The ISS Enterprise maintained its orbit around Halkan while the captain sent Scotty and a team of excavators to mine the dilithium. Uhura was grateful that they weren’t in the middle of a serious mission. She was having trouble adjusting. She’d been on board the starship for a week and already had several catfights with other female crew members over a multitude of things: flirting with another woman’s man, a vow of revenge for a prior slashing, and starting malicious rumors. Uhura was taken aback by the sheer malevolent nature of her counterpart. She was the catalyst for a lot of nasty stuff.
And then she was habitually hit on by a number of male and female crew members. The flirtation ranged from leers to downright dirty comments. The lesbian crewmates that hit on Uhura made her head reel; was her counterpart bisexual? Or did she merely use sex as a weapon on both genders? Whatever the case, the woman had dangerous pastimes. But she did not have to pull her knife and that relieved her.
She stopped taking private meals with Spock after he brought her breakfast that last time. He would have continued to do so, but she insisted that she needed to learn her way around the ship, even if her stay was for a short time. Spock didn’t try to correct her or engage her in debate on the subject and she was glad of it. In spite of his meticulous attention, she was used to fending for herself.
He escorted her to and from duty every day and informed her that if she wanted to have dinner with him, all she had to do was let him know. Although she never said anything, Uhura appreciated his persistence. It was nice to have him as a social safety net even if she was capriciously reluctant to be in his presence.
The first time she tried to take a meal in the mess hall was the first time she got into a scrap with a female crew member. Apparently, her counterpart had a tendency to collect beads every time she had a conquest, and she must have recently collected a red bead from the woman’s boyfriend. The woman—Arlene—was spitting mad. She strode up to Uhura and knocked her tray out of her hands and the argument ensued. Arlene tried to claw her, but Uhura deflected her blow and defused her with startling ease. It seemed that Arlene didn’t know the first thing about self-defense, or maybe she was just irate because her boyfriend cheated on her. Uhura told her that she wasn’t to blame; Arlene’s boyfriend was every bit as complicit and that Arlene should direct her temper towards him.
Annoyed, Uhura got another tray and took it to her quarters. There she sat and ate her meal alone. After the first three bites, she had to admit that she missed Spock’s company. He was an engaging conversationalist even if his conversation topics weren’t necessarily to her liking.
Her meal tasted like damp newspaper. After forcing down two more bites, she discarded her tray. She was going to have to adapt to life on this ship whether she wanted to or not. No one would care that she wasn’t their Uhura; she was going to have to deal with the consequences of that Uhura’s actions.
She put on some nightclothes; her counterpart had a thing for pretty lace lingerie and Uhura found them the most comfortable items in her drawer, even though they were definitely not standard-issue. At least not on her Enterprise. Uhura found the string of colored beads on the dresser and examined them—there were sixteen in all. Each one was engraved with initials. She closed her eyes. Whatever successes the beads embodied, her counterpart had sixteen of them.
Uhura had to wonder exactly what the beads represented.
She did not know if Captain Kirk was aware of the change in his communications expert, but she made sure that he would have no cause to question her work. Uhura was at her console well before Kirk arrived on the bridge—and she noted that this Kirk was notorious for strolling in late—and she had his reports ready well in advance. She relayed transmissions as easy as ever and followed her same professional ethic.
The work was effortless and it was her solace from the rest of her nightmarish existence upon this ship. Every day Sulu cast raw looks in her direction. Every day she ignored him. She ignored mostly everyone except Spock, who made sure she acknowledged him. Spock maintained the bridge whenever Captain Kirk wasn’t present and he noticed that Sulu kept looking at Uhura. He knew that it was only a matter of time before the security chief made another move towards her.
For his own sake, he’d better not touch her.
Spock was a patient man. Uhura had been on board the ship for a week and showed no signs of relenting. He was fascinated by the challenge she presented, yet found her continued resistance tedious. But no matter what it took or how long it took, he would prevail. He had gambled when he took her and he was determined that it would pay off.
Turock kept Spock updated. He knew about her confrontations with the other crew members, but as she suffered no harm, he was content with it. She was never out of Turock’s sight and that pleased Spock. The young Vulcan would not make the same mistake again. So far, the communications chief had not yet discovered that he was watching over her.
They were still in orbit around Halkan and Scotty’s last check-in reported that his team was nearly finished with the dilithium excavations. Kirk was down on the planet, supervising the last of the excavations and counting dollar signs. Spock was ambivalent about the sale of the crystals to other starship captains; he was already wealthy and had all the power he desired, but he never turned down his share of the profits.
Sulu got up from the helm and went over to Uhura’s console. Spock raised an eyebrow. Fascinating. It was a bold move on Sulu’s part. Spock decided to see how far Sulu would go before he had to reprimand him.
Sulu leaned over her console and began speaking to her in a low voice, presumably so that Spock could not hear. Spock remained perfectly still, taking in every aspect of the conversation.
“Uhura, I have come back. Again,” he said.
“I changed my mind,” she replied. “Again.”
“You find this game amusing, don’t you? Teasing me, enticing me, and then turning frigid…It is a dangerous game you play, lady. Dangerous. I warn you, you will not have the chance to cut me again.”
Uhura looked at him. Had her counterpart been the one to slice open Sulu’s face? Oh no!
“I’m sorry,” she said. She was. The Sulu she knew was a funny, pleasant soul with a ready smile and a joke.
He looked at her strangely. “Remorse? Just another ruse to lure me, I’m sure. Why I continue to fall for your tricks amazes me, yet I do. One day, I’ll catch you with your guard down. One day I’ll find out just how hot you are.” He leaned over and pinched her thigh.
Uhura’s eyes widened and she slapped him. Again. Furious, Sulu raised his hand to slap her back.
Spock, having seen enough, said, “Mr. Sulu! You are relieved of duty!”
Sulu turned and stared at Spock. Spock met his eyes with a hard glare of his own. He was not pleased. “Mr. Sulu, I would speak with you in the turbo lift, please?”
“Yes sir.” Sulu walked to the turbo lift and Spock followed. Uhura watched them go, wondering what would happen.
In the turbo lift, Spock said, “Deck 3.”
Sulu glared at him. “Reason for the relief, sir?”
“You will not behave that way on the bridge, Mr. Sulu. Not if you intend to keep your position on board this starship.”
“Permission to speak freely, Commander?”
“I welcome it.”
“Lieutenant Uhura and I are engaged in a delightful…game. She pretends to protest my advances and I continue my pursuit of her. We understand the rules of play. I take it that she has never bothered to play such a game with you?” It was a dig and Spock knew it.
“Whether she has or not is irrelevant, Mr. Sulu. You will not raise a hand to any woman in my presence. And you will not play those games on the bridge.”
Sulu rolled his eyes. “As you well know, Commander, we all play games on board this ship. Uhura’s stringing you along by the nose and you’re just not man enough to put a claim on her. Everyone on this ship knows that you lack the guts to handle a woman like that. I’m merely going to take what she wants to give you. Somebody needs to put that sassy little babe in her place.”
Amused, Spock stepped close to Sulu and looked down at him. “Mr. Sulu, I warn you: if you put your hands on Lt. Uhura again, it will be the last thing you do.”
“Are you staking a claim now, Spock? What are you going to do if I don’t? Are you going to sic your Vulcan operatives on me? Sir?”
“No,” he said. “I will do it myself.”
Spock sat in a conference with the captain, McCoy and Scotty. They were discussing the dilithium mining, which was scheduled to be complete within the next day or so. Kirk had already lined up meetings with Captain Dallas of the ISS Raider and Captain Bowlen of the ISS Cardinal. He was thrilled at the prospect of making more money. The man was a greedy, conniving despot.
The captain leaned back and fiddled with the sash on his ostentatious gold vest. “Spock, have you noticed anything strange about Lieutenant Uhura since our little transporter incident?”
“She appears to have a different temperament,” Spock replied.
“She never reported to sickbay to get checked out,” McCoy said. “Even though she was ordered to do so.”
“She’s not tae same Lt. Uhura, t’is for sure,” Scotty said. “She’s not as lippy as before.”
Kirk twiddled the sash. “Haven’t seen her trying to come on to you either, Spock.” He chuckled. “Were it not for that glaring omission, I wouldn’t have noticed. Her work’s exemplary and well-organized, way more so than before.”
“Do you think…she might have been switched during the beam-across?” McCoy said.
“I dunno,” Scotty said. “T’transporter was configured correctly; saw no damage tae it when I examined ‘er. Cannae sae, sir. T’is possible.”
“I think so,” McCoy said. “She’s too quiet. The Uhura I know always had something smart to say.”
“Fascinating,” Spock said. They noticed the change. He wondered what they thought about it or even if they suspected that it was intentional.
Kirk said. “Personally, I like this Uhura. She’s silent, efficient as hell, and hasn’t started any shit since she’s been on board.” More than once, Kirk had to intervene when the catfights got serious enough to disrupt duty.
“Ye dinnae t’ink that she nae wants t’go back ‘ome, Cap’n?”
“Whether she wants to or not is irrelevant, Scotty. She’s shit out of luck.”
“Oh well,” Scotty said.
McCoy whistled. “She’d better get tough quick if she’s anything like those pansies on that other Enterprise.”
Kirk eyed his first officer. “So, Spock…since we got ourselves a new Uhura, are you going to do to her what you wouldn’t do to the other?” Uhura’s failed seduction of Spock was no secret.
“I do not care to comment,” Spock said.
“Sure you don’t,” Kirk said. “But I’m willing to bet my share of the profits from the sale of the dilithium that you won’t pass up a chance to fuck her. Frankly, I’m still shocked that you never fucked the old one.”
“Why would he?” McCoy said. “She got more turns than a doorknob.”
“Aye,” Scotty said, smiling.
Kirk smiled as well. “If we can tell she’s not the old Uhura, then everyone else knows it too. It won’t take long for one of those guys in Engineering or Security to put a lock on that kitty-cat. The woman’s hot enough to make a man want to go for it.”
“Isn’t that the truth,” McCoy said.
To his credit, Spock did little more than raise a curious eyebrow. He thought of asking Kirk to clarify the exact nature of his use of the word ‘kitty-cat,' but after having served with the man for many years, knew that Kirk was using it as a pejorative term to describe Uhura’s sex.
Kirk looked thoughtful. “Hmmm. If they were our opposites, then it stands to reason that this Uhura is the opposite of our Uhura. Which makes me wonder if she’s a virgin? As you well know, our Uhura was anything but.”
That comment drew silence as McCoy, Scotty and Kirk contemplated the possibility. And the possibilities.
Spock raised an eyebrow again. “Captain, have you no shame?”
“You should know well enough by now that I don’t,” he said. “I personally don’t like a woman without experience. But if I got the chance, I wouldn’t mind popping that cherry. She’s sexy as hell.”
“Your distinct use of metaphor never ceases to amaze me, Captain.” Spock said.
“Marlena wouldn’t like to hear it,” McCoy said.
Kirk shrugged. “I’m not married. And don’t sit there and act like you wouldn’t hit it too, Bones. In spite of Sheila.”
McCoy nodded. “I’d love to fuck her.”
“Aye,” Scotty agreed. “I’d be willing tae break ‘er in meself.”
Spock listened to the conversation, not liking it but not willing to show his hand. Not yet. But he knew that it was now imperative that Uhura became his woman. When it came to females, the captain was a predator. McCoy wasn’t far behind and neither was Scotty. Of the four, Spock was the only one who was currently unattached and that was by choice. And apparently, he was the only one who saw the possibilities of the new Uhura beyond her physical characteristics.
He would have to let Uhura know that her time of independence was over. If the captain got it into his head that she was untouched, then nothing would stop him from trying to bed her. And if not him, then McCoy and Scotty would certainly try. Spock did not want to murder his captain, especially when he didn’t want the responsibility of command.
She was laid out on her bed with a warm towel over her face. Uhura was relaxing, in a pair of pink lace panties and a tight midriff T-shirt. Her counterpart didn’t own a single item of clothing that was loose-fitting or that covered her belly. She was adjusting, but was still determined to get to ship’s stores within the week to find some items that were more to her liking. She heard her door chime and got up to answer it after putting on her robe.
Spock was at the door. She looked at him. He was, so far, the only one that she’d been able to form some kind of familiar connection with. Uhura might not have liked his intentions, but still and all, she was glad to have company. She felt so isolated, so alone.
“May I come in?”
She pulled her robe tight and moved so that he could enter. “Yes?”
“Miss Uhura, I must speak with you.”
“About what, Mr. Spock? I was relaxing.”
“I am sorry to disturb you, but I must insist, urgently, that you desist in your desire to remain unattached.”
“Mr. Spock, we have already had this conversation and my decision has not changed.”
“I must inform you that it is unwise for you to remain single.”
She closed her eyes and sighed. “This is such a redundant conversation. Aren’t you tired of hearing me tell you no?”
Spock studied her. She was fresh from a bath. Her skin was moisturized and she looked soft, warm and inviting. He would not tire of hearing her tell him no because he would make her say yes. “I know that you have been involved in several confrontations over the past week. However, unless you wish for more aggressive pursuits, you would do well to align with me now.”
She looked at him. They had not spoken of this since she stopped letting him bring her meals. He had not bothered her outside of her duty, other than to engage her in sporadic conversation. So why was he here now? And what made it seem so urgent?
“What do you mean, Mr. Spock?”
“The captain is well aware that you are not our Uhura.”
She brightened. “He is? Is he going to take steps to ensure that I get home?”
“Not at all. He is unconcerned in that regard. He is, however, quite appreciative of several of your characteristics. One, that you are quiet. Two, that you are most efficient. Three: your physical stature. And four: the state of your womanhood.”
“The state of my womanhood?”
“I might add that Dr. McCoy and Engineer Scott are also equally appreciative.”
“During our conference, the question of your femininity arose and the captain expressed his desire that, were you still intact, he would be most agreeable to relieving you of that condition.”
“Huh?” She hadn’t heard him correctly. Did he just tell her that Captain Kirk wanted to pop her cherry?
“I find the topic most disconcerting to discuss with you. However, you must be made aware of this.”
“Wait,” she said, touching her fingertips to her head. “You were talking about me during your conference?”
“Affirmative. The captain asked if we noticed that you were different.”
“Captain Kirk wants to take my virginity?”
“If you are still in possession of it.” Spock wondered if she was. If she was intact, then that merely intensified his own desire to be with Uhura. It was an animus, a throwback to his archaic ancestry. To be the first—and only—man to have her? Spock would be damned if Kirk got the chance.
Spock allowed himself a moment to wonder if he truly was any different from his captain.
Uhura shook her head. “I’m sorry. Mr. Spock, I’m having a bit of difficulty processing what you just said. Did you just tell me that the captain wants to sleep with me?”
“Only if you have never made love to anyone else.” Had she? He wondered again if she had a lover on board her Enterprise. If there was a man that held her heart?
Stunned. Uhura closed her eyes and started pinching herself. At some point she would have to wake up. She would have to! This was not real; she was suffering from delusions. Or maybe she was stuck in sickbay, a raving lunatic. Anything was better than being trapped in this hellhole. She pinched until there were blotches on her arms.
“Do not harm yourself,” Spock said, grabbing her hands. “Being with me is the only way to ensure that no man will bother you.”
“What about you? You want to sleep with me too!”
“I do not seek just the mere pleasure of your sex, Miss Uhura. I have been quite clear in that I want more. In that regard, I am different.”
“Mr. Spock, I can’t—I can’t…” She turned away from him, horrified at the situation. This ship was full of predators! She wasn’t safe anywhere! Tears ran down her cheeks.
“I will never hurt you,” he said. “I seek you as my mate, my equal. I want you and I would not force you, but you no longer have the option of deciding that you do not want to be with me. For you will be with the captain. Or with Dr. McCoy. Or with Commander Scott. Until they tire of you.”
Uhura couldn’t speak. Her throat was thick with tears.
“Align with me,” Spock said. “And you will be safe.”
“Safe? Safe? It’s all your fault that this is happening to me! If you had just left me alone…”
Spock touched her arm and turned her around. Furious, Uhura struck him. She slapped his face—twice—and then pummeled his chest with her fists. He allowed her to hit him, standing still with his hands at his sides. He could bear her illogical outburst if it meant that she would submit to him.
“…if you just let me go! You’re a beast; you’re a horrible horrible man for doing this to me! I hate you!”
“I will make it up to you,” he said. “Please.”
She closed her eyes and beat her fists against him until she was spent. Then she flattened her hands and spread her fingers over his shoulders, sobbing. It was too much, too much! The fighting, the arguments and now this…? To be a notch on the captain’s belt? McCoy’s? Scotty’s? This was turning into her own private hell. And it was all the fault of the man who was holding her.
Spock put his hands on her waist and pulled her close so that their bodies touched. He put his arms around her and she pressed her face against his chest and cried. She couldn’t help it. Uhura was devastated. She didn’t know what to do.
Spock rubbed her back. “Forgive me,” he said. “I took you because I could not allow you to leave. Unite with me and you will not be harmed. No one will dare touch you if they know that you belong—that you are with me. I will protect you.”
She snuffled. Spock’s scent was marvelous, but she couldn’t identify it. And she had to admit—grudgingly—that there was comfort in being held by him. She actually felt safe in his arms. But it had to be said.
“Who is going to protect me from you?”
“No one,” he said.
She squeezed her eyes shut. “You’re not convincing me that I should do this.”
“But I speak the truth. No one will keep you from me. I would take what you give, but I do expect for you to give it. All of it. It is best that there be no dissembling between us.”
“I want my freedom,” she said. Uhura kept her face pressed against his shirt. He smelled so good and his arms were strong. He radiated heat like the sun, warming her from the inside out. It was a pleasurable sensation. She refused to think that she could get used to it.
“I cannot give you that, Miss Uhura. I can give you everything else.”
“Even my choices?”
“Most of them.”
She looked up at him. “You would allow me to choose?”
“As long as you understand that I only wish to keep you safe.”
Uhura wiped her face with her hand. She still had not let him go. “Then I will do it on one condition.”
“What is that?”
“I will align with you for the sake of appearance. You say that no one will touch me if they know I’m with you. So I’m willing to let them think that, but I really don’t want to have anything to do with you, Mr. Spock. I told you, I cannot be with a thief, a kidnapper and a murderer. And you have admitted to these crimes. I cannot give my heart or my body to such a man.”
Spock remained still. “You would lie?”
“Do you have a problem with it?” Was he actually offended?
He raised an eyebrow. “I do not wish for our relationship to be spurious.”
“This from a man who has committed far worse sins? You have got to be kidding me! Then I won’t do it.”
“I won’t let you.”
“Then it will be on my terms or not at all, Mr. Spock. You claim to want to protect me, so this is your chance to do it. Either you’ll accept the fact that our relationship will be a front and go with it, or you will leave me at the mercy of the captain.” Uhura found it distasteful to say such, but she was going to control things from now on.
“I do not wish for you to suffer his attentions. I will treat you better than he will.”
“Then prove it. Agree to it or let me go.”
Spock remained silent, finding it amusing that Uhura was dictating the terms of their involvement while holding on to him with more fervor than she would acknowledge. Her breasts were crushed against his chest and he could feel the pebbling of her nipples. She wore little clothing underneath her robe and she smelled of eucalyptus. She felt so good. He wanted to make love to her so badly that he decided to agree to the farce. It would not last long, if the way they were holding on to each other was any indication. Spock was determined that she would not be able to resist him.
“Miss Uhura, I will agree to your terms, but I also have one condition.”
“That we secure the arrangement with a kiss.”
Uhura pulled back and looked up at him. “What?”
“I would like to kiss you,” he said, touching her chin. Uhura blinked; it was as if a bolt of white-hot energy passed through her. Spock continued. “It is only fair that you allow me a boon when you expect me to be a willing participant to a charade, especially when you know what I truly desire.”
She considered. It was a fair request. It would give her the opportunity to know how that sexy beard and those beautiful lips would feel against hers. She did not deny that she wanted to experience it. “Fair enough.”
Spock looked down and pushed her robe off her shoulders. It fell to the floor with a soft foom! She wore a very small, very snug T-shirt and a pair of delightful pink lace underpants. He was more than pleased. He put his hands on her waist and knelt before her. The panties were made of some sheer material. He gazed at the dip of her navel, at the ‘V’ of her thighs, at the dark thatch encased in tight pink. He took a breath. She held hers.
‘Sweet baby gherkins!’ she thought.
The room went from comfortable to conflagration in two seconds. Uhura swallowed, wondering when she had lost control of the situation. She could barely draw breath, much less speak. She looked down at him and put her hands on his shoulders. What was he doing? What was he doing?
She found she had voice. “Wha—what are you doing, Mr. Spock? We agreed to a kiss.”
“We did, at that,” he said. “We just did not agree on where I will kiss you.”
Uhura lay on her bed, tingling all over. She thought that she finally took command of the circumstances between her and the Vulcan, but in a space of two very hot, very intense minutes, she realized that she was an amateur and Spock was the master of the game.