Into the Valley ~ Aftermath #Uhura

Previously ~ Niorah Plak

The Girls

“You cried?”

For a split second, Nyota was seriously afraid her roommate was going burst a blood vessel.

“Vira—”

“You cried?”

“Vira—”

“YOU CRIED?”

“Vira—”

“Was the universal translator, like…malfunctioning this morning or something?”

“Vira—”

“‘Don’t cry! Don’t! Cry! Do not cry!’ Exactly what part of ‘don’t cry’ did you not understand, Nyota?!”

“Vira—”

“Who the hell bawls on a date with a Vulcan, anyway? Are you insane? Are you trying to get dumped your first week of school?”

Their sunset trip to the Hoobishan Baths (by way of the holodeck in the afternoon) clearly wasn’t the best place for this conversation. Amidst luxuriously flowing waters and sensuously flaming torches, scantily clad holographic patrons were giving them dirty looks for bringing their girly conflicts to the resort. Nyota was painfully aware of their venomous glares, and desperately tried to calm her roommate down.

“Vira—”

“You would’ve been better off talking about sex! And not just stuffy, pretentious literary innuendo sex, but hot, steamy, nasty sex—and that still wouldn’t be half as bad as crying at a Vulcan opera!”

Vira!” Nyota finally cried, matching her roommate’s volume. “He asked me for a second date!”

The Trill froze; it seemed to take her several long seconds to absorb this information. When she completed absorption, however, her mood immediately did a one-eighty.

She slowly sat back down in the hot tub, daintily retrieved her Klingon martini (syntheholic, of course) and gave a queenly wave of her hand.

“Well?” Vira demanded with girlish impatience. “What are you waiting for? Details!”

The Boys

“You made her cry?”

“I can assure you,” Spock began, even as Hikaru burst out laughing, “I didn’t 'make' Nyota cry.”

“Nooo,” Hikaru drawled playfully, “you just reserved a velvet-draped balcony, at a passionately romantic opera, where you offered her champagne—you cunning bastard—”

“Hikaru,” the Vulcan said lightly, “it was synthehol. It didn’t impair our judgment in any way.”

“So what happened after the weep-fest?”

“I summoned tissues and dried her tears for her, as she was too embarrassed to face me,” Spock nodded confidently.

Hikaru’s laughter immediately stopped. “You what?”

Spock didn’t repeat himself; he just simply continued, “She attempted to apologize for her emotional display but I assured her it was unnecessary. I then ended the program so that she wouldn’t feel watched. When she was sufficiently calm, I thanked her for accompanying me to the opera. I also noted that as she’d attended all her classes this past week, she’d earned two hours in the holodeck this weekend. I then offered to show her the black shores of Illias Prime if she would allow me. When she said yes, I suggested we meet again at the holodeck tonight after dinner at 1900, as humans customarily have dates in the evening.”

Hikaru stared at him for several moments, jaw on the floor. Finally, he managed to ask, “You what?”

Spock blinked, clearly surprised by his roommate’s reaction. “I had thought…I thought this was what you suggested,” he said slowly, wondering if and where he’d erred. Already he was mentally replaying and analyzing his actions, as though searching for the wrong turn.

“Well, yeah,” Hikaru nodded breathlessly, assuaging his concerns. Slowly, he fell back into laughter.  “I just didn’t think you’d actually do it!”


***
Nineteen hundred hours drew close, and Nyota was even more nervous and trembling than when she burst into tears at the opera. Already word was sweeping the school like wildfire, but this time, it was all good rumors. Well…for the most part.
Can you believe she cried on their first date?

Not that she cared this time; she was busy. She and Vira had spent the early evening designing and replicating a very pale lilac dress. It was strapless, knee-length, and it set off the purple in her hair. Vira was even more excited than she. She talked nonstop and darted about the room like a child with ADD.

Do Trills even get ADD?

Nyota wore the unbraided part of her hair in silky purple and black curls, with her bone and silver necklace around her neck. She settled for simple silver flip-flops, and abstained from spraying on any perfume.

“You look wonderful,” Vira praised the finished product. “I’m so happy for you.” She plopped down on her bed and resumed her snacking.

“Thanks,” Nyota chuckled. “Is this the part where you tell me not to break the rules?”

“Oh honey, break them,” the Trill waved dismissively, munching on some leftover potato crisps.  “Break all of them.”

Nyota smirked and raised an eyebrow. “Even kissing?” she asked slyly.

Vira grinned back at her. “Especially kissing.” As Nyota turned to go, she grabbed her arm and added, “But if you do kiss him, Ny, try not to pass out. I’ll want my details intact when you return.”

***

This time, Nyota actually did meet Spock in the holodeck. He had informed her that programming the black shores of Illias Prime would take additional work, and it was worth it. For when the doors of the holodeck parted, she found herself on a vast stretch of indigo-sanded beach, with a black sea lapping away at the shore, and three distant pale moons—each in a different phase—shimmering gloriously in a cloudy, greenish black sky.

The vista sucked the air from her lungs.

Like Alice in Wonderland, Nyota walked entranced and awestruck at the exquisite alien surroundings. The opera hall on Deios Moon had been impressive, but this…whatever tampering Spock had done he had no doubt employed some extraordinary imagination.

“Do you find it agreeable?”

Nyota spun to face the speaker; Spock stood behind her with his head tilted and his hands primly behind his back. “I went to Illias Prime only once, when I was thirteen and my parents took me to see a series of theatrical performances. Despite my short time there, the impression of that world was…,” he trailed off to glance at the moonlit waters before softly finishing, “…lasting.”

“I can see that,” Nyota nodded breathlessly, turning to face the sea. “I’ve never been to another world before.”

Her comment surprised him; she could tell by how quickly he looked at her. Something flickered in those dark eyes as he moved to stand next to her. He turned back to the rolling black waves of the Illian sea.

“Perhaps,” he started reluctantly, “next weekend we can go to my world…to Vulcan.”

Nyota’s heart stopped and she didn’t dare look at him for a moment. For what seemed like an eternity, silence stretched between them, broken only by the gentle dark waves.

When she finally regained her speech, Nyota nodded, saying, “Yes. I would like that.”

A third date? Already? Vira is going to LOVE me!

Out the corner of her eye, she noticed a slight upward twitch of his lips.

Whoa, whoa, whoa…did he almost smile? Can Vulcans smile? Are they even allowed?

“Nyota,” he said suddenly, and it made her slightly jump.

“Yes?”

There was an awkward pause before he shyly—or at least, the Vulcan equivalent of “shyly”— turned to her and pulled his right hand from behind his back. He was holding a type of flower she’d never seen before; it looked like a rose, but its petals were a very light green, and it had a dark blue stem and leaves.

“My roommate informs me that it is customary for human males to present their dates with an aesthetically pleasing gift, the classic being a flower,” he said slowly, uncertainly, as though trying to correctly remember something.

Nyota suddenly had a fleeting image of Hikaru giving Spock the guys’ version of “the rules” and she had to work so, so very hard not to laugh her ass off.

“However,” the Vulcan suddenly added, looking her over, “if I may be honest with you, I fail to see the logic in presenting a female with an object of beauty when…her own is so vastly superior.”

Nyota’s mouth dropped open slightly as she felt every chamber of her heart implode.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….

Her knees were going to buckle. She was going to faint on this three-mooned beach, and leave her date awkwardly standing there wondering why he kept asking out a clearly unstable girl.  Luckily, he chose that moment to hand her the faintly-scented flower. Numbly, she accepted it without daring to meet his eyes.

“Thank you,” she mumbled. “It’s lovely. What is it?” she asked quickly. Maybe if she got him into nerd mode, it would keep her from melting at his feet.

“It’s a Begosian rose,” he obliged her. “The Begosians are neighbors to the Illias system. They distill wine from these flowers. Computer,” he said suddenly, “Begosian wine, Year 2189—two glasses.”

That table of his materialized again and Nyota had to smile brightly. Two Risian wine glasses appeared on top of it, filled with a very pale pink liquid. There was something youthful and sparkling in his eyes…something boyish as he offered her a glass. The wine was mildly sweet, with a sort of minty kick to it.

“I had this only once when my family visited Illias Prime,” he told her. Was that…excitement in his voice? Excitement in a Vulcan? “Vulcans don’t usually imbibe alcohol, but my father was away at a meeting, and my mother was kind enough to…indulge my curiosity.”

Was that a flash of mischief in those dark eyes?

Oh yes, it was! Species was irrelevant, Nyota suddenly realized. At the end of the day, boys would be boys, and no power in the ‘verse could change that.

No wonder he got along with Hikaru so well.

Nyota grinned, suddenly less nervous. The more he let down that carefully structured Vulcan cool, the less intimidating he was.

“So,” she drawled coyly, more relaxed now, “I see we’ve broken a few rules in our time.”

Spock bowed his head slightly, the corners of his lips twitching. “Mischief is counterproductive, Nyota,” he mumbled nervously…or at least, the Vulcan equivalent of being nervous.

“Are you sure?” she teased. “Because this doesn’t even remotely taste syntheholic.”

Spock paused, looking everywhere but her for a moment before he confessed, “I may have…uploaded the molecular structure of Begosian wine into the holodeck’s replicator matrix this afternoon.”

“Spock!”

He immediately defended himself. “It seemed reasonable to reprogram the matrix in order to create an exact reproduction, so as to provide you with the most accurate presentation of my experience at Illias Prime.” He paused, taking in the smallest gasp of breath.

A Vulcan…winded by his own overly verbose explanation? She had to resist a laugh.

Instead, Nyota raised an eyebrow, unconvinced. “Spock,” she asked dryly, “was this the ‘additional work’ you said the program would require?”

He looked away from her towards the sky. The moonlight fell clearly upon him, illuminated pointed ears deeply tinged with green.

He was blushing!

“The original program had only two moons,” he said finally, with the slightest miffed tone. “As that was also inaccurate, I reasoned it warranted remedy as well.”

“If you say so,” Nyota laughed, and lightly sipped her wine. Now that she was certain it was real, she didn’t dare drink deeply. “I would never imagine you to so brazenly defy a clear-cut regulation.”

The Vulcan shrugged slightly. “Something I inherited from my mother, perhaps.” He turned to look at her. “Shall we walk?”

They walked for a time, and he told her more about his journey to Illias Prime. He was a delightful storyteller, clever and witty, even if his humor was unintentional. Nyota was fully relaxed and enjoying herself by the time the holodeck alerted them about the end of their two hours.

He walked her to the Buskirk House turbolift, where he stopped to say goodbye.

“It was a pleasure,” he told her, and though he maintained his Vulcan stance and neutral gaze, there
was something…happier about his countenance.

“I am honored,” Nyota replied. “I look forward to visiting Vulcan next weekend.”

There was that almost-smile again. He bowed his head slightly, and looked like he was about to leave, then hesitated.

“Nyota….”

“Yes?”

“My roommate also informed me of the human custom of a…,” he trailed, before forcing himself to finished, “‘goodnight kiss.’”

Oh, no.

Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no.

She wouldn’t be able to handle this. She was not going to be able to handle this.

“Would you…,” he started reluctantly, “I mean…may I…?”

Nyota nodded quickly and speechlessly, feeling like a trapped deer.

Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God.

He dropped his hands from behind his back. After a long second, he put his hands on her waist, but only lightly so.

Oh, God.

And then…he leaned in, the smell of burnt leaves and incense strong.

Oh, God.

Nyota instinctively tilted her to the right and closed her eyes. She felt him softly press and brush his lips against hers, and felt his warm breath on her cheek, which caused her to shiver. She jolted slightly; she hadn’t realized his skin would be so warm. It was practically burning.

Vira didn’t tell me about the difference in body temperature!

The kiss was chaste, more likely given out of curiosity at this point than affection, and she was fine with that. Was she not also curious?

He slowly pulled back, looking at her with the strangest mix of wonder and curiosity. She expected him to say something thoroughly Vulcan within the next few seconds, and braced herself not to laugh. However, he surprised her by proffering only a single, simple word:

“Fascinating.”

Next ~ The Ex-Files

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