Disclaimer: The rights for Star Trek belong to Paramount Pictures.
"Meeting you was fate, becoming your friend was a choice, but falling in love with you was beyond my control." – Unknown
There are times when realization slowly sinks in. Other times it walks up to you and punches you in the face.
At least that was how Jane Tiberia Kirk felt. She just stared at the elderly Vulcan – who was Spock but also not Spock – as she swallowed what she'd been told. She was fully aware that her mouth was hanging open, but she couldn't find any motivation to close it.
"So you're telling me that you-" She gestured to him, "and the other me-" She gestured to herself, "got married? As in, married married?"
"I was not aware there was another form of marriage."
He was either actually confused, or he was being sarcastic. While the idea of a sarcastic Spock amused her, it wasn't important at that moment; what Jane really wanted to know was how the flying hell that had happened.
And what was more... "And then the two of you had a kid together?"
The elderly Vulcan nodded, and Jane could see the emotion in his eyes – the emotion she had seen before, in the ice cave, when he had first laid eyes upon her. She still couldn't quite wrap her head around the idea of a Vulcan showing emotion, but it was there; it was a mixture of sadness and fondness. For his kid? Maybe.
"Amanda Georgiana Kirk was our pride and joy," he said. "She went on to become Captain of the Enterprise after you – or rather, after the other you. When I departed, she was an Admiral with a daughter of her own, who had become Captain. Amazing girl; Roberta Jane Kirk-Scott is her name."
"Our daughter married Scotty?!"
The elder Spock raised his eyebrow at her questioningly, and only then did Jane realize how ridiculous that sounded. "She married one of his nephews, Hamish. Brilliant engineer, like his uncle."
Jane placed a palm to her head and sat down at the table they had been standing near. She was thankful that this area of the Academy was empty; when she had sought out the elder Vulcan, she hadn't expected news like this. "This is a lot to take in. I'm just finding it hard to believe how...how we could marry. I mean, you and the other me. Spock and I hated each other. Didn't you two?"
"Circumstances were different in my reality." The elder Spock sat himself down as well. "I have made a vow to myself not to inform you of any information from my time, for it may alter your new destinies. I made an exception with what I have just told you, as I feel you two need each other. And my vow refers to future events; there is nothing wrong with telling you about the past."
"OK." She shrugged. "So what were we like, you and the other me?"
"I mentioned before that you knew your father," said the elder Spock. "He became Captain of the Kelvin not long after your birth, and your mother became his First Officer. You and your brother grew up on the ship; your brother left when he was fifteen to attend a private school he wanted to go to, and you remained for a further three years."
"So did I leave for school?" Jane asked.
But Spock lowered his head. "No. On a mission to Tycho IV, you encountered a creature which killed your parents and some of the crew, damaging the ship in the process. The next in command gave into his fear, and you were forced to take command of the ship and order an evacuation. In doing so you saved the remaining crew and earned the respect of many officers throughout the fleet."
"I did what Dad in this universe," Jane realized. Like father, like daughter, her mother had once told her. Jane hadn't been sure at the time, but now she saw that her mother was right. "So what happened to me – the other me?"
"You attended Starfleet Academy," said Spock. "You started in the junior classes, and then gradually worked your way up until you were assigned to the Enterprise on its maiden voyage. You were at first a Lieutenant, but after a disastrous first mission you were made Captain Pike's First Officer when his was killed – you handled the situation exceptionally well."
"Go me." When Spock once again raised his eyebrow – she didn't know if he was more annoying than when the younger Spock did it – she corrected herself. "I mean...it's terrible for his First Officer. Who was his...?"
"A woman. We always referred to her as Number One – a nickname of sorts – but her real name was Eureka Lefler. Considering my younger self was Captain Pike's First Officer in this universe, I am now curious as to what happened to her."
"I'll look it up." She took out her PADD and typed in the name.
She was saddened by her findings. Eureka Lefler had died aged seven alongside her mother, Prima Lefler, when they'd both been confronted in their home by armed burglars. She wondered why this hadn't happened in the elder Spock's universe until she saw what had happened to the girl's father, Mace Lefler; killed while serving aboard the Kelvin.
She told the elder Spock, who only nodded. "She informed me of the incident in my time-line. Her father had saved her and her mother. With him gone..." He trailed off. "But there is no use in dwelling on what could have been. When Captain Pike was promoted to Admiral, you became Captain and selected me as your First Officer. We had formed a friendship by that time, and things just developed."
Jane bit her lip. "I really don't want to sound rude here, but...how? I've had many interactions with the Spock I know; he's like a computer. Until...recently, he'd never shown even an ounce of emotion. I can see now that it's there, but everyone loves their mother. Falling in love? I just can't see it."
"Had I been younger, I would have taken your comparison of me to a computer as a compliment," said the elder Spock. "And I will admit that it took time and difficulty for me to show emotion towards the other you – but she always knew I loved her. You and my younger self can have that too."
"And I'm gonna stop you right there." Jane held up a finger. "I understand that you two were a match made in the stars or...whatever, but this is a whole new reality. I need to make my own choices. And besides, this Spock and I got off to a bad start. I doubt we can overcome that, even if we are friends now. Well, sort off; I think he's still a little pissed at the whole Kobayashi Maru test."
She didn't even bother with her surprise. "I pulled a stunt I nicknamed the Corbomite Maneuver?"
The elder Spock almost smiled. "The more things change, the more things stay the same. How else do you explain everyone gathering on the Enterprise?"
"Don't pull that on me." She still found it freaky how that had happened; how the elder Spock had listed the entire crew save for a few, because he had known them from his younger years serving in the alternate reality. What freaked her out more was that he knew their ranks and purposes, too. "It's still a whole new world; things can change. That's what you were going on about, weren't you? About not altering our destinies further?"
"I said you two needed each other."
"Well, we can need each other as friends, or as Captain and First Officer," Jane insisted. "Because I'd like to be in charge of what I do – and I'd like to fall in love with someone I choose for myself, instead of someone I married in some other alternate reality."
She wondered whether the elder Spock would make any further arguments on the matter. It wouldn't surprise her; while he was Vulcan, she had learnt through her time with her own that Spock was incredibly stubborn, which he had proven to an insane level after the destruction of Vulcan. She reasoned that if the younger Spock was like this, so was the elder.
And it did, at first, look like he was going to keep persisting. But then he appeared to think better of it and nodded. "My Jane was always stubborn. I understand that you want to follow your own destiny. But if you do find yourself drifting towards him, then do not force yourself away; let it flow. Because it would be a deep shame for you to miss out on something so beautiful."
"Beautiful?" Jane sent him a questioning look. "Is that really how you would describe the relationship you two shared?"
"I did not describe it as such." This time, he really did smile. "You did."
I'll just have to be on the look-out in case the feelings suddenly pop out of nowhere. Jane was sat on the bridge, and had just finished signing yet another PADD which had been handed to her by Yeoman Landon.
Jane tried to be as casual as she could in turning her seat around to look at Spock, who was sat at the science station with his back turned. He was obviously busy.
The woman could admit that he was good-looking, in an exotic kind of way. His pointy ears were especially attractive. But flat-out falling in love with him? Jane shook her head and turned forwards again. She just couldn't imagine herself falling for a guy who could barely smile and always spoke techno-babble. He was logical and she was...well, not. And they'd already established where they both stood when it came to following the rules.
And she had, admitted, lied to the elder Spock back at the Academy. When she and Spock had first met, things had actually gone OK.
He and Captain Pike had been on a recruiting trip across the world. They had stopped off in Japan, Russia, Kenya and many other places; Iowa had been their last stop.
Jane had often visited the shipyard because of her inherited curiosity in exploring the stars. She'd had arguments with her mother many times growing up; about how Winona Kirk wouldn't allow Jane to sign up early because she feared she would be killed, like her father, and Jane had argued back how it didn't stop her mother from continuing to work in Starfleet.
But Jane knew the reason why her mother did; she felt closer to the departed George Kirk in Space, and Jane could understand that.
The reason Jane didn't immediately sign up come her eighteenth was because of the hard times their family had fallen upon, although things had been hard from the beginning; she and her brother had been dumped with their Uncle Frank at a young age while Winona continued to work in Starfleet. Then Sam left when Jane had been twelve, and after the incident with George Kirk's antique car on the same day, Winona realized just how poorly Frank had been treating the kids so left with Jane.
The move to Tarsus IV had been costly, but Winona had felt it was worth it, for she'd heard good things about the planet. Jane herself had enjoyed it even when her mother was away; she became fast friends with two boys named Kevin Riley and Thomas Leighton.
But then the famine came, and then the massacre. Jane, Kevin and Thomas had been among those four thousand sentenced to death by Governor Kodos, and barely escaped with their lives. Three other boys and three other girls, all in their class at school, had been able to escape with them, and for the few days that followed they hid in the woods outside the colony.
Then help arrived. Kodos was presumed dead, and after being reunited with her worried mother, Jane had been whisked back to Iowa where the two then lived in poverty.
At twenty-two years of age, Jane Kirk had been wanting a better job than a waitress at the local bar, but was unwilling to sign up for Starfleet and leave her mother behind. Still, it hadn't stopped her from wandering over to a group of new cadets who were being talked to by Spock.
Closing her eyes, Jane recalled the memory of that day; it was still clear in her mind. Spock had been speaking about the values of Space exploration when a young man had spoken up.
"So will we be eventually at war with the Romulans after what they did?" he asked. "Or is your kind preventing us because you still see them as your brothers?"
Jane had sent him a glare. She'd recognized the guy as John Stiles, who had attended high school with her. He'd often told stories about his grandfathers and great-grandfathers; how they had all served and died in the war against the Romulans. This hatred extended towards the Vulcans not just because of their uncanny resemblance, but because the Vulcans had failed to inform its allies of what the Romulans were.
Stiles made a few more racist comments, and Jane noticed that while the Vulcan appeared to be taking them, he appeared to be hurt; as if he'd taken these comments his whole life.
So she'd stepped in. "I'm sorry, this is where you enlist for Starfleet. I believe enlistments for Terra Prime are next door."
When Stiles recognized her, he'd scowled. "What are you doing here, Jane? Thought you were home taking care of your mother?"
"I'm not allowed a break?" she questioned him. "And speaking of breaks, how about giving one to the Commander? He's been pretty damn helpful in explaining things to the new recruits – which includes you – and he doesn't need your bigoted views thrown at his face. Starfleet is no place for people like you; yes, your family died in the wars, but he, nor the Vulcans, were responsible for that, or for what happened to the Kelvin. And you know that I of all people would hold a grudge for that, and yet I don't."
"I don't care if your daddy gave up his life to save the entire crew. If they had warned us about those Romulans-"
That's when Jane had punched him in the face – hard enough to knock him out cold for several hours. That was what he got for talking about her father, and Jane knew Stiles should have seen it coming.
And then Captain Pike arrived, and Jane had been surprised by the cadets jumping to her defence – saying that Stiles had swung first and had been making racist comments – and even the Vulcan said nothing, which Jane accepted as gratitude. Then one of the cadets had mentioned who she was, and Pike had taken her aside.
He convinced her to sign up. She went home and her mother encouraged her to go, too. So the next morning she climbed onto a shuttle, ready to start anew. Jane had been reunited with the cadets from the day before – who turned out to be Nyota Uhura, Pavel Chekov and Hikaru Sulu – and also became well acquainted with a last minute sign-up; Leonard McCoy.
"The ex-wife took the whole damn planet in the divorce. All I've got left is my bones."
Jane turned in her seat, her eyes scanning the bridge as she picked out the familiar faces of the crew she was serving with. Upon her arrival at the Academy she'd made more friends; Christine Chapel had been the first, whom McCoy had met in one of his medical classes. In Hand-to-Hand Combat class Jane had met the security duo Roger Lemli and Ryan Leslie, neither being in one place without the other. They had been followed closely by Morgan Kyle, a goofy and always-smiling engineer. Chekov had introduced Martha Landon to them all, and Jane had met Helen Noel at the Academy Christmas Party. Jane had later been pleasantly surprised when she bumped into Kevin Riley, having not seen him since the disaster on Tarsus IV.
Despite what had happened at the shipyard in Iowa, Jane rarely spoke to Spock during her three years at the Academy. He only taught three of her classes; Interspecies Protocol during the first year, Interspecies Ethics during the second, and then Advanced Tactics in the third. She'd only spoken to him whenever she asked a question, or he called upon her for an answer to a question.
Any other time she had seen him had either been at random around the campus, or on the occasion when her room-mate Nyota had been helping him, after she had taken the position as his class aide for Advanced Phonology during the second year.
She supposed, when she thought about it, that her first real interaction with him had been at the hearing after her third take of the Kobayashi Maru exam. And that hadn't ended well for either of them.
Jane felt a tap on her shoulder, and only then did she realize her eyes had been slowly shutting. Why do I feel so tired? This isn't usually like me. She looked up to find Spock sending her a raised eyebrow. She tried to ignore it. "Yes, Mr. Spock?"
"I am relieved of duty, and unless I am mistaken, so are you."
Jane looked around the bridge and realized that he was right; several of the replacements had arrived and were relieving other crew members of their shifts. In front of her she noticed Chekov and Sulu leaving their seats, making way for their replacements. Riley was Chekov's, and he sent Jane a smile before getting on with his job.
The young woman ran a hand across her face. How long have I been daydreaming? "God, things need to liven up around here."
"I would recommend rest, Captain," said Spock. "In order for you to not fall asleep in your chair in the future and miss the excitement when it comes."
Jane looked up at him again, and saw a hint of amusement in his eyes. The fact that Spock had a sense of humour still puzzled her, but she didn't want to complain; if he didn't have humour, he would be no fun at all.
"Alright. Early night for me."
"Captain, we are in Space. There is no night."
Jane rolled her eyes. "Figure of speech, Spock; it's what Humans say when they're tired. But if you're still puzzled, I'm sure Lt. Uhura will give you a riveting English lesson about it."
She left her chair and followed him as they both left the bridge. They only parted ways when he walked into the recreation room – most likely looking for an opponent for 3D Chess – and for a few minutes afterwards Jane just stood there staring at the door which he'd disappeared through.
Her thoughts drifted back to what the elder Spock had said, and her tired mind conjured up the image of the younger Spock's face. She tried to imagine what it would be like to kiss him...
She shook her head. She'd have an easier time imagining what it would be like to kiss a Tellarite.
Jane prided herself with the knowledge that she was one of few people – one of few Humans at least – who knew when they fell asleep. It left her in a state of lucid dreaming; while most people had to deal with weird crap in their dreams, she could dream up whatever she wanted. Which she had to admit, mostly consisted of weird crap.
So it was a surprise for her that when she fell asleep, she found that she couldn't control anything. She was standing on the bridge of the Enterprise – but it wasn't her ship. It was older somehow; more chunky and awkward, if that was even the right word for it.
What was more was that someone – a familiar someone – was sat in the Captain's chair.
Her, but not her.
The woman wore a yellow dress, only this dress had long sleeves unlike Jane's short-sleeved uniform. The dress was also plain instead of that hint of glistening she liked.
Her hair was cut short in a bob, unlike the single side-plait Jane had, but it was the same colour as hers – a dark blonde – as were the woman's eyes, which were brown. Jane knew she was looking at an older version of herself, and because of the encounter with the elderly Spock, she jumped to the immediately conclusion that this was the Jane Kirk of the original universe. The one whom the elder Spock had known – the one he had been married to.
Only when Jane took a step towards her did the woman look up, and her eyes widened with recognition. Obviously she knew that she was seeing a younger version of herself.
"Have I gone back in time?" she asked. She looked around the empty bridge. "It certainly looks like I have."
Jane shook her head. "No. I'm dreaming. You're in my dream." She tried once again to change the dream, but nothing happened. Which to her, meant that somehow – some way – this was really happening.
"Dream?" The elder Jane looked around and then down at what she was wearing. "It would certainly explain why I'm dressed in my old uniform." She then looked up at Jane again. "So I've somehow travelled through time in the realm of dreams and am now visiting my younger self."
"Err..." Jane wasn't quite sure how to explain it. "More than that. At least, I think?" She couldn't entirely disregard that this may be her future self, from the same reality. There was one way to find out. "Where did you grow up?"
The elder Jane blinked in surprise, obviously surprised by the question, but replied all the same. "I was raised by my parents on the USS Kelvin. But you should have known that."
"I do know." Jane sighed. "And technically speaking, you are in the past. But not in the way you would expect. It's...more complicated than that."
Instead of looking confused, however, the elder Jane looked amused and leaned back into the chair. "Isn't it always?"