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trek: K/S
ninety6tears

Star Trek XI fic: How To Be Bad (pt. 1/2)

Title: How To Be Bad
Characters/Pairings: Uhura, Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, m!Spock. Very gen Kirk/Uhura.
Rating/Warnings: R (mild violence, dirty mouths)
Summary: Only Jim Kirk could turn bucking the everyday evils of a tyrannical empire into a bonding experience. "Mirror, Mirror" redux for operation80.





"What, we can't just ask, if they have any dilithium?"

"They don't know," Jim replied boredly.

"How could they not know if they have dilithium?" Scotty asked as he got up from where he'd been lounging with his legs hanging off the transporter level.

"So we're..." McCoy shook his head. "We're asking to look for dilithium on their planet, knowing fully well that if we find it, they probably won't let us have it anyway?"

"All in a day's work....Hi, Spock." That last Kirk said with a slow, slightly confused tone, as the three of them were joined on the transporter pad by his first officer.

Spock simply nodded and stood to the right of Jim, whose face was spreading into a slow smirk. After a moment he leaned forward enough to look over at McCoy, who was starting to wear the same expression.

"Preparing to energize, Keptin," Chekov announced. "I will see all of you when—"

"Stop!" Just as the system started booting up, Jim's face broke out into a wide grin, his shoulders shaking as he made a waving motion and yelled, "Hold on, stop, somebody get me the roster, damn it..."

McCoy was gradually dissolving into a deep and howling laughter, leaning forward to support his hands on his knees. Scotty just looked confused.

"Captain," Spock said with a look of subdued bewilderment directed at a now similarly incapacitated Kirk. "Would you care to explain what is so humorous?"

"Spock..." Jim was shaking his head in disbelief, landing his hand on Spock's shoulder. "Man, you're not on this mission."

Scotty immediately caught on to laughing at it too, whereas McCoy was positively applauding, declaring through his deep snickers, "This is the best thing that's happened to me, in years..."

"Yes, thank you," Kirk was saying as he crouched and grabbed the PADD from a yeoman who was handing it up.

"You wrote the roster, Jim."

"Yeah, and I thought—Where's Lieutenant Uhura?"

Spock's eyebrow was twitching up tightly. "When I spoke to her earlier, she indicated no knowledge that she was assigned to this mission."

"Aw, damn, we'll have to just take Spock." McCoy remarked, "If she didn't read the report..."

"She should be fine, she reads all the reports," Jim said.

Scotty dubiously said, "Nuh-uh. Nobody reads all the reports."

In a harmonic unison Jim and Spock replied, "She does."

They were still cracking over the mishap some ten minutes later when Uhura came running in, wearing her standard pants and black shirt, arms scrambling through the uniform red she was changing into on foot. Her PADD satchel fell from a grasp between her teeth and landed in Spock's brisk catch as he was exiting the room. He was handing it to her when the still mirthful captain hollered, "Don't worry, Spock, we'll be back in time for dinner."

He rather pointedly ignored the laughing team, only offering a note of goodbye to Uhura as he continued out the door, making the rest laugh even more as Kirk was mock-sweetly crooning, "He's gonna miss us." Uhura came walking ever so seriously and quickly up to the pad, and he got a hold of himself. "Okay, seriously, we are running late. Energize."





"Well." Jim turned around from the drop-off into a massive crater, flipping the lid shut on his tricorder. "You guys think there's any dilithium down there?"

"I think the question is, do we give a damn," McCoy returned. "It's hot as hell down here, man."

"It would be a good idea to process the mineral make-up of the surrounding landscape and see if it's likely to be a dilithium-abundant area. That's a lot of land mass to overlook." Uhura was slowly looking straight up to Kirk from where she was rather pointlessly analyzing a tree with her tricorder. Turning towards everyone else with a sigh, she added, "Spock would be more familiar with the biology."

"Oh, Lieutenant?" Jim was in too laid-back a mood to really be defensive. "Are you expressing some issues with my personnel assignments?"

"Is there a respectful answer to that question, Captain?"

"She says, 'Captain,' it sounds like she's really saying 'Fuck off and die.'"

"Bones," Jim said.

"Sorry. Jim, it's hot."

"I know it's hot, what do you want me to do?"

They started a long stroll around the perimeter of the crater. A few minutes in and Jim was already trying to ask Uhura what was bugging the crap out of her.

"I mean, besides the usual."

"What's the usual?"

"Well." He shrugged. "Me."

"No, it's pretty much the usual."

He furrowed his brow. "Okay, well..."

"We're not talking right now, okay? I might say something out of line."

In step beside her, he sighed. "You know, you can...be a little more off the record with me, I'm not one to make—"

"My problem is that I was apparently assigned to a mission and did not get any kind of official notice—"

"Hey, look, if you didn't really want to—"

"Let me reword that. I was finally assigned to a mission that isn't just a damn milk run and did not get any kind of official notice, was nearly botched out of it by the misunderstanding of an only slightly higher-ranking officer who goes on twice as many missions as I do as well as by the general conception that Nyota Uhura is always on top of everything whether she's asked to be or not, and as a result, am relatively unprepared for, said mission."

Jim took in and let out a quick breath. "Okay, one thing at a time. I feel like you're accusing me of some kind of favoritism here, which would be completely wrong—"

She scoffed.

"—because you're one of my favoritest favorite things?"

"Could you try to actually talk like a captain for five minutes?" she asked, suddenly somewhat lethally irritated, the straightness of her body tightening up as they continued to walk.

"...Okay. You're the best communications specialist in the entire fleet, and aside from days when we're hanging close to safe harbors, I feel better about having you on the bridge. But, you are also one of the most qualified officers, and if you are dissatisfied with the variety of your work load, I can consider changing up your missions for the next month."

Her severity lightened, but only grudgingly. He careened in to try to look at her expression, expectant.

"Okay?" he prodded. "I consider myself pretty approachable, you know. God, I can't believe I'm having to talk to you about this in the middle of a mission."

"Well, you brought it up, Jim—"

"Bones...Stay out of this, please."

"Are they always like this?" Scotty asked in curiosity, walking next to McCoy a few feet back.

McCoy just laughed. "You haven't noticed? It's not so bad for some reason when Spock's around, but the missions with these two are varying levels of brutal every time."

"We've got company," Uhura interrupted. The other three turned to stare off where she was looking at a couple figures nearing in the distance.

"Oh, good," McCoy said.




"Listen. If this isn't even up for negotiation..." Jim was slowly explaining with his finger pointing on the table, "I'm honestly not understanding why you would give us clearance to look for the resources in the first place."

"To put it bluntly," the Halkan leader replied in the not at all blunt and rather fragile way in which all of his people talked, "we are aware of your superior weaponry and did not think we had any choice in the matter."

"Well, see, that's...That's not what's going on here." Jim shook his head, scratching at the back of his head. "And it's kind of a mess, actually, because we're now aware that the dilithium is here, because you just told us exactly where it is, and since the search was cleared and scheduled we can't really just not report it back. And I'm sure that once the information gets bureaucratically regurgitated and all that, we're going to be assigned to come back here in a week or so to ask you about it again. And I'm sure that your answer will be the same then, but—You see why this looks kind of bad for us."

The Halkan turned to his advisor for a moment, and Jim felt a stiff interruption at his right.

"Your body language is passive-aggressive, they think you're making subtle threats," Uhura was whispering.

Jim leaned back for a befuddled second, then thickly whispered, "I'm just uncomfortable—How can I have passive-aggressive body language!?"

"Shhh," McCoy warned, shifty and anxious without completely understanding the delicacy of the matter.

Some minutes later, after their little convention, the Halkans turned back and said, with sober conviction, "We surrender."

Jim's mouth opened, and for a second nothing came out. "Uh. N—no. No..."




"We're ready to beam up, what's going on?"

The relief of getting the matter cleared up was quickly eclipsed by the feeling, a certain feeling Jim was always able to instinctively get that said, Today is a transporter malfunction day.

"Wha's going on?" Scotty complained after a heavy swig of water.

"You're on land and Chekov's not on duty anymore, what do you think's the problem?"

"I," McCoy declared slowly, "am having something spectacularly unhealthy for dinner tonight."

"Me too," Uhura agreed in a tired mumble.

Ten minutes later somebody finally came over the comm to confirm they were ready to get them back up, and they formed into a tighter group of exhausted stances. Kirk was still trying to talk to the current technician.

"Hey, what was the problem?...Ensign?"

Before there was a response, the world around them scattered apart.

They came through to the transporter pad, and Jim was wiping his eyes tiredly when his glance landed, in a very pointed and narrow way, on the exposed midriff of his communications officer.

Looking around, he immediately laughed, and stretched his arms out noticing his own bizarre apparel; his shirt was some sleeveless version of his usual uniform tunic that looked like a cross between an old-fashioned military jerkin and a muscle tee he'd only be caught exercising in. What he'd first noticed on Uhura was a short racerbacked excuse for a top that was more like a bra, and a skirt that looked like something only worn at bachelor parties to flaunt a sexy schoolgirl gimic.

What the hell was going on.

"Scotty?" He shook his head, almost laughing again. "How the hell did you swing this?"

"This isn' me, Captain," he insisted, and Jim was convinced when he saw that all four of them, including him, had fallen victim to this apparent prank.

"Well—Who knows—?"

Just then the transporter room door opened and the confused and strangely frightened-looking Ensign M'raya who'd just beamed them up and was also wearing a very different uniform, was joined by a scantily clad Lieutenant Sraine, who marched up to the transporter and flung an arm in the ensign's direction, and proclaimed, "We should just airlock his stupid ass."

Kirk broke in an amused grin. "Okay, okay, okay. How many people are in on this?"

He didn't expect the act to keep going on much longer, but Sraine's face sprung into a menacing display of teeth and anger and she yelled, "It's this invalid's fault." The ensign fumbled with something and seemed to find an immediate excuse to leave the room. Sraine just glared after him. "Captain, we both know he can't remember a transporter code to save his ass—"

"What the hell is wrong with you!?" Uhura snapped, which jolted a couple of the others on the pad. "M'raya has a memory disorder, he's really sensitive about it."

"Oh, really?" The grin broke out on Lieutenant Sraine's face like she was supposed to be amused. "I'll have to keep that in mind."

"Uh, look, Lieutenant, your...behavior..." Jim blinked, and then he added an "Um" that seemed like the sound effect to accompany him finally realizing that something was really not right here. "You're, uh, you're. Dismissed. Uh."

The engineering officer then gave some gesture that involved pounding her chest, giving a fierce little nod, and looking completely ridiculous, and then turned and left.

"Okay, everybody shut up for just a minute?" Jim suggested, already interrupting a couple alarmed comments flooding his way.

Then a familiar voice came over the comm.

"Have you returned with information about the resources, Captain?"

"Spock." Jim cleared his throat. "How, uh, how are you?"

At his side, Uhura mouthed, How are you?!

"I mean, yes," Jim corrected.

"I shall probably intercede you in the corridor. We should discuss this matter in private."

"Okay," he replied uncertainly. Then he turned to the rest, quietly ordered, "Stay at my back, but casual-like? Don't look like you're following me." He got a series of wide-eyed nods, and they entered the corridor.

They got several yards down, and then Spock appeared around the bend.

He began, "Captain—"

And Jim was turning around, his hand clamping over his mouth as he was ducking as quickly as possible into the nearest room, snatching Bones with him by the arm. In a moment of uncertain horror, Scotty and Uhura's eyes met, and they scrambled after in a stupid-looking group spill into what turned out to be a small equipment storage, quickly shut the door behind them.

Jim was doubled over a tiny table, shaking with laughter.

"He has—" He cut himself off with another peel of snickers. "...He has a goatee."

"'Casual-like,'" McCoy repeated.

"I...I don't think this is a prank, guys," Jim finally declared when he'd gotten a hold of himself. "I'm gonna go with alternate dimension?...Scotty?"

"Alternate reality I'd say, yeah." He looked at Uhura next to him.

"Thirded."

"God dammit..." McCoy sighed.

"Okay," Jim said decidedly, "everybody, go mingle for a bit, report back to my quarters, I guess, in about thirty minutes. Just...take notes, pick up on how we should be acting, and...I'm gonna go with be a bunch of bitches, cause that stuff with Sraine?..."

They all nodded in grim incredulity, and dispersed.




Approximately thirty minutes later, the small crowd was gathered in Jim's cabin.

"So," he said. "This place is kinda fucked up."

"I've been monitoring the messages from this week." Uhura looked in concern at Jim. "They're basically dealing with the same race of people, only they're not going to play nice."

"Yeah, I know," Jim said. "I gathered from a little talk with bizarro-Spock that we're giving them about a week to think over their willingness to live."

"There are things, in sick bay," McCoy slowly declared, "that should not be in sick bay."

Scotty intoned with finality, "These people don't know how to take care of a ship," as if his was the most horrifying tale to tell.

"So like." McCoy scratched at his hair. "They recognize us. Does that mean...they're getting some company back home?"

Jim's eyebrows lifted in an expression of having already contemplated that with some amusement and fascination. Scotty launched into a very technical explanation that basically meant "Yes."

They commenced to begin proposing the solution, which quickly fell to Jim asking, "Can you fake an ion storm or not?"

"I don't see why not," Scotty said with a shrug. "But I would need the—"

He got cut off by the comm signal going off, and Jim barked, "What?"

"Captain," came Spock's voice, with a trace of slightly irritated confusion, "we are in the process of arresting an intruding Klingon vessel, your participation—"

"I'll be out soon, fuck, how many of these assholes are we gonna have to deal with this month?"

"Indeed," Spock replied boredly, and signed off, leaving Jim to the consternated and in a couple cases impressed looks of his crewmates.

"Jesus, Jim," McCoy exclaimed, a smile bending onto his features.

"And here I was thinking you were already kind of a wanker," Scotty joked.

"Gentlemen?" Uhura delicately cut through the segue with a motion of her hands.

Getting quickly down to what business they could cover before Jim had to leave, McCoy asked, "Alright, so are we faking it till we make it here? Couldn't we theoretically just tell them that we, uh—"

"I don't know about that," Jim said with an anxious seething sound attached.

"Righ', let's just tell them we're a peaceful bunch, and I'm sure they'll be worried about how much they miss their buddies," Scotty said.

"'We can get mutiny for you wholesale,'" Uhura muttered with a crisp look of mock-cheer.

"Point taken," McCoy grunted.

"I need to get out there, and...enjoy Klingons being our bitches for once, I guess. I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Jeez." His last bits were directed at the slightest glare from Nyota before he reported back.




It wasn't long before she was coming after him with the subdued angry shriek in her features, snatching him by the elbow and growling something about meeting back at his quarters.

She was rounding on him as soon as they were alone, while his arms were already coming up in apologetic surrender.

"Captain—" She really deserved some credit for attempting some measure of respect. But, "What the fuck are we supposed to do now?"

"I don't know, I'm figuring it out, okay?" he yelled back just as frantically.

"You just ordered McCoy to the brig. Think about that for one second."

"I know that I—"

"You can't order him out of the brig. You can't afford another display of leniency, I swear to God, if you end up blowing the lid on us—"

"I understand the problem, Lieutenant, but can you honestly tell me you would've reacted differently?" he demanded. "I wasn't about to watch Bones get tortured for treating a fucking papercut."

This was an exaggeration; the "enemy" had been narrowly stabbed for refusing to comply to a vessel search. The fact that the ship's doctor had attemped to surreptitiously repair the victim's tissue had rumored like wildfire until she'd had to make an excuse to leave her post to see just how bad the situation had been screwed up already.

Speaking very slowly as if it was the only way to keep from shouting, Uhura said, "Making sure we're not leaving anybody behind is a little more important, don't you think?...Ugh. If Spock had been here..."

"Scotty."

The engineer was lingering at the door. "I've—I've got tuh—"

"Get in here now, and tell me what you know," Jim commanded impatiently.

"The ship's library computer says we can create uh, a sort of artificial ion storm with theoretically the same conditions, which would allow us the capacity to beam back through the gap in the parallel universe—"

"And you can do it?"

"Yeah, but...I won't have much help, and I'm wasting time even now, it could possibly take me all the week we've got before the atmospheric conditions allow me to—"

"Did you say," Uhura evenly demanded, "a week?"




He attempted to calm her down, but could tell she was resigned and possibly more collected in her irritation when she just interrupted him with, "Yes, I can keep playing the part, I get it. Would you leave?"

He showed up at her quarters again less than an hour later.

Resigned, exhausted, she gave an annoyed sigh and asked, "What?"

He gave an uneasy pointing motion down the hallway, a vague one, as his cabin wasn't even on the same floor. "Uh...There's..."

"What is it?"

"There's a woman..." He shook his head helplessly. "In my room."

She looked blank, then after a moment just snickered unsympathetically. "Oh, I think you know how to take care of that."

"Oh, come on," he whined. "That's just wrong."

They were drawing some attention now, so Uhura rolled her eyes and motioned for him to come in, though she looked like she was more than eager to kick him back out of it within a couple seconds.

"Can I—?"

"No." She was immediately cutting him off with her hands. "Absolutely not."

His shoulders sunk a bit. "I'll sleep on the floor, of course—"

"No. What did you do, just leave without saying anything? Maybe she'll leave. Or maybe you could just ask her to?" Nyota suggested this as if she was speaking to a toddler.

He cringed. "What if...you know, what if we're in a serious relationship?"

That actually made her break out into an amused smile, and she let out a couple throaty giggles. "Wow. This is your worst nightmare, isn't it?"

"What, and you're having a ball?" he demanded. "It's fucking creepy here...I feel like we should all stick together."

Shaking her head, still very annoyed and very amused at the same time, she let out an irritated groan of, "You are such a baby."

She was turning away and shucking off her slippers, and Jim was turning to leave when he felt something cushy colliding with his shoulder. He caught it in time to realize it was a pillow, and he gave her a grin.

"You better not snore," she warned as she threw an extra blanket for him onto the floor.




Jim did snore after all, just a little. By the time they'd gotten through the first thirty hours of being on the ISS Enterprise, getting a good night's sleep seemed like her only brief refuge, and also impossible. But after Jim begged and begged in such an amusing and satisfying way, she really felt too sorry for him not to let him crash on the floor again.

It was really the least of her problems anyway. Differentiations in the colonial activity of a variety of races made for slightly tweaked and in a couple cases completely unrecognizable dialects. She was okay at faking it, particularly since competence was purely variable all throughout the ship. These people had the smarts, but when they reported for duty with their slimy lazy smiles and pretty much dicked around whenever nothing interesting was happening, it gave one an uneasy question of what they were actually using their cunning for. Feeling less than useful at her post which only sometimes gave them a voyeuristic advantage, she took to a guarded and surreptitious scrutiny of those around her. The way that Kirk would show up to the bridge and treat everyone a bit inconsistently, she knew he wasn't paying close enough attention.

She didn't think she could really be blamed for hiding out at every opportunity while she was off-duty, attempting to help Scotty down in engineering in whatever increments of time didn't look suspicious.

"I don't see why it matters. People might just think we're screwing or something." Scotty laughed at that, but then she shrugged and said, "But we've already been suspicious enough, I guess."

"McCoy owes us a beer or two, that's for sure," he insisted. "Han' me that, will ya?"

She got on her tiptoes to hand him something while his upper body spilled out of some metallic tunnel with a mess of chords that, she took his word for it, had something to do with maintaining the ship's atmospheric regulators. "I'm sorry I'm not much help...Is there a Keenser running around here?"

"Eh..." Scotty looked at unease, and said, dipping back into the tube, "Apparently not anymore."

She didn't ask.




"You ordered a shore leave?" she demanded when he showed up at her quarters on what she'd realized in the morning was her day off.

"Uh, why. Not?"

"You want to go on shore leave," she clarified.

"I don't want to go gallivanting through some next mission pretending I know what the hell I'm doing. It's really not that suspicious, since there's only so much we can even get done when we're, you know, in the process of systematically threatening a peaceful society."

"Sorry if I just don't see myself taking a little vacation instead of trying to help out Scotty or, attempt to improve some aspect of these people's ethics, or I don't know, prevent them from doing bad things they're about to do."

"I'm working on Spock."

She looked over with a raise of her eyebrows. "Oh?"

"I am. But tonight I'm going out for a drink."

"You can't be serious. What do you think it'll even be like down there?"

"Guess we'll find out?"

"We." She scoffed.

"Come on, Uhura, you need to get out of this room. Why have you been doing that? You're like hibernating in here when you don't absolutely have to be on duty."

"You're the one who said that it's creepy."

"Yeah, but it's kind of important to mingle. I don't imagine you're acting much like the other you usually would..."

"Um." With a grimace, her tone became bitter. "I don't think you realize what I would have to be tolerating if I was effectively acting like this other person. So."

She just shrugged and let a folded pair of pants fall to the floor to punctuate that, continuing to go through straightening out her recreation clothes. She stiffly resumed this as Jim looked narrowly at her, finally saying, "Somebody's bothering you."

She just gave him a look as if to say, Yeah, no shit, and got back to folding, turned away from him. He stepped closer, watching her a bit longer in hesitation.

"...Sulu?"

And she was rounding on him, pointing a finger in warning. "Do not mess with him—"

He let out a wordless noise, and she cut off his next exclamation.

"No, okay, he hates you. I can just tell, that he's waiting for the first thing he can use against you, so don't think for one second that you have an ounce of authority over him cause he's just itching to sick the mutiny dogs on you the very second you show any more weakness. It's the only excuse he needs."

"No." Jim was shaking his head simply. "Nope, sorry, fuck off, try again. I'm not going to just let—"

"What? What are you going to do?" Her face was lit up with bright mockery. "Why don't you pull up the protocol guide, assuming there even is one, and see if there is any policy whatsoever about sexual harassment. In the meantime, I'm actually quite practiced at kicking groins."

He was still kind of irritated then, and speechless.

Her voice was wringing tighter with growing stress. "Please don't fuck this up for another comparatively trivial thing, please, please. It's very cute how you have literally no perspective on things when Spock isn't around and insist on being the nice guy, but it's going to get us stuck here."

"Hey." He was serious in a different way then. "Don't even say that. We're getting out of here."

"Fine. Okay..." She let a shirt fall. "So again, why did you come in here?"

He gave a sort of dazed look at the pile of clothes. "You're coming down planetside."

"The hell I am."

"Come on, you don't have to even hang out with me. I've known you long enough to know you could go for a couple beers right now."

She continued to insist she wasn't going, but she was looking through the clothes already for the least revealing excuse for casual wear she could find.




When they entered the bar, Kirk kept squinting around in astonishment at how the whole place was darker and slightly more crowded than he remembered from its parallel. The part that made Uhura pull in on herself like she didn't want to rub up against anybody was the huge cage in the middle of the establishment where a man was currently getting violently thrown into the loud jangle of the grid.

There were several other crewmembers there. As she noticed them she leaned in to flatly say over the noise, "You wanna mingle, mingle. I'm getting a drink."

There were bets going, not only on the people fighting but on some little animals that looked something like scorpion-tailed cats, far off to the side of the center. Lieutenant Riley had a dazedly amused look watching it while Kirk put on his most ambiguously menacing grin and clapped him on the back.

It wasn't long before he just wound up sitting with Uhura at the bar, which was actually the least populated area and the only place where you could really hear yourself talk.

"Look, I should probably ask if I'm still...on duty, considering," she paused with a shrug before muttering, "we haven't technically gotten back from our mission yet."

"Oh, no. We're here all week, you can take it easy. And, you know, considering a couple things you said..." He laughed, knowing that was probably most of why she asked.

"Look, I'm not going to take anything back," she said after a long gulp of her draft. "But I hope you won't take the attitude into account when it comes down to performance review time. At least be aware that you see the worst of it, you know?"

"Right, because it's personal."

She rolled her eyes, not quite wanting him to take it that way. "I think I have valid reasons for complaining. I just...am aware that I could be more respectful about it sometimes, but...I did meet you in a fucking bar when you were three sheets to the wind, sir, it's hard to remember sometimes that you outrank me."

She added a lazy salute to her evidently tipsy rambling, and he laughed shortly. "You know, you've been cussing a lot more since we got here."

"...Really?"

"Yeah. And you know, I don't wanna say anything about it, but...You are pretty serious. And not even like sexy-serious, like...fuck. It wouldn't kill you to li—"

"Don't say it."

"Lighten up," he said with enunciation, and she glared. "What? Oh, you must get that a lot. Gee, I wonder the fuck why."

She actually seemed a bit bothered by it, moving her lips like she had a nasty taste in her mouth that was Jim Kirk might have a point.

"And this is advice I'm dispensing for practical reasons, by the way. Cause you're way too straight-laced for this rather awry gig we're stuck in."

"What do you mean?"

"I'm saying you don't fit in," he said with a laugh. "At all. You're lecturing me about being too nice? 'Excuse me, Chekov. Could you pass the salt shaker?'"

He was quoting her with a mockingly dainty voice, and her expression tightened, in recollection of the death glare that had gotten her from the young ensign who generally kept very acidly to himself. "I didn't know you heard that. Look, I just forgot for a second. I got out of character...It's weird to expect it from Pavel, of all people."

"And look, when Nurse Qureshi fell off the transporter pad and broke his nose the other day and everybody was joking about it, that was the most pathetic fake laugh I have ever heard."

"Well, excuse me if I can't find things like that funny," she responded with an annoyed gesture.

"Oh, fine." Jim gave a resigned motion. "Get agonized. See if I care."

She let out an aggravated sigh before she tipped and finished off her second drink.

"Look, just: Give me a nice, good evil laugh," Jim said. "Just let one go. I wanna see if you can actually do it."

"I can do it."

"I don't believe you."

Uhura conveyed a comical amount of uncertain meditation on it after setting her beer glass down and wiping a drip of the alcohol off her chin. She obviously felt a little ridiculous, but she tossed her head back and let a few cough-like snickers out.

Jim blinked, his teeth showing. "That was utterly pathetic, Uhura."

"Okay, wait..." After a scoff, she tried again, in a throatier depth that came out so thoroughly cartoonish that Jim waved a hand out to interrupt her.

"Oh God, stop, stop, stop. Wow, Lieutenant, I think my kitten just ran for cover."

"Oh, shut up..."

"Look. You gotta really hack up the shadenfreude. Can't you just, like, imagine something terrible happening to somebody you really don't like?"

He could just tell by the look on her face that she had no imagination for these things; sitting back, he pondered and pondered, and then got a slow smile on his face.

"Alright. I think this will do it. Remember the stupid Lab Fair they had every year back at the Academy?"

Hey eyes kind of lit up in amusement. "Oh my God, I loved the Lab Fair. It was so lame, but my friends and I went every year."

"Yeah, and remember in the middle when the local Health club had their show with the musical sequence, and the..."

"The big stupid creepy costumes that all looked like internal organs, that danced around? That part was ridiculous." She suddenly remembered something, and laughed. "Oh, and I remember one year...Matthews got drunk and threw his ice cream bar at the kidney, and it stuck, and it stayed there through the whole song and we were laughing so hard we almost peed ourselves."

"Yes. I know."

"Though I could have sworn I never saw you at any of the fairs..."

"Oh, you saw me."

"Wait." She sat up, disbelieving and slow to smile. "No."

"Yes."

"No, what—? No, there is no way you would..." Her hands were coming up to her mouth in disbelief.

"Let's just say that Admiral Byaka suddenly acquires a sense of humor when he's handing out disciplinary reprimands for sleeping in class."

It didn't exactly work, because in another second as the mental image came back to her, the laugh that came skidding out was a prostrating giggling affair, her shoulders shaking where she was bent forward over the bar, letting her hair droop forward until she tucked it behind her ears, attempted to contain herself before losing it again.

"Oh my God. Oh my God. How many people know this?" she finally managed to say.

"Pretty much the good old admiral, and you. And I would kind of prefer if it stayed that way."

She had her elbows on the table now, wiping her eyes and still laughing slightly. "Haah," she sighed happily.

Jim just shook his head somewhere in between cringing and smiling. "I'm gonna go take a leak."

When he was grateful to get out of the eerie half-lit bathroom, one glance back at the bar made his shoulders sink in annoyance.

Sulu was now standing leaning his back against the bar next to her, seeming quite indifferent to her stiff forward-focused poise that should have very clearly looked liked Back the hell off. As he came back up to the bar, she was playing with the cherry in the cocktail she'd just ordered, wearing a blank look while the man still tried to sweet-talk all over her.

"Lieutenant," Jim said coolly as he came up closer, cocking a slightly playful eyebrow. "Is this guy bothering you?"

Uhura looked over and it took a couple seconds before her face softened in a realization of what he was doing. She smiled knowingly. The exclusive joke was a comfort, a way of removing themselves from the scene: "...Beyond belief. But it's nothing I can't handle."

He snickered, managed to nudge through next to Sulu to grab his drink back up. Keeping up the little game, he said, "So, you're a cadet, you're stunning. What's your focus?"

"Xenolinguistics," Nyota recited with amusement. "You have no idea what that means."

"The study of alien languages, morphology, phrenology, syntax?" He took a long sip. "It means you've got a talented tongue."

She let out a short laugh as the exchange came to a pause, scratching her hair out of her face. "Damn it, what did I...?"

"Well. You were impressed," Jim gladly provided. "And then you said that you'd thought I was just a dumb hick who only has sex with farm animals."

"...I did not."

"Yes," Jim insisted broadly, his eyebrows rising, "you did."

"You two lovebirds wanna shut the fuck up?"

Jim's glance veered over to Sulu, looking too slightly astonished to muster quite the affronted reaction it should have been, but it did the job. Sulu put a sort of apologetic gesture to him.

"No offense, Captain, I just didn't realize, you know? Though I should have figured, since she's been acting so fucking weird lately."

"Weird?" Jim said, as if demanding clarification, and when Uhura gave him a severe look that just said Let it go, his looked briefly like he was asking her if she was seriously going to stand there and just take this shit.

"I mean, I guess it explains a lot, right? Supposedly she's the best translator the Empire has to offer, but who knows how she really got the job." Sulu had been hunched over the bar in a cloud of bitter mockery, not looking over as he spoke, but he looked directly at Jim for just a second before he flippantly added, "Why don't you give somebody else a turn with that mouth?"

Jim's expression was a blankness, a couple blinks of the eye, when he looked over to see Nyota's face fall before she just tried to get back to stirring her drink.

His glass made a clean and loud clunk against the bar where he set it down. Her eyes widened.

"Jim—"

But he was already turning from the bar, snatching and jerking Sulu with him by the collar and quickly shoving up the momentum to slam his back against a small table before he landed a swift punch across his cheek that sent him tripping down with the table. Sulu didn't fall all the way and came fuming back already revved for a fight, accompanied by the noises of half the bar catching onto the stirrings with excited astonishment. Uhura was slamming out of her seat in an attempt to get past the crowd already thickening around the scuffle.

Bets were already being shouted, particularly among the crew members, and it seemed to only take seconds for the fight to make it to a rolling scramble on the floor: Jim had Sulu down and chucked a couple hard punches before the helmsman wriggled and sifted enough to get him slipped off of him, kicking an imprecise but effective knock and then a blow that bent him back only briefly, but a bottle that had fallen off the table met Jim's hand and in a second came slamming to the other's temple.

A noise-thirsty slew of the crowd was chanting Jim's last name, eating up the slight scandal as the violence became more lethal. Once quickly recovered, Sulu seared into a bitterly vicious presence that seemed to elevate Jim's rage in a purely instinctive, defensive reaction, before an awkward series of half-ineffectual hooks resulted from the attempts to get the higher ground on the other. It was finally Sulu who managed to get back up, loosely punch Jim back to the floor, and land a hard bite to the captain's gut with his boot.

With a minute yelp Jim was cringing and coiling in and gasping for air when his collar was roughly pulled up, Sulu's fist reaching back ready to mark more damage; but then a tug: His head was wrenched back by an angular grasp at his hair. A knife appeared at his neck.

The threatening proximity of the dagger guided the now seething Sulu to back up, until he was nearly on his back, yielding under Uhura's tightly crouched form.

"Hey. Sugar." Her voice was low and cold. "Looks like you dropped something."

Off at the side Jim was coughing back to lucidity, sitting up. She inched the knife just a bit closer to Sulu's neck, watched the officer's eyes burn a furious and squirming look back at her for another few seconds.

And then she leaned back a bit, tilting her head thoughtfully before she broke out into a grin. She started laughing down at Sulu as if some kind of joke was up. And with only a hint of lingering unease, he slowly fell into an imitation of her snickering. The crowd accepted the end of the brawl, some with boredom and some with whoops and applause.

Leaving Sulu with a sharp smirk, she quickly got back up, made a little taunting twiddling motion with his knife before tucking it down into her boot, adjusting her skirt, and walking away.

When she passed by Kirk with a steadier look, she was no longer smiling.




Ten minutes later she was grabbing his hand down to shove an ice pack into it, smacking it back up in his grasp against the colorful bruise clouding over his right eye.

"Ow," he mumbled.

After sternly avoiding really looking at him the whole time she'd pulled his ass all the way to her quarters before he could do something stupid like actually go to medical bay on this nightmare of a ship, she turned on him with a frustrated motion like she was shaking water off her hands.

"What the hell were you thinking!?"

"I wasn't thinking, Lieutenant, for Christ sake, I said already—"

"He's probably forgoing organized mutiny and just needs a good way to murder you in your sleep now—"

"—I'm sorry! Okay?...Fuck." He drew the ice pack back to test the feel of his blackening eye with a wince. In a more resigned, lowly irritated mutter he added, "I'm gonna ask you something. No—I'm not."

"...What?"

"No."

Impatiently curious, she said, "Ask me."

She was taking her jewelry off over at her dresser. He had an audible squinting uncertainty in the question: "I don't know, just. Why did you accept a position on Enterprise?"

Her motions slowed, and Jim shook his head.

"Nevermind."

"What?" was all she could say as she turned around to look straight at him.

He scoffed. "Look, we both know, that even without getting into whatever the hell is personal, you have a lot of problems with me. You don't like my style of command, and I'm pretty sure you've known that since day one. Sometimes, I don't know, I'm just kind of dreading the day I get that transfer request. I'd feel pretty bad if I drove you off a ship where you're practically close to everybody, but I'm the captain and it's—"

"Are you trying to drop a hint or something?" Uhura had her arms crossed now.

"What the hell are you talking about? I'm just trying to tell you that I know how it is."

"Well, you always think you know how it is." She turned away to let her hair out of its pins, a blunt cue that the conversation was ended. After a minute, she saw him sliding a compact mirror from the compartment in the nightstand to examine the damage, and she went over to where he was sitting on the bed as he was putting it away.

"It looks pretty bad," she observed with flat sympathy.

He cringed, his features bending back into their annoyance and fury for a brief spell. "Such an asshole," he said, something withheld in his voice.

"You done?" She offered to take the ice, and he handed it to her. She leaned just a bit to pick up a glass from earlier that day from the nightstand and threw the ice pack in it, picked up and tucked a PADD under her arm, leaned down again to kiss him on his right cheek, and went to go take a bath.

He was still fumbling to process it when she was at the door to the bathroom. He demanded after her, "What was that for?"

"You know what for," was her response just before the door slid closed after her.




Nyota was wearing pajama pants when they snuck under the radar to go talk to McCoy once it was almost the middle of the night, winding past a couple dirty empty cells to find him in a surprisingly accommodating mood. He didn't even inquire as to what happened to the captain's face, just boredly let them explain this mythical plan they were hatching to actually get him out of there.

Jim was squinting at the limp coiled figure of a man lying in the corner whose mouth was hanging open, several feet away from Bones.

"Is he...dead?"

As if on cue a mumble of a moan came from the body, making Jim and Nyota flinch back in unison before the man went silent and still again. McCoy looked over and said, "That's Paulson. In for attempted mutiny. He sleeps a lot."

"So are you...you know," Nyota asked, "okay in here?" She looked around her with vague unease as she said it.

"Well. They keep threatening to torture me, but I'm starting to think it's just their way of saying hello. It's a lot less boring in the middle of the day when the guards argue. It's practically an old sitcom in here, really." The doctor was sitting against the wall opposite the bars, resting his arms on his knees. "And the food's not terrible."

Slowly, as if trying to do so covertly, Jim and Nyota looked at each other, blinking.

"So..." McCoy gave a casual shrug. "What have you guys been doing?"

Chewing on a bite of the replicated fruit they'd brought to share, Nyota looked away from Jim, rolling her eyes up to the ceiling.


...part two...

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