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Big Bang 2010 - If Wishes Were Horses 1/18
Title: If Wishes Were Horses
Author: fringedweller
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Primarily Kirk/Rand, with background McCoy/Chapel and Pike/One and others, het and slash
Warnings: None
Length: 3058
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything recognisable in this fic and I’m not making any money from it.
Notes: Beta by seren_ccd
Summary: All her life Janice Rand had wanted one thing - to figure out just what she was supposed to do with herself. She drifted into Starfleet on a whim, and to her surprise, found a niche to fill. But being assigned to the Enterprise brings with it a challenge to her neat and ordered way of life, and Janice is unsure as to how much she's willing to let James T. Kirk affect her. But since when has love ever been easy? And will Janice let her heart stand in the way of her career?

When Janice Rand was six years old, her class had a careers day. The teachers had lined up speakers from all walks of life, from pilots to zoo keepers, to come and show the eager children how they spent their working days. The pupils got to pet snakes, use a simulator that let them put out imaginary fires and even try their hand at making pizza from scratch, although nobody wanted to eat the one made by Kevin Johnson, the boy with the permanently runny nose.

When the bell went at the end of the day, the class erupted into the playground, bursting to tell their parents and caretakers about what they wanted to do when they grew up. When Mrs Rand asked Janice, her little girl just shrugged and replied, “I’m not sure.”

“Well, there’s plenty of time,” her mother said, juggling Janice’s coat, lunchbox, pizza container, three sketches of snakes of various sizes and Honorary Fire Fighter cardboard helmet. “No need to make your mind up just yet.”

Her best friend Lucy knew she wanted be a doctor from the age of eight, and Janice spent many years patiently being bound up as Lucy practiced her bandaging technique until they hit puberty. By then, Lucy was more interested in playing doctor with her steady stream of boyfriends. Medicine had never been of interest to Janice; all that blood and gore made her stomach turn.

Janice’s parents were lawyers, and after years of dinner conversation revolving around court cases and civil suits the very last thing Janice wanted to do was to follow in their footsteps.

“Don’t worry about it sweetheart,” her father assured her. “You’re only twelve. Nobody has to make their mind up about what they want to do for the rest of their life at age twelve. Well, not on Earth anyway,” he amended. “Be a good girl and clear the table for your mother.”

For a time, Janice considered teaching. She liked school; the organisation of the day, the clear rules regulating behaviour, all the gloriously colourful timetables she had to draw up to divide her study periods and her free time. She even went as far to sign up for a work experience week as an assistant teacher in a school in the next educational district. Three hours, two fights and an incident with the class hamster into her first day, she was pretty sure that teaching wasn’t for her. Yes, there were plenty of delicious timetables to create and colour, but there were also messy, unpredictable children. Those, she wasn’t so fond of.

“At least you know what you don’t want to do now,” sighed her careers counsellor, tapping information into Janice’s file. “Have you considered dentistry? There’s a certain... predictability about teeth that I think you may find reassuring.”

When it came time to pick a university course, Janice opted for something nicely non-specific. She picked a university far enough away from her parents that they could visit, but too far for it to be a regular occurrence. She had always enjoyed literature, history and art, so she managed to design a schedule around the three subjects. Needless to say, it was colour coded to within an inch of its life.

University was fantastic; she made plenty of good people, fell in love once or twice and had her heart broken fewer times than most of her friends. Life was a series of lectures, parties and unadulterated pleasure, which made it all the harder when the end of her last year came into sight and everybody around her started signing up for grad school or professional training.

“Come on, Jan,” said one of her house mates. “You’ve got to make your mind up. What do you want to do after all this finishes?” Rachel waved a hand around the large, untidy room that the two girls shared.

Janice shrugged, and popped another chocolate-covered raisin into her mouth.
“Seriously,” pressed Rachel. “What are you going to do? What floats your boat?”

Janice shrugged again, helpless to answer.

“You’re hopeless,” laughed her friend, throwing a pillow at her. “Come with me tomorrow. We’ll have something figured out at the end of the day.”

Rachel meant well, Janice knew, as she dragged her around what must be Janice’s fourteenth career fair. It was just that Janice had never known what she wanted to do. She had drifted nicely from school to university without having to make any serious decision about her life. Her parents had given her a short-list of educational establishments and she had chosen from that. The university had a wide range of subjects to choose from, but Janice had stuck to the things she had liked at school, being unwilling to dip her toes into exciting, unknown waters.

Janice was comfortable with order, and rules and yes, colour-coding. She was a meticulous sort of person in everything but her art work, which was characterised by wild splashes of colour and a vibrancy that had netted her not one but two student exhibitions in the annual art shows. No gallery owners had contacted her afterwards, though, and there was no call for her to be the new darling of the art world. She was smart, but her essay work didn’t show any particular originality of thought, barring her from pursuing an academic career.

In short, she was an ordinary person cut out for an ordinary sort of life. She vaguely imagined that she’d end up taking a legal secretarial course and work for her parents for a while, until she figured out what she wanted to do with her life. Not that she hadn’t been trying to figure that out for the last twenty one years, but hell. She’d have to get a clue sometime, wouldn’t she?

When Janice finally indentified the emotion that had been plaguing her since she returned home as misery, it actually took her by surprise. She had never been in a position to feel it before; her childhood had been the very definition of idyllic, and nothing terrible had ever happened to her – no deaths, no traumatic incidents, no heartbreak that lasted longer than a fortnight. But there could be no denying that since she returned home, she had been miserable.

The local college that offered the secretarial course she had eventually applied for didn’t start for another nine weeks, so she had spent most of her time mooching around the house, unpacking mementoes from the last four years. Her friends were only a comm link away, but they were scattered neatly over the planet and the lunar colony, not exactly easy to drop in on for a coffee and a chat. Her parents were out all day at work, and her older brothers had settled down with young families of their own.

For most of the day, Janice was alone with her memories and that was probably the worst thing. She was a people person, needing the buzz of other bodies to keep her going. Rattling around the house she had grown up in that she now had problems calling home just made her think of happier times from university, which just made her more depressed.

Some time in her third week at home, she snapped. She grabbed her jacket and left the house, determined to walk anywhere that wasn’t on her parents’ property. She needed other people, even if they were strangers.

The small town she had grown up in hadn’t changed a great deal in the last four years, but there were enough differences to keep her amused as she strolled through town. Shops had come and gone, but the biggest change was a cafe that had opened on the site of an old sweet shop that she had begged her parents to visit every day on the way home from school. They had never given in to her pleading, and as she stopped to peer into the newly-redecorated shop-front, she saw a large counter brimming over with all the forbidden delicacies of her childhood.

Feeling incredibly naughty, Janice went in.

The cafe was very quiet, the only other customer an older man engrossed in the movie that was playing quietly on the vid-screen in his booth. Janice chose a seat at the other end of the cafe, and looked around the place while she waited for a server to find her and take her order. The walls held photographs of starships, planet surfaces that were unknown to Janice and people in Starfleet uniforms in posed serious service-record shots as well as in candid snaps in off-duty clothes. The photographs were oddly placed, almost thrown up on to the walls in a random order, and Janice’s fingers were itching to reorganise them. If she could move them all onto one wall, make a feature of them, then that would open up the empty walls for some murals, maybe with a space theme...

She pulled the ever-present sketch pad and pencil from her bag, and was happily sketching out her plans when a polite cough pulled her back to the present.

An older woman, somewhere in her late fifties or early sixties was waiting by her table with a PADD in her hand.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Janice said, blushing. “I got a little distracted.”

“Not a problem,” said the woman with a smile. “What’ll it be?”

“A hot chocolate please,” Janice decided. “With cream. And marshmallows. And two of whatever chocolate bars you think are the best from the display over there.”

The woman’s eyebrows raised slightly.

“You need a sugar hit or comfort food?”

“Definitely the comfort food,” Janice told her.

“Then the Bounty bar,” decided the woman. “And a Caramel Wispa.”

Janice frowned. “I don’t recognise the names,” she said.

“You won’t,” the woman told her. “They’re all recreations of historical confectionary. They stopped being produced centuries ago, but the man I bought the store from had an interest in history and he started making them again from old recipes. He left some stock behind, and I never let anything go to waste. Here, let me fetch you one so you can try it.”

She bustled off and returned with the two chocolate bars. Janice unwrapped the one in the blue packaging, and after a hesitant look at the waiting woman, took a small bite.

“Oh my,” Janice said around the chocolate in her mouth. “It’s like heaven.”

The server beamed. “I told you it was good,” she said smugly. “You stay here and enjoy that while I make your hot chocolate.”

Janice did just that, enjoying every bite of the bar until the coconut and chocolate bar was completely gone.

“There,” said the server, returning with the largest mug of hot chocolate that Janice had ever seen. As Janice contemplated how to drink the liquid through the mountain of whipped cream on top of the mug, the server sat down uninvited opposite her and picked up her sketch pad.

“These are pretty good,” she said thoughtfully as she studied the designs of the cafe walls that Janice had been doodling. “Better than how it is now.”

“I didn’t mean to offend you,” Janice began, but the woman waved her off.

“Thirty years in the fleet means that you’ll have to do a hell of a lot more than sketch a few pretty pictures to offend me,” she said dismissively. “I’m Maggie, Maggie Gomez.”

“Janice Rand,” Janice replied, taking the woman’s proffered hand and shaking it, wincing slightly at her firm grip. “You were in Starfleet?”

“Until six months ago, I was a proud member of Starfleet Catering Corps,” Maggie told her with a smile. “No potato left behind.”

Janice smiled back. “You’ve retired?”

Maggie nodded. “My wife and I had done our bit. We could have stayed on as ground staff somewhere, but we’ve both had a hankering for somewhere like this for the longest time. Somewhere that doesn’t demand you feed a crew of five hundred while in the middle of a Klingon attack.”

Janice looked around at the walls. “So these pictures are of your ships?”

“And our friends,” Maggie nodded. “Tara’s in charge of the kitchen and I’m front of house, so
she got to pick the fancy stove and I got to put the pictures up and paint the walls. I wish you’d been around six months ago, you could have painted one of these murals.”

“I could do it now,” Janice offered, the words coming out of her mouth before her brain could kick in. “I’ve got six weeks before my course starts. That’s more than enough time.”

“Really?” asked Maggie, disbelievingly. “Hasn’t a pretty girl like you got something better to do than hang around a small town cafe?”

“Trust me Maggie, I have absolutely nothing to do at the moment,” Janice said, sighing and taking another sip of the glorious hot chocolate. “Painting these walls would be a pleasure.”

“Alright then,” Maggie beamed, sticking out her hand to seal the deal. “You just let me know what you need, and I’ll make sure you have it.”

“Well, that rather depends on what you want,” Janice replied. “Would you want me to draw what you would have seen from a window of the ship, or did you want a planet setting, or maybe one of your photographs painted onto one of the walls?”

She began flicking through her sketch pad for blank pages to use.

“Hold on honey, before we make any decisions, I’d better ask the boss what she thinks. Tara!” Maggie called, raising her voice. “Tara, come out here, there’s someone I want you to meet.”

“I thought you were in charge of front of house,” Janice teased.

“Oh, I am,” Maggie replied with a straight face. “As long as I run all decisions past Tara first.”

“Please don’t tell me you’re boring that poor child with one of your stories, Maggie,” a woman who had to be Tara scolded as she appeared from the kitchen, wiping her hands on a sterile cloth before depositing it in a recycling point. “You should leave our customers in peace.”

“Oh, stop bossing me around, woman,” Maggie grumbled, sliding sideways on the seat and patting the empty space next to her. “Come and meet Janice. She’s got a sweet tooth and can draw like you can’t believe.”

Despite their words, the two women clearly loved each other a great deal. Tara’s green eyes were soft with affection as she sat her plump backside next to her wife, and Maggie’s arm immediately gravitated to Tara’s waist.

“I want Janice to paint a mural on the walls,” Maggie told Tara as the red-haired cook began to inspect Janice’s sketch pad.

“You’ve done this sort of thing before?” Tara asked as she paused on the last design Janice had sketched before Maggie had interrupted her.

“On the walls of the house I lived in at university,” Janice replied, trying not to feel like she was being interrogated and failing. “But I had to paint over it when I left. It’d be nice to paint something more permanent.”

“You’ve certainly got an eye for this sort of thing,” Tara said eventually. “Well, if Maggie wants a mural, paint her a mural. Just don’t make it too dark. We’ve left the darkness up there.”

“We certainly have,” Maggie replied softly, grazing the knuckles of her wife’s left hand with her lips. Tara blushed, her pale skin showing every moment of her pleasured embarrassment.

“Go on with you,” she blustered, getting up from the booth. “I don’t know why you bothered me with this nonsense, you know that walls and decoration are your business.”

She bustled away, and Maggie watched her with laughing eyes and a beaming smile.

“There, we’ve got the royal approval,” she said with satisfaction. “When do you want to begin?”

“Well, I’ll do some preliminary sketches first, and when you’ve decided what you want, I can start preparing the walls and putting down the first few coats. You’ll want to do this after the cafe closes?”

“It wouldn’t bother me if you were in here during the day, but Tara will probably say that the smell of the paint will put customers off.”

Both Janice and Maggie looked around the practically empty room.

“Not our biggest problem, I admit, but I’ve found after twenty years of marriage that it’s sometimes easier to bend with the wind,” Maggie finished. “You’ll be alright working in the evenings?”

“Not a problem,” Janice assured her. “It’ll give me time to plan things out in the day before they go up on the wall.”

“Alright then,” Maggie said happily. “What about your fee?”

“Oh, I don’t want to be paid,” Janice started, but Maggie would hear none of it.

“A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work,” she said firmly. “Somebody important said that.”

“Thomas Carlyle,” said Janice without thinking. “Also Engels said something like it.”

“A historian and an artist?” Maggie’s eyebrows rose.

“And a literature critic, and a soon-to-be legal secretary,” Janice told her without any obvious pleasure. “But I’m not taking any money to paint on your walls, Maggie.”

The darker-skinned woman looked unhappy with the arrangement. Janice sighed.

“How about you keep me in chocolate bars while I paint?” she offered.

“And some good square meals,” Maggie told her. “You’re too skinny. You need some meat on your bones.”

Janice knew when she was beaten, and agreed to take her evening meal with Tara and Maggie while she was painting the mural on the walls. Maggie made up a selection of chocolate bars from the display and forced her to take them with her when she left.

“To give that big old brain of yours some energy,” Maggie told her. Tara had come out of the kitchen to say goodbye, and she nodded firmly. Janice knew when she was beaten, accepted the box gratefully and left.

She called in at the nearest store that sold art supplies on her way home, and picked up a few more sketch pads, some coloured pencils and some paint charts.

For the first time in a long time, she began to feel the tingle of excitement down deep in her bones.

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I love this introduction to Janice. I can't wait to see what happens next, but also how she gets into space and meets up with Kirk :)

Probably can't read much more tonight...but hopefully I'll have time tomorrow.

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