Remember Who You Are
Summary: The Enterprise is sent to represent Starfleet at the opening of a memorial at the new colony on the restored planet of Tarsus IV. Jim is distressed, but his crew doesn't know why.
AN: Hi everyone! So, I know I'm late jumping on the wagon for Star Trek:2009, but I didn't know about it until a couple of months ago. Now I am completely and hopelessly obsessed. Story of my life. Anyways, I've finally decided to give writing my own story a try. This is my first multi-chapter fic. It's already written, I just have to edit it. It contains a lot of angsty Jim. Here's my first chapter!
Note: I am by no means an old-fashioned Trekkie. I've never seen the TOS episodes. All my knowledge about Tarsus IV comes from lots and lots of fanfics, so if I'm using someone's original idea, I'm sorry cuz I don't know what actually happened versus what people made up.
Thanks to FyreFlyte for reading this, getting excited about it, and encouraging me to get it all written.
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek, Star Trek:2009, Jim Kirk, Spock, or any other characters in this chapter. And the title was inspired by the song Sound the Bugle by Bryan Adams from the Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Soundtrack.
Chapter 1: Not Again
Jim breathed out shakily and stepped onto the green surface of Tarsus IV. He didn't want to be here. Heck, if it wasn't for the fact that his crew would ask questions if he turned tail and ran, then he'd be halfway across the galaxy in two seconds flat. Pike said that Starfleet needed to have representatives at the opening of the memorial on Tarsus; that they needed to assure the new colonists that Starfleet would never let something like what happened before with the famine and Kodos escape their immediate notice ever again. There would be a ceremony; a memorial bearing the names of all who died and also the names of those who survived would be dedicated later today as a reminder of the tragedy. All of the survivors had been invited. Jim only knew this because it was in the mission report, not because he had been sent an invitation, which led him to believe that no one knew he was a survivor, inside or outside of Starfleet. He wasn't sure how to feel about that. He had tried to cut the whole experience from his memory, had been reckless and drunk and tried his hardest to have no time to think about it ever. But it had become increasingly hard to ignore recently, with becoming captain of the Enterprise, because he was now a leader again, holding the lives of his crew and friends in his hands. The first time he had lost a crew member on an away mission, he had gotten wasted in his room and had nightmares for the next week about the children he'd lost so many years ago, had held as their tiny, weak, pale bodies drew their last breaths, had buried in the foul river because no one had the strength to dig a grave. If he was logical about it (Spock must seriously be rubbing off on him), then he knew that it wasn't his fault, that he did better than any fourteen year old could ever reasonably be expected to do, and that seventeen kids owed him their lives for being their leader, someone they could turn to, look up to, for the hope of surviving another night. But deep down, Jim knew he didn't believe that, couldn't believe that he'd done everything possible, because there were still eight kids who didn't make it, whom he couldn't save, and there were so many other people who didn't make it, either because they were slaughtered or they starved too, that it left him hollow and in tears every time he tried to fathom what it must have been like in their final moments. He stopped trying after eight months. Everyone's whole world had been torn apart and could never, ever, be completely whole again. Once Jim realized that, he put his heart and soul into ignoring the experience. He refused to call it forgetting because those who died didn't deserve to be forgotten and he could never truly forget. He had had no intention of visiting that place again, of telling his new friends and his crew what happened to him, of seeking out his old friends and those children under his care whom he had watched grow weaker and weaker in helpless frustration day after day for two months, one week, and three days until Starfleet had finally arrived five months after the first distress signal had been sent out. He didn't want to be here, he didn't want to tell Pike that he couldn't carry out the mission, he didn't want to face the friends he had ignored for so long, he didn't want to be representing Starfleet here and now when some survivors, himself included, were still mad at Starfleet for not arriving sooner, and he fricking didn't want to be here.
"Captain, are you all right?" Spock inquired, coming to stand on Jim's right.
"Hm?" Jim said, shaking himself out of his thoughts to look at his first officer. "I'm fine. Why?"
If Spock wasn't a Vulcan, then he may have shrugged, but as it was he simply replied, "I have noticed that you have appeared mildly distracted on the voyage here."
Jim plastered on his usual cocky grin and was about to make some perverted joke about Spock watching him when he realized that maybe Spock could help make this ordeal a little easier without knowing the whole truth.
"Actually Spock, I'm nervous about the dedication speech I'm supposed to give at the memorial service," Kirk admitted. "I don't really know what to say and I'm afraid that, I dunno, someone will get offended by how I deliver the speech since I wasn't actually there and we're from Starfleet. But if you did it," Kirk said, poking Spock in the shoulder, "then you could deliver the speech in your usual emotionless Vulcan monotone and not offend anybody for having too much emotion or too little emotion because you don't show emotions normally."
Spock's eyebrow barely twitched when Jim poked him, the only outward indication that he did not appreciate the unnecessary gesture. But he tilted his head when Jim voiced his request, studying his captain thoughtfully. Jim made a conscious effort not to shift his weight from foot to foot while under the scrutinizing gaze, hoping that Spock couldn't tell that there was more to his request than he had let on.
Spock nodded slowly. "It would be a logical solution to this issue, Captain," he agreed. "I would be willing to present this speech. However, I will need some time to prepare."
"Good man," Jim smiled, trying not to look too relieved. "You can prepare some notes now. Send Sulu down, and he can accompany me to these preparations and such with the Council of Tarsus."
"Yes Captain," the Vulcan replied, pulling out his communicator.
"Oh, and Spock?" Jim added absentmindedly as he took in the sunrise, so familiar and yet so different, speaking of a day that would be full of painful reminders, "Thanks."
He could feel Spock studying him as they were separated by the swirl of the transporting beams enveloping Spock. The second he was gone, Jim let his captain mask fall completely. Shoulders slumping, he stared at the ground and blinked rapidly. He would not cry. He was James T. Kirk, captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise and he did not cry anymore. For anything.
The lights started forming again so Jim straightened, wiped his runny nose on his sleeve (no one would know if he didn't tell them), and watched as two people materialized next to him.
"Captain," Sulu greeted, snapping a quick salute, "Spock sent me to accompany you." He turned to the person next to him. "This is Lieutenant Riley. He works in the engineering department. He's the Tarsus survivor the admiralty told us about during the debriefing, and he asked to come planetside with us."
Jim was reeling. "Wait, there's ano- there's a survivor in the crew?" he spluttered, turning to study the young man in front if him. Sulu and Lieutenant Riley stared at their captain in surprise.
"Um, you didn't know? But you were there at the debriefing," Sulu said.
Jim shook his head. He'd missed half of that debriefing trying not to hyperventilate. Of course he was bound to miss something important. He turned to the slightly familiar-looking young crewman.
"I'm sorry Mr. Riley. I must have missed that part," he apologized, sticking out his hand in greeting.
"Kevin, sir," the man replied, accepting the handshake. "Lieutenant Kevin Riley."
Jim gave him a small smile, noting how his eyes appeared wet and kept scanning the area behind Jim and Sulu, taking in the green, lush, ground like Jim had just done, and remembering what it used to be like.
"Well," Jim said, turning away and pretending not to see Kevin Riley wiping his eyes, "let's go help set up for this afternoon."
The trio set off down the path towards the new town, Jim in the lead. He mulled over this new information as he walked. There was another Tarsus survivor on board, in Starfleet, and under his command. How ironic. He glanced back at the silent figure behind him. Riley. Had he known him? He would have been younger than Jim by at least five years, possibly more. Jim ran through the people he had know to survive. He didn't remember any Riley-wait. Riley was his last name. Did he know any Kevins? No, he didn't think-Kev. Jim glanced back again, heart pounding. Was it possible? Of all seventeen kids that had survived with Jim, Tom and Kev were the ones he had missed the most. He hadn't known anyone's last name, no one had, so it was no surprise that he hadn't picked up on 'Kevin Riley' right away.
It was definitely Kev. His hair was lighter, his face wasn't as round, and he was much taller, but it was him. Jim realized that he should feel excited, happy. The boy he had cared for during the worst part of their lives was grown up, had a job and friends, was alive. Instead, all he felt was dread. He had tried to distance himself, not think about that time or the people who thought he was dead. How the heck was he supposed to keep that up when one of his friends lived on his ship? What if Kev recognized him? True, he didn't exactly look the same, but no one did since they had all grown up. He had been known as JT on Tarsus, and he seriously doubted anyone had known that his last name was Kirk since his aunt and uncle who he had lived with had a different last name. But still. And shoot, he hadn't thought of it before but what if one of the survivors recognized him at the service? Not to mention what Bones would do if he found out that Jim's body and mind had gone through such abuse on top of all the Frank and Winona issues. He would probably sedate Jim for two years just because he hadn't told him. Not to mention how the rest of the crew would react. He didn't want their pity, and he didn't want them to all be able to see that far below his stuck-up exterior. Because then they would try to comfort him. And then he would be forced to think about it instead of just moving on. Then the next time he saw them, he would be reminded of their conversation and have to think about it every day, remember what they know and what they don't, and how they see him as the weak and scarred boy who has been traumatized too many times instead of their annoying over-confident captain. Even if he's going to be reminded of Tarsus everyday from now on whenever he sees Lieutenant Riley in the halls, he doesn't need his friends' pity on top of it. As the trio reached the colony and were greeted by the new council (no more governors-not after what happened last time), Jim resolved that no one would ever find out that he's JT, the boy hero from Tarsus IV who kept seventeen children alive through a famine and a slaughter.
I know, sad. Jim's feeling very stressed. I'll try to have the next chapter up in a couple of days. The whole thing should be about eight chapters long.