Healing Touch Chapter 1 K/U [NC-17]
Image courtesy of Paramount and Trekcore
Disclaimer: Paramount owns Star Trek. I only own my fantasies.
Beta: Sincere gratitude goes to: Nyotava, Bandicca, Zapp and Trekskitten for such wonderful betaing! Each of them brought fresh insight and used their unique expertise to make this story a reality.
Summary: A sequel to "My Faith in You," addressing Uhura's recovery from a brutal attack and the depths of Kirk's commitment to keep her in his world.
Movie Night had been Sulu's idea; Uhura just went along to have something to do. Now she was having second thoughts, as the espionage thriller was leaving her cold. Sulu leaned over toward Uhura and whispered, his keen eyes taking her in. "You're not enjoying this, are you?"
"Sure, Ru." Uhura lied. She knew the helmsman loved action vids and she didn't want him to miss this one just because she wasn't in the mood.
Just at that moment the Captain got up from his seat near the front and exited the theater. Uhura's eyes tracked him out the door. When she looked back, she caught a small frown flashing across Sulu's face.
"What?" She asked, slightly flustered at being caught.
"Why is it that all the women in my life fall in love with the Captain?" Sulu asked with a resigned sigh.
"Don't be silly, Ru." Uhura scolded him.
"You're going to sit there and tell me that look wasn't full of longing?" Sulu asked in a skeptical whisper.
Uhura looked around; she and Sulu had gotten there late, so they had taken seats in the very back and were pretty much alone.
"I'm not telling you anything." She whispered back, giving him a meaningful glare before turning sympathetic.
"Besides, you know Janice only has eyes for you now." Uhura moved the topic from herself to the helmsman's real concern.
"So you tell me, but every comm she sends seems to inquire about him in some way." His smile was tight and laced with sadness.
"You're imagining things; Jan just wants to know what's going on. I'm sure she misses *all* of us. By now, ADTech School has to be very intense. You don't cram four years of engineering theory into your head without paying a price." Uhura chided.
She knew Sulu struggled with Janice's infatuation concerning the Captain. It had almost ended their relationship before it started. He admired Kirk greatly, but wasn't eager to be compared to him.
Sulu grimaced, but decided to squelch his insecurity. Deep down he knew Jan loved him. However, seeing Uhura follow Kirk with her eyes, just as Janice used to do, had dredged up painful memories.
"Come on, I know you're not into the vid. Let’s go to the lounge and I'll get us some tea." Sulu offered with a sweet smile.
Uhura grinned back. This was the man she knew and enjoyed spending time with. Since her attack on Bengali, nearly three months ago, Sulu had found a way to draw her out and keep her among the living. He did not even know the whole story of her kidnapping, and nothing of her rape, yet he seemed to know when she was floundering. It was then that he would show up at her door with that silly grin of his turned on high.
That is what he had done tonight. Somehow he had known she was upset after her latest session with Doctor McCoy and had been waiting for her in the mess hall. He never inquired directly on her thoughts. Instead, he just steered the conversation through events of the day until he struck a topic she felt comfortable discussing.
Eventually she had confided to him that she had yet to pass her final pysch scan and was worried with so little time left. If she did not pass it within the three-month window of her injury, she would be planet-bound for further rehab. Starfleet was very particular that everyone aboard ship was a stable individual. Long months, enclosed on a vessel with little distraction, were not healthy for volatile personalities.
Now, sipping tea and sitting across from Sulu, Uhura had to admit she felt some better. She still had nearly two weeks and McCoy had told her she was really close to passing; she would just think positively and trust that Fate would not bring her this close, only to fail.
"So, Ny, how are your music lessons going with Mister Spock?" Sulu asked, ready for a new topic.
"Pretty good, I guess," she smiled. "At least he hasn't told me to stay away."
It had been good to start her lessons again, but the latest piece of music the science officer was trying to teach her was nearly impossible. The speed of plucking, and the range of string strokes, was proving to be more than her human hands could accomplish. Nevertheless, the Vulcan continued to patiently place her hands on the strings and walk her through the motions time and time again.
Inwardly Uhura smiled; she liked the feel of Spock's hands on hers. The heat of his skin was always so pronounced, a sharp contrast to the coolness of his eyes. Not that he looked coldly upon her, quite the contrary, he was very solicitous of her in private, but the dark depths of his eyes seemed to engulf her if she looked at him very long.
She once jokingly thought to herself that perhaps Spock enjoyed it as well. Perhaps that was why he refused to give up on this musical arrangement and go with something a bit easier. She yawned and embarrassingly covered her mouth, looking contritely at Sulu.
"Oh well, I guess I'm really entertaining you tonight." Sulu chuckled and rolled his eyes.
"Stop it, Ru. I've had a lovely evening, but it’s been a long day of boredom and tomorrow doesn't promise to be much better." Uhura sighed deeply.
"Yeah, I'm not looking forward to another month of patrolling the Neutral Zone either." Sulu commiserated.
They had been told to expect at least that much longer on their current mission. No one was enjoying the mission, especially Captain Kirk. When Uhura saw him leave the movie tonight, the tenseness in his posture was visible, even from across the darkened room. The endless hours of waiting for an unseen enemy were having a noticeable effect on him. His confident smile was rarely shown but his temper was.
Soon after their patrol mission had begun, Spock had convinced the captain to accompany him to the gym nearly every day during the middle of the shift. Ostensibly to learn a new Vulcan battle exercise, but Uhura thought it was just an opportunity to drain off excess energy. It seemed to work. He always came back to the Bridge, calmer, more like his usual self. In fact, alpha shift was somewhat jealous that beta shift was reaping the benefits of the split shift the commanders had opted to work.
Sulu didn't seem to mind too much though. He was beginning to rack up some serious hours sitting in the center chair. Captain Kirk saw no reason to call Scotty away from Engineering just to command dead space. Sulu didn't care if they were moored in Spacedock; any time at the Conn was good to him. Uhura smiled at the helmsman.
"Oh? You aren't interested in more time sitting in the center seat?" She grinned wickedly.
"Well, that's the only perk I can see. I hope Mister Spock continues the Captain's lessons until this mission is over." Sulu confided sheepishly.
"I don't think you have anything to worry about, Ru. Spock knows a calm captain makes for a happy ship, so he will find some type of diversion to keep him content." Uhura replied sagely.
For all his professed logic and non-emotion, the Vulcan seemed highly in tune with those closest to him. He would come up with some logical basis for his actions, but deep down she knew it just boiled down to the fact that he cared for them all. The thought comforted her. To know Spock would always be looking out for her was like a balm over her wounded soul.
Her days were slowly going back to normal. Work was a calming routine for her. No, her problems were the nights, hours alone, with only her memories to stalk her. Memories of cruel Orion faces looming over her, coupled with feelings of humiliation those memories still evoked. Chest crushing anxiety that attempted to smother her, as she lay sleepless on her bunk.
The Captain had found her broken and dying in the wreckage of the Orion compound on Bengali Station. Christine had told Uhura how he had stayed during the long hours they had fought to save her. Moreover, she remembered all too well the mind meld Spock had initiated between her and the Captain to repair the damage to her mind. His call to her was like a Siren's song, except, instead of dying upon the rocks, she had been reborn.
She had been saved, but there appeared to be a high cost to him for her salvation. It wasn't obvious, but Uhura sensed a barrier between them now. A wall he had erected as efficiently as any Vulcan to keep her at a distance. Oh, he would still smile and joke with her, but always in a crowd. It seemed once she was back on duty, he had withdrawn himself and locked away anyone but 'the Captain' to her.
That hurt once she had realized it, but she understood he had given a big part of himself to bring her back from the darkness. She had felt the depth of his desire for her and his dilemma of wanting a member of his crew. The frustration of having someone so near that the ship could/would share him with and the mandate of it not being allowed. Funny, she knew it wasn't Starfleet's regulations against fraternization that held him back, but some deeply embedded emotional rule within his own psyche that did so.
Perhaps that was why she gave him the space he needed now. Uhura knew what it was like to be emotionally adrift, struggling to regroup one's fundamental truth of self. She could wholeheartedly wish him success in his journey, knowing he felt the same toward her.
The irony of it was, the one man she actually felt a desire to be with was distant and forbidden to her. McCoy had told her plainly that intimacy issues were the reason she had yet to pass her pysch exam. Knowing it hadn't made the solution any clearer. The thought of allowing anyone to touch her made her skin crawl. Except for the handsome man sitting before her now, a man as equally forbidden as the Captain, albeit for very different reasons, Uhura felt no desire toward anyone.
And her love for Sulu was more emotional than physical. Sulu was a port of calm in a currently stormy sea, a place in which she could take refuge. His romantic involvement with Janice made him 'safe' in her eyes. Someone she could be close to but who would not expect something in return. Suddenly, she felt guilty; guilty for using Sulu for support when she really wanted another man to be the one comforting her.
"What's wrong, Ny?" Sulu asked. He had let her thoughts turn inward for a long while, but the look of melancholy that had come over her face had forced him to bring her back. It pained him to see her so lost.
"Nothing, Ru." She smiled sadly, "Just that I'm sorry you seem stuck with trying to put me back together. It's not a fair burden, but I do want you to know I love you for being here for me." The confession cut his heart in two.
"Nyota, don't apologize to me. Isn't that what friends are for? Don't you believe Pavel and Christine want to help you too? We all love you very much and want you back."
Tears filled Uhura's eyes, but she wouldn't let them go. The unabashed look of devotion Sulu was casting her way, and the mention of her other friend's concern, was nearly overwhelming.
"And I want to be back with you all, Ru. Just hold on for a little bit longer. I just feel like a ship five degrees off true. You know you can steer, but the view is a bit off. Well, that's me. I know I'm off course, but I can still navigate to the goal." Uhura fumbled with an analogy that might make sense to him.
Sulu gave her a big grin.
"Good attempt at communications, Comm Officer. I get the point. In that analogy, Doctor McCoy would be the equivalent to Mister Scott. And with the 'Miracle Worker' on your side, I have no doubts you will pass that exam with flying colors. Come on and let me walk you back to your quarters -- you've let your tea get cold anyway."
Uhura smiled back at him as she rose from the table and tossed her cup in the recycler. His confidence and enthusiasm were contagious; too bad he could not take the test for her.
Kirk looked up from the report he was reading and acknowledged the visitor requesting entrance. He was curious who would come by so late, but hardly surprised to see McCoy enter his quarters.
"Good Evening, Bones, what brings you by so late?" Kirk inquired with a gentle smile. For all he knew the good doctor was coming by for a nightcap.
"Good Evening, Captain." McCoy answered, and Kirk was immediately on his guard. The CMO had addressed him as 'Captain', not 'Jim'; no this was not a social call, coupling that with the late hour, and Kirk's internal alarms were blaring like a red alert.
"What is it Bones? This doesn't appear to be good news to me." Kirk turned in his chair and faced the Doctor squarely.
"It's not going to be, Jim." McCoy bit out, but softened it with a pleading look at the Captain.
Kirk got up and poured them both a drink, motioning for the doctor to sit.
"All right Bones, tell me the bad news." Kirk braced himself for whatever the surgeon was so reluctant to tell him.
"Uhura isn't going to pass her pysch exam in time unless we do something drastic." The CMO blurted.
Kirk was dumbfounded. He hadn't expected Uhura to be the topic of McCoy's concern. "Explain, Doctor, your last report had her progress on target." An edge of anger crept into his tone; he didn't like to be blind-sided like this.
"I don't know what went wrong. She was doing great and then she just hit a brick wall. We can't seem to find a way around it." McCoy sighed; he was at a loss and had exhausted every idea he could think of.
"What's the issue? You said a brick wall, a wall against what?" The captain's intense eyes drilled into the CMO's blue ones, trapping him within the gaze.
"Intimacy issues, Jim. Uhura can't seem to allow herself to feel vulnerable enough with anyone to make a physical, or for that matter, emotional connection. It is very understandable considering the trauma she suffered, and something she will eventually get past, but we are out of time. Unless her next exam can be benchmarked within the normal limits of her scan on file, I can't release her back to full duty. You know the regs; three months are all Starfleet allows as a recuperative window aboard ship. If Uhura doesn't pass the test within the next two weeks, she'll have to be transferred planet-side for continued rehab." McCoy took a long sip of his drink and stared back at Kirk.
"That's not acceptable, Doctor, she's been through too much to sit her down now. Uhura’s place is on Enterprise, not some rehab center. You said something about drastic measures -- "
"You won't like them either." McCoy cut him off.
"I want options, Doctor -- something more than sending her off the ship." Kirk barked back, slapping the desk with the flat of his hand.
"All right, Captain. Here's your option. Someone needs to approach Uhura and make that connection for her. Someone who can get her to trust him so completely she can finally heal. Do *you* know anyone like that, Captain?"
McCoy was irate now. He was angry with Jim for forcing him to go against his better judgment the last three months. However, he was angrier with himself for allowing it to happen. Now what had it cost Uhura? Her career -- at least on a ship? He was angry with Jim, who had forced him to become her therapist when Doctor Yangstra would have been the better choice. But, would it have really made a difference? Had he been so off-base in judging her emotional status? No, he did not believe that, but it still left him angry and the captain was a good target. And he needed Jim to feel the desperation if they were to have a chance….
"She's not involved with anyone? I thought she and M'Benga were close--" Kirk's mind was reeling from McCoy's implication.
"No, she's not involved with Geoffrey, hasn't been for some time now." McCoy snapped back, not willing to help Kirk find another solution except the one he had already come up with. The one he waited for Kirk to realize himself.
"She's a beautiful woman, surely she has been involved with someone since M'Benga then?" Kirk queried, not sure how much McCoy knew of the Lieutenant's love life, or how much he would share if he did.
"Yes, she's very beautiful, and yes, she's had a relationship or two since Geoffrey, but they're closed chapters in her book and not something we have time to reopen. There's only one man Uhura has feelings for now, the one man who could reach her when she was sick and locked within those Orion nightmares. You know this Jim; you know it's you she cares about. Right or wrong, you're the only one who can reach past the barrier she has erected around her trust and bring her back to her old self."
McCoy did not say it gently; he did not take the sting out of the hard slap of reality just inflicted upon Kirk. Jim had promised Uhura she would always be on Enterprise if she wanted to be and he had bent many rules to keep that promise. The CMO waited with a twisted curiosity to see if Kirk would bend one more.
Kirk's head snapped up, almost as if the blow had been physical. A rush of red anger flushed his face at being called out by Bones. Standing, he transformed into ‘the Captain’ in front of McCoy. No trace of Jim, of the friend he so desperately needed right now, escaped the look from Kirk’s hard hazel eyes.
"Then you don't have an option, Doctor. I cannot be that person for her and you know it. Does she even know what you came here to talk about?" Kirk's tone was soft and deadly cold.
McCoy didn't flinch from the reprimand. He knew Jim would reject his idea out of hand. However, he hoped, if he could get Jim to think upon it for a moment, that Kirk would see it really was their only option. He drew himself up in an approximation of attention before replying.
"No, Sir, she does not. The Lieutenant currently has no idea how dire her situation is. She knows we have a concern, but I have led her to believe it is not as significant as it is. Advising her of it would only compound the problem, Captain."
"Very well, dismissed, Doctor. I expect another option to be forthcoming." Kirk hit the button to open his cabin door, not giving McCoy an opportunity to reply.
McCoy bowed his head, not in defeat, but in sadness that he had damaged two souls. Jim might never forgive him and Uhura would be lost to them soon. He said nothing, but walked through the door, the hiss of its closure another accusation against him.
Kirk, alone now, sat down hard in his chair. He tossed his drink back and immediately got up to pour himself another. He stopped in mid pour and put both glass and bottle down. That wouldn't solve the problem; drowning in alcohol would not make reality change.
He paced across the room once or twice before sitting on his bunk. He rubbed his eyes and lay back across the mattress. It was not comfortable, but he did not want to be comfortable right now. He did not think he deserved to be if Uhura was going to be shipped away from Enterprise -- no, squelch that -- away from *him*. At least he should be honest with himself. How could he hope to solve the problem if he could not acknowledge the truth?
Ever since the meld with Spock and Uhura, he had felt at a loss -- incomplete. He had sensed Spock's interest in her and bristled at the idea. Yet, what could he offer her? Nothing, in public. Secret rendezvous on ship and shore leave? That was worse. Did he really even know what he felt for Uhura? He had buried those emotions when he had withdrawn from her mind. The ecstasy they had shared in the meld was too tempting to recreate in physical form. He knew he desired her and that had scared him enough to back away. He knew his resistance was low where she was concerned. He knew that Uhura herself wasn't emotionally strong enough now to deal with anything as complicated as a shipboard romance with the Captain.
Did he love her? Yes. Was he *in* love with her? He didn't think so, but he was afraid any time spent in her company might change that. He couldn't allow it to happen. The dynamics of their relationship would change and so would everyone else's. He couldn't risk his command for a love Starfleet would separate if it were discovered.
Was that selfish? Probably, but he knew his first love would always be the stars and eventually he would come to resent anyone who interfered with that love. Hadn't Uhura professed much the same to him when she came onboard? She had said nothing was as important as being amongst the stars. So, how did he deal with the problem of keeping her aboard Enterprise without jeopardizing it as well? He sighed, no answers forthcoming.
Could he actually approach Uhura with an offer of intimacy and remain unscathed in the aftermath? Even so, how would she react to such a proposal? With a hard slap across the face, he imagined. It sounded lame even to him and he knew it to be the truth. He didn't see how he could help her; there were too many eyes aboard ship that followed his every move, too many people who would notice if he showed an interest in the beautiful officer.
His position on the bunk was still uncomfortable. Kirk rolled over onto the bed vertically and fell into a fitful sleep. The unanswered questions were still demanding an audience, questions he would have to answer sooner or later.
Uhura was deep into her diagnostics when the new orders came in from Starfleet. The hail startled her as she tried to connect the last circuit that would actually allow her to receive the transmission. Once connected, she was further startled by the fact that the orders were encoded as eyes only for the captain.
Chekov turned around in his chair and exclaimed. "Hopefully, the Czar has finally gotten something better for us to do."
Sulu grinned from the Conn--Kirk and Spock had been off the Bridge for over two hours now.
"Be careful what you ask for, Pavel." Uhura warned. "These orders are 'eyes only' for Captain Kirk." She reported as she downloaded the transmission to her padd and looked over to Sulu.
He nodded, giving silent permission for her to leave the Bridge and take the orders down to Kirk in the gym. He looked excited and wistful--excited they might get out of patrol duty after all and wistful that he was not 'the Captain' who would be reading the orders.
Uhura smiled at the look, knowing exactly what the helmsman was thinking. She winked at him and headed for the lift. She made her way to the auxiliary gym, where the two senior officers had said they would be.
The window was opaque, but Uhura could see shadows moving rapidly across the room. She palmed the door and froze just inside the entrance, taking in the sight and sound before her. A driving percussive music was playing loudly within the gym. The music was obviously Vulcan, sounding very ancient, almost tribal.
The two officers she sought were intently involved in battle maneuvers that appeared to be choreographed to the blaring music. Each held a long metallic shaft that had a flared mock blade on one end and a weighty cudgel on the other. Both Kirk and Spock were in deep concentration, attacking and defending themselves simultaneously. They were moving so fast and swiping at each other so furiously; Uhura was scared to interrupt for fear of them seriously injuring one another.
Spock, dressed in long gray thermals, appeared to be on the attack. His movements were quick and efficient. The slash and parry moves were perfectly timed to the rhythm of the music. The choreography was precise and potentially deadly.
Captain Kirk was only dressed in gray gym shorts, and those were drenched in the same sweat that soaked his hair and covered his exposed skin. No wonder he came back to the Bridge each day so sedate; the energy he was expending in deflecting the Vulcan's blows was enormous. Some strikes were high and the human had to duck low, only to have to jump up, or back, as the return stroke came at him from a completely different angle.
Uhura stood mesmerized, watching the two men battle and dance. Yes, for all the violence, it was still graceful enough to be called a dance, a warrior's dance. She was astonished that Spock seemed to be attacking the Captain at full strength. She knew that, as a Vulcan, the science officer was much stronger than a human was. His normal calm and gentle nature was nowhere to be seen in the intent hunting expression she now saw on his face. His eyes were fixed tightly on the prey before him now.
The human under attack used a set of intricate maneuvers to absorb and deflect the superior strength being directed toward him. He deflected and countered with a speed Uhura found extraordinary. She was amazed that, not only could Kirk keep up with Spock, but that he continued to do so over an extended period of time. The weapon appeared to be heavy, yet he used it expertly to counter the Vulcan's blows. His own gaze was locked with the first officer's, attempting to anticipate the next attack.
Sweat continued to pour off the heavily breathing captain, yet Spock had not even begun to perspire. His thermals were still as dry as when he had donned them. Uhura knew Vulcan was extremely hot and arid, but she had never equated the difference in people- terms until she saw the striking contrast between her commanding officers. The gray thermals hid the Vulcan's lean musculature, but not his skillful grace. However, Uhura had no such problem in admiring Kirk's glistening form and seemingly more powerful build. Nearly three months of this intense regimen had more sharply defined Kirk's already fine physique. His back, shoulders and arms were deeply muscled from exercising with the heavy Vulcan weapon. She noticed he had also lost a few pounds in all the right places.
Neither man had yet to notice her entrance, so she decided waiting them out was the safest course. Surely they had to take a break soon. She couldn't fathom they could keep this pace without one or the other being injured.
The rhythm of the music changed, became harsher and Kirk seemed to change tactics, to become the aggressor in their exercise. Uhura watched him swing the bladed end full force at the Vulcan's chest. Spock leaped back, the blunted blade missing him by millimeters.
The music rose to a pitched fervor and both men launched themselves at each other. The brunt of the attack was absorbed as the weapon shafts made contact. It appeared obvious that the Vulcan would easily overpower the Human in such a direct onslaught, but Uhura was surprised to see Kirk held his own long enough to spin out of reach. Both combatants swung their weapons high and smashed into the other just as the music roared to a climatic finish. They stood frozen for a moment, then, as if the trance had been broken, they separated and acknowledged each other with a formal bow.
Both men looked over and caught sight of Uhura at the same time. Spock raised a brow in silent query for the reason of her intrusion. The Captain, too winded to ask, frowned slightly before walking toward her. Uhura shook herself back to reality before grabbing the towel off the hook near the door and handing it to him as he approached.
"What's urgent, Uhura?" He asked breathlessly as he began to wipe his face and neck with the proffered towel.
"I have an eyes-only communiqué from Starfleet for you, Captain." She replied professionally, trying to appear as if she saw such an exhibition every day. Waiting while he finished toweling dry, she attempted to remain totally oblivious to his nearness and state of undress.
"Let’s hope it's something to cheer about shall we?" He asked in a flip tone and shot her a look that said he was not betting on it being good news. He took the padd from her and keyed in his command code to decrypt the downloaded message.
Uhura smiled at Spock as Kirk continued to scan the message. The Vulcan tipped his head in a slight bow and walked over to get the Captain and himself bottled water from the cooler unit. Kirk finished the message and traded the padd to Spock for a bottle of water. He drained most of it in one continuous swig and poured the rest over his head while the first officer also read the communiqué.
"Lieutenant, there will be a follow up transmission coming in soon. And, since I think Mister Spock has bounced me around the room enough for one day --"
"Captain, the Tevakh t' wuh Khy'lan is hardly meant to 'bounce you around’; its intent is to teach one how to use an opponent's greater strength against them in physical combat." Spock interjected in a sigh of resignation.
'Tevakh t' wuh Khy'lan ' or 'death of the giant' Uhura translated automatically to herself.
"Yes, and starship captains who frequently go down on landing parties. I remember, Spock." Kirk finished what apparently was a very tired subject between the two officers.
"Give us an hour and then shunt that second transmission to briefing room two." Kirk turned his attention back to Uhura. "I've got to have a shower and some lunch before I do anything else. Tell Sulu to plot a course for the Potakai system in sector six, warp five. Starfleet must consider this pretty important if we can't wait for our relief to take over patrol."
"Yes, Sir, briefing room two in one hour and Potakai system, sector six, warp five." Uhura acknowledged as Spock handed her the padd.
"Thank you. And Uhura, log the orders in for me, will you?" Kirk asked sweetly as he continued to dry himself off with the towel.
"Yes, sir." She grinned back. Logging in the orders allowed her to read them too. She turned and left for the Bridge.