AN: Haha... hahaha... hahahaha... hi?
Okay, OKAY, so I'll be honest and say that this fic hasn't been in my thoughts for a very, very long time. The last two years (when did I even last update this? EDIT: I checked and it was a year and a half ago oh gOD I'M A TERRIBLE PERSON) have been super duper crazy (other Brits will support me in saying that A Levels are the hardest of all the enforced qualifications and no one will convince me otherwise) BUT... I think I'm back.
So, my last exam was on Friday. I've now got a very long summer ahead before university calls and I need something to fill my time. I'm hoping that getting myself back into writing fanfiction will be it (along with making flower crowns, learning shorthand and bullet journaling [WHICH EVERYONE SHOULD DO IT'S FANTASTIC]). With that in mind, I somehow found myself reading through this fic again and I'd forgotten how much I loved it.
What with the new movie coming out soon, I'm hoping to incorporate a lot of new stuff and have new ideas but for now I'm planning on stuffing this fic with all that I've got. As always, I welcome your views, opinions and prompts. I hope this instalment has been worth the wait and I shall try my absolute hardest to update it as often as I can because I love Joanna and I love how others love her and I just need that in my life.
Also, in light of recent events, I'd like to dedicate this chapter to Anton Yelchin - RIP and may Chekov forever live on in our hearts. LLAP.
Jocelyn wasn't entirely sure how Joanna did it, but she always just seemed to know when Bones or Jim was going to call home. Their access to the connection needed for a video call all the way back to Earth was sporadic at best, and often meant that Joanna had to drop whatever she was doing at a second's notice if she wanted to talk to them (which she did. Always.).
One of these times was during dinner, shortly after Jim's return to relative sanity (he'd managed to go an entire week without snapping at anyone without justification; Carol had ensured that he was well rewarded for his character change). Joanna hadn't spoken to either Jim or Bones for almost three weeks and it was driving the little girl insane.
"Jo, I'm sure they'll call soon," Jocelyn tried to comfort her daughter as Joanna pushed food around her plate uninterestedly.
"I know it'll be soon," Joanna sighed, "I just don't know exactly when 'soon' is." Jocelyn smiled sadly.
"Why don't you ask Dylan over for dinner?" she said after a moment of silence, "He hasn't been round for a while." Joanna shrugged.
"We... we had a fight," she said quietly. Jocelyn looked shocked.
"About what, Jo?" she asked. Joanna shrugged.
"Doesn't matter," she said. She placed her knife and fork together on her plate, "I'm not that hungry," she said, "May I be excused?" Jocelyn sighed.
"You may," she said. Joanna pushed her plate away from her and stood up from the table just as the PADD started beeping in the living room.
In the three seconds between the beeping starting and her daughter clicking the 'accept' button, Jocelyn swore that Joanna changed into a completely different child. The little girl had answered the call before her mother had fully appreciated what was happening and she could hear the joy in her daughter's voice.
"Hi, daddy!" Joanna squealed, "You finally called!" Bones chuckled.
"Hi, darlin'," he replied, "I'm sorry it's been so long; we've been having a bit of power trouble thanks to Scotty experimenting with things he should be kept away from. Don't worry, hopefully it shouldn't be this long between us talking again. How are you doing?" Joanna smiled.
"I'm good," she replied, "We're doing a project about the solar system at school. We're going to work in groups to make big models of it." Bones grinned.
"You and Dylan will have the best in the class," he said. Jocelyn paused from clearing Joanna's plate in the kitchen, curious to hear her daughter's answer following her revelation about their fight.
"I'll send you pictures," Joanna said. Jocelyn frowned slightly, continuing with her task slightly slower, unsure why Joanna would be keeping a secret from her father.
"You'd better," Bones agreed, "Jim's going to be disappointed. He loves building models."
Joanna looked surprised, "He does?"
Bones grinned, "After he was made captain of the Enterprise, he made a model of the ship. It took him five straight days, but he finally finished it. I'll tell you what: if you send us some pictures of you and Dylan with your solar system, I'll get you a picture of Uncle Jim and his starship, okay?"
Joanna didn't even falter as she nodded, "Okay," she said, "So have you been anywhere interesting?"
Her father shrugged, "Nowhere incredible," he said, "We've been having a lot of conferences and stuff, setting up face-to-face meetings with people. We kind of knew that this first year was going to be boring."
Joanna stared at him, "You're in space!" she said, "How can it be boring?!"
Jocelyn kept watching as her daughter talked to her father, half amazed and half confused about the sudden change that had occurred in Joanna's personality. After ten minutes had passed, she entered the room properly.
"Jo, you have homework to do," she reminded her daughter, "Research for that solar system, remember?"
Joanna's face drooped, "But, mommy," she whined, "I haven't spoken to daddy in ages!"
"Your mom's right, Jo," Bones said immediately, "School is more important. How are you supposed to join Starfleet without good grades, hmm? And I'm expecting the best solar system in the class."
Joanna sighed, "Fine," she grumbled, "Bye, daddy. I love you!"
"I love you too, Jo," Bones said, "We'll talk soon, okay? Promise."
"Joanna, can I talk to your dad please?" Jocelyn said quickly, "I'll come up and check on you in a few minutes." Joanna passed the PADD to her mother, blowing Bones a final kiss before running up the stairs to her room.
"To what do I owe this pleasure?" Bones questioned Jocelyn with a small smirk. His ex-wife frowned.
"Joanna has been… different, recently," she tried to explain, "She seemed fine talking with you then, but we were eating dinner earlier and she told me that she and Dylan had had a fight? He hasn't been round in weeks but she won't tell me what they fell out over. She's been down and sulky and she's lost interest in almost everything. I… I don't know what to do, Leonard."
Bones knew that it couldn't have been easy for Jocelyn to voice this confession. "Jim's been going through a similar thing," he admitted, "He's been touchy and grouchy and just a plain old pain in everyone's ass recently. Carol and I gave him a good talking to and he seems better now but… I think it's just their way of trying to adapt to the change. I mean, it's not like how it was, where we're just a couple of hours away and Jo can visit for the weekend. We're not going to see each other properly for months, if not years and… I think we're all just trying to deal with that in our own ways."
Jocelyn sighed, "It's like you've died or something," she muttered, "Like… like she's grieving. How am I supposed to deal with that?"
Bones shrugged, "You have to support her," he said, "I'll do the best I can from afar and Jim will too but… she needs to get what we can't give her from you, Jocelyn. Give her hugs, days out, fun… and sort out whatever's gone on with her and Dylan. She may not feel like it right now but she needs him as a friend."
Jocelyn thought this through for a moment, realising that she'd really known all of that and just needed some kind of reassurance that she was doing the right thing, "Who'd have thought I'd be the one going to you for advice, hmm?" she asked jokily, "I still remember that time Jo had a virus and you, the doctor, came running to me at three in the morning asking what you were supposed to do."
Bones chuckled quietly, "Yeah, well, kids make you do the craziest things."
"Thanks, Leonard," she said genuinely, "For… for still being there for us, after everything."
"I'd never let Joanna down," Bones replied, "God, I'd be lying if I said my first thought hadn't been about her when we were trying to bring Jim back after the whole Khan scenario. Anything you need, anything she needs, I'll be there."
Jocelyn nodded, "Thanks for calling. I guess we'll talk whenever you can?" he nodded.
"I'll try and call again this week," he said, "Hopefully that'll put her in a better mood. I'll get Jim to call at some point as well."
Jocelyn nodded, "Okay. Speak soon then." He held up a hand as a goodbye before the screen went black. Jocelyn sighed again, putting the PADD on the coffee table and taking a moment to sort her thoughts in her head. It was amazing that she and Joanna had once done so well by themselves with only one visit a year from Bones along with cards at Christmas and for birthdays. Now, she couldn't even imagine taking Joanna away from her father again, not when the two had bonded on such a level that her daughter was practically a different person when he wasn't around.
She stood up and started making her way up to Joanna's bedroom; whatever was going on, Bones had been totally right about one thing: school came first. And she did not trust Joanna to be completely focused on her homework.
Jocelyn had fully intended to somehow get Joanna to tell her what had happened between her and Dylan over dinner the next evening. However, when she went to pick Joanna up from school, the two walked out together, laughing and chatting as if they hadn't been in a fight that had seemed to contribute to the end of Joanna's world.
"Hi, mom!" Joanna ran up to her, "Can Dylan come for dinner? We're going to work on our solar system project!"
Jocelyn had to physically restrain herself from immediately questioning how they had reconciled, "Of course, Jo," she said, "You know that Dylan's always welcome."
Joanna grinned, looking at her friend triumphantly, "Told you!"
Dylan shrugged, "I never said your mom would say no!"
Jocelyn rang Dylan's mother as the two children led the way over to the car, informing her that Dylan wouldn't be catching the school bus home and that she'd drop him off after dinner. She half-listened to their conversation as they drove home, finding no indication that either of them were even aware that they'd fallen out in the first place.
She held off from emailing Bones when they got home, Joanna and Dylan setting up at the table in the kitchen to start building their project. By the time dinner was almost ready the model was taking shape with very minimal input from Jocelyn.
"Jo, can you help me set the table for dinner, please?" she said. Joanna nodded.
"Okay," she said, "Can Dylan come round again tomorrow so we can try and finish it?" Jocelyn nodded.
"Of course," she said, "Dylan, why don't you go and wash up for dinner whilst Joanna and I clear the table?" He nodded, getting up and making his way to the bathroom. Jocelyn waited until his footsteps had faded before she turned to her daughter, "So, you and Dylan made up, hmm?"
Joanna nodded, digging the placemats out of a drawer as her mother carefully transferred the half-finished model onto the countertop, "I apologised," she explained, "I said something quite mean to him because I was upset. But he forgave me and now we're friends again."
"And are you still upset?" her mother asked her. She shrugged.
"Not so much," she said, "I miss daddy and Uncle Jim. But… I guess having Dylan around helps. He always knows how to make me laugh and he doesn't think I'm weird for wanting to play with the boys. And we both want to join Starfleet so it's probably best if we're best friends forever."
Jocelyn couldn't help the smile that came onto her face at that, "Well, I think that was very grown up of you to do, Jojo," she said, "Apologies can be hard but I think you did the right thing. And I'm sure Dylan feels the same about you."
"Oh, he does," Joanna said seriously, laying out the forks as her mother followed her with the knives, "We pinkie-swore to always be best friends, even at Starfleet. And one day we're going to be roommates like daddy and Uncle Jim were, and we're going to build blanket forts."
Jocelyn hugged her, "That sounds lovely, Jo," she said, unbelievably relieved that her daughter was more like her old self again, "And you know that, if you ever feel upset again, you can talk to me about it, don't you? I might be able to help and then you won't have to say anything mean to Dylan again." Joanna nodded.
"I know," she said, "Shall I go and wash my hands?"
"Go on," Jocelyn agreed, "Ask Dylan what he'd like to drink as well."
"I will," Joanna called over her shoulder.
Jocelyn quickly grabbed the PADD from where it still sat on the coffee table from the night before, typing out an email to Bones:
Turns out Joanna doesn't need our help after all. She and Dylan are best friends forever and are going to be roommates at Starfleet. Apparently blanket forts will be involved. I'm going to make sure that she remembers this in eight years.
Jocelyn hadn't expected a reply straight away, but one popped up on the screen just as she and the two kids were finishing dinner. She sent them off to play in the living room, Joanna jumping at the chance to get out of clearing the table.
She couldn't help but smile at the reply:
Don't know why we're surprised. Starfleet's not going to know what's hit them with those two - they're a force and a half to be reckoned with. Here's to the rest of her childhood when stupid fights are the biggest of our worries.
That simple reply was all she needed to push the rest of her worries away, at least for the time being; Joanna was obviously more than capable of sorting out her own problems. Whilst the thought of her little girl not needing her broke her heart a little bit, she much preferred it to Joanna keeping things to herself but not being able to fix them.
And as she watched Joanna and Dylan playing at being Starfleet officers, Joanna as Captain and Dylan as her First Officer and the Science Officer on board, she pushed her worries for the future away too. Joanna still had a few years of childhood left to enjoy, and Jocelyn planned to enjoy it enough for herself, Bones and Jim, so that none of them, Joanna especially, felt like something was missing.
So, there was that. Like I said, I hope it was worth the wait (it's been sat with the first few paragraphs written for literally a year and I finally pushed through the walls to finish it). Reviews will undoubtedly push me to write another chapter faster and I'd love to know if any of you are actually still around to read this; just give me a little heads up?
In other news, I'm going to start posting this fic over on AO3 as well as ; I'd never have the heart to delete it from/stop posting here because this is where my roots lie and I feel like I owe something to this amazing community. But I want to widen my readership as much as possible so I'll probably be posting a chapter over there every week or so until we're caught up and then cross-posting the new chapters.
Shoot me a review if you're still around, follows and favourites are no longer redundant because I actually will be updating, and I hope you all have a wonderful day. TTFN, my friends!