There's the taste of salt at the back of her throat and there's pressure in her nose and panic in her hands as she struggles to the surface. She kicks, hard, but breaks through the waves only to be pulled under once more, her lungs burning, hating the ocean, salt, and her recklessness all in equal measure.
She also hears an annoyingly calm voice in her head, too little too late, telling her, "Don't go so far, Jan. What are you doing? There's plenty of time to explore the water, the shore, everything, what do you have to prove?—"
She feels like the recalcitrant child who does exactly what she's not supposed to, pushes the limits, and is angry when it doesn't go her way. Janice starts praying, between brief gulps of air after she's hit by another round of salt water. There are promises, things she's going to give up, like never kissing Nyota goodbye in front of Spock again, as she loves to do so that he gives them that blank look, even as he's standing far too close to the captain.
She panics as an enormous wave heads toward her, vowing to give up dark chocolate, all fatty foods, and her addiction to deep-cleaning Nyota's quarters in the early hours of the morning before she wakes up for alpha shift. (Janice has a place for everything and likes to put things away when she's done with them. Nyota would rather just worry about it later, say in a week or so when she finally decides to clean, by which point Janice has glared at the offending mess so often it has to be smoking from her hatred. It's a constant disagreement and makes her glad they have separate quarters).
When she feels an arm band around her chest and drag her to shore, she stops praying to a god she's not sure she believes in and making promises she's not going to keep and just gives in to the rescue. She's grateful, oh so grateful until she's flat on her back in the foamy surf and Nyota slaps her hard on the cheek.
"What the hell, Janice? You begged me to spend shore leave here and you can't swim?"
Janice tries to bat her eyelashes at her, but there's sand in them so she sits up and rubs them, still coughing up salt water attractively from a burning throat. "I can swim. Or I thought I did. I didn't think it would be that hard, you know, remembering." She frowns. "Waves are different. And evil." She glares at the ocean and thinks that it's gorgeous for being hell on her body.
Nyota sighs in exasperation and flips her wet hair over her shoulder, showcasing the little red bikini she's wearing that leaves little to the imagination (and they both have stellar imaginations). Jan leans back with one hand clutching the sand and the other still rubbing an eye that has to be bright red by now. Nyota doesn't mention that she should have learned to swim as a child, that she should have spent many happy summers in or by the water, even as a teenager—flirting with the cute girls showing a lot of skin on their towels, or the boys showing off their prowess in their cannonballs off the dock.
She hadn't and they both know that. Not that they talk about it.
"Where were you?" she asks instead.
"Getting drinks inside and talking to the nice bartender who was easily persuaded into being more than generous in his alcohol content." She gestures to the tray on the yellow blanket they'd dragged out before Nyota left for such a long time and Janice decided to try out the water. There's two huge glasses of icy green and pink liquid with umbrellas and fruit sticking out of the top in such an attractive fashion that her mouth immediately starts watering.
"I love you," she says hoarsely and crawls over, dignity be damned, to pick up one, except Nyota grabs her ankle and makes her faceplant in the sand with an ungraceful oomph.
"Oh no you don't. I want an apology for scaring me." Janice groans and glances back only to shiver at Nyota's look.
"I'm sorry, okay? I didn't know it would be like that." She clears her throat and tries again, digging her hands deep into the sand to hold on tight. "I won't be that reckless again."
Nyota accept this, as she always does when Janice fucks up, nods and they both curl up on the blanket with their freaking awesome drinks in their hands, Janice teasing Nyota about flirting with the bartender and Nyota shrugging it off and pointedly staring at Janice's red eyes. It's almost worth fighting the waves (and realizing this isn't a fight she can win) to feel the weight of her concern and entwine her fingers with hers almost too tightly. Then she thinks of the darkness of the water and shudders. Almost.
Hours later, they stumble back to their hotel, giggling and holding on to each other, the sun and hot wind and the deliciously fruity drinks working together to make them more than a little drunk. There are no elevators in the imposing white building because it's trying to be a throwback to earlier times (or, as Nyota put it, bastards who don't want to worry about fixing a lift), so Janice and Nyota carefully make their way up the cream-colored stone steps, arm-in-arm, serious now that they have to concentrate on getting their feet just right.
"Wait," Janice says and Nyota stops trying to drag her up the stairs to give her a look that says she'd rather be in the shower than waiting to climb two more flights of stairs.
Janice points out of the large bay windows at the landing of the second story. Nyota sighs, but walks over and leans on the window ledge to see the sunset over the water, tendrils of pink and orange resting on the white of the sailboats in the calming water. She's smiling and reaching her hand out as if she could capture one of the colors streaking the sky and put it in a container to open later when they're in the metal confines of the ship, far from sunshine and fresh air.
"It's so pretty," Nyota says and leans further out of the window, but Janice rests her drunk self against the wall and watches her instead, the worry lines erasing from her face, the tension from two years on the ship with hardly more than two days off. Not that she aimed to take off for vacation, Janice had practically had to drag her here, but oh was it worth it watching her relax.
It's a while before either of them stirs, but Janice can't take it anymore and pulls Nyota away from the view and into a kiss, holding her hips in her hands and brushing her lips along her jaw line before capturing her mouth and sighing into it.
They kiss sweetly for a few seconds until Nyota nips her lip and begs to be let in and Janice relents, opening her mouth for her tongue and tightening her fingers on the line of flesh revealed between Nyota's swimwear and the matching red cover she'd wrapped loosely around her hips before they'd gathered their stuff to head to their room.
Going to the room sounds like an excellent idea, especially since Nyota has turned to groping her in the public stairwell while she sucks her lower lip and groans.
Janice breaks off to say, "I call shower," then removes herself from Nyota's fierce grip to fly up the stairs, laughing as she curses and follows her.
They call a truce and decide to share, although there is no shower, being the old-fashioned place that it is, only a claw-foot bathtub with faucets on each side. Janice can practically see Nyota drooling as they walk in the bathroom and start shedding their sandy bathing suits.
"Glad I picked this place?" she asks wryly as Nyota runs her hands over the faucets as if they're going to start purring to life, like Scotty does to the Enterprise as he walks down the corridors. Nyota, of course, ignores her (Scotty does as well when the younger and more foolish crewmembers start giggling) and instead chooses from the array of bath salts, deciding on one that's bright blue and smells like some sort of flower that she's really excited about, thrusting the package up to Janice's nose so that she can revel in it too. She humors her, sniffing lightly and only smelling the covering, but Nyota starts running water and crumbles up the cake of scent and suddenly she sees the appeal as the light smell of flowers fills the room.
Nyota gets in first, impatient to feel the water even though the tub is only barely a quarter full and they'd spent most of the afternoon in the surf holding hands and not going in too deep. She reclines against the creamy surface with a sigh, twisting her hair into a messy bun on the top of her head, tendrils curling down to her shoulder enticingly.
"Aren't you going to join me?" she asks, capturing Janice's hand to kiss it.
"Yeah," she says, but stays where she is, kneeling on the floor behind her, head on her shoulder, watching the water rise and lap around her body. "You're so beautiful. Especially like this." She scoops her hand through the foam and brings it up to Nyota's breast, swirling around her nipple and making it peak under her fingers. "Is this why you like baths? Does the warm water feel good here?" She cups Nyota's breasts, letting her cheek rest against her neck, breathing in the scent of salt water on the warm skin. "Or do you wait for showers with nozzles to unhook and bring yourself off?"
Nyota leans back into her and makes that sound Janice associates with very good things. "I don't need water to come. Fingers are just as good."
"Or tongues." Janice takes to sucking on her earlobe, getting frustrated in her need to pull Nyota out of the water and push her down on that nice large bed and lick her until she screams.
"Patience. Get in here and we can act on those fantasies racing through your head right now."
"Are you sure? I have a lot of fantasies." She picks up a sponge from the water and runs it over Nyota's sandy skin, slowly.
She sighs and splashes water and soap on her chest to aid her movements until she realizes Janice hasn't moved. "Get in," she grits out and Janice grins. She loves making her beg.
It's Janice who ends up doing most of the begging, gripping the edge of the tub with her head barely sticking out of the water as Nyota slips lithely under her and lifts her hips so that she's straddling her. Nyota then proceeds to suck marks into her inner thighs, her hips, her stomach, and any other place guaranteed to both drive her crazy and keep her from coming. So Janice begs for relief, feeling the irony as her promises sound similar to the same ones she'd vowed in the too-deep water.
I'll never embarrass you on the bridge—I'll eat whatever healthy food you want—we can do whatever you want tomorrow even if it's something I hate—I won't even complain—Fuck—Nyota!
It doesn't work and she finally just bites her lip, giving in to silence and thinking of mundane topics and not how much she wants to push her away and put her fingers down to bring herself off quickly and efficiently.
"There," Nyota says finally and releases her to splash noisily down into the water. Nyota stands to finish rinsing off the soap with the nozzle that they'd found in the cupboard earlier.
It's her own fault. That's what Janice tells her when she attacks her and half the bath ends up on the floor and Nyota slips back into the soapy water where Janice finally gets her kisses and fingers right where she needs them.
There's large water puddles on the tiles and the mirrors are completely steamed up before they pull the plug and collapse on huge bed Janice had been admiring earlier. To sleep, though. Nothing too fancy after their tub antics.
Janice dreams of waves and dead bodies falling beneath her to the ocean floor while she floats in the water, watching their faces pale.
When she wakes, it feels like the bed is still rocking and she shakes in Nyota's arms.
"I really am sorry," she whispers, because Nyota is awake and rubbing her back soothingly.
"But I can't promise that I won't ever scare you like that again." And it's true—she has a tendency towards impulsivity, a contradiction to her obsession with order and neatness. That comes later, as if she was gifted with an ability to clean up her messes afterward.
Probably why she gets along so well with Kirk. Probably why Nyota was attracted to her in the first place, why they fight all the time and then have fantastic make-up sex.
But even with the steady arms around her, smoothing-over done, Janice doesn't get back to sleep until the sun lightens up the room.