The Once & Future Captain
Summary: The crew of the Enterprise is tasked with a classified mission to find a translation device that was developed by Hoshi Sato before her death. The mission takes the Enterprise to the mysterious Tarsus IV, a dead planet that once supported a thriving colony. Concerned about Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Riley's alarming behavior, the crew delves into Kirk's old life on Tarsus IV, uncovering the hidden horrors in the planet's past and finally understanding their Captain in a way they'd never though possible.
Author's Note: This was written for the 2011 Star Trek Big Bang hosted over on LiveJournal. Writing this was one hell of a ride. Believe it or not, this entire fic came about from this crazy idea I had that if AOS!Kirk sang, he'd sound like Darrin Criss from Glee. And if he had a voice like that, he had to have been in Glee club. And why would no one know this? Because he was in Glee club on Tarsus IV and he never ever talks about Tarsus IV. That's how it started, folks. No joke. (And funnily enough, the first 10,000 or so and last 1,000 or so words were written on my iTouch when I was supposed to be working, or on my lunch break, or sleeping. Fun times.) And in my head, Tarsus IV is essentially the bastard child of Pleasantville and Miranda from Serenity.
I'd like to thank wyntreaurora for her cheer leading and awesome job as a beta fixing all the hot mistakes I made. Big thanks also go out to witblogi for her cheering and willingness to listen to me talk about my fic for hours on end. Also in deserving of thanks are jactrades for her GORGEOUS fanmix and moonfoot_gamgee for the STUNNING art. (The art and fanmix can be found at maleficium_tg over at LiveJournal by checking the "Fanfiction: Star Trek XI" tag.)
Finally, while I took liberties with what is known from Tarsus IV, such as speculating on how long the colony existed, adding in Hoshi Sato (due to an episode of Enterprise which had her presence there as cut material), as well as moving up the ages of Jim and Riley, I did use Memory Alpha as well as Memory Beta for reference. I also used Khemorex Klinzhai as a reference for the Klingon swearing that Jim and Hoshi use.
Finally, this a COMPLETED fic and there will be no further updates.
For the first time in as long as he could remember, alpha shift was going smoothly - no troublesome transmissions or space anomalies. There were no injuries to be tended to, save a first-degree burn on Scotty's hand that he acquired while correcting a lieutenant's honest mistake in trying to repair a burnt-out science console.
Because of this unusual occurrence, it was possibly not a particularly smart thing to do on Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy's part when he put his feet up on his desk with fifteen minutes left of shift to go, and muttered, "Perfect day so far. Nothing else to do."
It was only after he'd said it that he sat up abruptly, cursing the words that had so carelessly slipped from his mouth. "Damn it."
He knew better. Right? Right.
After all, the ship he was on was the Enterprise.
One Year Ago
"Dammit!" Bones cursed, giving the computer an irritated glare. "Damn machines! This is Doctor McCoy, Leonard Horatio, Chief Medical Officer of the USS Enterprise, requesting full medical records on Captain Kirk, James T., authorization 8-2-november-gamma-4-5. Comply."
"Full medical records are sealed. Unable to comply."
"Dammit. What do you need? A goddamned blood sample? Look, just give me all information available on James T. Kirk, okay? Whatever isn't fucking sealed or redacted. Hell."
"And send it to my personal PADD in my quarters, will you?"
"Doctor McCoy? Your 14:00 physical is here." His head nurse, pretty and blonde and six different kinds of competent had appeared at his office door.
"Thank you, Christine. I mean, Nurse Chapel. Sorry. Those old southern doctor habits are hard to break," he said with a smile. "Any sign of our fearless leader?"
"It's quite alright, Sir. And no, Captain Kirk hasn't reported in yet. However, Commander Spock is currently with Dr. M'Benga."
Bones nodded. "He did a good portion of his internship on Vulcan before..." He steeled himself. "Before the Narada Incident. Mr. Spock has listed him as primary physician and I agree. He's best suited for dealing with Mr. Spock's unique heritage." He was rambling, he realized.
Chapel nodded thoughtfully. "Lieutenant Q'Nel'Ka is waiting in room 5."
"And Doctor McCoy," Chapel said, almost if having an afterthought.
"Captain Kirk's records aren't the only crew member's that are sealed. Lieutenant Riley, your 14:30, his are sealed as well. I tried pulling them up with the rest on your itinerary this morning and I got the same message you did. What information is available is loaded onto the charts for you."
"Thank you," Bones said as he locked his computer. "I'll make a note of it. Now, I have a patient to clear for duty. Damned bureaucracy, it'd be a hell of a lot easier if they'd just mandate physicals prior to ship launch." He left for room 5, leaving a bemused Nurse Chapel in his wake.
Lieutenant Q'Nel'Ka was waiting patiently for him. He gave her a once-over as he picked up the waiting chart. "I'm glad to see that you recovered from that case of Neljerian Grass Rash. I trust you haven't had any complications?"
"No, Sir. That antibiotic cream you prescribed took care of it straight away," she said, reptilian eyes flashing. "You were most helpful, Doctor McCoy."
"Great. Now, time for the standard questions. Just answer to the best of your abilities and we'll get through this with minimal pain, eh?"
"Certainly, Doctor McCoy."
The physical went smoothly and Lieutenant Q'Nel'Ka was approved for duty. ("Just watch those samples in the botany lab, y'hear?")
Bones went ahead and pulled up Lieutenant Riley's record as he went to check on the general status of his sick bay. He saw Spock leave after a parting word with Dr. M'Benga while a young ensign nervously awaited the other doctor's attention. And then he returned to room 5 and turned his attention to Riley's file.
Large portions were redacted. The entire section that should have covered his early adolescence was almost completely blacked out, figuratively speaking. After the age of sixteen, his record picked back up, continuing on into his enlistment and current service in Starfleet.
There were a handful of discrepancies in his records, things that suddenly appeared, like anemia and a weakness in his heart muscles. He had a strong feeling that the inconsistencies were related to the areas that had been sealed.
He pressed the comm panel. "Lieutenant Riley, Please report to room 5 of Sickbay."
"On my way, Sir!"
Bones waited for maybe four minutes before Riley strolled in, as was his habit. His Academy boot camp instructors might have broken him of the habit for the three-week camp and for Cadet Formation, but they'd failed to remove the habit entirely. Unless it was an emergency or unless time was of the essence, if Riley was going anywhere, he was strutting or strolling. McCoy inwardly rolled his eyes. The kid reminded him of Jim, sometimes so much it was uncanny.
"Lieutenant Riley, reporting for my yearly!" Riley said with a jaunty salute that was a few degrees off regulation.
"Well then, stop standing around like an idiot and hop up on the bed," Bones said, waking up the scanner.
"Gee, Doc, do you treat all the patients this well or am I just special?" Bright brown eyes smiled up at him, well used to his gruff demeanor.
"Sarcasm. How original. You're a real pioneer, Riley."
"Wait until you see the statue they erect in my honor."
"Right. Vitals look good," Bones said, reading the scanner in conjunction with the bio-bed's readouts. "You haven't reported any health issues in the past six months, so I'm guessing you feel all right?"
"Oh, I feel fit as a fiddle," Riley answered with a smirk.
He guided Riley through the physical, all professionalism. He ruined that quickly after, however. "Well, I'd say you're fit for duty. No anemia that I can see and your heart health is just about perfect, Lieutenant."
The easy-going smile had faded abruptly from Riley's face. He was eyeing Bones wearily, now. "Read my file, did you?"
"I'm your CMO and main physician; of course I read your medical history. It's required."
"Right," Riley nodded stiffly. "Are we done here?"
"Is there a reason why your records are sealed, Riley?" Bones pressed, unable to help himself.
"Yes, Sir, there is. But one, it's classified and two, even if it weren't, it still wouldn't be any of your damn business. Starfleet only dictates that records go back to the age of 16. Have a good one, Doc."
Riley was out of the exam room before Bones could blink.
Damn it, he thought, damn it all to hell.
He didn't give much thought to the incident after a freak power surge caused by warping past a star system in the middle of ion storms damaged 30% of the ships consoles and led to sickbay being overrun with those unfortunate enough to be on duty at the consoles when the surge hit. The ship was at yellow alert and he didn't have to contact Kirk to know that some of the injuries were serious.
"Nurse Chapel! Start setting up triage. M'Benga, operating room 1 is yours. I'll take OR 2."
For the next five hours, Bones was in surgery, repairing internal organs, using the OR regenerators for skin grafts, and in one case, correcting severe retina damage in one unfortunate ensign. M'Benga wasn't faring much better, he was sure.
At the end of the day, hours after his shift was supposed to have ended, Bones was hungry, sore, and oddly refreshed. He'd been in his element, helping others, saving lives. He made a sweep of the sickbay, checking on patients with injuries deemed serious enough to be kept for observation and reading reports on those who manage to scrape by with mere first or second degree burns.
He finally briefed the medical staff reporting for their shifts on the situation in sickbay and turned over responsibility to Nurse Burke, who presided over beta shift.
He retired to his quarters, ordering a tray up from the mess. It wasn't his usual habit; normally he was very adamant about doing such things himself and any other time he would have gone to the mess and eaten there, but he was just too tired and he needed a shower.
He didn't like the sonic showers, though he admitted that they did an adequate job in cleaning and disinfecting. Even more, some people actually preferred them. He was always going to favor water showers, however. There was nothing like a hot stream of water cascading down a body, soothing away the day's aches and worries. Yeah, he was a sentimentalist.
He ignored the water setting, not caring to use up his monthly allotment. He stripped, turned the shower on, and stepped in. The steady pulsating vibrations were quick and efficient and he left the shower feeling marginally cleaner then he'd been when he'd started it.
By the time he was toweled off and dressed, a chime at his door had him bidding "Enter," and the young ensign on mess hall duty quickly deposited his tray on Bones's table before saluting "Sir!" and beating a hasty retreat.
Damn it. Was he that intimidating? Whatever. He was a doctor, not a social butterfly.
He fetched his PADD from his bedside table and noticed the blinking light indicating that he had a new message and a new update to his PADD's library. Heaving a sigh, Bones sat down and started in on his dinner (roast beef and mashed potatoes) before playing the message to see what Jim wanted.
Jim's message was fairly typical.
This is Captain Kirk.
He rolled his eyes. I'm checking to see if you're free tomorrow for my physical. I figure you can give me an internal exam and then, you know, give me an internal. Haha! Get it? Bones sighed heavily at Jim's childish humor; flirting was second nature to Jim Kirk and Bones had actually been on the receiving end of worse come-ons from Jim. Anyways, I'm off duty tomorrow at 0300 and I figure I might as well get it over with. Send me a message or let me know. I'll be playing chess with Spock tonight. Kirk out.
It was typical Jim behavior, mixing duty with humor. Of course, he'd sent it through personal means and not official channels, so there was no chance of Starfleet getting a hold of the message and reprimanding it's newest captain for sexual harassment and conduct unbecoming an officer. But Bones didn't honestly mind the messages. It was just Jim being Jim, and he knew there wasn't any ill will behind it. He'd long since gotten used to the sexual innuendos and come-ons that were day-to-day hazards of being best friends with Jim.
To the best of his knowledge, he was the only person on crew to get such messages. Uhura would be less then amused if Jim sent her a message like that (and Jim, like most officers on board, respected the hell out of Uhura too much to dare), and Gary Mitchell and Gaila, Jim's biggest cohorts at the Academy besides Bones himself, had died while stationed on the Farragut. So Bones would be the only person getting this type of message from Jim.
He frowned slightly at Jim's mention of an evening with Spock. Those evenings were becoming fairly more common as Captain and First Officer attempted to understand each other better. Bones didn't want to admit he was jealous though. It wasn't as if he could have Kirk's evenings to himself like the good old days at the Academy, after all.
Jim had told him that he and Spock were supposed to have this deep friendship according to the Older Spock, because that Spock and his Jim Kirk had had a deep (Jim had used the word "epic," actually) friendship. Where this would eventually leave Bones, he wasn't sure. But until the day came where Jim trusted Spock over him, Bones would always have his back. Fuck, he was enough of a sap and cared about Jim enough that he'd have his back no matter what.
Jim's message reminded him... Bones still had all the information available on Jim to read, waiting right there for him on his PADD. He was half terrified of what he'd find; the minimal information he'd had as Jim's primary physician back at the Academy wasn't terribly promising: poorly mended bones and allergies to several common medications and several of Starfleet's top psychologists signing off on Jim's competence to be on Command Track. Slight anemia and several treatments to restore bone density had been recorded as well.
His mind started racing as he pulled up Jim's file with the information now available to him as CMO of the Enterprise. Medical history up until he was 13 was fairly standard: a broken arm from falling from a tree at age 6, allergy reports and decontamination treatments for radiation he'd experienced during and immediately after birth (the reason his eyes were so blue). The typical records for a healthy young boy full of mischief, really. Then after age 13, all history was redacted. Nothing else was available until Jim was 16. And then it was similar to Lieutenant Riley's file: anemia, vitamin deficiency, and heart weakness. Everything treated and fixed, of course, but still... the same problems with the same shady medical records...
What the hell was going on?
He didn't get a chance to ask Jim about it during his physical; there were too many other crew members to clear and Jim was skittish enough around sickbay (and doctors in general) as it was. Bones decided not to press his luck at actually having Jim cooperate with him in sickbay for once.
In fact, he didn't approach Jim about it until one night a few weeks later when he and Jim had free to spend in Bones's quarters, playing cards and drinking the alcohol they'd managed to smuggle onboard.
"Shoot Bones," Jim had said, unconcerned after a few drinks. Bones had asked if he could ask a personal question. "I'm an open book for the most part. But if you're finally ready to tap this after all this time, you're going to have to work for it." He gestured to his body, currently sprawled out ungracefully on one Bone's un-regulation chairs, the one that was like a bowl with a cushion and sat on a stand. (The sales lady had been so pretty that he hadn't thought twice about buying the damn thing.)
Bones didn't play around; he ignored Jim's come-on and got straight to the point. "Jim, I finally got a hold of what I could of your records when I became CMO. They're more complete than what I had at the Academy, but there's still large parts missing. Why are your records sealed?"
Jim tensed up before sliding his face into the grin that he wore when he was on the defensive and trying to play it off. "Nothing to worry about Bones."
"Jim, you can talk to me-" but he was cut off.
"I'm not interested in talking about it, Bones," Jim said firmly. "Starfleet has everything it needs to know and everyone involved signed off on it."
"Dammit Jim, I'm trying to-"
"Bones, drop it!" Jim's voice was far harsher than he'd ever heard directed at him in all their acquaintance.
"That's an order, Doctor," Jim said flatly. He stood from the chair and left Bones's quarters without so much as a backward glance.
It took a couple of weeks for Jim to warm back up to Bones after that little incident of stubborn assholery. It had been a lonely period of exile from Jim's good graces. Jim was civil, but instead chose to spend time with the other crew members, like Spock and Scotty... and also (and it had to be more than a coincidence or his name wasn't Leonard Horatio McCoy) Kevin Riley.
Jim hadn't really expressed any interest in talking to Bones at all until his expertise had been needed on an away mission to Raja III. There had been an ambush (What was it with the Enterprise and getting attacked?) and McCoy had fallen victim to a few different types of venomous darts. Spock had thrown him over his shoulder and raced him back to the beam-down spot and requested an emergency beam up directly to sickbay. (He'd later sent Spock a fruit plate from the kitchen (which had required a bit of bribery) in gratitude, along with a message to please never mention that humiliating moment again, thanks.)
Dr. M'Benga (Geoff, he supposed. He should at least call the man who saved his life by his name) had told him it'd been a near miss. He'd technically died twice on the table until Geoff had isolated the most virulent poison and neutralized it. Then there had been three grueling hours of repairing the damage the toxins had dealt to his system.
He'd spent a week in his own sickbay as a damned patient - and not just a patient, a passed-out patient. It was somewhat grating, he'd admit. It was true: doctors made the worst patients. What Geoff had neglected to tell him, and he'd instead had to hear from a very smug and smirking Nurse Chapel, was that Jim had spent every minute not required on the bridge by his bedside, holding his hand and pleading with him to wake up.
It had surprised him, to be honest. Bones hadn't expected Jim to come around so quickly. He'd worried that he'd done irreparable harm to their friendship by not letting the matter of Jim's sealed records drop. But apparently Jim couldn't hold a grudge that long. Or maybe Geoff hadn't been exaggerating and he really had been on the brink of death that week. And either way, Jim didn't visit Bones once after he woke up.
It was another four days before Geoff would release him back to his quarters and a further two days before he was allowed to resume his duties as CMO. But the first evening back in his quarters, he found himself answering the door to find a haunted looking Jim on the other side. He didn't say anything, just stepped out of the way, letting Jim sweep inside. The doors closed quickly and even quicker, Jim had thrown his arms around Bones tightly, holding on for dear life.
"Don't ever do that to me again, Bones!" Jim managed, shaking. "Jesus, Bones, you almost died! No, you did die. Twice! What would I do without you? Huh? Did you ever think about that before you went and called attention to yourself like that on Raja III?" His tone was erratic and Bones was surprised to see Jim's eyes looking suspiciously wet. "I can't-" he looked away and regained what he could of his composure. "I can't go through that again, Bones."
"It's a real bitch, ain't it?" Bones said ironically.
Jim pulled away just enough to look at him sharply. "Oh, don't even start on me, Bones! This is about you!"
"Jim! I'm fine, okay? I'll be back on duty in a couple of days. No worries. Only the good die young, after all. Bastards like you and me will be around for ages."
Jim finally let go of him and sat down in the nearest chair. Bones sat down across from him, still unsure of how to play things with Jim. It wasn't a feeling he liked - he and Jim had always been so comfortable with each other and the past few weeks had been hell to deal with.
"Chapel said you were a frequent visitor while I was out," Bones said.
"Every minute I wasn't needed on the bridge, yeah. I mean, I can't just abandon duty, Bones-"
"Jim, I'm in Starfleet too, remember? I know."
"I was so afraid, Bones," Jim said quietly. "The whole time I kept thinking that you were going to die and I'd been an asshole to you the last few weeks of your life."
"You had a right to be an asshole, Jim," Bones said. "I shouldn't have pried like that, perfectly well-meaning or no. You shouldn't have had to make it an order. I should have been a friend and just respected your wishes." Except Bones still wanted to know what the mystery was, damn it.
"I'm sorry, Bones. Those records... why they're sealed... it's not something I ever want to talk about again. If there's something in them that you have to know, if it's a matter of life or death, then I'll tell you what you need to know. Otherwise, they stay sealed."
"No, you really don't, Bones," Jim looked as though he was in his own little world. "No one does. Well, except the others, but those records are sealed too."
That one last sentence told Bones that his gut instinct had been right - Riley was connected to Jim somehow. "I'm sorry, Jim. I won't pry anymore."
Jim chuckled. "Boy, we're a pair, ain't we Bones. Friends indeed, yeah?"
"Oh yeah, Jim," Bones said, falling back into the easy sarcasm he'd shared with Jim for years. "We're, like, soul brothers. Why don't we just go ahead and cut our palms to seal it?"
Jim's eyes lit up and Bones shot him a severe glare. "Don't even think about it, Jim. We have different blood types - incompatible blood types, too. The last thing I need is a court martial and dishonorable discharge on my record because I killed the captain through medical incompetency."
Jim smiled widely, looking as young as when they'd first met. "That's my Bones, always looking after me."
"Of course I'm always going to look after you, Jim. Even if someone who can do it better comes along." He tried to keep his inflection light and teasing. But it was the truth - no matter where he led, Bones would follow, and eventually patch Jim up.
"Please," Jim said rolling his eyes at Bones. "Who is ever going to be better for me than you?"
"Spock." It slipped before he could catch it. He wished he could take back the word and all it implied, but if wishes were horses the universe would be a ranch. Or a glue factory. Or... something. Metaphor wasn't his specialty, damn it.
Jim snorted. "He's okay. I mean, we're friends now, but he's not you, Bones. We understand each other a bit better now, and I think we'll manage to not kill each other, but as far as the epic friendship Old Spock had with the other me back in his universe? That's just not gonna happen."
"How can you be sure?" he asked, figuring he might as well bare all his insecurities and count on Jim to be his usual kind self and not pick on a man recovering from near death.
"Because I have you." There it was, so simple and so straightforward, without a trace of sarcasm or irony. Because I have you."And because I hate chess. A lot. And that's like, his favorite game. He was the grand master of the ultimate showdown of chess destiny or something back at the Academy." He rolled his eyes and faked a yawn.
"I'm not gonna stand in the way of your friendship with Spock, Jim." And he wouldn't - no matter how much it would hurt him to lose his best friend.
"You have nothing to worry about," Jim said. "Look, I've thought about it. A lot. And maybe in that reality, in that time line, Spock and me were best buddies. But I'm not that Jim Kirk and Spock isn't that Spock. This is a different reality, Bones. I'm not going to live my life according to a reality that I'm not even apart of. I'm going to live in this one, where I'm this Jim Kirk and where my best friend in the universe is you."
He was touched. Beyond touched. And, he realized, possibly just the slightest bit in love with Jim Kirk.
"Look, it's late. Can I stay here tonight?" Jim asked. "I just need to, I don't know, make sure you don't die or something."
"Yeah, Jim. You can stay."
Bones put the mystery of Jim Kirk (and, just as importantly, Kevin Riley) and the sealed medical records to rest in his mind. Jim wasn't going to keep anything life threatening from him in a crisis and the records were obviously sealed for a compelling reason.
He kept busy with his duties and the Enterprise completed mission after mission, effectively causing Bones to forget all about the fact that Jim and Riley had large parts of their life redacted from record. It also helped that he and Jim were closer than ever.
Sure enough, Bones had spoken too soon, as everything had essentially gone to hell. The only difference was that there was no alien race to placate or a war to prevent. No, the damage was far more close to home than Bones would have ever guessed.