Seven years, and many adventures later...
"You know some people get a fifteen minute break every four hours, others get maternity leave, though I certainly didn't. If anything you only capitalized on my condition." I studied my nails for a moment before sighing, "It took you seven freakin' years to decide to give me an 'undetermined amount of time for pleasurable study.' What does that mean anyway?" I held up my hand before he could reply. "Wait, don't tell me. It will be pleasurable for you, like it always has been, and I'll be the one studied, again just like always."
"You see that is why I chose you." Q clapped me on my upper back sending all the air out of my lungs in a rush. "You are relatively quick to realize the obvious."
It took me a moment to breathe, and think, properly, after that hit. "Too bad I can't join a worker's union against you. I'd have many complaints to file."
"Would you really want to file against me?" He rubbed his hands together in mischief and I sighed, knowing that would only make my life worse.
"You are sick, you know that right?"
"Now why would you say that?"
"Because you just are. How come you don't need a reason for anything but I always have to have a reason?"
He grinned, "Because it's so much fun hearing you complain."
"Twerp." I glanced around at my surroundings and then turned back to him. "But why? After all these years, and after all that's happened, why?"
He grinned that mischievous grin that always sent warning shivers down my back and shrugged, "You've done such a wonderful job these past few years, I figured I'd give you a treat. You were overdue for a visit after all."
"Yeah, but with the crew I actually knew!" I glared at him but knew it would do no good. "Not with this…this…alternate reality crew I've never met." I sighed, my shoulders slumping. "This is going to be so awkward."
He grinned even more, this time rubbing his hands together in glee, "That's what's going to make this all the more interesting to watch. I already did you a favor by allowing the others to have memories of you through dreams, don't push your luck by actually thinking I'd let you go back to them." He frowned. "That'd be too easy for you and far too boring for me."
I glared daggers at him but kept silent. It was best to keep silent when he made such threats and reminded me of how powerful he was and how pathetic I was.
"I'm sure you'll do a fine job and I'll be quite entertained." He spoke up again, punctuating his words with an awkward pat on my back.
I looked over at him in surprise, "You mean you're not going to come with me on this little adventure you set up?"
"Nope," he smiled and patted my back again, "It's all yours this time. Do me proud will you?" Suddenly I was in babies' clothes and he held me in his arms. "You've grown so much in these past years." He kissed my forehead, giving me a headache, and then suddenly I was redressed and he was no longer holding me. And then just as suddenly as I changed, a boy was in his arms, not at all looking confused at the suddeninity of his appearance. "So has Caiden hasn't he?" At my rather concerned look Q sighed and the boy disappeared, "Don't worry I'll still comply with your stipulations for care. Although I think this child needs more excitement in his life."
"He's associated with you and his mother 'works' for you; how much more excitement can a child get?" I knew Caiden would be safe, Q was trustworthy in that area alone, but whether or not Q would not try to get into trouble with him was another matter. "Just don't feed him too many sweets or change him into anything or alter his age or-"
He gave me a hard slap on the back before he poofed into thin air. I hated it when he did that—just made me even more jealous of his abilities. The little twerp was part leprechaun part muse part devil part angel part worst nightmare part bully part 3-year-old part…something indescribable. I suppose "Q" was indeed the best way to describe the infamous Q himself. He was equally likeable and dislikeable at the same time, and yes that WAS possible.
He certainly had been a great help, and hindrance, during my pregnancy. While he'd hurried time and I didn't carry Caiden for nearly as long as the typical female, he also used my pregnancy against me and put me into some fairly awkward situations during that time. Just thinking about them made me shiver.
Now he had me entering into an equally awkward situation, though at least this time I wasn't pregnant, and thank goodness for that as just thinking about interacting with certain individuals made butterflies form in my stomach; I certainly didn't need the added butterflies brought on by pregnancy. But still, it would be odd. People I thought I knew were going to be different and yet the same. This was going to totally suck and yet be fun at the same time. Curse Q! Why did he have to know me so well as to know that I'd find twisted enjoyment out of this challenge?
A deck finally shimmered into view before me and I refrained from double checking to make sure all of me had reformed correctly. After all these years of basically appearing and disappearing onto worlds, across realities, and into space vessels according to Q's whims, I should've been used to silly things like transporters, but I still got the uncanny sensation that perhaps something wasn't quite the way it had once been before the transport—like maybe my nose was in my neck or an ear was completely gone. I was reminded of Mac with my silly fears because he was exactly the same—well at least the Mac I'd known had been like that. Who knew what this Mac would be like…
I scanned the room, taking in the alien features mixed with the familiar ones. This was going to be like an acid trip, everything was going to make sense and not make sense at the same time. As I continued to look around the room a once familiar but now alien and much younger figure stepped forward, "Your orders, please."
I merely stared for a moment, in dumb silence, before that elusive eyebrow began to rise and I remembered my part in this farce set up by Q. I sheepishly handed him the orders and refrained from staring, though barely. I was to be the ship's assistant counselor, newly assigned. From what I'd gathered from Q, who hadn't dropped much, the ship was only recently replacing crewmen and heading out on a series of training drills before going on its first official peacetime mission—whatever THAT meant.
"Lieutenant Brenna Jones." I didn't think I'd get used to that but Q had insisted on giving me rank, the little devil. "Welcome aboard the Starship Enterprise. I am first officer Spock." His voice was both the same and different from the other Spock. "If you'll follow me Lieutenant."
I was tempted to say something witty like "To the ends of the earth my darling," or "Only if you pay for dinner," but I knew now was not the time or place for my natural inclination for sarcasm and jocularity. In fact, now that I was in a Star Fleet uniform, that tendency of mine would more than likely land me in the brig for insubordination or something like that. Best keep to dry humor then. I could do that, for short time frames—just like my attention span. Now I was aboard the new, though not improved or disproved, Enterprise and her different and yet similar crew.
"Well Lieutenant?" Spock now stood by the doorway and I found myself still gaping at everything. "You are coming." More a statement than a question and I realized I was NOT making a good impression thus far.
I quickly moved off the transporter pad, though not as gracefully as I would've liked. You know those women who are always graceful and seem to float through air? I'm not one of them. No, I'm more like an elephant on figure skates, blundering my way through the world. Thus it was no surprise, though it was still unwelcome, that I tripped off the transporter pad, bounced off a console—surprising the technicians stationed there—and landed in a heap at Spock's feet. I dreaded looking up at him so I didn't. I had to sit still a moment, in order to swallow past the curse I wanted to let out, before I bounced back to my feet, brushed off my aching bum and hip, and smiled cheerfully.
"Are you harmed Lieutenant?" Spock had not reached forward to help me, though not insult to him as it had happened so quickly.
I smiled, "Well you know what they say." He raised an eyebrow before I continued. "One small step for mankind." I winked at the closest technician and though I got a small smile I knew I'd only confused them.
Spock raised an eyebrow, "I am vaguely familiar with that phrase, though I do not believe it was applied to such a situation."
"Oh it was a joke First Officer Spock. Something to cover what would've been an awkward silence for me and the fellow humans in here." I was blushing, I knew, but I continued on valiantly. "Now, shall we proceed past my embarrassing moment?"
He left the eyebrow raised but nodded, leading me out into the corridor of a buzzing Enterprise that I would have to re-learn, and hopefully with better success than my previous episode. I knew there would be other awkward moments, soon to follow knowing my luck, but I didn't seek out such moments. They just happened to fall in my lap; like children sought out Santa's lap, awkward moments sought mine. Darn them…
"We will depart the station or 1330 hours. Until that time I will orientate you to your station." Spock stated, obviously believing that I'd be right beside him when he spoke, instead of lagging behind as I watched everyone in fascination.
I nodded silently, pinching myself to come back to reality. It had been too long since I'd been aboard the Enterprise. Well, seven years to be exact, and even then it had been a different Enterprise. It almost felt like a dream to be here. However, this was no dream. This was reality. And this wasn't the Spock I'd grown to know and have an affectionate—though not at all romantic—love for. This was a different Spock, one who had lived different experiences than the Spock I'd known. (Although Q hadn't told me a lot about what was different in this reality, he had at least told me that no one was exactly the same and that it would be safer for me to not act familiar with any of them, though being Q, he encouraged me to do so anyways.)
Spock being Spock, he did not waste time chit chatting about my life, he'd probably read the report Q had created—I could only imagine all the fun facts Q'd thrown in. Knowing my luck he'd said something about me being an excellent negotiator with Cardassians—which I knew from experience that I was NOT. If anything I just pissed them off even more or actually attracted them—and believe me that's NOT something you want to have happen any time soon. An attracted Cardassian can be likened to Jaws pursuing you up onto the beach and home with you to meet your parents. Not a pretty sight let me tell you.
As we rounded the corner I had to withhold my gasp of delight. Heading down the corridor towards us was Chekov and Sulu. Chekov barely looked old enough to be out of the Academy and Sulu was more filled out, though lacked the womanizing aura; since apparently everyone was so young, he probably had just not developed that skill yet. Spock did not introduce us; I just happened to recognize them and barely kept myself from talking to them like old times. Gosh this was going to give me a raging headache!
"Who do you have there, Spock?" HIS voice stopped me in my tracks.
Of course HE'd be here, he was the freaking captain after all, but this was going to be difficult. To look him in the eye and pretend he now meant nothing to me, to pretend that…oh it was difficult with all of them but with HIM…gosh. Spock turned to face Captain Kirk and indicated me with a slight nod of his head.
"Captain Kirk this is Lieutenant Jones. She is the ship's assistant counselor."
As I turned I had to swallow past the lump in my throat. There HE stood, basically leering at me, and I could only smile and nod back at him as if nothing were out of the ordinary—though of course I was the one out of the ordinary. As I quickly studied him I was taken aback at how young he was, how green in the gills he appeared. My goodness how early was I in this timeline of events? They both, Spock and Kirk, looked like they were barely out of the Academy, and knowing my luck they probably were; ready and eager to take on the universe in one small ship—well it's not exactly small but compared to the whole freaking universe it is a mere speck.
I could see traces of "my" James T. Kirk in this mere slip of a man in front of me. Those traces would be the bane of my existence here. It would be those traces that tempted me to slip into familiarity with a man who did not know me or know about my history with the other Him. In any case this was going to be harder than I thought. However, hopefully with him being so young and with this being a different reality, this Kirk would be significantly different personality wise. I was banking on the differences to protect my fragile heart. Even now, staring at his smiling face, I felt my heart strings tug this way and that as images of MY Kirk flashed through my mind.
Suddenly I blushed when his facial expression changed ever so slightly from open friendliness to possible seductiveness. Apparently I'd been silently staring at him too long. Perhaps my silence had given him the idea that I was struck dumb with his hotness. Damn, that's all I needed.
"Welcome aboard Lieutenant. Do you have a name between Lieutenant and Jones or is that it?"
He had the charm of the old James, that would be difficult to handle, but he was rougher around the edges and that would help me immensely. This Kirk was probably my age or maybe even a year or so younger—it had been over seven years since the last Enterprise incident. (To be honest, sometimes I had to actually sit down in silence to think about my past in order to keep it alive as being around Q tended to distract one from reality. So many times I'd almost forgotten where I'd come from, who my parents were, whether or not I had a brother, that sort of thing. Thankfully though, I do remember all of the above, at least right now I do. And of course the presence of Caiden helped to remind me when all else failed.)
"It's Brenna sir." I smiled at him, my good humor peeking through the instantaneous melancholy that'd hit me at the memory of my past life. "Brenna Jones."
He nodded, "Well I'm sure Spock will give you a good tour," he shared a wink and I had to stifle an urge to giggle, "and I'll see you later." He started away then turned around and came back, holding his hands up for emphasis. "Outside your office and off duty of course."
I grinned, "As I'm merely the assistant, that may be arranged. However I will be briefed on all the crew." I winked back, surprising Kirk enough that he grinned. "Have to make sure no one has a screw loose."
"I don't know how screws factor into the mental stability of this crew." Spock's voice reminded me of his presence and I again had to stifle the urge to giggle.
Kirk jerked a thumb in his direction, "We're still breaking him in on human idioms."
"I can see that." I smiled. "I look forward to seeing you again Captain Kirk."
"You can count on it." He gave me another suggestive smile then turned away.
As I watched him walk away flashes of my time aboard the other Enterprise nearly choked out my good humor and left me a bit melancholy once more. But when I realized that I was left with Spock, in the near deserted gangway, I turned to face him and gave a small smile. I pushed back my old memories and made myself resolute to the task of making new ones.
"You may proceed first officer Spock, I'm all ears."
He eyed me curiously, probably sizing up my ears and deciding whether or not to make a comment, before he nodded and turned back to the task at hand. As we walked I was given the opportunity to check him out, though I had to be extremely discreet since I swear he has eyes in the back of his head. He was thinner yet more powerfully built than the other Spock, though equally good looking. He appeared more aloof and less "human" than the other as well. I got the feeling that interacting with him was going to be akin to hugging an ice cycle, at least at first.
We ended up passing Christine, and she was even prettier than I remembered. I smiled and nodded at her and she returned the gesture, but nothing passed between her and Spock. In fact she didn't even acknowledge him. That was interesting. Then we rounded a corner and who should be standing there but Uhura.
"Commander Spock I have some readings on the Garian system that I would like to go over with you." She was tall, quite thin though curvy, and hot!
I watched as she continued to talk to Spock, though her words went over my head. I could tell from her body language that she had a bit more sass than the other Uhura. I also noted something strange that just didn't feel right. She was clearly exhibiting behavior that told of her attraction for Spock. What? I didn't have to be a touch telepath or an empath to see the sparks flying, at least from her end. That's shocking, and a little disturbing, to say the least. Spock and Uhura? Talk about weird! At least in the other 'verse it would've been. Maybe in this one it could work. But I didn't know how I felt having "my" Spock ogled over by another woman. (Just because I couldn't have him didn't mean anyone else could, besides I took care of him—well the other him—as a baby!)
"Lieutenant Uhura this is Lieutenant Jones, she has just been assigned as the ship's assistant counselor." I gave Uhura a gentle smile and nod.
"Nice to meet you." She nodded in return then turned to leave, though not before shooting Spock another hungry look.
Spock did not shift uncomfortably, like I would've if I'd been in his shoes, however he did carry on the tour professionally. Some merits of being half-Vulcan I suppose, is being able to carry on despite crushing crewmates. I inwardly sighed in relief. If he continued to be this aloof then he wouldn't have to worry about me crushing on him. I couldn't help but wonder what had happened in this reality to cause such a change in him, but I figured I'd find out eventually.
By the time we made it to my station, my head was spinning with all the slight alterations. Spock had mentioned a few things here and there about scheduling and stuff, but it'd gone in one ear and out the other—a feat I'm quite good at. I was surprised that I had an actual off, just a small adjoining room to the head counselor's office. Of course, right before we went into my office, I heard Bones approach Spock, sounding not at all pleased with life.
"Who do I have to bribe to get the equipment I need around here?" He growled at Spock, not even taking notice of my presence right around the corner from him. "I'm a doctor not a magician, I can't make equipment and medicines appear out of nowhere, though from the way things are working around here you'd seem to think Starfleet thought I was."
Spock wasn't ruffled in the slightest, as usual, "Doctor McCoy no bribes will be necessary in order for you to receive your equipment. It is, in fact, on its way now. It was moved back in shipment in order for the ship's assistant counselor to arrive."
"So you took some old quack over my damn equipment?" He sounded incredulous and I had to almost cover my mouth to keep from laughing. "I hope you don't get sick any time soon, you or the rest of the crew for that matter, because I'll be working with tools from the dark ages in here!" He turned and started back into his office.
"Doctor McCoy." Spock's voice stopped him and he turned to glare at the Vulcan. "Would you care to meet the 'old quack' as you so described our assistant counselor?"
"Where is the old coot?" I heard him stalking closer and I steeled myself for his reaction. "I better get this done with, I have better things to do then chatter with old-" His words died in his mouth when he rounded the corner and saw me, and in fact my expression fell into shock when I saw him.
I really was early in this timeline because there standing before me was a McCoy I actually found myself physically attracted to. He was tall, powerfully built, with dark brown hair and equally dark brown eyes. I knew that if we got drunk together and ended up in bed there would be no innocent sleeping, not with this McCoy. I'd take full advantage of his inebriation, to put it lightly. As I stood there blatantly attracted to him already, suddenly Mac's words from the other reality came back to haunt me, "give my younger self a chance will ya?" Oh boy would I! When Bones continued to remain silent and Spock shifted slightly I knew I'd better say something.
"Contrary to popular myth, not all counselor's are old, not all old men like to chat, and obviously I am both a woman and young-ish." I extended a hand and a warm smile, doing my best to rein in my attraction. "Lieutenant Brenna Jones. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you're Doctor Leonard McCoy, head physician." I pulled my hand back after a hearty, though absent minded on his part, handshake.
My words and movements seemed to shake him out of his stupor and he finally looked sheepish, "I'm sorry Miss Jones, if I'd had known who you were I never would've said those things."
"It's Lieutenant, Doctor McCoy, not Miss." Of course Spock had to correct the poor doctor.
McCoy shot Spock a death glare then turned a smile on me, "I hope you can forgive my hasty words and allow me a fresh start in getting better acquainted with you."
Oh gosh that Southern charm, he had it turned on and that flattered me to no end because I knew in the other reality he only did that when he was physically interested in someone. Well if I wasn't in uniform and forced to comply with Starfleet regulations as a result of that I'd blatantly and unashamedly flirt right back with him, consequences be damned.
"Well I'll be happy to get to know you better," I grinned at him, "when you visit me in my office for the mandatory meeting with all ship's personnel." I gave him a suggestive smile before I turned to Spock, "Onward ho, first officer Spock."
He raised an eyebrow before preceding me into my office where I knew he'd give me the rundown of my duties and schedules and yada yada blah blah. I eyed McCoy once more before disappearing into my office, and the verbal clutches of Spock. Bones had only smiled right back him and before he turned to head back into sickbay I noticed that he'd checked out my bum. I smiled to myself as I continued to listen to Spock. This was going to be most interesting indeed.