Disclaimer: I own none of Star Trek, none, none, none . . .
NOTE ON STORY ORIGINS: This is loosely based on the movie, or some deleted scenes from it, which show Kirk and his brother dealing with their abusive Uncle Frank. I am fully aware that George Samuel Kirk works for Starfleet in the original series, but as this is an alternate reality I decided to make him a jackass. Enjoy. :)
"I'm looking for a Jim . . . Jim Kirk."
Spock tilted his head upon hearing the gruffly spoken words, and saw a disheveled looking man of approximately twenty-eight years standing impatiently at the front desk of the school. His body language betrayed his ignorance. His lips smacked uncouthly around his cigarette, his posture was careless and sloppy, his face unshaven.
The girl at the front desk frowned. "You mean the captain, James Kirk?"
The stranger let out a derisive snort. "No, I mean Jim. Jim—"
"James Tiberius Kirk," Spock intercepted, taking a step forward. The girl at the front desk shrank back, intimidated, but the stranger raised his eyebrows at Spock as if he were amused and stood his ground.
"You know him?"
The stranger looked around the room as if he were searching for some other means of communication that wasn't Spock, but then his eyes landed back on his again. "Where can I find him, then?" he asked, his voice absent of any of the usual politeness humans used when making an acquaintance.
"May I ask your identity?"
"My identity?" he laughed again, unkindly. Spock had the impression that the stranger was convinced of his own superiority, but he remained tolerant. "George Samuel Kirk," he answered, and he grinned, waiting for a reaction.
"Captain of the USS Kelvin," Spock returned, wary of the man's claim.
"I'm his son."
The name clearly did not suit his person. Spock tried to find the resemblance between this dark-haired, angry looking stranger and Jim, presuming that they were brothers. In the moment Spock took to survey the man seemed to take personal offense.
"Look, I don't have all day. Do you know where Jim is or not?"
For a moment Spock considered requesting the reason for his visit, as he had known Jim for two months now and he had assumed he had no living family—he had not mentioned a brother at all, an oddity only because the captain had a relatively loose tongue. But he decided against it, seeing that the man was poised to assert himself with very little excuse. Spock avoided conflict and led him directly to the captain's quarters, adjacent to his own.
"This one here?"
Spock nodded. To his surprise, rather than knocking the man flung the door open as if it were his own, revealing Kirk asleep on top of his sheets as though he had merely closed his eyes and lay there without bothering to take his shoes off. Spock turned away, thinking that this was most inappropriate a spectacle, but not before he had seen the marks on Kirk's bare back—lines that crisscrossed, shocking and ugly against his otherwise unblemished skin. Even when Spock turned away, blinking at the rudeness of Kirk's brother, he saw the image as though it were burned into his eyelids.
Spock regarded the man curiously, then realized that he was addressing Kirk as "Skid." Kirk didn't so much as flinch in his sleep, until the man walked over and shook him roughly. Kirk scowled.
Immediately he composed himself, whipping around so that his back was no longer visible. Spock took a hasty step back, knowing it was ridiculous to feel guilty for having seen, especially when he had only been taking logical action at the time. How was he to account for the rashness of humans?
Particularly whichever human had done such physical harm to Kirk.
As Spock entered his own quarters he couldn't help the nagging pulse in the back of his head, compelling him to stay. Curiosity? He'd learned to master it as a boy, but now it seemed as demanding and persistent as it had the very first time. It took more effort than he'd anticipated to resist staying in the hallway to listen.
It wasn't until he shut his own door that he realized he could hear everything in the next room as though there weren't a wall between them. This hadn't occurred to him previously, as neither he nor Kirk spent much time in their respective quarters, and there hadn't been any noise to hear.
"What are you . . . how did you get here?"
It was Kirk who had spoken. Spock closed his eyes, trying to focus and block out the noise. It truly was not his business. There was absolutely no reason for his concern.
"Figured you'd end up at Starfleet, where else did you have to run?" The scorn was evident in his tone.
"Too good for us Riverside folk, so you packed up and left without a word."
Kirk's laugh was incredulous. "You left long before I did."
"But I came back."
"What, ran out of money?" There was an edge in his voice that Spock hadn't heard before, but just as soon as he'd said it Kirk amended, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have . . ."
"No, no, you hit the nail on the head, Skid. What, you want to rub it in my face that now you're some high-falutin' Starfleet cadet when I'm still up to my eyeballs picking up trash from junior high kids?"
Spock deduced that Kirk had not shared his recent ascent to captain with his brother, and it made him reconsider his assessment of Kirk's character for a moment.
There was a noticeable pause, until Kirk finally said in a resigned way, "Why are you here, Sam?"
"Uncle Frank's dead."
"That's all you gotta say?"
"Pretty much, unless you have something to say," Kirk returned, his words clipped despite his attempt to remain casual.
"The man practically raised you, Skid—"
"That's a funny way of putting it."
"He could have turned you out, stuck us in a foster home—"
"He was never sober enough to try."
"You don't even give a shit, do you?"
Spock realized he was holding his breath and slowly let it leak out of him. His entire body was rigid, poised and listening; all his thoughts of self-control and potential consequences had disappeared as the conversation progressed.
It was custom for humans to grieve for their dead, even encouraged. Yet Kirk seemed entirely unaffected by this news. Spock knew that he would be able to better gage the situation if only he could see the expression on the man's face, for in his short time with Kirk he had managed to assess and memorize the less-than-subtle twitches and ticks that gave him away. He was like an open book. But his voice was so hard and even from the other side of the wall that Spock felt disconnected, and it . . . well, it frustrated him.
"How did he die?"
"Same way you tried to—raced one of those antiques right off a cliff on a bet. He was drunk."
"You were there?"
"Yeah, in the race, but I didn't see it happen."
Spock detected a falsehood in this claim, but it was the futile sort. This lie would change nothing in the course of events. Spock had often wondered why humans purposefully led each other astray when there was no clear advantage to it. He disregarded this in favor of the claim that captured his attention: Kirk's alleged attempt at death.
More than thirty seconds passed, and Spock was aware that Kirk's brother was moving in the room. He imagined "Sam," as Kirk called him, regarding the bare walls of the room, the spaciousness and solitude that a captain's quarters offered. He wondered if Sam was intelligent enough to realize his brother's promotion, but he doubted it. If he hadn't read about the Enterprise's miraculous rescue mission, led by Kirk, in any of Earth's available media, then he would likely be too ignorant to form his own deductions.
"So why did you really come here?" Kirk's voice was so low that he was almost inaudible. There was an undertone of vulnerability, the fear of being judged.
"Well, somebody had to tell you what happened."
"You could have called."
"Oh, so now you're embarrassed that I might be seen near you? You really think you're that great now?"
"You're being ridiculous," Kirk said in exasperation, and Spock was struck by how uncannily it resembled his own exasperation with Kirk.
Sam was raising his voice, so much that Spock would be surprised if the whole wing didn't hear the exchange. By a stroke of luck most of the quarters were empty during this time of day, a situation Kirk must have been depending on, or Spock was certain he would have sent his brother away by now to avoid a spectacle.
"Don't you act like you're better than I am, just because you passed some stupid tests and scraped your way in here. You're no better than me, and don't you forget it."
"I never said I was! Sam, you had every opportunity to take those tests, and you let every one go—"
"You never even told me you were taking them."
"How could I? You were never even home! You didn't even give a shit about me, why should I have told you anything back then and why do you think I have to answer to you now? Honestly—"
"It was me who was supposed to get out of there! You were the screw-up, you were the dead-end, you were nothing." The last word sounded as though it had been spat from a grill.
Spock knew Kirk's facial expressions so well that he could see the captain flinching in his mind's eye.
"So that's why you came. You've wanted to tell me that for a while, haven't you," said Kirk.
And that's when Spock heard something that should not have caught him off guard—the sound of a fist connecting with flesh, and the thud of Kirk's head against their shared wall.
Another thud, and then the yelling continued.
"You wanna know why he didn't hit me? Because I wasn't dumb as shit! You lived to piss him off, if you weren't drawing on the walls you were wrecking his car, if you weren't cutting classes you were lighting things on fire—"
"I'm not going to fight you, Sam!" Kirk's voice was muffled, indicating that he was likely on the floor.
"What, because you're the 'better man' now? Or because you know that you can't win?"
There was an atrocious clatter and Spock knew without sight of it that it was the desk—at first Spock thought it was Kirk throwing Sam, having been provoked. It was in his nature to retaliate. But he heard a painful grunt and knew at once that the fight was continuing and, true to his word, Kirk was not exchanging blows.
"You're every bit as pathetic as you were back in Riverside—"
"Stop." The voice was Spock's own. He was standing rigid, his hand on the doorknob he'd just forced open. He did not recall making a resolute decision to enter, only realized where he was and what he had done as the command escaped him, urgent and harsh.
Kirk's eyes connected with Spock's in horror. His hand, raised to protect himself, stopped in mid-air, but Sam's punch followed through without so much as hesitating.
"Shit," Kirk managed, spitting out blood. His face was already a mess in the short time Spock had heard them fight. "Spock . . . what're you—"
Sam's fist had already elevated, poised to strike again, and Spock's strong sense of dislike for Kirk's brother further manifested. He snatched Sam's upper arm with his fingers, clenching them around the muscle until the man cried out in surprise.
"It is quite dishonorable to strike a man who does not intend to strike back," he said tautly.
Finally Sam was forced to acknowledge Spock's presence, turning to him with a red-faced scowl that twisted his features in a grotesque manner. He was physically quaking with his own rage. He tried to dislodge his arm from Spock's clutches, but found to his own embarrassment that it would not budge from the Vulcan's grip.
"Who the hell do you think you are?" he finally demanded.
Out of the corner of his eye Spock saw Kirk stumbling to his feet, backing himself toward the wall. "I'm his first officer," Spock said evenly, never breaking his intense hold on the man's arm. By now the the blood loss to his arm would be numbing it, but Spock didn't want to release the man quite yet.
"His . . . what?"
"Spock, you don't have to—you shouldn't have—" Kirk stammered, looking too bewildered to form a coherent sentence.
"Skid—get this thing off me!" Sam snarled, still struggling like an ape.
At first Kirk didn't say anything, his chest heaving, just watching the pair of them in stupefaction. "Let him go, Spock," he sighed.
Spock obeyed, and Sam wrenched his arm away violently. He turned his attention to Spock, his stance clearly meant to intimidate, but without any success. "What is this, your alien bodyguard? You're such a wimp now that they assign freaks to fight your battles for you?" he said cruelly.
Spock may have inadvertently reacted had Kirk not beaten him to it.
"Get out," said Kirk without missing a beat. His confusion had given way to fury, and the self-assured, indignant captain that Spock knew best had returned. He drew himself to full height. "You have no right to speak to Spock like that."
It was as though somebody had stepped on Spock's chest and left it permanently indented. He frowned unconsciously, turning to Kirk, who barely noticed. Nobody had ever defended him like that, not in his entire life.
"And tell me, where the hell am I supposed to go?"
"You can go to hell, Sam. You can't stay here."
Kirk turned away, facing the broken up desk, holding his head with his hand. Spock remained where he was, still stunned by Kirk's leap to his defense. Sam did not move for a moment, as though he expected Kirk to turn around and change his mind; when it became clear that that was not his intention, Sam slowly started to leave, but Spock recognized the glint in his eye and saw his fist twitch upward—
This time Spock knocked him clear to the ground, satisfied to hear the thunk of his mass hitting the ground.
Kirk whipped around and looked at Spock in astonishment. "What was that for?" he said, half a laugh in his strained voice.
It only took a second for Spock to recompose himself. "He intended you further harm, captain."
"I told you to call me Jim," Kirk muttered reflexively.
Spock remembered this request, of course, but he meant for Sam to understand the magnitude of what he had done—hitting his younger brother was quite a different matter than hitting a Starfleet captain, particularly when he had arrived uninvited.
Sam staggered up, and Kirk stared at him directly in the face, his eyes alarmingly cold. "Yes. Now get out of my quarters or I'll call security."
Sam opened his mouth as though he were about to say something, but decided against it just as quickly, rounding on them and stalking out.
Spock didn't dare speak first. He eyed Kirk warily, waiting for his reaction. He wondered if he would be upset that Spock had interfered. Instead he asked rather unexpectedly, "Do we even have security?"
Perplexed, Spock could only nod.
"Good, because I was bluffing," said Kirk with a slow, stretched-out smile that seemed too tight for his face. .
Spock understood that Kirk was brushing off the incident, trying not to diminish himself in front of his first officer. He took a step backward, wondering how he could most appropriately excuse himself.
When he looked up Kirk was watching the open door. He must have thought to put on a shirt in the time he'd spent speaking with his brother, because the scars were covered, as was the rest of him.
"Jim," Kirk repeated.
"Jim," Spock amended, not accustomed to the informality and unsure of whether or not his tongue agreed with it. "Your brother—"
"He's not usually like that," Kirk said quickly, as he used the back of his hand to wipe the blood on his face. "I mean, with the fists and yelling and shenanigans. That's not Sam." He sounded as though he were trying to convince himself of this more than Spock. "But I . . . appreciate what you did for me."
Before Spock could speak, though, Jim straightened abruptly and said, "I have somewhere to be."
Spock nodded, understanding that this was untrue. Spock exited first and Kirk followed, shutting the door hastily and making his way down the hallway until he turned a corner and was out of sight.
He wondered what it was that would have escaped if Jim hadn't interrupted him to leave, but he had forgotten it now, suppressed it past his memory. It was better not to say anything at all.
Thanks for reading :)