’m sorry, lieutenant. I mean, for everything,” he said.
“It’s wasn’t your fault, Kevin. It’s actually kind of funny now.”
He brightened. “Really?” He dropped to one knee and cupped his hands over his heart. “I’ll take you home again, Kath—.”
“Not that funny.”
He jumped to his feet. “Sorry, lieutenant.”
Uhura tried to keep a stern face but the poor guy looked so miserable that she had to laugh.
“You’d better hit the sack before McCoy sees you,” she said. “You are definitely non-essential right now.”
He nodded glumly.
Uhura continued down the corridor to the captain’s quarters. Her finger hovered over his call button while she debated the best way to deliver the message. She knew Kirk was sleeping and didn’t want to disturb him. There was nothing worse than being jolted out of a deep sleep by the sound of a door buzzer. On the other hand, she woke him many times before and each time, he came awake instantly alert. He had been through so much in the last twenty-four hours, she felt terrible getting him up again. She could slip in and leave the data wafer on his desk where he’d see it when he awakened. But he’d ordered her specifically to deliver the message to him in person, as soon as received and ---.
She must be really tired. She gave herself a little mental kick, pressed the door button and waited.
Should she press it again? Should she just go in and wake him? What if he wasn’t asleep? What if he was in the shower?
“And what if you get busted down to ensign for not delivering the message ASAR, as ordered, Uhura?” she asked herself.
She pressed the button again. She counted to sixty. She took a deep breath and stepped on the door sensor. The door swished open and she entered the captain’s quarters. She hesitated at the entry and had to hop out of the way as the door closed. The main room was dark but light glowed faintly from the sleeping alcove.
“Captain Kirk?” she called softly.
There was no answer. She took another step into the room.
She walked carefully to the alcove partition and peered into the gloom.
Kirk lay on his stomach with his arms shoved under the pillows. His hair was still damp on the ends and when she moved to the side of his bunk, she could smell soap and toothpaste and his warm body. There was a small cut in the corner of his mouth. His lips looked tender and swollen and his lashes seemed incredibly long resting against his cheeks. He was snoring softly.
She touched his bare shoulder. “Captain Kirk? The message from Admiral Nogura arrived,” she said.
He rolled over onto his back and turned his head toward her. His eyes opened slowly and he stared at her for a long moment.
“Am I awake?” he asked.
“I think so, sir,” she said. She forced herself to keep her eyes on his face. It was obvious that beneath the thin coverlet, he was naked.
“I dreamed that we were falling,” he said.
“We were. You caught us.”
“Then we were at that beach on Aeon IV. Chekhov, Sulu. Bones went off with two--.” He cleared his throat. “The sun was hot. Everything was bright white and blue and green. Spock’s hair was so dark. You were flying.”
He frowned. “No. You were flying over the water. It scared me.” His eyes were huge.
She smiled softly. “I think you are still asleep, sir.”
He laid an arm across his eyes. “Can you play the message for me, please?”
“It’s EO, Captain. You wanted it hand-delivered.”
He sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He held the coverlet in his lap but Uhura could see where skin creased at his hip. He nodded.
“All right, lieutenant. Dismissed.”
She set the data wafer on his desk, glancing back. She stopped, paralyzed.
Kirk stood by his bunk. The coverlet had fallen from his lap. He rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands, ran his fingers through his hair and stretched his arms above his head. His abdomen was slightly concave, the skin there smooth and pink-gold like the inside of a clam shell. His penis hung from its nest of brown curls, thickly semi-erect. He sighed and opened his eyes. He glanced at the coverlet on the floor then stepped quickly behind the alcove partition.
“Was there something else, lieutenant?” he asked.
“No, sir,” Uhura stammered.
They gazed at each other through the lattice. After a moment, Kirk placed his palm against the partition and squeezed his eyes shut, apparently too tired to be embarrassed. He pinched the bridge of his nose between his eyes.
Uhura took a step toward him. “Are you unwell, sir?” she asked.
“You sound like Spock,” he chuckled.
“Can I do something for you?”
“I’m thinking that Bones put something besides supplements in that second hypospray.” He waved a hand. “I’m fine,” he said.
“If you’re sure?”
He nodded. “I’m just tired. And you look dead on your feet.”
“Thanks,” she said, smoothing her hair.
“Go to bed, lieutenant.”
“Aye, Captain.” She turned to go.
“I’m sorry I lost my temper. On the bridge. I know you were trying and--.”
“I understand. And you already apologized, sir.”
“It was uncalled for.”
She looked down at her hands, splayed her fingers then picked at the gold braid on her sleeve. “It seems like it hurt you more than it hurt me,” she said.
“It won’t happen again.”
“I hope you’re not planning on buying me flowers or something.”
“Uh, no. I-I wasn’t—unless--I mean I—.” He stopped when he saw her tired smile. “You’re teasing me,” he said.
“Yes, because it will happen again and you’ll apologize again and it won’t be necessary-- again.”
She blinked. “We were never not okay, Captain.”
“Anyway, I am dead on my feet, so I’m going to bed now,” said Uhura.
Out in the corridor, Uhura stopped and laid a hand on her chest. She took a deep breath then blew it out slowly. She straightened her shoulders and walked on.
McCoy entered the science lab. He leaned against the bulkhead by the door with his arms folded across his chest. He palmed a Feinberger in his fist and wondered if he should have brought a phaser instead. It was slightly warmer than normal, which meant that Spock probably had a headache, was extremely tired or both. And of course, the only concession he’d make to his physical needs was a two degree raise in the ambient temperature.
Spock siphoned a cloudy fluid from a beaker. He attempted to transfer it to a test tube but his hand trembled. McCoy walked over, set down the Feinberger. He gripped Spock’s hand and helped him release the fluid from the siphon.
“I thought I confined you to quarters, Spock,” said McCoy.
“Your orders were for all non-essential personnel,” said Spock, gently removing his hand from McCoy’s.
“We’re going in circles out in deep space. Despite that Vulcan grandiosity, you are non-essential for the next three days.”
“There are laboratory projects that require my attention.”
McCoy stoppered the tube and placed it in the centrifuge. He gazed at Spock. Spock’s eyes were puffy, his expression haunted.
McCoy decided not to argue. He picked up the Feinberger and clicked it on for a second. He studied the readings. He pursed his lips then shrugged with a tilt of his head. “Looks like your system is still clearing the compound on its own. There should be no traces in a few hours. How do you feel?”
“I am well,” said Spock.
“I would like to draw some blood to synthesize a serum in case other Vulcans encounter the polywater. We don’t know that it originated on Psi 2000 and there’s no reason for Vulcans to suffer through the illness if they don’t have to.”
“A logical course, doctor. However, it will be necessary for you to filter out the…human factors in my blood,” said Spock. He folded his hands behind his back.
McCoy felt a tug in his heart.
“Spock, there’s no way to know if your human blood had anything to do with your infection.” he said. “We have no evidence that full-genetic Vulcans can’t be infected as well. You’re a scientist. You know that.”
“The emotional lability is a symptom of the infection. You’re not responsible, Spock.”
Spock nodded curtly.
“Okay, okay,” said McCoy. “Just promise me you’ll eat something and at least sleep a few hours.” He caught a yawn in his fist.
“It appears that you should take your own advice, doctor,” said Spock.
“I did part of my residency on ER rotation in a mining hospital on Titan. This is nothing. And don’t try to change the subject, Spock. I’m the doctor, not you, and that was an order, not advice. I have a duty, too. Mine is to see to your well-being,” snapped McCoy.
Spock lowered his eyes. “I will comply when Mr. Scott returns to duty,” he said quietly.
“I guess that’s the best I can hope for,” McCoy sighed. “Maybe play some chess with the computer to help you relax.”
“I will comply---.”
“When Mr. Scott returns to duty. Right. If I see you in here after Scotty comes on, I’m going to shoot you myself and strap you to a bio bed.”
McCoy walked to a cabinet and removed a hypovac. He held it to Spock’s neck and watched the vial fill with dark emerald blood. He glanced at Spock’s face. Spock’s eyes glittered beneath his downcast lashes. McCoy removed the filled vial and turned away to insert another. When he turned back, Spock’s eyes were clear and his chin up. McCoy finished drawing the blood and placed the vials in a stasis unit. He stopped at the door.
“You know where to find me,” he said.
“I do. And I shall endeavor to avoid those places,” said Spock.
McCoy concealed a grin with a fake frown. Now, that’s more like it, he thought as he marched out of the lab with a huff as false as his frown.
Outside the lab, McCoy let his grin emerge.
Inside the lab, Spock noted with mild curiosity that he did “feel” better.
Uhura stood in her shower with her face upturned as sonic waves rippled over her body. She usually preferred the hydro setting because, illogically, it made her feel cleaner. But that damned McCoy put something smelly in the water and she had no choice but to use the sonic. She had to admit that the throb of the wave generator was soothing. Sonic fingers stroked across the back of her neck and probed gently between the folds of her vagina. She tensed then relaxed.
She planted her feet a little further apart.
“Oh,” she sighed. I need this, she thought.
The computer quietly counted down, “…four, three, two…sonic, off.”
Uhura barked out a laugh. “No dance tonight,” she said.
“Please rephrase your request,” the computer asked politely.
“Nothing. No.” Uhura stepped out of the shower stall. “Just forget it,” she said.
She walked naked into her sleeping alcove, stretching her arms above her head. She sniffed her armpit and wrinkled her nose. This was why she preferred the hydro to the sonic. You came out of the sonic shower super clean--no bacteria, no natural skin oils, no dead, dry epithelials—and smelling like, well, nothing. She looked at the verbena cream Sulu bought her. She dropped her arms. She was too lazy to use it.
She stood before her replicator. There was a stack of replicator wafers left by the previous occupant of these quarters. She kept forgetting to give them to him.
She thought about the captain when she delivered Nogura’s message to him tonight. He certainly was a beautiful man—all over, as it turns out.
She shivered. She wondered if he slept nude all the time or was he just too tired to pull on some pajama pants. Was he naked now? If he was, then they were both naked at the same time. This is the naked time, she thought.
“Don’t even think about it,” she told herself.
On the other hand, Kirk, slowly, over the last year and a half, even as he held himself distant, cool, professional, had let her know that he was available to her, not now, not soon, but…yes. He was subtly familiar in his behavior towards her. He occasionally used her first name. No one except for Scott and McCoy got that—not even Sulu with his status as Favorite Son--and certainly never a female crewman. In fact, he rarely addressed the women by more than their rank. He turned to stone if a female crewman dared to push the boundaries of a conversation beyond the normal pleasantries. He didn’t exactly engage Uhura in idle chit chat, but he listened in on her bridge banter with Riley and Sulu, occasionally adding a comment, and in his chair, with his back turned, she could tell that he smiled at her gentle teasing. Uhura was no stranger to the signals of seduction. Another woman might not read this as such. But Uhura knew differently.
She knew him.
She also knew that if she actually let it happen, Jim Kirk would never be hers alone. Part of him—the best part of him—would always belong to this ship.
She sighed. “Oh, Jim,” she said. “If only.”
She shuffled through the replicator wafers. There was chicken salad, a Vulcan tea and something labeled “murder burger”. She hadn’t the courage to ask Kirk what that was. Probably something that gave Dr. McCoy nightmares. She settled on the tea.
She sipped her tea, still not inclined to dress for bed. It felt good to be naked, even if she was alone.
But she could pretend.
“Computer, cabin atmosphere to Vulcan normal,” she said. Gravity pulled on her limbs and pressed against her shoulders. Warm air puffed from the vent, bringing with it a sharp, medicinal odor.
“Damn you, McCoy,” Uhura wailed.
“Please state the nature of--” began the computer.
“I wasn’t talking to you,” snapped Uhura. The computerized yeoman was a benefit of living in quarters designed for the captain. It was really starting to get on her nerves.
She rummaged in a drawer until she found an incense cone. She sat at her desk and checked her inbox as the air suffused with the scent of sandalwood. There was a message from Spock rescheduling her harp lesson. He had to stand in for the head of the geology department in the landing party on Psi 2000. The message was twenty hours old.
“Is that all?” she whispered. “Feels like twenty years.”
In terms of reading signals, with Spock, she got nothing but static. His relationship with her, on the face of it, was nothing short of astonishing. He spent almost as much off-duty time with her as he did with the captain. He taught her the Vulcan harp. Alone. In his quarters. He sang or played in every music group she organized, he participated in the ship’s talent show at her bidding, —he won—and once spent part of his leave attending a concert with her on SB11. He allowed her into his personal space as they worked, sometimes for hours, their heads together at her console, deciphering an ancient signal from some long-dead civilization.
And in all that, not a hint of anything more than a professional relationship that occasionally overlapped in a shared special interest. They were so chastely platonic in their interactions that no one gave a second glance at her exiting his quarters in the evenings when their lessons ran long. None of her crew mates ever inquired as to the nature of their relationship. Christine always wanted to know if he said anything about her but even Tonia Barrows asked about Spock only once, idly and without any real curiosity.
Uhura and Spock were colleagues, perhaps friends but nothing more.
Six months ago, they were in Spock’s quarters and had come to the end of a harp lesson. He fingered the strings of his harp almost absently as she gathered up her sheet music. She stood by the door, not wanting to leave. Spock began to sing. He gazed at her, his expression soft and intense. His voice rose and fell from tenor to baritone, in between the notes of his harp.
“That was beautiful, Mr. Spock,” she said.
“It is called Y’el,” he said. “It means--.”
“Star,” she said, flushing hotly. “That’s my name.”
“Yes, I know.” He stood and set his harp in its case. He’d had a workout with the captain before her lesson and was dressed in a long, sleeveless tunic and loose pants. His hair was freshly washed; and free of its usual pomade, it waved lightly at his temples and parted on his forehead. The diffuse red light glowed on his skin. She was stuck again by his beauty: pale and dark, soft and angular, cool and warm.
He straightened and folded his hands behind his back.
“I think I should go,” whispered Uhura.
“Good evening, lieutenant,” he said.
To her great despair, she had fallen in love with him that night.
“Oh, Mr. Spock,” she said. “Oh, stupid Nyota,” she sighed, rolling her eyes at herself.
She thought for a moment then began typing her reply to his message. “That’s fine,” she wrote. “Please feel free to come over anytime.” She tapped the send key with her stylus. She yawned and sipped her tea.
The “message read” tone beeped softly. Uhura arched a brow. I wonder if I concentrate real hard, will he get an image of my naked body, she thought. A moment later, an incoming message popped up on her screen. Uhura sat up, startled. It was from Spock.
“Don’t tell me that worked,” she whispered. She opened the message.
“Practice your scales,” it read.
Uhura slumped back in her chair. “How romantic,” she said.
She walked into her sleeping alcove and fell backwards onto her bunk. She pointed a finger at the ceiling. “See? This is why you don’t fall in love on the ship. Someone just push me out of an airlock, now!”
“I am unable to comply with your request,” answered the computer.
“Oh, shut up,” she said, flinging a pillow across the room.
Uhura’s running shoes tapped lightly on the saucer catwalk in time with the tune she hummed in her head. She could’ve run on one of the treadmills in the gym, but her mood took a turn for the worse by the end of the day and she chose the “saucer track” for the solitude.
The crew was still on skeleton rotation and McCoy eased his restriction so there were more people on duty than the day before. They spent a lot of time apologizing to each other. Sulu left an orchid on Uhura’s chair. Riley slunk around like a puppy convicted of murder.
Kirk was quiet all day and stood at attention by Uhura’s station while he recorded the message to Tomorlen’s parents. McCoy glanced once at Kirk’s face and left him alone.
Spock spent his shift in the labs after checking in briefly on the bridge. He was there and gone so quickly that Uhura only saw the back of him as the turbo lift doors closed. She saw him at lunch in the mess hall, sitting with the captain. Spock took minute sips from a bowl of broth cupped in his hands while Kirk picked grimly at a chicken salad.
Most of the crew claimed to remember very little of their behavior while infected, only bit and pieces, like fragments of memories from a dream. Sulu didn’t remember holding the captain at sword point—he’d have to be crazy to try and fight Kirk, he said. Riley remembered nothing after Spock relieved him of duty but Christine’s recollections seemed a little embellished with wishful thinking. It set Uhura on edge, which was why she was exercising on the saucer track instead of in the gym. All of the camaraderie of the infected crew was starting to make her feel a bit left out of things.
She wished she had an excuse to throw herself at Mr. Spock.
“You’re taking this kind of personally, aren’t you?” she grumbled to herself. “Yes, I am and I don’t care,” she answered.
She put her head down and pounded around the catwalk—and slammed right into Captain Kirk.
She would’ve gone flying over the catwalk’s thin railing had he not caught her with an arm around her waist. They stumbled back, crashed into the bulkhead and slid down the smooth, curved plating. Uhura’s teeth clicked together. Kirk rolled immediately to his feet. Uhura sat on the catwalk, rubbing her jaw, thanking god that she didn’t bite off the tip of her tongue.
“What are you doing here, lieutenant?” Kirk asked.
She looked up at him from the catwalk. “I’m fine, sir. I don’t think I have any broken bones,” she said.
He frowned. “Are you ok?”
“Yes, sir.” Uhura heaved herself up, ignoring the hand he held out only after she was already on her feet.
“What are you doing here?” he asked again, hands on hips. He wore cut off gym shorts, a thin tee shirt and court shoes. He wasn’t perspiring but his skin glowed and his arms were pumped as if he worked out elsewhere before he came here.
“Running, sir,” said Uhura. Her body still rang from their collision.
“This area is not authorized for that activity.” His eyes ran quickly over her. A muscle flexed in his jaw. “And it’s a bit late to be exercising,” he said.
“Yes, sir. I just needed to be al--.” She paused. “The gym smells like decon mist and sweat. It was making me queasy.”
He nodded. He glanced over her shoulder. “Who were you talking to?”
“I heard you talking right before—when I came in.”
“Oh. I was um, talking to myself.”
“I was expecting to be alone up here,” he said.
He gazed at her, still frowning. His hands were clenched into fists on his hips.
She decided to cut him some slack. She was also in a bad temper and she wasn’t recovering from an infection.
“Why don’t you go that way and I’ll go in the opposite direction,” said Uhura. She pointed behind her.
“I’ll try to stay out of your way.”
“Yes, sir,” she said, moving around him.
“I meant, that’s a good plan.”
“I know what you meant, Captain. I think that’s a good plan, too.” She started jogging away.
She pretended not to hear.
“Nyota,” he called.
She kept running. He started after her. He was fast, but she was faster. She sprinted to the turbo lift at the saucer midline and dodged inside. Kirk reached the lift before the doors closed. She backed away, her chest heaving. They stared at each other. The only sound was their loud breathing. Kirk bounced the side of his fist lightly against the door frame. He stepped back from the door sensor.
“Deck five,” said Uhura. The doors closed.
She’d been wishing for an excuse to throw herself at somebody.
Be careful what you wish for, she thought.
Spock clicked off his computer and leaned back in his desk chair. He had not slept the night before as he’d promised Dr. McCoy. Instead, he meditated, repeating the Disciplines—including v’shan poses—over and over. He finally allowed himself a healing trance for an hour after his shift this evening; but he emerged still fatigued, with a dull achy tension in the muscles of his upper back.
His study of the Disciplines restored his emotional control but the v’shan always served to fan the flame that warmed his blood. Even an imitation of the battle arts came dangerously close to igniting the ancient passions--being impaired by the intoxication only made matters worse. He reconsidered his agreement to instruct Sulu in the martial practice. His meditation cooled his blood somewhat but his flame still burned low in his sex. He would manage. A slight physical imbalance was a small price to pay for a return to control. He took a moment to direct the flow of blood away from his penis. He was moderately successful.
Perhaps some push ups.
He thought about his Psi 2000 intoxication as he levered himself slowly up and down on the floor. He recalled entering sick bay and seeing Nurse Chapel standing at the foot of a bio bed, gazing at Sulu and brushing her hair. He thought her behavior was somewhat unprofessional, even peculiar, but his limited observations of Chapel did not register that as unusual for her. He recalled his surprise when Chapel grasped his hand but after that, he only knew the sound of Lieutenant Uhura’s voice calling his name over and over. At the time, he
( felt )
her all around him. He wanted to go to her but was stopped by Captain Kirk. He did not remember why.
Spock had no recollection of calculating the intermix formula, nor of the cold engine restart, to the chief engineer’s utter amazement. When Spock reviewed the formula later, he thought perhaps it was best that he had been intoxicated. He otherwise would have dismissed it as impossible.
Spock stood and looked at his fire pot. Blood sang in the muscles of his arms, shoulders and chest.
His penis was flaccid, finally.
He considered and rejected in turn, another session of meditation, a game of chess with the computer, and a cup of tea.
The sonic shower was most emphatically a bad idea right now.
After a moment, he registered that he was hungry. He had not allowed himself to consciously feel hunger since he was an adolescent. He deduced that that too was part of the after effects of the intoxication. He had received a stasis box in a package from his mother the previous week. He retrieved it from his shelf, sincerely hoping that it was not plomeek. Her insistence that he needed plomeek was a bit troubling. The last tuber she sent, he donated to the ship’s “from home” box. He saw nurse Chapel take it and was utterly incurious as to what she might want with it.
He opened the stasis box. Inside were kasa custard and a packet of his favorite flat, sweet biscuit made by the palace cook. Plomeek not withstanding, he marveled at how his mother often knew exactly what he desired, even from six point two parsecs away.
And there was enough to share.