In Which The Enterprise Is Like A Village
XVII – We Can Lick Gravity (But the Paperwork Is Overwhelming)
by Liss Webster
"Why do they call it paperwork?" asks Jim, lazing back in his chair as Janice Rand shuffles padds, sitting primly at the desk. She looks up at him, very much, Jim thinks indignantly, as if he was an idiot child.
"Because they used to do it all on paper," she says slowly. Right.
"Right," says Jim. He rubs the back of his head sheepishly, and leans forward. "Paper. That makes sense." He pokes a finger at the stack of padds now in front of him. "So. What've we got today?"
"What's a T32-0?" asks Jim suddenly, and Janice looks up from the mission reports she's been editing (the Captain has a dramatic flair for story-telling. Starfleet Command doesn't like dramatic flair).
Jim wiggles the padd. "It's Bones' casualty report for the past month. See? Three T1-04s – that was me and Spock and Paris getting roughed up on Linaeus IV…"
"I like how you say that like you didn't look as if you'd gone ten rounds with a prize boxer and Commander Spock had about four hairs out of place."
Jim glares at her. "Respect, Yeoman!"
She rolls her eyes at him, and grabs the padd. "T1-04s, a T22-01…"
"Chekov spraining his ankle that time he fell down a Jeffries tube," supplies Jim helpfully (and a little smugly because, dude, he has this paperwork thing down pat now, and also because he's never fallen down a Je- OK, there was that one time, but nobody's mentioned it since so it totally didn't happen).
"…a bunch of T4-04s…"
"And the T32-0. Huh." She's pulling a face, and Jim points a finger at her triumphantly.
"Ha! See! You don't know what it is either!" He teeters back on his seat so he can reach the communicator on the wall behind him. "Kirk to Sickbay."
"Sickbay here. What do you want, Jim? I'm busy." McCoy's voice is as irascible as ever, and as usual the sound of it makes Jim grin.
"Just thought I'd pester you. What the hell's a T32-0?"
"Oh," says Bones. "That." It sounds like he's grinning, and Jim narrows his eyes suspiciously. "That's just a little something I added to the official list. Apparently, no other starship in the Fleet needs it. Guess we're all just special."
"T32-0. Self-inflicted sword wound. McCoy out."
Jim looks down at the mostly-healed scar disappearing up his uniform sleeve, then up at Rand, who seems like she's mostly just trying not to laugh.
"Right," he says, and snatches back the padd to scrawl his signature at the bottom. "That's fine, then."
"So," says Rand, "that's pretty much it from Security. Except…" she tails off, and Jim looks up expectantly.
"Yeah. They were hoping you'd have a word with Ensign Chekov."
Jim frowns, confused. "What? Why?" He looks suddenly wary. "Hey, this isn't The Talk again, is it? Because I've done that. Well," he reconsiders, "actually, I didn't have to. Which was a relief. New rule, Yeoman. No cadet should be posted to active duty if there's any suspicion that they don't already know the facts of life."
"It's not the Talk," says Rand. "No, wait. Kind of is."
"Well, Chekov knows all about that," says Jim. "All about that, if you know what I mean." He waggles his eyebrows suggestively. Rand looks at him impassively. He winces. "Wait, was that sexual harassment?" he asks.
"No," says Rand. "It was just really disturbing. And apparently, Chekov knowing 'all about that' is kind of the problem. Security say he's been caught a couple of times with his pants down. And they're, uh, pretty much talking literally there. They were hoping you'd have a word, remind him that keeping clothed in the corridors is probably a plan. You know. That sort of thing." She smiles brightly.
"Yeah," says Jim, "that sort of thing. That'll be a fun conversation."
"A captain's life is full of sacrifice," says Rand.
"I hate you," says Jim.
"I protest I love thee," says Jim.
"She's not going to cast you, Captain," says Rand.
"I'd make an awesome Benedick."
Rand shrugs. "She's still not going to cast you."
Jim looks sulky. "Being captain sucks. Have I mentioned that before?"
"Many, many times. Now, you need to sign off Lt Bridgerton's requests to use the observation deck for rehearsals."
"It sucketh, Yeoman."
"Whatever," says Rand. "Sign the damned form."
"Captain?" says Rand quietly. She's standing in the doorway, outlined by the light from the corridor. "I have the files you wanted. And there's…" she pauses for a second, which is long enough for Jim to look up and see that she's been crying, "there's a list. On top."
She comes in, a little hesitantly in the dark, and lays a couple of padds on the desk, then stands, hands clasped tightly together. Jim makes a noise that might have been thanks or dismissal or both, but still she stays.
"Did- did you want me stay?" she asks. "Or get you anything. Or…"
"Next of kin's all there?" asks Jim, and his voice sounds strange. Rand nods. "That's all. I'll do this myself." She nods again, and turns to leave, but stops when he catches hold of her hand. "Thanks, Rand." He squeezes; she squeezes back, and smiles slightly in the dim light.
"It's what I'm here for, Captain," she says.
"…reports, Communication reports, Security reports, and then it's just the Engineering reports to go." Rand finishes reeling off the list of data they're sending to Starfleet HQ, and Jim casts a cursory glance over the list of files.
"OK, that's… wait a second." He stabs at the screen and opens the Engineering files. "Warp tests, warp tests, relay decay, power consumption, for the attention of Admiral Ar…" He breaks off, sighs, and reaches for the communicator. "Kirk to Commander Scott."
"Scotty, want to explain to me why we're sending a communiqué to Admiral Archer that accuses him of," he consults the screen again, "faking the entire first Enterprise mission?"
"Ah," says Scotty. "About that."
"I am really sorry about this," says Jim. Again.
Rand sits cross-legged, her back against a stone wall. "Well, this is all part of the Starfleet experience," she says philosophically. "I mean, Commander Spock and everyone will be trying to get us out, right?"
Jim nods. "Sure." He eyes the heavy iron bars of their prison. "Although, I'm pretty sure I can get us out of this myself." He rams his shoulder against the bars, and tries to hold back a whimper.
"Right," says Rand.
"Spock'll be here any minute now," says Jim, slumping down to sit next to her. "I am sorry I asked you to come. It's just, y'know, we'd got all behind with the paperwork thing, and there hasn't been time for you to come by with all your," he waves a vague hand, "stuff."
"Aw, Captain," says Rand with a grin, "didja miss me?"
"Yes," says Jim, and the moment is surprisingly honest so that they're both taken aback.
"I- um- well, we've still got work to do," says Rand after a moment, producing a padd from the bag she'd been carrying across her shoulder and which, apparently, had not been viewed as a threat by their captors. "Leave rotas."
"I hate leave rotas," says Jim.
"Cry me a river," says Rand, and brings up the list on the screen. "Now, Commander Spock and Lt Uhura have requested separate leave dates, but that's clearly because they're trying to be subtle, so…"
"Oh, and the budget memo came this morning," adds Rand as she heads to the door.
Jim grins. "I love budget time," he says. "So. A private bet, Yeoman? Who's outside my door?"
Rand grins back. "Five credits says Sulu," she says promptly, and Jim shakes his head sadly.
"Yeoman, Yeoman, Yeoman," he says. "I thought you knew the crew schedule by now. Sulu is on duty for another two hours." He taps his chin for a moment. "Gaila. Scotty always sends Gaila."
The door swooshes open. Sulu stands up straighter, face bright with enthusiasm.
"Changed his shift first thing," says Rand, holding out her hand. "I win."
"I do not know how I'd run this ship without you," says Jim.
"I don't either," says Rand, gathering together the work they've been doing. He helps, and their hands brush. He pulls away. (Sometimes, if it's late, maybe, and she's feeling a little punchy, Rand thinks that his expression was tortured.)
"I'm the captain," says Jim, and Rand smiles.
"I know," she says, and she does; they both do. He hands back the padd he was holding.
"Carry on, Yeoman."