That Bind Us All
Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of its many owners. I make no claim on it and write this purely for entertainment purposes. No copyright infringement intended.
Four people who touched James T. Kirk's life…
Jim doesn't doubt that his father changed his life. His childhood is a complete disaster without the man. A mother who spends more time in the black hunting the son of a bitch who led the attack on the Kelvin, a brother who is always so angry, a step-father who both despises living in the shadow of a ghost and yet wants to coast in the wake of that shadow - that is Jim's life.
Jim is twelve when he hacks Starfleet's information on the Kelvin. It's there that he reads Christopher Pike's dissertation for the first time (though he never tells Pike that, of course). It's there that he hears his father's final words.
"Sweetheart, can you hear me?"
"I can hear you!"
"I love you so much. I love you -"
Words of love were his last, and yet that love was not enough to keep the family intact, the family he died for.
In his darker moments, Jim thinks (if only to himself) that his father shouldn't have bothered dying for something that disintegrated without him there to hold it together.
People think that Kodos chose who would live and die by his theories on eugenics, but it's not the end of his selection process. Jim knows, because he was there. He knows, he saw who died. Kodos picked the 'weakest', but he also choose those who were likely to fight back.
The colony is full of Starfleet, retired officers and enlisted, people who are stationed there. Nearly all of them are slated for termination.
The Sato-Kimura family holds out for nearly a month against Kodos' shock troops before they manage to take the farm. Jim hides in the mezzanine with several of his group, sees two men drag Hoshi into the auditorium. Hoshi's a great-grandmother, well over a century old. No one would ever think this tiny, white-haired woman led a successful rebellion against an army.
Kodos rants and raves, snarling that she and hers have cost many lives, made it harder for the rest to survive. He demands that she bow to the greater good and order the other pockets of resistance surrender.
Her head was bowed before this, seemingly under the weight of the knowledge that her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are dead (all but one, anyway - Misako Kimura is with Jim's group, though, thankfully, not there now), but when Kodos speaks, she looks up. Her dark eyes are full of fire and fury, something Jim can see even from a distance.
When Hoshi speaks, Jim doesn't understand a word of it. The language is unknown to him, but the message is clear. It is a curse.
The men holding her understand her well enough, and Jim can see them shivering and eyeing her fearfully. By the time her words end in a hiss, Kodos' grip on his phaser is shaking, but he still fires.
Seconds later, dozens of Starfleet security officers beam into the auditorium.
It isn't until later that Jim gets his hands on a terminal and he's able to translate Hoshi's words.
"You will never be free of us. We will follow you, all of you, haunt you every day. When you die, we will be waiting, and we will rip your souls to shreds. You will never know peace. You will live wretchedly, and will die like the cowards you are."
Jim swears he'll see Hoshi's words become truth, somehow.
Everyone thinks Jim and Gaila are friends with benefits, at best. Even Bones rolls his eyes whenever Jim goes out with Gaila, thinking they're going drinking and sex afterward. That happens sometimes, but not always.
Truthfully, Jim looks into Gaila's eyes and sees a kindred spirit. Gaila has endured hardship. Gaila has looked into the face of evil, but still has her soul in her own keeping.
One night, the two of them lie out on a hilltop overlooking the bay, staring up at the space-dock and the stars surrounding it. "My grandmother used to tell me stories about the stars," Gaila says suddenly, her voice soft in the cool evening air. "She'd say that they're really the people who have left us, and those who have yet to come. They're watching us, seeing how we live our lives, and waiting to be free of the universe's web."
Jim doesn't respond to that except to tighten his grip on her shoulders and pull her closer. He's had enough of the dead and those who don't exist. The here and now and the present company are more than good enough for him.
Meeting the ambassador is crazy enough. An alternate reality, much less one where Jim and Spock are actually best friends? Yeah, Jim's first reaction is that the old Vulcan has snapped under the devastating loss of his homeworld. It isn't until the older man reacts to hearing that Pike had been taken hostage by Nero that Jim thinks this that is something other than insanity.
The mind-meld… Jim doesn't think he'll ever be able to articulate the feelings it invoked. There was the agony and the grief, of course, the crushing sensation of Spock's sense of defeat , and the despair of the consequences of that failure.
There was more, though. Beneath everything else, Jim had felt… joy. Directed at him.
"It is remarkably pleasing to see you again, old friend," Spock had said, but those words barely did anything justice. In those moments during the meld, Jim hadn't seen anything specific, but had still felt everything Spock did. Delight, elation, even giddiness had crashed over him like a wave, but even that was eclipsed by an unshakable sense of faith.
Jim has never had someone believe in him like that before. Something like that could be more addicting than any narcotic.
"So you do feel," he chokes in the aftermath of the meld, completely overwhelmed. It isn't a question, and it isn't just about Nero.
"Yes." Spock's answer is deceptively simple, and Jim finds himself knowing what it is like to understand someone even better than he understands himself.
Suddenly, he envies his counterpart, the man he would have been. To have had such a gift. He hopes that that Jim Kirk never took it for granted.
… and one he surprised the hell out of.
Urban legend has it that Jim spent the years leading up to his entrance into the Academy wallowing in bars, until Christopher Pike stopped four burly cadets from beating him to a bloody pulp. Only part of that is true.
Sure, Jim goes to bars, gets into a few fights. What his record doesn't show is that he never actually starts those fights. No, booze and violence are not the staples of his life before the Academy, whatever Cadet Uhura thinks.
He graduates high school at sixteen. Being stuck in hospitals and in therapy after coming back from Tarsus doesn't leave Jim with much to do besides study. He immediately signs up for online classes at the University of Iowa, which isn't far from Riverside. By eighteen, he's almost earned two Bachelors, one in History and the other in Engineering.
He doesn't advertise his continuing education. The reparation money for Tarsus pays for it, and it happens so discreetly that he thinks that his own mother might not be aware of what he's doing. Not that it matters, since she only stays home long enough to make sure he has a respectable caretaker (i.e. not Frank) before she takes off into the black again.
So, while Pike sees his rap-sheet that night, he doesn't see Jim's academic records until after he's enrolled. Jim enjoys Pike's gaping shock immensely.
"Bachelors' in History and Engineering, Masters in Starship Design and Computer Science, and specialties in Andorian, Rigellian, and Klingon languages, as well as in military tactics," Pike breathes. He looks at Jim incredulously. "When did you do all of this, Kirk?"
Jim's lips twitch and he leans back in his chair. "Rap-sheets never tell the whole story, Captain." It's a joke, but also a bit of a scolding. Starfleet captains shouldn't make assumptions without all the facts, after all.
Pike's no idiot, and accepts the light reprimand as deserved. "Touché." A slow, wicked smirk crosses the older man's lips. "Ready to knock 'em all on their asses, then, Cadet?"
Jim struggles to contain a cackle. He hasn't been this excited in, well, ever. He is going to love tweaking the noses of those who wrote him off as a dumb hick.