Title: Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls ('Cause It Ain't Tolling for You)
Rating: T, only because of language
Spoilers: Set in ST:XI 'verse
Characters: Kirk, Spock, Bones, Death, a very brief appearance by Scotty
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek or Death (from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series).
Summary: Death comes to everyone at some point. Death once came to Jim Kirk and then He came again. And again. And somewhere, along the line, Death and Jim Kirk became friends.
Author's Notes: ...Look, somehow I ended up writing a crossover with Discworld and I just don't even know how that happened. This was supposed to be angsty and shit because, damn, I want to break these boys. But then my sense of humor kicked it and was like "Nah! Not having that tonight." And I decided why the hell not? Because Jim and Death would totally be old friends. IDEK.
Jim knew it was only a matter of time before Fate demanded his death once again. He had defied her too many times for her to be okay with him. But, then again, he was James T. Kirk and he had friends in places that most people didn't even know existed. Which was why, when the four Klingon Birds of Prey surrounded the ship and demanded that he surrender his life for that of his crew, Jim was smug and not worried at all about dying. He had it on good authority that he wasn't going to die today. Kirk weighed the options – his life versus the life of his entire crew. It took him less than thirty seconds to decide and now he, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty were in the transporter room.
"Fine, be a dumbass. Sacrifice your fool self. See if I care!" McCoy nodded decisively. "When you're dead, don't come crying to me!"
"If you say that is illogical, Mr. Spock, I will shove your illogical foot up your illogical ass," McCoy snarled.
"Boys, if you can't play nice, I'm going to have to send you to your rooms," Jim said, smiling at them.
"Look, Bones, I promise you that He won't let anything happen to me," Jim said, stepping on to the transporter. "I have it on good authority that it will be a long time before I actually die. He said so."
Bones eyed Jim. "Are you talking in capital letters? That's a sign of insanity. Give me a minute, I can declare you unfit for duty."
Jim rolled his eyes and turned to Spock and Scotty. "You better not be late with the rescue party, Spock. Scotty, energize."
Scotty looked distinctly uncomfortable. "But, sir—"
The Scot sighed. "Aye, Captain. Energizing."
Jim looked around the dreary landscape that surrounded him and sighed. "...Bones is going to be pissed at me."
I AM SORRY ABOUT THAT.
Jim shrugged, turning around to face Death and his horse Binky. "Honestly, it's nothing new. How did I get here this time?"
YOU SURRENDERED YOURSELF TO A KLINGON VESSEL. THEY WERE MOST UNKIND TO YOU. ALTHOUGH YOUR FIRST OFFICER RESCUED YOU, IT WAS TOO LATE. YOUR FRIENDS HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO REVIVE YOU.
"Damn, Spock is going to be pissed too."
I WOULD LIKE TO REMIND YOU THAT IT IS NOT YOUR TIME TO DIE. IT SEEMS, JAMES, THAT YOU ONCE AGAIN GET TO DEFY LAWS THAT EVERYONE ELSE MUST FOLLOW.
NO WORRIES. YOU ARE JUST ONE MORE FASCINATING ASPECT OF HUMANITY.
"So, what's up?"
Death looked at the landscape. NOTHING.
Jim sauntered over to Death and Binky and started stroking Binky's long nose. "How are you doing, Binky?"
The horse neighed a greeting and then nudged Jim.
"Sorry, Binky. I don't have any sugar cubes on me. I wasn't expecting to visit today."
INDEED, JAMES. I MERELY WANTED TO SAY HELLO. THE DEATH OF RATS HAD TO REAP A SOUL – HE WILL BE SORRY THAT HE MISSED SAYING HELLO.
"Please tell him that I said 'hi' when you see him next."
I WILL DO THAT. Death shifted on Binky. I WANT TO CONGRATULATE YOU. IT HAS BEEN A WHILE SINCE I HAVE SEEN YOU LAST. ALMOST SIX MONTHS. I BELIEVE THAT IS A NEW RECORD FOR YOU.
Jim grinned proudly. "Thanks! Well, I'm not sure if you know this or not, but they gave me the Enterprise after the last time I saw you. And, well, I found something to live for."
THAT IS VERY IMPORTANT. I HAVE FOUND THAT PEOPLE FIND MANY EXCUSES TO DIE, BUT IT IS HAVING A REASON TO LIVE THAT THEY FIND DIFFICULT. If Death could smile, he would be beaming at Jim. WELL, I MUST GO AND YOU NEED TO BE RETURNED TO THE WORLD OF THE LIVING.
"Admit it. You're just afraid Bones and Spock will figure out a way to circumvent death and ream me and you a new one if I'm gone for too long."
THERE IS THAT.
Looking at the body of his best friend, with a Vulcan staring stoically at the wall, McCoy fought back tears. They had fought so hard to keep Jim alive. Although they had fixed the internal damage from the broken ribs that the Klingons gave him, it was just too much trauma for Jim's body to handle. Although Jim had flat lined ten minutes ago, McCoy finally gave up trying to save him. "Dammit. Jim. I was only joking."
"I know." Jim said and then coughed. "Oh, shit. That hurts."
McCoy and Spock stared at him. Jim was supposed to be dead. McCoy had tripled checked, had Chapel check, and then, just for good measure, had Spock check too. All of them had declared Kirk dead.
Jim tried to sit up, both Bones stopped him. He ran a tricorder over Jim. All of the injuries that Jim had from the Klingons were still there, but, inexplicably, Jim was alive. "Dammit, Jim!"
"I think, Bones, that we'll file that 'dammit, Jim' under 'appropriate reactions to odd shit'."
"Dammit, Jim! You were dead. You stopped breathing! Spock agreed with me that you were dead!" The tone of Bones' voice left Jim confused as to whether he was mad that Jim had died and came back to life or if he were pissed that he and Spock had to agree on something.
"I'm sorry?" Jim asked.
"I'm sorry! Death was just lonely. And we're old friends – I've know Him since I was a kid! He always intended to let me come back; we just talked a little bit longer than usual."
Spock broke the silence. "Captain, that is completely illogical."
"There is no actual corporeal form of death, sir." Spock continued to insist.
Jim snorted. "Well, the next time I see Him, I'll be sure to tell Him that."
Bones ran a tricorder over his friend again. Jim kept talking in capital letters and McCoy wanted to make sure that there was no brain damage. He sighed and put down the tricorder when he couldn't find anything. "Well, Jim, I don't know how, but you are alive and mostly fine. But you were dead. You quit breathing for almost fifteen minutes!"
"I think that's a new record," Jim mused aloud.
McCoy turned purple. He opened and closed his mouth several times before finally just snarling at Jim.
A sudden chill swept through sickbay. Jim grinned as McCoy and Spock glanced around. "Doctor, I believe your sickbay is malfunctioning."
Suddenly, in the middle of sickbay, a horse and a skeletal figure emerged from nothingness. HELLO AGAIN, JAMES. I FORGOT TO TELL YOU SOMETHING.
Spock and McCoy stared while Jim just grinned wider. He pointed at Spock. In the tone of a five-year-old tattling on the teacher's pet, Jim happily told Death that "Spock doesn't think you exist!"
Death turned to the Vulcan and looked hurt and offended. AS YOU CAN SEE, I DO EXIST. Death turned back to Jim. JAMES, WOULD YOU PLEASE INTRODUCE ME TO YOUR FRIENDS?
"You don't know who they are?"
OF COURSE I DO. I KNOW EVERYBODY. BUT I BELIEVE IT WOULD BE THE POLITE THING TO DO.
"Alright. Death, this is Spock, my first officer and Doctor McCoy, the ship's CMO. Spock, Bones, this is my old friend, Death. The white horse is Binky."
IT IS VERY NICE TO MEET YOU. I HOPE THAT I DO NOT SEE YOU AGAIN FOR A LONG TIME. Death turned to face Jim. I FORGOT TO TELL YOU THAT ALBERT WOULD LIKE YOU TO COME BY FOR DINNER SOON. ONCE YOU ARE FEELING UP TO IT, OF COURSE.
"Sure, I'd like that!" Jim said, smiling. "I haven't seen Albert in quite a few years."
INDEED. I BELIEVE YOU WERE THIRTEEN THE LAST TIME ALBERT SAW YOU. Although the expression on Death's face didn't change, McCoy would have sworn that he saw Death's eyes harden.
Jim looked lost for a second. "Yeah, I was. And what he cooked was amazing."
I WILL TELL HIM THAT. I AM SURE HE WILL BE GLAD TO COOK IT FOR YOU AGAIN. Death suddenly sighed and a scythe appeared out of nowhere. I MUST GO, JAMES. DUTY CALLS. I WILL COME BACK LATER AND WE CAN FIGURE OUT WHEN YOU WILL COME OVER FOR MACARONI AND CHEESE.
"Awesome. Happy reaping!" Jim said.
Death looked at Jim one last time. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, JAMES, THAT... I AM PROUD OF YOU. He then turned to McCoy and Spock and stared at them. Bones shivered from the stare he was receiving and even Spock looked unsettled. PLEASE TAKE CARE OF HIM. HE IS... IMPORTANT TO ME.
Without another word, Binky reared before charging towards the wall. Before he could hit the wall though, Death and his faithful horse disappeared.
Bones turned to look at Jim. He stared at Jim for a minute before looking at where Death disappeared. He looked at Jim again. "If you were not laid up in that biobed, I swear on my great-aunt's sweet tea recipe, I would smack you so hard your grandkids would feel it."
Spock's "Doctor, that is completely illogical." was covered up by Jim meekly asking what the hell he did.
"How the hell did you get Death as a surrogate parent?" Bones asked, ignoring both questions.
Jim looked at the wall, plainly ignoring his best friend. "I don't know, Bones. He's always been around, ever since I was little. I've just... always been surrounded by death. Kinda makes sense that Death would more or less adopt me."
All of Bones' anger deflated at Jim's quiet tone. He picked up a dermal regenerator and began working on the cuts on Jim's arm.
Spock looked at his captain. "If it is agreeable with you, Captain, I will take my place on the bridge and let the crew know that you are alive."
"That would be great, Spock. Thanks."
Spock nodded once and took a step away from Jim's biobed. He paused and looked at his captain. "Jim... I am glad that you are alive. I would, however, prefer if you did not make a habit of coming back from the dead."
"Duly noted, Commander."
The half-Vulcan nodded at his commanding officer before walking away. McCoy turned to look at his friend. "How are you feeling, Jim?"
"I'm all right, Bones, really. I'm a little sore, and my arms hurt, but I'm okay." Jim said, offering Bones a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
"Jim, how long have you known Death?" If McCoy felt weird about talking about death in capital letters, he didn't show it.
"I don't know, Bones. Forever. He's always been around. He told me he first met me the day I was born, but I don't remember it. And then Mom married Frank and I was meeting up with him on a semiannual basis. I guess I've just not died a lot and, somewhere along the line, Death just decided I belonged to Him. Even when I wasn't near death or dead, He would check up on me when he had a free moment. I remember getting my first real birthday present from him. It was a stuffed toy horse and looked just like Binky." Jim smiled again, before yawning. "Sorry, Bones. I guess not dying takes a lot out of me."
"Then sleep, Jim. I'll be here when you wake up."
Jim closed his eyes, but he couldn't not get the last word in. "Told you I'd be fine, Bones." Then his breath evened out and Jim Kirk dropped into the world of sleep. Bones finished running the dermal regenerator on his friend and went to his office for a drink. Bones decided he more than deserved a shot or ten.
When Bones came back to check on his friend a half-hour later, he wasn't shocked at all to see a stuffed white horse sitting on the pillow next to Jim's head.