A/N: Another fic written for the fic exchange over at livejournal. Prompt for this one is at the end. I own nothing.
The mission had turned into a disaster--something that should have surprised Sulu more than it did. But then, he'd been at the helm of the Enterprise for close to two years now. He knew first-hand just how often away missions turned into disasters for Starfleet's flagship.
That didn't make the panic any less disorienting, he decided as he sat on a bio-bed, keeping his hands under his legs to prevent himself from scratching at his horribly itchy skin.
Sickbay was chaotic. Nurses and doctors scrambled around, trying to isolate whatever it was that was making the away team violently ill. Sulu had a severely itchy and painful rash covering his body, and another science officer was vomiting almost nonstop. Two ensigns were on respirators because their airways were so swollen they couldn't breathe; the monitors watching their vitals beeped loudly, adding to the chaos.
Over all the noise, Sulu could hear McCoy shouting orders, voice short and clipped--a sure sign that he was worried. "Damn it, why the hell don't we have a sample of the damn plant they all touched yet?" he bellowed into his communicator.
"The electric storm in the atmosphere has made it impossible for another team to beam down and retrieve the samples," Spock replied through the communicator.
McCoy cursed and tossed the communicator aside. "Great," he fumed, running a hand through his hair. He turned to look at Sulu. "You know plants. What the hell did you touch?"
Sulu shrugged helplessly, wincing as the movement tugged at the rash on his skin. "I've never seen anything like it before," he replied. "I have no idea what it was."
The door to sickbay slid open before McCoy could respond. "Bones? Status?" Kirk asked as he strode in. There was no smile, no slap on the shoulder, no quip to lighten the mood. Kirk was just as worried about the situation as McCoy; Sulu figured the captain was probably also feeling guilty for letting the away team go down without him.
Personally, Sulu was glad Kirk had decided to remain onboard the ship. With Kirk's luck on away missions, he probably would've choked to death before they even got the chance to beam back to the Enterprise.
McCoy waved a hand helplessly at the chaotic room. "I've got no idea what we're up against, Jim," he declared grimly. "None of them are responding to any of the usual treatments. I've tried every antihistamine in the quadrant, and nothing's worked. If I knew just what they'd touched, I might be able to figure out a solution, but we don't have a sample so we can't name the damn thing."
"Could you describe it?" Kirk asked Sulu, and the helmsman noticed for the first time that the captain had a PADD in his hands.
"It looked like some type of fern," Sulu answered. He closed his eyes in an effort to concentrate as Kirk's stylus began tapping against the PADD's screen. "Probably a meter in diameter. Broad leaves, but they were rough, and the edges were lined with thin spikes about two centimeters long. There were a few flowers in the center. They looked like Cardassian roses, only they were bright yellow and had fewer petals. The biggest one was at least a third of a meter in diameter."
He opened his eyes. McCoy was standing with his arms folded, watching Kirk expectantly as the captain entered the information on the PADD. Kirk's stylus swept over the screen in broad strokes, the tip of his tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth as he concentrated. "Like this?" he asked finally, gripping the sides of the PADD with both hands and turning it around.
Sulu's eyes widened as he saw not a list of information on the PADD but a perfect sketch of the plant he'd seen down on the planet's surface. "That's exactly what it looked like!" he exclaimed, eyes flicking from the PADD to Kirk and McCoy's faces. The corner of the doctor's mouth lifted in a knowing smile as Kirk nodded absently and turned the PADD around to look at it. "You draw very well, sir," Sulu added.
Kirk flushed a little as he kept his focus on the screen and entered a few commands. "Not really--you're just good at describing things," he declared. Before Sulu could object, Kirk pulled his communicator out of his pocket. "Kirk to Spock."
"Spock here, Captain."
"Spock, I just sent you a sketch of the plant the away team encountered," Kirk said as he headed for the exit. "Can you take a look and see if you can identify it from the plant life database?"
Spock's reply was lost in the whoosh of the sliding door as Kirk left sickbay. Sulu's eyebrows furrowed in confusion as McCoy started scanning him with a tricorder again. "Has he always been that good of an artist?"
"Yep," McCoy affirmed. "And he'll deny it if you ever bring it up."
Sulu looked at the door where he'd last seen the captain. "Huh," he declared. He'd never once suspected that Kirk could draw. "You think you know a guy."
There had been plenty of missions where Uhura had encountered a language she didn't understand. But on those missions, she'd been able to pick up the language pretty fast. She wasn't always fluent, and there were a few instances where a miscommunication led to misunderstandings (usually misunderstandings that nearly got Kirk killed), but for the most part she knew enough to allow the members of the Enterprise to talk with whomever they were trying to communicate.
But the communication barrier with the Riltsans was one even she couldn't overcome.
"What are you talking about?" Kirk murmured, glancing over her shoulder at the diplomatic envoy behind them. She could sense the Riltsans staring back at them, two of their eyes focused on the officers and the other two on the area surrounding them. Kirk's forehead wrinkled a little as he looked back at her. "You're always able to figure out what people are saying."
"That's the problem--they don't talk," Uhura replied just as softly. She and Kirk were the only ones that had beamed down; the Riltsans were highly distrustful of any group larger than two or three people. They'd shied away when both Kirk and Uhura approached, but relaxed a little when it was only Uhura, so she'd approached them alone.
"So how do we communicate with them?" Kirk asked.
Uhura's mouth twisted in a wry smile. "They communicate through illustration and example," she told him. "And I don't know about you, but I suck at Charades."
Kirk's lips thinned as he glanced back at the group. "I've got an idea," he said, stepping past her.
Uhura's eyebrows furrowed in confusion as she turned and watched Kirk kneel down in the dust, picking up a nearby twig. The Riltsans looked on in interest as the young captain started making lines in the dirt with the twig. Uhura's eyes widened when she realized she was staring at a rough sketch of herself and Kirk. The figures were hastily drawn, but Kirk was clearly illustrating their attempts to make peaceful contact with the Riltsans.
The Riltsans started grunting and clapping excitedly when Kirk straightened and stepped back from the drawing. The leader of the group approached, looked inquisitively at the sketch, then knelt down and added lines around the drawings of Kirk and Uhura that angled up to the area above their heads. He looked at Kirk, tilting his head as he blinked all four eyes and looked up at the sky.
"What does he want?" Uhura murmured as Kirk nodded in understanding.
"He wants to know how we got here," Kirk replied as he approached the drawing again. A moment later, there was a sketch of the Enterprise in the dust. The captain had drawn it in only a few seconds, but it looked perfectly proportional; Uhura could even imagine the gleam on the nacelles from the light of a star.
She folded her arms and smiled as the other Riltsans gathered around Kirk and started drawing their own inquiries into the dirt. Kirk was in his element, staring at their sketches for only a few seconds before drawing his own in response. The more he drew, the more excited the Riltsans became.
"I don't believe it," she murmured under her breath as she watched him work. The drawings were rough, but Kirk was still making amazing images with just a stick and some dirt. She never would have guessed that Kirk could draw, but it really didn't surprise her much--Kirk was constantly doing things she never would have imagined him being capable of.
Later, when Spock inquired how the mission progressed, Uhura simply said she and Kirk had managed to communicate with the Riltsans well enough. She wasn't about to reveal Kirk's secret; besides, she doubted anyone (except maybe McCoy) would believe her, anyway.
When Chekov signed up for Starfleet, he had known it was more than space battles with Klingons and encounters with vicious aliens. He'd heard the lectures, read the books, and taken all the tests informing him about the monotonous duties assigned to each officer.
That didn't change the fact that diplomatic meetings were boring.
It really didn't help that the Mixnens talked in nothing but monotone, or that they were directing their extensively dull exchanges at Sulu. Somehow they had come under the impression that Sulu was the captain, not Kirk, and no amount of persuasion could convince them otherwise. The away team had finally decided to play along with it and were subsequently shut out of the conversation.
Generally, Chekov took notes on his PADD when he was a member of an away team, as it helped him focus; he also hoped to use the notes someday when he was eligible to become a lieutenant. This time, however, he'd given up any hope of being able to focus long ago and had started doodling images on his PADD.
He was in the middle of drawing a cat-like creature he'd seen on the last exploratory mission when his screen flashed once, indicating an incoming message. He felt his cheeks flush a bit when he saw it was from Kirk. After hesitating for only a moment, he opened it.
Instead of a message telling him to pay attention, as Chekov had expected, there was a caricature of the main Mixnen diplomat. His head was twice the size of his body, and his mouth took up half his face. Kirk had drawn in several empty seats around the caricature and had written Your turn above one of them.
Chekov glanced up at Kirk, who sat three seats away. The captain didn't acknowledge the young navigator directly; he kept his eyes either on his PADD or on the Mixnen leader, but there was a small smile pulling at the corner of his mouth.
Suppressing his own grin, Chekov filled in the seat that was meant for Sulu. He drew the helmsman with large eyes and a vein popping out on his forehead to illustrate the annoyance and frustration currently visible on Sulu's face. The Russian added a thought cloud above the head and then drew a tiny stick-figure Sulu stabbing the Mixnen leader with one of his fencing swords inside it. Once he was finished, he sent it back to the captain.
Chekov watched the captain out of the corner of his eye. When his PADD alerted him to the new message, Kirk didn't react right away. He waited for a the Mixnen to finish his sentence before looking down at the screen and opening the message. He smirked, glanced up for a moment, and started marking something with his stylus.
A moment later Chekov's PADD flashed again; the speed of Kirk's response caught the young Russian off-guard. He opened the message and was even more surprised to find Kirk had filled in not one, but two chairs in such a short amount of time. He'd drawn McCoy as a scowling Santa Claus, one hand clenching a list with the word Naughty at the top and the other gripping a large hypo. He'd also drawn in Chekov sitting at the table with a PADD in hand, a small halo floating above his head.
The depictions were rough but thorough; Chekov was surprised to see so many details in the sketch. He'd certainly never imagined Kirk could be so good at drawing, but it wasn't something he was going to question.
When Chekov looked up across the table, he saw McCoy staring back at him, one eyebrow raised in suspicion as he glanced at both Chekov and Kirk. Chekov smiled a little and drew in Kirk, sitting with his hands folded on the table and an innocent expression on his face. He added a pair of horns on Kirk's head, then sent it back and waited to see what Kirk would draw next.
Chekov might never be able to tell anyone about this, but it was definitely the most fun he'd ever had at a diplomatic meeting.
It was always the quiet races, Scott decided as he paced the length of his small cell. It must've been an attack strategy--act quiet and peaceful in order to lull visitors into a false sense of security and then attack when they least expected it.
Granted, he'd worked with Kirk many times over the last few years to pull the same maneuver on their enemies, but it always felt like cheating when someone else did it.
Of course, this was an extreme circumstance. No one had any idea the Xitses had been in contact with the Klingons, much less getting weapons from them. Before he knew it, Scott had been captured and tossed in a cell, his communicator confiscated. He had no idea what happened to the rest of the away team; last time he'd seen them, Kirk was leading them down a passageway that ran underneath the Xitses' main government compound.
Scott was conflicted. On the one hand, he knew that his captain would never leave a man behind. He also knew that as long as there was a possibility that Kirk would be returning for him, the Xitses and Klingons would keep Scott alive. On the other hand, he also knew that he was bait for the young captain. Having the chief engineer of Starfleet's flagship was a great accomplishment, but capturing the young captain of that same ship would be monumental.
Scott wanted to be rescued, but not if it meant trading his life for Jim Kirk's.
A rustling sound near the door caught his attention, and he turned to see a piece of yellow parchment slide through the crack between the bottom of the door and the floor. His eyebrows furrowed in confusion as he knelt down to pick up the paper. It was the same type of paper he'd seen several Xitses writing on during their preliminary meetings with the diplomatic envoy.
His eyes widened when he saw the words in Kirk's handwriting at the top of the page: Scotty, be ready. Below it was a series of illustrations outlining an escape plan. Scott's lips curled into a smile--he'd told Kirk several times over the last few years that he'd always understood diagrams better than written instructions.
"What have we here?" he murmured under his breath as he studied the drawing.
The plan itself was quick, efficient, and to the point. A Xitses guard would slip Scott the escape plan (which explained why he got a plan but no attempt to break the door open). Ten minutes after that, there would be an explosion, and within twenty minutes the away team, along with the newly liberated Scott, would hijack a shuttle and head back for the Enterprise, which would lower its shields long enough to allow the shuttle to enter before raising them to continue its fight against two Klingon war birds.
The plan was simple; the illustration, however, was not. The small figures were incredibly lifelike and detailed, right down to the mole on Ensign Williams' chin. The astonished expressions on the Klingons and Xitses' faces made Scott chuckle and shake his head as folded up the paper and tucked it away.
Every time he thought he had the young captain all figured out, Kirk would do something that completely surprised him, even after almost three years.
"Ah, laddie," he murmured, sitting against the wall opposite the door in preparation for the upcoming chaos. "You've sure got a lot of tricks up your sleeve."
It was illogical, Spock knew. Three years had already passed since Nero's defeat. It was only rational to assume the deep pangs of pain and loss would have lessened by now. The Vulcan colony was progressing well; while not quite flourishing yet, construction on many important structures had been completed, and there had been many offspring born within the last two years. Vulcan was slowly but surely rebuilding itself.
Yet Spock could not pull himself out of his melancholy. He was not used to having such trouble suppressing his emotions, and it was extremely disorienting. He suspected it was partially due to the morning's Remembrance Day service. This year was the first year the crew of the Enterprise had been able to hold a memorial service on the actual day of Vulcan's destruction and Nero's defeat. The first year, the Enterprise had been in the middle of a rescue mission; the second anniversary had been spent trying to track down the Klingons that had absconded with the captain. Neither situation had allowed the crew to properly observe Remembrance Day until several days after the fact, which had lessened the impact of the memories of the day.
This year's service was short; Kirk had spoken for only a few minutes before dismissing everyone to do as they saw fit, leaving only a skeleton crew to run the ship. Spock had spent most of the day with Nyota, but she was on duty now and was thus unable to prevent the melancholy that had threatened to consume him all day from taking hold.
Spock suspected his distress was caused in part by his growing inability to remember the details of his mother's face. There had been no photographs of her, and all of the paintings portraying Spock's family had vanished into the black hole with the rest of Vulcan. Spock's memory was astute, but it was taking an increasing amount of time for him to recall the features that had defined his mother--the small wrinkles around her eyes and mouth, acquired from years of smiling and laughing; the sound of her soft laughter echoing down the halls of their home; the gleam in her eyes whenever she looked at his father; the soft smile she only ever gave to Spock.
He had already forgotten so much in three short years; how would he remember her ten years from now? Twenty? Fifty?
The chime of someone at the entrance of his quarters startled him from his thoughts. He hesitated momentarily, then rose from his meditative position on the floor and opened the door.
Kirk was standing there, staring back at him as if surprised to see Spock in the doorway. An illogical reaction, Spock decided, as these were his quarters. "May I help you, Captain?" he asked, keeping any of the turbulent emotions he was currently feeling out of his voice.
The captain chewed his lip for a moment as he studied the Vulcan. "I thought I'd--Uhura said you--here," he stammered, thrusting a small package into Spock's hands.
Spock stared down at the gift-wrapped object, perplexed at Kirk's strange behavior. The package itself was light, rectangular in shape, and made no noise when Spock adjusted his grip on it. "What is the meaning of this?" he asked, eyebrows furrowing.
Kirk bounced on his toes a little and clasped his hands behind his back--two signs indicative of his nervousness. Unusual, as Kirk rarely betrayed nervousness in any given situation. "I know how hard this day is for you, so I thought… I'd bring you something," he replied. "So… I'll see you later."
"Is it not customary for the recipient of a gift to open it in the presence of the benefactor?" Spock asked as Kirk turned to leave.
The younger man paused. "I… yeah, I guess," he answered, turning back as Spock slid a finger along the seam of the gift wrapping.
Spock's eyebrows rose a little when the paper fell away to reveal the back of what looked like an antique photo frame. He grasped the wire frame and turned it over, causing the paper beneath it to rustle. His shoulders stiffened when he saw the image encased within the frame.
Kirk shifted nervously. "I know you don't have any photos of her--"
"Where did you acquire this?" Spock interrupted softly as he touched the glass with a finger. His mother stared back at him, her head encircled by a soft halo of light. A breeze appeared to be rustling the scarf covering her head, and a loose strand of hair trailed across her forehead. Her eyes sparkled, and a soft smile curved her lips.
"I drew it," Kirk admitted, keeping his voice just as soft. He flushed a little when Spock stared at him in surprise. "The Ambassador shared a memory of her with me when I visited him last month, and I thought… I know you don't have any pictures to help you remember her, so I figured I'd try to help you out."
Spock blinked a couple of times as he stared back at the image. The detail astounded him; he had originally thought it to be a photo, not a drawing. "I did not know you could draw," he murmured, looking more closely at the composition of the image. He could see traces of graphite beneath the colored pencil strokes. Each line was precise, laid down with the same confidence the artist typically exuded.
"Yeah," Kirk said, scratching the back of his head. "I don't really advertise it that much. I kind of suck at it."
"An illogical and erroneous self-assessment, Jim. This is a perfect likeness," Spock replied, looking back at the captain. "Thank you."
Kirk flushed again. "If, uh… if you're up for it, I've got the chessboard set up in my quarters."
Spock tilted his head a little as he studied the captain, who fidgeted under his scrutiny. The Vulcan could not recall a time where he had seen Kirk this nervous; it was an interesting phenomenon. "Yes, I believe I should like to partake in a game of chess," he said, clutching the frame a little closer. "I shall be along momentarily."
"Alright," Kirk said with a nod. He hesitated for a moment before turning and heading down the hall to his own quarters.
Spock watched him for a moment before stepping back into his room. He stared down at the image again. The sight of his mother's face had temporarily increased the sense of loss he had felt ever since he had seen her fall from the crumbling cliff. But, he observed curiously, that pang had faded, and his melancholy had inexplicably eased along with it.
He pondered this change as he placed the frame on the shelf holding some of his most prized possessions--a small pot from Sulu containing several plants native to Vulcan, a book of Russian poetry from Chekov that Spock had greatly enjoyed despite his initial skepticism, and numerous odds and ends given to him by both Kirk and Nyota over the last few years.
Spock placed the drawing in a predominant place on the shelf and stared at it for another moment. "Fascinating," he murmured, a small smile curling one corner of his mouth as he turned to go participate in a game of chess with his friend.
Leonard McCoy had been Jim Kirk's friend long enough to know that Kirk as a patient was ten times more frustrating than anyone else. It wasn't so much Kirk's push-though-the-pain-it's-not-so-bad thing that annoyed McCoy; it was the fact that the captain's body tended to react to injuries in unexpected ways.
It was downright bizarre, in McCoy's opinion. Hand injuries caused unusual amounts of stress for Kirk's back muscles, as if he was used to having back pain when he hurt his hands; concussions that would make others vomit uncontrollably made Kirk talk nonstop (and usually admit to embarrassing things in the process); compounds that should have helped to ease allergy symptoms made them worse for the captain. In all his years as a doctor, McCoy had never met a patient as medically unique as his best friend.
Of course, there were days where even Jim Kirk reacted to injuries the same as everyone else.
"I'm sorry, but I really don't remember you."
McCoy suppressed a sigh, running a hand through his hair as he stared at the captain. "I thought you might not," he admitted. "With a head injury like that--"
"How did I get that, anyway?" Kirk interrupted, raising a hand to finger the bandages still circling his head. He winced a little and lowered his hand before McCoy could slap it away.
"What's the last thing you remember?" McCoy asked, keeping his voice carefully neutral and folding his arms.
Kirk's forehead furrowed as he concentrated. McCoy could tell the younger man still had a horrible headache by Kirk's white-knuckle grip on the edge of the bio-bed and the line just above his nose that only appeared when he was in pain. The CMO wanted to do nothing more than give him a hypo full of pain killers, but judging from Kirk's wary behavior, he'd lost more than six years of his memory--which meant he had no idea he was comfortable enough around McCoy to let the doctor invade his personal space to administer a hypo, even if he did complain nonstop about it.
"I… I don't know," Kirk replied finally, letting out a frustrated sigh. "I remember driving, then having to swerve to avoid something. I must've gone into a slide or something."
McCoy raised an eyebrow. "Was this the first or second time you crashed your bike?"
Kirk blinked in surprise. "Second. But how did you know--"
"Kid, you probably wouldn't believe me if I told you," McCoy answered as he jotted down Kirk's response on his PADD.
"Try me," Kirk shot back. When McCoy shot him a look, he shrugged a shoulder. "I can handle it. I've seen a lot of strange things in my time."
McCoy's mouth flattened. "Trust me, Jim, I know," he replied.
"How?" Kirk prompted when McCoy didn't continue.
McCoy sighed and tossed the PADD on a nearby table. "Because it's not 2254, like I know you think it is. It's 2261. And you're not some punk kid in Iowa, you're the captain of the starship Enterprise," he said flatly. "We met on the shuttle to the Academy six years ago and I've been patching up your sorry ass ever since."
Kirk stared at McCoy, dumbfounded. "Bullshit."
McCoy snorted. "Don't I wish. You don't remember because you nearly had your skull smashed trying to save Scotty--your chief engineer--from being brained by a bunch of psychotic aliens who wanted nothing more than to paint a picture with the away team's blood and brain matter."
"Pleasant," Kirk declared, making a face. "Are you always this friendly?"
"You caught me on a good day," McCoy replied.
Kirk chuckled. "Lucky me." He looked around, moving his head as little as possible. "So… this is a starship?"
McCoy nodded, leaning against the edge of Kirk's bio-bed. "The Enterprise. Starfleet's flagship."
Kirk started laughing, but quickly stopped when it aggravated his headache. "Now I know you're joking," he declared, eyes streaming from the pain. He wiped his cheeks and scoffed. "There's no way in hell I'd ever be captain of a ship, much less a flagship."
"And why is that?" McCoy asked, frowning.
Kirk arched an eyebrow. "Apparently you don't really know me at all, do you."
McCoy tilted his head. "I know you better than you think I do. C'mon."
And with that he grabbed Kirk's arm, pulled it across his shoulders, and tugged the younger man to his feet, ignoring Kirk's startled, "Hey, now, Doc!" He steered a stumbling Kirk out of sickbay and down the hall to the turbo lift.
All of his instincts as a doctor were screaming at him to put Kirk back in sickbay and run another series of tests in order to find a way to bring Kirk out of his amnesia. But his instincts as Kirk's best friend overruled those.
Sickbay was not the place to convince Jim Kirk he meant something to a lot of people.
"Holy shit, I'm really on a ship," Kirk breathed, catching a glimpse of the black vacuum of space out of one of the small portholes in the hallway.
McCoy punched the button to call the lift. "I try not to think about it."
Kirk stared at him as the door slid open. "You have aviophobia and you decided to work in space? Why?"
"Because someone's gotta keep an eye on you," McCoy replied, dragging Kirk into the lift.
Kirk tilted his head as he studied at McCoy. "You came into space for me? Why the hell--"
"Don't sell yourself short, Kid," McCoy interrupted. "You're pretty damn persuasive when you need to be. And so help me, if you turn that into a sexual innuendo, I'll slap you upside the head, concussion or no," he added when Kirk started to open his mouth.
The younger man chuckled as McCoy led him out of the lift again. His expression sobered a little as they passed by a couple science officers who stood at attention as they staggered past. "Why are they doing that?" he muttered, leaning a little more of his weight against McCoy.
The doctor adjusted his hold to compensate for the added weight. "Because you're the captain, genius."
"And I haven't told everyone to stop saluting me when I pass?" Kirk asked. "Seems like a waste of time to me--what if we were under attack and they had somewhere to go?"
"You did tell people to stop," McCoy replied, pausing outside the door to the captain's quarters. He keyed in his own override code. "They don't bother doing it during an emergency."
"Oh," Kirk said as McCoy guided him inside the room. His eyes widened as he stared at the spacious quarters. "Where are we?"
"Your room," the CMO answered, leading Kirk to his bed. "Here, sit down before you fall down."
Kirk sat heavily on the mattress, gripping the covers tightly. McCoy slapped him lightly on the shoulder, then moved to the desk and started rifling through the stacks of paper there. "If I really am a captain… how long have I been doing this?" the captain asked after a moment.
McCoy glanced up from the sheaf of papers he was currently moving. Kirk was staring around the room, eyeing the many knick-knacks and souvenirs he had acquired over his time as captain. His gaze lingered on an antique photo frame near his bed that held a picture of Kirk, McCoy, Sulu, and Chekov from their last shore leave together.
The corner of McCoy's mouth lifted a little as he remembered Kirk's excitement at finding a place that still used actual film to create photographs. "A little over three years," the doctor answered, shuffling over to the bookshelf Kirk had mounted on one wall. "You're one of the worst pack rats I've ever met. Here we go," he added with a satisfied huff as he tugged a well-worn spiral bound notebook from its hiding place behind two volumes of Andorian lyrical fiction.
"What is this?" Kirk asked as McCoy silently handed him the notebook.
"Your sketchbook," McCoy replied, stepping back to lean against the corner of the desk as he folded his arms. "You've never actually let anyone look inside--including me--but I've seen you drawing in it a few times over the last few years."
Kirk eyed McCoy speculatively for a moment before turning the tattered notebook cover. He studied the pages intently as he slowly turned them. McCoy could see glimpses of images whenever he glanced at the captain, but he tried to avoid looking at the drawings as much as possible, despite his curiosity to know just what Kirk had been sketching over the years. He wanted to know what Kirk spent so much time drawing, but he wanted his friend to show him. The doctor spent his time looking at everything Kirk had collected over the last few years.
"You're Bones, aren't you."
McCoy's eyes shot back to Kirk, mouth twisting into a small smile when he saw the spark of recognition in the captain's eyes. "You remember?"
"It's coming back." Kirk looked at the notebook before looking back at McCoy. He held the worn sketchpad up a little. "Maybe… maybe you could take a look with me--help me remember why I would draw some of these things?"
McCoy's eyebrows shot up in surprise at the offer. "Sure," he replied, sitting down on the bed next to Kirk as the captain flipped back to the beginning.
The first picture was a pencil sketch of a city skyline. The angle was unusual, as if the viewer were higher than the buildings. "San Francisco," McCoy offered when Kirk stared at him. "That's the view from the shuttle we took to the Academy."
Kirk smiled suddenly. "You threw up on me," he declared.
McCoy rolled his eyes. "You are never going to let me live that down, are you?"
Kirk laughed and shook his head as he turned the page. McCoy spent the next twenty minutes naming the sketches from the book as their friends, teachers, and acquaintances from their time at the Academy. He didn't comment on the quality of the drawings, but he was still blown away by the detail Kirk had been able to capture in the sketches, as if he'd taken snapshots of the faces he'd seen and laid them down on paper.
They fell silent as Kirk turned the page from a colored drawing of Gaila's smiling face to sketch of the Narada hovering over Vulcan. "Nero," Kirk muttered, tracing the image lightly with a finger. McCoy nodded, both relieved that he didn't have to explain the significance of that particular sketch and astounded at how much detail Kirk had put into the drawing. It was almost like staring at the ship through the Enterprise's main viewscreen all over again.
The next few pages depicted images from the battle against Nero. One haunting sketch showed Vulcan caving in on itself as it was sucked into the black hole. A colored drawing showed Sulu standing on a platform, a sword dripping with green blood clenched in one hand; the angle of the drawing suggested it had been Kirk's view as he had dangled from the edge of the platform. Another image depicted the elder Spock staring at a fire, the shadows from the flickering flames deepening the lines on his face and highlighting the haunted glimmer in his eye.
After that, the tone of the sketches changed. There was a drawing of the Enterprise as she hovered at space dock; images of the bridge crew working a typical shift; sketches of some of the flora and fauna Kirk had found interesting on his various away missions; a drawing of Spock staring intently at a chess board; a colored image of McCoy scowling at something off the page, an amused twinkle in his eye.
"Why haven't you ever shared any of these with anyone?" McCoy asked as he stared at a sketch of Spock and Uhura sitting at a table in the mess. Their affection for each other was blatant, from the small smile on Uhura's face to the relaxed curve of Spock's shoulders. "Jim, these are amazing!"
"I guess I never thought you guys would appreciate them," Kirk replied with a shrug, snapping the notebook shut. His mouth twisted in a small smirk as he glanced up at the doctor. "After all, I'm a starship captain, not an artist."
"Who said you can't be both?" McCoy shot back, raising an eyebrow. "Because obviously you are."
Kirk snorted. "I might be starting to believe you on the captain bit, but an artist?"
"Jim, I know six would-be artists onboard this ship who would kill for even a little of your talent. Like I said before, Kid--don't sell yourself short," McCoy answered, suppressing a sigh. Kirk's determination to depreciate himself had caused no end of frustration to the CMO over the last six years. Despite all his supposed confidence and swagger, Kirk had a lot of self-esteem issues. McCoy had been doing everything he could to convince Kirk he was worth more to everyone than he thought.
But McCoy also knew better than to push to hard to make Kirk do something, so he let the subject drop; he was satisfied enough to see the thoughtful look on Kirk's face. The CMO knew he would get through to the younger man; it was only a matter of time.
"Now then," McCoy declared, nudging Kirk's shoulder with his own as he gestured at the sketchbook. "Tell me how much you remember about those drawings."
Prompt: Jim with art skills. I'm imagining hidden pencil sketches and the like. (TOS or XI, though XI preferred)