Tiberius flicks through big cats a lot.

"Are you going to be a lion, like Dad?" Jim questions at five, uneasy at the thought. I don't want to be like him. Jim has only ever heard stories about George Kirk – about how he gave up his life and Separated with his daemon in the last few minutes of his life so she could be with Winona when Jim was born. Winona had seen the Kelvin crash into the ship that caused a lightning storm and then the great lioness, Minkita, George's daemon, had turned to Dust.

Tiberius rolls his eyes and Jim feels the familiar warmth of his companionship. The daemon jumps up onto Jim's lap, shifting from a tiger to a hare. The change is startling and Jim isn't quite prepared for it, never having remembered seeing Tiberius any smaller than a bush before. Tiberius' ears deliberately brush Jim's chin and the Kirk brings a hand up to stroke him, inspecting the strange texture and taking comfort from the daemon.

"I'm not going to be a lion," Tiberius says. "I don't think so, anyway."

"Okay," Jim replies, before Frank comes home from work, swearing up a storm. Jim and Tiberius sneak away, swiping a candy bar from the drawer before scattering to their room. Frank doesn't even see them. Sam, who holes up in the treehouse – I think he's sleeping out there again – waves candidly through the window at Jim, his daemon, Sempronia, in the form of a black housecat walking across the banister of the balcony. Jim waves back.

"Mom, why is Tiberius a boy like me? Sam and Sempronia aren't the same and you and Micha aren't."

Winona looks up from her PADD briefly enough to answer, her great brown grizzly daemon raising his head. "Studies show that the gender of your daemon represents that in which you lack, as much as their Settled form shows their owners true nature. Personally, I'd say don't believe that shit, Jimmy. Scientists studying things they have no business in never ends well."

The bitterness in her voice by the end tells Jim exactly why she thinks that about scientists and rushes away, Tiberius a rattlesnake on the ground. Neither wants to hear their mother mutter about Starfleet, knowing the hypocrisy of her statements – she hates Starfleet for taking George away, but she hasn't resigned her commission, either, after six and a half years.

I'm a boy. Tiberius is a boy, too, though. I'd rather believe scientists than Mom, though. Jim picks Tiberius up, who turns into a smaller grass snake, wrapping around Jim's wrist. So if Tiberius is a boy, I'm lacking boyness. Jim doesn't really know what to think about that. They don't really feel like anything. I'm a meat-suit with boy parts and a boy daemon. But Tiberius is my soul.

Logically, that means Jim must be a girl.

"Am I a girl, Tiberius?"

Tiberius' tongue exits his mouth, tasting the air, a spine-crawling hiss escaping his mouth. "I don't know, Jim. Are you?"

Jim thinks about it a little longer, wandering into their bedroom and picking up a paperback book that had found its way under their bed. Jim tucks it away in the bookshelf, eyes latched on the faded yellow cover. The Big Six sits by Great Northern and Jim wonders at their collection for a few moments. George Kirk had left little for Jim, personally, nothing at all. In a strange twist of fate, Winona had been the one to grant Jim permission to read George's prized antique books. Jim remembers reading Swallowdale and Winter Holiday and dreaming of sailing into space on the Wildcat with only Tiberius, Sam and Sempronia for a crew.

"Jim? Are you a girl?"

Jim looks away from George Kirk's paperbacks to the questioning daemon who so wraps around Jim's wrist.

"I'm a girl. You're a boy and I'm a girl."

Tiberius hisses in contentment and Jim gives her first smile of the day.

At school, it's not a big deal. When Rosie Laurence asks why Jim is lining up with the girls, Jim says, "Because I'm a girl." The word spreads quickly and the other kids are easily accepting of Jim's preferred gender, even making an 'official' certificate, inviting Jim to use the female toilets if she got tired of using the unisex ones. A few times there's some confusion, mostly with teachers – like when their Non-Standard Languages teacher misgenders Jim in Andorian and Kati corrects them, starting an epic half-hour of mind-boggling linguistics before the teacher realises that Kati actually isn't correcting their ability, just correcting them about Jim's preferred pronouns.

That teacher gets the Official Memo out to the rest of the teachers. Jim gets congratulations from three out of seven and a merit from the Dean for her introspection.

So, at school, it's not a big deal. Jim is a girl. Jim might get picked on, but that's her own fault for her quick mouth and not because they demoralise Jim or disrespect her gender. Sam does get a bit confused when people talk about his sister though, until Jim talks to him in the treehouse and swears him to secrecy when it comes to Winona and Frank. Unfortunately, swearing Sam to secrecy isn't really enough – especially when the school changes Jim's records to reflect her identity suitably and sends a message to Winona, reminding her to turn in the forms to have Jim's Federation Identification modified appropriately as well, to make things official.

"Jimmy," Winona calls her live, within a week of receiving the message. "I've heard some things from the school. Can you tell me what this is all about, honey? When did you decide you were a girl? Why didn't you tell me beforehand?"

The funny thing is, Jim doesn't know why she didn't want to tell her mother. There's an obvious reason not to tell Frank – he's verbally abusive and Jim doesn't know his stance on transgender people. Winona might be unaware of her husbands behaviour, but her kids are and Jim doesn't want to push her luck by giving him new material to scrounge insults from. Talking to her on camera, Tiberius a fruit bat in her lap, Jim for once, oddly enough, doesn't know what to say.

"Tiberius…James," Micha rumbles. Jim shivers at the sound of her mothers daemon, her names on his lips. "Speak to us."

"I'm a girl. I know I'm a girl," Jim says quietly, clutching Tiberius to her chest as he turns into a guinea pig. "I know I'm a girl. Like I know how Tiberius is a boy."

"Do you want me to make you an appointment with the hospital?" Winona asks, a voice asking her to come to Engineering. She replies to say she's coming, Jim watching her, unblinking. "I'll tell Frank to give you some credits so you can catch the bus. Sammy could go with you."

"…it's okay, Mom." Jim says, shaking her head.

"Alright. We'll talk about it again when I come home." Winona says her goodbyes before fleeing to Engineering, leaving Jim to end the call and think solemnly of the three months until her mother returns.

Being seven years old, Jim is offered a large range of options. She balks at a lot of them, her mother pursing her lips at the price. They say that it's better to get everything done before puberty sets in, so she can grow naturally into a female body rather than a males – little can be done after a certain age, compared to children. However, they need her mothers permission for anything at all. Every check-up Jim goes to, every drug taken, every procedure and every surgery needs to be signed off – and every signature needs to be Winona Kirk's.

"I can't do it, sweetheart," her mother whispers to her as the doctor gives them space. "I'm not here enough to…to do this with you."

"Then stay. This is important, Mom," Jim says, despite how she's scared of everything. She's scared of how her body would change and how she'd be monitored throughout the entire process, like a rat in a lab. She's scared of inhabiting a body that isn't hers, that's been changed and touched up. Jim is fine the way she is. "Please."

It's a test, Mom, I'm testing you, like at school, why can't you see? Just say the right answer and pass, be my Mom-

"No, I can't leave Starfleet."

Tiberius changes into crab spider, curling up between Jim's neck and shirt collar, hiding under her long blonde, sun-bleached hair and she doesn't change again until Winona is gone.

"What is your name, citizen?"

"James Tiberius Kirk!"

Winona sends her to live with her grandparents on Tarsus IV. They've been there for seven years already and have a couple of wheat fields that they manage as overseers. Jim goes to live with Papa Tiberius and Nana Samantha, only feeling a hint of guilt for destroying her Dad's car. Frank is still trying to press charges but Winona won't have it. The last thing Jim heard before being packed off to the colony planet was that they were getting a divorce.

Good riddance, she thinks as she ties her scraggly hair into an uneven ponytail, Nana Samantha's flowery bandana holding back her fringe. She thinks of Sam and Sempronia, who'll join her and Tiberius on Tarsus IV in little under a month. Winona said in her last message that Sempronia had Settled and Jim thinks that Sempronia is a cat – she had never really shifted into any other family and Sam has always been independent.

Jim works in the fields in the afternoon, after a morning of boring school – however, unlike Winona Kirk, her grandparents are quick to sign her on to advanced classes, so soon it becomes less boring and something she looks forwards to, for once. It might be strange to be doing work all by herself in the corner of the classroom, working on essays about astrophysics and designing engineering schematics for Starship engines when her peers are still learning how coordinates work. Nana Samantha always makes her do her homework after dinner, even when she's ready to drop from tying wheat stalks together.

"You'll get all that done, Jaime. You're a very clever girl and I will not see that go to waste," she says when Jim complains. Nana Samantha does that a lot – calling her Jaime rather than Jim, James or Jimmy. When she talks about it to Tiberius, her daemon doesn't really know what to think of it either. Thus, they approach their grandfather, the original Tiberius, who both Jim and her daemon are named after.

He eyes them quietly, before patting his knee. Jim hesitantly climbs up, feeling his arm curl around her back and tug her into his chest. Yelena, Papa Tiberius' daemon, a black leopard with grey circles under its coat nudges Jim's ankle, causing her to gasp. Jim's daemon Tiberius shifts into a dingo, bundling up on Jim's lap, confused and wary.

"When you were born, you were given what is traditionally a male name: James Tiberius Kirk. They thought you were a girl, up until you were born."

"I am a girl though," Jim mutters.

Papa Tiberius nods, tapping her freckly nose. "They were going to name you Jacqueline, for your maternal grandmother. Most likely, you would have been Jacqueline Winona." Jim wrinkles her nose up at the name. "Don't make that face. You're a girl now, which is why your nana calls you Jaime, to differentiate from James."

"I like my name."

"That's good, fine, in fact. It's just your nana, she's used to people like you, who are girls in boys bodies and boys in girls bodies, or who don't subscribe to binary terms – she's used to them changing their names, like a new breath of life."

Jim thinks on that for a while, Papa Tiberius reading the local news on his tablet as she ponders – only finally coming back to herself when her daemon turns into an owl. The change attracts her attention immediately, her eyes widening.

"You're a bird, why are you a bird? Only witches have birds, like Nana Samantha!"

Papa Tiberius makes a surprised noise. "Now that's interesting, kiddo. You're not a boy anymore though, so it makes sense."

"But- but witches are born, they can't be made," Jim holds her daemon in her hands cradling him and staring at his downy wings, more of an owlet that a real owl.

"Let's ask your nana."

When Tiberius Kirk had married a witch, obviously, there were articles about it. Witches aren't scarce or at all rare – however, very rarely do they allow themselves to be dictated by the feeling that is love. Samantha married Tiberius Kirk and had his children – three boys, all of which who died, knowing they would, for all witches are born knowing the day they are born and the day they are going to die on.

George Kirk never told his wife the day he was going to die – he never told her that he knew at all.

Jim's Tiberius shifts between all manner of animals now, with the exception of big cats and grizzly brown bears. His classmates watch in awe as he jumps off a desk as an armadillo and flies up into the schoolhouse rafters as a merlin. In the evenings, Samantha teaches Jim the language of the witches and how to reach inside for her spirit – something that isn't there for Samantha, that doesn't exist for any witch.

Jim has a spirit, to her sadness. However, her daemon Tiberius still flits into bird form every so often and sports an American bald eagle form for the entire week that Sam is supposed to arrive. Sam himself stares in confusion at Jim's daemon, Sempronia at his feet in the shape of a komodo dragon. Similarly, Sempronia confuses Jim because…confidence? Going it alone?

…okay. That actually sounds like Sam.

"So, you're a witch?"

"Sort of, but not really," Jim shrugs when he asks on the way back to the farm. "Biology is just as important as my brain. Nana Samantha says that unless I went through with transitioning and had a cleansing ritual with the Clan Elders, I couldn't be a proper witch – but I can do some stuff anyway. She's teaching me lots and I even used her cloud pine once."

Sam's eyes go wide. "You flew?"

Jim grins, "It was awesome."

"Man, I wish I was a girl."

Aer flies into the schoolhouse one day, feathers bedraggled and a cut streaming golden dust on his neck. Jim's stomach is rumbling and she can't wait for lunchtime, when the school gets a mandatory ration for each child. Upon seeing Jim, the herons wings giving out, feathers detaching from his white plumage, Jim rushes over, calling her name, lanky thirteen year old legs banging against desks as she makes her way from her corner.


"Jaime, you need to run!" he gets out, his voice hoarse and panicked. "You need to run, Kodos is- Kodos is experimenting on people, on their daemons. Jaime, you need to run-" Jim barely gets within a foot of him before he bursts into golden dust, causing other children to scream. Jim's eyes widen, because she knows what that mean.

Oh my god. Nana…

"What do we do?" Sam questions the teacher, who holds her chinchilla daemon tightly against her chest. "Miss Reese, what do we do?"

"We run," Jim answers in her place, before a planet-wide alert appears on the board. Everyone turns to watch Governor Kodos smile distantly at them, pixels flickering. Something occurs to Jim that there's something missing, something important, but she can't tell what it is.

"People of Tarsus Four. As you all know, I have been working to find a solution to answer our famine problem. The fungus affecting the crops has left our stores depleted and after much calculation, it has been determined that there is only enough to feed three thousand people." Jim's heart beats soundly in her chest, because Jim knows there were ten thousand people before the famine begun, seven thousand now, after so many have died. That leaves four thousand people without food. "However, a procedure has been found that can stretch these resources. A list has been made. If your name is on this list, you are hereby ordered to report to the Hospital. Let us all hope to survive these next few months, before Starfleet arrives with provisions. This is Governor Kodos, signing off."

The screen flickers, his face disappearing. As a rolling list appears on the screen, Jim seeing her name somewhere in the middle, Tiberius presses against her neck, mouse voice squeaking in her ear.

"Jim, where was Kodos' daemon?"

Sam finds a half-repaired shuttle in someone's garage. Jim fixes it up, Tiberius ducking in and out of the mechanics to see to bits Jim can't see. The other kids they're hiding in the house are all younger than them both. The oldest is Kevin Riley, at ten-nearing-eleven, his daemon still Unsettled.

Sam is sixteen and the only one with a Settled daemon who could potentially be infected by the Dust-eating zombies that are the Daemonless. It happens through a process called Intercision, using alien materials and alien chemicals and it terrifies them all. Sam, convinced by Jim to go save himself, to get away from Tarsus IV, heads off in the shuttle in an attempt to get Starfleet to rescue them. Because of the magnetic field around Tarsus IV, there is no way to message anyone or get out an SOS. Jim is left in charge when Sam goes.

Sam is their only hope.

Starfleet does not come.

They leave the house, going into the wilderness. There is no food, no water. Rain is not a common occurrence on Tarsus IV and the lakes are purple, the fungus mutating to render anything it touches inedible and poisonous. Jim loses ten of the thirty-two kids in her charge to hunger, most of them toddlers with grabby hands who eat poisonous grass and venomous insects. She loses another eight to starvation.

There are fourteen of them for a long while, fifteen including Jim. Then, they raid a silo for food. Three are shot by Kodos' guards. Two are captured and go through Intercision, going mad and screaming over and over for their daemons. Tiberius hears them and so does Jim, through their bond. They cry, shedding tears in pain and guilt. Tiberius flies further and further away from Jim, high in the dark sky. His wings are dark and they match the sky, the purple sun casting shadows always.

Jim and Tiberius go further and further apart, little nine-year old Tommy holding a gag over Jim's mouth as they Separate.

Being Separated is like a video-game, where you control the character on the screen but there's no physical connection. Jim and Tiberius curl up together, Tiberius still changing, Unsettled, but the gap between them is palpable even with skin-to-skin contact. Jim thinks of the witches of old, who on Earth would go North to where their daemons could not go of their own free will. She wonders – were they ever Unsettled like she and Tiberius are? Did the Separation force the final Change, freezing their daemons in their final form?

Some of the younger kids can't remember what birds are like. Entertaining them – educating them, showing them every different type of bird she can remember, Tiberius changing to show them – is easy. It's only when Tiberius tries to show Ziki what a bear looks like that they realise he can't turn into anything but birds.

"You really are a witch," Tommy mumbles, before Rosily crawls over, little bunny daemon hopping in time, her hand reaching up to grab the feathers of Tiberius' crane form. Jim shudders only slightly before accepting her touch, allowing the girl to investigate. Every brush of skin is both invasive and welcome. Other kids join Rosily when Jim doesn't reprimand her and the Kirk lies up against a wall as her soul is touched by innocence again and again.

It's like being together. Unseparated.

The next day, Yarrow comes up to her, face determined as they hold out a long stick, shorn of little branches and leaves. It's a dark purple, clear of fungus and when Jim takes it with a frown, she feels a cold from inside of it. Her eyes widen and Yarrow speaks.

"You're a witch, so you've got to have a cloud stick to fly with."

Jim wants to tell Yarrow that to fly, she needs a real cloud pine branch, but the stick feels like her Nana Samantha's cloud pine. Witches are everywhere, now – there has to be some other kind of magic in the universe like true cloud pine. She stands shakily, bony and thinner than the kids she's looking after and she wills herself into the air. The stick turns warm in her hand and Jim feels like she's flying for a single moment, her weight lifting off the ground and her mass fading – but then she's just Jim again, human and weighty. The stars up above don't touch her skin and make her feel ethereal, like Nana Samantha said it felt and the stick cracks in her hand, falling apart to the ground.

"I need real cloud pine, kid. I'm sorry, but this isn't it. But good try."

When Starfleet arrives, Yarrow is dead and there are nine. When they bring them up into their Starship, Tiberius sits on her shoulder in the form of a woodpecker. Jim thinks it appropriate, considering that it was her SOS built from Kodos' secret computers that got the Fleet's attention. Woodpeckers are determination and communication – but they're also still birds. Jim speaks for the Tarsus IV Nine, but the Captain is too busy staring at her daemon.

Tiberius, helpful as ever, transforms into a seagull and yaps at him, "What are you looking at?"

The Captain flinches and by the time they return to Earth, Jim has discarded her true identity, hacking into a computer and erasing herself. James Tiberius Kirk was never on Tarsus IV, according to official records and neither was George Samuel. Samantha Kirk is listed among the deceased and Jaime of Enara was her ward.

A witch awaits her when their ship lands, a red flower behind her ear and Jaime walks over to her with heavy feet, Tiberius a crow flying above her head.

"There is no Jaime of Enara," the witch says with frowning eyes when Jaime stops in front of her, all skin and bones, a PADD in her hand waiting for the witch's signature. "But there is no Jaime Kirk, either. There is only a James Kirk. Your mother Winona is alive and you weren't born into Clan Enara, despite your circumstances. Why lie?"

"Because my mom is on a Starship over thirty lightyears away," Jaime says, Tiberius coming to sit on her shoulder, "and no matter my sex, I'm still something of a witch. Tiberius doesn't change into anything but birds anymore. Clan Enara would be contacted soon enough about my guardianship because my mom won't stop spacefaring for me. She just won't."

The witch sighs a little, before nodding. "What happened to your brother?"

"He's lost. Gone. Not dead, but might be. He went up in a shuttle to get Starfleet last year and never came back or told anyone where we were that actually decided to help."

The witch looks to Tiberius, head tilting a touch, "You are Separated from your daemon."

"I had to be," Jaime snaps, glaring slightly before the witch sighs, taking the PADD from her and signing Jaime into her guardianship.

"Come with me."

"Where are we going?"

"Somewhere safe."

Jaime meets eyes with the witch. "What's your name?"

"Amanda. Amanda Grayson – and it's very nice to meet you, Jaime."

Vulcan is…dry. Both literally and metaphorically, because the Vulcans themselves don't deal in metaphors. Amanda invites Jaime into her home and they work around her allergies and health issues, which are vast after eight months of eating bark and testing food to make sure the others can eat it. Jaime stays in her room most of the time and refuses to meet anyone other than the house's actual owner – Sarek, Amanda's husband, who is the driest of dry people ever. Sarcasm isn't lost on him because of his Terran wife, but he doesn't appreciate it either, even if he's somehow really good at it, sometimes.

"We have a son, too, Spock. He's wrapped up in studying, these days," Amanda tells her over dinner. They eat in Jaime's room on her bed, leaning against the pale orange walls. Tiberius perches on her bedside table in the form of a hummingbird, copying Amanda's daemon, King. "You should try Vulcan school."

"Maybe," Jaime shrugs before finishing her second bowl of soup and the last of the wheat-free bread and margarine.

The next morning before daybreak, Jaime sneaks out of the house, leaving a note saying she's gone to explore ShiKahr. Over the last couple of days she's focused on learning Vulcan, distracting herself from the events of Tarsus IV. Tiberius has simultaneously been flicking through pictures of Vulcan birds – of which there aren't many at all. The only one Jaime takes an interest in is the sha'vok, an eagle-like bird with a two point five metre wingspan that eats reptiles and rodents.

Flying ahead of her as a sha'vok, Tiberius locates ShiKahr and thus, Jaime goes in the opposite direction. She doesn't really feel like subjecting herself to strange looks and – most likely – an inquiry from the local law enforcement as to who she is and why she's on Vulcan at all. Anyway, Amanda told her about kahs-wan a few days ago. As if Jaime is going to willingly interact with Vulcans her own age that see her as some silly, stupid kid for not completing their local game.

Ten days in Vulcan's Forge will be nothing to her time on Tarsus IV.

I'm going to ace this.

"Let's go exploring," Jaime shouts to Tiberius, who lets out a weird noise that makes a lizard run out from a piece of rock. Jumping, Jaime stares at it briefly, watching it disappear under another rock before grinning and making her way further into the desert.

Jaime vs. Vulcan, round one, a-go!

"You are an idiot," Amanda says to her eleven days later, after her impromptu pilgrimage across the Forge. Jaime grins at her with chapped lips, putting her hand up for a high five. Amanda glares. "Don't you dare, Jaime Enara."

Jaime pouts. "C'mon, Amanda – I completed kahs-wan and ever got a souvenir, look!" She brings out the le-matya necklace she made out of ones teeth and long fur. "Surprise!"

Amanda shuts her eyes, massaging the bridge of her nose. "Oh, you are grounded. Totally grounded – and you're going to school. There's a challenge for you."

"School isn't a challenge for me," Jaime chuckles, grinning. "Promise."

"We'll see about that."

The next day, Amanda wakes her up with a call of her name and tells her that Spock is driving her to school. Jaime, reflexes primed and hands ready to snap Amanda's neck like she's a Daemonless that's found their cave if she gets too close, stares at the woman standing in her doorway.


"…right," Jaime replies, voice rough and cracking. "School. I'll…get ready."

She meets Spock for the first time wearing jean shorts and a white t-shirt, raising an eyebrow at his dress as she crouches to tie the laces of her antique red Converse, fringe flipping over her eyes and her ponytail tickling her neck.

"Don't you get hot in that?" Tiberius flies over to land on her shoulder, a bright blue Vulcan lara that looks like a dove but without a fan of feathers hanging off the end. Spock is in a long Vulcan robe and it looks…debilitating. Jaime doesn't think she'd be able to survive in it.

"Vulcan control allows me to regulate my internal temperature to adequately suit my surroundings," Spock replies. His eyes watch Tiberius for a few moments and Jaime takes a moment to feel surprise, as she sees a capsule hanging around his neck, blue butterfly fuzzy but visible through the distorted glass.

I thought Vulcans didn't have daemons, she thinks, remembering Amanda's explanation prior to meeting Sarek, learning that Vulcans had a katra – their souls living inside their bodies. Standing up, Jaime tries to remember what butterflies signify but comes up short.

"Are you ready to depart?" Spock questions her.

"Just a sec," she grabs her jacket – a new jacket made of brown leather that Amanda special-ordered for her from Earth after she came to Vulcan with her. Tugging it on, she glances back at Amanda. "What are the hours, then?"

"School starts at half past seven and finishes at five. Lunch is half an hour long at noon," Amanda replies, a smile appearing as Jaime recoils.

"What the hell? That's like, nine hours!"

"The school day lasts approximately nine hours and thirty-five minutes, as you are required to sign in and out at both the beginning and end of the day," Spock interjects, Jaime shaking her head.

"Let's just go. It can't be too bad."

Jaime is wrong. It's terrible – it's all memorisation and problem-solving in individual stations. By nine o'clock, Jaime is bored to hell and just lies down on the ground, napping as the computer asks her the same question over and over again at five-second intervals. Soon, one of the adults overseeing them comes to the edge of her station.

"Jaime of Enara, is the material of too high a difficulty? There is no shame in admitting failure."

"It's boring," Jaime replies after a moment, answering the question and sitting up. "Can I just test out?"

"Vulcan schooling does not allow 'testing out' as an option."

"But this is boring," Jaime whines. "The computer keeps asking me shit that I learned years ago."

The Vulcan looks at her questioningly, "Jaime of Enara, is the material…too low a difficulty?"

Jaime sighs, rubbing her face. "Halfway there. I mean, stuff regarding like, Surak's principles I've never learnt, obviously, but yeah – if the subject is universal, I've probably learnt it already."

"I shall adjust the difficulty of your material, Jaime of Enara. However, as you have mentioned, this only solves half the dilemma. How might this 'boredom' you face be countered, so as to improve your learning?"

"Uh…" Jaime glances at Tiberius, who's a penguin today. He turns into a duck and Jaime looks to the overseer. "Could I have a physical task to complete, to keep my hands busy while I answer question after question?"

The Vulcan nods shortly before walking down the steps into her station, revealing themselves to be male – Jaime hadn't known whether or not their voice could tell her, but sight definitely did.

"Computer, bring up a three-dimensional chess hologram to be played while learning commences."

"I've never played three-D chess before," Jaime looks at the newly-appeared hologram in interest. The rules appear on a screen to her left and she skims them, answering the computers current question distractedly and then the next as she moves her first piece, as white. The Vulcan overseer plays black and the game goes on, Jaime becoming frustrated as she loses more pieces.

However, it is, to her own surprise that she continues to answer the computers questions as she plays more and more games with the overseer that day. When the half-hour for lunch comes, her computer shutting down and the 3D chess disappearing, Jaime looks at her opponent.

"Who are you? What's your name?"

The Vulcan tilts his head. "Sybok, son of Sarek."

"Sarek?" Jaime blinks. "I've not seen you around."

"I do not live with my father and we are estranged. The Lady Amanda misses me dearly, I have come to understand from her frequent messages," Sybok says. "However, her grief at my distance most likely silences her. Sarek does not approve of her bringing me up at the dinner table, apparently."

"Oh, that's…that's not good," Jaime glances up out of her station to where other Vulcan teens have gathered, watching her in eerie silence. "Take a picture, it'll last longer!"

"Pictures are outdated," one girl says. "With your permission I would take a holo."

Jaime raises her eyebrows, "Are you serious?"

"Vulcans do not partake in frivolous speech. As I said, with your permission I would take a holo," the girl repeats and Jaime shakes her head, making her way up the stairs from her station.

"Fine, sure. Take a holo, but in return you show me where we get lunch."

"A sound trade," she says. "I do not have the necessary equipment to create a satisfactory holo at this time. I shall show you the location of the dining area presently, provided you still allow me to take your holo two days hence."

"Agreed." Jaime says, before her stomach gurgles. The Vulcan girl looks at it sharply, her expression turning disturbed. Jaime grins, patting it. "No Vulcan control for me. I'm pretty hungry." Jaime goes to hold out her hand for introductions but at last minute raises it into the ta'al. "I'm Jaime, daughter of George of Clan Enara. Nice to meet you."

The girl offers the ta'al as well. "T'Kera, daughter of Karun. It is…interesting to meet you, in return."

In other words: Jaime makes her first friend on Vulcan. She thinks.

"We are friends, right?"

"Friendship is illogical."

"…that didn't answer my question, but alright. Why is friendship illogical?"

T'Kera doesn't pause to answer Jaime's question, instead speaking while tying the last braid of her hair back, pinning it behind her pointed ear, framing it. Jaime lies back on T'Kera's bed, idly twirling the end of her blonde fishtail plait.

"In Vulcan society, relationships what you might term as 'friendships' are formed for the benefit of each party and cut off upon completion of the required exchanges. This itself opposes what 'friendship' defines itself as by human definition."

"Well, not always. I mean…there are different kinds of friends," Jaime sits up as T'Kera looks over at her via her mirror, glaring slightly at her position. Tiberius on the ground – curled up in the form of an emu – rests his beak on Jaime's shoulder, prompting the human to stroke her gently. "There's an infinite number of ways to be friends and most aren't dictated by 'human definition', if by that, you mean the definition from a dictionary."

T'Kera purses her lips, beginning the last of her braids to pin back. "Infinite diversity in infinite combinations."

"Yeah," Jaime grins a little at her. "Though, by Earth standards, we're at least past the acquaintances stage of our personal social relationship."

"How? Explain, Jaime," T'Kera demands, unblinking as she watched Jaime like a hawk.

"Well, we've continued to meet up outside of school, like now – inviting me over to your house and vice versa is a part of it, sometimes. It's early days for the both of us, so, I mean, it would be pretty easy to decide against being friends-"

T'Kera interrupts. "Inviting you to my home and inviting I to Ambassador Sarek's was only logical, considering the circumstances of each visit. While we may have been able to study in ShiKahr's libraries and archives, as minors it is wise that we be supervised and in close proximity to our guardians, in case of an emergency."

"We're not studying now," Jaime points out.

"You speak the truth, yet it was you who requested leave to stay longer to socialise," T'Kera finishing her braid, inspecting her overall appearance before standing, twisting. "I am ready for my father's meeting. It is well overdue for your departure. Would you prefer to finish this discussion at our next meeting or may I consider this line of conversation ended?"

Jaime stands, Tiberius shifting into a lara bird, fluttering onto her shoulder in her sudden nervousness. "If you don't mind, I'd like to talk to you more about…about being friends. I don't have any and I'd like some."

T'Kera tilts her head.

"If it brings you comfort, you may consider me a friend up until this discussion is resolved."


(In other words: Jaime makes her first friend on Vulcan. T'Kera will thankfully not be the last.)

Winona visits five months after her original touchdown on Vulcan soil. Her mother doesn't hesitate before wrapping her arms around Jaime's shoulders and it's to Jaime's upset to find they're the same height. When she looks into her mother's eyes, they're at the same level and her mother seems small. Jaime is fourteen and still has lots of time left to grow taller.

Will I be like my dad? Will I be six foot tall?

"Jimmy, I'm so sorry," Winona grasps her face, pressing their foreheads together so hard it almost hurts. Jaime doesn't care, though, numb to it as she grips her mother tightly. "I can't find Sam. When I got Amanda's message, I looked for him, I took time off-"

"You what?" Jaime mutters, stumbling as she processes her mothers words.

"I took time off, I tried looking for him. Starfleet's trying to track him down, but there's nothing." Winona tells Jaime, stepping away only slightly, holding her hands tightly, not wanting to let her go. "I was so glad to hear you were safe, after the report about Tarsus IV went out. I'm sorry for not contacting you, I should have come sooner."

"Yeah, you should have."

"Jimmy, are you happy here?" Winona asks, "Because if you're not, I'll resign permanently. We can go back to Earth, we can make this work properly. I've not been there for you and I should have-" Winona tears up and Jaime becomes uncomfortably aware of the Vulcan's whispering about their inappropriate display. Micha lets out a low rumble and nudges Jaime's lowered hand, Winona shuddering at the contact.

"We should take this somewhere private," Amanda intervenes on Jaime's behalf, touching Winona's elbow and leading her over to a closed waiting room. Jaime trails behind them, disinterestedly picking up her mothers fallen duffle. Micha stays behind Jaime and almost reading Jaime's mind, Tiberius flutters down from her shoulder onto the grizzly's back, a horned owl today.

You should have settled by now, Jaime thinks absentmindedly, reaching out to brush the head of her daemon companion. The Separation mutes the feeling of contact – not with Jaime, not physically, but with Micha. The bear is her mother's soul and Tiberius' claws on his fur create a pleasant buzzing in the back of her mind that feels like someone's running their hand backwards through her hair – pleasantly static.

Winona's words reverberate through her mind. I'll resign permanently. We can go back to Earth, we can make this work properly. Jaime steps into the closed-off waiting room, looking at her mother, knowing she is happy here on Vulcan – as much as she can be. The only thing she lacks is friends, but Jaime doubts she could make any proper ones, right now. Even socialising with T'Kera is hard and that takes more logic than it does intuition, like with humans – and logic is easy, compared to that.

"Winona and I know each other," Amanda says, unprompted. "We were roommates, in Starfleet Academy."

Jaime raises her head, frowning, "You were?"

"Lawson, Grayson and Cho, united against the guys," Winona says, rubbing at her face. "I'm a fucking wreck. What the hell have I done?"

"You came back," Jaime mutters, providing one good thing she's done, even if she revels at hearing her mother curse. Tiberius flies up onto her shoulder, flitting from an owl to a blue jay as she tucks her hands in the pockets of her sun-yellow skirt.

Winona smiles tiredly. "You didn't answer my first question. Are you happy, here?"

"…yes," the teen answers, reluctantly. "I am. Does that mean you're going to go back to Starfleet?"

"Only if you don't want me here."

"What if I need you?" Jaime queries, stepping up. "What if I need my mom? What if I always did and you weren't there?"

"Then I wasn't there, alright?" Winona snaps. "I wasn't there for you and I should have been. It's my fault you look like this, rather than how you want to look."

Jaime straightens, like she's been given a slap to the face. I never wanted to as a kid, she thinks, now I might want to, now I've changed my mind – but back then no, no. Stunned, she stares at her mother, even as Amanda looks between them curiously.

"What do you mean by that?" Amanda questions, Winona flushing, staying stubbornly silent. Jaime swallows, clenching her fists in her pockets before taking them out to cross over her chest.

"She could have taken a leave of absence when I was a kid, so she could sign my medical forms. I'm male, biologically."

"…I see," Amanda purses her lips. "I knew that from your Federation ID."

"I know." Jaime says, staring her mother down for a tense few moments. Then, she forces herself to be calm, looking to Amanda Grayson – the sole reason she lives here on Vulcan, rather than in any other Enara household. Winona is my mom, but Amanda is always here. "I want to stay on Vulcan. Please, let me."

When Jaime was young, Winona used to curl up with her and Sam on the front porch of their house in Iowa, on the swing-seat. She'd point up at the sky and point out constellations, telling them which way was the prettiest way to get to the other end of Federation space, rather than the easiest. Winona has always loved space and so has Jaime, just from how her mother talked about it.

Space. Jaime would stay in Sam's treehouse with him, sometimes and they would use Frank's telescope to try find those constellations their mother talked about. One of the most beautiful things Jaime has ever seen was a meteor shower, from the top of Papa Tiberius and Nana Samantha's water silo on Tarsus, that turned the purple sky green.

Staying on Vulcan, Jaime watches her mother leave in one of her precious Starfleet shuttles, picked up by a passing ship so she can transfer back onto the U.S.S. Essex-B. Afterwards, she goes camping out in the desert with Spock.

"You have unusual coping mechanisms," he tells her.

"I like the Forge, it's calming," Jaime replies from the cave entrance, looking through a pair of binoculars to watch the sandfire storm in the distance. "The weather is cool, too."

"That could kill us, as could many things here."


Spock doesn't answer her, instead meditating, as per usual. He's so boring, Jaime thinks, watching him set up easily by the wall. She watches the sandfire storm for a little while longer, before sealing up the cave entrance with a degradable carbon foam. Then, she explores the cave.

The wide area they'd camped out in once seeing signs of the approaching storm looked small, at the start, but Jaime had spied a couple of nooks and crannies. She shimmies through one of them, scratching her abdomen on a spiky rock, which she scolds quietly, before slinking the rest of the way through the tunnel to the end.

"I don't like this," Tiberius whispers to her, but their shared curiosity wins out and he flutters forwards in the form of a catbird.

That, of course, is how her daemon finds the le-matya den.

He hurries back to her as a hummingbird, urging her back. Jaime follows his directions perfectly, only to find a le-matya laying across Spock's lap. Frozen at the edge of the tunnel, Jaime watches the le-matya growl at something in the shadows.

"Another le-matya," Tiberius says in barely more than a breath, a clinging to her ear tightly. Jaime wants to try finding the second beast, but her eyes stick to the le-matya on Spock's lap. It shouldn't be so fascinating, but it is, the leathery grey-green of its hide looking like a goddamn rock. Camouflage, Jaime thinks, seeing it hiss again at the other le-matya prowling about in the dark.

Said other le-matya decides to get closer, regardless and Jaime takes the threat to Spock a little more seriously. Emboldened, she rushes out of the nook, letting out the loudest roar she can give, Tiberius squawking before transforming into a sha'vok. His gold and brown feathers reflect the light of their battery-torches and the two le-matya'lu both shriek, jumping back – but the one on Spock's lap reacts quickly, diving for it's threatening counterpart.

"Spock!" Jaime rushes over to him as the beasts begin fighting, shaking his shoulders, even as badly, insanely, she worries if she's got the pluralisation of le-matya right. "Wake up, wake up-"

The le-matya'lu shriek and fight in the background, never growling – only shrieking. It gets on Jaime's nerves before too long and more than once, Tiberius has to let out an alien holler belonging to the sha'vok form he'd taken, to get them to mind themselves. Luckily, at least one of them is clever enough to knock the other away from them.

Checking Spock over as he refuses to return from his own mind, it takes Jaime too long to realise his daemon capsule is open – that his little butterfly is gone. Her heart beats frantically in her chest as Jaime remembers the daemonless on Tarsus IV, spreading disease and Dust. But Spock is not like those people and he's warm beneath her hands, which creep down to his wrists.

It's like Sleeping Beauty, but less creepy, because we're in danger, Jaime thinks, trying to console herself for what she is about to do. She takes his fingers in her own, focusing on her fear and the word danger. She repeats it in her mind over and over – danger, danger, danger.

Spock's eyes open sharply and Jaime's breath hitches, before she's roughly shoved to the side. Spock stands, darting over to their back-packs, disengaging his lirpa from the magnetised strap.

"This is why we should not have left the house," Spock informs her, before joining the le-matya'lu scrimmage. But it's so strange – it's like Spock is fighting with one of the le-matya'lu, rather than waiting until one had injured the other so severely he could get in a hit, which is what Jaime would have done.

"Jaime," Tiberius hops up onto her lap, wings still flared, "One of those le-matya'lu is a daemon."


Jaime doesn't understand and yet she does, for it's obvious as soon as he points it out. One of the le-matya'lu is obviously not an animal. The daemon le-matya works with Spock, is obviously Spock's daemon. The only problem Jaime finds in this situation – other than the obvious, that they are being attacked by a le-matya whose den they had accidentally invaded – is that Jaime thought Spock's daemon was a butterfly, that his daemon was Settled.

Spock is seventeen. His daemon should have Settled long ago, according to human daemonology.

"He's not fully human," Tiberius says to her. "We shouldn't judge him by either standard." Which is valid, Jaime thinks as Spock and his daemon take down the le-matya, getting to her feet.

"Okay, so that was…awesome," Jaime says, swallowing her fear as she steps closer to the downed beast, already bleeding green into the sand. "Also, I'd like to ask a question, if that's acceptable. Actually, a few."

Spock, stiff, still holding his lirpa in a ready-position, looks away from her. He kneels down and rubs the lirpa down with sand, removing the le-matya blood, his daemon swiftly turning into a butterfly once again, settling on his head. Jaime watches him clean his weapon in silence, before he puts it down and carefully transfers his daemon back into her daemon capsule.

"Spock," Jaime addresses him seriously. "I won't tell anyone, if this is supposed to be a secret."

"…my thanks," Spock stands up, returning the lirpa to their bags. "Were there any le-matya cubs that you saw? They will die, without their mother."

"Not that I saw," Jaime mumbles, feeling guilty. Negative emotion gnaws away at her. "I'm sorry. I know you only came with me because Amanda asked."

"Mother was worried for you," Spock says. "She obviously was right to. However, I believe she had ulterior motives, also. I have been severely isolated my entire life and the Forge has always brought out…the beast in me, as she has said beforehand. My huht-katra or 'daemon', a term you are more familiar with, will most likely Settle into a le-matya."

"That's cool," Jaime murmurs, unsure as to whether Spock would find it rude if she asked why his daemon hadn't Settled already.

As if expecting her question, Spock continues, "I am not at peace with myself. Therefore, my daemon cannot Settle. Once I have found stability, my daemon will become what she is meant to be."

"That's great, Spock," Jaime glances back to Tiberius, who takes the chance to beat his powerful wings, sending sand everywhere as she flies up onto Jaime's shoulder, heavy as hell. Jaime almost winces at it. "Tiberius is being a pain, not making up his mind."

Spock frowns at her. "You are your daemon. Have you not found your purpose, Jaime of Enara?"

"Not really," Jaime says, attempting to shrug but failing. "Ti, buddy."

"I like this form," Tiberius says, twirling his sha'vok head around like he's an owl. "It's actually quite comfortable."

Jaime widens her eyes in alarm, but recognises what he means, if she reaches inwards, hand rising up to brush his wing. It's a heaviness she wouldn't expect, a feeling of rightness. But Tiberius changes into a falcon and it fades.

"…right." Jaime finally replies, shaken. Swallowing, she looks to Spock, forcing a smile onto her face. "We've not really talked much, have we? How about we start fresh? Hi – I'm Jaime and this is my daemon, Tiberius."

Spock takes a moment to reply, hand reaching up to his daemon capsule hesitantly. "I am Spock," he says, letting his daemon out onto his fingers. Her blue wings are bright in the browns and yellows of the cave. "This is my huht-katra, Majel. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Jaime."

Jaime smiles, brighter and happier than before, "Nice to meet you, Spock and Majel."

(If, from there on, whenever Jaime and Spock spent time together inside their home, Majel was in the form of a le-matya, that was no-one's business but their own.)

Michael Burnham is a witch.

Jaime knows it, because like Amanda and like Jaime herself, Michael has a bird for a daemon – a crow, to be exact. When Amanda arranges for Jaime to attend the Clan Meet, Michael Burnham meets her half-way there and accompanies her the rest of the way.

"So, you were raised on Vulcan?"

"Partly," Michael says, smiling ever-so-slightly, "You've taken my old room."

"Amanda likes fostering us bold types, doesn't she?" Jaime grins, watching Michael shake her head before they tuck into the evening meal – as much as you can have an evening meal on a spaceship, at least. "What happened?"

"An attack. My parents were killed. As a ward of Clan Enara, like you, I was placed in the house of another witch – my parents knew Lady Amanda, so I lived with her and Sarek. They are as much my parents and the Burnham's were, before they passed."

Jaime points her fork at Michael, "Does that mean you knew Sybok?"

"Briefly. He went to live with T'Rea, his mother," Michael says, eyeing her. "How do you know about Sybok?"

"He works at my school. He likes to make sure I'm doing well," Jaime replies. "I hear you're Sarek's favourite."

"If you could call it that," Michael says neutrally. "Do you know why Mother arranged for you to come to the Clan Meet?"

Starlight. Music. An ancient tree bends under the weight of a thousand witches and their daemons. Jaime kneels in front of the Witch Queen Serafina Pekkala and when the Rites are said and done, cloud pine – proper cloud pine, like her Nana Samantha's – is given to her.

"You will venture North," the Witch Queen says with her red flower crown, so pretty on her blonde head like Jaime's, "and your daemon shall remain behind, for there is where he cannot go. Your cloud pine shall carry you to the Grove and when you return, you shall be a witch in truth. The magic of the universe has deemed you one of us, but this must be done, young Jaime."

Jaime takes her cloud pine, tall and curved in her hand. Tiberius' torso brushes up against her head, sha'vok appearance heavy on her shoulder and Jaime knows, bone deep.

"I will watch him," Michael says, sitting cross-legged on the ground in front of the line where daemons cannot cross. Tiberius squawks and sits by Spock's sister, her crow daemon silent as Jaime crosses the line.

We are already Separated, Jaime wants to say, to tell Michael and the Witch Queen. Tarsus IV was our home and our hell. She remembers the purple mould and the children under her care, of Yarrow who gave her a branch that shattered when the magic of witches coursed through it. The cloud pine in her hand feels strong and as she looks up at the stars, she lifts off the ground, starlight soaking into her skin. The constellations are different and Jaime aches to be up there, closer to what she knows, intellectually, are balls of fiery gas.

I could do it. I could go up there in a spaceship – I could captain my own ship, even. Jaime wants and wants and wants.

When she gets to the Grove, her eyes close and darkness envelopes her.

It takes Jaime three years for her to get anywhere near close to comfortable in her new skin. Periods are the absolute worst, although the post-transformation nausea easily beats it, if there's a competition. Her chest is strange and soft and her skirts fit better, now that her hips are wider. It's like puberty. She remembers what she used to look like, grinning at the mirror all to herself as she spies each change, what makes her female.

Amanda helps her immensely, as does Michael. Sarek and Spock try their best, which is very appreciated as 'their best' is extraordinary. One time when Jaime goes through her cycle, testosterone levels raised up again so very suddenly, she cries and Sarek appears with raspberry sorbet and a spoon. Jaime forgets he's Vulcan, hugs him, then eats an entire two pints of sorbet in front of the holo-projector, all to herself.

"He remembered my allergies!" Jaime exclaims to Michael over vid-chat, after a different vid-chat with T'Kera that resulted in the Vulcan teenager expressing her confusion over why Jaime didn't see Sarek as a father-figure after how long it's been since being adopted into her new family – though, T'Kera believes Jaime changed her name from James to Jaime because of Vulcan adoption culture, not because of her transgender state. Michael, with her mixed cultural background, is more congratulatory over Sarek's thoughtfulness.

"He also prepared in advance. Did you say what your favourite dessert was, at any point?"

"Maybe? I'm not really one for favourites," Jaime says, remembering abruptly that Michael most likely is unaware of her history, despite the three years since their first meeting. "The allergies-thing is relatively new, actually. I was involved in…in a crisis. Starfleet didn't get there in time."

"Amanda informed me, though I don't know the details," Michael replies. "She has been extremely upset by it, in the past, when we have talked in vague terms about your placement with her. She loves you very much."

Jaime smiles softly. "Really?"

"Indeed. Our time is nearly up, however." Michael eyes something off-screen, that 'something' eventually moving into view. Jaime peers at the other Starfleet officer, who is clearly in her pyjamas and who Jaime has not met before, on vid-chat or otherwise. However, considering that state of dress and previous discussions of Michael's personal life, Jaime has a pretty good idea who this is. "Jaime, this is my wife, Philippa. I may have mentioned her, before."

"Oh yeah," Jaime grins, "Hey, Michael's-wife."

Philippa raises a sceptical eyebrow. "I see you've been gossiping, Michael."

"Yes, Emperor, gossiping." Michael purses her lips, looking up at her wife with a disapproving face. "You should probably get dressed."

"I agree," Jaime is quick to say, as Philippa's robe slips. "I'm getting quite the eyeful."

Philippa grouchily tugs her robe shut. "Say goodbye, Michael."

"Farewell, Jaime," Michael says, raising the ta'al. Jaime barely manages to return it, before the connection cuts out.

"She's probably going to get some of that," Jaime snickers to herself, before messaging Spock, asking him what he's doing.

SPOCK: I am studying.

JIM-JAM: Studying what?

SPOCK: The history of Starfleet. It is a required course.

JIM-JAM: And probably more interesting than any VSA History course.

SPOCK: Cease.

Jaime rolls her eyes.

JIM-JAM: We both know that the VSA are bastards and that, while joining them might have once been pretty rad, you're having the time of your life in Starfleet.

SPOCK: The VSA are a respectable institution, simply behind in the times.

JIM-JAM: Ooh, burn. So 'behind in the times' = 'racist bastards'?

JIM-JAM: I'm telling Michael this, by the way. She always enjoys learning about her baby brother's sass.

SPOCK: Michael does not need to know.

JIM-JAM: Michael DOES need to know. My argument in favour of this decision is that it would bring her joy, a beneficial emotion for humans.

Spock replies, but Jaime doesn't get to see it as almost simultaneously, a knock comes from the door. Putting down her PADD, Jaime walks to the other side of the room and opens it to find Amanda, bearing a cardboard box marked FRAGILE.

"Is that for me?" Jaime blinks, surprised.

"Yes," Amanda says simply, a grin curling onto her face. Jaime, wary, takes the package, which is heavier than she expected and opens it there and then, surprised to find her father's books. Jaw slipping downwards, she picks up his copy of Swallows and Amazons, awed. "Winona sent lots of things. This is just the one she said you'd like the most."

"Well- well yeah," Jaime says, quiet. She puts Swallows and Amazons back inside the box carefully, bringing it inside her room and setting it down on her desk, on top of homework and her most recent group-project with T'Kera and other Vulcan students she'd become acquainted with. "Did she send anything else marked as important?"

"Apparently, she would have sent keys," Amanda says wryly, "but someone drove the car to go with them into a quarry."

"I was in the right," Jaime replies instantly.

Amanda leans against the doorframe, almost hesitant in her movements. Jaime could understand why – Vulcan's don't do 'frivolous movement' and leaning against something is a sign you can't stand on your own. They don't understand why humans do it and Amanda had been on Vulcan for over twenty years. Maybe I rubbed off on her, Jaime thinks with a hint of a smile.

"Your mother is selling the house you grew up in."

Her smile dies.

Iowa is the same. From the smell in the air to the crops surrounding the house – it's all the same. Jaime climbs up into Sam's treehouse the first night, unable to sleep in the house that Frank pounded through every evening, in the house where her blood is spilt on the floor. There are marks on the wall by the front door that say Sam, age 5 and Jim, age 4 and there's a lock on the inside of the cupboard under the stairs that Jaime installed herself, so as to have an extra hiding place when Frank was drunk and raging.

Winona transferred the deed over to her. Jaime has it on her PADD, attached to her civilian accounts data and in paper, lying on the dining table that Jaime did her homework on when she was eight.

A week into her self-imposed hell, Jaime gets a job in the local town, using the savings her mother set up for her to buy a bike and get a license. Her ID says female and the patrons leer at her chest, even though the bartender only lets her work till nine at night washing dishes and serving bar food. At seventeen, her hometown is small and humid, full of old-timers and engineers working at the shipyard. In two months when she turns eighteen, Jaime will have the run of the place, but until then it's empty.

The shipyard is her saving grace.

I'm going to get out of here. I'm going to join Starfleet.

Before that happens, though, Jaime has to actually figure out her Earth-side education, which is a pain in the ass. Vulcan has its own standards and no way did she manage to get the high credentials needed to enter Starfleet before she left – Vulcan's leave their schools at nineteen, after all and not any sooner, ever. Any hope of getting qualifications from there are gone and to top it all off, her experience doesn't transfer over to her Earth education.

It will be another year before Jaime can leave Iowa and that's if she's managed not to throw herself in jail, by the end of it.

T'Kera advises her to have better emotional control. "You are human, but you are better than this, Jaime of Enara," her friend scolds her over vid-chat as she simultaneously writes a report. "S'chn T'gai Spock has been in contact with me, requesting your contact information. As we previously discussed, I have declined."

"Thank-you. I'm sorry for asking you."

"Do you regret requesting such a favour of me?" T'Kera queries. "For I can deliver such information to him. You are aware that I do not approve of this lack in contacting your foster-family."

"No- no, it's fine, T'Kera. Your help is appreciated. Thank-you."

"I will only continue to help if you improve your efforts in your scholastic advancement."

"Great," Jaime laughs humourlessly. "I'll get right on it."

"Your tone relays your sarcasm. Friend, you must advance. If there is no advancement, stagnation results."

"I'll get somewhere, T'Kera, don't worry about me. I'll do better, I swear," Jaime replies genuinely, sighing to herself. "Good luck with your essay. Peace and long life to you."

"Peace and long life." They exchange the ta'al before Jaime cuts the connection, sighing again – then, she begins the large lot of homework she's refused to do.

"I've got to start somewhere," she mutters, before digging in.