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Author's Note: Written for the "It's Not Easy being Green" Gaila Commentfic Extravaganza
A Brief History of Lt (j.g.) Gaila Aboard the USS Enterprise (NCC 1701)
Her first month aboard Enterprise, Gaila is put on Gamma Shift in Engineering. She actually doesn't mind being awake and working during ship's "night" when her wide corridors are dim and half-empty, and the rec room is nearly deserted. She's always been good at working on her own, and she and Keenser hit it off straight away. The senior engineer tells her all about Scotty, in brief short sentences punctuated by the ring of metal on metal as he occasionally insists concussive maintenance is often the best medicine—even regarding the warp core.
She finds out that Keenser had pretty much adopted the human engineer as a pet on Delta Vega, and had been terribly worried no-one would feed/water/exercise him properly. So he'd pulled strings until he got assigned to Enterprise, just to make sure he could keep an eye on him. Gaila thinks about how protective she is of Nyota, and understands. Between duty shifts, she and Keesnar discuss Beta Quadrant politics, and she also teaches him how to cheat at poker. It is a mutually beneficial relationship that confuses onlookers, but Gaila enjoys nonetheless.
Her second month aboard Enterprise, and she's transferred to Beta shift, and works directly under Mr Scott. He's an odd human, and it takes a while for her to understand what he's saying half the time because while she's fluent in Standard, when he's in a hurry or really pleased about something, he starts talking so quickly in cadences she can't parse that she ends up just nodding and smiling a lot until he calms down. Keenser downloads the collected works of Robert Burns to her comm, and she finds it extremely helpful. However, she takes every opportunity she can to see if she can make Mr Scott blush using nothing but maths. Naked integers. Suggestive algorithms. Bawdy transdimentional proofs. She loves the way the tips of his ears turn pink every time she hands him a PAAD so he can check her calculations.
By six months into her tour of duty, Scott trusts her enough to make infinitesimal adjustments to the intermix equations used to determine the proper mix of matter and antimatter in the warp core reaction chamber. As a result, Enterprise warps back 7.6 hours in space/time, which was an unexpected side-effect, but it does result in Gaila co-authoring several papers for the engineering journals, documenting the effect. And earns her both a full Lieutenant's stripes, and a dressing down from the captain for attempting to change the laws of physics without clearing it with him and Mr Spock first. Keenser and Mr Scott speak up for her, with Scott taking full blame for the incident with a cheerful grin. She rewards him with a particularly exuberant physical display of the Fourth Law of Thermodynamics in the 'lift between Deck 3 and Deck 11. He even calls her the next day, which she thinks is awfully sweet of him.
Nineteen months into their first deep-space mission, they escort a Tellarite diplomatic courier to Babel, where the mining rights of several moons in the Deneb system were being negotiated. When he makes unwanted sexual advances to Gaila in Rec Room 3, she discovers that her Starfleet hand-to-hand combat training, through rarely used in Engineering, is still fresh enough in her mind that he's wheezing on the floor only 4.8 seconds after the initial contact of his hand with her ass.
She panics for a moment, until, as he struggles to get up, he finds Nyota Uhura's boot-heel hovering over his windpipe, and he is escorted to his quarters by Security. She's worried that she might have caused an interstellar incident. Or at the very least, will be brought up on insubordination charges. However, the official incident report is logged without any reference to Gaila or Uhura's involvement, with Doctor McCoy's report stating the Tellarite sustained his minor injuries when "he slipped in a puddle of spilled n'gann-spiced beverage from a malfunctioning food slot". Also absent from the report is Christine Chapel administering several sedatives to keep the Tellarite unconscious for the remainder of his journey, or Mr Scott beaming him directly from Sickbay to the Babel One outpost.
Two years after they leave Earth, Gaila is nearly killed on an Away Mission to a malfunctioning orbital Weigh Station that Starfleet was concerned was being sabotaged by recalcitrant terraforming crews. She and two other members of an engineering crew are caught in an explosion from an incendiary device planted behind the bulkhead they were working on. She wakes up in the medical bay with fresh pale green skin on her arm and side, already itching. Dr McCoy tells her Kyle and Briggs were killed in the blast, while she suffered 3rd degree burns over 1/3rd of her body.
Scotty plays the bagpipes at their funeral, and she composes letters to their parents that she never sends. Her new skin heals so perfectly there aren't even scars to remember them by, thought it takes months for her hair to grow back out long enough to pin up in a low bun on the nape of her neck.
Two weeks out from the end of Enterprise's first Five Year Mission, Gaila has a not-so-silent debate with herself in her quarters before she shows up in Jim's quarters (doorcodes aren't really that big of a deal when you're on the Engineering crew responsible for programming them in). Clutched in her hand is a flimsy printout of his recommendation to Starfleet that she be posted on the Yorktown with a full promotion to Lt Commander. Unlike Enterprise—whose senior staff have no intention of transferring to other ships in teh fleet to try and nab a position higher up the chain of command—there's more room for advancement there. The Yorkie's captain is one of Pike's old crew and Jim thinks Gaila'll be a good fit there, if she'll accept the transfer.
He's not the Iowa farmboy anymore, but her superior officer. So they actually talk for nearly an hour before she gets him flat on his back on his bunk. For old times sake. He's learned a few new tricks since they did this last, and so has she, and neither one is foolish enough to even attempt to mention the word "love". But she admits as she's packing her duffel that it will be odd and possibly even surreal to have a CO she hasn't seen naked (yet).
Keenser is the hardest to say goodbye to, after Nyota who refuses to cry but promises to stay in touch via subspace and extracts the same promise from Gaila, who does cry. They've hardly spent a week apart in eight years, and there's no-one else in Gaila's life who knows about her aversion to wearing shoes, or how holovids about small furry animals make her cry, or that she's unbearably ticklish on the insides of her elbows.
But—she decides as she watches the light from Sol limn Enterprise's nacelles with gold as the shuttle pulls out of the aft hangar bay, five year's worth of trinkets and shore leave off-duty clothes and memories and heartache and triumphs in the grey canvas bag at her feet—there will be new friends and lovers and confidants and coworkers. New adventures, on her always broadening horizons.