number one: making decisions

WIP amnesty

Since everyone else is doing it, here are two half-completed Number One stories that I'm never going to finish, though I might perhaps raid them for spare parts one day.

One did not date at the interplanetary lyceum where she completed the last of Starfleet Academy's entry requirements. She was eleven years old when she arrived, tall for her age but short compared to the fifteen and sixteen-year-olds who comprised the student body. She wore her hair in a plain, smooth pony tail, felt adventurous when she wore lip gloss, and choked on the potions and perfumes her roommate sprayed on her body every morning. The DD bras and lacy panties peeking out of the other girls' drawers seemed alien and vaguely threatening to One, who was straight as a stick and barely needed a camisole. Every day, she sat at the front of the class and read ahead in her textbook, and she did not envy the girls primping in the back of the room because she did not understand them.

When she was fourteen, she left for the Academy without ever having been on a date, and she did not regret it. She did not imagine she knew much about romance, but she had known that any teenage boy who wanted to date a pre-teen like her was creepy. By the time she turned thirteen, the other boys had been thoroughly intimidated by her, which she regarded as fortunate. None of them could hold down a conversation about literature or physics, they bathed in cologne, and their wispy attempts at mustaches were revolting.

The boys at the Academy were equally unsuitable because they were not boys at all; they were men. On her first day of classes, she got lost on her way to Introduction to Hand-to-Hand Combat, and with her nose buried in a map, she forgot to be terrified of being so close to toned, tanned men four years her senior. Being tardy to class was mortifying, but worse still was the spectacle of a dozen young male cadets whose muscles rippled beneath their tight gym uniforms. Swallowing, she prayed to the her planet's god, begging forgiveness for doubting Her existence and pleading to be partnered with someone amphibious or tentacled. Her wishes were not granted, and she lost her her first fight (and the second, third, and fourth) because she knew she could not touch a sweating, panting man without blushing. In the locker room, she looked so fierce that no one dared speak to her; she had never lost at anything before, and she did not much care for the sensation. She resolved to discipline herself, but it took nearly six weeks.

In all her classes, she kept to her customary seat at the front of the room, a position which served a dual purpose: she was closer to her teachers, but also further from the dozens of fit young men whose clean-shaven faces shone in the light and threatened her concentration. Soon she learned to use lipstick and eyeliner because looking as old as these beautiful men was the only way she could possibly hope to command them, and she painted her fingernails odd colors to remind herself that lipstick or no lipstick, she was not obliged to look like other women. It was tempting though, more tempting than she cared to admit. She knew her legs were good; her roommate, who seemed very experienced in these matters, often admired them. She could, one morning, put on the uniform skirt instead of trousers, curl a few strands of hair, dab on a bit of perfume...only, she was not sure what she would do with a man even if she caught one. She had never so much as kissed a boy, and her slender hips and flat chest seemed to offer little compensation for her lack of experience.

One night, she realized that she had made a date quite by accident when she agreed to late-night practice in the flight simulator. At first, she was elated when the cadet, a second year with wavy dark hair and light blue eyes, had kissed her. Even the sensation of him growing hard against her hip had been exciting for a few minutes. But when he had bucked up and rubbed it between her legs, she had frozen, revolted, and then pushed him away.

"You're back early," her roommate said when she returned home at midnight on shaky legs. "Did you not fuck him after all? Or was he just fast?"

"I, um, we didn't..." she muttered, blushing, as her brain struggled to grasp that she had apparently not made a date so much as an appointment for a one-night stand.

"Oh." Her roommate shrugged her shoulders. "That's probably smart. I always make them by me dinner first. Unless they're really hot."

With that, she rolled over and returned to her padd, leaving One to flop on her bed and contemplate the evening while pretending to study an astronav chart.

She had wanted a kiss. Perhaps even several kisses; she had not forgotten the way heat had flooded her stomach at the strange, warm pressure of his lips on hers. He did not even have to like her afterward; the experience of a single night would have sufficed. She could not risk a diversion from her studies in any case. But "one night only" meant something different at the Academy it had at the Lyceum. Certainly, there were girls at her old school who gave blow jobs and had sex, but one might be equally likely to have a night of casual snogging there. Here, though, a single kiss seemed to hold the promise of far more to come, even in the space of a few hours. Or even -- and One's brows scrunched in consternation -- in the space of ten minutes. Perhaps she ought to have been turned on by his hard...she did not even know what to call it, even in her own mind. It was best not to think of it anymore.

Clearly, she would have to avoid physical entanglements. She could hardly say, "secretly, I am fourteen and I am afraid of your penis." Though it pained her to admit it, the admiral who had interviewed her had been right. Entering the command track so young was not easy, and she could not imagine admitting to her age and keeping her authority. Yet, she could not defend her desire for chaste kisses without revealing that she was barely a teenager. Perhaps she could confess her virginity without saying how old she was, but even so, the gradual unfolding of physical intimacy that she envisioned could hardly take place outside a relationship. And she was certain that relationships were dangerous. On Wednesdays and Fridays, she audited a fourth-level physics class where she eavesdropped on older cadets' conversations. Everyone in a relationship was considering marriage, the only way to guarantee a posting together. But such dual postings were hard to come by, and inevitably, either the husband or the wife was forced to take a job beneath their qualifications. One did not wish to put herself in a position to sacrifice her career. Having no parents of her own, she could not say for certain whether lifelong unions tended toward success or failure, but she privately doubted whether she could love someone forever, much less meld his dream and hers. No, it was better to stay out of relationships, even if it meant prolonging her sexual inexperience. She could not say for sure that she would even enjoy sex if she had it, but she knew she wanted to be the captain of a starship. It was a worthwhile trade.

Besides, she had a bigger problem: she had outgrown her bra. For weeks, she had been trying to ignore it, privately giggling at the thought of her male PT instructor calling her out of reg for bouncing too much. The jiggling was a bit awkward, but she could endure it; better the small embarrassment of the gym than the large embarrassment of requesting a new bra from Mickey, the wiry cadet with a shock of red hair who worked behind the counter in the quarter master's office. But yesterday, she had lost a race because her bouncing breasts made her hesitant to jump over the hurdles, and she would accept nothing that compromised her performance. Thing was, if she wanted a new bra, she was going to have to steal it. Truth be told, she had a bit of a crush on Mickey. Not so big that she wanted to know what was in his pants, but big enough that she couldn't face the humiliation of telling him that her breasts were growing, and no, she didn't know exactly what cup size she needed. Theft was the only solution.

The next morning, she spent two hours sitting behind a tree, peering periodically into the store rooms with her binoculars. Three people had already asked her what she was doing, including Mickey.

"Surveillance exercise," she'd said. It wasn't her fault that they assumed it was for class.

"Of the quartermaster's office?" Mickey had asked, eyebrows raising incredulously.

"The terrain possesses sufficient gradation, and the view through the storage room to the shelves presents significant depth of field for triangulation operations," she said crisply.

The answer made no sense, but Mickey only blinked and saluted.

"Well carry on then, Cadet," he said, tone mock-serious. Everyone believed her when she sounded confident. Even when she was trying to steal a bra.

But in all her hours of surveillance, she could find no solution. The doors to the lobby opened automatically for anyone, but the storage room opened by biometric scan. She couldn't add herself to the system without using a lieutenant commander's access code, and she knew better than to risk that. Alternatively, she could drug one of the staff, keep them in the building till lock-up, stand them in front of the scanner...but no, that was far too complicated, even if she did know exactly who sold the illegal sedatives.

Of course, it was possible she was going about this the wrong way. This was why she had failed her first Tactical test. Her face burned even to think of it; she had never failed a test before, and she had wept bitterly on the one occasion that she had failed to set the curve in her Warp Calculus class. But Starfleet was not about crunching numbers, the note at the bottom of her exam had said. It was about saving lives. And if she planned to escape from a Klingon prison by luring a guard into her cell, stealing his disruptor, and holding a one-against-twelve shoot-out for her crew's freedom, her only goal could be to prove her own bravado -- while getting the people who depended on her killed. The exam critiques had been public so they could learn from one another's mistakes. She had stared down at her desk, face growing hotter by the second, tears threatening to spill out the corners of her eyes.

"Don't cry," Commander Th'alik had snapped. "Do better. Think simple. Tell me how you would fix this."

But she hadn't figured it out; she could not see through her own shame because the professor had been right -- she had thought more of her own glory than saving her crew. In a halting voice, she had asked for help, and when she saw the solution -- a loose piece of decking that would have given her access to all the force field controls -- the sudden, sickening knowledge of her own stupidity had nearly propelled her straight out the door. After class, she had shrugged off the sympathetic murmurs of the other cadets (perhaps more viciously than necessary) and set off on a run so brutal it left her dry heaving at the end.

But this was what she had come to Starfleet for: a new way to think. If she did not want to fail the next exam, she would have to start practicing now. She would find a solution, and it would be a simple one. No hacking, and certainly no drugged hostages. She surveyed the building one last time, eyes moving up the red brick surface one row at a time until they encountered a window. An open window. That led directly to the uniform storage room. If she could just keep it open till she arrived at night, with a subroutine that foiled the locking mechanism perhaps... No. Simpler. With one last look behind her, she crept toward the window, unfolding a screw driver from her portable tool kit as she went. With a few quick twists, she pulled the screws lose from the locks and flung them on the grass beneath her. It was perfect. She had left behind no evidence, and she did not imagine that anyone would bother finding spare screws for the locks tonight. Phase I was complete.

One realized her mistake as soon as she slipped out the laundry room door in all black. Uniformed cadets crisscrossed the paths on their way to the library or the simulators. Some of them no doubt planned to abuse their permission to be out past curfew, but she was the only one who looked like she was up to no good. But it was too late; her re-admit chit gave her permission for the library, and it would not allow her back into the dorm until it had been stamped. She had, once again, over-complicated something that ought to be simple, and now she would have to slink through the bushes, tripping over pairs (and occasional trios) of cadets abusing their curfew privileges.

But the window in the quartermaster's office was still open, just like she had intended. She waited five minutes for the security drone to fly past, and then she slipped through the window. First with her eyes and then with a tricorder, she scanned for a security cam, but there was none. Perhaps Starfleet had not envisioned the theft of undergarments, but she kept low as she dashed toward the shelf of sports bras anyway. It would not do to be spotted by moonlight.

At first, she had thought only to steal two or three sports bras, but once inside, it seemed ridiculous to limit herself. There was no telling how big she would grow, or how fast, so she seized one in every size, including one whose cups exceeded the size of her head. And then, just because she could, she swiped tunics and jackets and trousers a few sizes bigger than what she wore now. Her body was treacherous and changed rapidly, and her frequent trips to the quartermaster's office for shirts with longer sleeves threatened to expose her for the fourteen-year-old she was.

Her bag was overflowing now; she would have to push it through the window separately. She had just begun

One steeled herself for the interrogation to come, but instead Cait's face grew contemplative.

"You know, Cindy Lowenstein said she'd pay a hundred credits for a uniform that would pass inspection tomorrow," she said, tapping the enormous underwire against her chin.

"I'll bet she's not the only one."

Suddenly, she seized the bag and upended on the bed.

"Look, do you really need all this?" she asked, eyes wide. "Because I could fence it for you. I'll split the profits, 60/40 in your favor."

"Eighty-twenty. You didn't just sprint [something something] across campus, and if anyone asks where you got those, you just have to say it's laundry. You want reward with no risk."

"Fair enough. 70/30. Final offer."

"Done." One got the feeling that Cait did not care about the money so much as the opportunity to fence stolen goods, which proved again that her roommate was not the sort she ought to associate with. But she could use a little extra spending cash; the Federation orphans' stipend she received was enough to survive, but certainly nothing more than that.

(And yeah, that is where I got tired of trying to have a plot)

They say that if you want to escape your boss' attention at a meeting, you should sit two seats down from him. Pike fervently hopes that's the position One will choose, and he helps her along by halfway shoving Phil into the seat on his immediate right and inventing a task that requires Colt to sit on his left. One sits between Phil and Cait Barry, and Pike breathes an imaginary sigh of relief tha he can't see her long, aquiline nose or the way that her severe bun accentuates her high cheekbones. He can, however, see her fingernails tapping impatiently against the table top -- she knows this meeting is useless, they all do -- and he kicks himself for checking to see if they're painted the same color as they were yesterday. They are.

When the meeting ends, the senior staff lingers around the edges of the room, talking about their plans for shore leave. He chats to Tyler about getting docking clearance from Starbase 21 and watches One lean against the bulkhead near the window, looking uncharacteristically relaxed. Snatches of her conversation drift toward him, something about a wine bar and a good French cabernet, and he resists the urge to picture her tilting her head back to take a long sip of wine. When she's gone, he swears a faint trace of her perfume lingers in the air.

The room empties out and he stays behind on the pretense of finishing paperwork. Instead, he flings himself into an empty chair and presses the heels of his hands against his eyes. This has got to stop. She is his XO, and a damn good one at that. He has never met an officer more deserving of respect than her, and she has every right to a working environment free of inappropriate attentions from lovesick -- and, yeah, occasionally horny -- CO's.

"She likes red wine, preferably French and Spanish. There's a wine bar on Deck 12 of Starbase 21 that she is positively dying to try," says a voice on his right. Phil. Of course. Step one to stop perving on your first officer: avoid enabling doctors.

"Phil," he says warningly. It's not his strongest comeback, but he's tired. He needs the shore leave as much as the rest of the crew.

Phil holds up protesting hands, looking as innocent as possible.

"If you don't ask her out, someone else will."

He pauses before he delivers in the final blow.

"Admiral Perkins on Starbase 21 has quite the fetish for women in command."

He slaps Pike companionably on the back.

"Come by my quarters if you need a little liquid courage before you ask her."

He doesn't give Pike any chance to argue before he walks out the door.


At the end of her shift, One kneels in front of her desk so that she can see exactly how much wine she's pouring into the glass. Sometimes she hates her precision, but for this job, it's a necessity. She knows how much wine she can drink, down to the exact milliliter, and still be fit to handle an emergency. Today, she will measure her relaxation drop by drop; tomorrow, she will be at Starbase 21, and she can drink as much wine as she wants.

Of course, wine isn't the only thing on her mind tonight. She pulls her special padd from the bottom-most desk drawer, keys in the password, and drops it on the desk without looking at the image she's called up. Anticipation makes her cheeks flood with heat, but she disciplines herself to wait. She has a ritual for this. Cait would probably call it pathological if she knew about it, but then, that's why she doesn't tell her. She wouldn't know how to explain how much she savors each moment of self-denial.

First, she pulls off her outer uniform tunic and lays it neatly over the back of her desk chair, just in case she needs it later. Then she sits on the bed and pulls off her boots, studiously avoiding the image on her padd. Finally, she pulls the bobby pins from her hair one by one. She lays them on her desk in a perfect row that Cait would surely call a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder -- probably because it is a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder -- but it's also the last act of precision of her day, a symbol that she is well and truly off duty.

She picks up the padd, licks her lips, and her fingers trace the edge of her belt buckle. But no, that's for later. For now, she likes the way anticipation makes her hyper-aware of the utilitarian fabric against her skin. Besides, she's never been one to rush things. She settles against her pillows and takes a long sip of wine. Dark fruit, she thinks, a little berry, but not too fruit-forward. Perfect.

Then she turns her attention to the padd in earnest. The image is a photograph, not a holo, all the more old fashioned because it's black and white. A woman, naked but for a simple white bra, sits on a man's chest. Her hands cup his head lightly, guiding his mouth between her thighs. She is looking down at him, and although she can't really see, she imagines that he is looking back at her. Nothing about the woman looks dominant or aggressive. They look like they're connecting, like this is an act of love -- this in spite of the fact that the man's wrists are bond by clear plastic tape that glints in the light. His hands cup his erect penis, and One wonders if the woman had posed him and watched him before she had climbed on top of him. At that thought, she presses her thighs together and clenches the muscles inside her. She cannot help but imagine herself as that woman. She pictures herself looking him in the eye as she wraps the tape around his wrists. He would want her to touch him -- and she'd want to touch him -- but she'd deny them both and wrap his hands around himself instead. Then she would climb on his chest. Maybe he would ask her to take off her bra, but she would refuse him the full view of her, just let him watch as she slid her fingers beneath the cup to roll her fingers around a hardened nipple. Her legs would be open, and he would smell her, maybe even feel her wetness on his chest, long before she sank her fingers into his hair and guided him toward her.

She takes another long sip of wine, letting its warmth slide down her throat and coil in her belly, before she can admit what -- no, who -- she is thinking of. Two years and six months into the Yorktown's five year mission, she can no longer fool herself into thinking that she is imagining a stranger. One more drink of wine and the image begins to coalesce in her head. There is no harm in a fantasy, after all. In the privacy of her room, she is perfectly justified in imagining the hard muscles of her captain's chest against her ass, his tongue on, well... Anyway, the point is, she doesn't really want him that way; she's just been alone in space for too long, and she can hardly imagine herself with a subordinate. So long as the images are confined to her head, there's no problem.

She drains her wine glass and stands to remove her pants. The buckle is only half undone before the door chime sounds. She takes a breath and counts to ten, hoping the visitor will go away. When she gets to twelve, the chime sounds again, and she flips the switch on her comm.

"Just a moment please."

She re-buckles her belt and puts the padd on her desk, making sure its bottom left corner aligns precisely with the corner of the desktop. With one hand, she smooths her bedsheets. With the other, she puts the padd into powersave mode, which makes the screen go black. Then she thinks of Denebian slime devils, the Klingon she saw in his skivvies, and the last time she threw up. When she is satisfied that she no longer looks as if she was just studying a rather pornographic picture, she opens the door.

"Captain Pike." She pauses and inclines her head, the very picture of formality. "Is something wrong, sir?"

By which she means, could you not have used a communicator like a normal person?

"No, nothing all. May I come in?"

"Certainly, sir."

She stands aside to let him pass. She does not think he can see her grit her teeth.

He stands awkwardly in the center of the room, hands laced behind his back like a character in a children's cartoon who is trying very hard to look like he's not up to anything. She raises an eyebrow at him. He clears his throat.

"The thing is Number One, shore leave is coming up tomorrow."

"I am aware of that, sir. I completed the roster this evening before the end of my shift."

Her voice is more severe than she means for it to be, and she is afraid that she is staring at him with the gaze she reserves for yeomen who waste her time. The alternative is to imagine him bound on her bed. She closes her eyes briefly to guard against the image, which probably only makes her look more angry.

"Yes, of course. I didn't mean to imply that you wouldn't have."

"Then if I might ask, sir, what are you doing here?"

She forces herself to keep her voice level even as he seizes the padd from her desk and brandishes it playfully in the air.

"Don't tell me you're taking work home the day before shore leave."

She wonders dimly if that's really what he thinks of her -- that she has so little life outside her work that she sits in her quarters alone at night reviewing schematics and duty rosters. But then, why wouldn't he think that? She surveys the neat line of bobby pins on her desk, the tunic carefully draped across her chair, her boots perched by the side of her bed in case she needs to run out of her quarters at a moment's notice. It's not as if she had given him a reason to see her in anything but a professional light, and that's a good thing too. No reason to give herself any fuel for her silly fantasies. Besides, the most important thing is to get back the padd before he sees what's on it, so she bites back the angry retort on the tip of her tongue.

"You caught me, sir. No life outside Starfleet."

She reaches toward the padd.

"Now if you'll pardon me, some of the contents of that padd are personal, and I would like it back."

"Of course. Excuse me."

As he hands it back to her, his thumb brushes the power button, and the screen flickers back to life. For a moment, they both stare at it dumbly, her hand on the top of the padd and his at the bottom.

"One, I, uh -- "

She swallows. Out of the corner of her eye, she can see him flushing so red it's almost purple. No doubt she looks the same. She has nothing, absolutely nothing to say.

"Excuse me," he mutters finally, dropping his corner of the padd.

He manages to look her in the eye long enough to apologize, and then he walks out the door just a touch too quickly to be dignified. One takes a long swig straight from her wine bottle and tries not to think what she will say when she sees him tomorrow.


Alone in his quarters, Pike thanks whatever gods exist that no one was in the corridor to see him barreling out of One's room into his. He could just imagine the gossip: Captain Pike seen leaving first officer's quarters with enormous erection. At least One wouldn't have to endure public humiliation for his ridiculous gaffe.

He leans back on the bed and wonders if Phil can write him a prescription for brain bleach. Not that he wants to bleach his brain, mind; that was a lovely image, and the idea of One looking at it... But it didn't bear thinking about. If One had wanted him to see it, she would have shown it to him herself. He has no right to wonder if she thought of these things often, if she acted them out, if it was ever him she pictured underneath her when she was alone at night. Of course, knowing that he shouldn't think about it doesn't actually stop the images from drifting into his mind. He remembers her tunic draped over her desk chair. Had her pants been folded neatly on top of it before he came in? Had she been lying in the dark, fingers under her panties, head thrown back, long throat exposed? Did she make noise, little gasps or loud moans at her moment of release? Or was she as beautifully silent and controlled as she was in battle with only the faint gleam of her eye to give away that she enjoyed this as much as the rest of them?

It's not that he's never wondered these things before, although he always tried to stop himself then too. He wasn't that guy, the one who thought about sex without imagining a reason a woman might want to share it with him. But now that he is filling in his fantasies with information she never intended for him to have, it seems that much more wrong.

Especially since his first concern should be how to fix this. One would continue doing her job to the best of her abilities; he had no doubt about that. But she would feel angry, uncomfortable, and embarrassed, and she had the right to. And his crew had the right to a smooth relationship between the captain and first officer; if there was trouble between the two of them, the ship would be first to suffer. That's why he had never been willing to pursue her before. It simply wasn't fair to all the people who depended on them. Which is why he's going to have to get help, even at the cost of his ego.

He reaches for his communicator and types in a message to Cait Barry.

"Breakfast meeting, tomorrow, 0630?"

He doesn't have to wait long for her confirmation. The truth is, he'd rather go down there now, but it doesn't seem right to occupy One's best friend when she might need her. He'll have to wait his turn.

In the morning, he puts on his uniform pants and the undershirt but leaves the gold captain's tunic behind so that Cait knows this is a personal meeting, not a business one.

"Captain," she says enthusiastically when she opens the door. "Are you walking me to the mess hall? So chivalrous!"

He wonders if she is being disingenuous. The mess hall is certainly not the place for the conversation he needs to have, though of course she might not know that. Or she does know and she's torturing him on One's behalf, which would be fair.

"Have you talked to One recently?" he asks, but she shakes her head. Her eyes go a little wide with worry, and he doesn't really blame her; the odds of an accident this late in the mission are slim, but it's been a hard few months for all of them.

"Nothing's wrong. I mean, not physically."

He looks over his shoulder at a passing ensign and hates how whispering in the corridors makes him feel like a sixteen-year-old girl.

"I don't really want to talk about this in the hallway, to be honest."
"secretly, I am fourteen and I am afraid of your penis."