Just Another Bedtime Story K/U, K/R [ PG-13]
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Disclaimer: I earn no riches from Trek other than my fantasies.
Summary: A coming to terms at the end of the first five year mission.
"Were you ever going to tell me?" Janice asked with just an edge to her voice.
"Tell you what, Jan? I don't know what you mean." Uhura asked in confusion, caught off guard by the seriousness of her friend's tone. The party was at an end and Uhura had believed herself all alone with her thoughts on the third floor Rec Deck. Perhaps the melancholy of tonight's farewell party for the crew and their families had struck too deep a chord in her former Enterprise shipmate.
"That you slept with the Captain." Rand clarified coldly, her eyes shiny--like winter ice in the sun. Her approach having been as silent as a panther stalking its prey.
"Whatever gave you that idea?" Uhura stuttered, stunned by the direct accusation of a truth she had vowed to protect.
"I saw how you danced together tonight. Your bodies knew each other, danced their own dance. I know it when I see it, a lover's intimacy, and I saw it between you two." Janice continued, never wavering as she scrutinized Ny's face.
"Jan-- I don't know what you saw-- "
"It doesn't matter how long ago or how recent, the body always remembers." Rand interrupted matter-of-factly, "I'm not angry, Ny, just curious. Years ago it would have made me angry. Hell, it would have made me blind with jealousy. But now, even now, I wonder what it would be like…to be loved by him. I love Hikaru now, but there are--feelings--I still have to reckon with." Janice sighed softly and turned a distant stare toward the observation window.
"You know," she began haltingly, still staring into the void, "back during our first year, he came to me, came to my quarters and tried to rape me. A part of me didn't want to fight. A part of me wanted him, no matter the cost--"
"Oh, Jan, you don't mean that!" Ny interjected as the rumors of who the *imposter* really was during that mission to Alpha 177 came rushing back to her. Jan had never discussed the incident with Uhura and she had left it alone, never realizing the extent of what had happened between the Captain and Janice until now. Her own memory of the confrontation on the Bridge between *both* Kirks--identical except for their behavior--rewound in her head. If the vicious one had used Jan's feelings against her… .
"Yes, unfortunately, I do. Oh, I knew it wasn't about love, not even lust, so I fought him off and it turned out to not even be the Captain, or, at least not all of him. And you don't know how much it hurt to know that the one time he came to me, he wasn't whole--just half a man--and only his dark side wanted me."
Rand cut her eyes toward Uhura, looking for judgement in her eyes and finding none, before continuing. "And I knew I had to leave. I had to get away from any man who could make me consider such a thought. It wasn't his fault; if anything, he was too nice. There were many times he should have called me on the carpet for unprofessional conduct because I often let my attraction to him interfere with my work--distract me. But no, he tolerated my idiocy and even encouraged me to make something more of myself."
"Jan, Captain Kirk always wanted what was best for us. He saw such potential in you. Scotty did too; that's why they both recommended you for ADTech school." Uhura tried to soothe her friend and diffuse the situation that had opened such a quagmire of obsessions and secrets.
"Perhaps. At the time, I just thought of it as a way out, a way to escape the dreams and the fantasies he awoke in me. However, the hesitancy in his eyes just grew stronger. I had admitted too much, made him nervous and uneasy in my presence. I couldn't stand it any longer. I left because I knew I could never have him--I thought no one from the crew could. And now, I see I was wrong again--*you* got to live the fairytale." She turned and focused her stare on Uhura and the other woman felt as cold as the space just beyond the window.
Ny's heart came up into her throat as she looked into Jan's piercing eyes. How did she answer her? Lie? Deny the truth? Could she do that to one of her closest friends? Tell her to mind her own business and risk losing a deep friendship over something from the past? Or tell her the truth and betray another confidence?
A part of her was angry for being called out on something that was clearly none of Jan's business. But then, she remembered the doe-eyed yeoman who stood in the shadow of the woman before her now. An innocent who had confessed too many yearnings during late night sessions with a best friend. A friend who had listened and felt relief that she was not enamored with the man she served with on the Bridge. And then, in the blink of an eye, it *had* been her. And with that thought, all anger was gone. She sat down on the couch and reached out her hand to the woman who stood on the precipice of hurt and betrayal.
"Jan, come sit with me and let me tell you a story."
Rand looked at her as if she had sprouted wings, but moved to the chair and sat in front of Ny.
"Once upon a time there was a fairy princess who lived in a big white castle, and one day, the princess went out into the market and was captured by foul bandits. They took her to their keep and planned to ransom her.
"The princess' favorite knight gathered his army and scoured the land, looking for her, but he found the keep too late. The bandits had taken fright of the knight and his army, so they burned the keep and ravished the princess, leaving her behind to die.
"The knight was distraught and called his physician and bade him save the princess. The physician used all his skill, but needed the help of the mage to turn the tide. The mage asked the knight for a piece of his soul--the only way to lure the princess back from the Dark.
"The knight gave it gladly, for he could not bear to lose his princess, but later, the knight felt hollow and the princess cried bitter tears. She had no desire to rule her realm and the physician feared she would fade away.
"One day the King called his knight and bade him go on a journey, to take the princess to a powerful psychic. The knight rode his great mount, the princess seated behind, across the plain. They rode for many days, to the Cathedral of Knowledge. There the psychic told the knight that the princess needed more of his soul; and only by kissing her and breaking chaste could he hope to return her spirit from Oblivion.
"The knight grew angry. How could he hope to save the princess by breaking his vows? The psychic told him he would have to do both, at the cost of his honor. He must touch the princess and make her mortal once more, then stand by her side everlastingly--never again to feel her lips or breathe her breath. The knight battled all his demons: how to touch his princess and then show nothing but his jailed visor. He prayed to his Gods and asked for direction.
"In the thunderous nocturne, they led him to the princess and laid him down in the soft linens. She took fright at first, for she had rarely seen the knight bereft of his cold armor, but his tender smile and gentle touch bespoke a trusted heart. He wiped a fell tear from her eye and banished her fears in the night.
"The princess grew stronger upon the dawn--tho' the knight took a vile wound, but hid it from sight. The princess, radiant, smiled at her knight and begged to go home. The knight, wounded but proud, mounted his steed and bore her home.
"And now, the princess is home and Queen of her realm. And the knight, her proud champion, still yet bears the scar...."
When Ny finished speaking and sat back on the couch, Jan shook herself, breaking the spell and blinking her eyes rapidly to ward off any tears. She studied Uhura's face quickly, assessing all the meanings of the story she had just been told. Bits and pieces of the past clicked into place; conversations she had shared with Ny and Sulu began to coalesce. How, years ago, Ny had been kidnapped by Orions and the Captain had nearly started a war to find her--how it had taken several months before she had made it back to full duty. The princess and the knight… no, not a fairytale after all.
"I'm sorry Ny. You should have told me to mind my own business." She offered in quiet embarrassment.
"For what, Jan?" Uhura asked sadly as she stood and moved to the door. "I just told you a bedtime story, one I tell myself on occasion."
Unable to answer, Jan merely watched her leave.