Title: Second-Best Destiny
Series: Star Trek AOS/TOS/TNG (set in the Rebootverse, additional characters from the other two)
Characters/Pairings: Spock, Kirk, Q, Ambassador Spock, TOS Captain Kirk, various
Warnings: Brief (apparent) character death. Spoilers for various TOS episodes and movies, mainly The Wrath of Khan and Generations. Minor spoilers for various TNG episodes including Sarek and Unification, creative license with both serieses and their characters. All references to any of the three universes has been footnoted for those who aren't Trekkers across the board.
Rating: PG-13, but for (apparent) character death only
Word Count: 50,800+
Summary: "Whatever our lives might have been, our destinies have changed." - AOS Spock, ST:XI. "You once said being a starship captain was my first, best destiny. And, if that's true, then yours is to be by my side." - Deleted Shatner scene from ST:XI, original reference to ST:II, The Wrath of Khan.
Destiny requires the existence of universal constants. Is the multiverse governed by random chance, or is it held together by the threads of universal constants - and if the latter, are Kirk and Spock two of them? With their universe threatened by the Q Continuum, AOS Kirk and Spock must discover how similar and yet how very different they are from their TOS counterparts, with highly unexpected results - including the reunion of two iconic figures having been parted for over ninety-five years.
Personal Notes: This story is an unmitigated fangirl reaction to the atrocious death of Starfleet's greatest hero in Generations, which was I believe the most lame of all hero deaths in cinematic history. I'm a die-hard TOS fangirl and always will be, and my heart breaks a little each time I watch Nimoy!Spock in ST:XI, all alone and stranded in this new universe. This is my humble attempt at fixing what Destiny royally messed up in both those universes, without destroying the timeline of either and hopefully without drawing in every cliche in the known Trek universe. It's entirely a double-Kirk-Spock story, and I'm trying to convey that by having all other characters be secondary and in brief appearances. Further explanations at the end of each chapter.
Second Personal Notes: I'd like to thank my good friend, longtime co-author, and beta, PGF (Protector of the Gray Fortress) for being my cheerleader from the start on this ridiculous venture. I procrastinated far too long, and she would not let me give up and let the story die a peaceful death halfway through.
This story was written for the startrekbigbang on LiveJournal; that's where I and my muse have been for the last three weeks, if anyone was wondering. There is beautiful art and a fanmix to accompany this story by those who signed up for my fic, and you can see it by visiting my LiveJournal (my homepage on my profile here) and clicking on the Master Post link. As an added disclaimer, this is my first time writing in the Rebootverse, as well as my first time writing Q. I spent many hours watching and re-watching XI and TNG in preparation for this fic, and so it is my best attempt though I know it isn't perfect. It's posted in the Reboot section as it's really a Reboot character study, not a true crossover.
"As an admittedly above-average intelligent human, you surely cannot profess to truly believe in such a transient ideal."
Skepticism, especially I-am-Vulcan, hear-my-logic skepticism, was something James Tiberius Kirk – Captain James Tiberius Kirk, thank you – was pretty much used to hearing by this point, almost exactly one year into their five(he's still holding out for ten if something doesn't blow them up first)-year mission.
Sniping with (read: at) Spock was also something he was used to, although his First always called it "discussion" and Bones called it "bickering" and Uhura just laughed and the rest of the Bridge crew placed bets on how long it would be before an eyebrow went up or he dropped an inappropriate innuendo just to see Spock blush.
"Did you just call me above-average intelligent?" He gaped for a moment at the expressionless features of his First, and then swiveled his chair dramatically toward his helmsman. "Mr. Sulu, did my First Officer just call me above-average intelligent?"
"For a human," Uhura clarified helpfully from behind him, and the nearest crew members grinned.
He only smirked, because by now he was able to read his Spock well enough to know the guy closed his eyes instead of rolling them, and he'd done it twice in the last two minutes.
Not that he'd been keeping tally, or something.
He was saved from getting his own back with half-Vulcan vengeance by the incoming transmission about their imminent mission, and soon afterward the subject was forgotten amid the chaos of an away contact gone badly, horribly wrong. Through no fault of their own, he and his team barely escaped from the negotiations with their lives, and that only through the quick action of his First Officer, who had assimilated the possibilities, diagnosed, and called for medical assistance before anyone died – for which he was grateful, because they were rarely that fortunate.
He should have known better than to think Spock forgot about the topic, however; for he'd barely fought his way out from under Bones's post-emergency sedation when the subject was broached again.
He wasn't sure whether it was the medication, the nausea smoldering low in his stomach, or the fact that Spock was waiting patiently (with much eyebrow-frowning in what probably wasn't the concern that it looked like) beside his bed for him to wake up, that made him want to sniffle like a girl; maybe all of them, but he decided he was going with the medication answer for now.
Or, the fact that he would cheerfully empty his stomach on the spot, were it not for the fact that he was so not about to throw up all over his First Officer. He'd save it for when Bones came back to check the IV drip in his hand.
"Being poisoned sucks," was his first articulate observation to anyone within earshot, and he heard a snort from the nearby desk.
"Indeed." The placid rejoinder came from beside his left ear, and he turned his head so he didn't get a crick in his neck trying to talk to Spock.
"Status?" Yeow, it hurt to talk. Just eye movement made his stomach roll over and do a dozen other tricks, and in addition his throat was on fire.
Spock didn't skip a beat, but he did glance pointedly over desk-ward. A muttered curse drifted pleasantly toward them. Ah, Bones. "The ship is currently still in orbit around Durinius, Captain," he was informed in his First's placid, unruffled tones. "The High Chancellor insists that he knew nothing of his aide's actions in the attempt to poison the negotiating party."
"That's a load of –"
"I am aware," Spock interrupted wryly. "Starfleet Command has ordered a halt to the proceedings pending an investigation by a substitute ship and ambassadorial party. Once relieved by theambassadorial vessel Lincoln, we may leave orbit and continue on our mission to chart the Phi Delta sector."
"And good riddance," was the grumpy mutter from the other side of his head, and something blue and cranky leaned over him to check the IV drip's levels. "Took me two hours to pump you all's stomachs, and you would be allergic to the poison antidote, you moron."
He wanted to laugh at the annoyed look that crept unnoticed into his First's eyes; Spock as a rule got more irritated with people for getting on his case than he did with Jim's idiocy himself. It was kind of adorable, actually, though if he were ever to say so he was well aware the action would stop on the instant. Which is why he only thought those kinds of things, and that much only when he was doped to the gills on whatever Bones currently had him pumped full of.
"How do you feel, Jim?" Bones was asking, and from the worried edge in his voice it was probably the third time he'd been asked. Whoops.
"Gross," he decided was the most descriptive word after a pause for consideration. He moved his head from Spock to turn it toward Bones, and realized that was an extremely bad idea.
"Yeah, gross is the word," was the echoing observation, as his stomach protested the lurching in the customary way. Luckily for Spock's shoes, Bones was a fast man with a basin.
"A little sympathy here?" he gasped, swallowing painfully against an already raw throat.
"I'm a doctor, not a nursemaid," Bones grunted sourly, and settled him back down on the bed before leaving to dispose of what was left of his stomach lining.
He cocked a pleading gaze at Spock, with (not unusually) no result.
Pouting was out of the question, simply because it would expend too much effort to be worth it, and so he settled for sighing drearily and staring at the ceiling in vacant misery.
Spock's peace offering of a bendy-straw-crowned water cup mollified him somewhat, and when he kept the four ounces of fluid down it made him happy enough to love the whole world.
Except sniveling little governmental aides who lace the planet's equivalent of coffee with enough vegetable alkaloid to kill a horse.
He was about to inquire about the status of the other landing party members when two of them, Ensigns Suroven and Tompkins, scuttled hastily through the ward, casting a wary look behind them.
Spock's eyebrow bounced up to his hair and back down again.
"I think I deserve my own room, 's often as I come here," he observed a moment later, after he was sure the water was still going to play nice with his stomach.
"I do not believe that would be incentive for you to avoid circumstances that might place you here."
He grinned, because he knew it annoyed Spock. "So, about that…think you can bust me out of here before Bones comes back?"
"Negative, considering that he is currently standing in the doorway, eavesdropping," Spock replied, flicking a glance to the entry.
"You move a finger from that bed and I'll have you strapped down for five days, Jim," the physician snarled, and then disappeared in a flurry of grumpiness, probably to beat his head against the nearest solid object to hand.
Jim stared. "How does he do that?"
"I would not know, sir."
Judging from the rapidity with which Security Chief Giotto came slinking out of the observation ward a minute later, Jim was getting off easy with the good doctor – due to his standing as a returning customer, no doubt.
Giotto spied him and snapped a sloppy half-salute, earning a disapproving Vulcan glare.
"Hey hey, Cupcake," he greeted the man with a smirk, ignoring the annoyed look he got in response before his SC quickened his pace to avoid being called back by a cranky Chief Medical Officer. (1)
His brain felt a little fuzzy around the edges, which meant Bones's meds were kicking in at random times again, and he yawned so suddenly it startled both of them.
"I shall leave you to your rest, Captain," Spock said, and began to stand.
He waved in protest, though it looked more like a floppy hand dive into the blanket. "'M not really sleepy," he explained thickly, despite the annoying fact that his eyes would barely focus. Suddenly he remembered what time it was, and he nearly shot out of bed, jack-knifing upright and setting off all kinds of alarms in the monitors overhead.
Swearing erupted from the other room, and Spock reacted instantly, slapping at the minor klaxon that wailed to tattle on the patient's precipitous actions. Jim flopped back onto the pillow as a strong hand planted itself with force against his blanketed chest, and closed his eyes until Bones was done ranting about his senselessness.
Finally the melee died down, and he opened his eyes to meet Spock's stern ones. "I forgot?" he tried sheepishly, and received no quarter. He scowled. "We're going to miss our conference call with Old You, Spock," he added mournfully, and sincerely so, for he did enjoy them even if Spock – his Spock – protested every time about the communication.
Spock twitched. "Is the Ambassador aware that you call him that?"
He shrugged. "I think he thinks it's funny. No really," he added, as Spock's eyebrow glared at him, "his mouth does that little twitchy thing that yours does when you're trying not to laugh at one of us being an idiot…like that time on Gamma Tortuga when Bones fell in that puddle of fluorescent blue mud and looked like a grumpy blueberry for days…"
"I have already contacted the Ambassador and informed him of your status," and yes, he was definitely getting ignored regarding the whole Vulcans-don't-have-a-sense-of-humor-thing, "and he will postpone the call until such time as you are able to converse coherently." Spock was miffed, he could tell – not that he'd ever admit it, but the guy could be awfully jealous sometimes and the whole thing was a touchy paradoxical subject anyhow. The next words proved it. "As it stands, it would cause no great harm to simply skip this week's call, Captain."
"When are you going to get off that soapbox, Spock?" he asked, as the first real flare of irritation he had felt in a long time flared up to burn in his gut along with the nausea.
Spock had the grace to not feign ignorance of the expression. "I simply believe you are foolhardy to so tamper with the timestream as to ask some of the questions you do, Captain. Despite the fact that the Ambassador refuses to answer many of them, I nonetheless question your wisdom in gaining any knowledge we are not meant to have; nothing more."
He sighed in more than just physical exhaustion. "Our timestream's already been tampered with, Spock; you know that better than I do. I believe in using every resource available to beat unfair odds, and you believe that's cheating. We'll just have to agree to disagree." He was so tired, he realized when the last few words slurred into a prolonged yawn.
Spock didn't argue the point, because they'd already done it so often it was like a memorized standup routine now. They would probably never agree on it, but he'd found to his fascination that there were an awful lot of things that he and Spock just simply liked to disagree on – friendly fighting could be enjoyable (or fascinating, was Spock's code word for it).
He was unprepared for the lights to dim in his cubicle at Spock's voice command, and scowled sleepily up at the Vulcan as he turned to leave. But halfway across the room, his First paused, looked back at him, hands clasped serenely behind his back.
"I would be interested in finishing our discussion which was interrupted earlier on the Bridge, Captain, tomorrow after our conference call."
He cracked one sleepy eye, muddled brain taking a few seconds to process the fact that his First Officer wanted to have a philosophical debate about destiny, of all things, right after talking to his time-paradox of an old self.
His brain was hurting way too badly to make sense of that. "Sure thing," he mumbled, half into the pillow, and he barely heard Spock refilling the water cup and leaving it by his bed before he blinked out so quickly he later wondered if he'd been given a voice command somehow.
"So you don't believe in it."
"I do not," Spock agreed. Thin fingers lingered for a moment on the black rook, as his First made certain he wished to complete that move.
"I suppose you believe it's illogical to believe in something so intangible as destiny?"
"More that it is illogical to believe there are certain absolutes which exist in each universe, certain events and people whose existence is preordained by some unknown force such as you refer to. Check."
He was losing, but at least this time he had lasted longer than fifteen minutes. One thing in which he evidently differed from Old Spock's Jim Kirk was that he was really not that good at chess. His interests lay elsewhere during the Academy; while he knew the game and how to play a good one, he didn't really enjoy it as much as a physical workout or other, more active, pursuits. (2)
"Well when you put it like that it sounds dumb, of course," he grunted, and shoved his remaining bishop into place to block the check.
"In which way would you like me to 'put it', Captain?"
"Look, do I have to die on an away mission to get you to call me 'Jim,' or what?" he asked.
"I would prefer you did not."
"Well maybe I will to spite you then." Sticking his tongue out at his First was a highly unprofessional action, but since when had that ever stopped him?
Spock ignored him and only swept his queen down to the lowest level with a look of unholy smugness. "Checkmate."
He tipped his king, yawning to show that he didn't really care about the game and therefore Spock shouldn't be too full of himself over beating him (in reality he was seething, but that would only make the guy more smug).
"I take it from your adverse reaction, that you do believe in destiny, Captain?"
"Jim," he growled, but with no real animosity. "And…yeah, I think I do."
"May I inquire why?" There was real curiosity in Spock's deep eyes, and the absence of any petty animosity mitigated the sting of his next words. "I would think that you would have a rather low opinion of this force of Destiny, since a flaw in what was its original flow of time killed your father."
"And your mother," he pointed out, but gently (they were well past petty jabs at each other in that area, and could discuss the events like the adults they were), and received a calculated nod before Spock's eyes shuttered down into cool detachment.
He knew better than to believe what he saw, and so he went on. "I never said it hadn't screwed up along the way, Spock," he began, leaning back in his seat with his legs stretched out in front of him. "But I have to believe there's some kind of destiny out there."
He gave a one-shouldered shrug, but swallowed before he let the words fall. "Because…" and this was harder than he'd have thought to speak about, even more than a year after the fact, "…because if there's no destiny in the universe, Spock…I don't see how Bones, and Uhura, and you and I, and a few other lucky people we care about…got assigned to the Enterprise in the Battle of Vulcan (3). I don't see how we could have been so lucky as to have the helmsman sick and Sulu replace him, forget to disengage the inertial dampener, putting us just far enough behind the Fleet that we survived the initial slaughter. I don't see how random chance could have worked out in our favor every single time that day – if even one thing had gone differently, we might only be space debris now."
His voice was more like a whisper, out of respect for those not so fortunate as they had been, and from the sudden light of realization in Spock's eyes he knew the reasoning had hit home.
"I mean, when I think about how easily Bones could have been assigned to the – the Farragut," and no, his voice wasn't cracking still, remembering Gaila and her gorgeous smile…no, that thought route was a bad idea right now, "or how Uhura actually was until you switched her –"
Spock flinched despite that famed Vulcan control, and he knew enough to back off before the crack in the granite of his First's expression became a fissure.
"I have to believe in it, Spock," he finished with a gesture of helplessness. "There has to be some kind of destiny in the universe, even if it's warped from what it should have been. Otherwise think of how many variables would have had to become massive coincidence to bring us to where we are today? If you'd jettisoned me on any planet other than Delta Vega – for Pete's sake, don't pull the guilty puppy-eyes routine again, I'm just using an example – or if Old You hadn't remembered that transwarp beaming equation, or if Pike hadn't seen those Romulans sneaking up behind me while I was springing him, or if you hadn't gone to warp when you did and took the Narada away from the Sol system so that massive wormhole didn't suck the whole quadrant in, or –"
"Enough, Jim," Spock interjected, and the idea of his being so discourteous as to interrupt showed clearly how disturbing the guy found this conversation. "I see your reasoning for belief in such a system of destiny, but I do not believe our lives are governed by some force as you describe. To believe in such would take away the freedom of choice and free will afforded to every being in the galaxy."
"I'm not saying Destiny decided my favorite color would be green and that I'd have corn flakes for breakfast this morning, Spock," he replied with a grin, and saw the tension fade from his First's pinched features at his flippancy. "But there are certain, more important, things that you can't explain as just monstrous coincidences. Can you?"
Spock's eyebrows did their knitting-together thing. "I cannot explain the chain of events you describe as entire coincidence," he admitted slowly. "But the majority of them were simply the logical progression of thought processes and decisions – human or otherwise – to set in motion that same chain of events. A certain element of random chance must be factored into the equation, in addition to the will power of decision."
"You're just sticking a different label on it and calling it 'logical decision-making,'" he protested, all interest in a chess rematch forgotten in the euphoria he always got from talking nerdy with Spock. "Tomato, to-mah-to. I call it Destiny, you call it logical decisions and an element of random chance operating in our favor."
"As you called it utilizing every resource available to you to beat the odds, and I simply called it cheating."
"Heh." So Spock did have a sense of humor, layered in between the stiffness like the surprise guacamole in the middle of a seven-layer dip. "Well, I can't argue with your beautiful logic, Mr. Spock," he finally said, throwing his hands up in the air in an exaggerated gesture of defeat.
"A wise decision, to not attempt it," was the sage observation, just as his inter-comm whistled.
It never ended. He reached over, chair tipping precariously on its back supports, and slapped haphazardly at the switch. "Kirk here."
"Sir, deflector shields have picked up an anomaly in space zhat is not on our charts," Chekov's voice filtered through, accent heavily pronounced due to excitement. "You had better bring the Commander up and see for yourself, Keptin."
"Could you possibly be more specific in details than 'an anomaly,' Mr. Chekov?" Spock's voice intoned behind him, and he resisted the urge to grin at the sudden squirming he was sure was going on on the other end of the communication.
"Aye, sir, right avay, sir…eet appears to be a…fluctuation of energy, sir."
He could practically hear Spock's patient mentoring sigh. "Type of energy, Ensign?"
Fantastic. He sighed, rubbed a hand over his eyes, as Spock looked ceiling-ward in that gods-help-me-I-live-amongst-idiots expression he used far too often.
"But the sensors say there ees nothing there, Commander," the Russian whiz kid's voice articulated quickly, and then he rattled off a series of numbers and statistics to prove the thing, whatever it was, couldn't really be there or it would register.
"Chekov, continue monitoring," he instructed, wishing for something a little more exciting than a sensor malfunction to happen. "We'll be up there shortly. And –"
"Keptin, the energy reading ees speeding toward us! It's –"
"INTRUDER ALERT," the generic female tones of the computer warned cheerfully. "Repeat, Intruder Alert. All hands, General Quarters. Alert status."
The back supports of his chair thudded on the durasteel and rocked crazily as he shot out of his seat seconds after Spock had already darted from the room, all thoughts of destiny and chance and random factors operating in their favor forgotten.
(1) I am, for anyone who doesn't already know this, a continuity geek, and though I know it's been done before, I do like the idea of the TOS Security Chief Giotto's counterpart being the individual we see in the AOS as 'Cupcake.' Yes, it's been done before, I am aware, but I think it's the most…logical, conclusion.
(2) A common misconception among TOS-ers is that James Kirk beat Spock all the time at chess. We only see him actually beat Spock once, in Charlie X, and we see him on the odd occasion giving Spock a run for his money. However, we do not see him beating Spock often, as people seem to believe. I don't see the AOS Kirk as deriving the same enjoyment from the game as TOS Kirk, more because he seems to prefer active sports. They may be alternate persons, but they are not the same person, and therefore I chose to make some subtle differences in character.
(3) I've no idea if that's the fanon name for the Nero disaster; I've seen it in a few fics but as we don't see it specifically named in canon I've chosen to go with that for now as it seems the most logical name.