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: [ 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.
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March 2011

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