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MinervaFan [userpic]
FIC: Rightness (Chapel/Rand)
by MinervaFan (minerva_fan)
at May 19th, 2004 (04:05 pm)

Title: Rightness
By DebbieB
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Pairing: Chapel/Rand
Rating: PG-13
A/N: Written for the Sickbay Sweetheart Chapel Fanfic Fest.
Summary: Two bit players become the stars of their own life stories.
Warning: Don't be deceived by the angst you see. This is fluffiness incarnate.




Why did you become a nurse?

I think of how many times I’ve heard this question, in all the flavors of the rainbow. Derisive, curious, polite, nosy. But Jan is just asking, just another question to fill our midnight coffee nights, as we scramble to get Enterprise ready before Starfleet’s launch date.

Will believes in community, and I thank him for that. Our senior staff meetings are part coffee talk, part sibling rivalry, but all productive. He doesn’t believe in vacuums. That’s what he always says. Our ability to communicate, to cross-pollinate even, may save our lives some days.

No such thing as long stretches of isolation on Decker’s Enterprise. He’s working to bust open the clannishness so rampant on most starships. Good thing, too. I’ve known some of these people for over five years, but it only took a week of Decker’s system for me to realize I knew nothing about any of them.

Like Jan. Not Chief Engineer Janice Rand. She’s Jan here. And her question is a simple one. I give her the simple answer. I became a nurse because I needed answers. It’s as close to the truth as I will ever get, even after five years of detangling and unknotting the bundle of emotions left over from Roger and Andrea and Spock and Leonard. I needed answers, and I went to the stars to find them.

She smiles at me. It’s a pretty smile, although she, like all of us, is no longer the stunning beauty of her youth. We fade, we crease, and we continue on. I look at Jan Rand, of the amazing hair and killer legs, seeing the intelligence in her eyes and the fierce, proud determination she shows when approaching the numerous problems her transporter upgrades are causing, and I feel hope for my own fading, creasing beautiful youth.

My mom used to tell me that pretty is a trick of the light. That loveliness is an illusion created by mirrors and cosmetics, and that real beauty comes from the realization that shows in your face and eyes and body when you are right with yourself.

Jan Rand is right with herself. I see that with each frown, with each laugh.

I don’t need a mirror to know that I am beautiful, too, in my mother’s definition. It goes unspoken between us, this realization that we’ve both come into our own after so many years of wandering. On Decker’s Enterprise, we’re officers, leaders. I watch her with her ensigns, how patient she is with them, and I smile. She’s commented on some of the nurses dubbing me “Mom” after my numerous lectures on nutrition and proper rest.

She calls me hypocrite, when we’re joking, because we both know neither of us is eating or sleeping right. There’s too much to be done.

Jan and I are both trying hard not to try to prove anything here. It’s the ship. It’s the job.

But Jan and I both feel a little too distinctly the memories of “Yeoman” and “Nurse,” so we push a little harder.

It’s nice to have someone who understands.

***

She’s angry for me. She tries not to show it, out of loyalty to Kirk, but she’s furious. I can tell.

I’m not angry. At least, I don’t feel angry. Two months ago, two weeks ago even, I would have been outraged to have Leonard McCoy steal my Sickbay out from under me. I’d have ranted into the wee hours, drunk myself obnoxious, made a voodoo doll, something.

But Sickbay is not my problem anymore. We have bigger problems.

Still, I’m angry for her. I saw what was left of those two officers on the transporter padd. I have almost 20 years medical experience, and it was gruesome for me.

She blames herself. She can’t bring herself to admit what we’ve both already thought. That given the modifications, she knew that transporter better than Kirk. That, had he not pushed her away, had he not tried to play the hero, she might have been able to bring them back.

But I say nothing. She’s still loyal to him, despite what he’s done.

Truth is, so am I. Goddess save me for my own disloyalty to Decker, but this is no shake-down cruise. Whatever destroyed those Klingons, that station, is coming for Earth.

I trust more in Jim Kirk’s dumb luck than all the training Starfleet ever dreamed of. Vger is unlike anything I’ve seen before, even in my worst nightmares. I will defend Willard Decker to the grave to anyone who dares question his abilities, but miracles are a Kirk thing.

And we need a bloody miracle.

I want to talk to Will, to let him know I support him, but there’s no time. Jan and I have only have moments for a quick dinner before going back to our departments again.

Back to the old drill. Eat and work.

One of the old American Presidents, back before the Eugenics War, coined a phrase, “A kinder, gentler America.”

That’s Decker’s Enterpise. A kinder, gentler Enterprise. Colder, maybe. Stark, with more technology, but we were beginning to feel like a family.

I don’t know what to do. My food stares back at me, growing cold and resentful on my plate as I hover, unable to eat. I look at Jan. She’s not eating, either. I think I should make a stab at my salad, just to set a good example, but I can’t.

We sit here, silently, for a long moment.

It’s not fair, she says blandly.

I don’t need to ask her what’s not fair. Just her saying it is enough.

We both know what’s not fair.

***

I don’t know if I’m raw, numb, or just burnt out on grief.

I don’t remember food. I don’t remember sleep. I remember Vger. I remember light the color of blue-white death, flickering, wrapping around Ilia, around Chekov, around Will…poor Will.

I remember Spock in an EVA suit, floating into the maw.

I remember wonder, and fear, and a grief that seemed to go so deep I could no longer identify it as an emotion.

It’s only been a couple of days. My entire world has changed in a matter of hours. I have retreated into myself, just as we all have, those of us who were part of Will Decker’s family of officers.

We can’t bring ourselves to commune just now. His non-death has rocked us to our cores. It’s Kirk’s Enterprise, now. There is no more Decker. There is no more Ilia.

Kirk. And Spock, and McCoy. The Bridge crew.

I’m not surprised when she comes to my room. Gods, we’ve spent more time together in the last few months than I’ve spent with my own family in the last ten years. She looks like hell, I’m sure, a mirror of my own appearance. Her eyes are red from crying. So are mine.

It’s only right to take her into my arms, to lose myself in her embrace as we hold onto each other in our grief. We don’t deny the closeness we feel, or the affection. We don’t deny the desire. In that moment between one life and another, we find a connection that holds us steady. We take nourishment from that bond, celebrating instead of eulogizing our brief moment in history, both knowing we will neither of us accept Kirk’s offer to stay on after the transition is complete.

Our window of opportunity has closed with a vengeance. It’s time to move on.

***

I don’t know what is more annoying, the glare of sunlight through the eastern window or the cat playing footsie with our toes at the end of the bed.

Jan is smiling, the way only she can at this ungodly hour of the morning. It’s a rare treat for us both to have the same day off. Starfleet is a demanding overlord, and even at HQ, we must serve the gods of immediacy.

But today we’re off. Today we will have a picnic at the ocean side, with absurd amounts of bread and salad and mediocre wine. Today we will make love in our cozy little house, and catch up on the tidying, and play several hands of cards while we toy with each other’s feet under the table.

I decide not to hate the sun, because it plays in her newly-auburn hair, shimmering highlights that dance beautifully in a tangled mess on the pillow. And I can’t hate the cat, because he’s making her laugh.

And she’s beautiful when she laughs.

And I didn’t mean to fall in love.

But it feels right.

We feel right.

And my mother always said that real beauty comes when you are right with yourself.

End