fandom(s): Pacific Rim, Star Trek: AOS
characters: Nyota Uhura, James T Kirk, Christopher Pike
notes: 2358 words. second person pov. title from this song. also, this is a Spinosaurus.
summary: You know how demanding being a pilot can be, and you've been in the command center as four Jaegers have fallen. Communications is what you were born to do.
Until it isn't.
[AU in which Uhura is a Jaeger pilot and Kirk is her new rookie partner.]
Thankfully, you're not in San Francisco when the first Kaiju attacks, away on a mission in Milan, stuck with three condescending partners who constantly seem as though they're trying to find flaws in your work. You watch the TV footage over and over again on a loop with them, though, watch as they wonder if their friends and family are still alive, watching as the Kaiju stomps into rubble the apartment complex you lived in for three years. Fleetingly, you think you might still know some people living there.
Chaos reigns for a few years but then the world starts to get its shit together. Every country in the world banding together like you've never seen before or even thought could happen, and language is a barrier just the same as it always is. You're in high demand. Admiral Pike even asks for you personally at one point, citing your Academy test scores in a dozen different subjects. You thank him graciously, but just in case he may have mentioned you, you also smile at Spock the next time you see him - writing precise and complicated mathematical formulations on the shape and size of the Kaiju on a chalkboard.
Communications keeps you busy at first, spending all your time coordinating the global network of Shatterdomes and doing your best to curb language barriers and any prejudices that might come along. It's hard and tiring and by the time the fourth Kaiju attacks, you're uncomfortably used to exhaustion.
One day on a whim, you take the pilot test, pulling rank with the Ensign assigned to the simulator. You haven't done anything unpredictable in a while, and you're tired of sitting at a desk with your ear to a microphone. Your simulator scores are in the highest percentile in the speed and agility categories, but everything else is only slightly above average. It's disappointing, a little, but you weren't expecting to be a prodigy or anything of the sort. You know how demanding being a pilot can be, and you've been in the command center as four Jaegers have fallen. Communications is what you were born to do.
Until it isn't.
Admiral Pike hunts you down on one of your rare off evenings as you're preparing to step up on stage and belt out a favorite song. You haven't decided which one yet, but you're sure one will pop up with a few more drinks.
"I'm not going to yell at you for breaking about seven regs and hopping into the simulator without any training." You suppose you knew he'd find out eventually. In your experience, there isn't a lot the slips by him in the long run.
"Your scores were the best we've had in a couple of weeks. Potential pilots aren't just lining up at the door anymore."
Suddenly the world is a lot clearer and the desire to be the center of attention is fleeting. "Admiral, with all due respect."
"Decision's made. Report to training in the morning." You take one last swig of the fruity concoction you'd been nursing moments before. "I'd make that your last drink, if I were you," he calls over his shoulder.
"Really? Because I feel like I need a dozen more now," you call back.
Your first Kaiju also happens to be the first category four ever reported, and it...doesn't go so well. You take several months off, waking up nightly with the feeling of your partner, Gaila, being ripped from the cockpit still rolling around in your head, her screams echoing into the darkness. Sometimes you think you just quit altogether and run off to some inland part of the world that's as yet mostly untouched by Kaiju, start singing in some lounge, bar, something of the sort.
Resuming your position as head of Shatterdome communications is actually pretty easy, when the time comes, but it doesn't last. The Jaeger program isn't running as well as it used to, isn't as effective against the Kaiju. And pilots are always needed.
You test with seven other candidates, each of them with their merits, but none of them possessing quite the right features. Then, James T Kirk steps in the ring. Jim Kirk is cocky and arrogant, brash and loud, a dozen different things of which you aren't terribly fond. At least, that's the first impression you ever had of him after hearing several first-hand accounts from friends and catching glimpses on the quad in San Francisco (friends that are dead and a campus that is now a large gaping Kaiju foot shaped crater.) You'd heard he was in training, heard it from other recruits how he bragged about the number of Kaiju he'd killed in simulators. You were hoping you'd never have to experience Jim Kirk in person, but here you are.
The practice staff is a whirlwind in your hands, the training you received the first month of Academy still strong and steady in your mind. You and Jim test each other, at first, equal steps and equal moves, and he matches you parry for parry.
"More control," the Admiral says behind you, so you concentrate on your breathing, on Jim's jawline, waiting for it to tense up ever so slightly as he prepares to swing again. It’s the only flaw in his defense you’ve noticed.
A sheen of sweat has broken out on your face, your left eye burning with the salt of it. You take a moment to wipe it off, wipe your hand on your pants. The staff feels different when you grip it again. Jim doesn't telegraph, but you're ready for the move anyway, blocking and throwing him off balance enough to reach point five.
You turn to Admiral Pike. "Fifty-one simulator kills and I've never been this winded from sparring. He's my copilot," you say with finality, chest still heaving.
"Simulator. The answer is no," Admiral Pike says, his face a mask the likes of which you've never seen.
Jim steps up beside you, close enough you can feel heat radiating off of him. "Sir, with respect, I appreciate your concern for me, but I am not your son. I am the best candidate for the job."
Pike's eyes widen slightly but otherwise, there is no reaction. "Maybe you're not my son, but I'm still in charge. The answer is no. Dismissed.
Jim catches you in the hallway as your walking back from the mess. Dinner had been a strange rice gumbo type thing that looked about as well as it tasted, and you'd barely eaten seven bites. "Buy you a drink?"
You're not usually prone to a nervous stomach, but the thought of drinking anything before getting back into a Jaeger makes it roll. "Thank you but no thank you. Shouldn't you be preparing for tomorrow or something?"
After the instance in the sparring room, you'd quietly retreated to your room, resigned to your fate of a copilot with whom you were only marginally compatible. Admiral Pike showed up several hours later, told you more about Jim Kirk than you ever wanted to know, despite the fact that you'd be rattling around in his head the next morning. Co-pilots have no secrets, Pike had said. Jim has a lot of them. I'm worried too many of them. That arrogant veneer he carries around, it works for him, but it's not all he is. You'll learn in the morning.
For a second it looks like Jim might say something important, his face scrunching up like he's concentrating too hard on one tiny detail, the way to phrase something particular. You've seen so many people across so many language barriers make the exact same face for undoubtedly different reasons. Instead he says, "Ah, probably. Instead I'm here, trying to buy a pretty lady a drink."
You roll your eyes. "Flattery will get you nowhere."
"But inside your head, right?"
"May I remind you that flattery is not how you got there. You have the skill. And now, the approval of the Admiral. Please don't drink yourself into a stupor and let us down. I'll see you in the morning."~
Jim is waiting outside your door when you get ready to go, and you walk to the staging area together, both eager and incredibly hesitant to step inside a giant machine of death again.
Beautiful Lady is exactly like her name, tall and sleek, not at all rough around the edges like the other Jaegers you've seen. She looks nothing like the Jaeger you shared with Gaila, a tall, heavy monstrosity that packed one hell of a punch. She's newer, with a bigger, more experimental nuclear core, more weapons, and a shorter build and lighter weight metal for optimal range of moment. She's gorgeous, and she's yours. And Jim's.
He's grinning knowingly at you when you finally tear your eyes away from her. "I came down here the moment the Admiral left my quarters last night. She's pretty impressive, right?"
You smile in return. "I've seen worse." His childlike wonder is catching though, and you find yourself staring up at her in awe as her engineers and repair crew bustle all around you.
The Drift is perfect - at first. Brief glimpses of a laughing blonde child, a swirling galaxy, glowing spaceships and a surge of confidence like you've never felt before, it’s nice.
Wanted to be an astronaut, he says, in your thoughts. Thought it'd be cool to see what life in other galaxies is like. Not so cool now, huh.
Childhood dreams have their merits, you reply, pulling up a memory of yourself at eight years old, microphone in hand on a tiny stage in your backyard.
As the neural handshake continues, he gets to watch Gaila die, to feel what you felt. You were still connection when she died, got to feel pain, regret, anger, fear, and then nothing at all.
They tell you not to chase the rabbit, first day at training, hammer it into your head every day after. Your memories are painful, but you've learned how not to get lost in them. Jim takes your memories, your emotions as a jumping point and dives into his own. You try shouting at him, but it doesn't work.
A hunger like you've never experienced, a beautiful stolen red car on a joyride, an overwhelming sadness for having no parents to talk to about the important things in life, frantically pulling in an older man with a gentle southern accent for a stolen kiss and no one else to talk to but him - you can see how he'd get lost, thirty years of emotional isolation crashing into your mind. "Jim," you say quietly. You're watching his memory of his first meeting with Admiral Pike, blood running out Jim’s nose after one too many punches and Pike graciously handing him tissue to stop the bleeding. "This is memory. This isn't now. You have to pull yourself out of this or you're going to hurt our Lady and our chances of ever piloting her."
Jim in the memory stutters, flickers, looks directly at you. Everything goes black. You think maybe they pulled the plug on the machine, but maybe he’s just pulled himself out of the memory. It doesn’t matter, really.
"I'm sorry," Jim mumbles when you pull your helmet off and disengage. He's practically hanging from his harness and he looks exhausted.
"It's okay," you reply. "Knew some cocky SOB like you would have your share of issues." You cup his face with your hands, force him to look at you. "It's really okay. My fault, anyway. My memories weren't exactly a walk in the park for you.
He smiles weakly and you help him all the way out, all the way back to his quarters.~
Your first Kaiju with Jim doesn't go down easy, and neither does your second. By the third one, though, it's starting to get fun.
It's large for a Kaiju, but not altogether a force of nature. It looks a little awkward, actually, small arms and a really long tail. You think it looks like a...a...
"Spinosaurus," Jim supplies, smiling at you.
"You know I don't like it when you do that."
The Kaiju whips its tail into your Jaeger, sending her flailing into the ground. As you struggle to recover, Jim says, "I do love dinosaurs, you know. I could've come up with it on my own." You're certain to send a large amount of disdain through your neural link as you both mount a coordinated series of punches into the side of the Kaiju, ultimately knocking loose a chunk of its back spine. "Fair enough. you know I can't help it when you're in my head, baby."
He knows you hate it when he calls you 'baby', but since he's in your head, he also knows how much you love the stupid smile he gives you after he says it.
"So," you say, "we gonna call it "Lizzy" then?"
"Seems appropriate. Hear that, Admiral? Code name: Lizzy." You think you can hear a groan come through the comms, but it could just be some interference.
"You know, his spine kinda reminds me of your hair first thing in the morning."
"Please. Like you wake up with hair in that perfectly slicked back ponytail."
The Admiral clears his throat. "Any day now would be nice, pilots."
I think he thinks we're acting like children, Jim says in your head.
I think you're probably right, is your reply.
"Yes, sir," you both say simultaneously over the comm.
Lizzy falls pretty quickly after that.
When it comes time to stare down your second category four, you'll admit to being more than a little terrified. Lady is one of only three of her particular model left, and she's showing her age, claw lines and spike-shaped indentations dotting her once-shiny hull. But she's steady beneath your feet, always steady, and Jim's smiling all lopsided at you like usual as the neural link takes over.
"We can do this," he says, and you feel that confidence surge through as your connection syncs.
You smile. "We were born for this."