3/14/15

Into the Valley ~ Boys and Girls #Uhura

Previously ~ The Ambassadors's Son

That afternoon, when Vira came to the mess hall for lunch, she found a dazed Nyota sitting alone at a table, staring blankly ahead while her coffee and chicken sandwich grew cold. Vira smirked to herself, figuring Nyota must have had another run-in with the Vulcan. He seemed to have a strange power over Nyota; the mere sight of him seemed to rob the girl of all her brain cells. Vira sauntered over to the nearest replicator, ordered an Idanian meat pie and a black soda before coming to sit with Nyota.

“Well,” she grinned at her roommate, “how was your first day?”

“Awful,” Nyota replied mechanically. Worry slowly began to furrow her brow.

“Can’t be worse than mine,” Vira snickered. “I spent the whole morning studying Enaurian lymph nodes, and this afternoon I have to attend a four-hour seminar on the Vitellian reproductive system.” She sipped her soda. “Try to beat that.”

Nyota’s response was almost robotic. “I think I may have outed myself to my Vulcan Literature class.”

Vira choked on her second sip. When the coughing stopped, it was replaced by vigorous laughter.

“What happened?” she asked, when she could finally breathe.

Nyota’s mind flashed back to her morning class, to the first words which condemned her.

Miss Uhura is actually correct.

***

“Miss Uhura is actually correct,” Professor Vladimir was saying. “Approximately one hundred years before ze birz of Surak, a young noblewoman named Mikonna, daughter of General Selor and Lady T’Nar, wrote a series of poems about a young woman. Miss Uhura, are you familiar?”

Nyota mutely nodded.

“Zen please enlighten your classmates.”

He typed some more onto his podium, and a new poem appeared on the view-screen, also in the original Vulcan. Nyota recognized it at once.

Without thinking, her voice thrumming with confidence, she declared eagerly, “This is actually one of my favorites. It’s the oldest known work by Lady Mikonna. It’s called ‘The Weaver’s Daughter’ and was supposedly written the day Selor gave his daughter her own handmaiden. In ancient noble families on Vulcan, when a girl reached maturity, her parents replaced her nursemaid with a handmaid—a sign she was becoming a woman.

“It was the handmaiden’s job to maintain her mistress’s beauty at all times,” Nyota continued, “and keep all her secrets. Handmaidens even used to arrange secret trysts for their mistresses, and make sure the parents never learned anything about the lovers. But in the last line of this poem, Mikonna writes, ‘As I glimpse the face of my maiden/I know I shall need no private mates/For her clever eyes will keep me eternally pure.’”


“Been reading Mikonna long, Miss Uhura?” Vladimir asked.

Nyota nodded. “Her style is slightly reminiscent of the ancient human poetess Sappho. In ‘Starless Bathhouse,’ Mikonna writes about the joys of bathing in the presence of her handmaiden.” She smiled broadly. “I always loved reading it, especially in the High Vulcan. Mikonna’s love for her servant shines through more clearly in her native tongue. She also had a bit of an obsession with the handmaiden’s fingers. If you read all her poems, you’ll notice how she constantly brings up their nimbleness and dexterity.”

As soon as the words left her mouth, Nyota mentally kicked herself. All eyes swiftly went from the view-screen back to her, and even the Professor was entertaining a “special” smirk. Murmurs flooded the back of the class while the boys and girls traded obvious looks.

The Vulcan, on the other hand, merely raised an eyebrow.

***

When Nyota finished her story, Vira couldn’t stop laughing. In fact, she was laughing so hard and so loudly other students in the mess hall glanced her way. Of course, once they saw her, that “Ah” look swept across their faces, as though the sight of Vira and Nyota together automatically made sense.

Nyota’s eyes narrowed. Sometimes, just sometimes, she felt as though her roommate wasn’t telling her something. She had noticed very quickly that most students didn’t talk to Vira; they just politely nodded and stayed away. She wasn’t the only Trill at Stellar Valley, so Nyota knew it wasn’t the whole “alien” thing. But it was a mystery; Vira knew everyone and everyone seemed to know her. So why didn’t they speak?

A clue suddenly hit her.

“Vira,” she asked suddenly, “did you say you were attending a four-hour seminar this afternoon?”

The Trill nodded, cutting into her gourmet meat pie. The sweet aroma burst through the top crust, riding the rising steam and putting Nyota's paltry lunch to shame.

“You know, I had a chance to skim the Stellar Valley course catalogue several times before I was accepted,” Nyota said, “and if I’m not mistaken, those seminars are for advanced-level seniors only. You’re a sophomore.”

“Okay, okay, okay,” Vira rolled her eyes. “I have a confession. And let me just preface this with a, ‘I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner.’”

Nyota merely blinked.

“I may suck at languages but I’m, like, a prodigy at the hard sciences.” She shrugged. “I actually graduated from my last school, but I’m still too young to be joined—or even study to be joined! My parents didn’t know what else to do with me, so they sent me here. My father always wanted me to follow his footsteps and join Starfleet.”

Nyota still didn’t understand. “Why did you keep that from me?”

“Because it freaks people out, Nyota. Everyone here is…weird towards me,” Vira admitted, and there was a note of sadness in her voice. “Even the Vulcan. He used to speak to me—briefly, of course—but he used to speak to me. Then last month, I outscored him by twenty points on a test and he just…stopped.”

Nyota snorted. “I’m sure it wasn’t that.”

Vira was suddenly impatient. “The test was on Vulcan anatomy, Nyota.”

It was Nyota’s turn to laugh. At Vira’s hurt look, she lightheartedly explained, “We’re quite a pair, aren’t we? The nerdy girl whose brain is too big for everyone, and the new girl who likes reading about girls who like other girls.”

This brightened the Trill’s mood at once, and soon the two were giggling together.

Nyota’s next class was Intro to Starship Communications, located in Comm Lab 4 on the far end of the complex. Nyota didn’t have anywhere else to be so she showed up almost a half hour early. Entrance into the classroom was in the back, so when she entered, she didn’t disturb the other two students already in there. They were seated far ahead, in the first row, playing some sort of hand-held games.

She recognized the good-looking Japanese student from yesterday at the mess hall—Hikaru, Vira had called him. He was lithe, well-built, with blue highlights in his hair to match his tie. And the student next to him….

Nyota stopped breathing. How the hell did he do this to her every time? Her blood started pounding in her ears and her knees threatened to buckle. She stayed quiet, sitting at an unlit console in the back, guiltily listening to their conversation.

“…don’t do it, man,” Hikaru was warning his friend. “You know what’s going to happen if you do.”

“As an off-worlder with neither parent in Starfleet, if I am to stay another semester, tuition is required,” the Vulcan replied, his beautiful deep voice calm and measured. “Therefore, I have no choice but to contact my father and obtain his approval.”

“That’s just it, Spock,” Hikaru sighed wearily. “He won’t approve. He barely approved this semester, and that was because your mother intervened. Can’t you just sign up for classes and then forward him the bill? Won’t Vulcan honor dictate that he pay it?”

“Firstly, that would be most discourteous behavior,” the Vulcan replied evenly. “Secondly, I am relying on my mother’s charms to prevail again. My father has always had difficulty saying no to her.”

“And how about next year? You gonna have your mom fight your battles for that as well?”

“I will return to Vulcan next year,” came the cool response.

Nyota felt her heart plummet to the soles of her feet. He was leaving? Already?

His words continued to fire like bullets. “Despite the excellence provided here at Stellar Valley, I have every desire to graduate from Shi’Kahr Science Academy. Nine generations of men in my family have done so and I do not wish to be the one who breaks tradition.”

“Why not? You’ve broken tradition already,” Hikaru pointed out. “Where was your allegiance to tradition when you transferred to a human school?”

Thank you! The spiked-haired hottie was reading Nyota’s mind. More importantly, his words were giving her fresh hopes.

Of course, the Vulcan just as easily dashed them.

“As I am half-human it was reasonable to attend a school dominantly populated by members of my mother’s species,” the Vulcan shrugged slightly. “I have learned much here, and I have made lasting connections, but I always knew this wouldn’t be a permanent relocation, Hikaru.”

“Where you gonna find another roommate like me, huh?” Hikaru demanded. “I am one of a kind.”

“I’d rather not have another roommate like you,” Spock replied honestly. “You compromise holodeck security, just so you can go for dangerous experimental flights. Sometimes I fear you will return to our dorm in pieces. And let’s not forget…because of you, all of my clothes now bear the odor of a certain prohibited item from Andoria.”

“What about you?” Hikaru laughed. “Thanks to all that incense you burn during meditation, all of my clothes smell like some old Vulcan temple.”

Incense! I knew it! Nyota beamed.

“Incense is not expressly prohibited by school regulations, Hikaru,” the Vulcan countered.  “Eventually, you, Jim, and Lenny will be caught and expelled.”

Hikaru snorted, his adolescent confidence sparkling in his delicately curved eyes. “Jim reprogrammed the ventilation censors in our dorms—the staff don’t even know when we’re smoking. Lenny finally appropriated some anti-intoxicants to counter the affects whenever its time to go to class. And yours truly has just learned to cultivate the leaf in Botany Bay 6, alongside some Coridanite orchids, so no more having to sneak it in.” Hikaru beamed. “The oversized leaves of the orchids shield my babies from prying eyes.”

“The intricacies of your operation are irrelevant,” Spock said crisply. “Jim’s tampering has had adverse effects on the rest of the complex. The mess hall, for example, is increasingly cold. Eventually, the staff will track down the source of the tampering and apprehend him.”

“Well,” his roommate drawled. “If a certain technical genius would just help us recalibrate the secondary processor in the environmental—”

“No.”

Nyota’s ears pricked up. Was that irritation? Irritation in the voice of a Vulcan?

Hikaru didn’t miss it either. “What’s wrong, Spock? Afraid to break a rule? Have you already committed your single transgression for the year? Without me?”

“The students from Hodges House have clearly corrupted you,” the Vulcan said tiredly. “It will be your undoing.”

“Better than some nerd from Burskirk House,” Hikaru chortled. “Have you heard about Vira Zwan’s new playmate? Word says she came out in Vulcan Lit this morning.”

Nyota cringed, suddenly wishing the Comm Lab’s floor would open up and swallow her. This day couldn’t possibly get any worse.

“The ‘word’ is incorrect, Hikaru. I was there this morning. Uhura did nothing to indicate she favored females over males.”

“They said she was gushing over some lesbian poet, going on about ‘nimble fingers’ or some such,” Hikaru laughed. “Which doesn’t bug me—I’ve seen Nyota. I wouldn’t mind seeing her lock lips with the Trill.”

On any other day, at any other time, she would have been complimented. But since today was…well, today, the gods had seen fit that she should feel only awful.

“Only humans come to such conclusions,” Spock said suddenly. “I can assure you, Uhura did not ‘come out.’ She merely demonstrated insight into Vulcan literature, which for her age and origin is unparalleled. She understood things which even I did not, and for that she should be commended.”

And just like that, Nyota’s day got much better.

It was though the Vulcan went from stealing her heartbeat to bringing it back in force. Instead of pulling the air from her lungs, he’d breathed into them. Her head swam, as though besieged by wave after wave of endorphins.

More…she needed to hear more. Her Trill roommate had been on to something when she said Vulcans weren’t interested in the shortest skirts.

Unfortunately, class was starting. Students were suddenly filing in, and Nyota had to duck when the Hikaru and Spock turned to glance at the doors. The two rose to leave the room and when they walked past her, Nyota felt her breath catch once more.

Dinnertime came, and Vira was late, probably grilling her lecturer at the seminar. Nyota was impatient; she had the first bout of good news for the day and was not about to celebrate alone. She’d already wolfed down her salad, was on her third cup of tea, and was halfway through the padd containing the additional Vulcan literary works. She really wasn’t an afficionado; she’d merely gotten lucky with Lady Mikonna.

However, Nyota decided she wanted to stay lucky. If reading the works of every closet case from Ancient Vulcan was going to endear to Spock, then so be it.

 “Are we interrupting? We’re interrupting,” a voice said, causing her to jolt.

Nyota looked up to see a sandy-haired boy and his darker-haired friend. Their black shirts reeked of smoke and their red ties were crumpled.

“Nyota Uhura, right?” the first one asked. “I’m Jim Kirk, and this is my hetero life-mate, Lenny McCoy.”

The two sat down without asking permission and began digging into their food. They’d replicated pizzas and something which vaguely resembled beer.

“So tell us about yourself, ‘Miss Uhura,’” Jim said, heavily sprinkling pepper onto is pizza.  “Normally I’d just listen to the rumors, but they’ve been contradicting themselves since this morning.”

“I’m not gay,” Nyota said flatly, wanting to get this over with. She didn’t want Spock to walk in any minute and see her with these two. She’d heard him talking about them and it didn’t sound as though he was a fan.

“No, but you are smart,” Lenny pointed out. “You even outsmarted our resident Vulcan, which only one other student’s ever done before.”

“Yeah, speaking of which,” Jim raised an eyebrow. “How are you getting along with Vira? Does she, uh, keep you up at night?”

Nyota raised an eyebrow. “Keep me up?”

“Does she recite medical terminology in her sleep?” Lenny asked, winking. “’Cause that’s what drove her last roommate to start hooking up with Professor Klauss that night Conference Room 3—Vira would recite up to a thousand terms and definitions in her sleep.”

“You know, that girl can calculate pi to a 128 places?” Hikaru entered the conversation, coming over, setting down his food, and taking a seat. He’d replicated some Denebrian shish-kabobs and a giant dwarf-berry Slusho. Nyota eyed the blue tie around his neck and couldn’t help but wonder, What the hell is this boy doing in Laidley House? Why isn’t he in Hodges with these two stoners, where he belongs?

And why the hell are they all sitting here with me?

“Spock could only calculate it to a 122 places,” Hikaru added, chuckling. “After the 122nd place his memory suddenly failed him. Vira, on the other hand, made up a little song and sang her way to the 128th place.”

Nyota couldn’t help but smile broadly. The image of purple-headed Vira casually singing a long string of numbers to a towering, stoic Vulcan was utterly priceless.

Jim snickered suddenly, “Remember at the beginning of the year when he and Vira entered the Prisellan bacteria contest?” The boys laughed. At Nyota’s confused expression, Lenny elaborated.
“The contest was all about who could identify the most strains of bacteria. Naturally, once the seniors found out Vira and the Vulcan were competing, they all dropped out at once.”

“So Spock managed to identify 88 strains,” Hikaru took over the story. “Vira not only identified the names of all 92, but corrected a few of Spock’s identifications.”

“And the look on his face!” Jim laughed, causing the other boys to roar. “Who says Vulcans don’t feel irritation?”

Nyota couldn’t help but laugh with them, however, she wanted to make something clear. “You know, Vira’s not all work and no play,” she said. “She has this holodeck program for the Hoobishan Baths which, if you’ve done your research, you’ll know they’re—”

“Wild,” the boys finished with her.

“And,” Nyota added, “her side of the dorm is covered with all this kick-ass looking Trill women. I think they’re, like, rock stars or something.”

Lenny snorted, “They’re joined Trill.”

Nyota blinked. “What?”

“They’re joined Trill scientists,” he clarified, “and each one’s her idol. Not a single one of them is under the age of 300 or so.” While the boys laughed, Nyota mulled this over.

“She’s really dedicated to the sciences,” she murmured absent. “I can’t even imagine what that’s like. When I was fourteen and studying very basic anatomy under Dr. Zabuto, I accidentally caused an epidemic at my school. I lost control of a virus which took out half the teachers and three-quarters of the student population.” At the appalled looks on the boys’ faces, she quickly explained, “No one died. There just…wasn’t any school for several days.”

The boys roared.

Nyota smiled sheepishly, softly adding, “I never told anyone it was my fault.”

Jim clapped her on the shoulder. “You’ll fit right in at the Valley,” he assured her. “There’s always something going on around here.” He winked at his friends who laughed.

“Nyota Uhura?” a voice cut in.

She looked up to meet the impassive stare of the Vulcan. Those eyes hit her with such a force she almost fell backward in her chair like a dumb-ass.

“Spock!” Hikaru greeted jovially. “Pull up a chair?”

“Not tonight, I’m afraid,” came the courteous reply. He looked instead at Nyota. “Would you walk with me for a moment?”

Next ~ Rumors

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