Healing Touch Chapter 10 K/U [NC-17]
Image courtesy of the 'net.
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.
Uhura awoke to the soft patter of raindrops falling outside in the twilight of early dawn. She could tell Kirk was no longer in bed and saw him standing just inside the balcony doors. He was staring off into the distance, seemingly focused on the soft white caps forming on the choppy waves far out to sea. Dressed only in tousled hair and silk loungers, his posture projected a certain tenseness about it - like something caged - ready to bolt at the first opportunity.
It was something she had expected sooner or later; eventually his conscience would catch up with his actions. Last night had been more about the attraction they felt for each other and less about her emotional recovery. Now, in the gray mist of dawn, all his old reasons for keeping his distance would begin to whisper to him. Soon the whisper would become a steady chant, too hard for him to ignore. Uhura knew the conflict he struggled with; she had felt his desire for her and his shame for it in the meld.
Now it would be her turn to offer comfort; she could not allow him to feel guilty for being human. Sometimes he was harder on himself for having feelings than Spock was, never allowing himself a reprieve for being less than some higher ideal. In the past she had admired the inner drive that pushed him to perform apparent miracles. But that was before she knew what it cost him emotionally, keeping himself distanced and detached from everyone save Spock and McCoy, trying to be a deity to the crew.
She eased out of bed, slipped on her robe and padded up silently behind him. Sliding her arms around his waist, she leaned in and pressed her body against his back, hugging him tightly. When he did not respond, she let him go and slipped around in front of him, trying to assess the emotion in his eyes.
"Good morning, Jim." She smiled tentatively, reaching up to place a soft kiss on his lips.
"Good morning, Penda." He answered with a gentle smile, but Uhura noted it did not quite reach his eyes.
He turned her around and made her face the sea, stepping up and wrapping her in his arms.
"This is harder than I expected." He sighed against her temple as he pulled her back against his chest.
Uhura closed her eyes tightly for a moment in an effort to keep her composure. This was the reality she had been expecting, not the fantasy she had lived for the past three nights.
"Is it really? Or did you just ignore all the warnings going off in your head in an attempt to try and save me one last time?"
Kirk spun her back to look at him, his eyes capturing hers and holding them with their pain.
"Maybe some of both. I knew the risk I was taking, but I considered you worth it--I still do."
As he spoke, Uhura's eyes lost focus, the tears threatened to spill down her cheeks.
"But waking up next to you… holding you in my arms and knowing it can't last…is tearing me up inside. I want you and need you beside me, but the cost is…steep."
"If it's too steep, I can go. I'll pass my pysch exam now, of that I have no doubt, but I can still transfer to another ship." She meant what she said, but the offer ripped out her heart. She wanted to stay with him more than ever now, but not at this cost. If he could not look at her without seeing regret, she did not want to be there.
"No--I don't want you to go. I'll--we'll learn to deal with this. It's just going to take us awhile to adjust, to learn how to put the genie back in the bottle."
The tears finally won and spilled down Uhura's cheeks. Jim held her tightly for a long time before letting her go. Wiping the tears from her face, she looked at him and tried to find her voice.
"So, where do we go from here? I can move back into my room and we can keep it strictly professional for the rest of the mission."
Cupping her chin, he asked tenderly, "Is that what you want?"
"No, of course not, but won't it just make it harder to let this go on?"
"Maybe, but I had someone tell me once I should consider this a gift from the Gods. Stay with me and let me do just that." The pain was still in his eyes, but a cajoling smile struggled to break through.
"We have two days before we beam back aboard, for some species, that's a lifetime. Let's not waste anymore of what we have left dwelling on the future. Regrets can come later."
Too overcome to speak, Uhura nodded her head in agreement as he leaned down and captured her lips with his. Scooping her up in his arms, he walked back to their bed and lay her down, untying her robe in one fluid motion. He spent the next several hours making her appreciate their decision. Regrets would come and they would hit hard, but that was too far into the future to concern Uhura. The only thing that held her attention now was the beautiful man making love to her over and over.
The sun was shining brightly when Uhura awoke again. It was late morning and she did not care--they had no formal duties today--Potakai protocol called for a day of quiet and contemplation before the Ascendancy Ceremony. However, the growling of her stomach did remind her that they had probably missed breakfast. Jim was still in bed beside her, slowly opening his eyes and stretching as she sat up in bed. She leaned over and kissed him softly on the lips, no energy left for anything more passionate. He smiled a lazy smile back at her and looked out toward the balcony.
"Well, at least it stopped raining." He grinned.
"Yes, so it has." She smiled back. At least his melancholy had fled with the rain; the sated smile on his face was a far cry from the remorseful look he had worn to greet the dawn. "Do you think Pahzj forgot we're still here? He's usually chasing us out of bed well before now."
A soft knock on the door sent Uhura scrambling for cover. She slid back down in the bed and pulled the covers up to her neck. Kirk laughed at her sudden modesty and sat up in bed, though she noticed he had plenty of coverage over his lap.
"I think he can read minds better than Anata'ka." Kirk muttered humorously before speaking louder to address their visitor. "Come in."
Pahzj and Nesz entered softly and efficiently, setting about their morning routine as if it were not four hours later than usual.
"Good morning, Ambassador, My Lady." The elder Potakai greeted them warmly. "May Nesz pour you both coffee?"
"Please, we would love some." Uhura smiled up at the Menage. "And, did we miss breakfast?"
"No Mistress, you did not. We thought you both might sleep longer this morning due to the lateness of the Ball, so we planned accordingly."
Taking the proffered coffee from the young Menage, Uhura placed the cup on her chest and sipped it.
"Oh my…that's wonderful…the replicators can't compete with this." She sighed.
The Menage beamed at her; thrilled with the idea they had pleased her so. Remembering a duty, Pahzj turned toward Kirk and spoke.
"Ambassador, you and Lady Uhura have received an invitation from Ramsha'ka to spend the afternoon and evening with his crèche. It is an informal gathering of his personal householders, a rite of passage from being the Heir of Potakai to Emperor of Potakai. He would be honored with your presence as well."
"We would be honored to attend, Pahzj. Just tell us where and when." Kirk replied after glancing over at Uhura for any concerns.
"I shall inform him at once. As I said, it is informal. They will begin to gather on the beach just after mid-day--"
"Uh, excuse me Pahzj, gather on the beach?" Uhura asked. She had not brought along any beach attire for them. She looked over at Kirk with an 'uh-oh' look on her face.
Nesz understood Uhura's hesitancy and spoke quickly. "Yes, Mistress, but do not worry. We can provide appropriate clothing for the beach."
"Oh yes, Mistress," Pahzj concurred, "We have access to anything you need."
Kirk grinned down at her and shrugged. He was game for Potakai beachwear, so how could she refuse?
"Great, Pahzj, then it's settled. Tell Ramsha'ka we'll see him on the beach just as soon as we've eaten something and figured out how to wear whatever you give us." The last line he grinned to Nesz, who promptly flushed, but returned the smile instead of fleeing the room.
"At once, Ambassador. I'm sure Ramsha'ka will have games and water sports planned. It should be much fun." The elder Potakai spoke with considerable enthusiasm.
The beach was breathtaking. The mauve waves curled in and broke on the distant protective reef, their mesmerizing journey only slightly interrupted as they continued on to the shore. Uhura's feet sank into the warm black volcanic sand. She stopped, taking off her sandals so she could navigate more easily to the brilliant pavilions staked out near the sea. The sun kissed her exposed skin and she let it sink in and take possession of her.
It soon became apparent why Pahzj was so enthusiastic earlier that morning when he spoke of the gathering; he and Nesz were invited too. Both of them were dressed in casual shorts and shirts and practically giddy with excitement. They led the way to the biggest pavilion, knowing that was where to find their hosts.
Nesz had done an excellent job of clothing them for the occasion. She had dressed Uhura in a provocative orange and red flowery bikini. However, for modesty's sake Nesz had also given her a matching sarong wrap to tie low over her hips. For Kirk, she had chosen a set of trunks in an abstract print of rich green. They too sat low over the hips, though the fact that they came down mid-thigh gave him a little more coverage than Uhura. He also had a matching cover up shirt, but he was shedding it as they walked, letting the sun soak into his already tan skin.
Uhura had to pull her eyes away from watching the ripple of muscles in his back and concentrate on slogging through the sand. The welts on his back, evidence of her enjoyment from their morning together, were still plainly visible. She had been mortified to see them when Kirk had changed into his trunks. There could be no denying what they were or who had done the damage. Jim, on the other hand, had just grinned when he turned to see in the mirror what had her in such a state. He just shrugged, acting more proud of his 'wounds' than anything else.
There were Potakai everywhere: old Potakai, young Potakai, Menage, Citizens, and Aristocrats. Far away, Uhura could see a perimeter of Warriors standing guard around them. Stiff and erect, the only movement she could detect was the wind blowing through their crests. She looked around and noticed even the Aristocrats had their crests pulled back and bound, protecting their beautiful plumage from the ravages of the wind and sea.
She, herself had her hair combed back and tucked in a tight bun at the base of her neck, but the wind had already found a stray lock or two to dance before her eyes. Kirk's short hair was blowing in the wind too; she grinned, noticing that his always-errant lock was having a field-day dancing in the breeze.
As they stepped under the open-sided pavilion, Uhura was finally able to see the royal couple. Ramsha'ka spied them immediately and broke into a big grin, welcoming them with a wave of his hand. Pahzj and Nesz smiled and let them go--now free to enjoy themselves.
"Zhames, Nyota, we are happy you chose to come." He beamed at them and back at Lilu'ka. Both he and his mate's crests were pulled back in an intricate braid that trailed down their backs. Smiling teasingly at his mate, Ramsha'ka continued.
"I was not sure if such a casual event would be enjoyable for Humans. So much water scares Lilu. Gengi is a dry world, but Earth has large oceans, does it not?"
"Yes, Ramsha'ka, it does, though I was born and raised inland. But I love the sea. Swimming, sailing, and walking the beach--I wouldn't pass this up. And Nyota grew up on an island. Her brother captains a commercial fishing fleet." Kirk smiled at Uhura as he drew attention to her family.
"Oh, a fisherman? Did you know the early Potakai were fishermen? The Menage are direct ancestors of their way of life. In the olden days, Potakai fishermen would pluck their plumes and weave them into fishing nets. That is why the today's Menage are bald or shorn, in honor of their ancestors who fed the village."
"How fascinating." Uhura acknowledged; she was always interested in hearing how a society evolved.
"Yes, and then they tamed the basc and formed a partnership with them. Together they could feed many. Zhames, you must come over to the pier--we have basc to ride today. It is great fun!"
At Lilu's shudder, Uhura cast a questioning eye at the two males.
"Do not be alarmed, Nyota. Zhames is safe if he likes the sea. I do not, but I do enjoy seeing Ramsha so happy. Our basc are domesticated animals and very gentle with Potakai."
"Basc?" Uhura and Kirk asked in unison.
"Yes. Large animals that resemble fish, but come to the surface to breathe air. While not sentient, they possess the ability to sense emotions and can communicate with Potakai in a crude fashion. As I said, in the past, Potakai formed partnerships with them to fish. We have never really understood what the basc gained from the relationship. They certainly didn't need our help to hunt, but they seem to enjoy our emotions. Our basc are domesticated, but wild basc have been known to approach Potakai too."
"--And they have been known to eat a stray Potakai or two." Anata'ka chimed in as she and Chota'di made their entrance.
"Grandmother! Do not scare Zhames away with such a stretch of the truth." Ramsha'ka scolded, but still grinned at the Dowager as she greeted her grandson.
"Ramsha, I hardly believe a big fish will scare away Zhames. I hazard to guess he has seen far deadlier creatures in the course of his journeys." The Empress sighed as she sat next to Lilu.
"Greetings, my children. Are you all enjoying Ramsha'ka's last fling at being mortal? I personally would have preferred a gathering at the pool." Anata'ka glanced meaningfully at her heir.
"Yes, Grandmother, I did consider that, but there wasn't enough room for everyone. The children needed room to run and we could set up more food and beverage stations so everyone could sustain themselves instead of being served."
"Yes, Ramsha, I do know--but the sand and wind are hard on my skin and crest. You just ensure your crest is presentable tomorrow--nothing broken or bent will be tolerated. I, personally, will pluck them if that happens." She smiled, but the threat was real.
Uhura and Kirk watched the family dynamics unfold before them. Anata'ka was being crotchety and had no problem still ruling the roost. Ramsha'ka deferred to her, but more out of love for the cranky old woman than out of any real fear of threat.
"I promise to be especially careful. Well, Zhames, Chota'di--care to ride a basc?"
Uhura noted the quick glance between Anata'ka and Chota'di--his in surprise at being included--hers in acquiesce. She caught Jim's own smile and returned it to him; he was fairly chomping at the bit.
"Go then. I will stay and be entertained by the better part of your bonds." Anata'ka motioned with her hands that they were dismissed, practically shooing them away like little boys. Which fit really, as their hurried saunter toward the pier could in no way be described as dignified.
The women all watched them go toward the pier, Ramsha'ka in a pair of teal trunks and Chota'di sporting a pair of black and gold ones. Uhura noted that Ramsha'ka moved to Kirk's left and sandwiched the shorter Human between himself and Chota’di. Their sleek and shiny deep indigo skin appeared all the darker against the gold of Kirk's own flesh. The vibrant colors of their tattoos on their arms, and Chota'di's face, were so intense Uhura had to squint against the sun's reflection off them. Kirk was a full head shorter than both Potakai, and his lack of tattoos somehow made him appear the youngest of the bunch. However, the triangle made between the breadth of his shoulders and the taper of his waist clearly marked him as the stronger male.
"All right, we have ogled them enough." Anata'ka declared; though she herself was still studying them with a practiced eye as they reached the pier.
She noticed Uhura grinning at her and smiled back conspiratorially.
"I'll never be too old to enjoy handsome men, Nyota. My grandson notwithstanding, Zhames is truly breathtaking. If he had a crest, I would be moved to challenge you for him."
Lilu'ka colored at her Grandmother's remark and Anata'ka shrugged her shoulders, dismissing the implied embarrassment.
"Ah, Granddaughter, whenever you have lived as long and as lonely as I, then you can rebuke me. Tomorrow your bond-mate becomes Emperor. All the other women will be jealous of you, but still I see the look of interest in your eyes."
Lilu colored even more and tried to speak, but Anata'ka cut her off.
"Do not deny it, Granddaughter. I see it in your mind, but there is no harm in it. I know you are devoted to Ramsha and Nyota knows I merely tease with her."
"Yes, Grandmother." Lilu answered in a subdued, but respectful tone. A twinge of violet still flushed her cheeks, but she brazened it out.
"So, Granddaughter, how did you manage to get the crèche mothers to agree to this outing? They rarely choose to come outside the conclave anymore." Anata'ka asked curiously, finally taking her own advice to change the subject.
"I think it may have been the promise of roasted goi and infinite kegs of chee for tonight's meal that won them over." Lilu smiled mischievously.
"Ah, I knew we chose well for Ramsha, you understand that the crèche is the source and must be made an ally." Anata'ka nodded in approval of the young woman's tactics.
"Thank you, Grandmother. And speaking of them, I think it is time I should go greet the elder mothers. May I tell them you will come shortly?" Lilu smiled graciously, obviously pleased at the compliment.
"Yes, go Granddaughter. Tell them I will come later, when I am ready. Advise them that I will bring Nyota as well." She looked pointedly at Lilu, reinforcing her dominance over all in attendance. She might need the crèche mothers, but would never cow to them.
"Yes, Grandmother." Lilu nodded in place of dipping her bound crest and left them to pay her respects to the matriarchs of their crèche.
Now, all alone with Nyota at the forward edge of their pavilion, Anata'ka eyed the consort appraisingly for a long moment. Uhura felt the feather touch of her mind as it brushed lightly in her thoughts, but nothing as intense as the night of the reception.
"So, Child, you seem better than when we spoke last. I take it that you and Zhames have come to an understanding?" The Dowager inquired too casually. As Uhura's eyes widened, the telepath continued.
"No, Child, I do not delve into your intimate moments together. I respect your privacy, but I can sense the easing of tension between you both and the brightening of your spirit. And now, from your perspective, I even understand the connection I sensed earlier between you. This 'meld' you shared with Zhames and Spock, it *did* link a part of you together. The bond was very deep in your minds. I could sense it, but not truly see it."
Her intense turquoise eyes were locked with Uhura's, capturing the Human in their power as easily as a cobra hypnotized its prey.
"It was unnatural and your minds rebelled against the union, but your bodies craved each other, knowing it was the only way to resolve the conflict. Yes, the bond is broken now, but you can still feel its echo--and I think you both always will." Anata'ka's eyes lost focus and she seemed to turn her thoughts inward for a moment, started to say more, but stopped herself.
"I have my life back now and that wouldn't be possible without him." Uhura replied. Saying anything else seemed superfluous.
"That is true, but he has gained something too. You have made a place in his heart for all time. One of the few who will ever do so, and the only one who won't abandon him at some point in his life. It may take months or years for him to realize this, but that day will come." The elder woman decreed with a sincerity that Uhura didn't dare challenge.
"And now, see the boys at play." Anata'ka looked out near the pier and motioned for Uhura to do the same. She felt herself go faint. Moving out to sea, she could see three huge shadows moving just under the water's surface. Sitting atop each was a lone rider, their forms tiny in comparison with the basc they 'rode'. Uhura had no idea that the basc would be so large. She had thought they might be the size of a dolphin, or possibly an Orca, but these creatures were much larger, more in line with the extinct species of whales back on Earth.
Anata'ka laughed at the shocked look etched on her face.
"Yes, they are big. Zhames was just as surprised as you, but he did not let that stop him. In fact, the lead cow chose him and left the others to the younger bulls. At first, I think she just wanted to sense the stranger, to see if he posed a threat to her herd, but now she is caught up in his enthusiasm."
Unable to form a reply, Uhura could just make out their forms as the dark shadows made a wide turn and quickly drove back toward the shore. Ramsha'ka stood up on the back of his basc as they both balanced on the top of a huge wave. The basc weaved in and out of the tunnel of water before finally cutting back out to sea.
Uhura's eyes quickly sought out the form of Kirk and watched as he attempted to mimic Ramsha'ka's behavior. The basc he rode was easily the largest of the three and was charging into the wave faster than the other had. Kirk was on his feet and crouched low as the massive wave curled around him. The basc kept them just at the lip of the wave, racing in close to the reef before arching back sharply and slicing back across the wave toward the open sea. Kirk held it for a moment, but a final buck from the basc sent him sailing off before crashing headfirst into the water.
Uhura stood up, looking anxiously for Kirk to break the surface. She saw the basc sink down deeper in the water and finally come up with Kirk lying across her back. He slowly sat up and shook his head, obviously trying to get his bearings. After a moment, he turned and waved toward their pavilion and Uhura felt herself relax.
"Nyota, he says to tell you he is fine and that he forgot what it was like to ride a bronc."
Uhura laughed at his joke and knew he was really okay.
"I told him to keep a rein on his enthusiasm, as the basc feed on our emotions. The old cow just got caught up in the thrill and launched him. I think it was 'yee ha' that did it." Anata'ka grinned wickedly.
Uhura laughed out loud with that remark. She had always thought of him as a cowboy, but now had proof that he thought of himself as one too.
Anata'ka's eyes quickly tracked for Chota'di as he and his basc made their run for a big wave. He was up and in the tunnel, skirting the edge of the wall of water with his hand, just as Uhura had seen countless professional surfers do back on Earth. He rode the wave to the end before his basc, the smallest of the three, cut back to join the others.
Uhura watched Anata'ka as well as Chota'di, interested in the dowager's behavior as she observed her escort conquer the wave.
"He is handsome, is he not?" Anata'ka asked dreamily without taking her eyes off the general.
"Very." Uhura admitted honestly. His well-defined muscles could easily be seen as the sun cast shadow and light off the angles of his skin.
"Would you believe a Warrior could ride so well? Or, for that matter, even consider it to do? Anata'ka asked Uhura frankly.
Uhura was speechless for a moment. She realized Anata'ka was speaking to her as a fellow Potakai, not a human to which such restrictions in behavior were non-existent.
"I find the General's behavior to be amazing on many levels." She finally answered.
Anata'ka turned and studied her for an instant, assessing her statement.
"Forgive me, Child. I forget you humans are not so emotionally constrained by biology. But nevertheless, you are correct--the General's behavior is amazing."
Lilu'ka re-entered the pavilion and made her way to their side once again. Noting the basc-riders out to sea, she smiled.
"Ramsha is enjoying himself immensely. I fear we will have a tough time talking him back in."
"Ha! He better enjoy it now." Anata'ka warned. "Because when Nyota and I get back from visiting the crèche mothers, they must bring the basc through the reef and let the children ride them."
"He says take your time visiting and he's not even sure if Zhames' basc can navigate the channel anymore. She may be too big." Lilu'ka remarked out loud.
Uhura realized her speaking was more for her sake than Anata'ka's. She glanced out to sea and noticed the cleft cut in the reef that separated the pounding surf from the relatively calm waves breaking against the beach. It was narrow, cut at an angle to minimize any surf breakthrough and quite possibly too small for the cow to pass through.
"My visit is my own affair, Grandson. And I would love to see someone try to keep that cow out of the sanctuary once she realizes the little ones are here." Anata'ka chuffed at Lilu, but primarily speaking to Ramsha through their link.
"The crèche mothers are not so keen on taking the youngest ones out into the sea." Lilu'ka tentatively.
"Then they should have left them in the nursery. If they are old enough to play in the sand, then they are old enough to brave the sea. Besides, there are more than enough Menage to attend each child. How can they learn what the world has to offer by standing on the shore?" Anata'ka scoffed.
"Nyota, let us get this visit over with. My temper does not bear maternal clinginess well. The old women grow dotty with age, thinking I would let something happen to our future…."
Lilu glanced at Uhura, a silent flash of exasperation evident in her face. Uhura gave an understanding smile to the younger woman. Grandmothers were the same all over--some things were a universal constant.