A/N: The Star Trek universe is eating my brain. It's completely taking over and I find myself writing Trek fic after fic, and I absolutely adore the five-and-one format, especially when it's about Jim. This is the first fic of this style that I've written for this cat, and I've also got a second one which is called Black Eyes and Bruises. I hope that the characterization is at least close if not entirely accurate. Any and all errors are completely my own, and please let me know if you spot them so that I can fix them! Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I wish that I owned it, but alas, I do not.

Lost and Found

I. When His Mother Leaves

The first time she leaves—the time that changes everything—he is only four. Too young to really understand what's happening. He just knows that his mother is boarding the shiny ship and going up into the sky, and that she won't be back for a long time. He can only understand that she is leaving, and that he and Sam are staying with their step-father, Frank.

Frank scares him, but that's another story. That's another story entirely.

His mother kisses him on the forehead and hugs him tight and pats him on the head. She tells him to "be a good boy" and says that she'll back before he knows it, and then she walks away. His eyes watch her, drinking her in until she is gone from sight. And she never even looks back.

And when she's gone—when he stands there, still watching the distance as though she'll appear again any minute—he feels as though the world has been pulled out from under his feet. She's gone, and nothing makes sense. Everything is just subtly wrong and he wants it to be right again.

Frank lays a hand on his shoulder and says that it's time to go, and he follows, but everything is wrong. The world is all around him and he doesn't understand any of it and all he really wants is for his mother to be there and pick him up and hold him close.

But she doesn't come.

And that's the first time that he ever has a sense of what the word "alone" means.

II. When Sam Leaves

Sam ruffles his hair and promises that he'll be back and leaves him standing there in the middle of their kitchen, feeling dizzy, feeling kind of as though the world has just shifted around him. Just like when his mother left he feels irrevocably alone, but this time its worse. This time he's already lost his mother—she's off planet again, but they've reached the point where he knows she's his mother but the word doesn't mean anything special—and now he's losing Sam.

No. He's not losing Sam. Sam is leaving. There's a difference. Because losing means that it's an unintentional hurt. Losing means an action that isn't done on purpose; losing Sam means that his brother just slips away from him. But leaving…that's another story. Leaving is intentional. Sam is walking away from him, letting him stay in the middle of this hell-hole kitchen, awaiting the heavy footstep of their step-father, awaiting the blow of his hand.

And though he has Sam's excuses and reasons memorized, he can't help but feel that they're all bullshit. Sam is leaving him and now he's lost. He's lost and alone and there's not a damn person in the world that really cares about him.

If they cared, they would stay. Sam would stay and his mother would stay and he wouldn't be so lost.

He kicks angrily at the ground, and then rushes outside. He's not going to wait around feeling like a puppy that's just been left on the side of the road. He's not helpless, and he's going to prove it to himself.

His eyes fall on the cherry red car in the middle of their yard, and a smirk—a true Jim Kirk classic smirk in its first incarnation—spreads over his face. If they all want to leave him then fine.

He doesn't need any of them.

III. Tarsus IV

He doesn't really know what lost means, until he's on Tarsus IV and witnessing genocide first hand. He doesn't know what lost means until he's fight to survive and stealing food and watching people die in the streets in front of him. He doesn't know anything until he's curling up in the darkness, wanting so much to live and at the same time begging for death if it means that he won't have to turn into a murderer in order to survive.

His mother sends him to Tarsus IV after he drives the car over the cliff. Sam is still gone and his mother just can't bear to lose another child, so she sends him to the planet that will become the fodder for his nightmares, in hopes that it will keep him out of trouble.

She doesn't know what will happen. No one does. No one can imagine that the famine would strike and that Kodos will order the execution of half the population. But when he finally returns to Earth and she falls in front of him, weeping, holding him close, he is stiff in her arms. It's not her fault, but some irrational part of him blames her. Or perhaps it's not even blame; it's just that part of him has been changed so thoroughly that she's a stranger with the title of mother attached.

He's lost from the time that the soldiers sweep through the streets and cut down hundreds of people to the moment when he steps foot back on Earth. And, truth be told, he's lost for a long time after that. He's lost up until he's bent backwards over a table, blood streaming from his nose, staring upside-down at Christopher Pike. And it's only after he drives through the night and enters the shuttle and buckles himself into the seat that he starts to realize he's found something solid to grab hold of again.

IV. The Kobyashi Maru

It's the first time that he takes the test that it sends his world shattering to the ground. He's heard the rumors of course—that no one has ever beaten the test—but he still goes in with his head high, that cocky confidence drawn around him like a cloak. He's Jim Kirk. He's brilliant and he knows it, and if anyone is going to beat this test he has supreme confidence that it'll be him.

He settles himself in the command chair and the simulation starts.

And his head swims. He fires off orders, but it doesn't take long for him to realize just how fucked he is. It doesn't take long for him to realize that what he's ordering isn't going to work, and that he is going to fail at the task, just like everyone else.

Sitting in that command chair, watching as the simulation falls to pieces around him, he is lost. The world is spinning around him. He can't beat this test. No one can.

When it's over he sits in the command chair for a long time, staring blindly at the dark screens in front of him. He knows that he's lost. He knows that it's over. And he's shaking, his hands trembling ever so slightly.

He closes his eyes, shakes his head, and grits his teeth together. It's then that he knows he will find a way to beat the test. He recognizes what the meaning behind it is—it's a no-win scenario, plain and simple. But he is Jim Kirk, dammit, and he does not believe in no-win scenarios. He will not let the test beat him. He leaves the chair and goes to plan for his next encounter with the test, trying to re-gather the shards of himself that he just lost.

V. When Everyone Else is Assigned

The feeling lasts for a mere thirty seconds, but it feels like forever. Everyone around him has a purpose, rushing off to find their ship and report for duty, or to prepare supplies for transport, or to make sure people are in the right place. He stands like a rock in the middle of the river, the world passing around him. He's in the way, and he's lost. His friends are going and he's left behind, left to wait and wonder and curse pointy-eared bastards a thousand times.

He doesn't know what to do with himself. He stands in the middle of everything awkwardly, not sure where to go or what to do. There's no point in arguing right now—no one would listen to him anyway. He's just a cadet who cheated on a test, who screwed up his own future. His head spins and there's a part of him that wants to just slink away and lick his wounds.

Then Bones rescues him with a hypospray to the neck, and gets him onto the Enterprise, and the world jolts back into motion.

VI. On the Bridge of the Enterprise

He sinks down into the commander chair on the bridge of the Enterprise. His chair. On the bridge of his ship. Alright, technically it's owned by Star Fleet, but he is the commander, and that makes it his. He runs his hands lovingly over the arms of the chair and when he looks up he sees his crew watching him. Sulu looks amused and Chekov has a wry smile and there's warmth in Uhura's eyes that he's unfamiliar with. He grins a little because he's caught in his little moment, but there's nothing negative in the eyes of his crew.

In fact, he sees understanding, not judgment.

"Mr. Sulu," he says, trying to pretend that nothing happened. "Take us to warp."

"Yes sir," his pilot says. The ships engines hum and Jim closes his eyes for a moment to listen to the sound. It's like a steady mechanical heartbeat and his grin only spreads. He opens his eyes to see the stars streak in front of him as the ship moves through space.

He leans back and relaxes. This is exactly where he belongs, and this is exactly where he's going to stay. Here, surrounded by his crew—his friends, his family—with space unfolding before him, a cosmic path to the beyond.

Finally, finally, Jim Kirk has no doubts.

He's found where he belongs, and he'll never let it go again.

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