"With hands like his Father's"
Genre: Drama, Family
Time Frame: Missing scenes, of a sort
Characters: James T. Kirk, Winona Kirk
Summary: He's wearing Captain's gold with a hero's medal at his chest when he makes his way to a forgotten corner of Iowa once again . . . In some ways, it was like his feet never forgot the steps.
Notes: After seeing Winona fall apart so completely after George's death, I wanted some closure between her and her son. So . . . here we go.
Disclaimer: Nope. Nada. Nothing is mine.
"With Hands like his Father's"
The night before he set out for Starfleet, he first made his way home.
The Iowa farm was aching and wide in the early hours of the morning, mournful almost as the dry lands were ruffled by a lazy fall wind. The rustle of the hoverbike against the gravel drive was as familiar as his own name, and the creak of the back door was even more so as he slumped inside. His steps were quiet, careful to avoid the loose planks in the floors that would alert the house's one other occupant to his presence.
Bringing his hand up to his nose, he was dismayed to still find blood there. With a muffled curse, he went to the kitchen sink, halfheartedly wiping at the blood on his face – a memento of another scuffle survived, of feelings felt. He glanced at the scarlet staining his shirt with an almost amused gaze, wondering if he should let that be or change before heading for Riverside in the morning . . .
He was still undecided when there were soft footsteps whispering behind him against the hardwood floors. There was the faint caress of a robe being tied with tired hands and the familiar touch of a soft hand to the switch that brought the lights to life.
"You came home tonight," Winona Kirk's voice was tired. A surprise loitered on it's edges that bore no welcome, no joy.
He shrugged once before turning to look his mother full in the eye.
The years had not been kind to a once breathtaking beauty – the spark about her eyes that had been defined by stars and far off worlds was now dull and worn by solid ground. Her hair hung limply around her too thin face, catching at the premature lines about her eyes. When she raised a willowy hand to push it away, it responded limply to the coaxing. Colored in the violet from the night beyond and the stark white of the kitchen lights, she almost looked like something otherworldly – ready to blow away with merely a touch.
He sighed once, and went to wring out a rag in the sink. "I'll be gone in the morning," was all that he told her – assured her of. He was rarely home anymore – wasn't sure if he could even call it a home, really. It was merely a bed and a meal when he ran out of other places to crash at.
"You can stay, you know." Her tone was a bit of a chide, a bit of a routine thing that had long since given up on actual sincerity.
He paused his movements in the sink as he considered telling her where he was going. "You don't have to say things you don't mean, ma," he ended up saying instead. The words were a release as much as they were a baited breath – the little kid waiting by the window for the sign of his mom in the stars above all over again.
If she heard it, she gave no note. "But I do, Jim. You have to know that, after all this time."
He paused, and when further words were none forthcoming, he snorted. He threw the rag back down in the sink with a disgusted sort of gesture, deciding to leave the blood where it was. It was best that the stiffs in uniforms knew up front exactly what they were getting into with recruiting him, anyway . . .
"I'm leaving for Riverside in the morning." The words were sharp, clipped. A mere parting of information rather than anything else.
Winona blinked – the same look she had when he had told her about Frank's tempers as a child, and the look she had worn when his brother finally took off. It was a look saved for her and his father's anniversaries and for the last days that she had spent with her second husband before finally sending him away . . .
It was a look that he didn't care for at all. While he could admit to his fair share of problems, he could also admit that they were his problems. His mother's particular form of weakness, while it had moved him to fix something that he couldn't even understand as broken when he was a child, was now something that failed to move him.
He waited for something from her – anything, really. An acknowledgment, an angry word or thought, even. And yet, in the end, there was only the silence of her breathing on the early morning air.
"Well . . . so long, mom," the words were fumbled – masking a hurt that had bloomed in the tender spaces under the rough and wry exterior that he had built up over the years.
He let that be his last moment with her. He didn't even take the time to pack his things as he took off for the glimmering trail of silver loitering on the horizon. Hours later, when confronted by the massively graceful outline of his future against the sky, he took a deep breath. For all the world, it was a new beginning waiting - a start free of things of the past, even where it was mired so deeply in them . . .
There were times when he thought of life before the Academy, but they were few and far between.
There were always the oddly disjointed dreams of another time – a mother's love mixed with a father's pride, pushing him down the path he had always known that he had been made for. The smile wide on his father's face as he was awarded with his captaincy after years of hard work and dedication was always painfully haunting. As a whole, the dreams were harshly tender things that ached.
Past that, there were some mornings where he'd look over to see McCoy scribbling out messages on real, honest to goodness stationary (after many a bugging from Jim, he had still not admitted how he had came by it) to the little girl that he had waiting to hear from him back home. (He had really stuck his foot in his mouth when he assumed that Joanna was a girl in the more . . . 'intimate' sense of the word, rather than the 'daughter' sense of the word . . . Yeah.)
"You have family you talk to still?" Bones' voice was curious, careful. The Doctor knew of Jim's past - anyone with a working set of ears at Starfleet did - and his tone was something pointed; the beginnings of a chide starting to loiter deep down in it.
Jim bit his teeth at it. "No one worth mentioning," was always his mumbled answer.
On his PADD, there was a message scratched out – one beginning with things like "It's more than I ever thought it would be here, was it the same for you?", and "You and dad . . . you hooked up here, right? It's really funny, almost, to imagine . . .", to "I miss you . . . which is so weird, because I never thought . . ."
With a determined swipe of his hand, he wiped the screen clear again. When he placed it down on the desk with more force than was necessary McCoy looked up once, but did not say a word.
One day sometime into his second year, he actually once put a connection through to talk to her.
His momentary bravery had faltered within a record of not even seconds when her face appeared on the screen before him. Even these years later, and there was still that same weariness about her eyes, flashing with something like hope before he pulled the connection.
He had breathed in long and slow for a moment after that, his fists clenching as he fought away the age old wounds and the anger that accompanied them. His hand loitered over the command that would bring the connection to life again. And yet, the courage that it took to engage it was something that he found that he didn't yet have in him.
It had been three days since Nero's destruction. Those days had been filled with paperwork and meetings with command, and other official things that went into the running of Starfleet. When he signed himself up on the command track, he didn't realize just all that he was really committing to.
He finally made it his quarters for an hour of peace(hiding, really, but who's keeping count?) Pacing around the empty dorm room led to him him trying on the starchy gold uniform that he had received just that morning. There was something like disbelief when he looked at himself in the mirror – how could it be that in not even four days, the man before him had changed into someone so completely different that he almost didn't recognize himself?
A quiet part of his mind softly whispered that he looked like his father now more than ever. The calm set of his shoulders, and the confident thrust of his chin had replaced the cocky and action-seeking young man of just days prior; making his resemblance to George Kirk acute.
The computer's announcement of an incoming message cut his musings short.
The message was text only. Something simple, with nothing but the barest of emotions inflicted in the barest of words:
"For what it is worth, I am so very proud of you, Jim . . ."
His mother's words were something that lifted a part of him while it squashed another – making him queasy with the conflicted stain of bruised memories meeting the beginnings of a finally sort of pride that bloomed deeper than the pain for just a moment.
When the moment passed, he informed command that he would be taking the next day on a personal leave. He would be back to set out with the Enterprise after that for a future amongst the stars . . .
And yet, there was something on the ground that needed to be cultivated first.
The next day, he made his way home.
It was a decision made after some tossing and turning – and quite a few near back outs, really. Finally, after a really annoyed eye-roll from McCoy and the snapping of 'Good God man, just commit already!' combined with those last pointed words from Pike 'Your father would have been very proud.' pushed him in the direction of home.
In the end, it was as if his feet never forgot the steps.
The gravel drive still crumbled in the same way, and the scent of the corn crops on the dusty air filled his lungs with the sweet scent of home. From here he could smell the rich perfume of the dying sunflowers on the porch and hear the calls of the hawks overhead. It made him want to smile – almost, anyway.
The blue paint on the shutters was still chipping, and that loose plank on the porch was the same as it had ever been. The door rattled a bit on its repulsors from where he and his brother had damaged the controls from a rather aggressive game of catch years prior . . .
The rasp of his knuckles against the paneling sounded the same. The announcement of a guest, where he had always been the one inviting in before was an odd reversal of roles, though.
The door creaked open moments later to reveal his mother. Winona was calmly curious at first, before her soft expression melted into something surprised. Her mouth was open slightly, and her eyes were drinking him in as if she were starved. Her white knuckled grip on the door was desperate. He wasn't sure if she stood so to invite him in, or to keep him from venturing any further.
He took a moment to consider how he looked – dressed in Captain's gold, with a hero's medal pinned at his chest. He stood at stiff attention, and his eyes were free of the challenge that they had always seemed to wear around her . . . He wondered how much he resembled his father in that moment, and imagined that the likeness was acute when she moved to cover a hand over her mouth.
"Jim?" she let out on a breathy whisper.
Her hands were shaking; just slightly. To be fair - his were as well.
"Hey, mom," the words were tight, tripping off of his tongue without permission.
The silence that resulted was painfully pointed. "I, um . . . I got your message," filled it with even more awkward words.
The tightness of her form seemed to relax a little as she moved just slightly to the side. "I am glad," she answered on a heavy whisper. He had the distinct impression that she was trying to fight back tears.
"Please," she beckoned, "come in."
He did, slowly though, purposely stepping on the loose spots in the floor for something to fill the silence. He sat down at the kitchen table almost wearily as she brought over a pitcher of iced tea and two glasses.
On the other end of the table, there was a PADD that detailed the whole of the Nero encounter. The smudges of fingerprints on the screen spoke of it being read often. The little gesture pushed at something heavy inside of him. In the next few moments it was hard to breathe.
She must have caught the direction of his eyes, for when he raised them to meet hers, her cheeks were tinged with a high shade of pink. "It really is amazing what you did," she said in reference to the article.
He shrugged. "It happened a bit too fast for us to consider coming out heroes in the end."
Winona smiled a bit crookedly. "It always does," she said softly, her eyes tangled with far-away sorts of things.
The silences between them were growing lighter. He let his eyes trace over her one more time – the broken woman where once she had stood star-strong before . . . and he found himself a little more at peace inside than he had been in a while.
"I'm sorry," he finally whispered on an exhale. "For everything that I put you through growing up."
She was silent for a moment. "I'm sorry too," she returned, her voice snagging on heavy things.
He thought of years past – whole weeks home alone while she tried to find herself amongst the stars again, and those awful evenings with the men she had left him with, and the dark looks she sometimes had given him when she looked at him and saw too much of his father looking back in his eyes . . . One last moment's thought was wasted on it. Then, he breathed in deep and let them go.
She had taken the seat right next to him. Her eyes were steady on him – watching the feelings swirling in his own with that careful manner that all mothers seemed to develop.
She must have saw right where the newfound peace settled, for when she did, she reached out a fine boned hand to gently clasp around one of his. A second passed, and then he returned the gesture, threading his fingers through hers and then squeezing once softly.
A smile fluttered at the corner of her lips as she traced one finger of her free hand over the back of his knuckles. "You have your father's hands," she muttered, her voice almost careful. Soft, as if imparting a great secret.
Her eyes flickered to his, their color growing stronger by the minute. "He would have been proud of you," she mumbled. Her voice grew only slightly louder as she carefully pronounced. "Just like I am."
When silence fell between them this time, it was no longer heavy with old and pained things. Instead it was a shared, content thing that began to stitch over the finely broken parts of him.
A moment passed, heavy with a rise of feeling, and he squeezed her hands once more before letting them fall away.