For as long as she can remember, she's had dreams of being a princess. She doesn't know why her subconscious puts her in such a situation because she's never thought of herself as particularly girly, but some nights she dreams herself into castles made of stone, a crown of silver on her head. Other nights, she's in a more rustic location, but still with the crown and many jeweled rings on her fingers.
She feels content, even happy, in these dreams, like she's found her life's purpose. When she wakes, she feels like she's been set adrift, her purpose lost. She tries not to let it bother her because they're just recurring dreams, unimportant in the grand scheme of her life.
It's not like they'll affect her life at all, not unless she lets them. And she has no intention of that. None at all.
It's random chance that brings them together.
Enterprise is caught in a skirmish on the edge of Cardassian space that leaves the position of captain's yeoman open. She's between assignments, working for Admiral Komack's office when the news comes in and she's pulled into the admiral's office and informed that she'll be shipping out in three days to meet Enterprise at Deep Space Four by request of Captain Kirk.
It's a dream come true, being assigned to the flagship, something she'd never thought would happen, no matter how hard she's worked to get there. She still can't believe Captain Kirk asked for her personally.
She's never imagined that her actual, literal dream would be waiting in the transporter room to greet her when she gets there.
Janice Rand is lucky enough to figure out early in life that she's good at organizational and support positions. When all the other kids in preschool are busy playing starship captains and aliens, Janice is busy organizing the cubbies in her classroom. She color codes her notes in school, organizes her nana's pantry to be much more efficient, and introduces a new filing system at the library that ends up becoming standard by the time she's fifteen years old.
In short, Janice is the kind of person who has captains fighting over her so she can work her magic and make their lives easier.
Which, incidentally, is how she ends up on Enterprise.
"Oh my god," is the first thing that she says after she materializes on Enterprise. It's not very professional, but she thinks it can be forgiven due to the circumstances.
"Dismissed, Chief," Captain Kirk says, never once looking away from Janice, who watches the transporter tech stand, salute, and scamper out of the room.
Janice turns her eyes back to Kirk and they stare at each other for a long moment, silent.
"Do you know who I am?" he finally asks.
Janice nods, her voice caught in her throat. She steps down from the transporter pad, each step coming quicker than the last and Kirk catches her when she throws herself into his arms and presses her face against his shoulder.
Somehow, Janice manages to avoid the newsfeeds after Vulcan is destroyed, mainly because she's on a deep space exploratory mission, the ship so far out that they can't get the regular newsfeeds. They do get bulleted updates, but it's text-only and Janice scans it every morning before forwarding it to Captain M'neska.
By the time they make it back in range of the video news feeds, most of the coverage surrounding the cadets-turned-heroes has died down to just an occasional mention by the media and pictures of the Enterprise crew are at a premium.
So while Janice knows the name James Kirk and knows that nearly everyone is Starfleet is fighting to serve under his command, she's never seen the man's face, at least not while awake and even then, she doesn't realize it's him until she materializes on the transporter pad on Enterprise.
When Janice is a child, she has a recurring dream. In this dream, she is a princess, crowned in silver, flowers wound in her hair, layers of skirts brushing her ankles. She wanders halls of stone and courtyards of green trees and riotous colors of flowers.
There are women to help her dress and other women to braid her hair and still other women at her every beck and call.
There are three men, all older than her, who she understands are her brothers, though Janice knows that in the waking world, she is an only child. She can see only one of them clearly, the one who walks with her in the gardens and reads with her in the libraries, the one who rides with her across plains and escorts her before a king.
His name sits on the tip of her tongue for many years.
"Amrothos," she says, barely more than an exhalation against his shoulder. She realizes with a start that there are tears in her eyes, that she's gripping Kirk too tightly, that he's holding onto her just as tightly as she's holding onto him.
She pulls away as abruptly as she'd thrown herself at her new captain. "Why did I just call you Amrothos? Why do I remember you from before? What's going on?" Her voice rises with each word until she's nearly shouting, too confused to try to control herself.
"You need to calm down," Kirk says, hands on her shoulders, bowing a little in order to look her in the eye and for a second, a memory imposes itself over his face, and Janice sees him like she remembers from her dreams, his hair longer, a beard covering his face, his blue eyes vibrant and full of worry. She shakes her head and the vision is gone, leaving Kirk standing before her in command gold and regulation hair cut.
"I'm going insane," Janice says. "Aren't I?"
"No, you're not," Kirk says. "You're just as sane as I am."
"That's not much of a comfort," she mutters, thinking about some of the reports that had gone through Admiral Komack's office, the ones she'd read and summarized for the Admiral, the ones that said Kirk was a daredevil with a death wish and that called for an immediate psych re-eval because there was no way he didn't fool the intake tests.
Kirk laughs and it's so unexpected that Janice can't help but jump a little. "Just as spunky as I remember," he says fondly, letting his hands fall from her shoulders and standing up straight.
"What's going on?" Janice asks again, hoping for an answer this time.
"It's a long story," Kirk says. "Let me show you to your quarters and then we'll sit down and talk and then, if it's okay with you, there's someone else you need to meet."
Janice dreams once of meeting two kings, one dark and regal, the other fair and imposing. She curtsies the way she'd been taught, her head bowed in deference, while Kirk beside her bows at the waist until his back is almost parallel to the floor.
"Rise, my lord Amrothos," the dark king says. "You also, my lady."
Janice stands, holding herself up tall, her back straight. She's worn her best gown and had jewels woven into her hair and she is bound and determined to present her best face to her lords.
"We thank you for granting us an audience, Your Majesties," Kirk begins and Janice tries hard to pay attention, but she's so nervous to be here and finds her concentration wavering after only a few minutes of polite conversation between the men. Her eyes begin to drift around the room, taking in tapestries spaced evenly across the walls and she lets the conversation become muted background noise to her studies.
"Perhaps you would care to see the gardens, my lady," a quiet voice at her shoulder says, startling her; she'd been unaware that any of the men had abandoned their conversation. She does her best to hide her surprise, though she cannot help how her heart hammers against her breast.
"Should we not wait for my brother to escort us?" she asks, taking the fair king's proffered arm and letting herself be led away.
"My sister and her husband will join us," he says. Janice can tell that he's making a conscious effort to slow his gait so as not to rush her. It is endearing. "After all, if we are to be wed, it is only sensible that you and Eowyn become acquainted."
"It is very sensible, my lord Eomer," she agrees as they step out into the sunlit garden.
"So you're saying that we're reincarnated siblings who happened to be royalty in a previous life?" Janice asks, wondering whether Kirk's story would make more or less sense if she had a drink or five in her system.
"More like aristocracy," Kirk says, slouching back to sit more comfortably on the desk chair in Janice's new quarters. "I mean, yeah, our father was a prince, but it seems like it's somewhat analogous to the old British royal family, full of princes and princesses with no hope for the throne. Well, you had no hope for the throne until you married a king, then I guess that whole point became moot."
"You're shitting me," Janice blurts before she can manage to stop herself. This isn't exactly a situation covered in any of her classes back at the Academy, but she figures she should still try to act with a bit of decorum if possible.
"Nope, not shitting you," Kirk says and Janice supposes she could probably start thinking of him as 'Jim' now, but the need to respect authority is too ingrained in her to address him by his first name, even in her own head.
"So these dreams, they actually happened?" It should be insane, it is insane, but Janice believes him. Maybe she shouldn't, maybe she should call the CMO (McCoy, she remembers from her mission briefing) for an immediate psych eval, but she can't because then she'd be scrutinized, too, and she's not insane.
Or maybe she is insane and just thinks she's not. How would she even know?
"That or all three of us are insane and sharing the same delusion," Kirk says so offhandedly that Janice almost misses the number mentioned.
"Wait, wait," she says, leaning forward and flailing maybe a bit madly in her surprise. "Three?"
"I told you there was someone I wanted you to meet," Kirk says.
Janice has never been in love, not even the self-deluded lusting that adolescents label as love. It's not that she hasn't been interested in boys, but she's never moved past that initial interest. Something holds her back, some lack of spark that she instinctively knows will be there when she meets a man she's supposed to fall in love with.
She settles a few times over the years because she's tired of being alone, but her relationships don't last long, only long enough for Janice to realize that she can do better and that there's no reason to keep these men from finding their own better endings because she's lonely.
She thinks sometimes that she's striving for something that's unattainable, something her imagination came up with to justify her insanely high standards, passed down to her from her mother and her mother before her.
"A man should respect you, Janice," her grandmother tells her, "but that's not the be all, end all. Passion is just as important, passion towards you and passion towards his other loves, be they art or science or languages. You shouldn't be the center of his world and he shouldn't be the center of yours. Don't lose yourself for the sake of your love."
Janice holds these words close to her heart and she thinks that's why she dreams of being a queen, of running the household while her husband rules over the kingdom, of coming together when able and functioning as an independent person the rest of the time.
She just wishes she could find that sort of situation in the real world.
They step off the turbolift on the officer's deck and Janice wonders once again just where Kirk is leading her. She's even more confused when Kirk stops in front of his own quarters and punches his code into the keypad. The door slides open with a barely audible pneumatic hiss and Janice only has a few seconds to appreciate how big the captain's quarters are on a Constitution-class ship before she sees him.
His hair's darker than she remembers and he's a little heavier around the middle than he ever was in her dreams, but it's not hard to see that he's the same man, the one her subconscious calls Eomer, the one she married in a previous life if what Kirk told her is to believed.
"I didn't realize you were going to bring your new yeoman around on the grand tour," 'Eomer' says to the captain, not bothering to stand from where he's slouched on the couch in his undershirt and uniform trousers, a tumbler of something dark in hand. His eyes flick towards her for just a moment and then back to the captain before he does a double-take that Janice would find funny if this wasn't the most surreal day of her life.
"Bones," the captain starts to say, but trails off when the other man sets his glass on the coffee table and stands, stepping around the couch and coming to stand before Janice.
Janice is sure she's staring, but she can't help herself. It's not every day a woman comes face-to-face with her reincarnated husband after being reincarnated herself.
"You remember," he says so quietly that Janice almost doesn't hear him, but at the same time he's all she can hear. The background noise that is part and parcel of life on a starship has disappeared, leaving only the sound of his breathing and hers in a ragged counterpoint.
"Some," Janice says just as quietly. "Not nearly everything, but enough."
She doesn't remember moving, but one of them must have because they're so close now, and his hands are gentle against her cheeks and that's when Janice realizes that she's crying and she doesn't even know why.
"Lothiriel," he says, his thumbs brushing her tears away and his voice is so heartbreakingly tender. A sob breaks out of Janice, ripped straight from her core and then she's pressed against his chest, gripping his shirt in both hands, her entire soul aching because she's missed him so much without even knowing and now that she's finally met him, she can never have him again.
Janice comes back to herself some time later, curled around a pillow in what she assumes is the captain's bed, unaware in her hysterics that she'd been moved. She's facing the wall, but she can feel a body on the bed behind her and a hand rubbing gently up and down her back.
"I don't even know your name." Her voice is hoarse and she could really use a glass of water, but she's too exhausted to remember to ask for it after she's thought about it.
"Leonard McCoy," he says. Of course, Janice thinks, wondering why she hadn't realized it earlier.
"Janice Rand," she returns, trying not to press into his hand against her body, trying to push down the desire to feel him stretched out behind her, pressed tight against her back, his large palm covering her entire stomach like she knows it would. Like it did.
McCoy shifts slightly, the bed dipping, and Janice starts to roll towards him before she can stop herself.
"Where did the captain go?" Janice asks, not bothering to shift away from where her lower back is now pressed against McCoy's hip.
"He went back to the bridge. He said he wanted to give us some time to figure things out before he complicated the whole situation just by being here."
"It's pretty damned complicated already," Janice says, bitterness and resignation settling deep in her gut.
"I know," McCoy sighs, his hand a steady presence against her back.
She wakes to quiet voices coming from the corridor and pays them no mind until she hears her own name. She tries to strain her ears, but the voices are too far away to make out more than every few words so she braces one hand against the mattress and pushes herself upright, her other hand pressed against her swollen belly.
The healers say she should not be out of bed, but she's too curious for her own good and misses the feel of stone against her bare feet; she sinks into a chair not far from the door and tilts her head until she can hear the conversation in the corridor perfectly.
"What news?" Eomer asks and she can clearly hear the concern and love and tenderness in his voice.
"The queen is not well," she hears one of the healers say. "She is close to giving birth, but her body is already overtaxed from these past months of ill health and I cannot say whether she or the babe will survive."
Lothiriel bows her head and presses both palms against her belly, feels her son pushing out against the extra warmth from her hands. She hears Eomer sigh and can so clearly picture his face, so worried and trying to find hope, but unable.
"There are herbs to hasten birth that, with your permission and my lady's, I would like to administer to the queen," the healer says. "With every day that passes the queen's strength wanes. The sooner she delivers the child, the better her chances of survival."
"I will speak with her," Eomer says before dismissing the healer and then the door to Lothiriel's rooms is opened and her husband is standing before her. "Foolish woman," he says, the tenderness in his voice at odds with his words. He helps her to her feet and leads her back to her bed.
"I will take the herbs," she tells him once the quilts are arranged to her liking and Eomer has sat in the chair near the head of the bed.
He presses his hand to her cheek and says, "As you wish, my love."
Janice wakes to voices coming from the other room and the sense of déjà vu is almost completely disorienting after her most recent dream.
"What are we going to do?" Kirk asks, his voice fading and then getting louder and Janice imagines him pacing the length of the living area, hands on his hips. But, no, that was Amrothos who moved like that and as much as Kirk is Amrothos, he's also a completely different person. She doesn't know him just like he and McCoy don't know her.
"I don't know, Jim," McCoy says and he sounds tired. Janice feels horrible because she's at least partly the cause of it. "I do know that we don't have to figure it out right this second, though."
"So you're willing to leave this whole situation up in the air?" Kirk asks and Janice wishes she couldn't hear them; this is a conversation that doesn't need witnesses, no matter how unwitting.
"It'll keep," McCoy says.
Kirk scoffs. "I know at least part of you is in love with her, Bones, because you used to love her more than anything else in the universe, and you're saying 'it'll keep'?"
"I'm not Eomer anymore, Jim, in case you hadn't noticed," McCoy snaps. "She's not Lothiriel and you're not Amrothos. I just met Janice Rand; we're barely more than strangers. I've known you for years and I've stuck around all this time, so I don't think you have to worry about her stealing me away from you."
There's a thump that Janice thinks is Kirk collapsing onto the couch or maybe the armchair she remembers seeing. It's quiet for a long moment, probably several minutes, long enough that Janice is thinking about faking waking up when Kirk speaks again, his voice slightly muffled.
"I never would have requested her if I'd known, no matter how good of a yeoman she is," he says and Janice's heart breaks.
Eomer comes to her after their son is wrapped and taken away to be readied for burial. Lothiriel tries to keep her eyes open, wants her last sight to be of her husband, but she has bled so much and she is so tired.
She drags her eyes open with a great effort and sees tears on Eomer's face, only the second time she has seen such a sight. "Do not weep," she says, the words barely audible, her eyes slipping shut for what she knows is the last time. "I go to meet our son."
Eomer takes her hand, but she can hardly feel it. The press of his lips against her face is the last thing she feels, his voice the last thing she hears.
"Rest now, Lothiriel, my love."
And she sleeps.
She can't stay here any longer, can't bear to overhear any more of Kirk and McCoy's conversation, can't bear to have her heart continually broken. She doesn't even bother to feign waking up. She just sits and swings her legs over the edge of the bed, glad McCoy left her in her boots, and stands. She twists her hair up into a simple bun and secures it with an elastic she always carries in her pocket, and tries her best to look like she hasn't just spend the last god-knows-how-long in her captain's bed.
They're sitting together on the couch when she steps around the room divider; Kirk is turned into McCoy, his face pressed against the other man's shoulder. They both turn to look at her, though neither of them moves to separate.
She's halfway to the door when McCoy says, "Are you all right, Janice?"
Janice stops and takes a deep breath. "First," she says, still facing towards the door, "please don't presume familiarity with me, Doctor. Secondly, it doesn't matter if I’m all right. I'm going to pretend none of this happened and continue to do the job which I've been assigned and do it well, unless of course the captain would rather reconsider my assignment to this ship."
Neither of them says anything for a long moment. Just when Janice has decided to keep walking and not look back, Kirk says, "Report to for duty at 0800 tomorrow, Yeoman. I trust you're familiar with all the proper protocols?"
"Good," Kirk says coolly and Janice almost wishes she could see his face, but the pain that would come with seeing the two of them so comfortable together and knowing that neither of them wants her around isn't worth it. "Dismissed."
And with that, Janice leaves Kirk's quarters, and her past, behind.