This is a disclaimer.


She's paler than Jim remembers, and there are dark bruises under her eyes. There's an aching certainty in his chest that they've been there for two years, and a stab of guilt runs through him that he couldn't do this for her sooner.

"Reporting for duty, sir," she says, and is her voice a little hoarser than he remembers? He's not sure.

"Good to see you again," Jim says softly, ignoring the formalities in favour of holding his hands out to her over the table top, palms up in offering.

Gaila takes them. Her skin feels rougher than it did, two years of actual work in Engineering leaving calluses that the Academy hadn't prepared her for.

Sometimes, Jim thinks the Academy hadn't prepared any of them for anything.

"Thank you for this," she says.

On a sudden impulse, he draws her hands up to his face and presses a kiss to her knuckles, an outdated, olde worlde gesture that makes her smile.

"It's against regulations, but you and Nyota are welcome to bunk together if that'll help," he says.

Gaila squeezes his fingers, laughing. "She told you her first name! When? Why? Tell me everything!"

Jim does.