Disclaimer:† Star Trek is the property of Paramount/Viacom.† †This story is the property of Dale and is copyright © 2005 by Dale.† Rated NC17.† Feedback: email@example.com
I couldnít sleep -- remembering the lost look in his eyes.† "My Jim," I whispered through my cabin window.† "What happened?" †The stars reflected back at me -- shadows from the guardian planet.† I see his gold shirt in front of me.† His back, rigid with pain.† There was a time you would have shared that sorrow with me.† I recognized sorrow reflecting in eyes -- red with moisture, brown hidden beneath.† The sorrow that showed in my eyes when told.† "The Enterprise is mine." †A sorrow I knew was in your heart for me, but now I see for a new memory.† --Reflected Memory
* * *
Uhura draped the long shift over her head and headed for the doorway, briefly stopping to slip on matching green slippers that lay beside her bed.† Continuing her quest she barely noticed the two crewmen as she strolled quickly from the turbolift and headed to the observation room on deck 3.† Both ensigns nodded then sighed with whispered murmurs to each other.† Their eyes gleamed at the rare sight of seeing the beautiful communication officer wandering the ship corridors in the middle of third shift.† Their expressions of approval, however, went mostly unnoticed.
Slipping into the darkened room she spotted him in the corner.† I knew you would be here.† His back was turned to the vacant room.† One outstretched arm leaned on the metal partition of the bulkhead on his right, while his gaze was lost on the planet that filled the wall-sized viewing window.† Strong shoulders were drooped in unmistakable misery.
Standing close behind him, Uhura reflected on her intentions.† It had been over two weeks since the Captain, Spock and McCoy had successfully returned to their time period.† All is as it was before, the Guardian had announced.† But all wasnít the same; Captain Kirk had returned seemingly a bundle of emotional confusion, communicating with others only when duty demanded it.
She contemplated reaching out to him.† Her arms aching to hold him, not in passion that had for a time been theirs to share, but to hold him in comfort.
"Iím alright, Penda," he whispered, looking at her reflection in the window.
Uhura let her head rest against his back.† Slowly, her hands settled on his hips and she tugged herself closer.† "No, you are not."
A humorless laugh came from his chest and she felt the vibration.† Planting a small kiss between his shoulder blades she acknowledged his lost demeanor with a tenderness she wished could help.† "You canít hide it from those who care.† Please, let me help."
With a deep gasp Jim Kirk suddenly whirled around and grabbed her arms, giving them a rough shake.† The angry look that flashed across his features was momentarily frightening.† "Donít ever say that phrase to me again, Uhura.† Under any circumstance."
Baffled, she thought of what she had said, not understanding his upset.† "Why? †Are you afraid to let me help?"
"I said Ö donítÖ" †His words trailed off as he realized the strong grip of his fingers on her upper arms.† Gently, he pushed her aside.† "I canít.† Please -- just go back to bed.† This isnít your problemÖ Iím not your problem to fix."
"Thatís good, because I have no desire to fix you.† But I canít stand to see you hurting so deeply.† All I can offer is Ö caring." †Hesitantly, she pulled herself into his arms and nestled against his chest.† With relief she relaxed into the hug when he didnít pull away.† "You are not a broken toy, Jim.† But you have been obviously depressed for weeks now.† I want to Ö help."
"Iím sorry I snapped at you." †His chin gently rubbed the top of her forehead.† "Itís just the words you used Ö reminded me of Ö something."
"Something? †Or someone?" †His tension instantly crossed between them again, but he didnít let go.
"Someone Ö she was from another lifetime." †His voice again trailed off.
"How do you know that?" †Kirkís voice this time was the voice of her Captain.† His eyes bore into her, demanding an answer.
"Spock." †Before he could step back, she grabbed his hand that had rested on her hip and held it tight between her own grip.† "He wasnít revealing secrets, Jim.† I went to him out of concern.† I was on the Guardian planet, remember? †I knew whatever had changed history had made a dangerous impact on you emotionally.† Spock agreed and we talked."
Kirk released himself from her hands and turned back to gaze at the planet.† Lifeless before their arrival, it now swarmed with scientists and Starfleet technicians.† From this distance it still looked lifeless and cold.† "We leave the area tomorrow, Uhura.† The Intrepid has arrived and weíre no longer needed to stand guard.† Once weíre gone, perhaps Ö it will be easier."
"Who are you trying to convince?"
"Both of us, maybe." †He turned around and met her gaze. †"Or should I say the three of us, since it seems Mr. Spock is taking to interfering in my business?"
"Spock cares about you; almost as much as I do." †Distance separated them by a few feet but she felt he had moved further.† The brief tenderness of the moment before was mostly shattered.† She wondered what she could say that wouldnít make things worse.
"Caring doesn't give him the right to cross that line.† Edith Keeler is dead.† A closed subject." †He started to leave the room but stopped briefly. †"I donít want this subject brought up again."
Uhura followed him out of the room, down the corridor, and into the turbo lift.
"Deck 4," he ordered the computer without looking at her.
A few moments later the door opened but neither one moved.† "Get out, Lieutenant."
Uhura couldnít move; something in his tone told her this wasnít finished.† "Computer, Deck 5," she ordered firmly.† Feeling his eyes blaze at her, she refused to look back.† "Iíll make you some chamomile tea and tuck you in.† Then, Iíll get out."
"Are you disobeying an order, Lieutenant?" †His voice was still in command mode, but she recognized a hint of a bluff.
"Iím not ignoring Captain Kirk.† Iím helping my friend -- Jim." †The turbolift doors opened to deck 5 and no other being was in sight.
"Semantics? †You have been spending too much time around our First Officer."
Without comment she walked straight to the Captainís quarters and waited for him to signal the door.† As it swished open, he stood in the doorway and gestured for her to enter, asking mockingly, "What would the crew think if they saw you come in here during the night, Lieutenant?"
"That you got lucky!" †A lilt of laughter filtered through but was met with silence.† The captain pulled up a chair to his desk, folded his arms and watched her with mock indifference.
She had only been here twice since joining the Enterprise.† Once with Spock when he had brought her aboard to introduce her to the captain.† And once at a surprise birthday party the senior officers had thrown their captain.
Remembering the first occasion, she smiled.† Spock hadnít shown surprise that the two knew each other, but she could tell it was new information to the Vulcan.† Time had passed with opportunities to question her about it, but he hadnít mentioned it -- not even when revealing Jimís love for Edith Keeler -- yet she knew it had been on his mind.† Uhura briefly wondered what he did think of the relaxed attitude Jim showed her when only in his presence.† Startled, she acknowledged to herself that she hadnít realized that point before.
"I donít want to get lucky, Penda." †The captainís exhausted voice pleaded for understanding as it brought her back to the present.† It was an old argument.† One they had almost buried in San Francisco when he was first granted Captaincy of the Enterprise.† They both knew it was an argument looking for new definitions.
Heading for the cabinet that contained his kitchen supplies, Uhura busied herself with preparing the tea.† During the party she had been delighted to discover he still had some stashed in his quarters.† On Earth, it had started as a silly joke between them.† He hated the taste of the tea but convinced her to try it because, ĎIt worked.í †To his horror -- she loved the flavor.† But that was back then -- their time.† Their time, her mind reflected on the phrase.† Shaking her head out of the revelry she carried the tray back to his desk.
They sat across from each other in tense silence.† Uhura missed the companionable mood that use to exist between them in similar shared moments.† Jim concentrated on his beverage and ate a few bites of vanilla wafers she had found tucked beside the tea bags.† The cookie morsels were another memory, for she knew he used them to disguise the musky flavor of the tea.† Studying his face, she noticed how deep the dark shadows were under his eyes and reflected on the visions of his pain that had haunted her since their return.† Even Sulu and Chekov had voiced their concern to her.† Their inquiries into what had happened on the planet had been out of concern for the usually energetic man they all admired.† Uhura had no answers for them, but had turned to Spock for information when the captainís health had caused him to pass out as he left the bridge the day before.
"Word around the ship is you are suffering from exhaustion.† Was that Dr. McCoyís diagnosis?"
"You never hesitate to say whatís on your mind, Uhura." †He had sat back in his chair and glared questioningly at her.† "Are you here to collect gossip for the crew or just curious over my ungraceful stumble?"
"Ungraceful is the word but Iím not only talking about your collapse yesterday.† You know me better then anyone on this ship and you know why Iím here." †Her voice was harsh, but his accusation had hurt.
Jim watched her face for a few moments, both hesitating to even blink.† "I know, Penda.† But I canít talk about it.† And Spock shouldnít have told you."
Setting her cup down she rested both elbows on the desk and leaned closer to him.† "Have you ever noticed that since I came aboard the Enterprise, what you call me reflects your mood of the moment?"
Jim smiled lightly.† "I suppose thatís true.† I know you affect my moods like nobody else."
Uhura felt heat rise to her cheeks.† Damn him, he still makes me feel like a naive Ensign.† Reaching across the desk, she held his hand, "Youíre the only one who still calls me Penda."
He leaned on the table towards her and shrugged.† "It reminds me of your grandmother.† Her face always had such tenderness when she spoke to you." †Giving her hand one last squeeze he stood up, stretching and stifling a yawn along the way.† "Do you mind if I turn in? †I appreciate the visit, butÖ"
"But nothing.† I know you.† You're going to get in bed -- maybe read.† Then youíll toss and turn until you sleep for an hour or two at the most before getting up and going to the bridge."
"Wrong Miss Psychic," the captain shook his head wearily.† "Bones grounded me for a few days.† Iíll be spending tomorrow right here -- catching up on paperwork.† So if youíll excuse me."
Walking to the small sink above the cabinet, Uhura rinsed the cups and put their things away.† "So where are they?"
Jim looked perplexed.† "What?"
"The pills.† I know McCoy.† If he released you to your quarters -- grounded, it was to sleep." †She waited for a reply, knowing his intense dislike of medications.
Jim stared at her with daggers, his tongue swiping against his lower lip in contemplation.† But instead of discussing the pills he just shrugged, then pulled his tunic off, tossing it onto the nearby couch.† "Fine, you donít want to leave and Iím in no mood to mess with Security -- so youíre on your own.† Iím going to bed.† Goodnight."
She watched him turn away to his sleeping area and continue to undress, not caring that she was watching.† Once under the covers he reached for the book on his night stand and started to open it.† Uhura almost laughed when he realized he had done exactly what she said he would before tossing the book back on the stand.† "Damn," she heard him mutter.
Several minutes passed while Uhura struggled with her own thoughts.† She knew he was still awake and wouldnít sleep.† Tension filled the room.† "Lights 10%," she said softly then quietly removed her clothing -- laying them beside his tunic.† Stopping to grab a sofa pillow from the corner of the couch, she walked to his bed.
When she crawled underneath his cover she noticed his tense shoulders and felt him move further from her towards the edge.† "Be careful or youíll fall off," she whispered.† Slowly she settled behind him and started gently massaging his back.
"I donít want sex with you, Uhura.† Thatís not the answer." †His voice radiated exhaustion.
"No, it isnít," she continued to massage, concentrating mostly on his upper shoulders.† The muscles were so tense her own ached out of empathy.
"Then why are you doing this?" he asked wearily.
"Iím helping a friend.† One who reached out to help me, at a time I needed him."
"Is that the only reason why youíre here? †Because if this is how you treat all your friends, you must be very popular."
Pleased to finally hear a hint of teasing in his soft voice she laughed lightly.† "Well, at least the men seem to like me.† The girls Ö not so much, they tend to be jealous."
They became quiet for a few moments.† The only sound was when she reached for a bottle of lotion off his stand, and squeezing it onto her hands, started massaging deeper into his lower back.† Small moans of relief soon drifted to her ears.† As the massage continued she felt him start to relax.
"Penda.† What did Spock tell you?"
Startled by his sudden question, she briefly stopped moving her hands before slowly resuming.† "He told me Edith was the focal point and about the decision you had to make.† He said you loved her."
"Yes." †He spoke so softly she barely heard the sound.
"He told me about McCoy Ö and what Ö happened." †As a few moments passed and he remained quiet she hesitantly continued.† "Spock said Doctor McCoy is worried about you also.† That they both tried to talk to you, butÖ"
Jim laughed bitterly.† "McCoy just feels guilty, himself.† What can we say to each other? †His answer is to give me damn sleeping pills."
She knew he didnít mean the harsh tone and was just working out his anger.
"I told him, Ďhe should take the pills.í He doesnít look much better then I feel."
"Heís just trying to help."
Jim flopped over onto his back and briefly warred with his pillow.† Finally punching it flat and slamming his head back against it.† "Did it ever dawn on any of you that I donít want to be helped?"
"I killed her," he glared with a demand for understanding.† "I killed a woman I had just days before admitted to Spock that I loved.† What kind of a man does that make me?"
Wrapping the blanket tighter around her breast, Uhura sat up besides him and met his troubled, hazel eyes.† "She lived and died centuries ago, Jim.† Long before you were born.† You saved million of lives by doing what was needed." †Looking around the room her eyes gestured.† "You gave all of this existence back to us."
"I killed Edith, Uhura.† I allowed that damn truck to run her down like an animal in the street." †He pressed a finger against her lips to stop a started protest.† "I know the drill.† Iíve heard it from Spock and McCoy.† I know in my heart I had no choice.† But I donít want you to care.† I donít want them to care.† I donít deserve it."
Uhura quietly kissed his fingertips then held his hand in hers.† She knew it was time to just listen.
Jim continued softly.† "Edith had the power to stop a war -- or at least slow it down.† The President of the United States listened to her.† Other leaders listened to her.† The hopeful future she envisioned was so incredible."
Trying not to disturb his need to talk, Uhura shifted uncomfortably.† She suddenly felt torn; recalling that at one time she had been the recipient of that cherished look in this manís eye.† Now she felt stupid for being here.† Why had she allowed herself to behave so brazenly?
"Why are you here, Uhura?" Jim asked with his uncanny ability to read her attitude.
Her head shook slightly as she tried not to meet his face.† She was leaning against his side and slowly raised her arm to rest on his bare stomach.† Her fingers drifted down a few inches and curled in the sheet at his waist.† "Iím not sure," she whispered.† "I saw something in your eyes on that planet.† My soul went cold at your sense of loss.† Before Spock told me, I knew it had been about a woman."
"It was more than that," he spoke urgently.
"I know," she finally met his eyes again and smiled with a ghost of the smile she usually reserved for him.† "At first I just wanted your pain to stop, but after talking to Spock, I realized Ö what she meant to you."
"She was a fantasy, Penda.† Being around her was like living in a dream world.† No worrying about tomorrow.† At least thatís how it was at first.† In the back of my mind I thought, 'Bones will show up and weíll solve this puzzle.' †But in the meantime I started to become lost in her presence.† Spock tried to warn me." †His gaze looked off to the distance only his mind saw, "There was a reason world leaders listened to her.† Something drew people to her -- to make them want to share her dreams of a better life.† I know I wanted to believe in her existence -- her dreams.† I felt honored just to be with her."
"She sounds unreal." Uhura caught herself wondering about this woman who had so affected, not just Jim, but all three men in various ways.† Even Spock had admitted to her he had likewise found her Ďa most fascinating woman.í
"But she underestimated the great evil that was waiting in the shadows to destroy her dreams," Jim continued.† "I knew when Spock found the focal point, that my brief fantasy was crashing down.† I admitted I loved her to Spock, but I now realize what I loved was never real."
Uhura watched him intently.† In the past three years they had been friends, roommates, lovers, and now served together as Starfleet officers.† Shivers went down her back at the defeat in his eyes.† It was a look she had never seen before and she just wanted him to have some peace in his heart.† "I donít understand, why are you punishing yourself?"
"I just told you," he whispered confusedly.
"You said it wasnít real -- so how can you feel responsible for what happened?"
"Because I am." †He reached for her face and cradled his hand around her cheek.† "I know you hurt seeing me this way, Penda.† I care that much about you as well.† But whether my love for her was realistic or not, she found a place in my heart.† And I killed her.† I have to find a way to deal with that memory."
"Did you Ö make love to her?" †Uhura felt her face blush warm with the question and she struggled to meet his eyes.
Jim placed his hand on top of hers that rested on his abdomen.† A small sigh was followed by a voice full of regret.† "No.† We came close a few times, but I hesitated.† I told myself it was because I knew we wouldnít be staying, but the truth was Ö she reminded me too much of you."
"What?" †Uhura was startled by his words.
"It was her gentle nature, her touch.† So much like you.† I didnít want to hurt her Ö like I did you."
She started to protest but bit her lip.† He was being truthful.† Jim had hurt her by choosing his career over their relationship.† It had been the wise thing to do for both their sakes.† But it had hurt -- deeply.
"After Spock made his discovery, I was glad we hadnít made love.† I think I would never have been able to do what I did." †His eyes closed and she saw a tear slide unnoticed to his pillow.† Startled, Uhura started to brush the moisture from his face, then stopped, knowing it would have embarrassed him.
"But part of you regrets not having the memory of her touch," she whispered, suddenly sure of why she was there.
"Yes," he responded vaguely, a slight tremble to his lips.
Squeezing his hand tighter, she gently pulled the blanket from around her and slid back along the length of his body.† "Jim," she whispered in his ear, then softly kissed his moist lips.† "Scoot more to the center of the bed."
Jim started to open his eyes and say something but she kissed him again and laid her hand over his eyes.† "Thatís an order, mister," her voice surprised herself with itís conviction.† "Keep your eyes closed and dream."
She could tell by his troubled expression that he realized what was on her mind.† "Penda, this isnít fair to you."
She placed a finger on his lips to ward off anymore protest and waited.† Two minutes later she smiled when he moved into place.† His eyes hadnít opened.
"Iíll determine whatís fair to me." †Throwing the blankets aside she settled on top of his body.† Carefully lining up their hips she stretched to reach his ear, causing their bodies to rub tighter.† Jim moved his hips upwards, reacting to the stimulation with a soft moan.† His body trembled beneath her when she softly blew in the ear and whispered.† "This is for your dreams."
With a gentle, sensual kiss she moved slowly downward, straddling her legs to allow their genitals to touch.† Gyrating slowly she felt his strengthening shaft press urgently against her.† As she rose to sit tighter against him she used her finger tips to circle, then entice, his nipples.† Knowing from experience that this was something he enjoyed, she squeezed simultaneously on each nub.† A deep sudden gasp filled the room.
Uhura continued her pressure on his nipples and gyrated faster, watching his reaction.† Jimís face was tight with concentration as his hips moved to her rhythm.† Perspiration dampened his forehead and above his lip, as a tongue slowly emerged to lick his lips.† She rose slightly and allowed his penis to angle into her entrance.† As she sat back down, pushing it deeply inside, Uhura watched his mouth form an unspoken 'oh.'
With both her hands and knees now straddled tight against his sides, she started the ride that would give them both the seeking pleasure their bodyís craved.† Jimís hardness soon filled her insides with demanding power.† His thrusts grew stronger and reached all the secret places of her inner walls.† Uhuraís head threw back, her eyes closed tightly to ward off any distraction of other senses.† All she wanted was to feel that manly strength engulf her even deeper.† It did.
Time became immeasurable as Jimís hands found hers beside his hips and gripped her wrists hard.† She felt his vibrations through that grip a mere instant before his cry of release shattered the silent room.
Had it been silent? †A brief thought tugged at her fevered memories.† Were heavily panted breaths and skin moving against skin ever silent? †As these odd thoughts filtered through, her own moan of completion roared from her throat.† Spasms gripped unmercifully throughout her own chamber and continued to cause her inner muscles to squeeze tighter on Jimís equally spasming member.† She rocked and clung tightly against him until the last of their pleasures sought release, then slowly lay down upon his chest.
Unable to move, breathing was the only sound to bear witness they were both still alive -- deep pants of relief and pleasurable exhaustion.† Jimís arms circled around her, bringing added comfort when he hugged her tightly against his chest.
Later, Uhura left the captainís quarters but stopped to lean against the corridor wall.† Her back felt the cold hard metal and she enjoyed the feeling.† With her head braced back and her eyes closed she pictured the scene she had just left: Jim peacefully asleep, the pillow she had used cradled in his arms.† A satisfied smile spread across her lips, highlighting her strong cheekbones and lighting up her eyes with joy.† Slowly she turned and walked to the turbolift.
Uhura kept her back to the corridor as the turbolift door closed.† She hadnít noticed her witness, his tall, lean shadow disappearing into his own quarters as the lift door closed.
No witnesses were present to see the true rarity of the evening: a Vulcan with his own satisfied smile.