This is a disclaimer.

AN: According to Memory Alpha, Kirk always called his brother Sam. Therefore, so will I. According to the experiences of irnan herself, Times Square is awesome.

Broadway and Seventh

When Sam Kirk got his first ever look at Times Square, it was the middle of the night in late February, and the wind was whipping through the streets of New York like a gale, yanking furiously at his hair and jacket as if offended that he dare stay on his feet while it blew.

It was long after dark, and Sam's left hand was wrapped firmly around the strap of the rucksack sling over his shoulder. Even through his gloves, his fingers were frozen stiff. Walking was an effort; all he really wanted was to sit down and fall asleep, but this was New York City, and he had been determined to see Times Square. They could find him tomorrow – they could clap him in handcuffs and drag him back to Iowa by the ankles tomorrow – but if once he'd stood in Times Square, just the once, just for a few minutes, lost and forlorn in the bright neon lights, head tilted back, eyes aglow, chest heavy with excitement – if he could do that just once, Sam would feel like he'd made it. Even as they marched him through the front door of the farmhouse.

So he had jumped off the subway (museum and antiquity both at the same time) when it halted and run up the steps, pushing himself ruthlessly though his legs trembled and his knees ached and his eyes stung in the wind, but he shot out of the station like a cork out of a champagne bottle, and staggered to a halt in the middle of the wide, empty sidewalk.

He'd done it. He'd made it.

They never did catch up with him.

A little over a year later, he's eighteen. Of legal age, which means no more running and scrimping and off-the-books jobs that pay cash in hand and treat him like crap for the privilege. Sam's done doing dishes, and he's done wiping down bars, and he's done cooking burgers and carrying newspapers and running errands –

Well, actually, he isn't. But only for a while. He just needs the extra money for a few months, until he can convince Harold Rubenstein down at the garage that he's both good with motors and trustworthy, and then, then, Sam will have a proper job. Be able to rent an apartment. Be free of the fear that someone in authority might still show up one day and drag him back.

Even as a child, Sam never dreamed very often. Still doesn't, and never remembers them when he does, save as a firm conviction that he saw – thought – dreamt – something.

But these days, when he dreams, he dreams of Jim.

Sam dreams of the bright, shining, fearless bundle of energy that drove their father's car off a cliff rather than see it sold away. Sam dreams of the pathetic heap of flesh and bones that was his little brother after the beating Frank gave him upon returning from the police station. Sam dreams of the way Jim flinched when Sam reached out to him, flinched and scooted backward (even though it must have been agony just to breathe) and said in tones nigh unrecognisable you would have let him do it.

Sam dreams of the way Jim's shoulders hunched when he boarded the shuttle for Tarsus IV. He dreams of the light in Jim's blue eyes when Sam told him Mom had tossed Frank out of the house, and by the time Jim got back he'd be in Siberia.

He dreams of Jim's hands once he came home, emaciated, skin stretched tight over the bones, trembling all the time.

It's a nightmare Sam drags himself out of with a cry and a grope at his bedside for the bottle of vodka he keeps there, and he doesn't know why it hurts so damn much any more than he knows why he left home when he did – Frank was gone, Mom was home again, Jim was better, things were almost... almost good.

But Sam's hands had itched, and his chest had been aching all the time, heavy with the need to get out and get away, same insistent pounding that would, days later, make him run up the historic, carefully-preserved steps from a New York subway station and burst out onto Times Square like a crazy person.

The dreams last about six months, but they leave him eventually, and all that's left is a dull sense of regret and a determination not to drink so damn much anymore. He kinda got a shock when he tried tidying his apartment one day and found that the great majority of the mess was made by empty bottles.

She's twenty, just a year older than Sam. Her hair is long and curly and the most gorgeous shade of warm, dark red, and her eyes are green as grass. Her name's Aurelan, and Sam is irrevocably, completely, and ridiculously in love with her. It's probably no coincidence that the Empty Bottle Epiphany occurs only because he's tidying up so that she won't be too repulsed when she comes by later on.

Looking back on it, he can see he had a pretty narrow escape; a little while longer, and what started as a nineteen year old drinking too much because he finally could and it made him feel better about himself might well have become something else entirely, but there was Aurelan, and the way she made him feel, and the fuzzy, indistinct haze on the horizon that was their future, taking shape in the distance.

They get married when Sam is twenty two, and move to Colorado. Aurelan always loved the mountains. Sam gets a job in a garage, and she opens a café with the money her grandfather left her when he died a year ago.

It's a good life. Simple, hard work, but good.

Sam doesn't dream of Jim again. The closest he comes to it is the night the Starfleet recruiters are in town, and Aurelan asks him if he ever thought about it; she knows about his father, after all. She knows everything about him.

(Except for Jim. He can't tell her about Jim. Jim is his brother, and he's private and personal and Sam doesn't ever want to see the look on her face when she realises that he upped and left one Friday night without so much as giving Jim a hint that he was leaving; just a loving blow to the shoulder and a good night Jimmy and that was that.)

So Aurelan asks about Starfleet, and Sam watches the new cadets for a minute, lining up in their shiny new uniforms, looking nervous and scared and pompous all at once. And Sam shakes his head and laughs. Can you see me in that outfit, he says.

She watches him, not saying anything.

It'd be too much, he says at last.

Too much like your father.

Sam squirms, but he doesn't deny it.

They have kids, of course. Three of them, in quick succession. Two girls and a boy who breaks Sam's heart, because Peter is Jim all over again, with red hair instead of blond and green eyes instead of blue, but Jim just the same, and there are times when Sam simply cannot bear it.

But this is what he chose, that Friday evening, that night at Times Square. This is what he chose, and this is what he promised to Aurelan.

Kirks always keep their promises.

The newsflashes from San Francisco pass them by, up here in the mountains, with surprising ease. It's a little as if everyone was just waiting for those crazy idiots down there to stop kicking up such a fuss. Everything would sort itself out; it usually did. They're too far away to feel truly menaced, to be able to truly believe what the reports are telling them. It's too distant, and Sam is grateful for that, because at least it means his children will never know what it's like to lose a parent to a force no one understands or even will speak about.

The news is playing in the background as they eat dinner one night, maybe two weeks after the initial reports of the attack on Earth, and it's been ten years and more but Sam immediately recognises the kid who stumbles out of the Enterprise shuttle and into the media thicket. Immediately. It's those eyes. Jim has the most intense blue eyes.