uhura: fierce

Fic: The Needs of the Many (Uhura - gen)

Title: The Needs of the Many
Author: igrockspock
Characters/Pairings: Uhura - gen
Rating: PG
Warnings: None
Summary: Uhura's not going to Starfleet. She has something more important to do.
Author's Notes: Can be read as a one-shot or part of Child/Mother Sinner/Saint and Bitch

Nyota turns 18 in the emergency ward of Mombasa's best hospital. She sits in an uncomfortable gray plastic chair, stylus and PADD in her lap. Every five minutes, her eyes flick toward the door of the waiting room. She tries to steel herself for the worst and hates herself for what she pictures instead: her mother stepping through the door instead of a doctor, smiling radiantly, telling her that it's all been a mistake. That she's okay.

God, Nyota, grow up she tells herself. Then she bends her head to her PADD again, stylus in hand. The homework has to get done, and she's been doing this long enough to know she has to take advantage of every moment of unexpected quiet that crosses her path. The familiar litany runs through her head: no grades, no scholarship; no scholarship, no college; no college, you stay at home forever.

When the doctor materializes 3 hours later to deliver more bad news, she deletes the Starfleet application from her PADD and cries for precisely five minutes. That's her rule: cry for five minutes, spend the next fifteen doing something about it. Then, she downloads the application requirements for the University of United Africa's linguistics program. She'll get in easily, and she'll be close enough to beam home at night.

At school the next day, she feels her face harden into a mask when she tells her teachers to redirect their letters of recommendation. She walks out the door before they have a chance to argue with her, for once not caring how rude she is.

Her life is carefully scheduled now. Out of school at 3:30, no lingering with friends at the shuttle stop. Sit with mom from 3:45 until Dad gets home at 6, cook dinner for the boys while listening to audio tapes of textbooks. She uses her allowance money for a better dictation program so she can do her homework while her hands are busy folding laundry or cleaning the kitchen. Getting to bed before midnight is an achievement, and staying awake at school an unheard-of triumph.

Her dad's paying attention now, thanking her every night for everything she's done. When her brothers come to her with their scrapes and bruises and homework problems, they thank her too. On Sundays, she feels a grim satisfaction when her aunts and grandmothers and cousins praise her clean house and superior grades; at night, she pushes all her own feelings to a small corner of her mind and reminds herself what the Vulcan say about the needs of the many.

Pasting a fake smile onto her face becomes second nature. Now that admissions decisions are coming in, she feels like that plastic grin never leaves her face. Every day, she is forced to congratulate students with a tenth of her talent on their admission to elite off-world universities. They ask her why she is staying here and she mutters something about researching her linguistic heritage before retreating to the bathroom to cry. She still limits her tears to 5 minutes, but now she does not spend the next 15 doing something about it. There's nothing to do.

On Friday, the principal calls all the new Starfleet cadets from her school to the main office for a picture.

"Why aren't you going, Miss Uhura?" her teacher asks, and she doesn't have the heart to say she didn't apply. Instead, she stands on the edge of the picture, fake smiling.

People congratulate her in the halls and at the shuttle stop, and she wanders home numb. When she walks in the front door, her whole family leaps out from behind the furniture, shouting "SURPRISE!" Starship holograms zoom around the room, and star-shaped balloons are tethered to the chairs.

Her mother rises gingerly from the couch, leaning hard on her father. Both of them shuffle toward her, pressing a sleek black PADD into her hands. With shaking hands, she takes it. Offer of admission to Starfleet Academy flashes on the screen.

"I didn't...I didn't apply," she whispers.

"I know," her father says. "We did."

"It's okay, Nyota," her mother adds. "Go. Be free."
This trilogy you created is so incredible. I love seeing Uhura just being. You've really made her background come to life for me. And in this chapter especially. I definitely teared up at the end.
oh Uhura!! she is so giving--i'm glad her family did the right thing in the end for her.
you know ...
I read through this, liking it, not sure what was happening with it, and wondering honestly if it wasn't a little too 20th century. It all went away at the last line and I'm so glad the door to my office is closed because I am brushing tears away right now. It's personal to me, almost too personal, and screw anything else. It's a perfect ending and gives a perfect backstory to why she would fit so well with Spock.

Edited at 2009-06-01 02:43 pm (UTC)
Re: you know ...
I'm glad you could see how this might lead her to a relationship with Spock. I wanted to show her in her own right, but I also thought hard about experiences and characteristics that would lead to her fitting so well with him.
YOu made me cry, darn you! This was really good. (And I'm glad to read a Uhura fic that is about something besides her and Spock!)
I'm glad it was affecting enough to bring out tears! And yeah, as much as I love the Spock/Uhura dynamic, I wanted to see her outside a relationship.
Beautiful. It's so intense to see Uhura's drive and ambition almost channelled into something else, like that. The ending made me cry a little. What a relief but also very sad. Thanks for sharing!
I just read your whole trilogy, and I love the background you've given Uhura. It's wonderful to see all the depth you added to her character. And this last one was particularly touching, with her family finally recognizing her desire for freedom.

Lovely work.
This is just gorgeous. I love the glimpse of her family you've offered. And it's nice to finally see some Uhura genfic.
Thanks! I thought really hard about how to give her background some depth without making it too angsty, and I'm glad this worked.