I'll Be Home for Christmas K/U [G]
Image courtesy of Paramount, Trekcore and Moi
Disclaimer: The characters are Paramount's, their actions are mine.
Summary: Okay, a couple of things: I'm bastardizing a nearly completed story in order to have something for the Christmas Challenge. Secondly, since TMP was released December 7th 1979, I figure the events of V'Ger happened between December 7-10th. Add a short shakedown cruise and we're bumping serious Christmas time...
It had to be the excitement of Christmas warring with her anticipation of a new mission, but somehow visions of snowy nights curled around a toasty fire battled with Uhura's sense of urgency regarding the comm she had just received. She told herself that the chill in the air was all in her imagination because the ship's public area temperature was supposed to be constant. Never mind that she grew up in a land devoid of snow, four years at the Academy with holiday leaves in the mountains had contaminated her thoroughly to such Rockwellian imagery.
It was late but the computer informed her that Kirk was still in the Officer’s Lounge. She made her way through the quiet halls, a journey like countless others made to deliver coded orders. Normally she would have notified him via the comm, shunting the communiqué to his quarters for private viewing so she could set her sights on the more personal pleasures of a good vid and a mug of mulled cider. It was not strictly mandatory that such orders be hand delivered, but this packet was encoded with Admiral Nogura’s own cipher. That could mean only one thing—a decision had been made regarding Kirk retaining permanent command of the Enterprise.
Their shakedown cruise was rife with speculation. Would HQ allow Kirk to stay aboard? In times of war an admiral might take command of a whole task force, but not just a single ship. A ship of the line was commanded by a rank no higher than commodore, and even those were rare. Now, as they made their way back home to Earth for a final check and resupply, the crew was anxious to know who would be commanding the newly refurbished Enterprise’s maiden five year mission.
Nyota stepped through the door of the officer’s lounge; a fast image of schematics against the large viewport was quickly replaced by the inky black of space as the comp sensed her presence. Standing with his back to her, Kirk now seemingly watched the stars move in slow motion across the dark void. The ship's speed had been reduced in anticipation of an opening berth within Spacedock and again, to Nyota's holiday-addled mind, the stars glided past like gently falling snow. The lights remained low, allowing Kirk to catch her reflection in the transparency of the bulkhead, the peacefulness of the scene in conflict with the piles of data wafers strewn across the low table. His eyes followed her as she brought the padd to him.
"So, Commander, do you bring glad tidings?" They both knew who the orders were from-- Uhura by the transmission coordinates, Kirk by intuition.
"I don’t know, sir, however, they *are* signed by Admiral Nogura." Nyota answered Kirk as he took the padd. A small sigh escaped him but his hand remained steady as he entered his command codes to release the encryption. She watched his face for any sign of the verdict, catching only the minuteness of a flinch as his eyes scanned the screen.
"Sir? Is it good news? Are you keeping the Enterprise?" She knew she was out of line by questioning him on the subject but his silence was too much to endure.
"Well, that is actually several points below what the admiral recommends--far behind keelhauling or court-martialing—his first two choices. However, since it is not politically expedient to do either, he is forced to reduce my rank back to captain in order to turn command of the Enterprise over to me for the duration of her mission. Oh, and he says for me to consider it my Christmas present... ."
"Duration of the mission?—Do you mean you're going to be the captain of the entire five-year mission?" Uhura tried to keep the incredulity out of her voice. She would not allow herself to think of it during the shakedown—to have him on the bridge again for another full mission was outside the pale of anyone's expectations.
"It would seem so, Commander." Uhura watched him reread the orders several times, as if he expected to find something different on the second or third pass.
"At least the Admiral is trying to have a sense of humor about it," she offered gingerly.
"No, not really," Kirk answered drolly with a resigned shrug and shake of his head before dismissing the topic. "How do you think the crew will react to the news?" He kept any excitement out of his voice, attempting to focus on the immediate ramifications of his assignment. It was common knowledge that there were serious grumblings when he originally took command away from Decker.
"I think they will be ecstatic, Captain." The old title came to Uhura's tongue effortlessly but Kirk sensed there was more she wasn't saying.
"How many transfers have been requested?" He always unnerved her with his insight.
"Four, Captain, and two contingents." .
"I've seen the four, but who are the two shipping out if I stay?" Kirk's eyes glazed, internally trying to speculate on who else might be dissatisfied with his permanent assignment.
"Doctor Chapel and Chief Rand, sir," She thought perhaps the sting of old crew leaving would prick hard, but he just nodded his head, as if their leaving was entirely expected.
Kirk's eyes came back into focus, suddenly centering on Uhura as he asked, "What about you? You've told me about everyone else, but not what you've decided. Are you staying?"
Uhura felt her heart rise into her throat, caught off guard by his question and the sudden intensity of his gaze. She bought time by asking her own question. "Where else would I go?"
Realizing she had not said yes, Kirk answered sincerely, "You have many options--a promotion if you accept that teaching position at the Academy, several offers from other ships, an opportunity within the General Staff--I've done my homework." He tried to end it with a teasing grin but it fell short of his usual indulgent smirk.
"But none of those places are home. I told you once that the Enterprise is my home and all I ever had to give up to live here was you." She watched his body tense and his eyes grow dark as she spoke of their night together those months ago in Monaco; a few shared hours of tenderness stolen away from the responsibilities of work and duty. That night Kirk had dropped his guard, allowing himself to be vulnerable. Tonight he resisted, his only acknowledgement of their time together a defeated smile. No mention of their last meeting had passed between them since Kirk had taken command of the ship. At the onset of the V'Ger crisis Uhura had pushed that evening out of her mind, staying focused on her job to do her part toward survival. But after Earth was saved she could not deny the hurt she felt at his continued distancing.
"We did it before," he offered softly, now stepping so close to Uhura she had to look up at him.
"That was a lifetime ago. A lot has passed between us since then." She did not flinch from his gaze; five years in this man's shadow was hanging in the balance.
"I still need my best people beside me." She felt his hands on her shoulders but his eyes alone could have held her in stasis.
"Five years is a long time." She still remembered all the visiting princesses that failed to beam down until the next morning. It was hard to remain faceless in the crowd, pretending not to notice when his charm succeeded in more than diplomacy.
"The ship demands a heavy price." Uhura knew he spoke of his own feelings too, as captain he would have to remain aloof and disengaged when she decided to take her own lovers. Neither of them could expect the other to remain chaste.
"And so do I," she spoke with a defiant rise of her chin. Kirk tilted his head but said nothing, unsure of what was coming next.
"Meet me for breakfast in the morning--and I still get dibs on movie night--I got used to sitting on the front row last voyage and think I want to keep that perk. Also, you'll still be in charge of getting the popcorn. Don't forget I like extra butter." She stepped out of Kirk's shocked grasp, continuing her extortions as she made for the door. "--Oh! And don't forget the parties! Attendance is mandatory at all ship-wide events--no more hiding out with Spock just to avoid a sprig or two of mistletoe or the stray Deltan greeting." She stopped in the doorway, her body keeping the doors from shutting as she turned to gauge his response.
Kirk was biting his bottom lip, trying to keep his composure as he raised his hands in mock supplication while offering a slight bow. "Yes, ma'am, the terms *are* steep but I think they are within acceptable limits." She never ceased to surprise him, but he recognized her deflection into humor as a way to ease their reconciliation from lovers back again to captain and crew.
She beamed her best smile at him. Even with all the reservations in her heart, where else did she really want to be? "Merry Christmas and welcome home, Captain! We're all home now."