The first (only) time that Uhura calls Gaila a slut, Gaila lets her live for four reasons:
1) she's all of eighteen, and so, by definition, functionally retarded;
2) until now, she hasn't been all that offensive--for a human;
3) she's drunk enough to bed the entire 'fleet and not remember it in the morning;
4) Gaila's worked too fucking hard to get into Starfleet to get kicked out for some kid who doesn't know how to keep her mouth shut.
In recompense, Gaila sucker punches Uhura and leaves her to find her way home. (She doesn't, but some nice kid in a uniform drops her off the next afternoon, so all's well that end's well.)
Gaila hasn't seen Uhura in nearly a week when she comes in with gifts of donuts, the kind Gaila fell in love with her very first day on earth, with creamy centers and a slight dusting of sugar over the surface. Gaila takes one and admits, "I kinda thought you'd asked for a transfer."
"I can't believe you didn't," Uhura says, and looks straight at Gaila, which, yeah, earns her some points.
Gaila bites into the donut just far enough to be able to scoop out the mound of cream with her tongue. "I've been called worse."
Uhura flinches at that. "That is about the furthest thing from an excuse for my behavior I've ever heard."
Gaila doesn't exactly disagree, but it does beg the question, "Then why say it?"
Uhura tilts her head. "What? You've never said shit about other people to make yourself feel better?"
Off the top of her head, Gaila can't remember doing so, but she's often been too busy just getting by to worry all that much about her self-esteem. Just recently, on earth, has she even figured out that such a thing might be important. Flatly, she says, "You called me a slut to make yourself feel better."
Uhura's body language tightens ever so slightly, and Gaila senses she might have struck a chord she wasn't meaning to. After a long moment, Uhura says, "You don't have any idea what it's like to be your roommate. Guys try and get close to me constantly just to get to you. The first couple of times I didn't see it, but I've started--"
"Holy shit." Gaila blinks.
"Look, maybe for you it's not a big thing, you don't seem to be all that into having friends--"
"Seriously, shut up before I have to punch you again."
Uhura shuts up. Gaila licks at the last of the cream and says, "Make you a deal: I'll teach you how to make every boy in a room with the right equipment and orientation pant for you if you'll be my actual fucking friend."
It's Uhura's turn to blink. Gaila tells her, "You know shit about me."
Uhura nods. "Yeah. Okay. Deal."
Making Uhura the Galaxy's Hottest Broad is pretty much the easiest thing Gaila's ever done. A pinch of Flirting 101, an intro course in How to Use Your Hips Like Weapons, and a goodly dose of Loosen the Fuck Up and they're good to go.
Uhura, as it turns out, is a damn good friend as well, but Gaila only finds that out the night she gets pathetically drunk and ends up in their bathroom, vomit in her hair and her shoes having long disappeared somewhere, never to be recovered. Uhura says, "Christ," and maneuvers Gaila into the shower, makes her coffee and cleans up the worst of the cuts on her feet. They don't keep dermal regenerators just lying around.
When Gaila has had two cups of coffee, four of water and passed out for an indeterminate amount of time, she wakes up to painkillers and more water by her bedside. Uhura's at her desk, studying, but she turns around when Gaila manages to make it to a sitting position and whispers, "Hey."
Gaila makes a motion of "hello" or maybe "what the hell time is it?" or "why the fuck am I awake?" or maybe all of the above. She couldn't say, really.
Gaila swallows the pills and then makes herself stand, ignoring the pain in her head and the way her stomach still wants no part of her. She forces herself to the window, where there's light peaking through the curtains. It's a new day, and Gaila doesn't care what other people think of her, she doesn't. It's all meaningless.
She doesn't hear Uhura come up next to her, and that's discomfiting; she's usually paying more attention than that.
Still speaking quietly, Uhura says, "The thing about friends is, they tell each other when shit's bothering them. That way the other friend can help."
Gaila doesn't want to talk to this girl who thinks it's always glamorous to have guys look, who's never not had the choice of saying "no," who isn't merely exotic and fun and a plaything for almost everyone she meets. Then Uhura says, "I can't be your friend if you won't be mine. It doesn't work like that."
Gaila doesn't know what it is to have a friend, isn't even sure it's safe to have one--her experiences with emotion suggest otherwise--but she finds herself saying, "Just spent a little too much time with one of the guys in engineering, y'know?"
Uhura shakes her head. "No. What--"
"I'm just not the kind of girl a guy dates. According to him, anyway. And D'q'th in astrophysics, and Ahib in leadership and--"
"Evidently a bunch of assholes who haven't got a clue how lucky they are."
Gaila's jaw clenches, the anger in her deeper than she realized. "They like me well enough until it starts to be something, is the thing. Because it's so fucking liberated of them not to have a problem with a girl who was sold from bed to bed, so fucking mature of them not to care just how I got so good at everything they like in bed, but the second I start to suggest that it could be more, that hey, I'm smart and funny and we have a good time when we're not fucking, too, they get all panicked, like I threatened to broadcast their preferences to the Federation High Council. And then, then, they think they have to explain, like I'm too stupid to comprehend the fucking antiquated cultural morays of the Federation planets at large."
Uhura tucks one of Gaila's curls back, and pulls her in closer. Gaila hates to admit it, but the body heat, the press of sensation with no expectations behind it is pretty amazing, and kind of exactly what she needs at the moment. She huffs, "What, no wisdom?"
Uhura has a small laugh of her own in response. "You're right. What, exactly, would you want me to say?"
Gaila thinks about it for a moment and admits, "This is good."
Uhura tightens her grip.