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I own Elara Pike (that's fun to say!), nothing more.


Per Aspera
Ad Astra

Through hardships to the stars


Chapter Nine:

"Nice timing, Scotty!" Kirk yelled, laughing after they rematerialized on the transporter platforms. All of them.

When Elara caught Spock's dark eye she could not help the relieved laugh that escaped her lips, "4.3 per cent, huh?" she asked him, shaking her head.

He glanced at her, an eyebrow raised, "You made me promise you that it would be alright, Doctor," he told her. He shook his head, a slight jerk to the right, "I do not make it a practice to lie to my friends."

Scotty was laughing happily at the transporter controls. "I've never beamed four people from two different targets onto one pad before!" he crowed, throwing his fists in the air in celebration. "Did you see that, lass?" he asked, smiling at Elara. "Impressed, aren't ya?"

"Always Scotty," Elara told him, laughing herself as she and Kirk carried her father down the steps, limping and lurching underneath his weight. She glanced toward Kirk, "Go," she told him, "You'll be needed on the bridge. I've got him."

Kirk shook his head, "That's a lie and we both know it," he told her. "Come on, I'll get you both to the med bay."

The doors to the transporter bay hissed open and Bones sprinted into the room, quickly followed by two nurses and Uhura who ran straight for Spock. "El!" Bones gasped out, rushing toward them. "Jim!"

"Bones!" Kirk answered.

"I've got him," Bones assured Kirk, quickly slipping his own arm around her father's waist and allowing Kirk to pull away as he grabbed Pike's arm and wrapped it around his own shoulders.

Kirk moved away, pausing for just a moment to turn and look at them. Elara rolled her eyes and shook her head, "Go!" she ordered him. "We've got him."

Kirk nodded, "Bones," he called out, his gaze shifting quickly to Elara. "Have someone check out her arm. It's broken." He smiled at Elara as she rolled her eyes and winked before he turned again and started sprinting toward the bridge.

Bones' gaze shifted, quickly moving over Elara's right arm, taking in the bruising around her wrist, "What happened, El?" he asked as they rushed down the corridor.

"It doesn't matter," Elara told him, shaking her head. She nodded toward her father, "We need gastric stimulators," she told him. "And he's going to need surgery." Her jaw clenched, "He can't feel his legs."

"El -"

"His pulse is rapid, thready -"

"El -"

"Oxygen levels are low. If I had to guess he's got at least one broken rib. It's probably punctured his-"

"ELARA!" Bones yelled, finally catching her attention. "He'll be fine. You got him here. We'll take care of him. What happened to you?"

She shook her head, "A Romulan broke my arm," she told him.

"That's it?" Bones asked, an eyebrow arched as they reached the med bay.

She shrugged, readjusting her grip on her father's hand, "... And then I continued using it?"

Bones cursed, shaking his head, "Nurse Chapel!" he barked, glancing at the blonde nurse by the door. "Please get an x-ray for Doctor Larson," he glanced at her, "Or is it Pike now?"

"Pike," Elara told him with a nod, smiling as she stepped out from underneath her father's arm when another doctor stepped forward to help Bones carry him to one of the surgical tables.

Bones paused, for just a moment, "Good for you," he told her, smiling.

"Take care of him?" she asked, nodding at her father.

Bones chuckled and shook his head, "It's like she doesn't trust me," he muttered to the other doctor. "It's as if I wasn't the chief medical officer aboard this ship." He glanced over his shoulder, winking at her, "That's insubordination, that is."

Elara shrugged, wincing when it pulled awkwardly on her injured arm, "You've seen the people I hang out with, Doctor McCoy," she called back. "Would you expect anything less?"

Bones shook his head, "Not from Kirk's girl."

Elara sighed, glancing up at Christine Chapel and shaking her head as the nurse led her to an examination table so that she could x-ray her arm. "I'm not," she told the nurse, wincing as she straightened her arm, "... Kirk's girl, I mean."

Christine smiled as she held the tablet over her arm, instantly seeing a live x-ray on the screen. She winced, "Both your radius and ulna are broken in three places," she told Elara. "We'll need to complete one of the breaks, set the bones, and you'll be in a cast." She glanced up, her smile widening, "And you are, Doctor Lars - Pike," she told her, correcting herself. "...Kirk's girl. We've all known it for years."

Elara shook her head, "How?" she asked.

Christine's smile was rueful, bittersweet even, "He's never looked at any of us the way he looks at you."

Elara shook her head, "I don't know what you're talking about," she denied.

"Yes you do," Christine argued. "You look at him the same way."

…..

There had been a few moments when Elara's arm was cut open so that one of the doctors could reset her bones and he had to stop because the ship was shaking so much that Elara worried that they weren't going to be able to escape the blackhole Spock had created when he sent a ship full of red matter on a collision course with the Narada. But like everything else in their plan, it somehow miraculously succeeded.

The shaking stopped and with one strange jolt, the ship soared forward, back in warp, headed toward earth.

"Looks like we're headed home," the doctor, an Orion named Nassiv, told her as he bent over her arm, getting back to work.

She nodded, leaning over so that she could watch him work, "Looks like it," she told him, her brows furrowing. "Where are you going to put the pins?" she asked "I would -"

"Doctor Larson," Nassiv interrupted, glancing up at her sharply. "I mean, Pike. This is difficult for you, but you're the patient. How about you let me do my job or I put you under?"

Elara sighed, they had numbed her arm with a local anesthetic to repair the break, she hadn't wanted to be put under, but she could tell that the doctor would have preferred that. She glanced over her shoulder, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth, as her gaze landed on the door to the surgical bay, Bones and the rest of the medical team were working on her father and she couldn't help.

She was stuck out here with a broken arm.

She had become a doctor because she wanted to feel useful.

She had never felt so useless in her life.

The med bay doors opened with a hiss and she turned, Nassiv grabbing her wrist to keep her arm steady, to see Kirk walking through the doors. He made a beeline for her cot, his hand gently landing on her shoulder as his gaze landed on her arm. "How are you?" he asked.

Elara rolled her eyes. It was just like him, she realized, to be worried about her when there were bigger things, more important things to worry about. She couldn't pinpoint when that had started, but it had been a habit of his for a while. "I'm fine," she told him, her own gaze landing on her opened arm. "Doctor Nassiv is going to put some pins in, sew it up, and put a cast on it. He should be done in fifteen minutes."

The Orion glanced up at her, shaking his head before he turned his attention back to her arm, "You have more faith in my abilities than I do, Doctor Pike," he told her, a smirk playing at his lips. "I will be done in twenty minutes."

"Take your time," Kirk told him before Elara could argue. Elara tilted her head, glaring up at him. He smiled and shook his head, "She has a habit of punching people, Doctor Nassiv," he informed the Orion. "We'd like her arm to heal perfectly before she breaks it again." His smile softened as his gaze shifted back to her, "How's your father?" he asked.

She shook her head, her own gaze darting toward the doors of the surgical bay, "No news yet," she told him, her shoulders sinking with worry.

"No news is good news," Kirk told her, trying to boost her spirits.

She nodded, "It is," she agreed. "Now, distract me. It seems like I'm here for another twenty minutes. Tell me what I missed on the bridge."

Kirk chuckled, "The Narada was too close to the black hole Spock created when he detonated the red matter, it wasn't going to go through the black hole, but rather be torn apart by it. I offered our assistance, we would have beamed the crew -"

"James!" Elara cut in, shaking her head. "After everything you offered to help them?"

Kirk chuckled again, "Diplomacy," he explained to her. "I thought that it might earn peace with Romulus." He watched her face, "Spock didn't like it either," he told her.

"And Nero didn't take you up on it?" she guessed.

"He did not," Kirk agreed. He sighed, "We were too close to the black hole as well, almost got sucked in ourselves, but Scotty ejected the core and it detonated, the blast was strong enough to push us away."

Elara laughed, shaking her head, "He's a genius," she told Kirk. Her gaze was on Nassiv as he began to place the pins in her arm. She would have placed them differently, but she kept her mouth shut. She felt Kirk tense beside her and her laughter softened to a smile as she glanced up at him, "Jealous, James?" she asked him, playfully.

"Very, Ellie," he admitted. His nose scrunched and he shook his head, "Nope, can't call you that anymore. Not now that I know that's what Pike calls you. Can't do it."

"Finally," Elara laughed, tilting her head back so that she could smile up at him. "I've been trying to get you to stop calling me that for three years. Should have told you who my father was years ago!"

Kirk was watching her, an odd look in his blue eyes. She watched as he leaned down, hesitating for a moment a breath away from her. And then his lips were pressed against hers, kissing her for the second time that day, warm and soft and better than she had ever imagined. She smiled, shifting slightly so that she could kiss him back. This was nice, she could get used to this.

Nassiv cleared his throat, "Captain?" he asked, his gaze shifting toward Kirk as they pulled apart. "I'm going to have to ask you to leave if you're going to keep doing that. It makes it very hard to see what I'm doing. And I'm working on a tight schedule."

Kirk chuckled, pressing his lips against Elara's for one more kiss before he pulled away from her, "We'll be back to earth in ten minutes," he told them. His gaze shifted to Elara, "You'll want to stay with your father?" Elara nodded. He nodded as well, "I'll find you as soon as I can."

"You better," Elara told him, winking at him as he started to walk away. "James?"

He stopped, just in front of the door and turned, chuckling. "I know," he told her. "Don't do anything stupid."

Elara shook her head, "I wasn't going to say that," she told him with a laugh. Her gaze cut toward Nassiv, his attention was focused on her arm, but that didn't mean he wasn't listening. She realized after a moment that she didn't care if he was, for the first time in years she didn't care what anybody thought about her. She turned back to Kirk and smiled, "That gold shirt's going to look real good on you."

Kirk laughed, "It'll look better on your floor," he told her, walking through the doors before she could scold him.

Nassiv chuckled, "You two on the same ship are going to be fun."

...

"Dr. Larson!" the nurse called out, following Elara down the hallway as she marched toward her father's room. The woman shook her head, "I mean Pike! Dr. Pike! He's resting! He's just been through a major surgery."

"I know that!" Elara called out over her shoulder as she continued down the hallway. "I'm going to see my father, Nurse Baxter, not force him to do push ups. He can continue to rest with me sitting in a chair beside his bed."

She was at his door now. She paused, just before opening it, hesitating as she turned back toward the nurse, "How is he?"

The woman's face softened, "He's doing quite well, Dr. Pike," she assured her. "Quite well."

Elara nodded, "Thank you," she told the nurse as she turned back toward the door, reaching out to open it before she could change her mind.

He was awake, which she had not expected, sitting up in bed, resting against a pile of pillows, gazing expectantly at the door. She smiled at him, hesitating just inside the door. If he were her patient she would have known what to do, but as his daughter, she felt lost. A smile spread across his lips as he patted his hand gently on the bed, silently indicating that he wanted her to take a seat.

"They're calling you you Dr. Pike now," he told her, his voice soft and cautious. He grimaced as he moved over, shifting slightly so that there would be more room for her.

"Stop," Elara told him softly, as she sat carefully on the edge of the bed, taking up as little space as possible. "You shouldn't be moving." She reached behind him, pulling gently at one of the pillows so that he had more support. She glanced up at him, a smile lifting at the corners of her mouth, "And yes," she told him, rolling her eyes playfully, "they're calling me Pike now."

Her father's blue eyes were gentle and sparked with something that looked remarkably like pride, "Commander Spock visited this morning," he told her. "Gave me a report of everything that happened after I left the Enterprise." Elara glanced down, worried that he was going to lecture her, being marooned on Delta Vega had not been one of her proudest moments. Her father reached out and dropped his hand on top of hers, squeezing gently, "You did well, Ellie. I'm proud of you."

"I verbally attacked the captain, found myself marooned on a class-M planet, illegally found my way back onto the ship, and threw a tantrum on the bridge where I revealed a secret I've been keeping for the last three years," she told him, shaking her head. "If that's your definition of well, then my next mission will be perfect."

Her father shook his head, "You stood up for your crew, followed your intuition, and successfully assisted the rescue of one of your crew mates," he fixed her with a teasing glance, "a very grateful crew mate."

Elara shook her head, "I had almost watched Kirk die three times in a single mission, I couldn't lose you too."

"Kirk," her father chuckled, shaking his head, "When did that happen, by the way?"

"A lifetime ago," Elara told him, shaking her head as a smile slipped onto her lips. She chuckled at the private joke, "I think it happened the first night we met."

"The bar fight?" her father asked, laughing this time.

Elara nodded, "You're not disappointed are you?" she asked. "I know that he hasn't always -"

"Ellie," her father interrupted, "The only thing that would disappoint me is if you were unhappy." His eyes narrowed playfully, "He better treat you well."

Elara rolled her eyes, "Or he'll have you to deal with? Are you really so cliche, dad?"

"Dad," her father repeated, smiling contentedly at her, "That's nice to hear." His playful look disappeared, "But yes, when it comes to you I am that cliche."

Elara leaned forward to press a kiss against his cheek, "I was so worried about you," she admitted softly. "Please don't make me worry about you ever again."

Her father chuckled, "No, Ellie, I think from now on I'll be worried about you." He chuckled again, "Maybe I should tell you to stay away from Kirk after all."

-.-.-.-.-

It was a familiar scene, like the day it had all begun. The cadets, fewer now as many of the seniors had perished in the attack on Vulcan, were dressed in their red dress uniforms. The Commanders in their grey uniforms. They were gathered together in the council chambers, and once again, Admiral Barnett called Jim forward, to the center of the room.

But this time, as he moved away from Elara and Bones he wasn't worried. This time when Elara reached out for his hand, it wasn't to comfort him, but to congratulate him. She was proud of him. They all were.

"Your inspirational valor and supreme dedication to your comrades are in keeping with the highest traditions of service and reflect utmost credit to yourself, your crew, and the Federation." Barnett paused, reaching behind him for a box that one of his aids held out to him. "It is my honor to award you with this commendation."

Jim couldn't stop the smirk from rising to his lips. A little more than a week ago he had been here, about to be thrown out of the Academy and now they were giving him a medal. A medal for beating a no-win scenario, a real life Kobayashi Maru.

Barnett wasn't done yet though, "By Starfleet Order 28455, you are hereby directed to report to Admiral Pike, USS Enterprise, for duty as his relief."

Jim's chest tightened, surprise bubbling up. He hadn't expected that. He took a moment, trying to regain his composure as he held out his hand to Barnett, shaking it before he turned to walk over to Pike. He caught Elara's gaze in the crowd as he moved. Her blue-green eyes were sparkling, a large smile stretched across her lips. There was no surprise on her face, she had known.

He shook his head, winking at her, before he came to a stop in front of her father. Pike had changed drastically in the last week. He was in a wheelchair now, his hair totally grey. Jim knew he was still in pain, Elara had worried non-stop about it over the last week, but here and now, he didn't seem in pain, all Jim could see was the pride he felt.

He snapped to attention, "I relieve you, Sir."

Pike smiled, "I am relieved. Congratulations, Captain. Your father would have been proud."

They shook hands and the crowd broke out into applause, the loudest cheers came from the first row of cadets where his crew sat - Elara, Bones, Uhura, Chekov, Scotty, Sulu. Elara's eyes were no longer sparkling, but glassy, she was crying as she left the row, skipping down the steps toward him.

Jim laughed, holding his arms out wide for her as she threw her own around his neck, the rough plaster of her cast scratching at his neck as he lifted her from the ground and spun her around in a circle, both of them laughing. She was still laughing when he set her feet back on the ground and kissed her, it was as if he could taste her happiness on her lips - bright, sweet, intoxicating.

A blush burned its way across her cheeks as she pulled away, her gaze cutting toward her father for a brief moment, before moving back to him. Pike, bless him, had made himself busy, wheeling over to one of the other Admirals, his back turned to their display of affection. When she turned back to him her laughter had softened to a warm smile, "Congratulations, Captain," she told him, wrinkling her nose playfully at his new title. "He's right, your father would be so proud of you."

"And you?" Jim asked, his arms still wrapped around her waist.

She shrugged, playing at nonchalant, "I mean, it's not that impressive." She giggled, trying to escape his grasp as his fingers dug lightly into her sides, tickling her. "Alright!" she gasped out, still giggling, "I'm so proud of you, James."

He nodded, "Proud enough to serve on my ship?" he asked her, his heart in his throat. They had spent almost every day together since their return. They held hands on campus, kissed whenever they could, ate together, slept together, were together. But neither of them had brought up what would happen after graduation.

He couldn't blame her, knowing that there was some version of them in some other timeline that was married was a lot to take in. It was a weight, one that neither of them had been willing to address yet. But he liked where this was going, had wanted it since the moment he met her and he wasn't willing to let it slip through his fingers now.

Was he proposing marriage? Not yet.

Had he thought about it? Of course he had.

But for now, he would settle for having her on his ship.

They'd take everything else the way they always had - a day at a time.

Together.

-.-.-.-.-

The turbolift whooshed open and Jim walked onto the bridge, his gaze moving to the command console just behind the captain's chair. Elara turned, her lips tugging up at the corners as her gaze moved deliberately down his chest and back up, taking in his new gold shirt. He winked at her. She shook her head, a smile tugging at the corners of her lips.

Starfleet had hesitated when he named his crew, they were all young, recent graduates. But they had proven themselves during their first mission, they were no longer children.

"Maneuvering thrusters and impulse engines at your command, Sir," Sulu announced.

"Weapons systems and shields on standby," Chekov added.

"Dock control reports ready, Captain," Uhura told him, calling him Captain and meaning it for the first time.

Jim paused, smiling at the crew. His gaze landed on Bones and he chuckled, "Bones," he greeted the doctor, stepping forward to clap his hand on his friend's shoulder, "Buckle up."

He sat down in the chair and opened up a comm link to the Engineering bay, "Scotty, how are we doing?"

"Dilithium chamber at maximum, Captain."

They were ready, everything was in place for their first official mission. Everyone was in place - except for one. His gaze landed on the empty science console between Uhura and Elara. The Federation had tried to convince Spock to stay with Starfleet, but the Vulcan had seemed set on returning to his people. Last Jim had heard, Spock had yet to officially turn down Starfleet, but no one was holding their breath.

Except Elara.

She stood from her seat and moved to stand behind the Captain's chair, her hand fell to his shoulder. "He could still come," she whispered to him, squeezing his shoulder gently. "There's still time."

"Not much," Jim whispered back as his hand fell to hers and he squeezed it back. "Mr. Sulu, prepare to engage thrust-"

He was cut off when the doors opened again with a hiss. He turned, his eyes widening in surprise as Spock shifted, standing just outside the doors.

"Permission to come aboard, Captain."

Jim smiled, "Permission granted."

Spock almost smiled as he moved further onto the bridge, "As you have yet to select a first officer, respectfully, I would like to submit my candidacy." Jim stood to meet him, Elara's hand slipping off his shoulder as she moved away from him, moving to stand next to Bones, a smile playing at her lips as she watched. "Should you desire, I can provide character references."

The only thing that kept Jim from laughing was that he knew Spock was serious. He smiled, "It would be my honor, Commander," he told Spock with a nod.

Spock nodded too, walking quickly over to his console. Elara laughed, bumping her hip against Bones', "Told you so," she whispered to the doctor. "You owe me twenty."

Jim laughed as Bones grumbled, something about how he needed to learn to stop betting against Elara. He turned to Sulu, "Maneuvering thrusters, Mr. Sulu."

"Thrusters on standby," Sulu confirmed.

Jim turned, catching Elara's eye, his eyebrows raised in question. She smiled and nodded at him. His own lips tugged up in an answering smile, "Take us out."

As Elara moved back to her console she paused next to him, the back of her hand grazing softly against his cheek, "Ad Astra," she whispered as her hand dropped.

To the stars.


Author's Note:

And that's it everyone ... the final chapter of this story.
I hope you enjoyed the journey (man I sound like the bachelorette right now). But I do hope that you enjoyed the journey as much as I did.
So far I've had two reviews saying that they would like a sequel. If you want one too, let me know!
There's a handy box right down there that you can use to tell me!
I love to read reviews - they give me endorphins.
Well, that's all I've got to say for now.
Until next time,

Chloe Jane