Like My Father
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Author's note: last worldbuilding-hijacked-by-a-plotbunny prequel to the main act. Next part of the series will be the actual story.
Summary: Jim and Spock grow up. 21st century AU.
Spock was born as the first Vulcan-human hybrid to the most prominent mixed couple amongst the group that returned from Earth with the Seleya. He was observed closely, since he was the first trial in what might become a planet-wide effort to repopulate.
Jim was born immediately after his dad died while killing the aliens. He never left the farm, the first years of his life. His mommy only wanted to talk to him and Sam. He grew up on Sam's stories, who still had vague memories about the world outside, and with an unquenchable thirst to explore.
He had to go to school eventually.
He liked it, until his mother fell in love with his sports teacher.
"You are inferior," his Doctor informed him, though not in those words. His strength was less than that of a full-blooded Vulcan. He grew at a slower rate. His telepathy developed in a way more closely resembling humans' mirror empathy than true telepathy, though it was strong.
"You are inferior," his classmates said each time he could not explain how he had arrived at an answer, except that he knew it was correct. Intuition was a sign he lacked control, according to the Vulcan way.
"You are inferior," his father said each time he gently corrected him about a display of emotion. He was to be a Vulcan. It was his own choice. That did not make each correction sting less.
"You are inferior," he told himself each time he sought physical affection from his mother, who gave it to him freely.
He did not stop saying it until the time he saw his father and his mother hugging tightly beneath the sheets through the door of the bedroom. If his father was allowed such displays, so was he. He did not feel guilty next time he embraced his mother's waist.
He would be allowed such affection from another Vulcan, too, when he bonded.
In the meantime, he would train his mind until he could find the gaps in the logic of each of his classmates. If intuition told him an answer before he reached it through logic, no one but him had to know. Logic followed as quickly as lightning followed the path created before it by a ground-to-sky charge.
The boy was not normal. Frank despaired of him. He usually sat like jack-in-a-box during meals, vibrating until it was done and he exploded from the table and climbed walls and trees, explored fields and dug tunnels like the one that ran from the front yard to the back of the barn. Two hundred feet. It had taken him months to dig it.
Yet the boy could not be interested in any normal activity, like baseball or football or even a game of tag. He hadn't learned them and had no wish to do so.
Winona and Sam spent their time doing administration or schoolwork and chores until Jim came home, exhausted and beaming. They would take him for a shower and talk and read to him now he would sit still. About anything from Peter Rabbit to mechanics.
The boy was six.
He'd moved into the house after four months of dating Winona. Perhaps it had been too soon.
"You are she who will be my wife," Spock said to T'Pring.
"Affirmative." Her hair was piled high on her head in twists that diminished in inches according to his favourite number sequence, primes. He told her so. She inclined her head. "Can you explain the dynamic of your mind to me? I wish to prepare for our mind-link."
He inclined his head. "My father tells me it is quick and flexible."
"I am stable and well-constructed, my mother informs me. Perhaps we shall complement each other." She moved closer to him and offered two fingers. "It would be logical to test for compatibility."
He touched his finger to hers. After a few moments in which he felt little, he moved to put their palms together. "Stop!" she said.
"I do not detect much yet."
She let her hand fall away. "As previously stated, I am a stable person. On the other hand, you move very quickly, in unanticipated directions. It is well, but it will hurt me should we touch more intimately."
"Whereas I would seek a deeper connection to perceived you, you wish for..." He searched for a good word. "More subtlety."
"Yes." She moved to one side, turning towards the entrance. "It seems we must both find minds more similar to our own."
Her silver dress turned orange in the light of the summer sun. He found it to aesthetically pleasing. She would make a good mate to one who was compatible with her. "I have learned much from our encounter."
It was a compliment. He returned it. "I am gratified by the lesson you have taught me."
"It is one from which we shall both benefit." She raised her hand in a ta'al. "Peace and long life, he who would have been my husband."
"Live long and prosper, she who would have been my wife."
When their parents returned from their discussion with the healer, they found the Chamber of Engagement empty.
Sarek found their decision to be logical after Spock explained it to him. Amanda started laughing.
"Any nice girls in your class this year?" Frank asked Jim when he returned from his first day in third grade.
"I didn't like them. They liked me too much. One of them wanted to be my girlfriend because I looked at her for a second or something." He wrinkled his nose, which had a smear of dirt on it, and ran upstairs.
It would likely be the extent of their interaction for the day. Jim spent his life in his room or playing outside, now that his mother was away for months at the time consulting with several departments of Starfleet. The threat of Orions returning was ever present.
Sam was in Brazil, had an exchange program going on through his school. It would give him a good chance at getting into University.
Frank sighed and went outside to spend an afternoon at the bar. He didn't like this loneliness.
Sarek found Spock waiting for him in his office. He stood four feet from the desk, staring straight ahead. It was the position he took when he wanted to report something before Sarek found out through other channels. A green tinge around his eyes hinted at the cause.
"Greetings, my son." Reminders of their family tie sometimes helped to relax Spock.
Sarek did not appreciate the similarity between their relationship and the one he had with T'Pau.
Sarek seated himself. "You wish to report a physical altercation? Your eye appears to be discoloured."
"...Yes." Spock's hands unlocked behind his back and became a tense tangle in front.
"Your honesty is commendable." Sarek tried not to let on he was watching his son's hands unfold to hang quietly by his side. "Could you explain how it came about?"
Spock waited a moment before he confessed, in a whisper, "...I called a boy aesthetically pleasing. It was not appreciated." His hands had curled into fists. Sometimes he was easier to read than Amanda, who displayed multiple emotions at once.
"I see. You prefer males?"
Spock shook his head. "I prefer humans." His eyes met Sarek's for the first time. "Their minds are more compatible."
"You have confirmed this." It would be crucial information if Spock, who favoured Sarek physically, was more like Amanda mentally. It would require Puqjk to adjust his theories on hybrid development.
"Yes." He bowed his head. "I ask forgiveness, Father."
"It is freely given."
Because he felt he had to atone for his preference for humans, Spock made more of an effort in school, and rose to the top of his class. The Vulcan Science Academy expressed an interest in him.
T'Pau informed Sarek it would be politic if his son were to attend, to close the distance between the Academy and the House of Surak. Sarek so informed his son, not without misgivings.
Frank was on his way back to his bed from a midnight bathroom visit when he heard a clunk. That was not out of the ordinary. Jim's room resembled a workshop more than a bedroom these days. But this one, and the second noise, a clatter, came from the direction of the garage. The one that Winona had transformed into a cross between a laboratory and an office, and that remained locked while she was away. It contained classified files.
Frank went down the stairs as quietly as he could and threw open the door. Jim stood bent over a thick file, paper spread out over the desk, the screens of the computer lit up with several pictures of his father. The boy was reading the file on his father's death, the one that was sealed to anyone below the level of Admiral and to non-members of Starfleet. And he'd broken into a room almost as secure as the Pentagon to do it.
When he saw Frank, he straightened up, solemn for once.
"You are not supposed to read that," was all Frank could think to say.
His face twisted into a more familiar scowl. "How else am I going to find out?"
"Like you ever tell me anything."
"I tell you to wipe your shoes often enough." It was the wrong time to make a joke, Frank realised when the boy shut down entirely. He did not close the file or move or even blink.
"You need to put that away," he tried. Jim did, agonisingly slowly, marking the spot at which he'd been interrupted as if he was going to come back to it.
He yelled at the boy, but it didn't seem to make an impression. He phoned Winona. This was her mess.
That night, though he wouldn't remember it, he came home drunk after another night in the bar and hit Jim.
"You look so much like your father," he heard her say.
"So everyone tells me." Jim twisted so he leaned with a hip against the porch's railing. Bits of white paint clung to a smear of glue on his back. His shirt was dirty. He hadn't left his room for three days after his last encounter with Frank. He'd survived on trail bars. He was glad the split lip and the black eye showed. He made sure to stand in a patch of sunlight as she approached him.
"What happened, you got into a fight?" she put careful fingers on his chin and tilted his face into the light.
He snorted. "No, Frank finally lost his temper while too drunk to reign it in. He took it out on me."
"Oh honey, oh no."
"He needs to leave, mum. You kick him out or get him into a place to sober him up, I don't care, but he's turned into even more of a shithead than he already was."
His mother clicked her tongue in disapproval. "That man is practically your father. You will keep a civil tongue in your head while you talk about him."
"That man was never my father, mum. My father is a ghost who wears my face and has a shadow I can't escape and makes you cry on my birthday. A man I never met and nobody will tell me because he's sacred or something..." The sentence disappeared in her hair when she embraced him, her arms curling up his back to reach his shoulders.
"Have you tried talking to Frank about it?" she asked.
"He says he doesn't remember."
She patted his back. "Alright, honey, alright." She released him. Her face blanked and her shoulders went back, until his mum had changed into Admiral Kirk. "I will have a chat with him." Jim felt almost sorry for the man.
She informed Frank he had to leave and that he was welcome to come back when he was sober. He packed a bag quietly, disturbed by how little in the house was actually his, and went downstairs to say goodbye.
He found them in the living room, where Winona had a thick file open over her knees, Jim curled up next to her on the sofa, one grey and one blond head, hair tumbling in wild curls down both. "He knew the name of every man and woman he ever worked with," she was saying.
The boy he'd attempted to mold into something he could call a son raised his head. Dead George Kirk's eyes stared out of his face, depthless and unreadable. "Frank." It was an accusation. The bruises on the boy's face were a condemnation. He shivered.
Winona looked up as well. She did not rise from the couch. "You can see yourself out."
"Yeah," was the last word he said to a Kirk in his life.
Even when Winona and he had married, she'd kept her first love's name. He should have taken it for the warning it was. He signed the divorce papers when they arrived at his new address. He never did go anywhere to sober up. George Kirk's eyes looking out of Jim Kirk's face were enough of a warning to last him a lifetime as teetotaler.
It took two years to complete the Academy's entrance exam. Spock ended up in the top percentile. It was a success story the planet over. It doubled the supporters for an alliance with Earth overnight. Three hybrids planned to take the exam after him.
He appeared before the full board of directors in the formal reception hall of the Academy, the one where they met supplicants who needed to be intimidated. He deliberately lifted an eyebrow in a show of amusement. "Spock. Your test results show you will be a fine addition to the Science Academy, in spite of your unfortunate connections." The eyes of Sterax did not go to Spock's mother in the collection of parents on the right, as many would have done after a comment along those lines. They flicked over to his father, sat in the delegation from the Space Exploration and Defence Association invited for the annual acceptance ceremony.
"Could you clarify that last phrase, elder?"
"We would not wish to be accused of partiality, but your father's membership of a rather militaristic organisation is not a mark in your favour, despite the respectability of his House."
"I thank you." Spock turned on his heel and left the hall, ignoring the Sterax's call to explain himself.
His father found him chipping away at a small statue of a rose, one he was preparing for Amanda's birthday. "Spock. What was the meaning of your sudden departure?"
He put down his tools, but did not look at his father. "It is illogical belong to an organisation whose leaders are prejudiced against me or my heritage."
"I know you have been in altercations when your classmates insulted your mother. I am not she."
He turned around now. His father stood in the doorway still, as if ready to leave at any time. Spock found he would prefer him to stay.
"Our relationship has always been much more tentative," Sarek continued.
Spock rose, and dropped a perfectly constructed mental shield with each step he took. Finally, when he was within arm's reach of his father, he dropped the one in front of his parental links and allowed his mind to expand along them. From several streets away, he felt his mother respond with delight. She was likely buying ingredients for the stew he favoured. She persisted in plying him with treats, no matter his age.
His father froze. Too late, Spock remembered he had rarely allowed himself this freedom of mind when Sarek was close enough to notice. He dropped his gaze, until he felt two arms come around his shoulders. Stiffly he stood in his father's embrace, until he felt hands link together behind his back and he lifted his own to place them on his father's shoulder blades.
"She is not my only parent," he said.
"You always seemed to have the need to confess all your mistakes to me, as if I was a judge."
"To seek approval was a logical consequence of my regard for you."
They disengaged after another minute. Sarek had dropped his own shields. "Your mother will discover your gift for her if we remain here and she comes searching for us."
Spock nodded and turned to put his project back in its box. "Spock," his father said. He turned. "You will make a fine addition to SEDA, especially in light of your heritage."
When Spock came downstairs, he found the feedback from both their open minds made his mother hum, both mentally and physically. He seated himself across from his father, who seemed transfixed by his wife.
He sent a sense of puzzlement across their link. "It was her mother's favourite tune," Sarek whispered into his mind.
When Jim was sixteen, he finished high school.
No university accepted him. He had a rap sheet. Several fathers had reported him for breaking and entering when he had attempted to despoil their precious daughters, though those daughters were rather insistent in their invitations. He had set fire to a school lab. Several government offices had suffered from his hacking when they'd made legislation he didn't agree with or when he was bored. One shop had had all its products resorted in alphabetical order after he had been dared. The house of Riverside's football coach had been painted purple. Twice. He had been Frank's best friend.
Winona arranged for him to take an internship at Starfleet, cleaning runways with a cart and getting coffee for bored technicians running triple and quadruple checks over pieces of equipment. Like any officer, she believed in building character. Jim certainly had too much strength of will to let it stop him.
He got into fights for being smart and changed departments twice in his first month.
Then disaster struck, as far as the chief of engineering was concerned. The upstart intern ran into his most troublesome junior engineer, just transferred from England, where the local Starfleet office couldn't handle him and his big ideas any more.
Montgomery Scott refused to hear an engine might exist he could not build, eventually, even if he had to invent the raw materials and tools himself. Admiral Kirk's boy dreamed of the stars, never mind that humanity couldn't reach them yet.
After they'd gotten into a spectacular fight, he threw them out to let them cool off or get the fight out of their systems, whatever struck their fancy. Instead, they proceeded to get into an epic drinking contest, he heard from his wife, who'd had to drag them home in her police car after finding them in an alley.
The next morning, they arrived before him. He stumbled over them as he came in, both grim from their hang-over headaches but brainstorming an engine part that'd need a metal that didn't exist just for the screws. For his own health, he foisted them off on the faster-than-light department, which until then had consisted mostly of theoretical physicists.
He walked by once, a few months later, out of curiosity. Almost no one heard from them, aside from the greeting they exchanged in the morning with the receptionist and pots of coffee regularly requested by their shared office. Jim seemed to have become Scotty's assistant.
"But if ye'd put that here, it'd save us a world of trouble."
"Which would put anyone working on this floor at risk of being gassed because you don't have any space for auxiliary safety valves in these tubes. Unless you rerouted this part."
"Ye want a pool on the hangar deck? Yer a laugh a minute, kid."
"Then you tell me how you want to solve that?"
He decided not to open the door. More than one person had been yelled at by the Scotsman for interrupting them. If they wanted to make plans for conquering the world, or space, as the case might be, he'd let them.
A year and seven months after they started working together, they presented a design for a ship travelling faster than the speed of light to Admiral Kirk, she approved, and made anyone who dared to accuse her of nepotism when she promoted her son to ensign without any formal training copy War and Peace by hand.
They were three months into working out specifications for each part of their ship, with the help of specialists that started out disdainful, worked their way through shocked and constipated and, in some cases left at that point, and ended up cooperative.
Admiral Kirk was to be in meetings that day and the next, and likely the night as well. The commanding officers from several other departments of Starfleet, from Nevada, the former Roscosmos and ESA, as well as associates from new bases in Consolidated Africa and India. The last twenty years had seen a revolution in the field of space flight and, strangely enough, that had reflected itself in global politics.
Nevada, Africa and Russia produced their own prodigies to check on Kirk and Scotty's progress. A Californian surfer and a wide-eyed kid-genius were all ears. The femme fatale from Swahili was skeptical. She took out a red pen and stood squinting over the papers they'd scattered across a big table. Tablets with tables and illustrations and simulations lay scattered amongst them, some with fancy holographic technology that sent miniature space ships whizzing around. She made some notes, which made Scotty splutter until he saw what she'd done. "Where'd all those wires go?" He pointed to a part that had been stuffed like a doggy bag of spaghetti. It had been a crossroads where all information for all stations from the bridge came together to be rerouted to other parts of the ship.
"Unnecessary if you reroute these and these here. They can be combined with those." She handled the pen like it was a sword. Made a few more idle notes as if their plans were primary school essays.
Jim came over as well and took ten minutes to see what she meant. "You got any degrees in ship design?"
"Hardware infrastructure and communications, specialising in off-world scenarios. Spent a year hotwiring anything I could get my hands on in a patch of South-American jungle."
"I love you," Scotty said.
"The name's Uhura, my family used to be royalty and you'll have to be a billionaire before you can afford my bride price," she told him.
"Isn't that illegal nowadays, for a family to basically sell their daughter?" asked the Californian, Sulu.
"I didn't say the money would go to my family."
And that, it seemed, was Uhura's way of saying she liked them as well.
The kid-genius was silent until they started talking about the crew quarters' design, and he showed them how they could fit a palace inside a cardboard box if they did geometry like so. The kid made the ship slook like Hogwarts, all moving staircases and more rooms than could possibly fit until he explained it.
Nevada, Africa and Russia came to pick up their respective geniuses the next day. They were returned when Scotty and Jim bullied Winona into getting them transferred to Iowa.
When long-range scanners dedicated to scanning the Sol system picked up an Orion scout ship, Sarek and Spock arrived at SEDA for an emergency meeting within the hour.
"Report," Sarek said. Three-quarters of the original crew of the Seleya remained. Ten humans and ten new Vulcans had been added. Spock stood on his right.
"Earth continues to develop space ships at an accelerated rate to what we normally see in a society nearing their warp era. It will not be sufficient if Orion decided to invade their system now. The scout ship indicates their plans are large, they only send one if a fleet of twenty ships or more plans to attack. It will be a full-scale invasion, they will take any humans they can and slaughter everyone they cannot, as we have seen at Porriktana. Earth is on the eve of finishing and launching a set of ships that would double their fleet. In 149 days, they would be able to defend themselves until they achieved warp against anything but the combined Federation fleet. They would be the most well-defended pre-warp planet in the quadrant."
"And the Orions dislike this fact."
"The current situation-"
"Thank you, Lochan. Spock?"
"The three diplomatic teams are prepared." He and six others would attempt to contact the humans and convince them the Vulcans wished to help them. It would prevent a three-way war.
He nodded to each of his crew, dressed in sober black, only a silver stripe at the edge of their tunic marking some as officers. The double stripe down the front of his own tunic made him captain. Spock still wore plain black, though it would not be for long, if he continued as he had.
Sarek retired to his office to retrieve the last of his supplies. A call from T'Pau awaited him.
"Sarek. I do not approve. The Federation explicitly forbade us from interfering with Earth."
"I will not allow them to suffer from what we've done any more than they already have." It is my wife's planet of origin, he did not say.
She stared him down. Twenty years ago, it would have made him submit to her, no matter the strength of his own conviction. Now, he found, he could return her gaze.
"If you go, expect repercussions."
"I will die with honour or return victorious, T'Pau. If that makes me a traitor in the eyes of the Federation, I do not care. You will keep my wife safe. She belongs to our House."
The order made T'Pau's eyes widen slightly. "I will Sarek and-" Her head tilted "you do Vulcan proud." She raised her hand in a ta'al. "Survive and conquer, Sarek." The pre-Surakian greeting startled him as much as the rest of her announcement.
"Survive and stay safe, honourable elder." He closed the connection.
Spock awaited him in the hallway. "You were delayed."
"T'Pau called." He turned to his son to explain the conversation, but decided against it. T'Pau was best experienced first-hand, when the time came for him to do so. "She has promised to keep your mother safe."
"Lieutenant Kirk, please report to Admiral Kirk," a blonde ensign said. He flipped her a grin that made her blush and look down and better yet, made Uhura roll her eyes and Chekov giggle.
"Tell her I'm coming after we finish this." He indicated a model of the starboard engine.
"She said Code Green, sir." Everyone in the room stopped what they were doing.
He turned to them. "Start packing everything. We'll have to get out of here as soon as I finish." Uhura didn't even flip him a mocking salute. They set to work in silence.
He jogged over to his mother's office. "You bellowed?"
"Get in here." He closed the door behind him while she looked at him over folded hands. It would have been a relaxed pose, had her knuckles not been white. "They're back."
"Just one ship so far, a small one. We suspect it's scoping out the area before they all come. It's staying out of range, darting away as soon as we make a move to approach it."
She rose from behind her desk. "I've wiped all information on you from every system, Jim. You don't exist anymore, you don't work for us anymore. You'll be John Smith in a little village in Georgia, ID, records and everything, working covertly on your project."
"Mum, no!" he groaned.
"It needs to be done. You're too valuable to risk, Jim. Your team is coming with you."
"Yeah, but John Smith, seriously?" She chuckled and whacked him on the head.
"Uhura's Sara Jones, if it's any comfort."
He considered the homicidal look she would get after hearing that tidbit. "Her face is going to make my week. Tell me you have something good for Scotty."
"You didn't! You made him an Irishman!"
She nodded. "Yeah. Now, back to business. You're the team leader, but as main engineer on this project, Scotty will take the house with access to the bunker so he can continue his work unimpeded. You will have to find some non-obvious way to visit him."
"Or something along those lines. You will have secure tablets to work on, but you will need to lock and hide them if you have company. You will not be able to connect them to each other or the main server outside of the bunker. Any models you're working on will be shipped there. You 'll be able to have contact with the labs here and me, but no one else.
"Otherwise, you will be ordinary citizens in small-town America. Behave like it."
"I solemnly swear to pig out on hamburgers." If he felt bad about hiding while the rest of them would fight, he didn't show it. Both of them knew his brain was more valuable than any fighting he could do, at the moment.
"You'd better not, or you'll come back to me with love handles. You got that from your dad." She hugged him, and turned her face into his collarbone, as she had those many nights waking from nightmares filled with aliens when George comforted her. Now, the aliens were real, and it was her son she hugged, whom she needed to protect.
"I know it's the hard choice to make love, to stay behind when you could fight. I had to make it once." He squeezed her tighter, then let go.
She stepped back. "You have your marching orders, lieutenant. Complete them to the best of your ability."
"Yes ma'am!" He snapped her a smart salute, turned on a heel and left the room with a wink over his shoulder. She laughed.
Spock had donned his human costume. His mother had knitted the sweater for him when they had outlined this mission, two years and 136 days ago. Bulky, uneven and grey, it was nevertheless comfortable. It disguised several scanners, a communicator and the pair of phasers strapped to his sides. A beanie hid his ears.
His father had briefed him while he oversaw scans being taken of the planet and its surroudings.
The other teams had already beamed down to the three largest bases of "Starfleet", the humans' equivalent of SEDA.
"When we came here on our first mission, we met a human called Winona Harolds. We had her marked for observation and as a potential liaison between Vulcan and Earth. We did a scan for her, but have not been able to find her. We have found two males in the DNA-databank of her continent who have a 50.7% and 51.1% match to her genetic profile. We assume they are her sons, though they go by different names. One, Sam Kirk, has multiple people living in his house, thermal scans show, likely a family. We are sending you to the one living on his own, John Smith. We have found humans tend to be more open when you meet them individually. We suspect she may have remembered us, and if not, passed on her lack of prejudice towards aliens on to her children. It is our best chance of finding an acceptable liaison with the character and strength of will to convince others we mean no harm." He looked to the side. "Nikolai predicted that if we sent one of them, they would not be believed. It needs to be someone who looks Vulcan, but understands humans."
The human mentioned nodded. "Too many stories will surround our disappearance. They'll require physical evidence and someone who hasn't been missing for over forty Vulcan years."
"Understood. I will return as soon as possible."
"Contact us as soon as you know if John Smith is willing to help us. If not, we will beam you over to Sam Kirk."
Now, he waited for Spock to step up on the transporter platform.
"Stay safe, my son." He raised his hand in a ta'al while Spock dematerialised.