Realizations Resolved K/U [PG]
Image courtesy of Paramount, Trekcore and moi
Disclaimer: Paramount owns Star Trek. I own only my fantasies
Summary: Based on TOS episode "The Tholian Web". Story prompted by Kirk's claim he preferred a crowded universe while glancing at his communications officer. Original drabbles expanded upon to this resolution. Very early work.
The shift was exhausting. Uhura couldn't decide whether it was from the strain of being on the bridge with him or from the constant readiness drills being performed over and over. In any case, he was the focal point. His mood had gotten progressively darker as the shift wore on and his demands grew stronger. Even Spock had become concerned with his captain's temper and stepped down to the center seat.
"Captain, the drills show a 97.46 percent efficiency rating. It is illogical to expect perfection from them, or yourself." The last phrase caused Kirk's head to snap up and stare hard at his First Officer.
"You think the drills are an emotional outburst Mister Spock?" Kirk challenged softly, staring steadily at the Vulcan's concerned face.
"I have observed you tend to demand much from the crew, when it is perhaps frustration within yourself that lies at the core." The Vulcan suggested in a voice only meant for Kirk.
The Tholian mission had given the captain a taste of mortality, which humor and happy endings could do little to flavor. However, the frustration Spock mentioned was seated behind and slightly to Kirk's left. Uhura's confession of feelings for him had thrown him into a tailspin.
How was he supposed to act towards her now? Kirk wasn't very happy with his effort this morning as they had rode the lift up to the bridge. He had smiled and been pleasant, but never acknowledged the intimacy that had passed between them. The unexpected kiss after telling him of her feelings, then her flight from the Observation Deck before he could respond had left much to be settled between them. Kirk came back to the present and smiled sheepishly at Spock.
"Why Spock, if I didn't know better, I'd think all the time you spend with Dr McCoy might actually be therapeutic." He teased the 'unemotional' first officer, who had no trouble sensing his captain's inner turmoil.
The Vulcan merely raised his eyebrow at that remark and stepped back to his station. Kirk's mood seemed to have improved; therefore, his mission was accomplished. The first officer didn't know what was troubling the captain, but felt Kirk would confide in him if he thought that Spock could help.
As Spock returned to the Science Station, the tension on the bridge seemed to drop a few notches. None of the crew had actually heard the exchange between the captain and first officer, but the lighter tone was unmistakable. What was said between them didn't truly matter, although, the smile returning to the captain's face, did.
Kirk flipped the intercom switch embedded in the command chair and spoke. "This is the captain speaking. Mister Spock has just informed me that we scored a 97.46 percent efficiency rating on that last drill. I'm pleased with everyone's efforts and know you'll strive to maintain such a state of readiness. Thank you, Kirk out."
The captain eased out of his chair, stiff from being so tense and wound up. He walked around the bridge, casually stopping at all stations to thank each officer for his or her efforts. Kirk hesitated for the briefest of seconds before approaching Uhura, who was dealing with a final check and had her back to him. Kirk came up and placed his hand softly on her shoulder; he held it gently and waited for her to look at him.
It wasn't anything he hadn't done before, yet his touch sent a current through her. However, after their interaction this morning, she had thought he would keep his distance. Was it business as usual, or was he attempting to respond to her confession from the night before? She hated the second-guessing and hurried the engineering tech through the last of his debriefing.
Uhura signed off with Engineering and looked up expectantly towards Kirk. He smiled down at the communications officer and gently squeezed her shoulder before letting go.
"Thank you, Lieutenant, for all your efforts today." He tried to use the same words and tone with Uhura as he had Chekov and Sulu, but wasn't sure he was successful. He leaned down and spoke softly to her alone.
"I think we need to talk about last night. Would you come by my quarters after dinner, please?" Uhura caught the 'please', but she also knew an order when she heard one.
"You're welcome, Captain. It's always good to get it right." She spoke aloud to his earlier thanks, but nodded her head in silent acknowledgement of his second remark.
"Mister Spock, you have the Conn. I'll be in Engineering if you need me." Kirk remarked as he headed for the lift.
"Yes, Captain." Spock answered as he stepped down to the center seat. He looked over towards Uhura before seating himself. The quiet exchange between the captain and lieutenant at least explained who had agitated Kirk. It wasn't his intent to eavesdrop, but Humans rarely took into account how much better Vulcan hearing was than theirs.
Kirk finished his tour of Engineering, then went to his cabin and thought about what he wanted to say Uhura that night. What were his feelings towards her? He'd never allowed himself to dwell on any of his female crew in any light other than professional. Regs were regs and he had too many eyes watching him, both onboard and in the Admiralty, to trust he could ignore that one. He knew some of the more senior captains had done so, but they hadn't had Nogura tell them point blank to 'keep it zipped'. The Fleet Commander was adamant that his youngest captain would not make him regret his promotion.
To say that he was attracted to Uhura was the understatement of his career. She was smart and quick to catch his thought on any given topic. He had seen her take down stronger opponents in a street fight and fend off would be suitors with more tact than some ambassadors could. Yet, she projected such an air of naivete that he always felt she was a delicate creature he needed to protect. She had the respect of her peers and her commanding officers. She was as beautiful on the inside as her outward appearance.
Now that Uhura had professed an interest in him, Kirk was at a loss. He knew he couldn't pursue her, no matter how much his mind and body wanted it. He couldn't even allow himself to think that was an option - she was too close and he would be too willing. Yet, how did he tell Uhura how much he cared for her, and not lose her in the process? Why was he presented with a perfect choice when he wasn't allowed to choose?
Dinner came and went, but Uhura hadn't been able to eat. She had sat in her cabin trying to prepare herself for the meeting with the captain. Her stomach was full of butterflies, all trying to escape.
If she could relive last night again, would she still tell the captain how much she cared for him? Would she still kiss him? Definitely, What she wouldn't do again was leave before he had an opportunity to react. Uhura's courage had failed her last night - she just hoped it stayed with her now. Tonight he'd had time to think about what she had said and done, it wouldn't be just a visceral response. Now, it could hurt so much more...
She took a deep breath and pressed the announcer button outside Kirk's cabin. She was irrationally hoping he wouldn't be back from dinner and she could just say she'd missed him. Unfortunately, the door opened and he stood there, looking as nervous as she did.
"Good evening, Uhura. I'm glad you're here. Please come in and sit with me." She heard him say it, but she didn't really believe he was glad to be having this conversation. His whole body seemed to scream 'let me get this over with!' Uhura felt a preemptive strike might be best.
"Captain please, let me just say I'm sorry for blurting my feelings out to you last night." She started when the door closed. "It was improper for me to say it, and now, we have this confusion between us." There! She had apologized. Maybe now they could go back to normal and forget she'd ever told him how much he meant to her.
Kirk, seeing that Uhura was too agitated to sit, leaned back against the edge of his desk. He smiled sadly, as he reached out and took her hands, pulling her slightly towards him.
"Penda, don't ever apologize for telling someone you care for them. The heart isn't bound by regulations; it just knows what it feels. Life is too short and love is too rare a gift to treat them with disdain." He reached up and placed a hand on each cheek, gently guiding her eyes to look into his.
She felt herself fall into those beckoning hazel eyes. They seemed to swallow her up and take her away from reality. She had to tell herself to breathe; it was as if all the oxygen in the room were gone. He was still talking but she could hardly hear him.
"I'm the one who needs to apologize. I shouldn't have ignored you this morning. I knew you were waiting for me to say something about last night, but I hadn't expected to be alone with you in the lift. I didn't know what to say. I'm still not sure." He brushed a strand of hair behind her ear, softly running his fingers over its outer curve. His gaze was compelling, trying to force its way into her very soul.
Uhura couldn't speak. Her bottom lip trembled and tears threatened to spill from her eyes. It felt as if a hand was deep inside her chest crushing her heart. His words and touch were so tender; it was all she could do to remain standing.
"I knew you didn't mean to hurt my feelings." She stammered softly. It had hurt, but she never thought it was his intent.
"No, I never meant to hurt you, Penda, but I'm not allowed to have these feelings. The heart doesn't understand regulations, but the mind must." Kirk whispered softly against her brow. He hadn't let go of her since she'd entered his quarters and he pulled her to him closely now.
"You mean more to me than I can tell you, but if I allow myself to react to these feelings, we're lost. I'm not someone who would sneak through the corridors and meet you in secluded places. If I became involved with you, the whole world would know it. And that means Starfleet would know it too. They wouldn't allow us to be together - they would transfer you away from me. I couldn't bear that. It's ironic, but in order to keep you in my life, I have to keep my distance. It's the price I must pay to command this ship."
He held her so close; she felt they were one. Uhura could feel his heart pounding through his chest, against her own. She felt his lips brush against her temple. The agony of his truth cut into her soul and exposed it to the harshness of their world. How could something that felt so right, not be so? A sob caught in her throat and she buried her face into his chest.
"I've dreamed of hearing you say you care for me so many times. They were always happy dreams, but this isn't a dream, and reality is breaking my heart." Uhura choked out in an anguished voice. She looked up into Kirk's face and saw her pain in his eyes.
"I know, Penda, dreams never last." Kirk pulled her chin up towards him and kissed her softly, slowly and deeply. He tried to put into that one kiss all his feelings for her that he'd never be able to share.
Uhura allowed herself to be consumed by him. She knew it would be her only taste of the ecstasy she craved. Uhura ran her hands over his muscled shoulders and back, daring to touch him, as she had always wanted. The reality was so much more than her dreams. She drifted in the surreal world of his embrace until he let her go.
"Now, look at me." He urged her with a slight shake. He tenderly wiped the tear from her cheek and gave her an encouraging smile.
"I need you on my bridge. You are Enterprise's soul, just as much as Spock is her mind, McCoy is her heart, and Scotty is her blood. I know how much you've helped Spock understand the crew. I know how many of them come to you to for assistance when they're scared to approach him. When I want to know what the crew thinks or how they would react to a decision, I come to you. That means a lot to me and I don't want to lose it or you. Can you accept this and work with me everyday?"
"Yes, the Enterprise is my life as much as she is yours. I want to travel amongst the stars and communicate with new races on every mission. I love my shipmates, and Mister Spock teaches me more than I'll ever teach him. To lose you and Enterprise would be too much. To be with you on the bridge everyday will have to be enough." She smiled sadly, as she said the last.
"It will be enough - I promise. Besides, what a fate you might have suffered... you'd see me on the bridge more than anywhere else, I'm grumpy in the mornings before I've had coffee, I've been told I snore, I'm never on time for dinner, I never, ever remember birthdays, and I can't sing! The list goes on and on." Kirk teased.
Uhura laughed in spite of herself. She hadn't lost her captain, and while she might not have gotten the lover she wanted, she had found someone more.