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among the stars

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This is how it starts: Scotty and Uhura sitting across from each other in the lounge, both of their universal translators off, speaking intently about Scots and Scottish Gaelic. Uhura asks him to teach her; he promises to do so if she will teach him Swahili. They shake on it. It ends with them smiling at each other in fond satisfaction.

Or, no. This is how it starts: Uhura throws a punch at an alien that knocks him out cold, and then Scotty tackles his friend. She helps him up, and they stand back-to-back, defending each other. It ends with them in jail, smiling wildly, and Bones bailing them out, grumbling the whole time.

Or maybe it starts even earlier. Maybe it starts with them sitting across from each other at breakfast, Uhura with a newly discovered language publication in her hand and Scotty with a new engineering journal in his, speaking intently to the other about their respective topics, sharing their excitement with the other. It ends with both of them late for their respective shifts, and neither of them feeling bad about it.

Or perhaps it starts in engineering, after an attack. Scotty is desperately trying to close off a loose panel that is leaking radiation, when a pair of slim dark hands come in and help him hold it in place until he can get the edges sealed shut. He turns and sees that it is Uhura, in her off duty civies, standing there. She explains that she was off shift, and asks him how she can help. It ends with both of them sitting against the wall, too tired to move, propping each other up.

Or it might have started on one of their rare shore leaves. They’re walking through an alien marketplace, Scotty looking for some interesting tools that he’s been told this civilization uses, Uhura listening to the conversations around her with the universal translator off. They spend the whole day together, enjoying the other’s company and hardly talking. It ends back on the ship, parting ways with a smile and a sense of something very good about to happen.

Or maybe it starts when Scotty shyly asks Uhura to call him Monty. They’re sitting together in her quarters, sharing some of their favorite music with each other. It ends with with her agreeing only if he, in turn, will call her Nyota.

Or possibly it starts when they decide to show each other their homes through the holodeck. The beauty of Scotland and the United States of Africa, distilled into small moments in time that each of them remember. A cliff, a desert, a forest, a sea. The view of the stars. It ends with them holding hands, sitting on a beach, and listening to the waves.

Or, or, or. It starts with a thousand small moments building on top of each other, all leading to the real end: a life, built together, among the stars.