A/N: I’ve recovered. On with the story…
The planet of Dantouine II opted for brute force. They rejected the Empire, and so Kirk was ordered to use whatever measures were necessary to ensure compliance. He sent a massive security team to take control of Dantouine’s capital city, and the citizens, being peaceful, could not object. Kirk, Spock and Scotty rotated supervisory shifts on the planet. Dantouine’s governor and council were yielding to the Empire, bit by bit. It was a very sad time for the people of that planet.
Almost five weeks after the incident with Michael, Uhura was adapting to her new lifestyle. It was not one that she had the luxury of criticizing, but it was one that she could deal with. It was most certainly not the life she had prior to lunch with Michael. Spock was planet-side for the majority of the time and so she had a great deal of time alone to contemplate the seven weeks she had been in the Mirrorverse. She no longer wondered if she would ever make it back home. An analysis of the convergence of events that had to occur left one variable: there was no guarantee that her universe and this one would be aligned again for the transition to take place. She could easily be beamed into another world, one even more hellish than this one. And there was no guarantee that her counterpart would be in the specific location she needed to be for the switch to take place. Uhura couldn’t even begin to do the mathematical breakdown that would produce the best fit scenario and it hurt her head if she thought about it too much.
And then, Uhura wasn’t certain that she wanted to go back home. She didn’t think she could, not after what happened. She couldn’t even begin to think about what it would be like if she did go back to her Enterprise. She was different now. She knew that she could not be able to look at the old Spock again, not after what she had been through with the new Spock. Her Spock, she ruefully thought.
After the night he moved her in, Spock was there for two days before beaming down to Dantouine. He did not speak to her, did not look at her and certainly did not touch her. Distraught as she was, she was unsure if she found the lack of attention wounding or courteous. At any rate, he was hardly there with her and so it didn’t matter. Uhura shared his bed and there was a space between them, a large gaping maw that neither of them could cross. When he slept (and it did not appear that he did), he did so with his back to her. She had been too devastated to care. She turned the other way and curled on her side. Sleep found her immediately and she welcomed it. She slept a lot those two days. Her soul felt like it was in two pieces. And then he was planet-side, gone, and she was alone.
She cried a lot for the first couple of days. Uhura was so conflicted over her emotions that she considered a variety of alternatives to rid herself of her issues, including suicide. None were acceptable. It wasn’t until Spock started ignoring her that she realized that any attention was better than no attention, but she was not about to do anything to bring any to herself. She was not certain if he could bear to look at her after what he did because she couldn’t bear to look at him. Not at first.
The knowledge of her actions burned in Uhura’s mind. She never thought herself to be selfish, but she had been. She did not realize how cruel this world was until she started hearing and seeing things after Spock left on the away team. She had not yet decided if anything justified what Spock did, but it was something she had time to consider while he was away. Regret was a faithful girlfriend, there with her when she woke in the mornings and by her side when she went to bed. She occupied the space between Spock and Uhura, right along with her twin sister Shame.
Uhura stopped crying after the third day. Tears were useless and she was exhausted. Reflection was productive, and she had plenty of time for it. When in orbit, the Enterprise followed standard operating procedures, and so she was able to cogitate even while on duty. Spock told her from the very beginning that she should use the way he treated her as her guide to believing his intentions. He had been so very good to her those first two and a half weeks, so very gentlemanly and courteous, so very attentive and loving. She was able to appreciate his chivalry now.
Of course, there was the monumental issue of having being taken from her universe in the first place. None of this would have ever happened had he left her alone. But she couldn’t dwell on it now. She was learning how to adapt to this universe, this world, and her survival was of the utmost importance. Uhura was not about to roll over and die just because others thought she should, or because she didn’t know how to handle her new environment and emotions. Her life meant far more to her than that and she would not give it up for anyone.
She began to see and hear brutish things taking place in the corridors, in the lounge, outside of crew quarters, in Engineering, nearly everywhere. Harsh language, actions, screams, and orders that were definitely not Starfleet-approved; all kinds of ugly acts. She had not been aware of them before, even though she had been warned that they existed. Uhura kept to herself and no one bothered her; though she did receive leers and crude remarks from a great many men. She knew that her personal guard was still diligent in her protection, because no one approached her. She quickly learned to do what she needed to do within the space of a few hours after her shift was over and head back to Spock’s quarters because she knew she was safe there.
She spent a lot of time staring at the collar around her neck. It was fastened in such a way that she could not take it off. It wasn’t heavy; the material was very soft and buttery, like leather. It did not irritate her. In fact, it felt good next to her skin and sometimes, seeing it around her neck made her tingle deep down inside. Objectively speaking, it was a lovely piece. The O-ring was small and gold, not ostentatious or pretentious. It matched the black and gold accents of her uniform and could have easily been mistaken for a standard choker. Except it wasn’t and everyone knew it.
In spite of Spock’s absence, she behaved as if he were right there with her. Her collar was a constant reminder. She had been humbled the first time she had to wear it on the bridge. Spock made her walk in front of him. When Captain Kirk saw them, he stared at her and then at the band around her neck. Then he turned his eyes to his first officer and there was no mistaking the approval in them. She knew then that whatever respect Kirk once had for Spock returned in droves the moment the captain saw her collar. Fury flared in her gut, but that was all she would allow it to do. She did not speak and did not fight it when Spock helped her sit down. She sat at her console, straightened her spine and did her job impeccably. She was aware of Sulu’s amused sneer from across the bridge. She would not give him the pleasure of enjoying her discomfort.
The first two days were hard. After her duty, she didn’t want to be seen and declined to eat so that she could cower in her room. Spock didn’t try to force her into anything and left her alone. She cried and screamed her fury into the pillow. Her stomach and head hurt as she released her rage. She got tired of that real quick.
But the following day, Uhura gazed at her reflection and reminded herself that even though she had to own the consequences of her actions, Spock would also have to own his. She was strong, she was a fighter. She could handle anything and this was no different. She would not cower in her room, nor would she give those bastards a reason to laugh at her or mock her. She had already endured more than most women and she was still here.
Uhura might give the impression that she was Spock’s woman, but inside, she was very much her own. She would get through this, collar or not, Spock or not. So she went to work with steel in her eyes and iron in her spine and she had done so every day since then. No one said anything and nobody bothered her. If seeing the collar around her neck re-established Spock’s deference amongst his subordinates and captain, then she could live with it. She never intended to undermine his authority, and that was a dangerous thing in this universe because a show of weakness guaranteed death. She had already witnessed it.
Marlena was right: Spock had been a decent man on a ship of brutes; one who was willing to shield her from the ugly reality of the Mirrorverse and absorb the ridicule of his subordinates to do so. Uhura wondered if he still was. She didn’t know, but she hoped that she had not driven his decency away. She hoped that one day he would be able to own up to his actions and face her like a man.
Uhura did not know what her future held or if she would ever get back home, but she learned a valuable and powerful lesson that would stick with her for the rest of her days in the Mirrorverse. She had expected to be treated the way Spock treated her at first, as that was what she was used to back in her world. But she had since come to learn that his actions went against the norm in this place and that she wasn’t entitled to be treated any kind of way. In fact, his treatment of her was far better than any other woman received. He had been proud to do it, no matter the sacrifice he made to do so. Marlena had said as much. Spock’s actions were not common in such a place, a place where women were considered property or prey and no one would utter a word against it.
Uhura learned this from a surprising source. About a week and a half after moving in with Spock, she was having an early dinner in the officers’ dining room. The food there was very good, very decadent, a hundred times better than what the crew ate. She had been indulging and gained a little weight, but it was all in the right places. Uhura ate slowly, her mind in a million different directions, when she heard her name.
She looked up. It was Marlena, and she was with a tall, slender blonde and a curvy, honey-skinned sister sporting braids.
“Mind if we sit?”
“Of course not.” Uhura wondered why Marlena was choosing to sit with her again. They were not friends.
The ladies sat. Marlena introduced them. “This is Trisha, Scotty’s woman, and Sheila, Lenny’s lady.”
“Hello,” Uhura said.
“How are you doing?” Sheila asked. Uhura was surprised to see that there was actually compassion in her eyes.
“I’m all right.”
“Glad to hear it,” Trisha said, sipping her juice. “We were wondering if you were okay.”
Uhura decided not to beat around the bush. “Marlena, what’s going on?”
“You’re one of us now,” she said. “You’re a senior officer’s woman. We tend to stick together.”
Uhura stared at her. “What? You didn’t tell me that the last time we spoke.”
“Because you weren’t one then. You are now. Welcome to the club.”
“Club? This is a club?”
Trisha waved her blonde hair out of her face. “Yes, darling. Club. “
“I’m not sure I fully understand,” Uhura said.
Sheila twirled a braid. “You’re not alone in what happened to you. I had a similar experience with Lenny.”
Uhura’s eyes widened. “What?”
“So did I,” Trisha said. “So did Marlena. Now what we experienced was different because we’re with singular kinds of men. But we were…broken…same as you.”
“Marlena?” Uhura looked at her. She did not give off the aura of a broken woman. None of them did.
“Yes. Jim pursued me with a fever like you wouldn’t believe. I played hard to get. He played harder to resist. And then I learned what it means to be the captain’s woman. Perks aside, it’s not everything people think it is.”
“And the Chief Engineer’s,” Trisha said. “Scotty got me from Starbase 3.86 in the Aldebaran system.”
“And the Chief Medical Officer’s,” Sheila said. “I was a nurse on the ISS Vegas. You’re the First Officer’s woman. You’re different now. You’re one of us. You’ve got that look.”
“We see it because we recognize it.” Sheila said. “You’re not alone, Nyota. We know what you’ve been through; what you’re going through.”
“I need a minute,” Uhura said. She took a long drink of water. “Are you telling me that this is common practice?” They were kidnapped too?
“Marlena told us that you got stuck here,” Trisha said.
“I didn’t get stuck. Commander Spock deliberately kept me here.”
“Oh,” Marlena said. “That explains a lot. But you’re in similar company. “
Trisha continued. “That sucks, but you’re here now and probably for good. Here, things are different. While women can serve as officers and have rank, we do not have the same opportunities as the men. We’re still treated like property, and while that’s deplorable, it’s the way it is. Survival is what matters. It is better to be attached to a man with power than to be single. Single women do not last long here. The only one who did was your counterpart and she was a bad-ass bitch.”
“I liked her,” Sheila said. “She did what she wanted and she didn’t give a fuck.”
Marlena nodded. “I didn’t care for her, but I respected her. She was as ruthless as the men when she wanted something and no one got in her way. She wasn’t attached to anybody, but it didn’t matter because she had a slew of boy toys willing to do anything she wanted to anybody she didn’t care for. She had Janice Rand murdered because she wanted her position on the bridge. But for the rest of us, it was safer to align than be alone. You get in a lot of trouble that way. The men on board this ship are predators, and really, you don’t have to be female to get attacked. Just vulnerable.”
Sheila sipped her tea. “Nope. I know of a few young men that happened to and needless to say, most of them are no longer here.”
“One was able to get transferred, three committed suicide, two left Starfleet, and one is currently Chekov’s bitch.”
“Yes,” Trisha said. “You have to be tough to survive here. I’m sure you’re aware that officers move up in rank via murder. That makes the captain a major target, and everyone’s out to ice him except Spock. Even his friends. So you do what you have to do, even if it is unpleasant. Unless you’re planning to kill yourself.”
“No,” Uhura said. “I won’t do that.” She had considered it a few days after moving in with Spock, but knew she didn’t have the courage. Besides, her life meant everything to her and she was not ready to give it up, no matter what she faced. No man had that power or that right. Not even Spock and she didn’t care what he said.
“Good,” Sheila said. “It’s not worth your life. You’re one of us now.”
Trisha stared at the collar. “You’re still wearing it.”
Uhura bit her lip. “Yes.”
Sheila nodded. “It’s actually very tasteful, very pretty. It matches your outfit. He’s a most cunning man, your Spock.”
“He’s not my Spock,” Uhura said.
Sheila bit into a piece of bread. “Oh yes he is, honey. He is all yours. Believe that.”
“I guess that’s your mark,” Trisha said. “I’ve got my own.” She pulled up the bodice of her red top to show Uhura some scars under her breasts. “These are implants. Scotty knocked me unconscious and got Lenny to put them in without my permission because he likes big tits and my natural ones weren’t enough for him. And everybody knows it.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes,” Trisha said. “I woke up many hours later to find that my perfect little 38Cs were gone, replaced by these 44D jahoobies. I was mad as hell, but there wasn’t anything I could do at the time. But now I make him pay to play. And baby, he pays.”
“Lenny likes to bite,” Sheila said. “I’d show you, but take my word for it. He also hits. But I’ve started hitting back. And biting back.”
Marlena said, “Jim has his own way of exerting his control. I’m humiliated every time I see him with one of his little bitches or hear that he’s knocked one up. He ignores me unless I’m buck naked and he makes me do certain things to turn him on, such as be intimate with one of his little bitches. He holds my rank over my head whenever I displease him and he constantly threatens to give me to Sulu if I don’t give him what he wants. He hits, too. I don’t have the nerve to hit him back and there are days when I hate him, but I like being a captain’s woman. There’s perks that his little tramps don’t qualify for.”
“If they’re so bad, then why do you stay?” Uhura asked. She was horrified at their stories, but her own wasn’t any better. She recalled many conversations she’d had with women back in her world that stayed with abusive husbands and cheating boyfriends and she never understood why they did. Apparently, things were no different out here.
Sheila twirled her braids. “Because I know Lenny. I’m used to him. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s better to stay with the devil you know. There are men on board this ship who are far, far worse. I can handle Lenny.”
Trisha nodded. “Scotty’s lead guard is an absolute animal. He does things that I just can’t bear to mention and he leaves a lot of blood in his wake. He’s a cutter. It’s all done in the dark, but everyone knows.”
“To women on this ship?”
“Some. Most times, he gets to wreak havoc when we’re on leave. But it’s just like Sheila said. I stay with Scotty because I know him, know who he is and know his appetites. I can deal with him. I don’t dare put myself out there because I know what could happen and what has happened. I’m not Scotty’s first woman; his last one decided to leave him and she disappeared. People have a way of vanishing. Women have to put up with a lot of shit. And it’s no better on other Imperial starships. It’s a misogynistic society,” Trisha said.
“And until that changes, we will either have to die or survive. None of these fuckers are worth my life, and so I choose to carry on.”
“Bad things happen to those who can’t take it,” Marlena said. “You have to adapt. Are you, Nyota?”
“I’m learning to,” Uhura said. Really, she had no choice.
“What’s it like, wearing that?” Trisha asked, motioning towards Uhura’s neck. “Scotty mentioned it and said he might get me one, but I’d rather not go there with him. He can’t deal with it.”
“It was humiliating at first,” Uhura said. “I mean, I can’t describe how I felt when the captain saw me.”
“Oh, he approves,” Marlena said. “He said later that he was wrong about Spock because no other man would have the balls to do it. Not even Sulu. They talk a good game, but none of them are ballsy enough. It’s strange, really. With all the other stuff that goes on, bondage should be a simple thing, but it isn’t. I don’t get it.”
Trisha laughed. “All the men support what Spock did, but none of them would ever try it in public.”
“Doesn’t make it all right,” Sheila said. Then she looked away as she twirled a braid. “Unless you’re one of those women who are into that kind of thing.” A look came into her eyes, a flash of warm light. One Uhura recognized whenever she looked in the mirror nowadays.
Uhura looked at Sheila. “What?”
“You mean you don’t know what the collar means?” Sheila glanced at Trisha before turning her gaze back to Uhura.
“Spock said it meant that I was his prisoner, his slave. When he put it on me, he said it was mandated wear for anyone who belonged to him.”
“Shit,” Sheila said. Uhura could tell that the lady was excited. “Mmn, that’s sooo kinky. Spock’s a dom.”
“It’s sexy on him,” Trish said, sharing a smile with Sheila. “I knew there was something hot going on underneath that beard. I wouldn’t let Scotty dominate me, but I would for damn sure let Spock do it. You know, in a way, you’re very lucky, Nyota.”
Uhura could not believe that they were talking about Spock like that. After knowing what he did to her.
“What are you talking about? And how is it that you can talk about it like that?”
Marlena tittered. “There are plenty of women and men who are into bondage and dominance. Jim mentioned it once and I told him no, but it didn’t stop him from doing it.”
Sheila smiled at Uhura. “It’s best that you find out for yourself. There’s plenty of information in the ship’s library. Are you into submission?”
Trisha rolled her eyes. “Sheila, she doesn’t even know what it is.”
“She’s wearing the collar, Trish. Surely she knows something. Besides, the term is self-explanatory.”
“I can’t take it off,” Uhura said. “I tried.”
“Oh, he’s locked it,” Sheila said, smiling again. “You’ve got a lot to learn. And I’ll just put it out there: I think it’s hot that Spock is into D/s. I think he’d be an ideal dom because he’s got those qualities. I mean, I’d be more willing to go there if I was with a man like him, a man who could…who has…who is able to handle it. Lenny can barely stay hard more than two minutes, so I can’t take him seriously.”
Uhura didn’t know whether to laugh or be stunned. So there was a basis in some of Spock’s behavior. And a basis in her response to it.
Marlena and Trisha laughed. “It was a surprise, to say the least. I didn’t think Spock had those tendencies. But still waters run deep, just like I said. I bet he’s very intense and very good. You won’t mind sharing some stories when you get used to it? I mean, it’ll take some time, but we’re all very curious now.”
“Get used to it?”
“You don’t think it’s going to go away, do you?” Trish said. “Unless you aren’t a submissive. However, I suspect that you might be; you just don’t know it yet.”
“Otherwise you would have never let Spock put that collar on you,” Sheila said. “There are limits to what a sub allows a dom to do.”
Recollections flooded Uhura’s mind. “You seem to know him far better than I do,” Uhura said. “And I can’t speak on that.”
“I doubt that,” Trisha said. “We make assumptions based on what we see and I’ve always thought that Commander Spock is very deliberate on what he chooses to show to the world. I’m sure you know him way better than all of us.”
“I agree,” Sheila said. “Anyway, Nyota, it was a pleasure to meet you finally. I mean, we were all very jealous of you at first. Spock had you on this pedestal. And I know it seems trifling that we decided to approach you as a group after he knocked you off of it. But that was the only way we could be sure, because it was that way for each of us. You’re suspicious until you don’t have a reason to be. You’ll come to understand that.”
Uhura blinked. She had not thought about it in that way before, and to hear it described so bluntly made her twinge.
Trish nodded. “At any rate, don’t feel that you have to stay hidden in your room. That’s not the behavior of a survivor and you’ve acknowledged that’s what you are.”
Marlena smiled at her. It was genuine. “We all are. You’re not alone, Nyota. We meet here for lunch every day at this time, and dinner too, if we’re not occupied with them. You’re welcome to join us.”
“Do join us,” Sheila said, twirling a braid.
Uhura nodded. “Okay.” She would. She was strong. She was a survivor and she would endure, come hell or high water.
While Spock was gone, Uhura healed up and cared for herself. She exercised regularly to maintain her svelte figure. She worked every day, took her noon meals with Marlena, Sheila and Trisha in the officers’ dining room, and secluded herself in Spock’s quarters when she didn’t have to be anywhere else. She began keeping a personal log and started sketching on a whim and took to it immediately. The creativity burst was a most useful conduit for her reflection. Her drawings were dramatic, stylized interpretations of life in the Mirrorverse. She kept her sketch book in the nightstand on her side of the bed.
She also started reading more. On his shelves, Spock had a great deal of books on a myriad of subjects she found interesting. Uhura discarded her fluffy romance novels. They no longer appealed to her. She discovered a taste for narratives with dark overtones and she discovered that she liked the themes, the ideas and the subject matter. It stimulated the part of herself which was becoming as prevailing as the side she showed to the world. Spock’s collection fascinated her and she devoured the books in her quiet time.
Since her conversation with Trisha, Marlena and Sheila, Uhura spent a lot of time thinking about her reactions to some of the things Spock did. She had to admit that whenever they were together, it was like a house on fire. She responded to him in a way she never dreamed of. The moment he put his hands on her, she came alive in a manner that was so very different from her prior experiences with other men. Spock not only made it past first base; he hit a grand slam in less than two weeks. She practically gave it up without a fight and she did not regret it. It was nothing like the sappy descriptions in her books; it was real and powerful and pleasing on levels she didn’t know she had. There was nothing common about their relationship; nothing even remotely close to normal.
But here in the Mirrorverse, what constituted normal? That was a question she could have conceivably asked in her universe. Some of her former girlfriends spoke of different experiences, but never went into any details. She was curious about them, but could never muster the courage to ask for more information. The way Spock manhandled her in the turbo lift was merely the tip of the iceberg. Other things were surging forth now, now that their relationship was different. She was learning to accept some things about herself.
At Sheila’s suggestion, she started investigating and was not surprised when she discovered that Spock had quite a few books on the topic. She found his articles on the subject of dominance and submission and always read them after her evening ablutions, curled up with a cup of hot tea, absorbing the information. She was mildly surprised to find that there was an entire subculture. Within the pages, there were things she identified with and could relate to. A passage that struck her went like this:
‘Dominance and submission is not about acts of brutality and cruelty. It is a consensual power exchange between two partners and need not involve any violence or malice. It is primarily based upon trust and communication between the partners. It is also based on deep reciprocal respect in which discovery of the emotions brought up by power exchange can occur in a secure and consensual manner. A safe word is usually given to the submissive partner to prevent the dominant from overstepping physical and emotional boundaries.
The safe word is especially important when engaging in humiliation or playing mind-games because the submissive may not be aware of an emotional limit until it is crossed. If the boundary is contravened and the safe word called, the dominant should cease all play instantly and discuss the violation with the submissive in a caring and considerate manner. Negotiating limits in advance is also an essential element in a D/s relationship. The relationship may be ritualized or free-form. It is usually a negotiated existence, with people conversing their wishes, limits and needs in order to find commonality. Such relationships may be sexual, long or short term, and intimate. Most adherents search for the indispensable intensity, trust and familiarity that are required to make any deep relationship possible.’
Uhura found herself reading and re-reading that passage many times over. She had to acknowledge her responses to Spock’s actions and they had not been at all what she thought they would be or should have been. Those recollections kept her up late some nights. Some of them made their way into her journaling and drawings. The feelings she had whenever she was with him, when he was doing those dirty things that turned her on, were common. They weren’t dirty. And the things he did to her, though unorthodox in her mind, weren’t unorthodox at all. It was okay for her to feel the way she did whenever he was rough with her. It was okay to like it. That was a revelation. She still did not know if she could remain ladylike if she enjoyed such behavior, and Uhura always prided herself on maintaining her calm demeanor in most situations.
Of course, being in the Mirrorverse for two months was unlike any situation she’d ever been in before, and no one could blame her if she let the façade slip. But was it a façade? Or could she be a lady and a woman with needs? For she was coming to realize that her sexual desires were specific. They diverged from what she thought she wanted, and that was a major eye-opener.
Her prior experiences with men were limited to a handful of serious dates, never getting past the second date or second base. There was always something about those nice, sedate, intelligent men that she found off-putting. What it was, she couldn’t readily say, but after a few exchanges, she was bored. Her mother berated her about settling down, but her career in Starfleet was everything to her and it was quite easy to lose herself in it and not think about marriage. The main thing for her had always been: get married and then…what? What next? There was something anesthetizing about marriage that always made her pause when it came up.
She figured that the feeling would wear off when Mr. Right decided to fall into her lap. Of course he never did, and she moved on with her life. She now had to reconsider her definition of Mr. Right. Exactly what qualities did she seek in a mate? Had she ever really thought about it, or was her definition an amalgam of traits gleaned from years of reading love stories, girl talk, her father, and her mother’s ideal? She didn’t know, but under close scrutiny, none of it held up. There had been absolutely nothing wrong with those kind, dignified, intellectual gentlemen that she dated. Nothing, except they didn’t appeal to her. Perhaps subconsciously, it had always been there but she didn’t know what it was.
Not that she would ever consider searching for a mate over here in this godforsaken place. But her short time with Spock had definitely changed her and it had to be conceded. While she wanted a gentleman on her arm, a man she could conceivably bring home to meet her parents, she also knew that she would require said gentleman to tap into her deviant sexual nature. To fuck her the way she wanted, in the way she needed. She required a man to fuck her the very way Spock fucked her. Was it possible that both traits could exist in the same person?
Spock had her full-length mirror installed on the wall by the bathroom and Uhura found herself looking into it often. Sometimes she would stare at her naked reflection, finger her collar and wonder who stared back at her. The outside was the same but the eyes were different. There was a new intensity that burned behind them, a spark; a heat that had never been there before. A flickering of something deeper and darker than she had ever known existed. Who was she, really?
She was going to find out.
A/N: I could not have written this chapter without the assistance and suggestions of ejectingthecore. The passage on dominance and submission was taken from Wikipedia.