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[personal profile] velvetfiction
Title:
 Tiny Pushes
Author: [personal profile] velvetmouse
Recipient: [livejournal.com profile] cakeordeath44
 in the 2010-11 [livejournal.com profile] where_no_woman New Years Exchange.
Fandom: ST AOS

Characters: Janice Rand

Rating:
 PG
Warnings: Occasional snark? People being jerks? Umm...
Word Count: ~5500
Summary: Being a yeoman often means an awful lot of work without very much respect or appreciation. But sometimes, just sometimes, people surprise you. Five notable events in the life of Janice Rand.

Notes: CakeorDeath requested (among other possibilities) Janice Rand & "yeoman's position being thought of as being just a secretary/waitress, and why that is total bollocks." I hope this is what you were looking for!

The title is taken from the following quote, which I felt Janice would approve of:
The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker. ~Helen Keller
Many thanks to Seren for the beta!



----



1. Janice was fifteen when she figured out what she wanted to do with her life. It occurred, as these things often do, by a happy accident of being in the right place at the right time.



She was hanging around after school, hoping to find something to do, because most of her friends were off at the mall, which interested her even less than going home and listening to her mother fight with her older brother about what he was going to do with himself. She had vague thoughts of seeing if the art teacher would let her use a sketch pad and some charcoals, when the sound of swearing distracted her. It was particularly distracting because it was coming from her Literature teacher's classroom, and Janice was still of the age where Teachers Did Not Swear.



Tentatively, she poked her head through the open doorway. "Ms. Sommers? Is everything okay?"



"What?" The teacher's head jerked up and a pile of PADDs went skidding onto the floor. "Oh dammit. I'm sorry, Janice, you surprised me."



"I'm so sorry!" Janice said and rushed to help collect the PADDs. "I just wanted to see if you were okay. You sounded. . . frustrated."



"Frustrated? Yes, I suppose I am a little," Ms. Sommers replied, setting the PADDs back on her desk. "I was just going through all the information we need for the program for the upcoming musical theatre production some of your classmates are putting on. Every time I think I have it just right, someone decides to change something on me!"



Janice smiled in sympathy. "Is there anything I could do to help you?"



"Are you sure you don't have anything else you should be doing?"



"I'm caught up on all my homework and I even started the essay you set for us. I have time."



"Then if you could look through this list," Ms. Sommers said, handing her one of the PADDs, "and check the spelling of people's names against the school records, that would be a huge help."



A week later, Janice found herself named Assistant Producer of the spring musical, with her own line in the program and everything. She made sure the director had rehearsal spaces reserved. She ordered flowers and helped make sure everyone in the cast and crew got one. She most definitely made sure the program was correct. She did a hundred little things to make Ms. Sommers's life easier. And she loved every minute of it.



There was a certain satisfaction, she decided, in working behind the scenes to make sure everything was where it was supposed to be, when it was supposed to be there. Her friends laughed at her neatly organized PADDs, but Janice merely pointed out that she had never had points docked off because she handed something in late, Katie, or because she handed in the wrong assignment, Jess.



Opening night arrived, and Janice ran around breathless, anticipating a hundred little problems that might crop up. Ms. Sommers finally ordered her to sit down and at least enjoy the first act of the performance. Which she did - up until about ten minutes before intermission, when she snuck out again to make sure the tables of food were set up.



After the show, Janice was standing with Ms. Sommers when the principal came up to them.



"Excellent job, Rachel," the principal said to his teacher, barely sparing Janice a glance. "I'll never know how you manage to keep everything running so smoothly."



"Thank you, but I had help fro-"



"Nonsense, nonsense. I know you were more than capable of handling everything yourself. Keep up the good work," he said, and clapped Ms. Sommers on the shoulder before wandering off into the crowd.



Janice's teacher turned to her. "I'm sorry, Janice, I tried to tell him how much work you did." The older woman shrugged helplessly.



"That's okay," Janice replied, still riding the high of the night, "I don't care that much. I'm just glad we made everything work."



"Well if you're happy, then I'm happy. It has been a pleasure working with you, Janice."



"Thanks. Ms. Sommers?"



"Hmm?"



"Can we do this again next year?"





2. "Alright, that's it!" J'hnera exclaimed, slapping her blue hand down on the table. "I'm getting more to drink. Exams are over and I never have to face Commander Tanil and her Taplat-forsaken color coding ever again!"



There was laughter all around the table, and Janice grinned at her fellow Administrative Corp member. Commander Tanil's Organizational Management course was a right of passage for all future yeomen; known throughout Starfleet (but never to her face, not unless you wanted to spend your first commission working house-keeping duty for the Academy) as the Queen of Colors, the Commander insisted on a strict regimen of color-coding and file management that not everyone found intuitive.



"I'll come with you, I could use another also," Janice said to her friend.



"Oh what are you talking about, Jan? You're practically Tanil's favorite student. You must have aced the class!"



"That doesn't mean it was easy! I worked my butt off for her! Anyone else want anything while we're going to the bar?" Janice asked the rest of the table.



The good mood of the night was abruptly wiped away a few minutes later, when Janice felt a shove from behind, sending the tray of drinks she was carrying clattering to the floor.



"Aw, itty bitty baby yeoman needs to work on her waitressing skills," a nasty, mocking voice said from somewhere above the sticky mess.



Another voice cut through the din of the club, sounding thoroughly exasperated. "Shut up, Johnston. Don't be even more of an ass than you already are."



Janice resolutely did not look up from collecting the broken pieces of glass, but the hateful first voice floated down to her again. "Fuck off, Ainar. Little girl has to learn her place."

"Enough, Johnston. Lou, Hannaley, would you please escort the crewman out of this fine establishment?"

A large hand covered Janice's, and she raised her eyes to see a dark-skinned man wearing an ensign's stripe crouched down in front of her.

"Are you alright, cadet?" he asked.

"I- think so, sir. Just a little shaken."

"Here, let me replace that round of drinks you were carrying," he said and waived off her protest even as he helped her up. In one smooth move, Janice found herself back at the bar, re-ordering the five drinks and gently, but firmly, being prevented from paying for them again.

"I remember all too well what it's like to live as a cadet," he said, as they waited for the order to be filled. "I'm Jerome Ainar, by the way. Jerry, to my friends."

Janice laughed. "Janice Rand. Thanks for your help, sir."

"Naw, none of that now. I'm off-duty. So Administrative Corp, huh?"

"What of it?" Janice asked, raising her chin stubbornly.

"Hey, none of that now," Jerry said, raising his hands in defense. "My father was yeoman to the head of security on DS 5. I know better than most that Starfleet wouldn't function without the Admin Corp."

Blushing, Janice dropped her eyes. "Sorry," she mumbled. "I get a little defensive sometimes."

"And assholes like Johnston don't help," Jerry agreed. Then he carefully took her shoulders and forced her to look up at him. "Just remember - for every vocal ass like Crewman Johnston, there are at least five or ten other Starfleet personnel who appreciate what you do. We might not always know how to thank you, but we do understand and appreciate it. Now," he said, changing the mood, "let's get these drinks over to your friends."





3. Some people were blessed with the ability to give a coherent and succinct briefing. Commander Nigel Dacy was not one of them.

Janice shifted uncomfortably in her chair and occasionally tapped on the PADD in her lap, to at least give the impression that she was paying attention. Not that Commander Dacy would notice. He had taken one look at her yeoman's uniform and immediately discounted her presence upon walking into the captain's ready room.

One thing she did not do, however, was look up to meet the eyes of Captain Kirk, who was on the receiving end of the Commander's droning monologue. She kept the corner of her eye on Kirk and could tell by a hundred little twitches that he was as bored as she was; if she let their eyes meet, one of them undoubtedly would give in to the temptation to start making faces, which would be a disaster in front of the straight-laced Starfleet Intelligence officer.

"Thank you, Commander. I assure you, I and my crew will do everything possible to help Starfleet Intelligence in this matter." Kirk's voice brought Janice back to the present. "Now, as it will take us several days to reach the Neutral Zone, Yeoman Rand has prepared your room assignment and a list of events and activities that you might be interested in."

The Commander did not reach for the PADD Janice extended to him, forcing her to put it on the edge of Kirk's desk instead. Only then did Dacy take it, and Janice thought that if he could have done so, he would have wiped it off before touching it.

"Thank you, Captain, but I am sure I can find my own amusements," he said stiffly.

"As you wish, Commander. We merely thought you might wish to get to know a little bit more about our little family here on the Enterprise. We are, after all, Starfleet's finest," Kirk replied with a deadly smile.

"Now if you will walk with me, Commander, I will show you to your quarters," Janice said smoothly, keeping her professional face firmly in place. However, she did not take more than two steps towards the door before she realized that Dacy had not moved.

"Sir?"

"I would prefer to have your first officer escort me," Dacy said to Kirk, still not acknowledging Janice's existence.

Kirk raised one eyebrow, in an uncanny imitation of said first officer. "I assure you, Yeoman Rand is more than capable of showing you around the ship. Sometimes I think she knows it better than I do."

"I insist, Captain. I am a member of Starfleet Intelligence and demand to be treated with the appropriate respect. Commander Spock will escort me to my quarters, not your personal assistant."

The inflection Dacy put on the last phrase caused Janice to blush. She knew there were rumors floating around about the exact relationship between the Captain and his Yeoman; they were inevitable, really, since they were both young, attractive and unattached.

Kirk stiffened and slapped his comm panel so hard Janice was afraid it would break. "Commander Scott, please report to my ready room to escort Command Dacy to his quarters."

"Aye, sir," came Scotty's surprised response, "on my way."

"Commander Spock is on the bridge right now, and cannot be taken away. However Commander Scott, my Chief Engineer, will be here in a moment." Dacy's smug look was wiped away by Kirk's next words. "I do this only because I cannot in good consciences ask Yeoman Rand to spend one more minute in your presence than necessary."

Whatever else the captain might have said was interrupted by Scotty's arrival.

"Oh and Commander?" Kirk said as Dacy was about to leave the room. "You may be Starfleet Intelligence, but remember, I still outrank you. And if I ever hear about you treating any member of my crew like that again, I will make my report to Admiral Gottstein directly."

Dacy's cheeks flushed with anger but he nodded once, curtly, and stepped out to the bridge to meet Mr. Scott.



When he had left, Janice turned to Kirk.

 "Thank you, captain, but you didn't really need to do that."



Kirk gave her a long, steady look. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I think I did. I won't tolerate that kind of behavior from my crew, and I sure as hell won't tolerate it from a visitor. How do you put up with that kind of crap, Jan?"



She shrugged and busied herself with tapping a few things into another PADD. "It's just one of those things you learn to deal with. It may be the 23rd century, but there are still a lot of people who thing 'yeoman' is another word for secretary, and we can be treated accordingly. It doesn't help that, even now, the vast majority of the Administrative Corp are females of various species."



"That doesn't make it right," Kirk protested, still looking angry.



"No, just predictable. Besides, clearly no one ever taught him not to tick off the person who handles room assignments," she added with a smirk.



Kirk's returning smirk bordered on vicious. "Where'd you stick that pompous asshole?"

"Well, I'm afraid, captain, that the usual quarters for a visiting Commander are currently experiencing some problems with the climate controls. Gaila assures me that it's nothing serious, but it will take some time to track down the issue," Janice replied with wide, innocent eyes. "So I'm afraid that the only available quarters of a suitable size for one of such import as Commander Dacy are the ones at the end of the hall on Deck 5, Section 3."



"Aren't those the ones next to the lift that has the perpetual squeak that Scotty can't figure out?"

"Oh, are they? Fancy that."



The bridge crew decided not to ask what caused the sudden, raucous laughter that echoed out from the captain's ready room.





4. It would just figure, Janice thought in frustration, that one of the few planet-side mission I go on would go arse over teakettle mere minutes after we beamed down.

It was supposed to be a fairly routine meet-and-greet mission, establishing closer relations with the Shinari people and beginning the evaluation of their fitness for entry into the Federation. It wasn't even a first contact situation - there had been infrequent communications ever since the Provanance had arrived in the Madras system some 70 years before.

But someone's head in Starfleet Intelligence was going to roll for this one (and Janice was just petty enough to hope it was the insufferable Commander Dacy); if, that was, they got out of it alive. They had been ambushed mere moments after they appeared on the planet's surface. The away team had tried to scatter, Ensign Chekov leading the two scientists one direction, while Janice had fled with the captain in the other.

Evidently, though, the Shinari intelligence on Starfleet was a lot more accurate than vice versa, and the pursuers unerringly went after Kirk. Janice spared a moment's thought to be unreasonably grateful that Shinari culture dictated that she wear pants on this visit, rather her usual skirt. But then even that thought was wiped away as they charged through the dense jungle-like vegetation that covered two-thirds of the planet - and straight into the arms of another capture team.



They were then paraded in front of the Shinari leader, who looked them over. "Pah. Tie them up and lock them up separately. Make sure that one," he indicated Kirk with his jaw, "is especially secure. The other isn't a threat."



Yeah, I'll show you not a threat, Janice seethed, although she did her best to keep her expression meek and acquiescent.



The cells that they were taken to were so cliche that Janice actually had to bite her cheek to keep from smiling. The floors were packed dirt, the walls were damp-looking stone, and the bars on the door and on the small, ceiling-level window were appropriately rusty. The most unnerving part was the fact that her captors were completely silent - no laughing and joking amongst themselves, no lewd insinuations. It was almost a relief when they shoved her through the door of the cell and shut it behind her with a loud clank.

Janice sat for a few moments, trying to get accustomed to her surroundings. She heard the faint scrape of metal-on-metal and she hoped it was the captain being placed in his own cell. They had been separated shortly after capture and Janice knew she ought to focus on her own escape, but the idea that Kirk was somewhere near by wouldn't leave her.

Her hands had been tied somewhat loosely behind her back - loosely enough that, with a few contortions and no small amount of wiggling, she was able to bring them to her front. Next, Janice mentally thanked her brother for all the times he had tied her up "to practice my knot-tying for Boy Scouts" and then had gotten distracted and wandered off without untying her. The simple knot that the guards had bound her hands with was trivial to untie with her teeth.

The lock on the door took a bit longer, but was still no match for the hairpin she sacrificed as a lock-pick. She reminded herself to apologize to the captain later; she had laughed at him when he insisted on teaching her how to pick most basic mechanical locks. He had just smiled back and insisted that it might be a useful skill to have, and really, where was the harm in learning?

Thoughts of Kirk spurred her forward, and when Janice was sure that the hallway was clear, she slipped out as quietly as she could, wincing as the door squeaked on its rusty hinges. Picking the opposite direction that she had been brought in from (they hadn't bothered to blindfold her, and Janice wasn't sure she liked those particular implications), she began a methodical search of the cells.

She was nearly at the end of the corridor when she found the captain. He had clearly been beaten - both eyes were already black and she thought she could see another bruise forming on his neck - but he was conscious. His eyes lit up when he saw her, but then he frowned in confusion.

"What are you doing, Janny?" he whispered.

"The polka," she snapped in an equally low voice. "I'm getting you out of here, what does it look like?"

"What? No! Dammit, Jan, get the hell out of here before they catch you."

"And leave you behind? I don't think so. Now shut up and let me work."

Janice had just managed to pop the lock on Kirk's cell when they heard a door slam on the other side of the building, followed by faint shouts. She looked in despair at the heavy wire that bound the captain's hands and feet and then back out at the hallway.

"Get out of here! There's another door to the left at the end of this hallway. That's how they brought me in."

Janice hesitated. "But - " The sound of running feet drew closer.

"Now, Yeoman!" Kirk ordered in his best I-am-the-Captain-and-you-will-obey voice.

"Dammit, Jim," she swore and with one last look back, she took off running.

The door was where Kirk promised it would be, and Janice snuck outside as quickly as she dared. She almost made it to the dense forest that surrounded the compound when the blast of an energy weapon told her that she had been spotted. Abandoning all hope of stealth, she sprinted for the trees and the cover they would provide. Just as she made it to the tree-line, a lucky shot clipped her in the shoulder and she went down with a cry. Years of self-defense training kicked in, and Janice continued her roll until she was under a dense, prickly bush.

She bit her lip to keep from vocalizing the pain from her burned shoulder, and she hoped that if she kept quiet and still, the Shinari would think they had gotten a more direct hit and possibly killed her. It was probably the longest five minutes that Janice ever spent, and certainly the most uncomfortable; but finally, the shouting voices began to fade, and she thought she picked up the words "return" and "not important" from the limited Shinari vocabulary she had picked up from Nyota ages (was it really only a day?) ago.

Moving carefully, so as not to jar her shoulder, Janice began circling the compound, staying well within the trees. She wasn't sure what she was looking for, but she had a vague hope of finding either the other members of the away team, or some way to contact the ship. She nearly jumped out of her skin when a hand grabbed her from behind, but she sagged in relief as soon as she saw that it was Ensign Chekov.

"Yeoman, you're hurt!" he said as soon as he saw her shoulder.

"Yeah, they caught me with one of their energy weapons as I was running away from the compound. I hid, hoping they would think they killed me. Don't know if it worked, but they broke off."

"And the captain?"

Janice shook her head and vaguely wondered why her hands wouldn't stop shaking. "He was still alive last I saw him. I had just opened his cell door, but he was still tied up. That's when they discovered I was missing. He - he ordered me to run and leave him. I'm sorry."

Chekov studied her for a moment. "Come," he said, suddenly sounding much older than his 20 years. "Dr. Raime is working on fixing a communicator that we found."

He led Janice back into the trees a way, until they came upon the two scientists who had completed the away team. "I've almost got this thing working," one of them announced as soon as they were within earshot. "We'll be able to contact the ship shortly, and get the hell out of here."

"But what about the captain?" Janice protested weakly. "Sh-sh-should w-w-we try to s-s-s-ave him?"

The other scientist, a round woman who's name escaped Janice, came over and draped a labcoat over her shoulders. "You're not doing anything except beaming up to Sickbay, honey. You're running a fever, and I bet around of Scotty's whiskey that your shoulder is infected."

"But-"

"No. Once Dr. Raime contacts the ship, you three will beam up and explain to Mr. Spock exactly what happened. I will see if I can find the captain," Chekov said. His jaw was set stubbornly, as if challenging any of them to argue. None of them did. "Good. Now, Yeoman Rand, tell me everything you can about where you and the captain were held. Please," he added with a slight smile.

Once she had satisfied the ensign's thirst for knowledge, Janice allowed herself to be stretched out, head pillowed on the female scientist's lap. The woman's hands ran through Janice's hair, lulling her into a light doze. She barely roused when they told her that the Enterprise was going to beam them back up. Her last conscious thought was of Christine Chapel catching her when she re-materialized on the transporter pad.


Her first question upon waking up was about the captain, and she was relieved to hear that Chekov had indeed managed to rescue him and beam them both back to the ship without any further damage. It took two full days for Dr. McCoy to eradicate the infection in her should to his satisfaction. Janice decided that she could probably recite his "damned alien germs" speech by heart now and took great amusement in mouthing the words along with the doctor, especially when Christine could see her.

After being released from Sickbay, completing the required psych eval, and sorting through the million forms that Starfleet required, Janice put the incident out of her mind as best she could. She was largely successful until some two months later, when she was summoned to the bridge for a subspace transmission from Starfleet Command.


". . . so in recognition of Ensign Chekov's daring rescue of his captain, we hereby put an official commendation in his record and promote him to the rank of lieutenant, junior grade. Congratulations Lieutenant Chekov."



There was polite applause and after a few more words, the admiralty cut the connection. Janice maintained her position by the ready room door, even as the crew broke their formal stances and swarmed around the new lieutenant, slapping him on the back in congratulations. When it was clear she would not be missed, Janice slipped out to make sure that the buffet was properly setup in the lounge, and her smile only faltered when she was alone in the lift.





5. "Good morning, captain. How are you -" Janice stopped mid-sentence, her usual greeting to the captain aborted by the look of absolute terror that was affixed to his face.



"Captain, is everything okay? Captain? Jim!"



The sound of his name seemed to rouse Kirk from his stupor. Mutely, he held out the PADD to her, and Janice glanced down at the file that was open.

Unable to help herself, Janice at least tried to temper the burst of laughter than threatened to erupt into a gentle smile. "I see you received the notice from Starfleet."

Kirk nodded at her mournfully, his expression looking like that of a kicked puppy. Or possibly a school-boy who had just been told that he had to spend recess inside washing desks.

"It'll be okay, captain. Starfleet just wants to celebrate the successful completion of our first five-year mission. They're not asking for anything scary."

"But - but - they want speeches! And tours! And events! And - and - and banquets!"

He looked so bewildered that Janice was sharply reminded that he was actually two years younger than her and had more training in diplomacy and combat tactics than administrative management. She then did something that she had rarely done in their five years together - she rounded the desk, crouched down next to Kirk and took his hands in her own.

"Jim, do you trust me?"

"You know I do, Janny. With my sanity, with my ship and with my crew. I couldn't have done the last five years without you."

"Then trust me with this," she said, willing him to believe her. "I will give Starfleet a celebration they will never forget. You are going to have to give a speech or two, but I'll deal with everything else. You just worry about getting us home in one piece."

"Haven't I always?"

"Well, I don't know. . ." Janice said playfully, changing the mood in the room. "I seem to recall one time on Halmar IV where a certain Captain and Chief Engineer were frantically scrambling to avoid transporting an away team up in a million bite-sized pieces."

"And we did it too!" Kirk replied, sticking his tongue out at her.

"And see that you keep it that way!" Janice shook her head in mock-disbelief. "I don't know what Starfleet is thinking, giving us a month's warning for this. Don't they know how much trouble we can get up to in a month?"

Despite dire predictions, the next month did pass smoothly. The Enterprise was only diverted twice in their return to Earth, and both incidents were resolved with a minimum of fuss and bloodshed (Kirk's Paper-cut of Doom notwithstanding).


Janice often felt like she was in five places at once, keeping up with the daily function of the ship, as well as planning the Return Celebration, as someone in Dining Services had dubbed it. Much to Janice's disgust, the name stuck, but Nyota pointed out, in one of their many meetings, it could have been so much worse.

Finally, they pulled into orbit around Saturn to make their final preparations and await the go-ahead from Starfleet Command. Janice stood at the head of the conference room's table, with all of the ship's senior command staff and department heads seated in front of her.

"You should now have on your PADDs the final schedule for tomorrow - final, that is, until the Admiralty changes its mind yet again," she said to a round of laughter. Public speaking was not something Janice ever though she would be comfortable with, but it had definitely become an acquired skill. It helped that this was a room full of people she had lived and worked with for the past five years. "Does anyone have any questions?" She paused, but there was a general murmur of dissent.

"Then I think we're done here. Remember, tomorrow, you can always check with any Admin Corp member if you have any questions, and I will be running around putting out fires - "

"I hope not literally, lass!" Scotty's voice called from the back of the room.

"Only in Engineering, Commander!" Janice replied with a grin. "Thank you all so much for all your help with everything. I know that everything tomorrow will go off with our usual efficiency."

"Way to damn us with faint praise, Jan," Kirk muttered from his position at her left elbow.

"Did you have something to add, captain?" she asked sweetly.

Kirk jumped up. "Actually, I did," he said with a grin and Janice got a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. The feeling of dread only grew when Nyota and Chekov materialized on her other side, each holding objects behind their backs.

"So I think by now we all know who really runs this ship, and it sure isn't me," Kirk said, playing to the room. "Sure, those of us sitting here might get to do the stupid stunts, get the notoriety, win the research awards. But it is Yeoman Rand and her Administrative Corp who really keep this ship going. Without them, most of us wouldn't know where we were, where we were going, how to get dinner or even have a uniform to wear. They have worked their collective rear ends off in the past month putting together this celebration, just because they want the rest of us to look good. So I thought we should take a little bit of time to thank them properly."

Janice felt her cheeks starting to heat up and began wondering about the possibility of spontaneous combustion. She was sure that Mr. Spock could give her the exact odds.

"First, Lieutenant Chekov will present a little something we had made up," Kirk continued. "Each and every one of the Admin Corp will get one of these."

The young lieutenant grinned and held up a tee-shirt with the words "I ran the Enterprise for 5 years and all I got was this lousy tee-shirt!" emblazoned across it. He flipped it around, and on the back were listed all of the different divisions of the Administrative Corp, with "Yeoman Janice Rand - Head Cat Wrangler" listed at the very bottom.

"In addition to this lovely piece of sartorial humor," Kirk said when the laughter died down, "every member of the Admin Corp will be receiving the highest possible commendation in their records, and very strong consideration will be given to their preferred choice for future assignments. They have all earned this many times over, and I don't think anyone would blame them if they wanted to abandon this nut-house!"

Janice smiled warmly at the captain, trying to convey her appreciation with her eyes alone. That kind of respect was hard to come by outside of the command track, and she was thrilled for her people. She could only imagine how hard Kirk had had to fight to get that approved.

"However, we - and by 'we' I mean 'I' - felt that Yeoman Rand deserved a little something more for putting up with me, and never once threatening to throw me out an airlock," the captain went on, and Janice felt the sinking feeling return ten-fold. "However, I wasn't sure what to get the woman who has run my life for the last five years, so I exercised some of that good sense that I'm known far and wide for - and went running to Lieutenant Uhura. She, as usual, had the perfect answer."

Nyota held out a small box, which Janice carefully opened with trembling fingers. Her gasp was audible in the now-silent room, and she held up a delicate silver pendent, with an image of the Enterprise etched in one side and the dates of their first tour on the other.

Abandoning any pretense of professionalism, Janice threw her arms around her friend and hugged her tightly. Then she felt a tap on her shoulder, and Kirk whispered in her ear, "Let me put it on you?" She nodded in agreement and suppressed a shiver as his hands brushed the back of her neck.

The round of applause that burst forth when she felt the pendant hang heavily from her neck took her completely by surprise, and Janice stood for a moment simply basking in the warmth and acceptance that she felt from the people around her. This, she realized, was what she had been working towards most of her life. Not the accolades, or the rewards; just the simple recognition from the people she saw every day that they understood her job and thought she did it well.

Even the frantic message from the Admiralty, asking to rearrange half of the events the next day did nothing to wipe the smile off of Janice's face.

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