impishtubist: (Default)
[personal profile] impishtubist
So this is a birthday fic for the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] canonisrelative, my partner-in-crime and all-around lovely person. (I tried writing you fluffy Jim/Bones fic, and somehow ended up with angsty Joanna-centric fic instead, oops). Nonetheless, I hope you have a fantastic birthday. I’m so very glad that fandom and writing brought us together, and your friendship means the world to me. :-) Have a great day, dear!



Whenever her parents tell the story of the day she was born, they always seem to leave out the uncomfortable details. Like how she was born in the middle of a freak snowstorm because her mother had traveled north to visit her parents late in her pregnancy, and the local weather nets had failed. Or how Dad couldn’t be there for the birth itself because of a ridiculous chain of events involving Gorn babies, a malfunctioning shuttlecraft, and an earthquake. They also seem to forget that her birth came only six months before their divorce, and that things between them were tense more often than not (she knows this only from her grandparents, who still haven’t forgiven Dad for the divorce).

To hear her parents talk about it, though, the day she was born was the most magical day on Earth, and not a thing went wrong.

Joanna sometimes wonders if there’s such a thing as joint selective memory.

----

Joanna’s third birthday is the first one Dad actually attends in person. He and Mom still weren’t speaking when her first birthday rolled around, and on her second he was tied up with intensive training at the Academy.

She doesn’t know how much of what she remembers of that birthday is genuine and how much of it is remembered only because of holo-vids she’s watched over and over. Dad’s months away from graduation from the Academy at that point, unaware that in a matter of weeks a tragedy will force him to go into space prematurely, the start of a series of events that will lead to him becoming chief medical officer on the Enterprise. He shows up to her party in his red cadet uniform, surprising her, and she cries as she clings to his neck and he lifts her into the air. Mom films the whole thing, laughing all the while. It’s the first civil interaction they’ve had since the divorce, Joanna will learn later, and the start of them repairing their friendship.

She falls asleep that night in Dad’s arms, rocked into slumber in front of the roaring fire, the wrapping from her presents strewn on the floor around them. She wakes alone in her bed in the morning, and Dad is gone.

----

When Joanna is five, Dad sends her her very first holo-imager, and he plans a trip for Mom to take her to see the ice cliffs of Europa. It’s the first time Joanna has been anywhere else in the Sol system, and she happily films everything from their shuttle ride to their meals to their hotel on Europa, all of which she sends to her father.

It’s also the first time Joanna can remember Enterprise being close enough to them that the communications delay is only a couple of minutes. She barely remembers the last time she was able to talk to her father in what felt like real-time, and when he calls her on the morning of her birthday, they talk for nearly two hours.

It’s also the day that Joanna finds out about Dad’s five-year mission. She will be ten when he returns to the Sol system, which seems like a lifetime away. They will still be able to communicate, he assures her, but the communications delay will only increase as time goes by. It will eventually get to the point where it will take weeks to send and receive messages.

Joanna tries not to cry - Dad’s just got done saying what a big girl she is - but the thought of him being so far away is too much. And she wasn’t going to be ten for a very long time.

“Jocelyn?” Dad calls, and Mom comes in from the other room.

“What - oh, Leonard, what did you say now?” Mom asks in exasperation, scooping Joanna up and setting her in her lap.

“Nothing,” Dad says helplessly. “We were just talking about the mission.”

“Oh, sweetie,” Mom says, smoothing Joanna’s hair back from her forehead. “It won’t be for all that long. And you’ll still get to talk to him.”

“Yeah, baby girl, I’ll still send you messages,” Dad pipes in. “As often as I can.”

“You’re always gone,” Joanna moans before she buries her face in Mom’s shoulder and starts weeping anew.

“Jocelyn,” Dad says again, softer - a plea.

“I know,” Mom says gently. “I know, Len. But it’s all right. She’ll be all right. And someday, she’ll understand why you have to do this.”

----

Dad times his message to her on her eighth birthday so that it arrives that day, even though the communications delay between Earth and Enterprise is eleven days long now. He’s joined halfway through his recording by Enterprise’s captain, who has been appearing in his messages a lot now and who keeps insisting that Joanna call him Jim. She’s moved from calling him “Mr. Kirk” to “Captain Jim,” but can’t quite get herself to call him by his first name only. He’s an adult, after all. At least, according to everyone but her father. Dad still calls Captain Jim a child and says that he’s never going to grow up.

“Don’t listen to your dad, Jo,” Captain Jim says to her on a number of occasions. “He’s just a big ol’ grump.”

Dad usually smacks him upside the head for that, though there’s often a small smile tugging at his lips. He likes Captain Jim an awful lot, Joanna thinks. Almost as much as he likes her and Mom.

----

Days before her eleventh birthday, Enterprise finally returns to Earth.

Their five-year mission got extended by several months, and then even after they enter orbit above Earth, they are kept away from the public for two days while Starfleet runs medical tests and debriefs every one of them. Finally, they are shuttled down to the planet in groups of twenty. Dad’s a senior officer, and he’s on the very last shuttle with the rest of the senior staff. Waiting for that last shuttle has been almost unbearable, so when he finally disembarks, Joanna runs to him and throws herself into his arms.

“Hey, baby girl - oof!” Dad rocks back a step as he catches her, and he lifts her up like she’s three again. “How’s my Jo-jo?”

The only response she can give is a wet laugh against his shoulder.

Minutes later, when she’s finally let him go and dried her face, she notices that they aren’t alone. Over the course of the past few years, Captain Jim has finally become Uncle Jim, but Joanna’s still never seen him in person. He’s joined their group of three, and Dad puts a hand on his shoulder.

“Jim, this is Jocelyn and Joanna,” he says, and Mom shakes his hand. Joanna hugs him.

“The birthday girl,” Uncle Jim agrees as he hugs back. “What are you now, fourteen?”

“I’m eleven,” Joanna says, laughing as she pulls away.

Uncle Jim shakes his head. “No, no, you’re much too grown up to be eleven.”

Dad sighs and rolls his eyes. “Do you have to charm the pants off of everyone you meet?”

Uncle Jim goes with them back to the farmhouse in Georgia. Mom’s set up a cot for him in the guest room, and he and Dad both sleep in there. They help Mom set up for Joanna’s birthday party a few days later. Uncle Jim is a decent cook, Joanna discovers, and Mom drafts him to help her out in the kitchen while Dad is put in charge of decorations.

Later, in the temporary peace before her friends start to arrive, Joanna finds her father out on the porch and joins him on the bench swing.

“Dad,” she begins uncertainly, holding her sweating glass of lemonade between her hands, “is Uncle Jim your boyfriend?”

Dad removes the ball cap he’s wearing, swipes the back of his hand across his forehead, and then puts it back on his head.

“Well,” he says after a moment, “in a way.”

“Oh.”

He lays an arm across the back of the bench swing. “See, Starfleet has rules about captains dating officers on their ships. Technically, they’re not supposed to.”

“Why not?”

“Because it makes things complicated.”

“Oh.” Joanna gives a small shrug. “You can always leave Starfleet.”

Dad laughs. “Jim would never agree to that.”

“But you could,” Joanna presses.

Dad looks at her. “You want me to leave Starfleet?”

Joanna shrugs again, trying not to seem too hopeful. “It’d just be nice. If - if you could stay home for a while.”

Dad draws her close and drops a kiss on top of her head. “I have duties out there, Joanna.”

“Yeah,” Joanna says, trying to keep the disappointment from her voice. “I know.”

----

Joanna is fifteen when her father comes home a broken man.

He’s kept stable on Enterprise following a horrific accident, but even the flagship of the fleet can’t cope with his injuries. He’s not the only one who sustained critical injuries, and the ship itself was heavily damaged, so she rushes back to Earth as fast as she can manage. The dead are buried, and the injured are brought to Starfleet Medical.

Joanna spends her fifteenth birthday huddled in a chair in one of the hospital’s waiting rooms, trying to sleep. Dad’s been out of surgery for a few hours now, but they won’t let anyone visit him. No one except Jim, that is, because rules never seem to apply to him.

The doors slide open, and she looks up. Jim strides into the room, gives her a strained smile, and goes over to Mom. He’s been appearing every few hours to check on them and give them updates, and Joanna hates him for it. Hates that he’s special enough to warrant a visit with her father, but that she isn’t. Hates that Dad will always choose Jim over them.

“They finally got him to sleep,” Jim says, sitting down next to Mom. Joanna gets up from her chair across the room and joins them. “When he wakes up, hopefully they’ll be able to start administering painkillers.”

They couldn’t before, Joanna knows, because it would have interfered with the equipment trying to knit his bones, muscles, and skin back together. It’s also why she and Mom had been discouraged from seeing him - he’d been screaming from the moment he’d woken up from surgery.

“You should probably go home and get some rest,” Jim is saying when Joanna tunes in again. “I’ll let you know if there are any changes.”

“Why do you get to stay with him?” Joanna snaps at him suddenly. She pushes herself angrily to her feet. “It’s your fault he’s in here in the first place!”

“Joanna!” Mom looks mortified, but Joanna ignores her. Jim gets slowly to his feet, regret and sorrow etched in his face.

“Jo, it wasn’t anybody’s fault. The accident -”

“He wouldn’t even be in space if it wasn’t for you!” Joanna says. “He’s always following you, always choosing you over us. And look where it got him!”

Jim takes a step towards her, his expression morphing into that of deep sympathy, and Joanna slaps him.

“That’s enough,” Mom exclaims, getting to her feet and dragging Joanna away from Jim. “Joanna, what the hell has gotten into you? Jim, I am so sorry -”

Jim holds up a hand, cutting her off. He’s gone ashen, and he looks like he might be ill. But his voice is steady when he says, “It’s fine, Joce.”

“It absolutely is not. Joanna, you apologize to him right now!”

“Sorry,” Joanna mutters, unable to put even false sincerity into her words. Mom, evidently sensing that this is a battle she’s going to lose, doesn’t press her for more.

“I’ll have the doctors bring a cot into the room,” Jim says after a beat of uncomfortable silence. “If you want to sleep here instead. I think your dad would like that, if he woke up and you were here.”

Mom lets her do it, despite the look on her face that tells Joanna this is not the end of this argument. She’s not going to get off that easily for slapping Jim.

The doctors try to tell Jim that it’s against their policy, that visitors in the intensive care wards can’t stay the night, but Jim throws the full weight of his captaincy and his legend behind his request, and they relent quickly.

“He looks like hell,” Jim warns as he leads them to Dad’s room. “But he’s going to be fine. He’ll have a long recovery ahead of him, though.”

“I’ll take that over the alternative,” Mom says, and Jim nods.

Dad looks as though he went three rounds with a Klingon and lost every one. Bone regen units are humming away as they knit the bones in both his legs and his left arm back together. His face is a map of bruises, his left eye is swollen shut, and a gash bisects his left temple and cheek. He’s asleep, and Jim tells them that with the drugs he’s been given, he’ll likely be out for the next eighteen hours.

Mom pulls up a chair to the bed and holds Dad’s uninjured hand. Jim leaves to tend to some business with Enterprise, and tells them that he probably won’t be back until morning. Joanna sits on the cot, feeling suddenly useless and sick to her stomach. Everything she had envisioned wasn’t as bad as this, and she regrets saying that she’ll spend the night. But Dad needs her, so she’s not going to back down from it.

Hours pass. Eventually, Mom starts to gather her things and tells Joanna she’ll be back tomorrow to take her home.

“When he wakes up, give him a kiss for me,” she says, pressing her lips to Joanna’s forehead. Joanna nods absently.

It’s a quiet night on the ward, and Joanna manages to sleep soundly the whole night through. When she wakes, it’s to the soft murmur of voices. She picks out Jim’s voice first. And then, the soft and gravelly tones of her father.

“ - hurts like a bitch,” Dad is grumbling. “But everything else feels fine.”

“Well, they’ve got you on so many painkillers that you shouldn’t even be coherent right now,” Jim says.

Joanna is grateful she’d fallen asleep with her back to the door, for it hides her face from them. She can pretend to still be slumbering now without them realizing she’s listening in.

“Doctors say it’s going to be at least a month before you’re back on your feet,” Jim goes on. There is a soft rustling sound as he sits down on Dad’s mattress. “Good news is, that’s about how long it’s going to take to get Enterprise space-worthy again.”

“I’m not coming back, Jim.” Dad’s voice is soft, rasping. "They've offered me a sabbatical. I'm gonna take it."

“I know.” Jim doesn’t even sound surprised. “Think we’ll set a record for the farthest long-distance relationship?”

Dad snorts. “There’s a satellite branch of Starfleet Medical in Atlanta. Think I’ll set down roots there for a while.”

“I think that sounds like a good idea,” Jim says.

“Do you?”

Jim sighs. “Look, Len. My mother spent most of my childhood off-planet, and I resented her for it for a good long while. Now I can see that she was running - running from her grief, running from me because I reminded her of my father. But that doesn’t really erase the fact that she wasn’t there when I needed her most. I don’t want that to happen to you and Jo, okay? She deserves better than that, and frankly, so do you. I think you’ve done your running. It’s time for you to go home.”

“She’s almost a grown woman, Jim.” Dad sounds sad.

“I know.” There’s a gentle smile in Jim’s voice. “Scary, isn’t it?”

Jim sits with him for a little while longer, until it sounds as though Dad has fallen asleep again. Then, Joanna hears Jim kiss his forehead and say quietly, “I’ll be back later this afternoon. Sleep well.”

When the door has slid shut behind Jim, Joanna hears the rustle of blankets and her Dad’s soft sigh.

“I know you’re awake, Jo-jo,” Dad whispers. “Come up here and talk to me.”

Slowly, Joanna uncurls herself and gets to her feet. She goes over to the biobed, and Dad motions for her to sit.

“Sorry about your birthday,” Dad says, managing a weak smile. “I’m sure there are other ways you wanted to spend it.”

And that’s enough to dissolve her into tears. Dad puts an arm around her and holds her against his shoulder. When she can speak again, she chokes out, “I didn’t mean to make you leave him.”

“Shh,” Dad says, pressing a finger to her lips, and she falls silent. “Baby girl, do you really think there’s any way anyone could have forced me to do something I didn’t want to do?”

“But what about Jim?”

Dad laughs. “Enterprise is going to be doing a series of short-range missions over the next couple of years. He’s never going to be more than a week away by shuttle. We’ll manage. I love him, Jo, but you’re my little girl.”

“Not little,” Joanna says, a half-hearted protest. A smile is tugging at her lips despite herself.

Dad doesn’t return it. He looks suddenly somber. “No, you’re not. And that’s the point. I’ve missed so much of your life, and I want to be here while you grow up.”

He brushes his thumb across her cheeks, drying them. “Can you do something for me?”

“Yeah, ‘course,” she says.

Dad puts a knuckle under her chin and meets her gaze. “Don’t be so hard on Jim. None of this is his fault, and it never has been. It’s always been my choice to go out there.”

Joanna catches a light-shuttle ride home later that afternoon, after Dad has fallen asleep again. She enters the Georgia farmhouse to find her mother in the kitchen with Jim, and she hesitates a moment in the doorway.

“Joanna,” Mom says in surprise, looking up. Jim turns around. “I was going to pick you up in an hour.”

“I know, but Dad fell asleep, so…” Joanna trails off with a shrug. She looks at Jim. “Um… I know he’s going to stay.”

Jim gets to his feet and comes over to her. “Yeah, he wants to spend some time on Earth for a while. Can’t exactly blame him. He’s earned it.”

“I’m sorry…” Joanna trails off and shakes her head. “I’m just sorry.”

“Hey.” Jim holds out an arm, and she goes to him. He squeezes her against his side. “Don’t be. But you gotta do something for me, okay? You need to look after him, ‘cause I won’t be around to do it. Keep him from doing something stupid.”

“Okay, but you gotta visit him lots,” Joanna says.

“And you,” Jim says. He wraps her into a proper hug. “Can’t forget about my best girl, now can I?”

Joanna laughs against his shoulder, and thinks maybe Dad doesn’t have such a bad taste in men after all.
 

Date: 2015-04-04 11:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] canonisrelative.livejournal.com
So.....I never claimed to be that smart. Case in point, I had like 20 minutes to sit down and leave a comment on this, and I really wanted to while it was still today, and FOR SOME REASON I thought it would be an awesome idea to put on Trek 2009 for "background noise" while I did. And....now I'm kinda crying over all of the glorious angst, both this story and that stupid opening scene...

So, basically, thank you for feeding all of my Trek Feelings. I can't even tell you how awesome it was to get this from you, there were so many things in here I loved -- things I know we both love which made it extra special -- and having it from Joanna's POV....well....so damn perfect, seriously. I loved your Jo! She was so real, so believably written as Bones's daughter and as her own person. Her longing for her father was so sweet and sad, and seeing their multi-layered family through her eyes was awesome.

I wish I could be more eloquent than this, but seriously I am so full of FEELINGS right now that this is about as good as it's gonna get. I'm so glad and grateful that we met, I wouldn't trade these years of friendship and collaboration and squee for anything!

I'mma read this again as soon as I can <3

PS: Awesomest icon is awesome

Date: 2015-04-05 10:22 pm (UTC)
lanalucy: (blue frog)
From: [personal profile] lanalucy
I didn't have the movie on in the background, so what's my excuse? ::sniffles::

Good job, impishtubist!

Date: 2016-01-13 03:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] impishtubist.livejournal.com
.... I don't know how I overlooked responding to this comment for nine months, but somehow I did. I am SO SORRY. But thank you, as ever, for your detailed feedback. <3

Date: 2015-04-06 03:02 am (UTC)
hardboiledbaby: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hardboiledbaby
I didn't know I needed angsty Joanna-centric fic until I read this :) Thanks for sharing canonisrelative's pressie with the rest of us!

Date: 2016-01-13 03:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] impishtubist.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm so glad that you liked this. :)

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