3/14/15

Into the Valley ~ It's Called a "Crush" for a Reason #Uhura

Previously ~ Rumors

Tuesday morning dawned brightly, and Nyota readied herself for her 0900 class, Introductory Romulan. Vira had another one of her long-winded seminars to go to, and she was eager as hell. She couldn’t stop talking about it as they got dressed and fixed their hair.

“…and Dr. Lerik is coming in all the way from Vulcan to talk about the redundancy of Klingon organs. It’s only going to be two hours long, but I can’t wait. He’s even bringing a real Klingon corpse!”

Nyota’s head snapped towards her, almost burning herself with her curling iron. “What?”

“Yeah!” the Trill beamed excitedly. “I’ve never seen an actual Klingon corpse before. I mean, I’ve seen Denobulans, Tellarites, a whole mess of dead of Trills—”

“What?” Nyota asked again, even more appalled than before. “Why he can’t he just use simulations?”

Vira appeared slightly miffed. “Lerik thinks that as future doctors, we will be dealing with the real thing anyway, therefore it is logical to start now and build up our detachment.”

“Thank God I’m just here for the languages,” Nyota cringed. “Honestly, Vira—you amaze me. I’m surprised you can stomach all that stuff.”

“You mean, for example, studying reproductive systems?”

“For example.”

“You know,” Vira drawled, “because they’re an essential part of mating habits.”

“Well, duh,” Nyota muttered absently. She turned off her curling iron and rose to straighten her purple and black plaid skirt. Her white knee socks itched a bit; she was going to have to switch to a different fabric.

“’Cause everyone has mating habits, you know,” Vira smirked. “Including Vulcans.”

As she expected, Nyota froze. Slowly, she turned to face the Trill. “What do you know?”

Vira snickered mischievously, “Not much—yet.” She sighed dramatically, leisurely fingering a twisted purple lock with feigned innocence. “But I could find out. I figured if you’re going to pursue a Vulcan, you might as well want to know everything about him—from the inside out.”

Nyota understood immediately. “Lunch at 1230?”

Vira beamed. “I’ll replicate the ice cream.”

She arrived at her class almost twenty minutes early. She didn’t mind that it was typically considered nerdy to do so; the complex was still a labyrinth to her and she liked using the extra time to skim previous class notes. To Nyota’s delightful surprise, Hikaru Sulu was the familiar face in her Romulan class. It wasn’t completely surprising, though; Romulans and Vulcans had a shared ancestry, and with Spock for a roommate, Introductory Romulan was no doubt an easy A for him.

As she smiled at him in greeting, it occurred to her suddenly that one good way to get to a guy was through his friend. And since Hikaru had so generously shared info the night before….

She snagged a seat next to him as quickly as possible, saying cheerfully, “Hey, you!”

“Hey you,” he replied, winking. He flashed a very beautiful smile before adding, “Love the new hair, by the way.”

Oh, wow.

Nyota blinked, momentarily confused as her legs instinctively clenched together. How could two different boys make her body do that? Was that even possible? That didn’t make any sense!

He pulled her from her disorientation with a brief question. “‘Nyota’…that means ‘star,’ right?”

Nyota smiled, feeling suddenly shy as she nodded. What the hell? This wasn’t right.

Against her better judgment, she asked, “And ‘Hikaru’ means ‘radiance,’ doesn’t it?”

He slowly smiled at her again, this time even more beautifully and more radiantly than before.

Oh…woooooooow.

It suddenly hit Nyota…Spock might have all the grace and eloquence of a genteel, seasoned scholar, but never, ever would he smile at her like that.

This discovery made her pause and stop to wonder…was that the price of dating a Vulcan? And if so, what other prices were there? What else would she have to give up?

You are correct,” he suddenly said in Swahili. His pronunciation was astounding perfect, as fluid as a native speaker. “You’d be surprised how few people know that.”

Nyota’s heart flutters as she grinned brightly and replied in equally fluent Japanese, “Some people are just lazy, I guess.”

The two of them laughed for a minute.

“Your last name, though,” she frowned slightly, “isn’t Japanese. ‘Sulu’ is a sea, isn’t it?”

He smiled broadly, practically glowing. “Yes! My ancestors were sailors, and most of them weren’t from the islands of Japan. My great-great-great-grandfather was captain of an infamous pirate vessel, the Scarlet Demon.” Pause. “You know, you’re the first girl Spock’s ever asked anywhere.”

Nyota looked downward, smiling shyly again. “It’s just school stuff,” she mumbled. “We like this poet from Ancient Vulcan, that’s all.”

“You’d be surprised how many students here like Vulcan literature—myself in included,” Hikaru chuckled. “Sumek is my favorite poet; his work is even older than Mikonna’s. Lots of kids like the prose of Dr. T’Nura, the ancient memoirs of Lord Seluris, The Diary of Emperor Shal, so onand so forth. But despite how many of us like the works, few of us fully understand them…and none of us read them in the original Vulcan.”

Nyota felt her face heating. “I just like Lady Mikonna, that’s all. I’m not an aficionado or expert or—”

“You have Spock’s admiration,” Hikaru interrupted her. “Keep up the good work in Vulcan Lit and soon you’ll have his respect. Very few people can make that boast.”

“No pressure,” Nyota murmured.

“Yeah, it is pressure,” Hikaru nodded, “but good pressure. You like him, don’t you?”

Nyota had to turn away slightly. “Well, yeah,” she shrugged, avoiding his gaze. “I suppose he’s, uh,
intelligent and I too, um, admire and respect—”

“Cut the crap, Nyota,” Hikaru laughed, “you ‘like him’ like him. And you’re not the first girl. Your roommate used to, until she realized she could kick his ass in science. He had to stop talking to her after a while.”

Nyota stiffened. “He doesn’t like Vira because she’s smarter than he is?”  That's weak.

“No,” he snorted, “Spock doesn’t understand why Vira always has to go out of her way to show everyone that she can do everything better than they can. The kids around here having a saying: ‘Vira knows. Vira always knows.’”

Oh…well, that actually makes sense.

“Anyway,” Hikaru shrugged, “I think Spock is simply grateful to finally have someone here who can understand something he can which everyone else doesn't get. Though he won’t admit it, he feels like an outsider a lot.”

“Yeah,” Nyota nodded quickly. She was suddenly feeling guilty, as though she’d taken advantage of the Vulcan in some way. There was he was thinking of friendship, while she was lying awake at night thinking about….

“He probably wishes he had…I dunno…some Vulcan girls to date instead of all these emotional chicks wandering the halls around here.”

“Oh—Vulcans don’t date,” Hikaru chortled. “Their marriages are arranged when they’re, like, seven. Most people wouldn’t think this, but Spock has a girl waiting for him back home—T’Prinna or T’Pree or T’Something…or other.”

For the second time in as many days, Nyota felt her heart plummet. “Does he have to marry her?” she asked, trying to hide the tightness in her voice. “I mean, his father didn’t marry a Vulcan.”

Hikaru seemed oddly oblivious to the fact he was killing her softly with every word. “True, but Spock has this weird desire to fulfill his father’s wishes and ‘honor the Vulcan way.’ He wants this to be his last year in the Valley, and he wants to join the Vulcan Science Ministry some day. He also wants to undergo the Kolinahr, the ritual purging of all emotion.” Hikaru yawned. “You know, Spock will tell you all this bull about how he’s not trying to impress his father or anything, but everything he does is for his father. That man has, like, an ironclad hold over the boy.”

Oh, great.

“And it doesn’t make any sense,” Hikaru frowned, “because Spock is such a mother’s boy. Like, he messages her every evening. And if he doesn’t get a message back by 1200 hours the next day, he gets, like, upset—or at least the Vulcan equivalent of being upset; I’m not sure what you’d call that.”

Despite her growing despair, Nyota had to laugh. Without thinking, she said, “You’re witty.”

Waaiiit a sec…didn’t I just say the same thing to another boy last night? Nyota blinked. Am I fickle now?

Dear, God…does this make me, like, a slut nor or something? What exactly defines a slut anyway?  I’ve never met one…can a personal be an emotional slut? A conversational slut?

She worked to calm her spinning thoughts, but it was hard to keep them under control. She had to repeatedly tell herself it was all right. She could think more than one guy was witty and charming and incredibly good-looking (did Hikaru really have to bite his bottom lip like that?) especially since she had a better chance with this one now than she did the other.

***

Lunchtime came and Nyota was in a grim mood. She picked at her rice pilaf like a woman on death row, and when Vira showed up, the Trill almost hesitated to sit with her.

“Oh, God,” she murmured nervously, sitting down with her bowl of Tarkalian chicken soup. “What happened to you?”

“My Romulan class is with Hikaru,” Nyota grumbled. “Boy, was he full of information I didn’t want to hear. Vulcans don’t date. And Spock—” she practically spat his name, “—has had a fiancée since he was seven, and so not only is this Saturday not a date, it’s pretty much about two people who just happen to like the same writer.”

She slammed down her fork, causing her roommate to jolt.

Vira’s eyes were wide, but she wasn’t entirely surprised about Saturday. She had wanted to explain that Vulcans were one of the trickier species to deal with, but after their last argument, she didn’t want to rock the boat.

Instead, she took another route.

“Spock underwent the traditional bonding?” Now that surprised her. “He’s half-human—why would his mother even allow that?”

Nyota’s words dripped poison. “Young bride, alone on a foreign world, no doubt trying to please her husband.” She sat back in her chair, glaring at the table. “This is bullshit.”

“Well, I figured it must have been a sign when I scoured the database from 1100 hours until now and found almost nothing about Vulcan mating rituals.”

Nyota looked up at her roommate for the first time, clearly perplexed. “Almost nothing?”

“Just the basics, and several obscure references to something called ‘the Time’ and a ‘fever of the blood’,” Vira sighed wearily. “Whatever it is Vulcans go through, their whole world keeps it under lock and key.  Even Dr. Lerik wouldn’t share anything with me. He actually seemed offended that I should ask. Which was really weird, ‘cause, like, he spent a day talking about guts and magnifying stab wounds on a view screen like it was nothing…but the second I brought up ‘sex’, he turned really green. It was, like, freaky.”

Nyota raised an eyebrow. Her confusion momentarily dimmed her frustration. “But his mom’s human so…we must have some similarities, right?”

“Oh, yeah, yeah,” the Trill nodded quickly. “Penis, vagina, basic interlocking mechanism, and so forth.” Vira had uttered the first two words so loudly she’d drawn looks from others. Nyota twitched and shifted in her chair as her roommate easily continued this increasingly uncomfortable dialogue.

“But that’s the basics, and very much so. Like, Vulcans don’t make out—did you know that? No one’s ever seen one Vulcan kiss another. In fact, no one’s ever seen one Vulcan even casually touch another; they’re always bowing and nodding and shit. ‘Cause like, apparently they’re touch-telepaths, so they show affection—or rather, what they would consider affection—by touching with their middle and forefingers, like this.” She grabbed her roommate’s hand to show her. “It allows them to transmit…impressions, I guess? All the stuff they’d rather not say aloud.”

Nyota didn’t care about the demonstration. Her brain was too busy being stuck on the horrific previous statement. “Vulcans don’t kiss?

Vira shook her head. “Sorry, girly.”

“So even if Spock were to ignore the fact that he has a fiancée and go out with me…we would never kiss? Never touch? I’d never see him smile or hear him laugh....” She trailed off miserably, wondering why her first crush at her new school had to be the unequivocal, no-exceptions definition of “wrong for her.”

She could never tell her mother about this. Her mother would tell the rest of the family and soon Nyota’s inbox would be hit by a barrage of messages from nosy Uhuras, with no doubt a gloating, sneering cousin or two amongst them.

“I’m going to have to get over him,” she nodded quickly, her voice shaking with panic like a girl possessed. “Like, right now. I’m going to tell him I can’t make it to the opera this Saturday. And then I’m never speaking to him again.”

Vira fidgeted for a moment before asking, “Aren’t you overreacting a little?”

“Vira!” Nyota cried. “You do not understand! You can’t even begin to fathom the effect that boy has on me, even when he’s not around. The thing my body does…I don’t even know what to call it!”

Vira nodded compassionately, even as she entered clinical mode. “Vaginal moistening in response to a sexual stimulus is common in most humanoids—”

Vira!

“Okay, I’m stopping,” the Trill raised her hands in surrender. “I’m stopping. I get it, all right? He…turns you on. And you want to stay away until you can learn to control it better. Am I right?”

Nyota nodded stiffly. She was still too angry to speak. Her nostrils were flaring and her breathing was irregular. After a long pause, she stated in a low, clear voice, “I have to accept that I can’t date a Vulcan. I don’t know how it worked for his parents, but I can see it’s not going to happen here.”

Her roommate’s voice came out a bit meek. “Actually…that’s not entirely true.”

Nyota raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“Well,” the Trill frowned for a moment, as though looking for the right words, “I’m going to take a stab at a soft science here—psychology, if you will. Spock is half human, and though I know we’re not just ‘a bunch of walking, talking cells’…DNA doesn’t lie. We are who we are. He can fight or ignore or deny his human side all he wants, but it’s there. And it will always be there. And it will always…matter to him.”

Nyota simply stared at her.

Vira attempted to explain. “Back in the comm. lab, you overheard him say it was, like, logical or something to come to a human school because his mother was human, right?”

Still, Nyota just stared at her, obviously lost.

“Well,” Vira continued tentatively, “it sounds like he came here to get in touch with his human side and understand his mother’s people better.”

Still….

Nyota,” Vira rolled her eyes, chuckling despite her impatience, “what better way can a Vulcan with a human mother understand her a little better than by dating a human girl?”

Next - The Softer Side of Science

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