8: No Other Answer

Spock told the computer to turn on the lights as soon as he entered his door. Moving past the geometric screen wall, he was startled to find Uhura stirring on his bed.

“Nyota… I’m sorry, I did not expect you here.”

“Obviously.” Though her tone was flat, he could sense her disgruntlement.

“Computer, reduce light to thirty percent,” he ordered, noticing when she sat up that the flesh around her eyes was puffy as though she had been crying. He sat down beside her immediately, asking, “What is the matter?”

“I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me?” she replied, pulling her knees up to her chest in a defensive gesture. “What’s going on, Spock? Where have you been all this time?”

“I have been with Dr. McCoy, as I had informed you. You did receive my message, did you not?”

“I did. But it’s past midnight, Spock! It’s almost one o’clock. What could you possibly have to talk about that would take so long?”

“I am not at liberty to say…. Some of the subject matter was spoken in confidence.”

“Oh, is that right.” Uhura’s glare was cold and glinting even in the dimmed light. “Were you talking about me behind my back? Asking him for advice on how to handle illogical Human females?”

Spock’s jaw fell slack in astonishment. “No, Nyota — we were not talking about you at all.”

He had hoped to allay her fears by this statement but was perplexed when it seemed to have the opposite effect.

“Of course not! Because I’m not on your list of priorities at all, am I? I’m not even in your scanning range! You never think of us, you hardly ever think of me, and now — just because he saved your life once — all of a sudden you’re best friends and you want to spend every waking minute with him!”

Spock was stunned by this onslaught, and before he could counter any of her accusations, Uhura started to cry. For the second time, if he had read the signs correctly.

“Nyota… what has happened? Why would you even think such things?” he asked, reaching out to grasp her shoulder. She shook it off, but not before he caught a glimpse of the PAIN-HURT-SAD-ANGRY-HURT-BROKEN-PAIN that was pulsing through her.

“‘What has happened?’” she echoed, mocking and bitter. “What has happened to you? I went out with some friends tonight — thinking it would be good to get out, have some fun, get out of my head — and Amelia told me she saw you giving Dr. McCoy a pendant. In the middle of the walkway. In broad daylight.” Uhura’s glower could have stopped an enraged Mugato in its tracks. “She said you actually put it on for him. What is going on with you two?”

“I… I merely gave him a token of my appreciation and respect,” Spock said, still shocked that she would be upset by something so trivial. “A small memento for saving my life…. Surely you can understand that. As for the time I spent with him tonight, it was a necessary discussion regarding the crew member who has been refusing to meet with the counselor—”

“That’s McCoy, too, isn’t it?” Uhura interrupted. “The only other person is the captain himself, and if you were talking about him, it wouldn’t have taken so long. But even if you’re worried about the doctor not taking his own medicine, why should you have to play doctor to him? If that’s really what this is all about!”

“I fail to comprehend what else you could think it is,” Spock replied, not hiding his confusion. “Since you have deduced as much, yes, it is Leonard himself who has not seen the counselor, and yes, I have acquired his promise to set an appointment. I do not pretend to have the necessary skills with which to treat his emotional needs; however, as his friend, I can at least listen to his concerns and attempt to provide some moral support.”

“Mmm… his ‘friend.’” Uhura pronounced the word with as much sarcasm as she could muster. “Is that all you are? Really?

Spock furrowed his brow in consternation. “What are you implying?”

“What do you think I’m implying!” She stood up, clenching both hands into fists. “I’ve had to listen to the two of you bicker for the last five years, Spock — McCoy always trying to get an emotional response from you and you doing your best to thwart him — but don’t tell me you haven’t been enjoying it because I know better. You like having someone who challenges you, almost as much as you like winning… maybe even more. Then you get thrown into a bad situation together, and when you get back from it, suddenly you’re giving him jewelry and spending all your free time with him even when it’s past midnight….” Uhura broke off to catch her breath, then took another to steady herself and demanded, “Where were you and what were you doing tonight?”

Spock licked his lips, which had gone dry, before answering. “I met him in his office, at the hospital, where we shared a meal. Afterwards I pointed out that he had not followed protocol regarding the treatment of emotional trauma, and he agreed to visit his assigned counselor.”

“Oh, yes,” Uhura broke in, “the protocol for emotional trauma — from which you are conveniently exempt. Maybe if Starfleet knew how Human you actually are, they would require you to see a counselor too.”

“I do not see how that would be beneficial, since there are no Vulcan counselors in Starfleet,” Spock countered. “And it would be an inefficient use of a Human counselor’s valuable time, especially considering how many of our crew require treatment now.”

Uhura harrumphed as she paced the room. “So, you got McCoy to agree to see his counselor. Why didn’t you come home then?”

Spock was indignant that she was requiring an account of how he had spent his time; however, he realized that this was not the right moment to mention it.

“He had also agreed to tell me… about his past,” he explained, trying to be vague. “About his experiences on Earth. I cannot elaborate without revealing what he said in confidence.”

Uhura rolled her eyes and continued pacing. “So all this time, he was telling you his life story?”

Truthfully, Spock had to answer, “Not the entire duration. I walked with him to his quarters since he was slightly intoxicated. And then we discussed… literature.”

Literature?” Uhura said, her tone indicating utter disbelief.

“Yes. Terran literature,” Spock returned adamantly. “He has quite a collection of books.”

Even though Spock considered it something of a stretch to call Three Little Pigs literature, he could at least be entirely truthful about McCoy’s book collection. After listening to Uhura’s insinuations, he realized that he could never reveal to her the exact nature of their literary discussion — or the circumstances surrounding it.

“And you just… talked… about literature… until one in the morning?”

“As well as my mother,” he added, “since she was the one who had introduced me to Terran literature.”

Something in Spock’s voice caused Uhura to halt and study him.

“You talked with him about your mother?” she asked, but the sarcasm was gone from her tone.

“Yes. He had also told me about… his family,” Spock said, careful not to divulge more than necessary.

“You haven’t talked to me about your mother — not since she died,” Uhura stated. “Or at least, not unless I’ve forced you to.”

“I… was not aware….” Spock swallowed and started over. “It is still difficult for me, Nyota. Losing her like that…. I have yet to come to terms with it.”

“I know.” Uhura sat on the edge of the bed, leaning in close to him so he could not help but meet her gaze. “And I’ve wanted to help you with it, help you work through it, but you won’t let me in.”

“That… was not my intention,” he protested. “I simply… need more time to process it. I did not mean to shut you out, T’hy’la.”

“And yet… you were able to talk to McCoy about her?”

“He… He understands loss and pain well. He had shared his own with me, so I thought it was reciprocal, in a way, that I share mine with him.”

“Why, Spock?” Uhura stood again in agitation and frustration. “Why him and not me?

Spock weighed the variables in his mind. He knew if he so much as hinted that the doctor seemed more emotionally stable than Uhura was acting at the moment, it would only insult her and make matters worse. He could not in good conscience claim that McCoy was the more logical choice, since the woman he had dated for over six years would indubitably have preference for something of this nature. The only thing that remained was… the subjective truth.

“I felt… safe… to share it with him,” Spock at last admitted. “He has been… surprisingly insightful… and kind. He reminded me that my mother would have understood my efforts to be accepted in Vulcan culture… that she would have known how much she meant to me, even though I could not express it adequately. Things I should have remembered… but had lost sight of in my grief.”

“Oh, Spock… I could have told you that,” Uhura murmured.

Spock nodded his agreement. “I know… but I had forgotten that I even needed to be reminded. And… in a strange way… in spite of their many differences… Leonard reminds me of her.”

Uhura drew in a sharp breath, then turned away and crossed her arms as though struggling against tears. Spock could sense the rising tempest of emotions in her, even without being in physical contact, and wondered what he had done or said wrong this time. When she faced him again, her eyes were glistening.

“Spock… be honest with me — and with yourself, for a change — and tell me: are you in love with him?”

“I… what?

Spock was too astounded to say anything else; however, Uhura continued to stand there, waiting for his answer, tears spilling down her cheeks. He tried to gather his chaotic thoughts to reply.

“I… I fail to understand… why you would even consider…”

The withering look she gave him made him stop.

“You’ve been thinking about him all the time, worried about him, spending insane amounts of time with him, and you’ve even given him a gift for simply doing his job! What else am I supposed to think? What would you think if I went around spending my time with another man, then talked about him incessantly when we’re together? If I gave him jewelry for rescuing me in the line of duty?”

“I would… base my judgments on what you tell me, of course. If you tell me that your relationship is strictly platonic, then I would not doubt you, Nyota.”

Uhura’s face crumpled as she began to cry yet again. Spock stood to embrace her but was blocked by her upheld arms.

“You don’t get it, Spock! You ought to doubt me if you see all the symptoms!

“Nyota… T’hy’la,” Spock said gently, using the Vulcan term of endearment in hopes of calming her. “You have never been dishonest with me. Why should I doubt you? You are not thinking logically—”

“Of course I’m not thinking logically!” she snapped. “I’m Human, Spock. I am not a logical being! And I am not as strong… as you think I am.” She sobbed for a moment, unable to speak, but when he drew near she shook her head to ward him off. “Yes, I’m getting help… from the counselor, but that doesn’t mean… I don’t need you! I do. I need you… to be here for me… to help me through this… but all you can think about… is McCoy….”

“I am sorry, Nyota,” Spock said, regret churning in his stomach. “I should have set aside more time to be with you. I did not mean to neglect you — you must know this. If only you had said something sooner, I would have done everything in my power to avoid causing you such pain.”

She suddenly straightened her shoulders and forced herself to be calm with a strength of self-discipline that would have impressed any Vulcan kolinahr master.

“Don’t you see, Spock? You would have had to try to avoid it. Yes, I do know that you never meant to hurt me… but you couldn’t help yourself. You’ve become obsessed with the doctor… in a way that I don’t think you ever were with me, even when we first started seeing each other. You’re drawn to him; I think you always have been. And it’s obvious that he’s been drawn to you, right from the start. Your game of constant needling and one-upmanship… you couldn’t leave each other alone. Maybe it’s just the thrill of competition, but I’ve always wondered… worried… if it weren’t something more.”

Spock opened his mouth to deny it, then discovered that he could not. After being presented with her arguments, he could not be so sure of his position anymore. Observing his hesitation, Uhura sighed.

“I’m sorry, Spock. I had promised myself that I wouldn’t act like a… jealous harpy, screaming at you and accusing you about the ‘other woman’ — or ‘other man’ — but I’m afraid that’s exactly what I’ve done. And you don’t deserve that.” She sniffed, which made his heart ache. “I need to pull myself back together again… and although it would be easier to have you with me, to rely on you, I need to do this on my own… to prove to myself that I can do this. And… I think… you need to figure out what your feelings for Dr. McCoy are.”

Spock was still somewhat shell-shocked, but he nodded in acquiescence.

“If that is what you wish… I will respect it. But you will always have my support, Nyota. Please do not forget that.”

“I know.” Uhura sniffed again as the tears welled in her eyes. “You have been… so good to me….”

As she stood on tiptoe to kiss his cheek, Spock could feel all her sorrow, loneliness, and pain. It felt a thousand times worse to know that he had caused it — and could do nothing to alleviate it.

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