Hey guys! Well, here's to the start of a new Star Trek fic :D I will warn you now, will not be as sexy as my last, with good reason, but I hope you enjoy it all the same.
And quick note, the title is from a song by Owl City that really sums up the story. In case you were wondering.
It was the anniversary. Not of Bones' wedding or divorce, Jim knew how to handle both those. (It usually involved a lot of booze and Jim trying unsuccessfully to set him up with some hot little thing he found in a bar.) Nor was it the anniversary of the Kelvin, people knew better than to try and throw him a birthday party anymore. No, it was the anniversary the Captain of Enterprise didn't know how to handle just yet, since this was the first.
It was the first anniversary of Vulcan's destruction.
There was going to be a small memorial in the orbit the planet used to circle. Jim had honestly wanted to find anyway possible out of it. Not because he didn't care of course, but because he cared a lot. Anytime he thought of it, of watching as the planet swirled in on itself into nothingness, just the blackness around it. The black hole faded away a few months later with nothing else to feed on, but the emptiness everyone who had witnessed it still remained deep inside. For some more than others.
The crew was doing their best to deal with being reminded of one of the most horrifying times of their lives as they flew slowly into the orbit with the few other ships of the Federation, some that housed the Vulcan survivors, and other races from nearby planets wanting to offer their condolences. There would be a ceremony where prayers and wishes for a better future would be given. It would all be in good taste, they knew, but most everyone still didn't wish to go. They had other plans, ones the ceremony was going to interrupt but not deter.
Bones had a supply of ale in his office for after the ceremony, though he wasn't going to touch it till after, when he wanted to sleep without memories of the many colleagues, friends and patients he had lost in the hell of that day.
Sulu spent the morning tending his plants and doing some maintenance on his swords, mind turning back to how if they had just been a little faster, if maybe he had taken the explosives, had taken a phaser to get rid of those Romulans instead of his sword…and then he would remember the free fall and the terror, but oddly he could see the red and orange of the Vulcan terrain around him and just thinking it was beautiful. And gone forever.
Uhura tried to take her mind off everything by listening to her music collection and trying to stay in bed till the last possible minute. She'd never seen Vulcan except in pictures. She wished she could've seen it at least once in person. And she wished she could bring more comfort to those around her who still felt its loss. But even she was reeling again.
Scotty, who hadn't seen the destruction from deep in his post on Delta Vega, had seen the footage the ship camera took. He hadn't spoken the rest of the day. He would join Bones later with his own supply of scotch and brandy, not saying anything as they both drank to sleep better but wouldn't have to feel alone.
Chekov couldn't meet Spock's eyes for weeks after the destruction, and for days before the anniversary. He would sit alone and look out at the stars until Sulu found him and dragged him away to eat something. He didn't cry, just stare into space.
Spock…Spock seemed normal on the outside, but most everyone knew he must be trying to keep whatever he was feeling only within himself. Uhura couldn't even get him to let anything out. He would however take time to himself in the evening in the week leading up to the anniversary. No one knew what he did, but they were all respectful of his privacy.
Jim had spent the week leading up also tamping his inner thoughts and feelings down, drinking a little but not like he would in the past. He was a Captain now, he realized that after his first mission where he had nearly gotten himself killed, and had unfortunately lost some good men. A few people had been smug of the results, having been against his promotion on the grounds of his inexperience and irresponsible behavior before. In truth, Jim had wondered the same thing. What had made it worse was the fact most of the rest of the crew hadn't blamed him, because they knew he blamed himself more than even his critics. But being James T. Kirk, he decided that the real answer was to prove them all wrong.
It had been hard, but slowly he was earning a reputation for taking risks, but also for being fiercely protective of his crew, and managing to get the job done with rash tactics that no one else could pull off.
That being said, it wasn't entirely surprising he was pushing the bell button to Spock's room the day before the ceremony. He waited a few moments before pushing it again, and smiling when it opened and the half Vulcan stared down at him bluntly.
"Captain, may I inquire as to why you are at my door so late in the afternoon? Is there a problem?"
"Actually…I came to ask you that."
"I have no problem, Captain."
"Yeah, I figured you'd say that, but I just wanted to make sure…I mean…about tomorrow. Everyone's a little on edge or down in the dumps so…"
"Why has the crew been going down to the waste desposal area?"
Jim chuckled. "I meant that they're…unhappy."
"Being Vulcan, I have no feeling such as that."
"I should've figured as much…But you're sure you're alright with going to the memorial ceremony tomorrow?"
"Of course. After all, my father will be present, as well as the other surviving Vulcans. Not to go would be an insult to them."
"Alright…but if it's painful-"
"I must assume you are speaking of emotional pain, Captain, in which case I must remind you again-"
"You're Vulcan, I know." He sighed and smiled as best he could. "I just wanted to make sure. If you need anything, just ask. And FYI, before your proud little Vulcan mind goes whirring away, it's not pity." Spock looked surprised and Jim smirked. "A year of working together and I'm starting to understand you. It's not because of pity I'm offering, Spock. It's because…well, we're a crew. We need to stick together just as much in the bad times as the good, or we'll be shit out of luck when something really bad happens." And we're starting to be friends I think,, but I know you aren't going to listen to me if I say that.
"…A valid point, Captain. But I assure you, I will be fine."
A smoky smell came to him and Jim realized Spock must've been mediating before he interrupted. He had been doing so more and more. Fine, yeah… "Alright. Just remember the offer. And tomorrow Bones, Scotty and I will probably be getting piss pour drunk after the ceremony when we're off duty if you're interested."
"As…interesting as that sounds, I believe alcohol will not have the desired effect on me."
"And now I do pity you."
If he had not been Vulcan, Spock would've rolled his eyes. Being as he was though, he merely gave his captain a flat look. "If that's all, Captain…"
"Uh…can't think of anything else, so I guess so…"
"Then I wish you a pleasant evening." The door closed and Jim rolled his eyes before heading off to his own room to try and get some sleep before the ceremony tomorrow. In the back of his mind though, he can't help but think he saw a touch of sadness in his First Officer's eyes. And that made it all the worse to consider what he must be feeling inside.
Jim adjusted his uniform, sighing quietly. His formal uniform was a pain, what with getting all of the livery on correctly. He still wasn't sold on the idea of going in the first place, but knew he had to be a good Captain and show up rather than hide away to try and survive this day. A few of the Vulcan Council were already aboard, Jim wondering if they found some kind of poetic justice in holding the memorial ceremony on the ship that had managed to pull them off the planet in time.
Jumping when his door chime went off, he wondered who could be coming to see him now. "Yes?"
"Jim? I was hoping I could talk to you."
He smiled slightly at the old, but warm voice. "Of course." He pressed the button to let Spock the elder, known as Ambassador Solek among the other Vulcans now, enter his room. Jim felt calmed immediately at the man's presence. Though it had taken nearly the whole of the year for he and the younger Spock to be able to remain civil to each other for more than an hour, he never found it difficult to speak to or be around the elder man.
The corner of Spock's lips lifted gently. "I believe you have placed your commendations on incorrectly, Captain…"
"Dammit, took me an hour and I thought I finally got it!"
Spock came over and began arranging them again silently, his old hands still firm and steady and smelling of old books Jim liked to read. It was odd to think that, but it was true, and it made him relax all the more. "Would I be too forward to assume you were, perhaps, distracted?"
"…Yeah, I guess…"
"It is a dark day of remembrance for us all, Jim."
"I know…And I know it's good to honor the dead and all that…but I can't help but think this big ceremony thing is just…rubbing salt in the wounds."
"Perhaps…but pain is often necessary before healing can begin."
Jim nodded before looking up. "How are you?"
The elder man's lips lifted again, though Jim knew he saw a sadness and pain lingering in his eyes. "I…am functioning. However, I will admit I'm feeling some…sorrow and dread at today's events."
"…At least you'll admit it."
"Still having difficulties with my counterpart?"
"Yes and no. We're getting along better, mostly, but…Well, I tried to offer some comfort and company yesterday, but he seems pretty determined to be, well…Vulcan about it, if you'll pardon me."
"No, I quite understand the analogy. Would you mind if we sit? We still have much time before the ceremonies. I'm surprised you are already getting ready."
"Yeah, well, I knew if I didn't get ready now I'd just keep putting it off…" He sat down and gestured for the elder man to sit in the other chair across the table from him.
He sat, making himself comfortable with a sigh. "Being old has its drawbacks."
"Hey, only I'm allowed to call you old."
Spock smiled and nodded. "Indeed, but I am stating fact. And what you must understand Jim is that I have lived a long life. I have had time to come to term with many things I had much difficulty with in my youth, things I suspect my younger self is still dealing with. And…he has even more now that I did not even consider I would have to overcome."
"Yeah...I can understand that I think…"
"Hopefully things will get easier as you go though. I can assure you, much lies ahead. I'm sure you will have adventures I never did with how different your pasts are from ours now."
Jim nodded absently, bringing one leg up to fold his hands across his knee and rest his chin on them. "I kind of wish they weren't that different…I saw a few things in your head when you did the meld, it didn't seem like a bad life…"
"It wasn't…how much did you see?" he asked slowly.
"Huh? Oh, just bits and pieces. Mostly from your perspective, but it looked like I did alright. Though I did make it to captain faster," he smirked.
"Very true, but he entered the academy sooner."
"Point taken…" He sighed. "I wish…I wish there was a way we could go back and change things…"
"Changing the past can have dire consequences, Jim."
"But would changing…that be so bad."
"…One cannot say. Even saving the life of a good person could effect the future negatively."
"You make it sound like you've changed the past before…"
"No, but very nearly."
Jim blinked and looked up. "You…You've time traveled? I mean, more than going through a black hole and ending up here?"
"Yes. I suppose you didn't see that, or else comprehend it. But there have been several instances we traveled back in time in my dimension."
"Seriously? I mean…that should be impossible, shouldn't it?"
"Perhaps not wholly impossible, but it is difficult. It takes many years before we are able to understand it enough to implicate it."
"I can imagine…"
Spock nodded then chuckled. "One such adventure we had to travel back to Earth's 20th century and procure two humpback whales while piloting a Klingon ship we…were forced to commandeer."
"You had to go back in time…to save the whales? In a Klingon ship?" Jim said, chuckling despite himself.
"Yes, they were the key to saving the Earth of our time if you can believe that. Magnificent creatures really."
"That sounds interesting…"
"It was. I was recovering from an earlier mission gone awry, but I found despite that I was…enjoying myself."
Jim smiled. "…How did you manage to do that in a Klingon Warbird? I'm assuming it was a Warbird if it could fit whales."
"Indeed, but I don't believe I'll tell you."
"What? C'mon, I-"
"Jim, you may differ from your counterpart in my world on several levels, and I may not have known you at this age in our world, but I know you and I know that glint in your eye. I will not condone your attempt to rewrite history."
Jim sat up straighter, face blank, before scowling. "But what if it made things better! You can't say you don't want it back."
"Of course…But I have seen already the things that tampering with time can do. There is no telling what might happen if you were to change the events of the past. Our own attempts were done only out of the sheer necessity of the circumstances, to avoid a future loss of life."
Spock was suddenly looming over the table at him, fast despite his complaints of age, and staring him down so intently he shrank back. "No. Though I too wish things had been different, that we could've saved them, I will not allow you to risk so much by attempting a maneuver that could cost you your life and possibly bring about a worst present than now."
Jim frowned before sighing and looking away. "Okay, fine…"
Spock regarded him a moment before standing. "I believe we should actually finish getting ready than remain talking…"
"Alright…I'll talk to you later."
Spock nodded before heading for the door. "…I know how you feel, Jim. We both do, even if we attempt to be logical about it." He left and Jim sat down, thinking over all of it.
Time travel…we studied it, but I thought most of it was just theories…but if it is possible… Jim rose, pacing for a few moments, his mind a buzz with ideas and scenarios. It could be dangerous, he could screw up, he could die, he could really screw up the future. Yet when he recalled watching the planet die from the bridge, the look of horror on everyone's face, the utter devastation…
"Computer, look up all files on time travel theories."
The ceremony was touching, if somber. Through the video link, speeches were made from the president of earth, members of other planets and nations, and Sarek himself stood to give a speech. The audience was quiet through out, and event he speakers were hushed and reserved as they spoke, even if it wasn't a difference for Sarek. The head of the Federation commended the crew of the Enterprise, singling out Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov and Uhura for their actions above and beyond the call of duty. Jim almost missed his name being called though since his mind was elsewhere. Spock gave him a cool look when he finally got up on stage, bowing his head slightly as their actions were described.
"You seem…distracted, Captain," he said when they climbed off and the ceremony ended, everyone standing to mill about.
"Yeah, just…thinking. I have a lot on my mind right now."
"…I can understand that."
Jim looked up and his eyes softened. "…You can choke me again if you want, but I'm just gonna say it. She'd be really proud of you if she were here now."
"…I see nothing worthy of pride."
"You're alive and making a difference. Most parents would kill for a son like you." Jim thought of his own mother and managed not to frown.
"Are thanks in order for such a statement?"
"Nice, but not necessary."
"Then I believe I will get something to drink."
Jim watched as his First Officer walked to the nearby table of drinks and let the calm supportive expression fall to the one he really felt: sympathy. Sarek walked over and stood by his son, and Jim wondered if he was just trying to be the silent rock of support or if they were communicating in some secret Vulcan fashion. Or maybe he really was just that quiet.
He looked around and many of the Vulcans around him. Though still cloistered in their control, he somehow knew inside they were grieving once again. It was painful, with so much of their history, their lives, and their loved ones gone.
Could any future I bring about be as bad as this? If I can get to the point before Nero, or even when he's there just as long as he hasn't shot the redmatter into the planet…
Jim started for the door to the room.
"Kirk!" He paused and looked over, smiling slightly as Pike wheeled up to him. "Hey there. Where are you going?"
"I…I'm just not feeling well. I thought I might lie down."
Pike smiled sympathetically and patted the side of his arm. "Yeah, I think we're all feeling that. Want any company?"
"Not right now…Bones, Scotty and I were going to drown our sorrows later if you're interested."
"You're doctor will kill me if I consume too much alcohol. I'm still recovering."
Jim chuckled, his eyes straying over the wheel chair. "Bones won't kill you. He'll just wait for the hangover and make your life hell so he can say I told you so."
"Huh, that might be worse…"
He smiled. "Cover for me so I can make my escape?"
"Sure, but you'll owe me."
"Yeah, I know." He turned and headed out the door. Taking a deep breath when the turb lift doors shut behind him, he set the course down to the inner hull of the ship where he found two security men lounging on the job. As he approached though they quickly hid the guards and sat up straighter.
"At ease, you two. I was just taking a walk around to clear my head. Everything clear here?"
"Yessir, everything is clear."
"Good. Is Galileo secured?"
"Of course, sir."
"Just making sure. You guys thirsty?"
"Its fine if you are. I was going to offer to hang around for a few moments, let you get something to drink and maybe to eat."
"Sir, we're not to leave our posts-"
"By my orders. And I'm offering you a break from my orders to go and get something to refresh yourself and keep you alert. Or were the cards doing that?"
They blushed a little and looked at each other. "If you're sure, sir…"
"I'm sure. Just don't take too long, okay?"
"Yessir!" they headed off quickly and Jim sighed.
Hopefully you two won't hold this against me too much if I should fail…or the rest of you either, he added as he thought of his crew. Swiping his card, he quickly entered the hanger with the double whoosh of the door opening and closing. He entered Galileo, taking out the sheet of paper from his pocket where he had copied all his notes and equations. He was no Scotty or Spock, and though he wasn't a slouch either, he still knew his chances of being right were much slimmer. He checked and was relieved to find that Galileo's fuel reserves were full, so that was one worry off his back.
He quickly initiated the launch sequence, wincing slightly as the alarms meant to warn others to steer clear went off. The doors to the hangar slowly began to open as Jim knelt down and opened the control box.
As he did, the communications system came to life and Spock's voice echoed about the room.
"This is First Officer Spock of the USS Enterprise of which you are commandeering the reconnaissance and exploration vehicle Galileo I. State your name and purpose before security comes in to arrest you."
Jim rolled his eyes as he began rearranging the wires inside the box. "Really doubt you're going to let them do that with the doors open, Spock."
"…Captain, what precisely do you think you're doing?" The human winced at that tone, knowing that if he could see Spock's face, most likely he'd be seconds away from a nerve pinch or worse.
"Not entirely sure myself, but I figured it's worth a shot."
"Captain, whatever it is you are planning, I make the request you cease it now and return to the bridge."
"Nah, I think I'd prefer the possibility of dying to you and the others chewing me out right now. Also, don't bother with the override, I just took care of that."
He returned to the seat at the helm, beginning to type in the calculations.
"Jim, I don't find that funny!" Bones' voice intruded on the broadcast.
"Heh, sorry Bones. Just being realistic, I got slim chances…"
"What the hell are you talking about?!"
"Let's just say I'm going to find out if you can slingshot through time."
"Have you gone out of your fucking goard!?"
"Captain, whatever you are planning, please reconsider. The Enterprise needs a Captain and if I am to surmise, you are planning something that is likely to kill you."
"You all worry too much…But hopefully this will all change for the better." He pushed forward, the small craft responding and flying out the doors into space. Jim gave it a boost to get away from the ship before they could try to pull him back and headed for the star he mapped that would give him the best possibility of the slingshot effect.
Where no man has gone before…hopefully I'll get there alive.