Jen’s pretty sure she’s kind of obsessed with the alternate universe. The alternate universe, the one that kind of contributed to the clusterfuck that was her life from birth to twenty-two. Not the mirror universe, where everyone and everything is evil and overdramatic and fuck, where her mirror self is more of a psychotic slut than Jen ever was.
It’s this kind of obsession that prompts some of the weirder conversations she and her alternate self have had over the months since Jen found the older woman and the other Spock – the Ambassador, who is, like, the epitome of awesome – after her Spock – who, at the time, was not -- fucking dumped her on Delta Vega. They have a lot in common, despite Nero’s decision to sucker punch the universe.
Jen’s decision to get completely shitfaced on Scotty’s super-secret hooch is put on hold when Uhura calls her, informing her that she has a transmission coming from the Vulcan colony.
Her older self’s expression is grim and grey even on the screen. Before Jen can utter a word – a surly greeting, a not-so-polite request that she fuck off and call back later, anything – the other woman cuts her off with a single word.
The hard, ugly knot in Jen’s stomach tightens, and then, strangely enough, begins to ease. “Yeah.”
Captain Jenna T. Kirk, retired, nods and sighs. “Me too.” She leans back in her chair, running her fingers through her hair. “Have you talked to Tommy lately?” There’s no need to elaborate on who Tommy is.
Jen shakes her head. She and the other survivors don’t talk often, though she does have one of them onboard right now – Kevin Riley, down in Engineering, now that she thinks about it.
“You should,” she replies, and there’s something dark in her eyes. “Listen to him.”
Before Jen can muster any kind of response, the screen goes black, leaving her alone in her quarters.
Jen blinks. “The fuck?” she mutters. After a moment, she straightens and slaps the com controls. “Kirk to Bridge.”
“I need to make a call.”
“Tell me about Mom and Dad.” The words slip across Jen’s tongue almost by accident.
The older woman looks at her over the beer bottle she’s holding up to her lips, then slowly puts it down on the ground between their lawn chairs. Her eyes – grey were Jen’s are blue and how weird is that? – sweep the beach around them. They linger briefly on the crew playing volleyball and then on the Spocks sitting a distance away with Bones and his multipurpose med kit. No doubt Bones is just waiting for an excuse to bitch someone out for not wearing adequate sunscreen.
“They were… Mom and Dad,” she begins, and Jen can sense the struggle in her. How to describe something so intrinsically a part of her being? “Dad was awesome. Never treated me any differently because I was a girl, was always up for playing with me and Sam, but never let us get away with anything. Mom was always kind of crazy, always wanting to wander, but Dad kind of grounded her when she needed to be.” Her eyes flicker back to the Spocks and Jen doesn’t have to be a telepath to know that she’s thinking that the Ambassador does the same thing for her. A career admiral could figure that out, and they generally tend to be idiots.
Then, just as suddenly, the older woman’s sharp gaze focuses back on Jen. “Surely you know about Mom?” she asks.
Jen shifts in her chair, fighting in the instinct to change the subject like she always does when family comes up. If she can’t talk about it with herself, who the fuck can she talk about it with? “Mom wasn’t around much when Sam and I were kids,” she says shortly, taking a swig of her own beer. “Usually out on missions for Starfleet.” Running from the kids that reminded her of Dad, she adds silently, and not a little bitterly. “We stayed with Dad’s parents, then Frank.” Until Sam couldn’t take it anymore and ran. Until Jen ran to her aunt and uncle on Tarsus IV.
“Frank Hallie,” she elaborates, “step-dad.”
A flash of incredulity crosses her counterpart’s face, only to be replaced by suspicion. Still, she doesn’t question her any further, much to Jen’s relief. Maybe someday she’ll be able to talk about Frank’s abuse and Mom’s neglect and Sam’s abandoning her, but not today. Not on shore leave, when she’s trying to have fun, and with her crew just a few yards away.
When the majority of the crew abandons the volleyball net for the waves, Jen jumps up and dashes after them and gets into a splash fight with Nyota against Chekov and Sulu.
She and Nyota kick their asses.
“You could have warned me!” Jen grouses, glaring at her counterpart over the table. She has this glare down to a tee. It makes Sulu and Chekov shrink down in their chairs. It makes Romulans and Starfleet admirals alike stutter – except for Chris because he’s happy to glare right back and it’s the Battle of the Glares and kind of awesome – and even Klingons find reason to be elsewhere when she turns it on them.
The other woman, though, doesn’t even blink, just slides a glass of orange juice across the table to her. She sits down and says, “It’s early. Spock didn’t go through his first pon farr until we were over two years into the mission.” She takes a sip of her own juice. “We didn’t hear you were coming until T’Pau contacted us to witness the ceremony as Spock’s kin, since Sarek’s currently on Earth.” She wrinkles her nose a bit. “I didn’t even know that T’Pring and Stonn were still alive.”
Jen sighs. She knows she can’t blame the other woman for what happened – no, she’ll just blame Spock’s fucking ex-wife -- but it’s really irritating. She’d hoped to avoid getting her ass kicked by Spock again. Though, at least this time she’d been able to give pretty much as good as she’d got. “He’s avoiding me,” she pouts. “And when he’s around me, he won’t look me in the eye, and he’s reverted to being the ‘I have a stick so far up my ass it’s tickling my brain’ creep he was at the Academy.”
The other Jen laughs. “I never knew Spock at the Academy, but I know what you mean.” Her expression fades into seriousness . “He’s embarrassed, I imagine. Vulcan sexuality is a hugely private thing, and he’s just had it bandied about in front of the crew, and it nearly killed you.”
“Not the whole crew,” Jen points out. “Just the command crew, and they won’t say a word. The rest of the crew just thinks he was sick and required a specialized treatment at the colony.” An assumption that she’s happy to let them continue to hold. After a moment, she adds, smirking, “Though, Uhura isn’t pleased to find out that Spock was ‘spoken for’ while they were doing… whatever it was that they were doing.”
The older woman snorts. “Vulcan betrothals and marriage aren’t the same as humans’ are, but I don’t blame her. I wasn’t exactly thrilled to meet T’Pring either, and Spock and I hadn’t done anything more than flirt at the time. Not that he’d admit to flirting or anything.” She downs the last of her juice, then continues, “If you’re looking for advice, talk to him. Let him know you’re not angry at what he did while under the plak tow.”
Jen nods. She’s tried to let him know exactly that, but it’s hard to talk personal when he’s trying to win Most Efficient XO of the Year. She supposes she’ll just have to be a bit blunter about it or something. Maybe lock him in her quarters or ready room with her.
She glances around the kitchen, suddenly realizing how quiet it and the rest of the house are. “Where’s the Ambassador?” she asks. “I expected he’d be here.”
The responding grin on the other woman’s face is pure mischief. “He’s visiting Junior. He expected something like this might occur, even if it didn’t with us. They should be here soon.”
So, yeah, Jen’s older self is one sneaky lady. Not that Jen minds so much. It’s funnier than hell when she makes Spock’s eyebrows skyrocket and Pike look like he’s developing an ulcer.
She supposes she should think it weird, having someone who so totally gets her, despite their differences, but she doesn’t. It’s actually kind of comforting.