jouissant: (uhura with cute font)
[personal profile] jouissant
Title: Only Satellites
Pairings/Characters: Nyota Uhura; mentions of Uhura/Spock, Uhura/Chapel & Uhura/Gaila
Rating: PG
Themes/Notes: for [ profile] lgbtfest, prompt #2879: Star Trek, reboot!Uhura/TOS!Uhura, There's only one person Uhura can share her secret with without risking her entire career.
Summary: I saw two shooting stars last night/I wished on them, but they were only satellites. - Billy Bragg, "A New England"
What would you ask yourself, if you could ask yourself anything? How much would the answer help?

When they drop out of warp practically on top of another Enterprise and Nyota hears herself hail them from out of the vast black, her breath catches in her throat. She hesitates for a split second, then responds. The voice on the other end wavers.

“Lieutenant Uhura?”

Well then.

“Lieutenant Commander Uhura here,” she replies. She swallows. “I’ve got the captain for you, Lieutenant. Opening a channel.”

It’s only when the door chime sounds that Nyota realizes she’s been waiting for it. She’s sitting on the edge of her bed, worrying a thread that’s come loose from the rich red quilted cotton.

“Come,” she calls.

The girl in the doorway looks familiar in the way old pictures do. Nyota can’t quite remember ever looking like this girl, but she supposes she must have, once. If she did, she wonders why she ever gave herself a hard time. The other Nyota shifts uneasily, back and forth. She’s wearing that god-awful skirt, and her quadriceps flex as she moves. She’s still a runner, then. Nyota ran when she was younger, running away and then finally running to. It felt so good then. The girl swallows and then opens her mouth to speak.

“I’m sorry to bother you,” she says. “I…”

“Not at all,” Nyota replies. “Please, sit.” She tries to keep her voice measured, tries to pretend she doesn’t have as many questions as this girl does. “It’s not every day you get to meet yourself, after all.”

“Well,” says the girl with a harsh little laugh, “it’s not as strange as you’d think around here. On my Enterprise, I mean.”

They talk for awhile, easy and small, although Nyota thinks it’s a bit like meeting an estranged relative, or running into someone from home while traveling. Someone you aren’t sure you have much in common with, aside from the obvious. They talk of the house in Langata, of their parents. Their mothers are weavers in both universes. Their fathers are loud and blustering and so, so kind. They talk about the date palms that grow in the garden, the sticky handfuls they both stole between meals. The little things that no one else remembers.

Finally, her younger counterpart trails off, eyes wandering to the corners of the room, fingers twitching, and Nyota remembers the cotton quilt and wishes she had somewhere to put her hands, too.

“Can I ask you a personal question?” The younger girl sounds like she’s been weighing the words, turning them over in her mouth like stones. Nyota nods.

The girl drops her gaze to her booted feet. She kicks at the edge of the rug. Then, decisively, she looks Nyota straight in the eye.

“What would you ask yourself? If you were me, I mean. If you were younger- what would you want to know?”’

Nyota gives her a long look. She’s hedging. A litmus test.

“I…” Nyota leans over and picks up the silver frame on her nightstand. “Look.” She hands it over. She can’t help smiling as she thinks of it- of the two of them in front of the ruined monument. They’d set the holocam on a rock and used the automatic timer. Christine kept talking about phallic symbols and they couldn’t stop laughing.
“That’s on Earth, at the District of Columbia Historical Park,” she offers, as if the other Nyota really cares where it is.

The other Nyota curls her fingers around the holo almost protectively. “You…and Chapel? Does she…is she here?” Her eyes dart around the room as if she’s expecting Christine to materialize out of thin air.

“Chris is filing some paperwork in Sickbay. I think she figured she’d get out of my hair for awhile. But we share quarters, yes.”

“How long?”

“Ten years.”

“But how long have you…how long have you known?”

She’s never really thought about it before. “I think maybe I always knew.”

And she has. With men, she knew. She remembers long nights, lying awake next to a heavy body, touching herself in the dark. She wasn’t thinking of them.

A dark look crosses the younger girl’s face. “Me too,” she says quietly. “You’re…okay with it.” It’s a question.

“I never thought not to be. It just was. I was…lucky, I suppose. It was different with Christine. She…we were friends, first. We fell in love. And she didn’t know what to do. Shewas engaged, once. His name was Roger. He disappeared just before she got her commission. I think part of her was on the Enterprise to find him, but…she found me instead.

We didn’t talk about it, what we did. And then they found Roger’s body on Exo III.”

She sighs, lips pressed together bloodlessly. “She slept in her quarters that night, and for months. Afterward. I thought I was going to die, it hurt so much.” She doesn’t look at Nyota. Her face is hot and tears well in her eyes, shit, after all these years.

She looks up, and the other her is crying.

“Are you all right?”

She sniffs. “I…I had a friend too.” Her breath hitches.

“She was Orion- she made it off a slave ship. Begged, borrowed, and stole her way into Federation space. She…she was amazing, she had this laugh, and her hair got everywhere, it used to clog up the sink and I’d get so mad…” she looks at the floor again, and her smile isn’t for Nyota to see, not really.

“She tried to kiss me in the hallway between classes, once, and I bit her head off. I made her swear to take it to her grave. In my timeline…well. It’s a long story. But she…she kept her promise.”

She looks up, eyes wide. “I thought that was it. It felt like fate, like a crossroads. Do you do that too? Look up at the stars like there’s a message in them for you?”

Nyota smiles sadly. “It was the hardest thing to get used to in San Francisco,” she says. “A whole new sky. I missed the Southern Cross the most.”

“I thought…I thought there was. A message. It was because of Spock I wasn’t on the Farragut with Gaila…” the younger girl shakes her head as if to clear it.

Nyota resists the impulse to raise an eyebrow at her mention of Spock. Apparently, not everything is the same.

“Sometimes things just happen, Nyota. Sometimes… the stars you think you see are only satellites.”

“Maybe,” she says. “Maybe.”
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