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Author's Note: Written for isilweth for Fandom Stocking.
The Velvet Ribbon
Number One cultivates a certain image of unflappable, unshakeable, and unemotional with intent. It helps her subordinates to take her seriously.
Some Execs, she knows from experience, foster a relationship of camaraderie among the crew, serving as buffer between the lower ranks and the department heads so issues can be brought to them without fear of alienation.
Some Execs are everyone's best friend, know everyone's given name and use it freely. They take their meals in the ship's mess instead of their quarters or the Officers' Mess, and hold poker games for the senior staff once a week in the Rec Rooms.
Number One does none of those things. But she is still considered the most capable XO in the fleet, and Headquarters has tried and failed twice to reassign her. Both times, she and Pike put up a united front, even though he'd questioned her turning down the second assignment in private, since it would get her to that centre seat that much quicker.
But she didn't want just any captain's chair. She had a plan, a desire, and the patience to see it through. Pike respected that, and she respected him all the more for it.
Once upon a time, before Erika Hernandez, perhaps her gender might have been a problem among a primarily Earth-based crew. But Starfleet had a long, distinguished history of women in command, though the competition for the centre seat of a Starship fitted with Warp 8 engines is fierce.
Of the seven Constitution Class ships currently in service, none have female captains.
Only one has a female first officer.
Some of the races they encounter at the edges of known space still look at her and see someone soft, someone weak, someone lesser than the captain by her side.
More fool them.
She could minimise her femininity. Scrape her hair back into a bun instead of letting it fall in dark curls down her back. Forego make-up, instead of lining her eyelids with black that makes her blue eyes seem like chips of sky set in her oval face. She could keep her nails clipped short and free of coloured lacquer instead of painting them a new shade—blue, black, emerald, blood red—whatever takes her fancy.
Number One could do many things.
What she does instead is wear a sapphire ring on her right hand so it catches the light as she taps the course into the helm controls to steer the flagship of the Federation safely from port to port.
She twines a green velvet ribbon in her hair, because she likes the colour, she likes the style, and she doesn't give a good goddam if that makes her seem any less than what she is: the most experienced officer onboard, her Captain's right hand, and on the career track which will make her a Captain in two years, and a Captain of a Warp 8 ship in five.
When she takes the helm of the Yorktown as her Captain for the first time, she wears the green velvet ribbon for old time's sake.
And no-one says a thing.
ljc's fan fiction