Word count: 1,910
Pairings: None really defined, but if you want to get technical, Gaila/almost everybody
Type: Friendship, Family
I Love You Most
I Love You Most
Gaila hates her stepfather.
The days when she used to see him were filled with complaining, and complaining, and complaining. "Ma, why'd you have to marry him anyways?" She asks, all the time. Even back aboard the Tiberius.
And Winona says, "That's none of your business, Gaila." And, to Gaila, that stings.
That's why Gaila prefers space. Iowa is too flat, too small, and it brings pain to Winona's eyes, her heart, her very soul. Since Gaila is an empath, it hurts her too, as if it were her own pain. Iowa is too small. All of Terra is too small for Gaila, in fact. The Orion prefers space. Space is nothing, but it is everything. There isn't any ending to space.
So growing up, for the most part, on the U.S.S. Tiberius, was the best thing to ever happen to her. With Winona as her mother, and only ever having to visit Iowa a few times. Gaila remembers she has two brothers. Sam and Jimmy. She met Sam when she visited Iowa. He was tall, handsome, and going into Starfleet to become a scientist. Gaila had to constantly remind herself that he was her brother, so that she didn't take him upstairs and have her naughty way with him. Winona would have been furious.
She never met Jimmy. He was always away, and Winona once told her that he was drunk and never came home.
Gaila feels sorry for Jimmy. She knows enough, feels enough, to realize that Winona feels like it's her fault. And, in a way, though Gaila would never dare say it to her mother, it is Winona's fault.
Gaila knows that she's lucky. Even if it doesn't feel that way to her sometimes (or even most of the time). Even though she had a hard childhood, up until her thirteenth year, that was where it stopped. Jimmy's childhood was pretty good until Winona left Iowa. Now he's a mess. Gaila knows she's lucky. She was lucky from the moment Winona found her, from the moment that goddamn pirate died. She was such a child then.
Now she's sixteen, and learning how to be an engineer. Learning from the best damn engineer there ever was. When she used to tell stories to Winona about the famous members of her clan, she especially loved telling the one about Navaar, the one who's name she took, to protect herself, at least for five minutes or so, back when she was first found. She always loved to chatter on and on about how Navaar seduced Captain Archer of the Enterprise NX-01.
That's when Winona suggested Gaila become an engineer. Because Gaila always seemed to talk more about the NX-01 than about Navaar seducing Archer. She knew everything about that old ship. Everything.
So Winona offered to teach her, way back when she was still thirteen, when her pheromones came. And Gaila said yes.
So here she is. Aboard the U.S.S. Tiberius. Learning how to be an engineer. Something that, before, she had only ever dreamed of.
And she is Gaila. Gaila Nadeh Uhu.
Although Gaila always though of herself differently. Not just Gaila Nadeh Uhu. Gaila Winona Nadeh Uhu-Kirk. Though she never told anyone that but her best friend. Gillian.
Winona always says that Gillian and Gaila are like two peas in a pod. Gaila thinks that's silly. After all, Gaila's the only one who could ever be mistaken for a pea.
Gillian and Gaila are, indeed, like two peas in a pod, even though they look nothing alike. Always planning mischief, luring officers into Gaila's bed (an activity that Gillian is happy to partake in as long as she only helps with the setup), and trying to set people up. That's one of their favorite things to do.
Gillian and Gaila have been best friends since Gaila came aboard the Tiberius. Winona had introduced the two of them during Gaila's second week aboard the Tiberius, and they've been inseparable from that day on.
They still look nothing alike, Gaila thinks. She has red hair and green skin and blue eyes. Gillian has red-gold hair and green eyes and tan skin and Trill spots and a mischievous spirit.
Not that Gaila doesn't have a mischievous spirit too.
Gaila loves everyone on the Tiberius.
Captain April is almost like a father to Gaila. Of course, he's like a father who Gaila has successfully lured into bed sixteen times (and counting), but that's all the better, really.
Gaila does that to everybody. Well, almost everybody. Even Gaila has a few exceptions.
Here are Gaila's exceptions:
Her own mother. Because even Gaila thinks that's disgusting. And Winona doesn't particularly feel like being seduced by her own daughter.
Gillian's Dad. Because Gillian says she'd kill Gaila if she did. Period.
Gillian. Because both Gaila and Gillian have agreed that it's just wrong.
Anyone else in her family. Like Sam. And, if she ever meets him someday, Jimmy.
Gaila never thinks that maybe someday she might break one of those rules.
So now Gaila sits. Remembering. Remembering life aboard the Tiberius, as she lived it for three years. Three years that seem so long, and yet so short. Gillian is fetching their luggage- half of Gaila's consists of dirty old magazines, from the time and things she's ordered out of the magazines. The other half are photographs she's taken, little bits and pieces she's collected from people and places all over the ship.
Winona is strong, Gaila knows. Stronger than anything. But it doesn't stop Gaila's mother from crying. She won't show it- she never does- but she cries behind locked doors. She drinks herself into a stupor. Gaila knows she does.
And even though she knows that Winona is happy for her, and loves her, and knows that what Gaila is doing is right- after all, Winona trained her to do it- Gaila can't help feeling that it is all her fault. Leaving the Tiberius for Starfleet Academy.
Lieutenant Taris isn't anything like Winona, she thinks. He's proud of his seventeen-year-old daughter, getting accepted so early. He's a bit sad, but he tells her he'll miss her outright. Gillian promises to call him over the subspace transmitter every week, and they hug. Gaila watches, feeling almost envious. Not that she would ever want a mother other than Winona- she only has snatches of memories of her clansisters and clanmothers- but she wishes that Winona wasn't so sad about everything.
Not that Gaila doesn't understand it. Winona lost her husband. Gaila doesn't remember hearing about the Kelvin until she came aboard the Tiberius- she wasn't even born yet, and wouldn't be for six years at the time of the Kelvin incident- but she knows the story well now. People are always quoting to Gaila, and to Winona, about how the Kelvin was a no-win situation. That makes Gaila mad.
Gaila shares a bit of philosophy with her big brother Jimmy, a bit of philosophy she doesn't know they share. There's no such thing as a no-win situation. Not to Gaila. She knows that George Kirk saved eight hundred people that night. That's not a no-win situation. Gaila considers it to be a better situation than most. She doesn't tell people that, though. Not even Winona. Not even Gillian.
There's a loud thud and a hiss of steam as the shuttle docks. Winona has tears in her eyes. Gaila, sitting on a stack of Spaceboy porno magazines with her frizzy hair a mess and one flip-flop awry, looks up at her mother. Winona looks at Gaila. Winona sways in place, slightly forwards. Her foot moves.
And Gaila leaps up, a huge smile on her face, and wraps her arms around Winona. She thinks, almost absently, about how she and Winona are the same height. She knows that Winona is thinking about that, too, and about how fast Gaila has grown up. Because of this, the Orion only hugs her mother tighter.
Winona breaks away after what seems like an eternity. "I love you." She tells Gaila. "So much."
Gaila smiles wider, tears in her eyes too. "I love you more." She tells Winona.
Winona smiles, her lips slowly curling upwards as she gets Gaila's joke. "I love you most." She tells the Orion, and wraps her arms around her daughter. "You can be anyone you want to be," Winona's mind says to Gaila.
And Gaila stands there, wrapped in her mother's arms, and she realizes there's no one she would rather be than the person she is. The person with a terrific mother and a wonderful life. The Orion with a hopeful future.
She is Gaila Winona Nadeh Uhu-Kirk. And there's no one she would rather be.
A week later, Gaila christens her dorm-room. With some Terran cadet whose name she doesn't know. She breaks it off because her subspace transmitter signals. It's Winona.
Gaila literally kicks the cadet out of her room and locks the door behind him, not listening to his pitiful cries about missing out and ignoring the fact that he left his clothing behind. She pulls on that ancient nightrobe Winona gave her once, the one with the mysterious stains and the smells of smoke and plasma and Winona and death on it. She doesn't know why those stains and smells are there- and goodness knows she's asked- or why they comfort her so much, but they do.
Then Gaila answers the call.
Winona is on the other end, smiling tiredly, just as always. They talk for a while, Gaila still ignoring the pitiful cries of the cadet trying to get his clothes before anyone sees. It gets late. Gaila can hear the sounds of Gillian Taris helping the cadet put on a bathrobe. Gillian knocks once, but Gaila ignores that too.
Winona tells Gaila she has to go, and Gaila tells her she understands. There's an awkward silence. Gaila wants to tell Winona everything she's felt since she was small, but she can't. Talking about her feelings is one thing Gaila's never been able to do.
The only thing Gaila can say is the most fitting- the one thing that says the most. "Ma?" She says softly, breaking off Winona's declaration of the time once again.
"Yes?" Winona says, looking up from her chrono.
Gaila's throat catches. She can't do it. She can. She can't. Then her voice comes out, unbidden by herself. "Thanks for taking care of me, Ma." Gaila tells her. One tear runs down the Orion's cheek.
Winona smiles gently, and that's all Gaila needs. "You're welcome." She tells her daughter. "I love you."
Gaila grins. "I love you more." She tells Winona. Winona chuckles softly.
"I love you most." The older woman says, blowing a kiss to Gaila. Gaila smiles and blows one back.
"Night, Ma." The Orion says, and cuts the connection.
That night, Gaila sleeps with a smile on her face.