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tower of light

April 2017

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nemu - pain

To Love and Not to Hold (Star Trek XI, Spock/Uhura)


Written for st_xi_kink request: A story where one of the characters is asexual, and they're trying to cope, because asexual/sexual relationships are hella complicated. Um, I tried, so there you go dear keevacaereni?

Oh and S/U OTP fans probably don't want to read this. Fair warning is fair warning. :P

Title: To Love and Not to Hold
Pairing: Spock/Uhura
Fandom: Star Trek XI
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine don't sue.
Word Count: 1004

To Love and Not to Hold
by Renata Lord


It took some time before Spock stopped being weird about getting touched in what he called "a non-professional manner", but eventually he did. He no longer automatically switched to "that look" on his face when she accidentally brushed against his feet under the table, or reached out for him in an unconscious gesture for reassurance.

But it was still too soon, as Uhura realized belatedly, for a real kiss. It didn't matter that the warm summer night was perfect and the breeze carried the sound of the sea, or that silvery moonlight shone from all the heavens. Spock wouldn't see how that this was supposed to be romantic anyway, as the planet Vulcan didn't have a moon.

She gathered the strength to pull away, because the moonlight from all the heavens fell into in his eyes and froze like ice.


"I am at a loss as to what would you regard as a 'normal' relationship," he confessed from the very beginning. "The probability is high that I cannot satisfy your emotional as well as physical needs. I do not wish to disappoint you."

And with a smile, she had said that she would be willing to try with him, had she not?

Yet at this moment Nyota Uhura almost envied the Vulcans, because she didn't know love would hurt like this.

It was her birthday. For the first time she didn't throw a birthday party with her friends, just so they could be alone together before he had to leave for a science conference on Delta II. It was a form of torture to ask a guy to spend two hours in a group of chatty girls, that part she understood.

The part she didn't understand was how Spock could extricate himself from her embrace, so gently but firmly, methodically.

She felt her control on emotions slipping away. She was on the verge of yelling Don't you love me? but then she saw the pain in those eyes, and somehow that hurt her even worse than her own.


They had discussed sex—which in itself was a minor miracle, because from what Nyota could gather, the Vulcans were the most sexually repressed race on this side of the Federation, bar none.

It was a brief discussion, and one that they would revisit a number times. In the end it always boiled down to the cold fact that the physical desire was simply not present in him and, although he was willing to please her, she could not bear the thought of engaging in unwanted sex. No matter how she tried, she was 100% human and could not part with her pride.

"I apologize, as I understand that what I offer is not enough."

She wanted to say that it was okay, that they'd work through this somehow, like they did with touching and hugging and almost-kissing.

Yet the words died in her throat, because in all of the fifty-eight languages she knew, there was not a single word for heartbreak like this.


Narada changed everything.

Spock was conspicuously absent at the victory party. All attempts to reach him failed, and Kirk eventually said they should respect the guy's wishes and leave him be. A part of her wanted to go find him, but another part said, for once forget about him, Nyota, and just be yourself.

She chose to stay and have a great time with her future colleagues. She traded some jokes with McCoy, entertained herself with Kirk's attempt at hip-hop dancing, helped Chekov convincing Sulu that tiramisu really came from Russia, and even hugged everyone goodbye at the end.

"Hey Uhura, say hi to Spock to us, will ya?" Kirk asked as he helped McCoy dumping a half-passed-out Scotty into the car. "Tell him we missed him, pointy ears and all."

"Forget it! I'm not the guy's answer machine!" she laughed it off.

But she did go to him after that and found him sitting before the window meditating as usual. He greeted her calmly, which in itself was infuriating enough.

"What do you require of me, Nyota?"

She sat down next to him, the effect of alcohol already receding. His body was so close to her own, yet she knew there was a chasm that always existed between them. Above all else, his refusal to close that distance was what troubled her the most. She had tried to understand, to accept; but neither of those was a substitute for happiness.

"I don't know. Can you want me like I want you?" she reached out and touched his face carefully, reading his features with her hand. He did not flinch and turn away, but he didn't lean into her caress, either. And there Nyota had her answer. Damn Vulcan honesty and all.


"Spock, do you know why moths are drawn to flames?"

"Earth's nocturnal insects in the order of Lepidoptera are drawn to light sources because they employ a technique of celestial navigation commonly known as transverse orientation," he looked at her directly, knowing so much yet comprehending so little. That part was endearing, too, even if it was the cause of her pain.

"That is correct, Commander. However, the answer I was looking for was something more along the lines of, 'because the moth loved the light and just had to try'," she grinned and turned her eyes to look at the busy road outside the window. "I know, completely illogical."

Spock was silent for a little while.

"Nyota, you are crying."

"Oh, am I?" she answered distantly. It didn't really matter much now. None of it did.

His arms came around her shoulders then, a chaste and hollow embrace. Startled, she remembered that he had never done that before—even when he had lost his mother and an entire planet, never had he reached out to her like this. The first and the last physical gesture, from this creature all wrapped up in logic. How ironic that she had to deny herself the comfort of this one embrace, just when she needed it the most.




Then again there are human earth men that may act the same.

Right. As I noted, this was specifically written for the asexuality prompt. It's a topic rather close to my heart. :)
Oh, this was beautiful. Heartbreaking, because I love Uhura rather a lot, and because it's hurting her so much, and it hurts Spock too not to be able to give her what she needs.

Thank you so much!
Oh hi. :)

Just so you know, I am aware of the K/S emphasis in your original prompt. Hopefully I will have something of the sort for you later.
Awww. *sniffles* Interesting look at how things might go for them. I especially like Uhura's repeated attempts to try and arrange herself with his needs or lack thereof and how she finally concedes "defeat". Thanks for sharing.
I think the problem, as described in this story anyway, was that you had two people who obviously cared for each other a great deal but ultimately could not change who they were. Eh, sometimes I'm such a pessimist. ^_~
Meh, so sad. Do they break up? Is this too much for her to deal with? At least she can have sex with him every seven years... But yeah.

Beautifully written.
My first comment to a STXI fic, here goes...

For a while now, I've been irrationally irritated whenever I saw Spock portrayed as (what I saw as) overly emotional or sensual(?) without pressing reason, and it wasn't until I read this fic that I realized this was exactly what I was looking for. I think it can be hard in this culture to really understand or portray asexuality, but what you've done here really resonates with me. I know I'm going to come back to this and reread it many times over.

With my limited knowledge of Chinese, I also fumbled through your author's note, and that just made me even sadder. It's not even like either of them has done anything wrong, it's not even like they don't love each other deeply, in whichever way they each know love, but maybe you're right that it is 一个错 for someone sexual and emotional to fall in love with someone who is not.

You show Uhura's pain clearly here, and I'm curious to know whether you believe that Spock is suffering as much in this piece (whether the asexual party suffers equally in an unmatched relationship). Given the preeminence of individuals with "normal" sexualities in our society and portrayed in our media, it's easy to see Uhura as hurt and Spock as unaffected? But it must be difficult for Spock to find himself inadequate (From the beginning: "The probability is high that I cannot satisfy your emotional as well as physical needs. I do not wish to disappoint you."), and if we can call what he feels for her love, then we should also grant him the ability to feel pain as well. I guess I am biased to be more harsh towards asexual characters (haha I speak like I've ever seen one in fiction before this), but I guess the question is, do you think Spock feels any worse here than he would, say, failing a test, and if no, do you think his pain any less than Uhura's?

/cutting this comment off before it gets any ramblier.
Hi! :)

First off let me say that I really, really appreciate your thoughtful comment. It means the world to a writer—to me, certainly—to receive something like this. :)

After I finished the story, it became apparent to me how the portrayal of Spock could lead to a misinterpretation of asexuality as I understand it. Spock here had two issues, and they were not related in a meaningful sense. One was that he was unable to express his emotion (verbally through “I love you”, or physically through a hug) thanks to Vulcan upbringing, and the other was that he literally had no physical desire for the touch of a real being (this could be attributed to Vulcan or not, that’s up to the reader).

To answer your first question, whether or not Spock suffered in this relationship, yes of course he did. He understood that Uhura was human, and as such had human needs. Because he deeply cared for her, the fact that he could not fulfill them hurt him—both because she was in pain, and because he was the cause of it. I hoped that as the story progressed in the little room it had, the readers would see that Spock had in fact changed for Uhura as well, in the sense that he no longer actively rejected her gestures. Of course from Uhura’s POV he rejected her all the same with his passiveness and lack of desire, but just as she made an effort, so did Spock. At the very end he reached out on his own to comfort her (although too little, too late), which was something that STXI Spock would never had done, IMO.

As for the second question, if his pain is lesser than Uhura’s…I think a comparison is not viable. Just as they each loved in their own way, so did they grieve in their own way. I think in TOS Spock once commented that each person lives in their own private hell, and I think that sentiment certainly applies here.

In summary, as you deciphered correctly from my AN, yes I do think it was a mistake for them to begin a relationship in this story, although the fault lied with no one. There are few things more tragic than having two people who care about each other, who try and try again for each others sake, and only to find out that the relationship can’t be made to work in the end.
*flail* I tend to complain about the lack of asexuality in fanfic (and, you know, in media in general), so I was excited just to see that this story existed. But I really loved in for the story itself, it's tragic in beautifully stark kind of way. I'm really glad that you wrote this ^_^
I'm really glad that you enjoyed it. ^_^ You are right, asexuality is really...not talked about in general media at all. I was really surprised to find out that was even a bona fide website for it (although when you think about it, there are websites for...just about everything).



Re: 如果我說謝謝妳砲灰她.......

You will have good company in any case.
*wideeyes* ASEXUAL TREK FIC FTW. NO matter how much I may have been looking for, well, precisely this fic, I never, ever expected to actually find it. Thank you so so much for addressing this. And yeah, reading through the comments I'm glad that you clarified the two parallel things going on with the Vulcan-ness and the ace-ness.
I was really excited when I saw the prompt this was based on--I don't think that asexuality is addressed in fandom as much as it should be. I mean, I like pornfic as much as the next person, but sometimes it seem like everyone's just about sexsexsex.

So I would've liked this fic regardless, but then you had to go and make it excellent, and I am just extremely pleased to have read it.

And now I'm in the mood to read more asexual!fics, and they probably don't exist. :(
I'm very happy that you enjoyed the story, even though it was rather torturous for me to write (and to read, probably, for some). :P

Regarding the lack of asexuality in fanfics, I think it's really just a part of asexuality being nonexistent in our public conversations in general. It can also be a very private topic and let's face it, not a particularly easy road to travel.
This is beautiful! I may be biased because I was completely thrown for a loop by Spock/Uhura in the film and can't see it working, but I love that you've taken something that's rarely talked about and that I've never seen dealt with in fic before, and handled it in a way that's respectful to both parties. They're both really obviously trying, but it's just not going to work.

(Kirk, I'm sure, would come up with a creative solution...if you felt like writing that one...)
I write both het and slash (although primarily slash) and have always been very respectful to the girls in my stories. So I approached this story with a fair amount of trepidation, as I was afraid that I would not be able to do the characters justice. I am glad that it worked for you.

(Kirk, I'm sure, would come up with a creative solution...if you felt like writing that one...)

There actually is an epic-length K/S sequel to this being written by an author far more talented than I. Unfortunately, she only writes in Chinese... We both kind of got egged when the Chinese readers found out that Spock is asexual though, hehe.
That's possibly the most realistic this pairing has ever been done ever, though I might be biased. Heartbreaking, but lovely too.
I, like a couple people here, didn't read the bit about creating an asexual story.

I'm not even sure it was needed to be said! I loved the fic without even knowing it! This is canon. To see Spock having emotion completely destroys what everyone knows him as.

I am new to the realm of ST fanfiction, I'm sure it's like any other; stretching or ignoring canon to create something that may please the mind (or body) even more. But to me...being able to write canon is the most beautiful thing of all. To follow the rules already written down and yet to create something that hasn't been written before, that's good fan fiction.

Spock is, basically, asexual. That's the nature he was created in. Do we need to see more of this in fandom? Yes.

All right, I'm rambling. Basically what I'm saying is that I applaud you for writing this amazing piece of canon. Did I even need to know it was an attempt on asexual fanfiction? You didn't need to tell me; I was into this story by the first paragraph.

Bravo. I almost cried toward the end.
Oh wow, this is beautiful in all its sadness.