AN: My first trip into the new Trek universe so please be gentle. Also all unfamiliar words shall be featured in a small translation section at the end of the chapter. Thank you for your time.
Summary: Because Jim misses bedtime stories and a life like this should not be real, but it is so he copes the only way he knows how.
Warning: This is not a happy story, or at least not for Jim in the beginning. Beware of angst, mentions of abuse, an extremely large section on Tarsus IV, and Kirk/Spock. Jim will also be slightly out of character since I intend to make him a bit more on the grim side.
Disclaimer: If I owned it…..well let's just say that no one anywhere would ever doubt that Kirk/Spock was canon.
Beauty and the Beast
He was little more than a baby when the parts of his brain just seemed to connect and life became so much more for him than it ever should have been for a child his age. He learned things so much quicker, was so much faster than he should have been, so much more that it frightened his so called family. He learned to walk, to talk, to run and play and generally be too fast, too well and too soon.
When he was two and his mother walked in on him reading alone in his room from one of the books that held their bedtime stories she had smiled, that same smile she always had when she saw him, the one that was so beautiful, so bright, the one he would later imitate after he learned just how wrong and fake it was. It slipped off her face quickly when she realized that he was actually reading, not pretending like she had thought he was, hoped he was. She had praised him, her voice strangled and her face pale before she had left the room.
The bedtime stories stopped after that night but that was alright for him because he was two and he could read them himself so he didn't need his mother to do it for him. He was two and no matter how much knowledge he had already packed away he was still little more than a baby so he did not realize yet just how wrong he was to everyone else. He did not realize that he was not normal, that the other kids he sometimes saw were nothing like him. He did not realize how much he would later come to miss those bedtime stories.
He was four when he noticed for the first time that his mother would not look him in the eye; that the smiles he received from her were different than the ones his brother Sam got. Less right somehow, more brittle and strained than happy and radiant. He no longer loved her smile as he did only two short years ago, instead he hated it, wanted nothing more than to receive a smile that was at least equal to the one that Sam got for just walking into a room.
He tried everything he could think of, tried being better at everything he did, quicker with his chores and his reading, faster with the things he sometimes did to the old electronics around the house. Anything to make her look at him the way she looked at his brother.
Nothing ever worked and so he started to smile just like she always did.
He was five years old when he finally learned the truth. Five when he sat in the back of his primary school classroom for the first time and heard the teacher call the name James Tiberius Kirk from the role. Five when he looked up at the sea of faces around him to find the boy that shared his last name. Five when he realized for the first time that his name was James and not George. He went home that day, confused and angry, determined to get to the bottom of the situation and yet smart enough to know better than to ask. Five when finally, finally he learned about his father, about the past, about the fact that Sam's name was actually George. Only five as he stared at a holo-vid about the U.S.S Kelvin and something within him seemed to click as if to say, 'Oh so this is the reason…this is the reason why she doesn't love me.'
He was five when he decided to never mention the fact that he knew the truth.
Six is when he breaks that promise, breaks it into a million pieces like Winona because after that day she isn't his mother, has never been his mother, he's an orphan with a family has just broken him. When all he wants for his birthday is a hug and a smile, something she hasn't given him since the bedtime stories stopped, and instead he gets a backhand that has him tasting blood and a snarl of a name that isn't his.
At six he snaps and yells at her that he isn't George he is James, that there is just James and Sam and that the real George is dead…dead…dead and never coming back. She hits him again and his thoughts fuzz out as his head hits the counter and all he can see is that beautiful woman who gave birth to him but has never been his mother as the black closes in around the edges.
He hasn't aged any when he comes to on the kitchen floor, his hair matted down with blood and sweat, to the sounds of laughter and voices in the background, to the sight of Winona and Samuel because he thought Sam loved him but he doesn't cause he left James there in full sight bleeding on the floor and that isn't love sitting in the den calmly watching a holo-vid together like everything was perfect. He claws his way to his feet and stumbles to the bathroom, taking in the sight of his very first black eye and split lip. The water from the sink stings and burns but the blood comes off and swirls down the sink in such a beautiful pattern that he is transfixed.
Later after he looks up head wounds on his data pad and sets the alarm for every two hours because he isn't stupid and he knows the blood in his hair is a bad sign and he doesn't want to die he lays in his bed and can not ignore the throbbing in his face or the voice that whispers in the back of his mind that tells him this is only the beginning.
When he turns seven he doesn't ask for a hug or a smile, he doesn't ask for anything from the strangers who live with him because they have nothing he wants that's not the truth they just have nothing they're willing to give. Instead he reads articles about Schizophrenia because that whisper he heard before has become a full grown voice in his head and he is frightened. He doesn't tell anyone because James knows better by now and he knows he isn't crazy. The voice is nice, soothing and deep and he likes to listen to it. Likes when it talks to him in a language that he doesn't recognize or understand but thinks is beautiful, loves the fact that he isn't alone anymore even if he can't see who is talking to him, because for the first time in his life he feels loved and that is all that matters.
He barely looks up when Winona and Samuel leave one day and come back two weeks later, tan and smiling with a man named Frank, who is Samuels' new stepfather not James because James knows when he lays eyes on him that Frank won't love him either, he's an orphan in a house with two parents now. Instead he continues to work on the replicator that he has been trying to fix and ignores the fact that he ran out of food two days ago and they would not have cared even had they known.
He doesn't even flinch when he finds out that Winona is leaving for space, and Samuel is going into a special science program in some city that isn't here and it is going to be just James and Frank. It doesn't really bother him because he is used to being alone now, alone with no one except for that voice in his head.
He does flinch when that first boot finds his ribs, when that fist plows into his exposed stomach and he feels the bile rise up in his throat. Frank is drunk and all he can do is wrap himself into a ball as the blows rain down, a punishment for not bringing the beer soon enough, for being worthless, for being a useless little bastard. He curls in on himself both physically and mentally, reaching his mind out to that voice that always comforted him, sending his pain and anguish across the link in hopes that some how someone will hear him, that there is someone actually there to hear him.
'Nam-tor karik.' It floats across his mind. He doesn't understand it, doesn't know what it means but the sheer fact that someone or something answered him at all makes the situation just a little bit more bearable. It feels like it goes on forever, as if time has no meaning at all and that Frank will never tire of raining blows down upon his unresisting body. He does though, finally the alcohol he consumed and the sheer amount of energy he expended on the boy catches up with him and he stumbles away. He leaves James there just like Winona and Samuel left him there not so long ago and goes back to watching his program, another full beer clasped firmly in hand.
It takes James a while, takes him hours actually, but he manages to crawl and claw his way back to his room, manages to get the door shut before his strength gives out completely and all the while those same unknown, beautiful words ring in his head.
They are all that gets him through the night.
That wasn't the first time he had been beaten no Winona had that honor, that pleasure of being the first to draw blood and it was by no means the last. They happened in no discernable pattern, he did not provoke Frank on purpose, did not antagonize the man with intent. He mostly stayed out of his way, stayed away from everyone, as often as he could, which was never often enough to avoid the beatings. He stayed outside, in the fields and plains of Iowa, stayed away from people to the point that he hardly ever spoke anymore, hardly ever laid eyes on another soul outside of school.
That had been a disappointment as well.
For all that the halls of his educational facility was full of people, adults and children alike, no one there saw him either. They saw his test scores, his genius level abilities, his hair dyed almost hyper glow blonde by the sun, his laser sharp blue eyes and yet they overlooked the bruises, the sharp weary look that no child should possess, the almost wolf-like tendency to circle others, the subtle and yet noticeable traits of self-preservation. He realized quickly that they saw, that they knew the truth, but that they did not wish to be involved.
So he never reached out, never asked for help because he already knew it would not come because Winona had left and Samuel had left and if they could not love James then no one else here would either.
Instead he buried himself in data pads, learned to learn for the sake of knowledge, and learned that you never knew what you would need in the future. He learned things no child his age should try to. He learned anatomy because one day Frank would go too far and he needed to know where to strike, what would kill and what he could live through, what parts of himself he needed to protect because no one else would and how to sew because he could not always bandage the wounds to stop the bleeding, burning them shut was too risky and Frank would never spend his money on modern medical supplies. He taught himself about fishing and camping, how to start fires and find water, how to build shelters and how to read tracks.
He taught himself how to survive and he bided his time because he knew that the day would come and he would need it, but he isn't sure if he can survive Frank for long enough to get out, doesn't know if he will live to see his next birthday.
He turns eight and Frank breaks the fingers on his left hand under the heel of his boot as his present. He turns eight and later that night he sits in his room bare-chested with a knife as blood flows in a steady trickle across his pectoral muscles as slowly he carves his flesh until words begin to take form.
'Nam-tor karik.' When he is finished he finally has a physical reminder of the words that meant so much to him. Though he is happy to have them he is tired from the blood loss and knows that he will have to be extra careful to avoid Frank for the next while. He does not know how he knows the correct spelling, still does not know what they mean, does not know the language, and as smart as he is it should be no trouble for him to find out what it is. James chooses not to know because what if they aren't real, what if the language does not exist, better to have this hope then none at all if it isn't real and makes it a point not to study languages too extensively when he begins to absorb all the knowledge he can find.
Instead he throws himself into gadgets and technology as well as his studies of the wild. He learns to make vibrating proximity alarms that would wake him if Frank entered his room because it was never good to sleep around Frank, sleep was vulnerability and he scented that like a shark to blood and how to make small short ranged listening devices.
He does not yearn for Winona and Samuel to return, does not spend his time wishing they would come back so the day that they do arrive is a bit of a shock to him. He was in the attic when he heard the front door slam, which was a surprise since he knew that Frank was in the den watching another holo-vid. He had crept downstairs, quiet as a wraith only to freeze at the sight of the two other members of the house hold, both looking well and fit sitting in the den as if they had never left. He is angry then, angry that they came back after leaving, angry that only he suffered.
They stay for two weeks before leaving for their respective new lives. He sees them, they never see him.
It goes on much like normal for him after that. He goes to school and learns at home, he avoids Frank and is beaten; he teaches himself to survive and fears that his soul dies a little more with each passing day.
All the while that voice whispers to him words that he does not understand, things that should have no meaning to him and yet do.
'Nam-tor klon.' It is a whisper.
'Nam-tor karik.' It is a plea in his ear, his beloved words spoken again.
'Dungau-sarlah nash-ven.' It is a promise that he knows not the meaning of, only the feeling.
'Rish-tor.' It is a demand and something in it rings in his heart and instantly that word is elevated upwards to rest beside his most treasured phrase.
For his gift of nine years he carves that word into his chest on the opposite side from the ones the year before, this word nestled directly above his heart. Frank only gifts him with some broken ribs and luckily James is able to protect them enough to stop his lungs from being punctured.
So he is nine and life is as normal for him as it gets until the day that he begins to consider the option of not living any longer. He is flying down the road in his fathers' old car, his father's not Frank, and he just wants it all to stop because Frank had tried to touch him, not beat him but to touch him and oh God he would never be clean again and knows that somehow this road will take him there. There is a cop and a quarry and for longer than a moment, almost too long, he wants to go over the side until he hears his voice again, that wonderful sustaining voice that screams at him.
So he jumps, he almost doesn't make it but in the end he does and the cop is waiting and asking his name and in that moment he feels almost proud because he is, "James Tiberius Kirk" and he wants the world to know it. He goes to jail for the first time and is left in the holding tank for two days before he is processed for a juvenile detention center. No one comes, no one calls, he knows from the judge that Winona had been informed and she had given the court permission to do as they saw fit and James is not surprised because she has never cared so why would she start now.
So he is processed and tagged with a locator chip around his neck in the form of a thin metal collar and sent into hell with boys twice his age. They laugh when they see him and begin to plot the best ways to make him suffer the way they all did when they first arrived. He knows what they are, hyenas circling a kill, scavengers in the night. Unfortunately they do not realize what he is, a fox too clever to be caught unaware, a wolf too vicious to be cornered and he would not go down without a fight. James had always gone down easily before because Frank was too large to fight but these boys he could handle, he could protect himself here as he could not at home.
The irony did not escape him.
He stayed in his room that day, stayed and prepared because he was smart and he knew that night would bring them out, eyes shining in the dark as they tried to hunt him down and he was ready for them when they came. His time had been spent wisely, braiding the shredded remains of a pillow case together until it was a strong durable rope, breaking the chair they placed in the room and sharpening the pieces left behind on the crude and antiquated frame of his new bed.
The first one that came through the door was larger than he was but he had a plan and the rope was almost too easy to get around his neck. It took remarkable little time or effort to increase the pressure and cut off the air supply to the other boys' brain before he went down. The other three met the sharp ends of his makeshift knives and quickly retreated, dragging their wounded with them.
He does not sleep that night.
Eventually he was overcome, never for long and never completely because the other boys were weary of him, of the small boy with quicksilver moods and feral eyes and after a startling short amount of time they left him alone. He buried himself in the study material the place offered, learned new and different things that had not been available to him before. He made weapons out of otherwise useless materials and learned to slink instead of move, to glide instead of walk, and to blend with the shadows at a moments notice.
His voice came to him less and less no matter how hard he reached for it, no matter how hard he yearned. Still he had his tattoos, the ones that he made sure to renew with his latest knife that next year for his tenth birthday because he needed them so deep into his skin that they would never fade even if the voice did.
He amassed a reputation rather quickly. The guards and counselors knew that he could fix almost anything and the other tenants knew better than to bother him in case he decided he should hunt them.
The year that followed was rather pleasant all things considered and he was for once at peace with his situation, even if he was almost completely alone in every way because the voice had begun to fade and even in a home full of misfits and rejects he is unwanted and unwelcome.
The system gave him a present that year for his eleventh birthday.
They send him home. Back to Iowa and Frank. The voice left him completely.
Things don't return to normal there, because James doesn't submit like he once did to the beatings, his internment had not mellowed him instead it had exacerbated his survival instincts. Frank would no longer look him in the eyes either though he knew it was out of fear for what he saw there. He tried to return to school but was not met with success because he scared the other children and their parents and they treated him like an animal about to attack and maybe he was but they should have seen the abuse before he went feral to survive.
Instead Frank took to leaving for long periods of time, to going-to-who-knows-where with God-knows-who. That was fine with James because that meant he was free to make his own decisions.
That year was in some ways the best in his life and the worst in others because he was safe from everyone else and no one was there to hurt him but the voice had left him and now he was utterly alone and abandoned.
He turned twelve and Winona came back though Frank had been gone for almost two weeks. He did not hide from her this time; he wanted her to see what she had created. It didn't matter since she still would not look at him. Instead she told him of her divorce, that Frank had been stealing money from Samuel's tuition fund and that James was leaving Iowa to live on a colony that had been founded on another planet and would take him in provided he could work.
So at twelve James sets off for Tarsus IV.
AN: I am in desperate need of some feedback on this. This was originally a long one shot but I have decided to do it in chapters instead so that I can get some opinions on the quality of this work so I do not waste my time on writing something that is poorly done.
Nam-tor karik: Be strong
Nam-tor klon: Be smart
Dungau-sarlah nash-ven: I shall come.