Healing Touch Chapter 4 K/U [NC-17]
Image courtesy of a Sims mod and a tweak by me.
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.
Kirk waited in the transporter room, dressed in a midnight blue suede outfit he considered his formal ambassadorial ensemble. He had left the Bridge in Spock's hands when the Potakai granting them permission to enter standard orbit had signaled them. In about five minutes, he and Uhura were due to beam down and meet the Dowager. That is, if Uhura ever made it to the transporter room....
Scotty stood behind the transporter console and tried not to smile at his pacing captain. He had already beamed down their gear and was just waiting for the Potakai to signal their readiness for the Federation ambassador and his consort. He sure hoped Uhura got there before that signal came through.
The door swooshed open and both men turned to see who entered the room. Uhura glided in wearing a resplendent silk dress in deep magenta. The cut was reminiscent of Old World China, with ribbon knotted closures down the front of it. The outfit clung to her like a second skin, showing each delicious curve. Her hair was upswept and pierced with black lacquered dowels to continue the Asian aura. Uhura smiled at the two speechless officers and stepped onto the transporter platform.
"Aren't they ready for us yet, sirs?" She asked in feigned innocence.
Kirk openly eyed her in admiration before joining her on the dais.
"At any moment now, Lieutenant." He returned in the same tone.
At the signal from the console, Scotty nearly jumped out of his skin. He was trying to acknowledge the Bridge, while continuing to stare at Uhura. Kirk didn't have the heart to chastise the smitten engineer. Scotty rarely noticed anything that didn't have a warp core attached to it and Uhura certainly seemed to be relishing the attention.
"Ah, Scotty, I think that would be our signal. We're ready when you can get around to it." Okay, so he couldn't resist teasing him a little.
"Oh, ah...aye Captain. Ye both have safe journey and I'd be willing to hear what the Potakai consider in the way o' refreshment when ye get back." The engineer jerked his eyes back to the transporter console and concentrated on his assigned task.
"I'll try to bring you back some samples -- for cultural education, of course." Kirk chuckled.
"Aye, that would be grand, sir." Scotty beamed back as he turned them into sparkles.
They found themselves materialized in a large antechamber. The walls were covered in varying shades of gauzy pastel cloth, bunched and draped from high fixtures embedded in the stone walls. A melodious sound emanated from all around them. Uhura could feel the music as well as hear it.
"Sub-harmonics, Cap - uh, Ambassador Kirk." Uhura caught herself. "Much of the sound is below our threshold of hearing, but we can feel it, like a deaf person can sense the bass tones of a song."
Kirk looked around, taking in the surroundings. While the room was large, it definitely appeared to be a staging area for formal occasions. Large double doors stood at either end of the room. The floor was made of a highly polished stone, visually similar to granite.
The doorway at the far end of the room opened soundlessly and an ancient looking Potakai male approached them slowly. Though he appeared old, he stood straight and walked with dignity. His head was covered in short, white feathers that they both recognized as the traditional styling of a Ménage householder caste. The whiteness of his feathers was striking against the purple black of his skin. When he reached them, the Potakai bowed, placing both hands over his face as he did so. Kirk and Uhura returned the traditional greeting and waited for him to speak.
"Ambassador Kirk and My Lady, the Dowager Anata'ka awaits you in the Audience Hall." The Potakai announced, then walked back the way he had come, not waiting for the Federation guests to speak.
Kirk shrugged and motioned for Uhura to precede him as they followed the alien.
Upon entry into the Audience Hall, both Kirk and Uhura were startled by the sheer size of the room. It easily could house a soccer field from Earth. The ceiling arched high overhead and was embedded with large rose-colored crystals, which cast vibrant reflections across the room. The floors and walls were much like the antechamber, polished stone and draped in cloth, but on a much grander scale. This floor practically gave off its own light and the cloth hanging from the walls was obscenely rich in both color and texture.
The old Potakai headed for the closest end of the long room. A raised platform was there and a woman sat patiently waiting in one of several very large jewel encrusted chairs. When he reached the bottom step of the platform, the Potakai bowed low toward the woman.
"Dowager Anata'ka, I bring you the Federation Ambassador Kirk and his Lady Consort." The Potakai introduced them, then stepped back toward the side, apparently finished with his task.
Kirk glanced over to Uhura before stepping in the same spot, bowing in the traditional and more formal style he had studied from their research files.
"I am gratified you have learned our customs, Ambassador. Please, you and your consort, approach." The dowager spoke in fluent, but slightly accented, Standard.
Kirk held out his arm for Uhura to hold as they climbed the steps together toward the dowager's throne. They had to hold themselves in check, as the lesser gravity made the climb ridiculously easy. It wouldn't do to bound up the steps in graceless energy.
At the pinnacle they found themselves staring face to face with the Dowager Anata’ka, empress of the Potakai star system. Though she was reportedly three hundred and sixty two standard years old, Uhura could not believe it.
The woman seated before them was strikingly beautiful in the most exotic way. Her hair consisted of feathers that spanned her head somewhat like a peacock's tail. The floor length plumage was gold and teal. Currently, the dowager had her feathery finery at rest, but Uhura knew she could extend them in a flamboyant display that would make any Vegas show girl proud. However, the most distinctive element to the dowager's appearance was her many tattoos. Every visible inch of her skin was covered in clan symbols of the people she had conquered and absorbed into her affiliations.
Uhura knew each tattoo on her face represented a clan that had been conquered in battle, while those on her arms represented a peaceful merging. Potakai believed that the taking of life left a mark on the living spiritually and they manifested that belief physically. Incredibly, Uhura realized that nearly four hundred years of Potakai history was mapped out on the body of its ruler.
The Potakai empress was swathed in long opulent robes embroidered with many of the same markings she wore on her skin. Each symbol was stitched in a different jeweled tone. Uhura had a flash of a kabuki dancer before her eyes and thought the resemblance uncanny.
During the brief moment Uhura had assessed the dowager, she realized the dowager was doing the same to her. A small smile appeared on the ruler's face and Uhura heard in her mind, rather than with her ears.
/ Ah, Child, my looks are pleasing to you as yours are to me. I think I would like to know more about kabuki /
Uhura would have sworn she heard a giggle at the end.
"Lady Dowager, I am your Federation representative, James T Kirk and allow me to present my consort, Nyota Uhura." Kirk greeted the empress formally, but warmly, gracing her with his most charming smile.
The dowager flashed her own version of a charming smile at them both. She might be over three hundred years old, Uhura thought, but the charisma she emitted was palpable.
"Ambassador, please forgive me for requesting this private audience before tonight's festivities, but no one is allowed in my grandson's presence before I meet them. I can afford to take no risks with his life."
"We understand, Your Highness. It must be a very anxious time for you and Ramsha’ka" Kirk replied.
"Ambassador, I have waited far too long for this moment to risk it now. And there is more—I need to speak with you alone—"
At the startled look from Uhura, the dowager spoke directly to her.
"My Lady, please do not be offended, but I must quickly discuss some matters of great import with the Ambassador. To do so, I must speak into his mind and he mine. You would be standing here alone for some time and I think that the greater offense. Please, allow Pahzj to escort you to your apartments, there you may wait in comfort."
Uhura glanced at Kirk and caught the slight nod of agreement.
"Thank you, Your Highness, for thinking of my comfort" Uhura replied graciously.
Kirk attempted to escort her down the steps, but Uhura stopped him with a slight touch against his hand.
"I’m fine, sir" she murmured.
Kirk watched her serenely make her way to the bottom, where Pahzj waited. When he refocused on the dowager, he noticed she was watching him intently.
"A consort who is and isn’t, Ambassador? Subterfuge or flattery?" Anata’ka asked shrewdly.
"Neither, Your Highness, Miss Uhura is my chief communications officer and she has kindly agreed to act as my consort for this mission. An attempt for us to be more readily accepted by your society." He felt her feather soft touch in his mind and knew she had already gotten her answer.
"A wise choice" Anata’ka answered, allowing the ambiguity of her statement to remain.
"Ambassador, I must know who you are. I need to touch your mind to tell if you are who I seek." The dowager asked tensely, as if she was not sure she was ready for the answer she sought.
At Kirk’s hesitancy, she implored.
"Ambassador, I will answer your questions once I have my own answers." She did not beg, but an air of urgency crept into her voice.
Kirk faced her squarely and held his arms out from his sides, a gesture of agreement.
"How may I help, Your Highness?"
"Please, come to me and allow my touch against your face."
Kirk stepped toward the empress and dropped to one knee, allowing her to touch him comfortably from her throne. Her fingers were soft and cool where she touched his cheek.
Instantly he felt a warm rush in his head and relived moments of his past…growing up on the farm, trying to be just like his grandpa. The nightmare of Tarsus Four and his fight for survival. The death of his father – Kirk felt his eyes sting again with new tears. On to his early admission to the academy, a mother’s desperate attempt to save a son consumed by anger. His friendship with Gary, something no one, least of all himself, could understand. The death of Captain Garrovick, the man Kirk felt he had disappointed for much of his career. Carol, telling him to stay away, that she wouldn’t share their son with a man who wouldn't be around to see him grow up. The excitement he felt upon his promotion to captain and being given the fleet’s flagship, Enterprise. The death of Gary, by Kirk’s own hand, and the despair that still spoke to him in the night. The loss of Edith, a woman he had nearly forsaken a universe to be with. The death of Miramanee and their unborn child, innocent in her love for the God she thought him to be. He could still see Sam’s lifeless body lying on the floor of his lab on Deneva and felt the same anger at having no time to mourn him. Finally, he felt her search his recent thoughts regarding Uhura and Bengali.
/ Captain, I call you that because that is how you see yourself, Captain of the Enterprise. You have lost much in your life, but still you seek. /
/ What is it that you seek: knowledge, love, and fortune – all or none of these things? I cannot tell because you don’t know yourself. You only know that you must continue to seek and explore as surely as you breathe -- that you must somehow protect the innocents of the universe. /
Kirk shuddered under her touch; the intensity of those painful memories caught him off-guard, making him feel vulnerable.
/ I have a need for such devotion to a pursuit, Captain. A need so great, I risk my culture in order to save it from itself. /
Kirk could hear the weariness in Anata’ka’s thoughts. Weariness from war and from living too many lifetimes.
/ Captain, I have over one hundred million warriors who no longer have an enemy to fight. Tradition calls for them to sacrifice themselves. A tradition I wish to abandon, but one that must be honored unless I find a different calling for those young enough to change. It is from your mente, or spirit, I wish to re-imprint them with a new quest—a desire to seek and explore beyond our boundaries. I need someone who is strong of heart and mind to redirect the goal of legions of warriors, or I must put them to death. To leave them as they are will throw us back into chaos. Another leader would develop to fill the void of those I vanquished. It is our destiny unless I can change the mindset of millions. /
Kirk had yet to speak outwardly or within his mind. The dowager’s goal was overwhelming in scope and responsibility; to be the focus of such a drastic culture restructuring left him numb. He was still recouping from the emotions she had dredged from his soul, and now, she told him he was her hope to save millions from senseless slaughter. He looked up into her turquoise eyes and saw total conviction in her plan.
/ Captain, you have a pureness of spirit and an unquenchable desire to protect the weak and innocent along with your lust for exploration. This is exactly what I sought when I asked the Federation for information on their commanders. I prayed that one of you would be worthy to rebuild my kingdom. /
/ Your Highness, I will gladly assist you in any way I can, but the goal you’ve set is extremely high and the risks are great. /
/ The risks are more than you know, Captain. If my plan is discovered before the Ascendancy Ceremony, an attempt will be made by the other leaders and generals to kill you, Ramsha’ka and myself. The idea is so foreign; they cannot process it until it is done. They are warriors and have only known war their entire lives. I am the only living Potakai who remembers peace. Change scares many; they would rather keep killing than learn to live another way. /
/ If we are successful, many will be spared and turned to a new mission. I want to create a fifth caste – a Seeker caste. Many of the Warriors are too old and entrenched in their ways to make such a change, but others can adapt. All who become Seekers will constitute our new Space Exploration Service—they may even join Starfleet. Those who remain Warriors will stay and protect the citizens of our system. Any who cannot accept either mission shall fall on their swords. It is their way, one I would prefer to change, but one I will honor in the interest of lasting peace. /
/ Ramsha’ka knows nothing of this, only you and I know my intent. He will accept it when it happens, but I prefer him ignorant for the moment. Assuming the reign is challenging enough without adding to his worries. /
/ But we have another problem, Captain. I see a shadow in your heart. You are troubled by recent events. Your consort was injured and has yet to be made whole. You have been involved in this process, but now you reject her. Why? I do not understand why you turn away from one I see you care for. The problem has left darkness in your soul. A darkness that we must banish if you are to be the catalyst I need you to be. Darkness would pass through the imprinting and cast a shadow on all I seek to change. Your mind and heart must be at peace for us to be successful. /
Kirk gripped the arms of the throne and pulled himself up and away from the dowager’s touch. He could not tolerate her gaze into his thoughts a moment longer.
"Empress, you don’t understand what you ask of me—"
"Zhames," she tried to say his name. "I know exactly what I ask of you. I ask that you heal Uhura’s spirit and your own. There is a connection I do not understand between you both, one I don’t think is natural, but I sense it nonetheless. You do not trust your feelings in this matter: a position you do not find yourself in often. You desire her and think that is wrong. I ask you, if she can be made well by your touch, why should that be wrong? Duty does not have to be undesirable. Pleasure is allowed, though often absent. Accept it as a gift from the Gods.
You need her whole, so she can remain at your side. It is within your power to do this and something you must allow to happen. She is desirable, yes? Ah…I see…too desirable in your eyes. You are afraid, in the act of loving her she will capture your heart. Yes, Zhames, that is a risk, but she is not truly your pair-mate—and you sense that. You are too different to complete each other, but you both resonate on so many levels that the interest won’t go away.
Please consider my words on this, Zhames. If you look deeply into yourself, you will see I am right. You have known this since your doctor challenged you days ago, but you refused to accept it then. I ask you to accept it now, my world depends on it."
Kirk felt his blood run cold as he listened to Anata’ka’s plea. How could he ignore her words when he knew what was at stake? Millions of lives would be forfeit if her plan wasn’t successful, but how could he approach Uhura when she knew nothing of the consequences?
"Zhames, I see your thoughts, but I would prefer you to not share my plan with Uhura. I trust her, but the risks are too great. She will understand what you desire if you would go to her. Your doctor is correct, only you can heal her now. I do not understand why it must be you, but it must."
Kirk paced away then turned back to the Potakai ruler.
"Your Highness, I will consider your words, but there are many reasons in my culture for me to resist your wishes." He desperately wanted to get away from her searing thoughts and eyes. He felt exposed by her perceptive look.
"Of course, Zhames, the choice is yours."
Anata’ka graced him with a serene smile, as if knowing she had already won. She reached up and plucked two small golden feathers from her temple.
"Please take these as a symbol of my desire to ally with your Federation, Zhames. Your looks are naturally golden, and many will find you exotically handsome, but your short mane will brand you as lower caste by those seeking reason to challenge you. These will make them take pause."
Anata’ka placed the two delicate feathers into Kirk’s palm.
"Uhura will know what to do with them. Wear them as a token of my esteem and you will be protected from all but the direst threats."
The elder Potakai rose from her throne and nodded formally to Kirk, signaling an end to their audience.
"Pahzj will escort you to your apartments and will remain as your head householder. He has been with me his entire service and I trust him implicitly to take care of you both." Anata’ka motioned toward her dedicated servant who had silently returned.
"I look forward to seeing you again tonight at the Reception, Zhames. It is mainly an opportunity to preen and take measure of each other, a less bloody form of war on most occasions."
Kirk smiled. Anata’ka had expressed his own thoughts regarding diplomatic functions.
"Until this evening then, your Highness." Kirk bowed formally and took his leave from the dowager.
The journey through the palace to their assigned apartments was uneventful. Pahzj did not speak unless Kirk asked him a question regarding some point of interest, and there were a lot of those. As Pahzj opened the double door to their suite, Kirk expected grandeur, but nothing on the scale that lay before him.
He entered into a brightly lit, circular reception area, one large enough to accommodate any serious diplomatic function’s invitation list. More melodious music exuded from the walls, nowhere and everywhere at once. It washed over him like a palpable wave. Pahzj continued through and opened the next set of double doors. Those opened into a luxuriously appointed living area, one whose entire far wall was embedded with glass doors that only slightly hid the panoramic view of the ocean on the other side. Kirk could see Uhura standing against the stone wall at the edge of the balcony, seemingly entranced with the mauve waves rolling into shore.
He had a hard time tearing his eyes away from the view himself, but Pahzj was intent on showing him the rest of the suite. Each side of the living area led off to a master bedroom that also opened onto the endless balcony. In the bedroom Pahzj said would be Kirk’s, the bed was in the center of the room, situated on a raised platform. Streamers of sheer material hung down from a central point in the ceiling and draped the bed in privacy. A large fountain consumed the far corner of the room; its center contained a bed of flame and glowing embers, encircled by jets of dancing water.
The bathroom contained a waterfall, or, at least, that was an accurate description for the shower as far as Kirk was concerned. The ceiling consisted of mostly a skylight--one whose glass started out frosted and then gradually faded into translucence. Water cascaded down from an angled ledge and spilled onto the rimmed floor below. The floor was level for most of its expanse, but it dropped sharply on one side, acting as a collection point for anyone interested in a deep soaking rather than a pounding shower. Kirk intended to try both.
Once finished with the tour, Pahzj suggested that Kirk join Uhura on the balcony. "Ambassador, the sunset is magnificent from this side of the palace. If you care to join the Lady Uhura, I shall bring refreshments."
"Thank you, Pahzj, yes I would enjoy that."
Uhura turned and smiled as Kirk made his way over to her edge of the balcony. The late sun backlit his hair, making it fairly glow. She could not see his own smile until he was next to her.
"I take it the accommodations meet your approval, Lieutenant?"
Uhura’s smile deepened. She was ecstatic with their apartments; a girl could get used to this luxury way too easily.
"Oh, I think I can make do, sir."
"Good," Kirk nodded solemnly, feigning concern; "I might have to put you in for a commendation if things get too rough."
The breeze freshened and Kirk was glad of his long sleeves. Noticing chill bumps on Uhura’s arms, he stepped closer, touching her softly on the shoulder.
"Uhura, do you need a wrap, or would you prefer to go inside?"
Uhura trembled slightly from his touch, but hoped he would think it was from the wind.
"Oh, my wrap is on the back of the sofa. It was very warm when I first came out to enjoy this."
As if Pahzj was telepathic himself, he came out on the balcony carrying a laden tray and bearing Uhura’s wrap over one arm. Once Pahzj set the tray down, Kirk took the wrap from him and draped it gently across Uhura’s shoulders, smoothing it in place with a tender brush of his hands.
"Thank you, sir," Uhura smiled over her shoulder, grateful for the extra warmth. The second touch from him did not go unnoticed. In fact, it had taken all her willpower to not lean into his casual caress.
"Ambassador, would you prefer to dine inside or on the balcony tonight?" The Potakai asked as he poured their hot tea. The reception started late and the refreshments would be limited to drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
Kirk glanced at Uhura, looking for a preference. At her shrug, he answered, "I believe we’ll dine inside this evening, Pahzj. It may take us a day or two to acclimate to your weather."
Pahzj bowed in acknowledgement and left them to sip their tea.
"How did your meeting with the dowager go, sir?" Uhura asked, back to business.
"Very interesting, Lieutenant. I think the dowager has set high ambitions for this mission. She is concerned as to how everyone will adjust to peace after knowing only war for so long."
Uhura realized Kirk had hedged. It was part of the truth, but not the whole of it. At her silent stare, Kirk knew she was aware of his dissembling.
"Oh, the Dowager gave me these and said you would know what to do with them."
Kirk, glad for the diversion, gently pulled the two golden feathers from his vest pocket and placed them securely in Uhura’s hand.
"She said they were a token of esteem and would compensate for my lack of long hair, or feathers." Kirk ran a hand through his wind blown locks and laughed ruefully.
"I should think so, sir. Only Rulers have golden feathers, and it’s rare even then. A gift of two pure gold feathers will mark you as a court favorite." Uhura glanced up, giving him a knowing look. When he grasped the meaning of her look, he actually blushed.
"She said they would ensure our safety if tempers flared, Lieutenant. Nothing else was implied." He stammered slightly, unused to her teasing.
Relenting, she giggled. "Of course, sir. Let me attach these to one of my smaller hair clips and you’ll be able to wear them tonight."
Uhura got up to perform this task and Kirk came inside with her. He stayed in the living area and was seated on the overstuffed sofa when she returned.
"Okay, sir, let’s try it out." Uhura sat down next to him and clipped the feathers into his hair, just above his right ear. The splayed feathers hid the clip and they seemed to sprout from his head naturally. She held out a hand mirror for him to admire himself. Kirk grinned at his reflection before turning to speak.
"Lieutenant, I think you’ve just made a fashion statement."
"Oh, no sir, but you will. You’ll be the envy of every male at the reception."
Kirk laughed at that remark and eased back into the sofa. Uhura had never seen him so mellow. She felt very at ease herself and wondered if the tea contained an herbal relaxant. The trilling music in the background made her want to shut her eyes and just drift.
"Captain?" Uhura struggled to form a thought.
"Hmmm…Lieutenant." He answered lethargically.
"Do you feel extremely at peace, sir?"
Kirk opened an eye and looked at her, waiting for her to continue.
"I mean, since we’ve come inside, do you feel unusually relaxed?"
Kirk opened both eyes and seemed to do an internal assessment before responding. "I guess you could classify it as that, Lieutenant. What are you thinking; have we been drugged?"
"Oh, no sir, I don’t think that. It’s just, well…it’s just the music, sir. Remember how I said we could only hear part of it when we first beamed down? I think the part we can’t hear can still affect us though. It’s just a theory, but it appears to stimulate the brain to release endorphins, the body’s own pain killer and mood enhancer."
Kirk tried to appear alarmed, but failed miserably. "Do we have anything to worry about?"
Uhura was trying very hard to focus on the topic, but wasn’t succeeding much better than the captain.
"Doubtful, sir. If we could ask Pahzj to turn it down just a little, I think we would do fine. I think the dowager is using this as a way to keep everyone calm before the ceremony."
Pahzj entered the room announcing dinner and Kirk awkwardly motioned for the householder to come nearer.
"Pahzj, is there any way to lessen the effects of the music? It appears humans are more susceptible to its affects than Potakai are" Kirk slurred, feeling himself leering instead of smiling.
Seeing both Humans lying limply on the sofa, the elder Potakai’s eyes grew wide in alarm. He moved with amazing speed to a hidden panel on the far wall and punched several buttons. Once satisfied the offending music was muted, he returned to check on his guests.
"My apologies, Ambassador and Lady Uhura, the borunjee music is an effort to keep tempers cool. To Potakai it has the same effect as light meditation. We had no idea Humans would react so strongly to it. Please, I offer our deepest regret."
Pahzj was sick with fear. Anata’ka had left them in his care and he had nearly allowed harm to come to them. No greater sin could happen to a Ménage than allowing injury to a member of his household. He called for others to quickly bring sjobaberry juice and cool damp cloths.
Uhura felt a cool compress against her forehead and tried to sit upright. The room was full of Potakai, each hovering and attempting to revive them. She looked over and saw that Kirk was already sitting up and drinking from a cup. Uhura felt a cup placed in her own hand and felt it guided up to her mouth. The liquid was thick and very sweet, but she felt immediate energy course through her system. The endorphin effects appeared to be on the wane. She could hear Pahzj begging for forgiveness and Kirk telling him it was all right. She looked over and made eye contact with him, smiling to let him know she was fine. He grinned back at her while still trying to calm their hosts. Finally, after many assurances they were well and had no need to seek a physician, they sat down to the meal Pahzj had originally announced.
Uhura gave herself a critical survey in the mirror and decided it was the best she could do. Tonight’s ensemble had to make a statement; all of Potakai would be in attendance to take measure of the Federation representatives. She was dressed in a long sheath gown made of a mother of pearl iridescent material, a long train of the same material fastened at either shoulder and draped down her bare back.
Potakai high fashion appeared to follow the ‘less is more’ philosophy, so Uhura had designed accordingly. The front of her dress had a plunging neckline that did not truly stop until the navel. She intended the soft blue reflection of her dress to play against the vibrant Federation blue outfit she had designed for Kirk. His jacket had deeply cut chevrons of gold and copper stitched across the upper back and shoulders to enhance his powerful build.
She had also decided to put a little extra drama into her makeup. She would never be able to outdo a noblewoman’s tattoos, but Uhura thought her efforts satisfactory. Potakai women were naturally tall and most wore flat sandals, however, Uhura had chosen a pair of stilettos to give her extra inches. Her final embellishment was styling her hair in a Vulcan motif with a twisted braid arched across the crown of her head. An ornate golden hair fan held everything securely in place.
Walking into the living area, she saw Kirk in his own finery. His back was to her and he was just finishing his mission update with Spock when he turned and froze. A slow grin spread across his face as he took in the sight of the woman in front of him. Uhura blushed under his scrutiny, but twirled around to show off, nevertheless. Spock asked was everything all right and it took Kirk a second to respond.
"Ah-yes, Mister Spock, everything’s fine. I just saw something that caught my attention for a moment. It’s time for us to leave for the reception; I’ll give you a full report in the morning."
"Very well, Captain. Please note that our sensors indicate a significant meteorological event should pass over your location later tonight. It will be loud, but otherwise relatively harmless."
"Thank you, Spock, we’ll be sure to pull the covers over our heads. Kirk out." Closing his communicator and slipping it into his jacket pocket, Kirk walked around the sofa to get a better view of his consort.
"Lieutenant, you’re absolutely beautiful. I suspect you’ll make all the other ladies jealous." He took her hands and held her at arm’s length, taking his time in admiring her.
"Thank you, Captain. I could say the same of you. I knew the color and cut of that outfit would look great on you. Golden feathers or not, you will be a favorite before the night is over."
Uhura felt giddy from the rush his attention triggered. She reached up to adjust his feather clip to a better angle and found herself leaning into him more than she intended. She looked into his eyes and saw a hunger there that unnerved her. He stood still under her ministrations, but broke contact and backed away as soon as she finished.
Uhura just smiled and pretended not to notice his lapse and the faintness she felt. Attracted to him or not, that one undisguised look of desire had scared her silly. Flirting was fine, she had remastered that skill, but the idea of following through and actually joining with a man had just sent her to the edge of panic. She had hoped the trust and desire she felt for him would be enough to counteract the fear. That hope was fading fast.
"Lieutenant, are you ready to go?" Composure restored and smile firmly in place, Kirk held out his arm for his consort to hold.
"Yes, sir, I can’t wait to see the show."
Kirk leaned over and whispered as Pahzj escorted them out, "Lieutenant, we *are* the show."
"Then I won’t miss anything, will I, sir?"