McCoy - what's the most frightened you've ever been?
He only looked away for a second -- less than a second, just long enough to grab a cereal box from the tallest shelf. But when he turns around, she's gone. His heart pounds. His palms sweat. In the seconds it takes to spot her blond pigtails bouncing down the aisle, he imagines her kidnapped by child molesters, buried beneath juice bottles and tin cans, wailing for the father who'd cruelly abandoned her in a vast and bewildering grocery store.
He seizes her by the back of her overalls and spins her around to face him. Her eyes dance; she giggles and squeals. A game. She thinks it's a fucking game.
He shakes her, only a little, only gently.
"Don't you ever do that again." He stares into her bright blue eyes. "You hear me? Never. do. that. again."
Pike - do you care if people like you?
Being liked is not Chris Pike's job. Being respected is, and occasionally -- though more often than he would prefer -- so is being feared.
"Your job here is to learn not to want to be liked," his first command instructor had said. "When you want people to like you, you end up getting them killed instead." Like all other missions, he accepted it and did it well.
For years, it does not wear on him. His commanding officers describe him as an excellent leader, in part because he recognizes the distinction between being liked and being respected. That's satisfaction enough, andas a first lieutenant, he can rely on the companionship of equals to keep him from getting lonely. That fades a little when he makes lieutenant commander, and by the time he's the XO of the Yorktown, he's become a bit of an island unto himself, even while he's laughing and drinking with the boys in the mess hall. The crew regards him as a not-quite-human whom they can still relate to, and he considers that an accomplishment. So does Starfleet Command, and they make him captain.
Two months into his command, he orders Tyler to turn the ship around and abandon an away team to certain death. Better to let six die than 421. But he never forgets the split second of hate that flashed in Tyler's eyes, the disappointment on Colt's young face, the unspoken grief of the whole bridge crew.
That week, he finds out that people don't merely need a commander whom they can respect. They also need a commander they can feel angry with, even despise. They cannot blame anyone for freak ion storms or collapsing caves, and while they might be able to blame the Klingons for the rogue torpedo that killed 11 men and women on deck 12, the Klingons are far away but the captain is near. Their rage is nothing more than a cover for their grief, and more than that, their fear in the face of an unpredictable, uncontrollable universe. He knows they wouldn't continue to follow him if they didn't trust him, if they didn't know deep down he was making the hard decisions so that they didn't have to. But no matter how well he understands the psychology behind their feelings, those first few moments of their hatred and disappointment will always be bitter pills to swallow.
I really loved writing and thinking about these. If you'd like to make a request and receive a ficlet in return, you can do so here.