It's nothing new.
Jamie has heard the same old things repeated since well before she was old enough to even remotely warrant any of it.
A girl is pretty, all round cheeks and wide eyes, until the gazes which falls upon her lingers for too long. Then she is pretty. Reduced to her bits and pieces. Jamie learned that the hard way.
Suddenly, she had to cover up despite the summer heat. Frank got distracted, got angry at her, for being too precocious, too brazen, too immodest. A grown man, who had no business looking at her budding chest, denying his culpability and laying the blame at her feet when she was too young to put up any sort of defence. And because his weakness, because his perversion , she was shipped off to Tarsus IV, for her own good. To get some manners, some modesty, some education.
What she learned, was that the body is nothing more or less than a commodity; something people can desire, something to trade, when your choices are limited to live or let die. Manners, modesty, are quick to fall apart when food and sense of security become scarce.
She survived. There are scars, visible and hidden, and she hurts herself as she tries to go on in a world she no longer feels connected to. She drinks. She has nameless, mindless, boring sex.
She lives up to the person people said she would be, judging her face and body, as if that's all there is to Jamie Kirk.
Slut. Bitch. Stupid.
A mantra she surrounds herself with until she can own it, flaunt it. Yes she's a bitch. She’ll cut you down, she’ll fuck you then leave you and do the same to your friend. Slut, why the fuck not? Sex is just sex, whatever the quantity, whatever the quality. It's sex.
Stupid? Maybe. She's made a lot of bad choices. No doubt, she will continue to do so.
Starfleet Academy doesn't change her.
Or, rather, Starfleet Academy isn't any different from anywhere else.
People look at her, and they assume. She lets them. Nevermind that she's on a fast track to graduate early, and spends most of her time in the library. Somehow, she's fucked half the campus anyway, and most of her professors. It leaves people in awe, or disgust, but rarely indifferent. She plays upon it, because she's been underestimated for as long as she can remember, and it has been her strongest weapon yet.
Then Nero happens, and suddenly she's Captain of her own crew.
She's the youngest Captain in Starfleet History, nevermind the fact that she's a woman. It's a staggering responsibility, and a careful act of balance on the edge of a very sharp knife. She finds, for the first time since she was a little girl, that her reputation matters.
It's a daunting realization. Reputations are either deserved or undeserved, exaggerated or understated. They can be good, they can be bad, and used to further or to hinder. They can be altered, but people's minds are easily made up and much harder to change.
Jamie starts off big, of course. She's a Kirk.
Saviour of Earth, for a start. It outshadows her more unsavory titles for long enough that she manages to actually gain the respect of her crew and settle in as a Captain. Even her supposedly logical, but unsurprisingly judgemental, First Officer stops regarding her like a failed social experiment. Jamie suspects Nyota had a hand in it, who after the abysmal first impression Jamie left her with, became a valued ally against a common enemy in the Academy (prejudices, Jamie would readily attest to, will always exists no matter what the Federation boasts).
So, all in all, Jamie finds herself doing quite well. It's almost enough to lull her into a sense of false security, and she's thoroughly enjoying herself.
Then there's that stupid fucking vulcano, and just like that everything is snatched away. She's worked so hard, and Pike’s words cut her to the bone. Of course she's not ready, look at her! The Federation's pinup girl, a glorified bimbo having the gall to sit in a Man’s chair. She barely keeps it together, gritting her teeth through it, yet it all still goes to hell.
Khan. Just when it can't possibly get any worse. Pike dead, Admiral Marcus's betrayal, her beautiful ship crashing.
Of course that's when she dies.
Thank the stars for Bones, and tribbles, and regenerating super-blood.
One would think, after all that, the world would have moved on.
The thing is, Jamie reflects, once you're stuck out there in the deep black - with each day bleeding into another, and you can't seem to find yourself or your place in this vast, everlasting universe - you’ll inevitably lose perspective.
For Jamie, it's contemplating the position at Yorktown and doubting her path as a Captain. It's listening to that treacherous voice in the back of her head, the one that takes her many colorful reputations and wraps them around her, like playing dress-up in ill-fitting clothes someone else pushed upon her. It's nearly losing that one thing, that one place, with these people she has come to rely on. Her ship destroyed, her crew diminished.
She'll never feel thankful towards Krall, or the person he once was. She will, however, express her gratitude towards her people. In tragedy, in a hopeless situation, they pulled together and they won. They showed her, proved to her once and for all, that there is immense strength in unity, in compassion and bravery and friendship.
To leave them, to leave the stars and what they have to offer, suddenly seems the wish of a fool.
It takes months for the construction of the new Enterprise-A to finish. In the meantime, her crew is granted leave and other, temporary or permanent, assignments to fill the time. It comes as a surprise to no one but Jamie, apparently, when none of her surviving crew requests a transfer from out of her command. Spock had apparently once again been contemplating resigning his commission to return to New Vulcan, yet somehow changing his mind before Jamie got a chance to do so herself. It's hypocritical of her, but she finds herself furious at the thought of Spock contemplating to leave without telling her. But she refuses to wonder why that is, because that's a whole other mess she's not ready to deal with.
Instead, she attends the birthday party Bones helps throw her behind her back, and takes a moment to appreciate where they are and the things they've overcome to get here. The things she's overcome, and the obstacles still ahead.
Sometimes, she thinks, she will never be enough. No matter how many she saves, there are still lives she loses. It's easy to look at her decisions, at the things she has to do, the orders she has to make, from the safe distance of Starfleet Command and condemn her.
She's hot headed, reckless, young (promiscuous, insubordinate, difficult to control ). But they can't afford to keep her on too short a leash, and she's very well aware of the tightrope she's walking on. Stuck in Yorktown, without the freedom of the infinite universe, she's all too aware.
In-between catching their breaths - healing, taking time to grieve, to reconnect - Jamie falls into a routine.
She gets up early, meets Bones for breakfast. Mostly other members of the command crew manages to join, when their schedules permit. Nyota leaves for a two-month commission with Starfleet Diplomatic Corps for her superior language and xeno-cultural expertise, and Scotty is happily assigned to the ongoing construction of the USS Enterprise-A. Bones has stayed to work with the Yorktown hospital, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Joanna and the complicated woman that is his ex-wife. It works.
Jamie, herself, isn't idle either. A lot of her work goes into helping to restore the starbase. She organizes logistics and oversees repairs, runs interference between the brass and the many volunteers that start showing up after the news coverage of the incident has spread throughout the Federation. It's an organized mess, the type which she thrives on, but drives her First Officer mad.
He expresses his frustration with his eyebrows and intense eyes, the firm line of his lips, the strained tone of his voice. She offered him free reign in choosing his posting, a fact she reminds him of often. She's hardly to blame that he chose to shadow her and thus ended up sharing her sporadic schedule.
“At least it never gets boring, or monotonous,” she happily points out during lunch one Wednesday. “We get to do a little administrative work, a little hands-on, even a little diplomacy!”
Spock exhales sharply through his nose, barely a huff, but it's a clear Spockian sigh.
“It is illogical to split one's attention between this many projects, Captain. Studies have shown it has a negative effect on a Human’s stress-levels and thus their performance,” he says as he cuts his weird purple vegetables into neat, perfect cubes. It's nothing Jamie hasn't heard before, as both Bones and Spock have repeatedly tried to make her lessen the amount of work she’s been taking on. It hasn't worked.
“Yeah, well, is that the case with me? Has my work suffered?” she wonders, genuinely this time. She's willing to spread herself thin to help, but if she ends up doing more damage than good, she needs to know. Spock is a very reliable source for reality-checks.
Spock furrows his brow. “No, it has not. You remain an outlier when logic dictates another outcome. It does not surprise me that you thrive rather than wither under the pressure and expectations of the many commitments you have made here.”
It makes her smile. He’s clearly ticked off that his original argument has been shot down by his own words, but his fundamental understanding of her and what she is, sets off a warm feeling in her chest that she would've blamed on heartburn only a few years ago. Now, she embraces it, however dangerous it might be.
“See? So until I fuck up, I’m quite happy with things. There's no need to worry, Mr Spock,” she assures him even when she knows he doesn't need it. It's part of their back-and-forth, a comfortable understanding between them.
“Indeed,” Spock says, dry as a desert, and it makes her laugh as he very well knew it would.
“So, hey, speaking of crazy schedules...ours lets us off early today. How about a game of chess over dinner?” Jamie wonders with a smile, hoping he hasn't already made plans.
“That would be most welcome,” Spock agrees, tilting his head. “I have a personal matter I wish to discuss with you that requires a more private setting.”
Well, shit, that doesn't sound good. Swallowing her apprehension, Jamie nods. “It's settled then. My quarters, 18:00?”
“I will be there.”
This was going to be a long afternoon.
The thing is, Spock is something of an enigma, for all that Jamie seems to have been gifted with a Spock-to-Standard dictionary. He had an impeccable career serving under Captain Pike, followed by a respectable tenure as a Professor at the Academy. He is a big name in the Science circles of Academia, and a decorated and well-respected officer to boot. Even serving aboard the Enterprise under its new Captain had brought its own amount of prestige in the eyes of both Starfleet and the Federation as a whole.
He is, in short, impressive. It shows in every aspect of his work, and Jamie is incredibly lucky to have him on her ship, nevermind as her First. She'd known that from the beginning, even without the older Spock’s manipulations, and it's why she fought so hard for him. Keeping the position of First Officer open until literally the day of the launch was no mean feat, for all that Spock’s dramatic and convenient entrance had been entertaining.
So, for all of this brilliance, Jamie could not fathom why he would put any blemishes on such an impeccable, shiny reputation. She knows how hard he’s fought to get here, can sympathize with the hard work put into getting the respect he deserves. She's constantly working for hers, after all, from misogynistic Admirals to xenophobic Aliens, to biphobic or homophobic strangers, and every other flavour of ignorance. Unlike her, however, Spock has done nothing to deserve the prejudices he overcomes with the sheer force of his own brilliance.
Sleeping with his Captain, a known sexual deviant and reckless Human, seems an utterly idiotic decision.
“You can't be serious,” Jamie gapes, clutching her black rook so hard it’ll leave indents in her palm. The pain of its sharp corners ground her, a bit. Enough to finish her move and taking out Spock’s bishop.
“On the contrary, Jamie,” he says, completely calm, and isn't that a slap in the face? “I am quite serious. I have thought this through quite extensively, and have arrived at the conclusion that a committee, romantic and sexual relationship with you would be much preferred.”
Jamie laughs, part in disbelief and part in some strange kind of pain that leaves her feeling a bit queasy. “Spock, I know you and Nyota parted ways mutually and cordially, but it's only been a few weeks. It's a bit sudden, and trust me, I’m not a good choice for a rebound. We could have a one-night stand, or something causal, sure, but I’d rather not. I value our relationship, as friends and colleagues, too much.”
“I have had the term 'rebound’ explained to me before, Jamie, and I hope you have enough trust in me to believe me when I say that what I am proposing is nothing of the kind,” Spock assures her, and really, that's just... not unexpected. He leans forward, looking painfully earnest, and Jamie feels her heart trip over a beat. “I also believe that we are both already emotionally compromised in regards to each other, yet we function optimally. We are, in fact, one of the statistically most successful Command team currently serving in Starfleet. Entering a romantic relationship would not do any harm to our work, nor would it in any way diminish my respect for you. I am, and always will be, your friend, regardless.”
This is getting surreal. Jamie leans back, crossing her arms defensively, even as her shoulder hunch in an unconscious response to the faint hope that is growing somewhere broken inside of her. He just doesn't understand.
“Spock, you do know what it might do to your career if we do this, right? We won't be able to keep it secret for long, not if we don't want to commit career suicide by not disclosing,” she explains, attempting to be patient but feeling a bit desperate. She uncrosses her arms and gesticulates wildly with her hands, trying to convey her point. “I mean, there are much better options out there. Options that won't make your reputation plummet. You know what they say about me, Spock. You don't want to be dragged down by that, believe me.”
Spock narrows his eyes in thought, and for a moment, the only sound between them is their breaths. He looks her in the eye, then, and speaks.
“As a child, I was often targeted by prejudice amongst my peers,” he begins, tapping the tip of his finger against a captured pawn. “Indeed, even adult Vulcans deemed my Human heritage a disadvantage. My reputation, as it were, was often based purely on the instances where I had been sufficiently provoked as to express emotion. It overshadowed my academic prowess and undeniably spotless records, even as I grew to perfect my control beyond my peers’ abilities to provoke me.”
“That's bullshit,” Jamie says with a fierce scowl, unsurprised by the revelation of Vulcan xenophobia but outraged all the same. She's aware they're getting side-tracked from the issue at hand, but she can't let this go by without comment. “And not to mention hypocritical. What better way to show respect and understanding for IDIC, than to participate in a diverse union? And for that combination to bear the result of a unique and singular individual? They were fools, Spock, to bully you when you should be celebrated.”
He eyes her with that quiet warmth of his, shoulders relaxed even as he sits as straight-backed as ever. It's a look she’s gotten used to seeing over this very chess board, or a dinner table in the mess. She swears she can see him smile, like this. Somewhere in the corner of his eyes, in the way his lips soften and his eyes glitter.
He reaches out and presses two fingers to her wrist in a gentle, grateful gesture.
“I am gratified that you believe it so. Indeed, you would have made me an outstanding champion against such prejudice,” Spock says, amused and fond. His fingers are hot against her wrist, but sadly withdraws. He tilts his head. “In contrast to Vulcan, the reputation I gained upon Earth was one I would have preferred as a child. Emotionless, efficient and highly intelligent. However, it was as alienating as the opposite opinion. Both reputations reflected negatively on me, yet you have readily declared me your friend, and oftentimes praised me as a priced member of your crew. You have not allowed my reputation to color our professional or personal relationship. Therefore, I fail to see how your own reputation, a much more gross misinterpretation of your true character, should in any way be taken into account when discussing the possibility of a romantic relationship between us.”
Jamie lets out a deep sigh of resignation. Really, her objection has been token at best, a vain attempt to be the bigger and better person. She's none of those things; she's selfish, and greedy, and broken. Spock’s words are like balm to sunburned skin; cooling, healing. She wants him, and what he so fearlessly offers. With a record like his, surely, he could withstand a little scandal.
“Logical as ever, Mr Spock” Jamie says with a wry grin, shifting uncomfortably at the nervous and tentatively hopeful feeling that is creeping up on her.
Spock shakes his head, lightly. “Hardly. It is merely the truth. Logic has little to do with my...feelings...for you. Vulcan emotions run deep, much deeper than most species; we were a fearsome and passionate race before logic offered us a chance at control. I ask you to become mine, because I am already yours. Do you accept?”
It figures he’s been calm and reasonable throughout this incredibly bizarre conversation, yet fidgets with nerves now. Jamie smiles fondly, completely helpless and so far gone on this ridiculous half-Vulcan she knows she’ll never find her way back.
Might as well seal the deal.
“Yes, Spock, I accept.”
It was inevitable, really, and Jamie Kirk isn't known for her self-restraint.
Spock stands, and hold out him hand to drag her up and pull her close.
“Good,” he says, a slight tremble in his voice, before he leans down and kisses her. Their fingers entwine, and she knows enough to understand the significance of the gesture. However, she's too distracted to fully appreciate it, getting lost in his slow, careful kisses.
Elation, that's what she feels. Weightless, careless, hopeful.
Really, what would she do without him? A question she hopes she’ll never have to answer.