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pogrebin

Star Trek Reboot Fic: From the greek "xenos"... (Spock/Uhura)

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Jun. 17th, 2009 | 03:17 am

Right so. I watched Star Trek on Saturday. And then again today. And in the interim period I scoured the internet for icons, and began feverishly writing completely pointless Spock/Uhura fic. Argh, when did I start becoming a sucker for canon pairings? I have to tell you though, guys, I'm not sure they realised, but the protagonist of the film was Spock right? It was the Spock show. There are no complaints here, just saying. I pretty much adored it. (Obvious issues aside, of course.)

And so, yes. Spock/Uhura, pre-film. With surprisingly little actual Spock/Uhura. More Uhura. With a side of Gaila being awesome, because she is.

Dear god, fic productivity!

ETA: Cross-posted to the wonderful where_no_woman community, which deserves a plug. A place for thoughts, discussion, fic & art about the women of Star Trek. More of their stories, please!



from the greek “xenos” which means “stranger", but also “guest”




--

Nyota Uhura is seventeen years old and her hero is Amanda Grayson, perhaps the only living celebrity xenolinguist in the Federation. There are others with some illusory fame, immersing themselves in strange and dangerous cultures and communities, but they are-- to use a crude term-- “holovid scientists” who are airbrushed and telegenic, interested in science only when it intersects with marketability. While Amanda Grayson’s fame might be due to her personal life, her work is intuitive, deft, even elegant. Grayson’s most famous work is her groundbreaking exploration of Vulcan informal terms of address, but Nyota’s favourite is a short paper written when Grayson was quite young. It is about the language of taboo and exclusion. Things unsaid, and things unsayable. Though the taboos themselves may differ, linguistic methods for dealing with them do not. Grayson postulates, rather cheekily, that euphemism and elision are universal phenomena. This is why Nyota Uhura picks xenolinguistics: the ways in which different cultures communicate might differ, but the ways in which they fail to communicate do not. She finds it strangely comforting that language makes them all alien to each other.

--

By the end of Nyota’s first year at the Academy, she has gained something of a reputation. Not for promiscuity, exactly. She’s well within the bounds of the Starfleet Academy norm, though of course that’s even slacker than in civilian society. Put together several year groups of bright, healthy, fit, young high-achievers with a taste for adventure and it is only to be expected. But no, Nyota’s reputation isn’t about how many but who, or more specifically, what species they are. Nyota’s track record is almost entirely non-human. It isn’t exactly a fixation or a conscious choice; the thing is, Nyota is at Starfleet for one thing, and one thing only. People only really catch her interest when they intersect with hers; Betazoid aspirants, Bajoran geometric poetry, Orion phonology. She doesn’t fall in love. It’s not that she’s cold to the idea, she just has more important things on her mind. Nyota is the first woman from her family to make Starfleet (whose uptake from the United States of Africa is still well below desirable ratios), and the first to make the San Francisco branch. She’s got a lot to prove, and a lot to learn, and nothing is going to get in her way.

--

Nobody-- apart from, much later, Cadet James T. Kirk, who is surprisingly terrible at gossip despite causing quite a large volume of it-- is particularly surprised when they find out about Nyota’s relationship with Commander Spock. There are no formal regulations regarding extra-professional relationships between instructors and cadets, especially in the latter years of study; though there are some mutters and whispers they die down remarkably quickly, the product of jealousy or prurience. Her other instructors do not bring it up with her, partly because they know Uhura to be competent and able, and partly because Spock is so ruthlessly even-handed (“he’s too much of a cold bastard to play favourites,” is how Christopher Pike would have put it, not without some fondness).

“Only you, Nyota,” Gaila had sighed, when she had told her. “I suppose it makes perfect sense.” Nyota had given her a look. “Well,” Gaila elaborated. “At least you won’t break his heart.”

--

The thing is: Commander Spock and Lieutenant Uhura’s relationship is eminently logical. She is a communicator, a xenolinguist, and he is the embodiment of all that she is fascinated with: two cultures combine in the elongation of his vowels. She could learn more about Vulcan glottal stops from five minutes of conversation with him than five years of academic study, and more than that by tracing the shape of his tongue with her own as he makes entirely human sounds with a jaw-structure that isn’t quite built for them. They are both seeking to understand alien cultures, and they both know this: observation is inadequate, a more practical method is desirable. He is seeking to understand what it is to be human, she is seeking to understand everything that is not. Their goals dovetail neatly; their partnership is an extension of this.

--

People are rather surprised when Nyota and Spock are still together when her final year begins. Nobody is more surprised than Nyota. Spock had accepted her advances with equanimity. This is altogether unsurprising. Nyota wasn’t the only Cadet at the Academy who enjoyed the company of Non-Terrans, who perhaps had something to prove. The urge to somehow unsettle, to ruffle, to bother the unassailable Commander Spock is something she can understand. By the time Nyota was in her first year, making a good-faith attempt to get a rise out of Commander Spock was already a long-running tradition. (Nobody manages until James Kirk, but the Cadets running the pool are wary of approaching the newly-minted Captain with his winnings, so the bet is never collected on. Nyota suspects Spock takes some pride in this, though he will never admit to knowing about said pool.)

Nyota assumes that Spock accepted her invitation for the same reason he accepted the ones before her: a certain curiosity, a desire to assimilate, a logical decision to experience one of the facets of human culture. This never bothered her; her own reasons were similar enough.

But this does not entirely satisfactorily explain why they are still together after the better part of a year. Or why Nyota’s heart beats faster when she knocks on the door to Spock’s office, fast enough to embarrass her because she knows his hearing can pick it up. The idea that Spock is just-- indulging his curiosity becomes, all at once, completely unpalatable to her. Which is stupid, because that is exactly what she has been doing all this time. Nyota knows better than to try and change the rules mid-game.

Gaila comes home three nights before their first run at the Kobayashi-Maru to find Nyota lying on her bed in the dark instead of studying. “Are you running through protocols in your head?”

“No,” replies Nyota. “I’m planning to run away to Virgis 12 to become a famous space-pirate.”

“That’s nice, Nyota. Your mother will be very proud.” Gaila wraps an arm around Nyota’s leg, perching on the edge of the bed. “Hey, the test won’t be so bad, ok? Anyway,” her voice goes teasing. “I’m sure you could always get some tips from Commander Spo-ock-- argh, what the--?” Gaila shrieks as Nyota smacks her in the arm with a pillow. “Nyota!”

“It’s not the test.”

She seizes the pillow before any further damage can be inflicted. “Right. Then what?”

Nyota looks sheepish. “I’m, uh-,” she sucks in a breath and then sort of mumbles, “I’m in love with a Vulcan, okay?”

Gaila’s response is to start laughing and laughing. “That sounds like the title to a terrible romance holonovel. ‘In Love With a Vulcan: will Sandra be able to fill his cold heart with the fire of her human passion?’” She swoons theatrically to punctuate her point. “Oh, don’t look me like that. This is kind of a funny situation.”

“Yes,” Nyota says dryly. “Hilarious.”

Gaila sobers up when she catches Nyota‘s expression. “Wait. Did you just figure this out?” She boggles.

“Yes,” she hisses, crossing her arms.

“Wow,” says Gaila, wonderingly. “Humans really are slow.”

--

The thing about logic that Spock could have explained to Nyota, as it was explained to him, is this: when you have a sharp mind, logic can be used to rationalise almost any course of action. The years of study and discipline are not about logic but rather how best to deploy it. Nyota thinks maybe she has been rationalising her behaviour for a long time. It proves to be almost impossible to separate out the various strands of her emotions. The thing is: Nyota is a signals-analyst. She searches for meaning in the dark, the muffled, the occluded. She deals in subtlety and shade, the barest noise in a sea of silence, and there is no-one more subtle and shaded than Commander Spock. She is in love with him because she is a xenolinguist, yes, but that is as much a part of her as his mixed heritage is a part of him. She cannot separate out the parts, but they are more than the sum of them.

Their relationship is an experiment.

“But then again, whose isn’t, really?” Gaila shrugs, with an encouraging smile. Nyota cannot help but agree.

--

Nyota does not ask Spock if he loves her, and Spock does not tell her that he does. But the thing is: Nyota speaks seventeen Federation languages, and several dead ones, but she has always known that the commonality between them is in how they fail to communicate. It’s in the things unsaid, the things unsayable. Nyota knows there are things that they do not say to each other. In this they are no different.



---

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Link | speak with the voice of the century |

Comments {76}

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(no subject)

from: ryuugazaki
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 03:30 am (UTC)
Link

I wanted to quote a line or two to supplement this review, but I found that I would have to quote the ENTIRE fic.

This was subtle and brilliant, with just the right dashes of humor. Your usage of words is so colorful yet wonderfully vivid in describing their relationship/the reactions it garners <3 And the final paragraph? Slightly disheartening to the S/U optimist but also HONEST, so it's actually perfect - truly no other word is appropriate.

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Pogrebin

(no subject)

from: pogrebin
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 03:53 am (UTC)
Link

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

And re: ending-- well, this does take place pre-film, so you certainly have some hope. I can just imagine neither of them ever saying what they feel, but then, not really needing to, you know? (My subtitle really should have been: We all repress! No really!)

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the enigmatic E.

(no subject)

from: zauberer_sirin
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 03:43 am (UTC)
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damn, there goes my vow not to go near Spock/Uhura even with a ten foot pole. or my resolve not to read Reboot ST fic (i hated the movie).

damn you and your pretty writing.

but i love this so utterly. i'm enjoying the kind-of detached tone of the narration a lot. and your Uhura is compelling and believable.

“But then again, whose isn’t, really?” Gaila shrugs, with an encouraging smile.

genius.

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Pogrebin

(no subject)

from: pogrebin
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 03:50 am (UTC)
Link

Ahahaha, oh, love, thanks for reading, then, despite your dislike of the film. And the pairing!

Re: detached tone. I re-read this and thought: Uhura's internal monologue is so Vulcan. Uh, that was totally the point. I'm sticking by this. Their dynamic is fascinating to me: despite all the student/teacher, Vulcan superior mind/Human emotionality obvious stuff, they are obviously such equals. Film!Uhura is a straight-talking signals-analysing badass.

(But, oh dear, I gave Uhura a thing for aliens. The purists are going to find me, man. :P)

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oh, my beautiful idiot

(no subject)

from: rosa_acicularis
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 03:58 am (UTC)
Link

Um. So. Yes.

THIS IS AWESOME.

Like, a lot.

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Pogrebin

(no subject)

from: pogrebin
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 04:00 am (UTC)
Link

Glad it worked for you! :D

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(Deleted comment)

Pogrebin

(no subject)

from: pogrebin
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 08:28 am (UTC)
Link

Aw, man. That's very kind, thank you!

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beatrice_otter

(no subject)

from: beatrice_otter
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 05:21 am (UTC)
Link

I love the way you used linguistics in this--it's not just a gimmick, like it so often is. Well done!

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Pogrebin

(no subject)

from: pogrebin
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 08:29 am (UTC)
Link

Given my unabashed geekery for words, the moment Uhura said "xenolinguistics" in the bar, this started to brew. Thanks for reading!

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ennetee

(no subject)

from: normaltrouble
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 07:31 am (UTC)
Link

Oh. My.
This is wonderful! Thank you.

"I like this ship--it's exciting"...Scotty must have fanfic stuffed away somewhere, of course, it would be Firefly and BSG and suchlike, not ST...but this ship does seem to be engendering (heh) some marvelous fics.

Another rec over at DW for my journal.

.

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Pogrebin

(no subject)

from: pogrebin
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 08:31 am (UTC)
Link

Oh, Scotty is totally the fan-audience character insert. He's kind of a walking parody, with his comedy alien sidekick and demands for a towel that are CLEARLY a reference to the Hitchhiker's guide!

Thanks for the rec. :)

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a joyful girl getting loud

(no subject)

from: peri_peteia
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 07:42 am (UTC)
Link

This is very well done and extremely interesting! Your perspective on them is a few gradations away from what I've mostly seen/my own, but insightful and intriguing nonetheless. I enjoyed it.

Reccing!

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a joyful girl getting loud

(no subject)

from: peri_peteia
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 07:44 am (UTC)
Link

OH and also totally with you about it being Spock's story in so many ways. I felt that so hard myself. But then I love him so much that I lost two night's sleep and spent a whole bunch of time making myself feel some things to make a fanvid about ~*~his journey~*~. So clearly there is more than a little bit wrong with me.

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Blue Moon (f)

(no subject)

from: bluemoon02
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 12:00 pm (UTC)
Link

Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for writing this :)

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r0ck3tsci3ntist - sorry, kidding

(no subject)

from: r0ck3tsci3ntist
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 03:16 pm (UTC)
Link

Pardon me, but do you mind if I rape your icon?

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It's a Good Day

(no subject)

from: recumbentgoat
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 12:38 pm (UTC)
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guhhh!!! that was so damned enjoyable i didn't want it to end. lol

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Pogrebin

(no subject)

from: pogrebin
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC)
Link

Aww, thankyou! That's very much how I felt about the movie, and the glimpses of Spock/Uhura we got there. Give us moooore. :D

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SalR323

(no subject)

from: salr323
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC)
Link

Fantastic! I do so love it when I find something that's both fun and intelligent - beautiful, subtle writing and a wonderful take on both the characters.

I especially liked this: Nyota assumes that Spock accepted her invitation for the same reason he accepted the ones before her: a certain curiosity, a desire to assimilate, a logical decision to experience one of the facets of human culture.

Yes, yes, yes. Thankyou for not writing him as virginal! There's just no way that works for reboot!Spock, with all that brooding emotion under the surface.

Also,

I have to tell you though, guys, I'm not sure they realised, but the protagonist of the film was Spock right? It was the Spock show.

It certainly was! Talk about stealing the show. All those wonderful emotional beats... They got me hook, line, and sinker. :)

Thanks for posting, and I hope we'll see more fic from you soon!

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Pogrebin

(no subject)

from: pogrebin
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 06:07 pm (UTC)
Link

Oh, yes, this Spock certainly seems to have embraced his humanity a bit more. I think that's a valid way to go with his character, sure, but in my head it's more interesting if maybe before Nyota he regrded it all as a game, a ritual, with a kind of detached...not exactly disdain but a sort of 'oh, these silly humans'. And then with Nyota something clicks, and it completely throws him. Like, that's just how relationships are, you know, they slip from being totally predictable and controlled and within parameters to suddenly being not....

Hee, as I've said elsewhere in the comments-- everyone in the movie is totally about Spock. Except Old!Spock, but that's okay, cause it's still +1 Spock. Heh.

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trapped in ambyr

(no subject)

from: ambyr
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 02:24 pm (UTC)
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The best thing about Uhura/Spock (well, aside from the fact that it's Uhura/Spock, and inherently awesome) is how many of my favorite authors from old fandoms are getting into it. Authors whose stuff I have not read for years because of fandom divergence are back to writing stuff set in a fandom I can follow. It is like walking into a store and finding all the shelves stocked with brands I know and love.

All of which is to say, yay. This story rocks.

But there is not much Gaila. Can there be more Gaila, pretty please?

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Pogrebin

(no subject)

from: pogrebin
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
Link

Hahaha, Star Trek is sort of the uberfandom of fandoms. All roads lead back to it in the end, right?

Gaila rocks so hard. There needs to be more Gaila in general, but the blinding awesome of Uhura and her xenolinguistics and her best-and-brightest-of-Starfleet-you-bet-your-ass distracted me. Next time, perhaps!

I really do need a Gaila icon!

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La Fahyette

(no subject)

from: fahye
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 02:41 pm (UTC)
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YOU. HEY YOU. WHY DO YOU KEEP STICKING YOUR NOSE INTO MY FANDOMS AND HOW DO I GET YOU TO KEEP DOING IT?

You know I love languageporn best of all, and this is so deliciously metalinguistic. It's romantic and compelling and -- appropriately, I think -- one of the most deftly unadorned things that you've written. The lucidity and clarity of your prose suit the subject matter perfectly.

<3333

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Pogrebin

(no subject)

from: pogrebin
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 06:17 pm (UTC)
Link

HELLO HELLO. APPARENTLY I'VE TURNED INTO A FANDOM WHORE. I BLAME THE MEDIA, Y/N???

DAMN YOU JJ ABRAMS AND YOUR MAKING OF AN ACTUALLY GOOD FILM.

(It's only a matter of time before I end up giving in to my 14-yr-old fan and writing, like, Janeway/Seven or something. Oh GOD. Save us all.)

I'm so glad you like it, aaaa. I was all. The inside of my Uhura's mind is a blank and gleaming zen-place. But is it? (Also, I secretly want to believe that Spock's the emotional idiot over this, and Uhura's the sensible, practical one. For evidence I present to you: Spock assigning her to the Farragut, and Uhura having none of it. Er. Also also. I keep wanting to yell PON FARR whenever the two of them are on screen together. This isn't healthy, right?)

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r0ck3tsci3ntist - sorry, kidding

(no subject)

from: r0ck3tsci3ntist
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC)
Link

This was totally delightful, pretentious language and all. I hope you plan on continuing this but in any case, I'll happily read anything else you write. ^^

Lovely characterization btw.

ps - doesn't it feel strange to be into a canon pairing? I think this is my first ever (so far I'm totally loving it). o_O

eta - Also, I loved your layered approach to logic. Uhura's being slightly more naive than Spock's (since, of course, he grew up in a two thousand year culture of it - one would think it might be a bit more mature). One of the great fallacies of rhetorical logic, which many a theologian has discovered, is that it can be used to convincingly argue that something like a victorian radiator is, in fact, a bottle of catsup. In other words, yeah, rationalizing just about anything.

Anyway, really nice subtlety.

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Pogrebin

(no subject)

from: pogrebin
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 06:21 pm (UTC)
Link

Heh, thank you! I'm afraid there's no other Star Trek fic, but I have written in a random smattering of fandoms. :D

It *does* feel rather weird to be into canon. I guess my first taste of it was Jack/Ianto from Torchwood. Though let's be honest, writing McKay/Sheppard from Stargate: Atlantis is the canon-est non-canon that ever canon-ed. But Spock and Uhura are-- uh-- fascinating together. And not just because they're ridiculously good-looking together, oh no.

And yeah-- definitely. I think, Spock probably has already had to face up to this possibility, Uhura is just getting there now, in her own time.

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a princess of now

(no subject)

from: skywardprodigal
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 07:39 pm (UTC)
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This is worthy of a star. :D

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Pogrebin

(no subject)

from: pogrebin
date: Jun. 18th, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC)
Link

Eee, thankyou!

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peeps wanna see peeps boink

(no subject)

from: musesfool
date: Jun. 17th, 2009 08:21 pm (UTC)
Link

This is utterly brilliant.

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Pogrebin

(no subject)

from: pogrebin
date: Jun. 18th, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC)
Link

Thank you-- it's much appreciated coming from you!

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