Disclaimer: I do not own any part of the Star Trek universe, and will not be profiting from this. I also do not own "Flowers of Bermuda", by Stan Rogers, the song from which I borrowed the title.

He Could Smell the Flowers of Bermuda

"Someday," he says earnestly, "someday, Winona, when I'm a captain..."

Captains have a few perks. There's the chair on the bridge, of course, all systems and reports available beneath the captain's hands, and the salary, and the private room would definitely come in handy, none of this scurrying around, no sharing the married quarters with another couple who worked the opposite shift. Colin and Alex Herrera are very nice and all, but there've been some awkward moments in the beginning when one person or another forgot some tool or report and came dashing back for it mid-shift, leading to a "knock and wait five minutes" policy.

The perk George covets the most, though, the one that makes his eyes go far away and wistful, is the real, honest-to-god, hot, wet, water shower. The "hot" part's negotiable, even. Back in Iowa, they have a little house, big enough for the two of them and with a spare bedroom ("Just in case, George, really, and in the meantime it's great for an office!") and the most decadent shower in the world, with a little shelf where Winona keeps her shampoo. Her hair reminds him of cornfields in the sun, but when he comes up behind her and wraps his arms around her waist, and closes his eyes and dips his head to kiss her cheek, it smells of some tropical flower he couldn't identify even if he was a botanist.

When they were both assigned to the Kelvin, he very carefully decanted some shampoo into a 50mL travel bottle and wrote on it, very carefully, "Shore Leave". They put it in a little drawer, next to the sonic shower.

***

Starfleet had to know. In all the media, and all the hubbub, and the poignant overplayed invasive shots of survivors landing in San Francisco and batting at the hovercams, Starfleet had to know. Cadet Pike, who'd arrived at the Academy two years behind Lieutenant Kirk, was assigned the project. Me, I was only a non-com sensor tech, but I'd been pulled in to do a seminar, and nobody had a steadier eye, and besides my cousin Barry had nearly been assigned to the Kelvin, so I pulled him aside after class and told him that fieldwork would count for credit, and would he like a hand? He said yes, of course, and we left for the wreckage the next day.

The ship we were in was a survey scout, with a crew of six, and an estimated mission time of two weeks. It'd take longer than that to catalogue all the wreckage, usually, but an impact like the survivors were talking about doesn't leave much, and what it does leave is generally travelling pretty damn quick in a sphere, and, normal-space physics being what they are, doesn't stop until it hits something.

There's not a whole lot to hit in space. It's pretty empty.

***

Two years into the mission, the shampoo bottle is empty. He's just coming off-shift, and he's tired as anything, because deep-space exploration doesn't really require much of the first officer beyond a metric ton of paperwork and ordering the helmsman to "go in a straight line, and then yaw three degrees, pitch one-half degree down, and then go in a straight line again" and, while not exciting, the degree of precision involved sets his teeth on edge. A computer could do it, but he's there for emergencies, and (he admits privately) there's something about a living being doing something and going somewhere nobody's ever done or gone before that gives him a little thrill every time he sets a new heading and records it for posterity. George Kirk, Starfleet Lieutenant And Space Explorer.

He's dimly aware that his best girl is doing the hard work, down in Cartography, but he's still helping.

He's just coming off-shift, and ready to have dinner with Winona – hopefully today's menu doesn't include the pink nutricubes that taste like chalk – he's ready to have dinner with Winona, and he palms open the door to their quarters and she's not there. Cartography's closer to their quarters than the bridge is, and she's always home first. He comms Cartography, and she's not there. He frowns a little, and comms Colin Herrera down in Engineering, who hasn't seen her recently, but then, he's been up to his elbows in wiring since he got pulled out of bed by the Chief two hours ago, and he's sure she'll turn up.

George sets the table.

He's just about to panic when the door chimes and she walks in, looking rumpled. "Guess we'll be needing that spare room next time we're Earthside," she says, and he gapes at her.

"Huh?" She looks at him wryly. "Oh," he says, "oh", and then he's whooping and picking her up and swinging her around in a circle, corn-bright hair swinging loose from its regulation braid, and then he's putting her down and patting at her arms hoping he didn't hurt her and she's laughing at him. He can't have her laughing at him, so he kisses her to shut her up, and one thing leads to another and the blue nutricubes are still on the table when the clock summons them back to headings and charts.

***

You've never seen anything quite like it. There've been a bunch of historians and documentarians and whatever asking me about my thoughts when I arrived at the place they're calling Robau's Area now, but honestly, I couldn't think all that much. Scoutships don't have the fancy viewscreens, just sections of hull that don't have equipment on them and are made of some weird transparent alloy the Vulcans developed. So when I say that, what I mean is that everything is right there, not filtered through cables and turned into data and then turned back. Most people don't ever see things with their own eyes, these days, and that's a damn shame, but it makes things easier.

We dropped out of warp, Cadet Pike at the helm because cadet or not, he was a damn fine pilot, and, big as space is, and dispersed as wreckage gets, there's still the chance that you're going to want to duck pretty fast. I'd never seen anything quite like it, either, and for a moment or two my head was as empty as a starfield.

Picture this. Stars don't twinkle without an atmosphere, so they're cold and harsh, and don't really give off much light, so everything casts long shadows. There's not much light, so you mostly see where things are by where the stars aren't, until you cast one of the spotlights on it. Which we did, me and Carrie, and there was this spar, like the leg of some demented spider, only I've never seen any spider that glistened like that, let alone one with legs two klicks long. Pike ordered it tagged with a beacon for retrieval, later, and suddenly we were all talking at once, because we had something to do.

***

George is terrified. The captain's signal has winked out, and his brave friend Richard is dead. His wife is aboard an evacuation shuttle, though, and he sends up a prayer of thanks to any deities that care to listen, including that Andorian one he's pretty sure Bipt over in Medical made up.

Weird, he thinks, how bright the strange ship is. There really isn't much light to reflect, but it does anyway, sort of slithering along the spars. He can hardly take his eyes off of it.

"It's a boy", she says, Jim, and he loves her more in that moment than he thought he could, and he tells her so.

This is the worst and the best day of his life.

There's one thing that never really made the media. Starfleet doesn't talk about it much, and you can't tell on some of them, but it's borrowed a lot of traditions from Earth militaries, and this one's the quietest.

We were finishing up the cleanup work – tagged all the larger pieces with beacons, and grabbed samples of the smallest ones (and I've never seen starship plates warped quite like that), and then my eyes came into play. There's a reason Starfleet sends out the sharp-eyed sensor techs and the long-eared comms officers on these jaunts. It doesn't really take much work to spot the giant sensor images of blasted starship hull. Maybe half the mission time. Thing is, some things are important.

They're made of some insanely expensive alloy, near-indestructable. I don't know what-all goes into them, really, but they're fitted with the tiniest beacons there are, and little thrusters so that they can reduce their velocity to near-zero. They're damn heavy around your neck, I can tell you, but there isn't a soul in Starfleet who'd take theirs off. Get within a light-second of them, and you can hear them, a tiny insistent beeping. That'll get you within ten klicks or so, and then it's up to the sensor tech.

I've got a ninety-six percent find rate.

It took the better part of a week, to find them all. Some of them were still tucked tidily under uniform shirts, and we suited up for those. Some things, you just don't want to use a tractor beam for. Cadet Pike wept, long salty worms he had to shake his head to disperse in the zero-g as he steered one of them back into our hold to a waiting bag. There wasn't a scratch on her, and when we found her she was gazing at the stars through eyes frosted white with flash-frozen tears, and her hands were open.

We found the last one through a stroke of luck. We'd been six hours looking for it, unwilling to give up, but running out of time, when Carrie, bless her heart, caught a discrepancy in the sound of that first beacon we'd deployed, over on the spider-leg. We followed it in, suited up, and I'll be damned if it wasn't caught on an outcropping of that strange black metal, all tangled and blasted to hell, but still calling to us.

George Kirk's dogtag.

Chris and I – I suppose I should call him Lieutenant Pike now, he's graduated, and I was on his dissertation committee – Lieutenant Pike and I crossed the Earth, taking what was left of those men and women home. Close as we could get, anyway. We made stops at embassies in San Francisco, and learned about other ways of grief. China's real pretty in April, you know. Plum blossom on the mountains and all, white specks like a starfield.

Last stop, we went to Iowa. Full dress uniform, and extra polish on the boots, and there she was, holding that little boy. Lieutenant Pike gave her the box. We'd thought about cleaning the thing up a bit, but it seemed disrespectful, somehow. She opened it one-handed, and her lips pressed together, and her chin came up a bit.

"You'd better come in," she said, and I'll never forget the sound of her voice – of any of their voices, but hers was the last – like metal under strain. She made tea, and gave me the baby to hold. He didn't seem to mind much, and the smell of his soft baby hair beneath my chin was like flowers.