strangeallure: (st xi: spock/uhura)
[personal profile] strangeallure
Title: Degrees of Freedom
Fandom: Star Trek XI
Pairing: Spock/Uhura
Rating: R
Summary: She’s seen enough double agents, has seen enough terrorists convinced of their causes; she knows there is nothing in his talk she should trust.
Word Count: ~1,500
Warnings: morally ambiguous!Uhura, I mangled the Mirrorverse to serve my evil purposes

Written for [profile] meiou_set, who’s an amazing enabler and whose wish for morally ambiguous!Uhura in the Mirrorverse could no longer go unfulfilled.

Feedback is greatly appreciated.

Degrees of Freedom

She knows how the world works, that it’s dog-eat-dog all the way, all the time. She’s too clever to be eaten, too bold and too careful. She doesn’t let her guard down, around nobody. People can’t place her, can’t pin her down, and that’s the way she wants it. That’s what makes her so good at her job.

Because that way, no-one’s ever sure she’s not on their side. And, if you play you cards right, you can use that uncertainty to your advantage. She always plays her cards right.

--

She’s being transferred to the same unit as him, purely on a whim of the all-powerful bureaucracy of the Terran Empire. Of course that’s the only reason.

She doesn’t talk to him at first, but she takes the same transport shuttle as him most mornings and some nights, always careful to sit a few seats away. She takes her break a little after he does and finds out his little routines over the first few weeks.

The Vulcan mind-cleansing ritual he goes through every morning. The ten o’clock snack he has at his lab. The little afternoon walk he takes every day, seemingly aimless, but somehow always leading him to a secluded part of the park surrounding the headquarters. And, on pure chance – of course on pure chance –, more often than not, there’s some quick exchange, some idle chat, between him and whoever happened to be there.

She doesn’t fail to notice that most people who happened to be there are on the watch list for rebellious and insubordinate behavior against the Terran Empire. Not that it comes as a surprise to her.

Neither does the fact that both he and her are forced to stay late by the same illogical, annoying High Command order one night. It’s simply coincidence, of course, when both of them miss the last transport shuttle before curfew and have to use the one overnight stay room in the building together.

Just like, when they talk a little before they turn out the lights, it’s a coincidence that she happens to be just the right mixture of stand-offish towards him, observant about the High Command and passionate about science that gets to him. Gets to him so much that he asks her to join him for lunch the next day.

She declines, of course she does. She knows he’ll ask again in time.

--

The courtship is long and difficult – one step ahead, two steps back – mainly, because she always puts her work first, because she’s a little skittish and a lot closed-off, because she seems disinterested in talking about anything else than science for the longest time.

They used to criticize her for her slow methods. They used to think someone else could deliver faster. They learned the hard way with Romulus. Now no-one criticizes her anymore.

So when she makes the first off-hand remark about a non-Empirical scientist, she can see – even in that face that always seems to be schooled into a neutral expression – that it makes him crack that one little bit. That he sees it as the first sign of trust he’s supposed to see it as.

She doesn’t follow up on it for quite a while, but when she sees how he keeps providing her with openings – very subtly, of course, because he’s cautious and clever, she’s come to respect that about him – she starts to not blatantly ignore each and every one.

It’s a slow dance of reciprocation: as their relationship progresses, the level of openness progresses.

The evening she tells him that Trill research on the mind-body-relationship is not completely unfounded, he kisses her for the first time. When she admits to having read Klingon research on sound psychology, his hands leave her waist for the first time during a kiss. And when she admits to having been in contact with a Ferengi scientist in spite of black-out procedures, he fingers her until she comes.

He opens up to her, too. At first, it’s just general complaints, points similar to hers; but as she listens quietly, careful to keep her posture inviting and her eyes unjudging, but never pushing, never active – never making the other agent’s mistakes – he tells her more. Eventually tells her about the underground network, about the movement for change, how they want to go a non-violent path and save the Terran Empire. She’s seen enough double agents, has seen enough terrorists convinced of their causes; she knows there is nothing in his talk she should trust.

Yet, she’s keeping the information out of her reports. She has learned to trust no-one, especially not her superiors. She will divulge the information when she knows the time is right, when it will be most useful for the Empire – and not just for a high-ranking officer in need of a quick success.

She finds herself looking forward to their dates and lunches and the nights he stays over. She finds herself following his paths of reason as he explains how he became a traitor precisely because he loved and believed in the Terran Empire so much. She finds her fingers combing through the hair at the back of his neck as they sit on a bench and talk about nothing.

With embarrassment, she notices how she’s pointing out errors in his logic, pointing out the dangers, and how only the stability the High Command provides can truly allow their races to prosper.

It’s not part of her mission to dissuade her targets, she’s aware of that.

But she can’t help thinking that to lose a man of his intellect, of his capacity to think and analyze and connect, would mean a great loss for the Empire. Can’t help thinking that the reasons he provides are selfless and about the greater good. Can’t help thinking that she believes in him, even if she doesn’t believe he’s right.

He argues and debates with her, genuinely concerned about what she is saying, but never wavering. Telling her that she should not be afraid for him, that he knows she is worried about him, but that he is too cautious, too circumspect to be caught.

“Nyota, believe me. Nothing will break us apart.”

--

When he tells her about the plan, she knows that this is it. She starts to assemble the file: gains access to the list of his contacts, to every scrap of information in his possession, copies everything meticulously with new, classified technology that will be undetectable, untraceable, even for him.

She has everything ready for transmission, one file with everything she knows – everything he knows –, and she should simply send it off.

Instead, she invites him over for the night before he wants to leave, and waits.

--

She’s weak enough to try and dissuade him one last time over dinner. But then again, she knew before that it would be no use, so it doesn’t really count.

“It is going to work, Nyota,” he tells her earnestly. “I will come back.”

He leans down to kiss her, just when there’s a weird, constricted feeling settling in her chest. “I love you.”

She excuses herself for a moment, then sets up the transmission with a 30 minute delay.

--

He’s on top of her, his body sliding against hers, his teeth pressed against her throat, his fingers pinching her nipples, hard. Both sweaty, both panting.

It’s as good as she knew it would be. He’s not holding back, driving into her almost brutally, not willing to let go, to let it end, thrusting deeper and harder. Never enough.

She knows he’s afraid. Afraid the plan won’t work. Afraid he won’t come back. Afraid he won’t see her again.

He doesn’t know all his fears will come true.

She arches up into him, pulls his mouth to hers, bites at his lips, at his tongue, until she can taste a hint of blood, a taste of him. Until she can swallow what she’s already given away.

Her hips push up frantically, her fingernails dig into his skin, marks to tell him what she can’t say. Marks that will change their meaning within the hour.

The incoherent growls that force their way from his throat, dark and primal, tell her he’s close. Tell her he’s as close as she is. Not close enough.

She clenches around him – consciously, hard, as hard as she can – and bites into his neck. Another mark, another token.

His muscles lock beneath her arms, beneath her legs, wrapped tight around him. He shouts and comes, deep within her, so deep. His mark, his token.

--

He’s laying there, in the crook of her arm, his eyes closed, his breath even. Her fingers playing with the damp hairs at the nape of his neck. Faintly, she hears the transmission complete sound in the other room.

“I love you,” she says. It’s just a last ploy, of course it is. Something to soothe him, make sure he stays until the agents come to get him.

After all, she knows how the world works, that it’s dog-eat-dog all the way, all the time.

She always plays her cards right.


A/N: [livejournal.com profile] meiou_set also came up with the title. In case you're wondering, here's the fruits of her research:

Degrees of freedom is a general term used in explaining dependence on parameters, and implying the possibility of counting the number of those parameters.

In statistics, the number of degrees of freedom is the number of values in the final calculation of a statistic that are free to vary.

In mechanics, degrees of freedom (DOF) are the set of independent displacements and/or rotations that specify completely the displaced or deformed position and orientation of the body or system.

Date: 2009-10-04 11:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] new-hillbilly.livejournal.com
OMG!!! I LOVED THIS!!! I was gonna say that Mirror Spock is kind of gullible, but... no. Mirror Nyota is just that good.

Date: 2009-10-05 09:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
Thank you. I'm glad it came through that it's not so much him being careless - she's just that good :)

Date: 2009-10-04 11:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] recumbentgoat.livejournal.com
daaaaaaaaaamn. wow. that was fantastic! lol well written. thank you.

Date: 2009-10-05 09:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
Thank you. Glad you liked.

Date: 2009-10-04 11:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] numara.livejournal.com
this was so good. i think this might be my favorite mirror!verse fic yet.

Date: 2009-10-05 09:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
Thank you so much ♥

Date: 2009-10-04 11:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] possibly-thrice.livejournal.com
Oh. Oh god.

Oh god I love this Mirror!Spock/Uhura.

Because you don't think of Spock as the unwaveringly stupid and noble one but on a certain level he is, adsflkjasdf.

Date: 2009-10-05 09:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
Yeah, I kinda love them, too ;) Thanks for your comment.

Date: 2009-10-05 12:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] drusillas-rain.livejournal.com
Oh, wow - so chilling and sad for her... (and him!)

Date: 2009-10-05 09:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
Thank you. I'm glad you're sad for her, too.

Date: 2009-10-05 01:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cleojones.livejournal.com
damn. damn. damn.
loved this. :)

Date: 2009-10-05 09:37 am (UTC)

Date: 2009-10-05 02:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fictionalknight.livejournal.com
ooooooo!! I love what you did with this, and I simply adore the fact that it's set in the mirrorverse because...oh, I have so much love for that universe! <3 Wonderful work!!

Date: 2009-10-05 09:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
Thanks so much ♥

Date: 2009-10-05 02:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gmonkey42.livejournal.com
Wowwww. Love it!

Date: 2009-10-05 09:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
Thank you.

And btw, I added an A/N about the title - just forgot to include it, at first :)

Date: 2009-10-05 03:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] riiya.livejournal.com
damn...that is WOW... but i refuse to believe that this is the last time their gonna see each other... Spock is Spock.. he'll escape & they'll meet again

Date: 2009-10-05 09:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
Glad you liked it. Thanks.

Date: 2009-10-05 03:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jasoncourtney.livejournal.com
wow. just...wow!

Date: 2009-10-05 09:39 am (UTC)

Date: 2009-10-05 03:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sesh-khem.livejournal.com
Totally gripping! Want more :-D

Date: 2009-10-05 09:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
Glad you enjoyed. Thanks.

Date: 2009-10-05 05:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] meiou-set.livejournal.com
You are so awesome. I love, love, love this fic as you know. Clearly, I'm not alone ;)

Date: 2009-10-05 09:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
I am so, so happy that you like it.

Oh, and I added an A/N about the title, just so you know :)

Date: 2009-10-05 09:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carrie9501.livejournal.com
JEEZZZZ! You don't play when you write a story do you? This was so well written. Lust,love and betrayal, just what I enjoy in a Mirror story, LOL. Seriously though,kudos to you. I was riveted to the story and this is easily one of my favorite Mirror stories.

Date: 2009-10-05 09:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
Thank you so much.

I'm glad all that came through for you.

Date: 2009-10-05 05:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] illariy.livejournal.com
Wow, amazing universe and S/U interaction. No wonder that nobody questions Uhura's methods anymore. For a few paragraphs, I really thought she was going to let him walk free but no. The ending is very chilling but absolutely fitting. Yet, it still makes me wonder how a later meeting between them would play out. If there's any possibility of it after his detention, that is. Or if he'd just kill himself instantly... anyway, I'm sure he was 100% taken in by her and it would be fun to see his reaction. ;-)

Thank you so much for sharing this! :D It's definitely going on my list of fic to re-read.

Date: 2009-10-06 04:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
I'm really happy you enjoyed this. I was hoping to create suspension over whether she might not let him walk free, after all, so I'm very glad that worked for you.

Thanks so much for your lovely comment.

Date: 2009-10-08 03:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mariole.livejournal.com
Ack!!! Wow, she went through with it. *is amazed*

> Telling her that she should not be afraid for him, that he knows she is worried about him, but that he is too cautious, too circumspect to be caught.

You really got me from this line on. Brava!

Date: 2009-10-09 12:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
I'm glad the surprise worked for you :) Thanks a lot.

Date: 2009-10-12 02:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rubynye.livejournal.com
Within this whole elegant, gorgeous story, as sleek and polished as its protagonist, I really love this:

But she can’t help thinking that to lose a man of his genius, of his capacity to think and reason and connect, would mean an enormous loss for the Empire. Can’t help thinking that the reasons he provides are selfless and about the greater good. Can’t help thinking that she believes in him, even if she doesn’t believe he’s right.

It's like aa pivot, the whole story turning on it, as we try to see id it'll spin 180 degrees or 360.

Date: 2009-10-14 11:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
Thanks so much for your comment.

I'm glad that paragraph worked to keep you guessing how she would decide in the end. It was important for me to keep a balance, show how she's drawn in in spite of herself, how she can't help seeing him as more than just a mission target.

Date: 2009-10-28 08:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spikeface.livejournal.com
I just found this fic while jumping around LJ and loved it. I kept waiting for Uhura to be won over -- that's how the story is supposed to go, isn't it? -- and then she wasn't and it was fabulous. Spock was painted so perfectly through her eyes. You've gotta love just how much of a scary badass Uhura is, and pity the loneliness underneath.

Also! You should definitely post this to [livejournal.com profile] issenterprise, if you have the time and inclination. Spock/Uhura always needs more love over there and the mood of this fic would fit right in. :-)

Date: 2009-10-29 08:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
I'm so happy the fic worked for you, that it kept you hoping for a different ending - and especially that you liked Uhura and sensed the loneliness beneath her exterior and self-deception.

Also, thanks for the link to the comm - I didn't even know there was one dedicated exclusively to the mirror verse. I think I'll take your advice and post over there.

Date: 2009-10-30 07:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] graceandfire.livejournal.com
*whimper* Wow, Uhura is awesome and dangerous and somewhere deep, deep, deep down I'd like to think is regretting this. Poor Spock!

Date: 2009-11-02 05:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
Thanks so much for your comment - and yeah, I'm sure a part of her does regret this, but sacrifices have to be made.

SPOCK/UHURA AWARDS: YOU'RE NOMINATED!

Date: 2009-12-05 03:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] herm-weasley.livejournal.com
Hi! You've been nominated at the Spock/Uhura Awards (http://community.livejournal.com/spock_uhura/559156.html) over at [livejournal.com profile] spock_uhura! Come check out the nominees list (http://community.livejournal.com/spock_uhura/559156.html) and see if you have to choose between two of your works to compete! ;) CONGRATULATIONS!

Re: SPOCK/UHURA AWARDS: YOU'RE NOMINATED!

Date: 2009-12-05 03:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
Oh, this really made my day.

Thanks so much for letting me know!

Date: 2010-10-21 02:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stupendousgrl.livejournal.com
this fic was absolutely powerful and amazing. i keep thinking uhura is going to be won over to the cause, but not! in the end she actually goes through betraying spock - harsh, man ;-p

no, seriously, it was a wonderful read. great job!

Date: 2010-10-21 07:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
It's always great to get a comment on an older story. Thanks so much for letting me know you liked it!

Date: 2010-11-18 09:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theworldsforgot.livejournal.com
Wow, this is amazing. Although I'd like to think Spock manages to escape somehow and exacts revenge.

Date: 2010-11-18 09:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangeallure.livejournal.com
Thanks so much!

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