Title: Believing Rumors 4/4 (Complete)
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek, and I do not make any money from these fictions.

Jamie's three, and four, and five – and her mom leaves for the summer, and Jamie and Sam go to camp, and her big brother is her best friend and her protector and her everything. He watches out for her: he doesn't let the other kids pick on her, and he makes sure that she doesn't eat anything that she is allergic to. He lets her tag along with him and his friends, and he's the best big brother ever.

And then Jamie's six, and her mom says that this summer, Sam's going to an all-boys camp, and so Jamie will be alone, all alone. She screams and she cries and she fights, but Sam leaves, and her mom drops her off at her own camp, and then she leaves for space.

And Jamie is all alone, because all of the kids are so mean to her. The girls laugh at the way she runs in the mud and plays with the bugs and climbs in the trees, and they say that they don't want to play with a boy. But the boys don't want to play with her either - they push her when she tries to join their games, and they say she has cooties and she should just stay away. And everyone laughs when she accidentally eats a cake that has strawberry in it, and she breaks out in hives everywhere and just keeps itching.

And Jamie is all alone and she just wants Sam, or anyone, really - just one friend who likes her and wants her to be around.

The counselors mostly ignore her - except for Jeremy. He's nice, with bright red hair and these cool freckles and a really sweet smile. He plays in the mud with her when she asks, and answers her questions about bugs, and asks her to please not climb in trees because it's dangerous. Jeremy tells her that he knows she's a girl, and not a boy like the other girls say, and that he knows she doesn't have cooties and all the other boys are just being stupid.

And Jeremy says that the other boys are going to kick themselves in a few years, because Jamie is so pretty, and they'll all want her.

Jamie doesn't know what they will want her for, but it makes her feel nice when Jeremy says she's pretty. No one ever calls her pretty, except for sometimes the old ladies back home, but they're weird, and they say it to her mom, not her, so that doesn't really count.

And so Jamie spends the summer with Jeremy, and they become really good friends, even though he so much older. She cries when the summer is over, because she won't see him again for a whole year, but Jeremy just hugs her and promises to write and says that they'll see each other next summer.

And he does write, at least one letter every week, all about college and how much he misses her and wishes she was there with him. And the next summer comes sooner than Jamie thought it would. Sam goes to his all-boys camp again, and Jamie's mom drops her off at camp and leaves for the stars again, and the girls are still mean and the boys still say she has cooties, but that's all right, because Jeremy is there, and he is just as nice as Jamie remembers.

The summer passes, and Jamie spends a lot of time (practically all of her time) with the older boy. He still compliments her all the time - tells her how sweet she is, how smart, how pretty. And then he starts telling her that she is his best friend, and that he loves her.

And Jamie has never been so happy, because someone actually wants her, and she thinks she gets it, what Jeremy means when he says the other boys will want her. It feels so nice to be wanted, to be loved - her mother has never really wanted her around, and her brother is four years older than her, and he's a "big boy" with his own friends, and Sam doesn't want her tagging along during the school year when they're both home. So Jamie will do anything for Jeremy, as long as he keeps wanting her and loving her and making her feel good about herself.

That's when Jeremy starts telling her about the secret games that girls and boys can play together. He says she still too little to play like a big girl, but that she's old enough, mature enough, to start practicing. Jamie remembers what the teacher at school said - that she shouldn't let any big boys touch her chest or her down there, but Jeremy wouldn't hurt her. Jeremy would never hurt her – he promises.

He loves her.

And besides, Jeremy tells her that he isn't going to touch her - he promises. He says that the teacher was right - that it would be wrong if any big boys, even Jeremy, tried to touch her secret places. So instead he has her take off her clothes, and kneel down by his feet. He tells her again how pretty she is, how good she is, even as Jamie starts crying, because even though he isn't touching her is still feels wrong. It doesn't feel like she's being good – it feels like she is being bad, and is going to get in trouble, and should not be doing this. But Jeremy tells her that nothing is wrong as long as he doesn't touch her, and he isn't hurting her, is he?

No, he isn't.

Not even when he unzips his pants, and pushes them to his knees, and takes out his secret place - it's a lot bigger than Sam's, with dark red hair all over. Jamie is afraid that he is going to ask her to touch it - but Jeremy doesn't. He touches himself, though, while he looks at her - touches himself for a couple minutes, all the while telling her what a good girl she is, how pretty she is - and then something white comes shooting out.

All over Jamie's face.

And the summer continues that way, with Jeremy asking Jamie to take off her clothes for their secret game, and then covering her in his white stuff. They still play in the mud during the day, and he still answers all her questions, and keeps her from climbing trees, and tells her how smart she is, how pretty, how good.

But Jamie is no longer happy.

And she just nods when Jeremy hugs her at the end of the summer, trying not to stiffen up as he promises to write, and of course they will see each other the next summer.

They do - one more summer of the secret games, and then Jamie's mother marries Frank and Jamie and her brother don't go to camp again. And Sam is being nice to her again, including her, because they both don't like Frank, and that brings them together. Jeremy still writes to her all the time, but Jamie is getting older, and she knows that even though he didn't touch her, and didn't hurt her, and says he loves her - what they did was wrong.

She still doesn't want to get Jeremy in trouble, though - he is her friend. Her first friend, just for her. And he loves her – she does not want to hurt him, no matter what.

But when Jamie writes to him that she won't be going back to camp in the summer - the letters stop. Jamie writes a few more, because Jeremy is older, and in college, and maybe he is just busy, and she wants to remind him that she is still there. But weeks pass, then months, and...nothing.

Jamie is ten years old when she realizes for the first time that the only thing boys want from her is her body - because her thoughts and her words mean absolutely nothing to Jeremy, and so everything he said to her must have been a lie. (Except when he called her pretty – after all, that's all she's good for, her body and her pretty face…)

Jamie - the 28 year old Jamie that survived to help save the Federation and then went on to captain the Enterprise - pulls her first officer's mind away from those thoughts, from that revelation. The next memories come quicker, like snapshots rather than a movie. Quick memories, scenes flitting over the connection between their minds… Like a camera flicking through old pictures.

Snap. Sam leaves, and her mother is gone, and Frank starts looking at her - the way Jeremy used to look at her, she realizes one day.

Snap. Jamie wakes up one night, and Frank is standing over her bed. She screams when she sees him, and he runs out – but she will always remember the creepy smile on his face as he looked down at her.

Snap. Sam comes back - and then he leaves again. He tells her Frank is selling their dad's car - and so Jamie watches him leave, and then drives the car over the cliff. For a moment, she thinks that she is going to fall over to – just let herself drop. It will end the pain – but that is too easy, and Jamie has never taken the easy route, never. So she holds on, and pulls, and fights – and she manages to get herself up over the ledge, into safety. But Jamie will never forget the sensation of falling…

Snap. Jamie's mother yells at her, calls her stupid and reckless and selfish - and then ships her off to Tarsus IV, because her mother never wanted her, but now she cannot stand Jamie at all.

Snap. Her aunt and uncle are so welcoming, and her cousins are so friendly. And their bloody corpses haunt her dreams every night.

Snap. Stealing food in the night to help feed her children, her babies, because Kevin is only three years old and he needs her. He is so hungry, and he doesn't have any baby fat left on him, and the others stare around with hollow eyes, and Jamie needs to save them.

Snap. The guards catch her, and hold her down, and take off her clothes - and then Jamie manages to get an arm free, and pulls a phaser from one of their belts, and then...the next thing she knows, there are four dead men at her feet. She takes all of their weapons, because she needs to protect her children, and she salvages what she can of their uniforms - clothes are a precious commodity by now as well.

Snap. And she's back in Iowa, because she was 'saved', but Jamie doesn't feel like herself any more. No one depends on her; no one needs her. And there is food – so she starts gaining weight back. Her body is changing, and she starts shaving her legs, and wearing bras, and...and just like Jeremy always said, all the boys want her. They don't think she has cooties now. They think she is hot, and they want to hold her and kiss her and have sex with her - but she will never, ever want them.

Snap. Except...Jamie hates hugs but she loves kisses. Jeremy hugged her. At first it was nice – it made her feel good, and safe, and loved. But then the games started, and his hugs just felt smothering. And now everyone's hugs feel smothering. But Jeremy never kissed her. So she starts kissing boys, but never any further. She breaks Henry Davidson's wrist when he tries to touch her down there and doesn't stop when she says 'no'. The high school football team is pretty pissed that their star senior quarterback was taken out by some pretty little freshman. So they start the rumor that she is a slut who will sleep with anyone – that she slept with Davidson and the entire football team and fall the soccer team and... It is a rumor that follows her into adulthood, somehow - when the furthest she ever went was a couple tongues down her throat.

Snap. Wasting years and years in a drunken haze of blood and bruises...bar fights to defend her virtue and other girl's virtue and just because she feels like it.

Snap. Working on the beautiful starship being built practically in her back yard, the Enterprise, dreaming of flying on her one day but knowing that it will never happen. But lovingly installing each and every panel and nut and bold all the same, smoothing her hands over that shiny hull and talking to her lady and telling her how beautiful she is. How lucky whoever gets to captain her will be.

And then...Pike.

The memories come even faster now, flashes of the shuttle and meeting Bones and getting thrown up on, and starting a friendship that would end up saving the Federation and start to heal some of Jamie's shattered heart.

And then...Spock.

Jamie pushes his mind away when they start getting into her memories and feelings for him - he doesn't need to think she's any more pathetic than he already does. So she pushes his mind away, and then pulls her face away from his hand - shifting backwards and breaking their connection.

The sound of her heavy breathing fills the room, and Spock just kneels there - eyes closed, arm still outstretched, hand still in the meld position. And then his arm drops, and his hand forms a fist, and his eyes open. They are dark, so dark, his pupils blown.

"I...I still love you," Spock tells her, and there is barely an expression on his face – but his eyes betray him. He is agitated, upset, angry. "I will always love you. And I am not like the others - I do not want you only for your body. I want your mind, and your heart, and your determination and stubbornness and fearlessness. I will love you when you are winning, which is often, and when you are losing. And I will stand by your side for as long as you will allow, as your first officer and friend, but also as your mate, if you will have me."

Jamie closes her eyes, and holds the tears back - she can't let them fall again, not right now.

"I always want you by my side, Spock - as my first officer and my friend. I can't even think about being your mate at this moment. Right now I have a lot to think about, because yesterday before you found out I was a virgin you wanted nothing to do with me in anything even approaching a romantic light. And I can't...I'm emotionally compromised, right now," Jamie admits with a sardonic chuckle. "And I can't make any important decisions right now."

"I understand," he replies. "I wish to assure you that I am fully aware of my mistakes, and when you are willing to listen, I will explain my faulty reasoning and answer any questions you may have. I wish to make amends."

"I know, Spock," she sighs. "I know. And you can start by leaving right now, and giving me space and time to think."

He looks her in the eye, gives a sharp nod, and rises to his feet - striding towards the door in a few easy steps. But Spock stops right before the automatic door would have let him out.

"I will be here if you need me, Jamie - no matter what you decide."

And then he is gone, and the door shuts behind him, and Jamie is left with her thoughts and the tears that have come yet again.

Jamie walks into her best friend's office, and raps softly on the wall with her fist when he does not look up from his padds at the sound of his automatic door opening.

"Hey Bones, do you have time right now?" she asks softly when he raises his head.

He takes in her appearance - Jamie knows that her eyes must still be a bit red, and she is probably pale, and her hair is likely flat (she is not her best, right now, but at least she changed out of her pajamas and back into her uniform).

"I always have time for you, Jamie-girl," the doctor replies softly, saving something on his padd and then pushing it to the side. "What's wrong?"

She lets out a small, mirthless laugh - Bones knows her too well. It would be terrifying if Jamie didn't need him so much. Or more like, it is terrifying, but she doesn't run because she needs him so much. So, so much. She needs him to hold her and listen to her and reassure her and protect her – to be the big brother Sam would have been, should have been, if he hadn't left her all alone.

"Spock...Spock came to my quarters tonight. To talk. And to...he told me he loves me, Bones," Jamie whispers, reluctantly - as if saying it out loud will destroy it. And if telling another of Spock's feelings will make him change his mind – make him decide that no, he doesn't really want her. Make him realize just how illogical it is to want her.

"And what did you say?" Bones asks.

And so Jamie tells him - tells him about her response to Spock's declaration, about the meld, about Spock telling her he stills loves her despite knowing everything and that he will wait, and about Jamie telling him that she needs space and time to sort herself out. Bones just looks at her, listening intently to her every word with a neutral expression on his face.

"You still love him," Bones points out, almost gently, once her story is over. "He's still the only one you can see yourself with, isn't he?"

Jamie takes a deep, noisy breath.

"Yes," she admits.

"Then that's it, darling. Keep him waiting as long as you need, make him grovel, get down on his knees and beg, whatever - but forgive him, and tell him eventually, and move on together. Because if he's what you want - if he's who you love - and he returns your feelings? I think you owe it to yourself to try to be happy with him, even if I still don't think he deserves you," Bones finishes with a little grin, and Jamie can't help the smile - her best friend always knows exactly what to say to make her feel better.

So she walks forward to hug him tightly, burying her face in that strong shoulder he always lets her cry on.

"I wish you were my big brother, Bones," she tells him softly.

"I am, Jamie-girl. Blood or not. And I'll be waiting on the front porch with a shot-gun if he hurts you again," he jokes.

Jamie knows he would not use a shotgun - he has hypos that would leave a lot less evidence behind.

Two weeks later...

Spock has been as professional as ever on the bridge, but every once in a while - in the mess, in the gym, on the observation deck - Jamie swears that she can feel his dark eyes staring longingly at her. Burning into her back and watching her every move. But then she turns – and either Spock is not looking at her, or there is no one there. Sometimes she thinks that he would have made a good ninja – if not for the way she can always sense his eyes on her.

And while her mind has pretty much been made up since that night with Bones - her best friend was right, she still loves Spock, and if he really loves her despite her past, she owes it to herself to try to be happy with him - Jamie decides to take some of the space that Spock is giving her, to try to decide exactly what she wants from this relationship. (Because it is all well and good to say that she will give a real relationship with Spock a chance, but there are so many details to consider. Spock is her good friend and her first officer and she doesn't want to ever do anything to compromise their command team.)

Well, and also to let Spock sweat it out a bit. She suffered six months without any sort of hope that he would ever love her back - Jamie figures her first officer can do with two weeks of uncertainty. He has to know that she still loves him – he was in her mind, after all. Spock just doesn't know if she'll succumb to her emotions and let him back in – if Jamie will let herself love him, after everything. Because starting a relationship between them is taking a big chance that could wind up hurting both of them.

But Jamie has always been a risk taker – except when it comes to love. She figures that maybe she should approach romance the same way she does everything else – with a reckless abandon and a stubborn will that gets her exactly what she wants.

And waiting two weeks is about all her patience can take, so at 2000 she walks to his door and presses the chime. Spock opens the door himself – stepping to the side and ushering her into his quarters.

"Jamie. Captain. Jamie," he practically stutters - and she realizes that this is the first night in two weeks that they have been alone together off-duty. He must know that she is going to give him her decision now.

"Jamie, Spock," she affirms gently with a small smile, and he visibly relaxes.

"Jamie," he repeats, a bit surer of himself. "Would you like something to drink? What do you want?"

And his anxiousness is so endearing - Spock is normally completely composed, but right now his nervousness is apparent in his speech patterns, if not in his expression - and Jamie cannot leave him in limbo anymore.

"You, Spock," she admits quietly. "I want you."

He stills immediately, completely - not a muscle moving. And he just looks at her - steadily, fixed, as if afraid that she will disappear if he blinks.

Jamie takes a deep breath, and sits down at the table they usually use for chess. Spock takes three strides forward and falls to his knees at her side.

"Jamie..." he whispers, and there is reverence in his voice, on his face - as if she has just given him a gift beyond compare.

"Please don't touch me," she requests softly when his hands rise to touch hers. "I...I need to say some things, and I can't think when you touch me."

Spock drops his hand, and nods seriously.

"As you wish."

"Okay," Jamie says, taking another deep breath. "Okay. Well - here it goes. You hurt me a lot, Spock. I...you believed every bad thing that was ever said about me, every rumor that guys whispered behind my back about what a slut I am. And that - that was enough for you to say that we couldn't have a relationship. And then, wow, you find out I'm a virgin, and you...well, you were there, you know how great you were. I wouldn't have been able to trust just anyone like that. And then you tell me that you love me, and you want us to be together. But Spock...even if I forgive you, I can't just...I need time, and space, and..."

"I am willing to give you whatever you need," Spock assures her.

"Well, here it is: I want us to be together. Exclusively. Forever," she tells him. "I love you, and I want you to love me, and I want us to love each other. But - we're going to take it slow. I'm allergic to flowers, and milk chocolate, but dark is nice - just make sure you clear it with Bones, first. And I don't need you to open doors for me. Or pull out my chair. And we can split the bill when we go to dinner. And we can kiss - I like kissing, a lot. And we can hug - I need to feel safe with you, and once I can hug you like I hug Bones, I know that we'll be ready to take the next step."

"And what of your relationship with Doctor McCoy?" he asks, and there is definite possessiveness burning in his eyes.

"He's like my brother, Spock. I love him, and I need him, and I'm more comfortable with him than I've been with anyone since...well, ever. Don't make me choose, Spock," she warns him softly - because at this point, yes, she would pick Bones. She cannot imagine a point at which she would not pick Bones. She might love Spock, and want him, but she needs her best friend - she can't live without him.

"That would hurt you, and I will endeavor not to do so again," Spock promises. "I also accept your terms. I will gift you with dark chocolate, and as many kisses as you wish."

Jamie smiles a bit at that.

"And hugs and...other stuff?" she questions.

"We will go at your pace," he tells her.

"Good. Now - what are your terms?" Jamie asks him, figuring that fair's fair.

"I wish to bond with you in the Vulcan way. But I will wait as long as you need."

She nods at that.

"Anything more short-term?"

"Let me feel your mind?" Spock asks, moving his hand into the meld position.

"Yeah," Jamie assents with a shaky breath. "But...not right now. I'm still a bit shaky from the last one. It left me…raw. Right now, I just want a good-night kiss."

Something like a smile fills Spock's eyes, and he does not have to be told twice - he rises gracefully to his feet, pulls her up into his arms, and kisses her.

It starts out soft, chaste, sweet. When Jamie does not stiffen up or pull away - when she leans into him, and licks at the seam of his lips - Spock becomes more insistent, more passionate. His tongue slips into her mouth, battling hers for control - when Jamie persists, he surrenders to her, giving her control of the kiss. She breaks it with a small gasp – and looks up into his dark eyes, tempted to lean up for another one, but knowing that now is not the time.

"Good-night," she tells him firmly.

Spock looks down at her, and reluctantly drops his arms, taking a small step back and giving her space.

"I love you," he tells her in response - and Jamie has a smile on her lips when she enters her quarters, flopping down on her bed.

It is a good start.

A week later…

"I hope you realize that I can kill you without leaving any evidence," Doctor McCoy says conversationally as he runs a tricorder over Spock for his yearly physical – the one that had been scheduled for three point two five months from today, until the doctor contacted him this morning to order him to report to sickbay immediately.

Spock does react to the statement, and simply stares blankly ahead.

"If you hurt her again, Spock… Well, you better be good to her, because Jamie is the best damn thing that will ever happen to you," the doctor drawls, staring him straight in the eye.

"I am aware, Doctor," the half-Vulcan responds, holding the human's gaze. "And I will endeavor never to purposefully hurt her. I would give my life to protect her."

The doctor continues to stare at him for another few moments, before giving a decisive nod. Illogically, Spock feels as if he has just passed an examination – but only the first of many.

"Good. See to it that you keep it that way, and me and you won't have any problems," Doctor McCoy informs him. "Now get out. You're fit as a Vulcan fiddle, as usually."

"I do not see how a Terran string instrument…" Spock begins.

"Bones!" Jamie shouts, bursting into sickbay. "You wouldn't believe who I just caught… Oh, hey Spock."

"Good morning, Captain," he greets – and she shakes her head at him.

"Jamie, Spock – I'm not on duty right now. I have beta shift today, as you know. I just came to tell Bones that I saw Gaila and Scotty getting it on in a Jeffries tube," she tells him with a smile, before turning to the doctor. "Can you believe it? I thought Scotty was only interested in engines! Well, and maybe sandwiches."

"I believe it, Jamie-girl," and Spock cannot help but turn to look sharply to the doctor at the endearment.

"And I caught Sulu and Chekov last week, so now we only have to get you and Uhura together Bones, and we'll have a matched set!" Jamie says brightly.

Spock cannot resist her happiness – and he does not wish to, anymore, so he reaches forward to brush her fingers with his own. He gets an aesthetically pleasing smile in response.

"You'll help, won't you Spock?"

"Now, Jamie-girl…" Doctor McCoy interrupts – but then Jamie turns to him with her lower lip pushed out and wide eyes, and the human relents.

Spock commiserates. He finds himself giving Jamie exactly what she wants ninety-one point four percent of the time when she gives him that expression. He predicts that now that they are in a relationship, he will give in to approximately ninety-three point two percent of her requests – the remaining six point eight percent of the time concerns matters relating to her safety. No expression could ever convince Spock to compromise her safety.

"Great!" Jamie says. "Everything is going to be perfect!"

And then she hugs the doctor, and presses a quick kiss to Spock's lips, and practically floats out of the room. As soon as she is out of sight, Doctor McCoy turns towards Spock once more.

"You make her happy," the human admits gruffly. "She's practically walking on air. And I know it can't be like that constantly – every relationship has its ups and downs. But you better do your damn best to keep her this happy."

"I agree, Doctor," Spock replies. "And I shall start by, as you would say, 'hooking up' yourself and Lieutenant Uhura."

He leaves sickbay while the doctor is still sputtering.