My Faith in You Part 4 of 4 K/U, S/U [R] Non-con
Image courtesy of Paramount and Trekcore
Disclaimer: Paramount owns Star Trek. I own only the stories my Muse gives me
Summary: A dark turn in Uhura's life and the lengths Kirk goes to in order to fulfill a promise.
Uhura came to consciousness slowly, her whole body hurt, yet it felt better than her last memory. She looked just to her right and saw the Captain sitting in a chair near her bed. He had been working on a PADD, but her movement caught his attention, and now he looked back at her.
"How do you feel, Penda?" He asked softly, a look of deep concern etched on his face.
"I've felt better, just not recently." She tried to banter back.
Her attempt at humor brought a quick smile to the Captain's face.
"Well, I think Doctor McCoy has a plan to improve that. Do you want to try letting him examine you and see how that makes you feel?"
He stood up and took her hand in his; McCoy was monitoring from outside and would be anxious to check on his patient.
"Would 'No' keep him out?" She smiled again, then looked serious.
"If you stay with me, I think I can tolerate it."
Kirk brushed her hair off her brow with one hand and continued to hold her hand with his other one.
"I'm yours for the duration." He replied so softly that Uhura wasn't sure she really heard what he said.
McCoy came bustling into her room at that moment and she felt the first icy shards of panic stab at her core. Her only outward responses were her closing of her eyes and the increased pressure on Kirk's hand she still held. Kirk looked over his shoulder and warned off the Doctor with a shake of his head. They had hoped that the detoxifying of her blood and the surgery to repair her injuries would minimize any residual terror effects. A less severe reaction might possibly mean they would not have to attempt Spock's mindmeld plan.
As she listened to the warble of McCoy's scanner, Uhura didn't scream, but she thought about it. She kept her grip on Kirk's hand, focusing her thoughts on the feel of his skin. It was warm and firm, his long fingers easily capturing hers in their embrace. She felt him place his other hand over hers as well. As if, by protecting it, he could protect her in whole. Finally, she felt brave enough to open her eyes. She could make out McCoy just over Kirk's right shoulder. She quickly locked her gaze with the Captain's; somehow he made it bearable.
"Lieutenant, are the symptoms any better?" The CMO asked her in a sympathetic tone of voice.
She nodded her head while still looking at Kirk.
"Some, I can still think - a little - while you're here. But I don't think I could maintain that much if the Captain wasn't here with me." The Comm Officer directly answered the CMO for the first time since her rescue.
It wasn't much, but any progress was exciting for McCoy.
"Penda, Spock has an idea of how to rid you of these attacks. May I call him in here and we discuss it with you?" Kirk leaned down to be sure she grasped what he had said.
She nodded her head, not trusting her voice in allowing yet another presence to be near her.
Spock entered quickly and quietly, coming up to Kirk as McCoy backed away. Kirk nodded to the Vulcan for him to begin his explanation for curing Uhura of her terrors.
"Lieutenant, if I have your permission, I believe I can rid you of the conditioning forced upon you by the Orions." The Vulcan stopped and awaited a response from the injured officer.
"How? What can you do?" Uhura still focused on Kirk, ground out through clenched teeth.
"I will attempt to meld with your mind through the Captain. You will sense only him, thus avoiding the conditioned response, yet I will be able to remove or block the behavior it has triggered."
The Biobed alarms chimed as Uhura's heart rate raced upon hearing his idea. She had never melded with another mind and now Spock was advocating she meld with two at the same time. When she didn't answer Spock, Kirk stepped in.
"Penda, I will be there with you during it all. You know Spock wouldn't hurt you, but we have to deal with this so you can start to heal."
Kirk's gaze bore into her frightened eyes, willing her to extend her trust just a little further. Uhura took a deep breath and blew it out slowly, doing her best to calm her racing pulse.
"Doctor McCoy, do you have any other options?" She asked in a tired but hopeful voice.
"Not any that will keep you on the Enterprise. It would require a stay at a Federation Rehab Center." McCoy offered lamely. He liked neither option for many reasons. He wasn't sure when he had relinquished his objections and allowed Kirk and Spock to pursue this whole mad idea.
"All right, then that gives me just one option. Mister Spock, I think I can try your way."
"Very well, Captain, please place your hand upon the Lieutenant's face in exactly the same corresponding points I touch on yours." The Vulcan instructed calmly.
Spock stepped up even closer behind Kirk and reached out with his right hand to touch the meld points along Kirk's temple, jaw and nose. He waited while Kirk mimicked the pattern along Uhura's face. He smoothly entered the Captain's mind. It was a place he had been made welcome before, yet the tenor of the greeting he received this time was much more guarded. This time, instead of protecting the Captain from something on the outside, the Vulcan would be delving into hidden areas; thoughts that had been instinctively shielded from him before.
Spock waited patiently, allowing his friend to remove those barriers himself. Slowly, Kirk's mind opened to the Vulcan's gentle probing. He needed strong memories and feelings about Uhura that he could use to mask his own consciousness behind when they both entered Uhura's mind. Gently, gently he moved to the bright center of Kirk's memories. The Captain grudgingly gave way to Spock's steady encroachment.
At Kirk's memory core, Spock discovered the Captain's collection of thoughts, feelings and images he nurtured of Uhura. Desire, respect, longing, pride, tenderness - all bombarded him from within a maelstrom of regret. The intensity of the emotions he encountered caused the Vulcan's own shield's to buckle for a moment. The unguarded moment allowed Kirk to see that the Vulcan, as well, harbored some tender thoughts towards Uhura. A flash of jealousy and anger flared from the Captain before he could rein his emotions back under control.
/ I'm sorry, Spock. I have no claim on Uhura, nor can I. I guess I just didn't expect to see that you cared for her in much the same way as me /
The tone of Kirk's thoughts was both apologetic and sad. How could he lash out at his best friend because he found the same unattainable woman attractive?
/ Jim, I can admire her from afar as you do. My options to pursue her are as limited as your own/
Spock acknowledged in the same melancholy tone as Kirk.
/ However, she has not sought me out as she has you. She does not seek such a relationship from me /
Spock saw Kirk and Uhura's recent encounter in the Captain's quarters. He felt Jim's regret at having to both acknowledge and let go of his feelings towards Uhura. He could feel the bitter-sweetness of their kiss. The memory was raw - made worse by Kirk's feelings of failure to protect her from the Orion attackers.
/ Jim, I need you to focus on the depth of your caring for the Lieutenant. Stay away from any thoughts of Bengali. Think of how she felt in your arms when you kissed her goodbye. From within her mind, make her come to you and keep her there /
The Vulcan's mental tone was raspy, on the edge. Kirk's memory flared to brilliance and Spock wrapped himself within the brightness. He pushed them both over the edge into her nightmare.
McCoy saw both Kirk and Spock tense for a moment as each made meld contacts. Kirk faltered for a second, but didn't break contact. In the next moment, a soft moan escaped Uhura's throat.
The darkness of nightmare flared with a brilliance she could feel as well as see. The demons surrounding her began to retreat to the edges of her mind; chased there by the brightness that was beckoning her to come towards it. She couldn't resist the call, its power was enormous, yet she felt no fear or threat from it, only a deep bone-searing need for her to bond with the source.
The closer she got to the brilliance, the more her nightmare was ripped away. Old fears and new ones vanished as the light engulfed all of her mind. Soon, there was no darkness to shelter the images of her fear. In their wake were light and a serenity she had never felt before. Yet, still the brilliance called to her. It sang to her very soul a song of longing, a longing for her to come make it complete. As she neared what she knew had to be the center of the call, she saw a lone figure, bathed in the glow of the brilliance, but seemingly the source of it as well.
The figure smiled and reached out to her, encouraging her to come closer. The golden glow was bright, but she could still see the figure quite well. The eyes, there was no denying the hazel eyes which welcomed her. But the face was slightly different, longer and more sharp, the cast of his brow more angular. And peeking through the mass of wavy bronze hair, were the pointed tips of elegant ears.
She stopped just out of reach of the man staring at her - the man, or men, she knew - but not. The brow rose in question, but the grin on his face said he knew the answer. He stepped forward and pulled her into his embrace. She fell into his arms, the two who were one. Need, longing and desire engulfed her and brought her into their unity. She looked at the figure and now saw mahogany skin and almond shaped eyes staring back at her. Now her merged self could see from the almond eyes and look back at her own image.
Thoughts, like flashes of quicksilver, raced into her consciousness. Her consciousness she now shared with the Captain and First Officer. Their thoughts were hers and hers theirs. The feeling of completion invaded the tiny center of her oneness.
/ We are safe now; the conditioning has been removed /
/ We're free from it. We are happy it is gone /
/Can we not rid ourselves of the memory of our attack? We should not have to remember something so painful/
/ No, we cannot strip those memories away without harming who we are. Artificial demons are much easier to erase than true memories. Ourself must learn to cope with what happened and rebuild that part of us /
/ We can do that. Now that we are free from the terrors, we can deal with the reality /
/ We will help ourself through this, we will always be available if needed /
/ We must go now. It is dangerous to remain here for much longer. The oneness tries to become permanent /
A feeling of distance began to permeate her consciousness; a separation of their unity began to form. Delicate tendrils of thoughts and feelings disengaged themselves from each other. Uhura felt it was similar to trying to unknit a spider's web. She saw each person distinct now. Spock, calm and in control, his thoughts were gone, no longer a part of the unity. He gave her his 'almost' smile and a slight bow of his head before fading from her mind altogether.
She turned to Kirk and took in the sight of him. His features were now all his own, but there was a sadness in his eyes. He was looking at the point Spock had been in their mind, seemingly still in thought with the Vulcan. The contact must have left him as well, for he turned to look at her.
/ Why are you sad? I'm well now /
/ Because I won't be able to share like this with you again /
/ Then we must make this goodbye memorable, don't you think? /
Hardly before she had finished that thought, she felt herself consumed by the heat of a million suns. It seared itself into her heart and soul; the heat of longing and passion overwhelmed her and still it came for her.
The unity they had shared before was controlled and equally maintained for each consciousness. This breach was nothing like before; this merging was a loving invasion and domination of who she was. She braced herself against the onslaught of emotions engulfing her. Need, desire, admiration, longing, passion enveloped her as before, yet she felt a difference - a different intensity to the mixture. How had Spock influenced the emotions? What were his contributions to the mixture? She couldn't answer that question and the personality engulfing her brushed the thought aside. He wanted all of her attention and was intent upon taking it.
She blended her consciousness with him in a mental embrace, pushing her own raging desires back into his core. Their merging became a psychic manifestation of making love. He drove her to feelings of ecstasy she had never experienced in her physical form. She propelled him to his own peak and felt him begin his descent, sensing him collect his thoughts and slowly withdraw from her mind. The satisfaction of the moment quickly becoming a memory of the need he still felt.
/ I would wish we could share that with our bodies /
/ I do too, but all I can share with you is this memory /
With a kiss on her lips he was gone from her soul.
Slowly she became aware of her surroundings - Doctor McCoy and Mister Spock were standing to her left and Jim, the Captain, what should she call him? - Was seated on the right edge of her bed. Each stared back at her expectantly; small smiles appearing on at least two faces after she smiled at them.
"Captain, I'm not frightened anymore." Uhura declared after a moment of internal checking.
"Thank God." McCoy exclaimed as he began to run his scanner over her yet again.
"Doctor, a deity had nothing to do with the Lieutenant's recovery. It was the Captain's and my mindmeld which removed the conditioning from her consciousness." Spock proclaimed mildly.
"Oh, I don't know Mister Spock. I think God sent two Guardian Angels to find me." Uhura replied with heart-felt emotion.
"Thank you both for getting me out of that Darkness." A beautiful smile was launched towards both men.
"Well, I know a patient who needs to get some rest and that means you guys have to get out." McCoy scolded.
Now that he could tend to her himself, the Doctor had every intention of doing so. Jim had yet to say a word since the end of the meld and McCoy was as worried about him, as he was Uhura.
"Doctor, may the Captain stay? I would like to talk to him for just a moment." Uhura asked in a tired but determined voice.
"Just for a moment then, Uhura, you'll get a chance to see him later." The Doctor grumbled.
She smiled her thanks and waited for Spock and McCoy to leave. Uhura saw Spock and the Captain exchange a look, but she couldn't fathom its meaning. The Comm Officer also noticed that Kirk had yet to speak.
"Captain, I just wanted to say thank you for pulling me out of that void. Without your presence I would have never found my way out."
She wanted to say more, to touch on how he had made her feel, but now she felt so 'alone', bereft of the oneness she had shared with him in the meld. No longer able to sense his thoughts, the loneliness was numbing.
Kirk leaned down and kissed her softly on the cheek, just above a residual bruise. The tenderness of his physical touch stood in sharp contrast to his passion she had felt in the meld.
"Penda, I promised you a life on Enterprise. I want you here with me for as long as you want to be and I will do everything in my power to make that happen." The longing in his eyes was pushed back and hidden from her gaze, replaced with a chiding smile.
"Now, get some rest. Spock and I miss you on the Bridge; somebody has got to get well so she can take care of Chekov - Sulu is corrupting him." He teased, but she knew he was backing away emotionally as well as physically, the closeness becoming too much. He rose up from the edge of her bed and was gone. Now, all alone, Uhura stared at the doorway and blinked back tears.
Why was she crying? She was safe on Enterprise and Doctor McCoy had told her she would be as good as new. The terror attacks she had endured were now banished by Mister Spock's intervention. She should be happy, but the reality of what she had been through came crashing down upon her.
Why had the Orions chosen her? Why had God let this happen to her? The anger and rage she had felt when she had been beaten and raped came back with a vengeance. She wanted to break something, to make it hurt like she did, but she was too weak to even get out of bed. She settled for twisting her blanket and crying herself to sleep.
Several days of rehab passed in a mental fog. Uhura went through the motions of her exercises, but she had no real enthusiasm for anything. Her body healed on its own - the external signs of injury all but gone.
Christine and McCoy made a fuss over her regularly. They encouraged and coddled her like mother hens. She tried to smile at their efforts, but could tell they weren't impressed. McCoy came to her on her third day post op and declared she was ready for visitors.
"Thank you, Doctor, but I really don't feel up to seeing anyone just yet." Uhura sighed.
So far, outside of Chris and McCoy, only the Captain and Mister Spock were allowed to visit. Their stays were brief but welcome none the less. Sometimes they came together; sometimes they came separately. She actually preferred them to visit separately. It was then that they would allow themselves to be more relaxed. Spock might speak of a new piece of music he was arranging for her to learn on the harp, instead of cipher algorithms. The Captain might ask her to tell him about her home back on Earth, instead of giving her a departmental briefing. Funny, they seemed awkward together in her presence. That thought almost intrigued her enough to bring her out of the depression she felt, but not quite.
"Well, the CMO says its time to join the world of the living again." McCoy's lecture brought Uhura out of her reverie.
"Hiding doesn't solve anything and only begs questions. Nobody knows the whole story and won't unless you choose to tell them. As far as the crew knows, you were kidnapped like the other women were and got hurt in the explosion you rigged that tore out the Orion's stealth screens. They left you for dead and tried to make a run for it with the other hostages." McCoy patted her hand and gave her his best smile.
Uhura liked the blueness of the CMO's wise old eyes and nodded her head in defeat.
"I know you're right, Doctor, but I'm not going to be very good company."
"Uhura, you've been through Hell and back regardless of which story they know. No one will expect you to be back to normal. Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome is real and it will take awhile for us to get you through it. No one is expecting you to play hostess." McCoy gently scolded her.
Uhura was trying to rush her convalescence and wasn't allowing herself time to grieve for herself. McCoy wanted to hurt Jim for making him solely responsible for her counseling. Yes, he was competent to do so, which was what Jim threw in his face when they argued about it. But he wasn't the best person onboard for the type of therapy Uhura needed. Jim had balked at even the mention of another therapist and slammed the door on further discussion by challenging the good Doctor to earn his keep. Finally, Kirk had relented in that he would allow McCoy to ask Uhura if she wanted McCoy or Doctor Yangstra to treat her. McCoy knew she would pick him for the comfort level alone - but he made her promise to consider the other Doctor if she didn't make the progress McCoy expected her to make.
"I know Doctor, but I'm much better at giving attention than receiving it." Uhura acknowledged the CMO.
McCoy grinned; they might have made some progress after all.
"Well, I'm glad we've made that little breakthrough. Now let's tell Pavel and Hikaru how glad we are to see them." He bullied her into nodding and went to the door to let her two favorite coworkers into the room.
McCoy stayed back after warning both men not to tire his patient. The Navigator and Helmsman approached in a 'reserved rush' to hug their missed friend. The CMO watched Uhura's reaction to the two closest men in her life. Yes, on some levels she was closer to Kirk, or even Spock, but Sulu and Chekov were her peers. Male coworkers she interacted with daily on both a business and personal level. One could hardly go anywhere on the ship and not see the three of them together at some point.
During one of her earliest sessions, Uhura had told him they were just good friends. She felt Pavel was too young for her and Sulu too much like herself for any serious passion to develop between them. There also was the fact that he and Janice had gotten very close before she had transferred to Officer Candidate School. Both Uhura and Sulu remained in contact with Rand and it would be too much like cheating to pursue a physical relationship.
McCoy needed to see how Uhura reacted to men she considered her peers. How she saw herself with males in general was important, but with equals, especially so. How close or how distant she kept them would tell him much in how they needed to proceed with her therapy. McCoy expected her to be superficially friendly and mimic old behavior, but impenetrable walls of protection could be erected if he didn't ward them off quickly. His expectations were met when he saw her stiffen as each man embraced her. Neither man noticed, as each was so caught up in their joy of reunion. To McCoy, it was just a little symptom of a much deeper problem.
Strangely, her behavior with Kirk and Spock had been just the opposite. McCoy expected her to be more submissive with her superior officers, but frankly, she appeared to be the one in charge - especially if they were all three together. What had transpired in their meld? Uhura had described a loving brilliance that had enveloped her and banished the terrors from her mind. Spock would say little, except to call it 'fascinating' and an obvious success. Jim would scarcely discuss it all. When pushed, he had bit McCoy's head off and stated 'his emotions weren't in need of the Doctor's services and he should focus on taking care of Uhura'. Of course, he had apologized for his outburst nearly as soon as he said it, but Kirk's anger or frustration, begged watching.
Currently, McCoy watched Uhura wilt under the loving attention of her two friends and decided she had been exposed enough. He rounded up Chekov and Sulu, urging them towards the door while promising them another visit in a day or so. Uhura was slumped back against her pillows, truly exhausted from the ten-minute visit. McCoy came up and gave her a big sincere smile.
"See? that wasn't so bad. Now those two will go out and give a progress report to everyone else. You should feel lucky to have friends who care so much for you."
"I should, Doctor, but right now I don't. Uhura sighed in a tired voice.
"I don't want anyone to count on me for anything right now. I can't return their feelings - it hurts too much."
"I know, Nyota, but that will pass. You just have to give yourself time to adjust. Your feelings will be in a state of flux for weeks to come. Some days you will feel nearly like before and sometimes you will want to hide from the world. I wish I could make it less painful, but it's a journey you must travel yourself. Just know I'm here for you and always will be."
The Doctor reached out and squeezed her shoulder gently, he tried not to take it personally when he felt her flinch under his touch as well. He knew she trusted him, but knowing something intellectually was a far cry from processing it emotionally.
"Why don't you take a nap now? We can talk more later, okay?" He suggested in his best bedside manner as he turned and left her alone.
The days wore on and Uhura had to admit that she did feel some better. McCoy had finally discharged her from Sickbay, but still had her restricted from duty. He insisted she work out in the gym every day to improve her strength and stamina. He also insisted she come talk to him once a day, to discuss what she was feeling.
She was thrilled to be out of Sickbay. Her quarters were her lair, a place she could hole up and feel secure. The workouts thrilled her quite a bit less. Christine insisted on being her workout buddy, which was to be expected, as they usually worked out together. But now Uhura questioned the Nurse's motivations, was it just to get her exercise and ensure her patient did too or was she there to observe for McCoy? She knew it was childish and probably a tad paranoid - even if true. She couldn't expect Chris to * just * be her friend. Besides, wouldn't a friend look out after you if she saw you weren't doing too well?
Fortunately for Chris, Uhura took most of this frustration out on the kickboxing dummy, rather than her real life partner. She channeled her anger into improving her hand-to-hand skills. Uhura wasn't healed enough to go all out, but she had bested three different men who had agreed to spar with her on determination alone. Everyone seemed to understand her need to protect herself. She had gotten numerous offers for training and sparring. Several offers were from Security tactical personnel. As soon as Uhura was strong enough, she would pursue those offers.
Once or twice, she had noticed the Captain watching her during his own workout. He didn't approach her, somehow sensing her need to conquer this on her own. And, did she really want the extra attention she would get if the Captain began tutoring his female Comm Officer in hand-to-hand? No, better to let that sleeping dog lie in the shadows.
It had been awkward, the first few ventures out into the common areas of the ship. The mess, gym, rec deck - all held friends and coworkers who wanted to welcome her back. She knew they meant well, but she was nearly to the point of screaming or hiding in her quarters. Either of which would get her locked back up in Sickbay.
Was this how they made the Captain feel whenever he returned to duty from an injury? Did the outpouring of affection smother Spock as much as she, whenever they bombarded him with their everyday emotions? If so, how did they tolerate it? Uhura didn't know, but if they could, then so could she. Sometimes you just had to grin and fake it. She had never really done that before. In the past, her feelings for her friends and coworkers were genuine. One day, she hoped that would be the case again. Didn't McCoy say for her to give it some time?
After nearly three weeks of restricted duty, Uhura marched into McCoy's office for their session and demanded a return to duty.
"I don't care if it's limited, light duty, half shifts - whatever! I just want to go back to work! The Comm Officer practically yelled.
The CMO just reared back in his chair and grinned at his indignant patient. He was glad to see passion of any sort return to her demeanor. For far too long she had been passive and aloof to the people and events around her. Now, this fire showed him she was ready for the next step in her recovery.
"All right Lieutenant, how about half shifts for a week and then we can go from there? Think you can handle four hours of alpha shift, or would you prefer one of the others?"
The scathing look that remark got him delighted the Doctor all the more.
"Of course Alpha shift, Doctor, and I'll take all the hours you'll let me have." It hadn't yet occurred to Uhura she had won so easily.
"Okay, Alpha. I'll clear it with the Captain and he, or Spock, will let you know if that works for them. No more than four hours per shift and only one shift per day or the deal is off. I still expect to see you everyday, right after duty. We'll regroup after one week and see if you're ready for more." McCoy gave her his best fatherly smile.
The idea of neither the Captain nor Spock wanting her back on alpha shift hit her like a palpable blow. She had been gone for nearly a month -- and Palmer was a very capable officer. Had they grown accustomed to her so soon? McCoy saw the look of panic descend upon her face.
"Lieutenant, what's wrong?"
"Do you really think they won't want me back on alpha shift?" She asked in a timid voice.
"Who? the Captain? Spock? Lieutenant, the only way you wouldn't go back to that shift was if * you * requested it. Lieutenant Palmer has done a fine job filling in for you, but the Captain made it clear, from the moment he found you, that it was your station when you were ready for it."
McCoy's heart did a somersault from the big smile she beamed at him. He patted her shoulder in response, and noted she didn't flinch from his touch anymore. More progress. Maybe he would prove Jim right after all. God, he hoped so.
Everyone seemed to get to the Bridge early. Spock was always early, but Chekov normally showed up with only seconds to spare. Every station had relinquished control over to alpha shift, save one - Communications had yet to be relieved.
Kirk busied himself scanning and signing off on the previous shift's log. Nearly three weeks of Neutral Zone patrolling had done little to improve his temperament. The irony of watchful boredom never escaped him.
Sulu and Chekov were thankful on many levels for Uhura's return. Now things could get back to normal. They were glad their friend was well enough to at least spend part of the shift with them. It would also minimize their own turns at boredom and perhaps keep the Captain from chewing on them too much.
The Captain didn't tolerate boredom well, so neither did anyone else on the same shift. Uhura usually had a flair for distracting him that seemed to give everyone a little more breathing room. Spock not only noticed her ability; he quite often instigated her behavior. Lieutenant Palmer was an excellent communications officer, but she didn't have the rapport with the senior crew that Uhura shared.
At 0800, Uhura appeared on the Deck. McCoy had forewarned them all to keep it very low key, no outpouring of emotions or cheers of welcome back. He recommended just a quiet, normal change of shift. Uhura took in the sight of the Bridge, right now a model of efficiency, and breathed a sigh of relief. She had prayed for no fanfare and was thankful those prayers had been answered. She went over to her relief and took report as she had for three years. The *normalcy* of that simple action, buoyed her more than the junior officer would ever know.
Report over, she sat at her board and played over the console like a musician. She checked in with all stations and felt strong enough to acknowledge the few well-wishers who took the time to offer something personal. Collecting status checks and incoming communiqués from Starfleet on her PADD, she stepped down to the Command chair in order to update the Captain.
"Communications update, Sir." She reported like any other morning.
Kirk looked over and down at the Comm Officer standing to his left. He had missed this moment every morning. No matter what mood he woke up in, Uhura usually coaxed a more pleasant one to appear when she smiled at him.
"So it is Lieutenant. What does Starfleet want us to know today?"
He took the PADD from her hands and allowed himself to touch her briefly in the exchange. It was a casual but tender gesture. At that moment, Spock stepped down on Kirk's right and tilted his head in seeming anticipation. However, his look was more for the Lieutenant than his Captain. It was Kirk's turn to raise a brow. He looked from Uhura to Spock, then back to Uhura. She finally could take it no longer and with an exaggerated sigh, daringly exclaimed -
"Starfleet says - 'Okay, Mama's back and we need to get on with the program. We've got Romulans to find and Outposts to protect!' "
Why did she let them bait her like that? The immediate release of tension from the Bridge in the form of uncontrollable laughter answered that question. She was home and they wanted her back. For now that was enough, the rest she would deal with in its own time.