The Phoenix of Hope K/U, M, S/U implied [PG13]
Image courtesy of Paramount with my help
Disclaimer: Paramount owns Star Trek. I only own my fantasies.
Summary: Begins where The Search for Spock ended. A story bridging my Realizations and Tokens series that explores the guilt and anger of losing a son while regaining a friend.
The heat was beginning to dissipate as the Vulcan sun sank behind the edge of Mount Seleya. McCoy made his way through the maze of Amanda's garden, intent upon the brooding admiral that had kept himself aloof and alone since the initial happiness of Spock's refusion had passed. Kirk stood at the edge of the precipice that marked the boundary between Sarek's ancestral home built as a fortress to protect their holdings and the desert floor sprawled out as far as the eye could see below. McCoy did not like Jim's distancing and he most assuredly did not like him standing so close to a thousand-meter drop off.
McCoy himself had just been released from the care of Amanda's own personal physician. He was eager to be back among his friends to await news of Spock's recovery and their future, yet discovered that access to Spock had been forbidden to all--including Sarek and Amanda. The priests of Gol and the healers of Shi'kahr forbade all access as they determined how best to retrain his mind and engage the memories of his past life. McCoy had carried those memories, Spock's katra, for a brief time with echoes of them still ringing in his head.
This morning, under Sarek's protection, Kirk had gone to the Earth Embassy to discuss their case. In Jim's absence, Scotty had told him Starfleet was demanding their immediate return to Earth. Arrest warrants had been issued in their names for the theft and destruction of the Enterprise. It did not take a rocket scientist to know that Kirk would quickly assume full responsibility for the Enterprise's loss, and even more painfully, for the death of his son, David. He would blame himself for their ruined careers as well, never mind that they had all volunteered to go to Genesis with him.
Now, after finally returning home with Sarek, Kirk had walked through the house only to escape into the garden without speaking a word to anyone. However, Sarek had confirmed his fears, Kirk had accepted responsibility for everything, begging for mercy for everyone except himself.
The conversation that had sent him on this mission was as shocking as it was profound. "Doctor, I do not know how to help Admiral Kirk," Sarek had confessed with a humbleness not often shown to outsiders. The Vulcan statesman had had to remind himself that these humans were no longer outsiders; Spock claimed them family, shared his katra with one and called another t'hy'la.
"I have reasoned with him that he did the best he could in regard to Spock and his ship, but I cannot make him understand that he is not responsible for Doctor Marcus' death. Saavik explained that David interceded on her behalf against the Klingon who intended to kill her. He was untrained in the skills of battle and could not hope to best a Klingon warrior, yet he tried anyway." Shaking his head at the senseless waste of life, Sarek had continued, expressing his gratitude in Vulcan fashion. "It was illogical and deadly foolish, but the House of Surak honors his blood debt in saving a son and an adopted daughter. Kirk could not have stopped David's actions, yet he feels guilt that the son was so like the father--quick to act and fearless when there is much to fear."
McCoy had been surprised when Sarek had pegged Jim's feelings so precisely. The Vulcan's logic was elegant, dissecting in concise terms human emotions at their most elemental level.
"I would ask that you speak to him and try to make him see that he owns no blame. Indeed, if he had not taken the Enterprise and arrived at the Genesis planet when he did, all three of them would be dead, or worse, Genesis would be in the hands of the Klingons." The subtly beseeching look the elder Vulcan had given McCoy was almost too painful to behold.
"Sarek, I agree with you but I have little faith that Jim is ready to accept the truth right now. We humans have to grieve in many steps and acceptance is at the end of that process. Jim has always shouldered more guilt and responsibility than he owned--that's partly what makes him such an exceptional commander--but the toll it takes on him is terrible." McCoy knew that acceptance was a long way away for Jim.
"Then seek him out, McCoy, and offer comfort in human terms. I would not see him in such pain. If it were logical to feel guilt in this instance it would be my burden, as his actions were at my request. Instead, I offer the sanctuary of Vulcan until the issue with Starfleet and the Federation is resolved. This is my only way of repaying my debt to you all. I have my son back but you have lost so much in gaining him for me. Please, go now to Kirk." Sarek had motioned McCoy out into the alien greenness that did not belong in the dry heat and harsh colors of rust, burnt orange and blood red which painted the desert beyond.
McCoy walked up to Kirk, making enough noise to be heard, giving Jim notice he was no longer alone. "So, you ready to set up house here on Vulcan? I hear they've got a few positions open at the VSA," he tossed out in grim humor, knowing the oblique approach was all he had.
"I'm not interested in a job right now, Doctor," was his cold reply. The head did not turn, the spine did not relax, but Jim had spoken; McCoy considered it a victory.
At that moment, Uhura entered the clearing from the far edge of the garden. Startled at seeing both men, it was obvious she had not been seeking them, merely her own share of solitude. "Doctor, Admiral, I'm sorry for the intrusion," Uhura mumbled in recovered grace and turned as if to go toward the house. McCoy silently wished her to hurry, seeing the tension grow in the tic of Kirk's jaw and fearing what the damage would be if the dam burst--
"Admiral, please allow me to offer my condolences on your loss," stopping in mid-turn, McCoy watched with a prescience of impending disaster as Uhura struggled within herself to leave or stay and comfort. This one time he wished she had acted selfishly and left Jim to flounder in his pain.
In a flash Kirk squared his shoulders and turned to face them both. His eyes held no warmth, no love--only endless loss and anger. "Thank you, Commander. I mean, really, it was a great trade--one hardly known son for a life-long friend and comrade. I'm certain you can agree." Kirk's words were calculated to be cruel, vicious in their attack, not only on himself but also on Spock and Uhura's long, quiet friendship.
"Jim!" McCoy felt himself shout, taking a step toward Kirk as if to protect Uhura from more words. Uhura took a step back, totally unprepared for the verbal assault unleashed against her. She cast her eyes at McCoy and then back at Kirk. McCoy saw the play of emotions run across her face: shock, hurt, anger and humiliation before she schooled it into a mask of diplomatic retreat.
"No, sir, I do *not* agree, but I see that now is not the time to debate the issue. If you gentlemen will please excuse me." She turned quietly on her heel and disappeared the way she had come.
McCoy doubted that retreat would have been her reaction had he not been there to be a witness. The relationship between these two ran so deeply that it rarely rippled the surface for others to notice. It took an eye trained to recognize the unspoken, the nuance of a glance or the lack of one. There was a past between them that spanned over twenty years, but neither had ever uttered a public word that could be construed as anything other than platonic. Yet there was a time when McCoy knew it had developed past the platonic, a time when one had needed something more and the other had offered it. But now, they buried it behind titles and rank, careers and responsibilities, pretending they did not still share an occasional look between them.
That Jim was near breaking was obvious--even Sarek had sensed it. McCoy could understand Uhura's desire to offer comfort in place of Kirk's feelings of guilt and failure. Her strong sense of empathy, the very talent that made her such a gifted communicator, had led her into the maelstrom of Kirk's grief. As the flush of emotions had danced across Uhura's face, McCoy had recognized uncertainty too. How much did the doctor know of her and Kirk's relationship? How far could she push Jim in the company of another? It had been a strong showing of her character to watch Nyota turn and walk away, to choose discretion and withdraw rather than risk exposure of something neither of them had shared with the outside world.
However, McCoy was not going to allow Jim to lash out at Uhura and get away with it. If Jim wanted to take out his anger on anyone it would be him. "*That* was totally uncalled for, *Admiral*." McCoy attacked in his own way, knowing that using his title would make Jim see how unbecoming his words were.
"Go away, Doctor. I don't need to be lectured, or coddled, or anything. I just need to be alone." Kirk rounded on McCoy, dismissing him with a contemptuous wave of his hand.
"Well, that's just too bad, Jim, because you're stuck with us. Most of us volunteered for this party and it isn't over yet. You don't get to pick and choose when you want friends and when you don't--"
"I don't have friends. I have officers who broke regs and followed me into ruin." Kirk rebuffed as he turned his stare back to the sands below.
"Bullshit, Jim. Do you think any of us did what we did because you outrank us? Hell no, you don't--you know we did it out of love for both you and Spock. And that's what makes what you said to Uhura so wrong. She loves you and she loves Spock, and yet you hurt her that way." McCoy shook his head in disgust. Jim was normally a geyser of drive and determination, but when his thoughts turned dark, those same traits sent him into an abyss of despondency and depression.
"I never asked her to love me. Loving me is a death sentence-- ask Edith--ask Miramanee--ask David--ask Spock--" The names came out in rapid-fire accusations.
"So, we're not supposed to care for you, is that it? Is that why you cut her down--to push her away? Maybe make her hate you?" The sarcasm in McCoy's voice was like rubbing salt in an open wound. Bones knew his approach was risky but he could deal with an angry Kirk better than he could a withdrawn one.
"I destroy lives, Bones, anyone who gets too close to me. Carol was right, David lived safely all his life away from me, but as soon as he found out I was his father, he died." Kirk's voice sounded defeated.
"Carol blames you for David's death? You've talked to her? When?" It began to make sense now--a mother, hysterical in her grief, lashing out at a tempting target. She would not stop to consider that had David grown up with the knowledge of Jim being his father, having him in his life from the beginning, maybe he might have been taught how to control the impulsiveness of his nature, how to use his sense of conscience to temper his decisions. Perhaps so much so that he would not have made the mistake that ultimately cost him his life: taking an illegal shortcut in using proto-matter as the Genesis catalyst. He had died for a failure, and worse, he had died knowing it. McCoy suspected that was the real reason David had attacked the Klingon, atoning for his mistake in a very Kirk-like fashion.
"I got Sarek to get me through today. She had to know. I had to be the one to tell her. I didn't want her to hear it from anyone else," Jim uttered as if in a trance.
"Jim, you can't take what Carol said to heart. She's hurting, just as you are. She lost a son, just as you have. Of course she wants to blame someone, but she killed the messenger--" McCoy tried to reason with Kirk.
"She blamed the one responsible--" Kirk spat out, anger suddenly back in his voice.
"No, she didn't. You *did not* stab David. You *did not* tell David to fight the Klingon. You *did not* use proto-matter in equations to get a project off the ground. What you *did do* was rescue David and Carol before Khan found them and then Spock gave his life to save us from that madman. And then *you* saved us all from the Klingons getting their hands on something that could only be a weapon--not the tool of good it was supposed to be." McCoy stressed each syllable to make his point.
"I should have been able to stop Kruge--" Jim threw back with stinging recrimination in his voice.
"With what? A wrecked ship and four men? How were you even supposed to know the Klingons were there--deep in Federation territory no less? You're not a god, Jim. You've saved us all many times but you're just a mortal, and mortals aren't perfect. And God or mortal--we all want to be loved--need to be loved. You can't push us away with hateful words because you're hurting. Making us hurt won't make your pain go away, it'll just spread it, like a disease, killing us all. Dammit, Jim, it's just another version of the Kobiyashi Maru and this time you don't get to take the test over." McCoy had resisted using that particular analogy, but he was getting desperate to get through to Jim before he lost his chance and Kirk shut him out. He had found no way around the wall of indifference and apathy that Kirk could erect when he became depressed. In the past, only Spock had been able to do that, and currently he wasn't available. Uhura might have once reached him, but now Kirk shunned her in some perverted form of chivalry.
"I can't let anyone in right now, Bones. I have to work through this myself." The raw edge of Jim's voice and his refusal to look at McCoy told the doctor how close to the edge Jim really was. It worried McCoy that through all of his recent tragedies, Kirk had refused to cry, refused to allow himself to truly grieve for either Spock or David.
"Okay, I understand that," McCoy spoke consolingly as he patted Jim's shoulder, "but I still think you owe Nyota an apology." As much as he knew Kirk was hurting, Bones knew he could not let Jim off easy on this point.
"I owe her one, but I'm not sure I'll give her one. She's better off caring for--somebody else--anybody else." Jim's tone was firm in his conviction but McCoy heard a hesitation, as if he had almost named a name for Uhura's affections.
A sudden insight flared in McCoy's head, "Who else, Jim, Spock?" At the flash of irritation in Kirk's eyes McCoy knew he had struck a nerve. "And she can't care for both of you? She can't care for all of us?" McCoy asked patiently, ignoring the look Jim gave him for playing stupid to what was really being said.
"You shared Spock's mind, Bones, you tell me. Did you just pull his name out of a hat or did you happen to remember one of his memories? Would she be better off with Spock, or not?" Kirk pushed for a truth he did not want to know. Spock had loved Uhura once upon a time, of that he was certain as he recalled their shared meld from long ago. But what if he had to walk away--if McCoy said yes--could he give up the idea of going to her when he needed sanctuary and tenderness, or love even, when he felt unworthy of it? Could he stay away if he could not make her hate him? His soul was crying for her comfort now but he had been cruel, trying to protect her from the albatross that was him.
"We both know the answer to that question. The decision was hers, the consequences are hers. You can't chase her away just to protect her. Spock has accepted her choice." McCoy was dumbfounded by the imagery and emotions in his head. How had he missed Spock's interest in Uhura all these years? But the acceptance and finality of those memories were wholly Spock--a young Spock who had been forbidden by a betrothal and family obligations to seek another. And then, later, a more mature Spock unfettered by those claims from the past, yet realizing he would come between his t'hy'la and the one woman who could always bring a smile to his face. He had contented himself with the knowledge that while she had sought out Kirk, chosen him in her time of need, she had continued their friendship. He had made it be enough.
"She doesn't even know she made one, Bones. Spock never gave her the option. I'm not the man for her. I'm a security blanket--someone to protect her from things that go bump in the night. A choice she made when maybe she needed a white knight, but that isn't the Uhura we know now." Kirk turned and paced, making McCoy squirm as he watched him stalk the crumbling edge.
"But she came to you. She chose you those many years ago and Spock would never challenge you again for another woman--"
"This isn't about the kal if fee; it's about Nyota being better off with a man who loves her and is a better choice--their interests, their work, their temperaments. It's obvious to me, why can't they see it?" Kirk's look was unguarded, at a loss to understand why he could see a connection between Nyota and Spock, but they could not.
McCoy glimpsed another ghost of Spock's memories, no longer clear images, more like quickly fading impressions in the sand as the tides of his mind washed the Vulcan's touch away. He spoke before he lost the thought that had come unbidden to answer Kirk. "But what if it does, Jim? Forget about your point of view for a moment and consider Spock's. Since we rarely see him interact with other Vulcans, we tend to forget just how different his culture is from ours. In Spock's culture, the decision about a relationship is always the female's. T'Pring got to choose between Spock and Stonn. That she used you to get her way only makes my point better--even T'Pau could not stop her farce."
Seeing that he had Jim's attention finally, McCoy pushed on. "In Spock's view, Uhura made her choice years ago and he is just as helpless as Stonn was back then. *He* can't challenge. And from a Human point of view, how does he steal his best friend's woman?"
Taking a different tack, McCoy treaded upon another fresh wound, Kirk's grief over losing Spock. It didn't matter that they had Spock back now, no, one did not get over losing someone so dear overnight. "You know, I never understood why you two clicked way back then. I mean, in the line of duty Spock is worth ten men, but what was it on a personal level that drew you two together? And now I know; as much as he preached the superiority of logic, he actually craved the impetuousness of your nature. But it was Spock's rationality that spoke to you, the fact that he could be depended upon no matter what, that spoke to you. You trusted Spock to protect you from yourself. You're two halves of a whole; mirror images bonded together by something stronger than a reflection--a love for the same woman. And that's something you can't control, Jim, make peace with it, Spock did." The pain in Kirk's eyes told McCoy he had scored a direct hit, survivor's guilt coupled with some form of twisted shame for having the attention of a woman Spock had once desired, and maybe still did.
"Hell, how do we know he still even feels this way? Are we sure he will find those memories again? What if he doesn't? What if he forgets certain feelings? What if they don't reawaken memories they believe better left buried? They're Vulcans, Jim, can we trust they won't sift through and delete such emotional attachments?" McCoy tried to make Jim see the uncertainty of it all, to realize that what was in the past was just that.
"I can't believe they would do that to him--" Jim spun around in amazement that McCoy could even think such a thing.
"Maybe not on purpose, but consider what they're trying to do, Jim: bring back the dead. There's no handbook for how it's to be done," McCoy offered gently. What they had yet to acknowledge was that this reincarnation of Spock could be very different from the man they lost in the Mutara Nebula.
"Even so, Uhura would be better off without concern for me," Kirk returned to his earlier thesis.
"Are you really prepared to push her away? To transfer her away from anything to do with you? Is that how you repay loyalty?" McCoy saw Kirk flinch from his last jibe.
"I'm not even sure that's an option for me now, Bones. I may have destroyed all our careers." Kirk looked at the sand beneath their feet as he answered, bitterness in his tone.
"Did you ever ask Uhura to stay with you--to be on your command team after our first mission together? Or did *she* always ask to serve?" McCoy challenged, trying to make Kirk see that Uhura had been the one to make those choices.
"She knows she always has a place with me when I'm in space. It's an old promise to her I've always kept." He did not raise his eyes from the mystery in the sand, his soft answer nearly whisked away by the wind.
"But now you're going to forget about it? It's too uncomfortable for you now so you're going to push her away. Make her angry enough that she'll ask to leave--is that it?" Now Bones was getting ticked again at how easily Kirk made decisions and acted upon them as if he were the sole person affected.
"I don't have a command now, Doctor. It's not a point for debate." The sting of McCoy's accusations made Kirk bring heat back to his own words.
"We came to Vulcan in a Bird of Prey--I haven't seen them haul it away yet." Bones painted it simply, too simply to be sure but they *did* still have a ship. Kirk *still* was their commander.
"Huh, you can't seriously believe we'll be allowed to keep that ship. The engineers alone would fight us just to study it--much less the politics of our situation. No, I'd say we are grounded unless we want to join a merchant fleet at the hind end of space." Kirk mouthed in contempt of ever captaining another ship.
"And if she asked to follow?" McCoy would not give up.
"Why are we talking about this, Doctor? Why is my relationship, or lack of one, with my communications chief of any concern to you?" McCoy wanted to back up from the icy fire in Kirk's eyes but he refused to show fear. Kirk, a predator when he thought quarry was on the run, would redouble his efforts to bring down a kill.
"Because I think you've always turned to her in your darkest moments--and this evening you pushed her away. No, you intentionally hurt her in an effort to maker her distance herself. I don't like that. What you have between you might be dysfunctional in the classic sense, but it works. You *have* to know you're worthy of being loved. You did not kill David, but you did save Spock. These are truths, Jim, and as much as you don't want to hear them--or even believe them--they won't change." For a moment, their eyes locked together, but McCoy continued speaking and Kirk broke contact when the doctor's words drew blood. "Breaking the heart of someone who has stood by you for so long because you can't accept her love, or her choice of being in your circle, is unworthy of you. Uhura is guilty of nothing but caring about us and you've smacked her in the face for showing compassion."
Kirk's constant need to be in control of everything and everyone--even their emotions--had reached McCoy's limits. "Stop thinking like a yenta, Jim! If she and Spock are really meant to be together then they'll find each other. But for now, as I see it, she'd rather be in your shadow than Spock's notice. Don't let Carol's bitter words take away what little you two can share together."
"Fine, Bones, I hear you." Kirk looked chastised but McCoy didn't let up.
"But are you listening? Don't play word games to try and appease me. I know you too well. We've been down this road too often for me to chase that rabbit. I know you have to work this out in your own heart and head, but realize you *can* hurt us all with your decision." With that parting reminder McCoy walked off into the quickening dusk.
Kirk watched McCoy for a moment to be sure he was actually leaving him in peace. A heavy sigh escaped his lips; he was drained from the confrontation with the Earth Ambassador. The very air seemed to elude him, starving him of energy he could not afford to lose. His chest still ached from the shattering Spock's death had wreaked on him, a souvenir from their broken bond--always unspoken but now painfully real. It was too soon to know if it would be reborn here on Vulcan or stay dead in the ashes of Genesis. Right now he hoped it stayed as cold as space, one less attachment to have to worry about.
The call to Carol had been the worst because there was no chance of life again, not for David. She had known he had stolen Enterprise and fled to Genesis, but the look on his face told her what she had lost even before he'd spoken. His words had changed nothing but the color of her grief. It had morphed from the somber blueness of despair to the incendiary whiteness of anger. How could he have let David die? How could he have chosen Spock over his own son? How dare he keep living when all she had ever loved was lost? Each word was as sharp as a Klingon Daqtagh. Each accusation pierced his soul, letting anything left of him bleed out in Sarek's cool, dim office.
And then Uhura had offered *him* condolences. He, who had sat back and let his son die at the hand of a Klingon underling. The warrior was inconsequential, merely a lackey for the Klingon captain, Kruge. It was Kruge who had given the order, Kruge who had started the whole tragedy by seeking Genesis as some glorious weapon for the Empire. Kirk had enjoyed kicking him in the face and watching him fall into the lava below. At that moment he had been no better than Kruge and he did not care. He had delighted in the crunch of bone underneath his heavy boot. The sick realization that he had lost, shining in Kruge's eyes as he fell to his death, had made Kirk want to roar in triumph. Yet Uhura still thought him worthy of her sympathy. Kirk knew he was worthy of nothing.
But he was alive and he still had people looking to him for guidance. As much as he wanted to lay down and disappear in the hot sands, Kirk knew McCoy was right, he did not have the luxury of being selfish. His wallowing this afternoon had hurt someone who had not deserved his wrath. For now he would accept McCoy's judgement over his own--believing he could still be of service, if nothing more. Perhaps Starfleet might settle for his head on a spit and let the others go. He looked back toward the house and saw no one, just the faint lights through the windows as night encroached on the remnants of the day. Squaring his shoulders, he headed in the direction Uhura had fled, sensing she was still in the solitude of the garden rather than under the watchful eyes of Sarek and Amanda.
Kirk found Uhura sitting on a low stone bench in the center of a ring of citrus trees, her gaze focused on the tips of her boots. "Uhura? Are you still talking to me?" Kirk asked in a quiet voice, fully prepared to be shouted at or ignored. He deserved either.
"Only if it's to answer an order, sir." Uhura would not look at him, answering in a flat voice that told him he had hurt her deeply.
Jim reached out to touch Uhura's chin, to try and make her look at him but she drew back from his hand. Not allowing her to ignore him, Kirk sat down next to her on the bench. "I'm sorry I lashed out at you, Uhura. I know you aren't glad David is dead. It was wrong of me to say that. I have no excuse except to say I was hurting."
"Of course I'm not happy David is dead. I can't even fathom the idea of trading his life for Spock's." Nyota flashed him an incredulous look when saying it aloud.
In the faint light of Vulcan dusk, Kirk could see the drying dampness of tear tracks on Uhura's cheeks. Trying again, he reached out a tentative finger and ran it gently down the shining path of one tear. Knowing his determination, this time she accepted his touch. "I'm sorry I made you cry, Penda. Can you forgive me?"
"I can forgive your words, but I need to understand why you felt the need to say them to me." Tear streaked or not, Nyota looked at him with hard eyes and Kirk knew she was far from forgiving him.
"McCoy says because I'm a jerk," Kirk answered with an embarrassed smile.
"I think I agree with him--but what do *you* say?" A fleeting smile crossed her mouth. She was still angry but not unwilling to hear him out.
"I seem to bring death and destruction to those I care about and I don't want that to ever happen to you." In light of his conversation with McCoy, Kirk knew it wasn't his best apology even if it was a sincere one.
"Well, that is the stupidest thing I've ever heard you say," Uhura stood up, challenging in open indignation. "How many lives have you saved since I've known you? Millions, billions even. How many times have you saved the Enterprise and all of her crew? Do I really need to list them for you--I can, you know?" Kirk rose to his feet and stepped back as he absorbed her exasperation with him.
"Jim, we're all going to die and you can't stop that from happening. I'm almost laughing in hysteria because usually it's Spock, McCoy or *me* fretting about you. The risks you take with your life--that we won't be there the one time you need us--instead of the other way around.
"Please don't push me away because of David's death. Realize instead we shouldn't waste the time we do get to spend with each other. Spock's death and refusion is a blessing we'll never be granted when our time comes." Nyota moved into Kirk's arms, making the connection between them physical, holding onto him tightly until she felt him relent and return the embrace.
"We only have each other now--the ship, our careers--they're gone, but so long as we live there is something to be thankful for."
"Penda, I don't deserve you," Jim began in a halting whisper against her temple before Uhura pulled away and silenced him with a soft press of fingers against his lips.
"I didn't know life or love was bestowed only upon the deserving. I thought maybe it was Fate's decree. Spock did not deserve to die, but it was his fate. You might not think you deserve to be loved by me, but it's your fate. No matter how much you push me away, even when you refuse to say it, I know you love me too." Uhura pulled her fingertips away from Kirk's mouth and replaced them with her full, warm lips, a tender kiss that quickly built to one with a sense of desperation.
"Penda, I've always loved you, that's never been the issue between us," Kirk whispered against Nyota's neck, trying not to lose himself in its sensual curve, "but I'm not the man of your dreams--I'm a soldier who pretends to understand culture but rarely enjoys it." He pulled back and looked hard into her eyes, trying to make her understand their differences.
"Don't give me that! You're the Chairman of the Annual Barn Raising Event back in Riverside, and we both know it's the highlight of their social season." Uhura turned away, trying not to lose her straight face as Kirk did a double take.
"Well, there is that," he answered just as dead-pan before stepping back with a sigh, "but barring my foray into occasional culture, you know our tastes aren't that compatible."
Uhura's smile was gone now, and so was her anger, both replaced with a wise expression far beyond her years. "I know who you are. I know we're different, but it doesn't mean you can't hold a spot deep in my heart. You've never demanded anything of me, never been jealous of relationships I've had with other men. Yet, you've never given me back that part of my heart so I could give it to another. I don't want you to. I gave it to you years ago and I never want it back. It doesn't matter if you marry again, or if I do, we'll still always have that karma between us."
Finally freeing himself from a bit of the bitterness and anger that had held him captive, Kirk stroked Nyota's cheek, capturing her heart all over again with an admission. "And when I feel like I'm dying and all alone, you always give me a reason to hope."
The cliff was high, its crown beyond the heights than would catch the notice of the humans below. The figure in white stood still, unmovable in the wind as it watched their actions. In the waning light it observed their confrontation, their tender embrace and passionate kiss. Its mind flashed through a kaleidoscope of images, a drunken search through returned memories triggered by what it saw. Neurons and synapses fired chaotically trying to process what the brain recalled: hot breath against cool mahogany skin, lips skimming its surface as it evoked murmurs of delight, the rapture of seeking deep depths in primal lust as legs locked around driving hips. The chaos--the ecstasy--the pain of knowing it was not a memory shared between two, but a remembrance voyeured by a third.
The figure swayed; to an observer, a reaction to the wind. To the man trying to find himself, reaction to a memory preferred lost.