A/N - Hey guys! I'll keep comments short. Wow it's been a long time since I started writing this fic! Finally I have a basic outline of how I'd like to finish everything off and the end appears to be nigh! That said, I've had to change a few things since I originally posted it so the plot would make some semblance of sense. So, here be the new and improved Chapter 1 (5).
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek. If I did, I would be called Gene Roddenberry or Paramount Pictures. And I'm not. And thank the universe, because if I'd had to learn how to spell Paramount in grade 1 I probably would have died from frustration.
Warnings: This will eventually be SLASH (Kirk/Spock), set in the Reboot/XI universe. In this chapter there are canonical mentions of verbal child abuse. Flames will be shared with my friends for a laugh at your expense. This is un-beta'd!
Universal Constants (Or, Five People Who Left Jim Kirk and One Who Didn't)
James Tiberius Kirk didn't always have blue eyes.
When he was born they were hazel, but turned blue when he was six, staying with Sam at Grandpa Tiberius' for two weeks while his mom and Frank are on Kalatos III for their honeymoon.
It struck Jim as strange that she might want to celebrate her marriage in such a traditional way; even at his young age he'd come to realize that his mother isn't exactly the sentimental sort. They'd never gone on "family vacations," didn't celebrate any birthdays, and holidays besides Christmas were non-existent (and even that was a bit of a haphazard, hastily thrown together affair). The sparse collection of family holos and albums had been hidden in the attic gathering dust since before Jim can remember.
His family is nothing like the families of the other kids at school that Jim knows, but that has never bothered him. They're unique, but they still stick together. Still have each other and love each other even if they don't always say it aloud or even really expressing it in emotional ways. Jim has never felt the need to gorge himself on replicated turkey and pumpkin pie once a year to understand and be thankful for his family, small and unconventional as they are.
Sam explains their mom's sudden change of heart on their second night bunking in their father's creaky old bedroom. (Sam doesn't like the room - says the stillness creeps him out, like their dad could burst through the door at any moment. Jim on the other hand, who's never known his father but through the artefacts he'd left behind, finds it comforting.)
"She's prob'ly just trying to move on from Dad and do something diffr'nt," he says. "'Cause Frank's supposed to be our dad now."
"Frank'll never be my dad!" Jim spits, outraged.
It isn't like he hates Frank or anything. They'd played ball a few times in the yard, and when Jim had broken the banister a month ago, Frank hadn't ratted him out (though his mom had known it was him anyway). But that doesn't mean Frank could ever take the place of his dad. Jim won't ever let that happen.
Sam rolls his eyes, dangling upside down over the edge of the top bunk. "Nobody said he's taking dad's place, Jimbo," (Jim scowls more...he hates that nickname) "but he's gonna be doin' the same stuff a dad would be doin', ya know? Like taking us to school and baseball games and shit."
"Grandpa says that's a bad word. And anyway I'm not gunna do any of that stuff with Frank. He can't make me." It's Sam's turn to scowl. With a gusty sigh he disappears back over the edge of his bunk.
"God you're such a baby sometimes." Jim isn't sure if he'd been meant to hear the comment, as low as it is. He can hear his brother shifting under the scratchy wool blankets, the old wooden bed frame squeaking in protest. Jim wants to kick him. He hates being called a baby, and Sam knows that. Instead, he crosses his arms across his chest and turns onto his side, listening for a long while to the noises of the house; Grandpa Tiberius' rattling snore down the hall and the wind blowing through the big oak tree in the front yard and Sam's breathing as it shallows out in sleep.
"'M not a baby." He murmurs, and hugs his pillow tight.
Half a week into their stay the migraine hits. Grandpa Tiberius gruffly puts him to bed at two that afternoon and shuts the curtains, coming in to check on him every once in a while with glasses of water and saltine crackers Jim can barely keep down.
Sam thinks he's faking it for attention. Jim can tell. Maybe he thinks Jim's just pretending to be sick so Mom and Frank will hop the next shuttle home and cut their honeymoon short. But Jim doesn't have the energy or inclination to set him straight; his head hurts and his eyes hurt and his ears hurt and the whole universe hurts and by the end of the fourth day even Sam is starting to look a little worried. On the morning of the sixth, Grandpa Tiberius – checking in on him – sucks in a breath and stills as Jim blearily blinks up at him. His eyelids feel heavy and tight, and the skin on his face too dry.
An hour or so later, lost in a haze of pain and nausea, Jim can hear Grandpa's raspy voice murmuring to someone in the upstairs hall, the door creaking open, then soft thunking footsteps crossing to his bed.
"Jimmy, little Jim, we gotta getcha to the truck m'boy. You understand? Doc Ainsley gonna give yeh somethin' for the pain, okay? But we gotta get'cha to Mercy."
He hears another pair of footsteps entering the room, these making more of a sharp clacking noise that makes him whimper. Grandpa strokes his hair. His hands are huge, calloused and gnarled, dirt perpetually caked under his fingernails. But he is painfully gentle.
"'T'll be alright."
Jim doesn't like all the noise, but the petting feels good; makes the throbbing in his head less pronounced. He can't stop himself leaning into the touch a little. He hears a small clink of glass.
"This'll put him to sleep for a few hours."
Sleep is good. Jim likes sleeping. He feels a cold circle of metal press against the big vein on his neck, the sharp sting and quiet hiss of a hypo, and the world dissipates, painless and black.
The smell is the first thing Jim notices when he groggily struggles his way to consciousness. He takes a deep breath, then exhales the sharp odour of bleach and lemon attempting to mask sickly sweet disease. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. The nausea is gone, now, but he can sense a dim light pressing against his eyelids and is reluctant to open his eyes just in case it comes rushing back.
The bio-bed is strangely cool beneath his skin and feels...he can't place it exactly. Not like any mattress he's ever slept on. It's hard, but cushiony at the same time, made of some kind of foam. If he concentrates he thinks he can almost feel the microscopic body sensors assessing his vitals with every blip of the monitor above his head. Gently humming. He imagines this is what it feels like to sleep in a starship.
There's nobody else in the room. Or if there is, he hasn't heard them. But he knows someone will be there soon. Knows his mother will come. His mother always came for him.
He lays there for a while, barely moving, taking time to relish in the feeling of not being in pain. Slowly he drifts back to sleep, dreaming of starships and exploration and impossible adventures.
The second time he wakes from voices whispering furiously.
" - them with you for two goddamn weeks and now look at him! Jimmy -"
"Not my goddamn fault, Winona. Doc says he got some sorta disease from the migraine. Horners. Rare -"
Jim knew she'd come.
"I know what he fucking said, but he must have gotten it from somewhere!"
"Well it's nuthin' to do with me and I'll thank ye not to go 'bout spoutin' ridiculous accusations."
"Ridicu- my son almost died -"
"Mom," Sam's voice interrupts. "He's awake."
Jim opens his eyes slowly, squinting and blinking rapidly to adjust to the light. Sam is fidgeting at the edge of a chair to his left next to two huge windows with the shades down. His mom is flying to the side of his bed from the opposite corner of the room where Grandpa Tiberius still stands, tense as a wild animal. His huge, gnarled hands clenched together so hard his knuckles are white and Jim wishes he could tell him that it's okay, that he's okay now. His head doesn't hurt anymore and despite what his mom says Jim knows it's not fault.
But she's launched herself at the bed, scrambling to hold his hand and pet his hair and he needs to take a moment to relish in the singular focus of her attention. He tries his best to smile up at her - to study her face (paler than normal, with more lines than he remembers around her eyes) and hair (the same colour as his - like wheat and the mid-afternoon sun) pulled wildly back at the nape of her neck. She recoils. Drops his hand for a moment.
"They're blue." It's a tiny whisper of disbelief. Maybe even denial.
Her eyes are haunted. Shadowed. Her lips press thin, as if attempting to trap her emotions inside herself. He thinks maybe she's trying to hide her reaction – the rejection on her face – but it's impossible. Its already seared itself onto the back of his too-blue eyes.
"Doc says it's a side-'ffect uh what he got. Ne'r be dark again."
Something fundamental in their relationship has changed somehow, in that moment.
Even when she puts on a show and chatters nervously, trying to pretend like nothing is wrong, Jim can still feel it. Grandpa Tiberius goes home later that day, saying nothing but brushing a rare, whiskery kiss against Jim's forehead before shuffling quietly out of the room.
The shift is even more evident as she brings him and Sam home from the hospital a few days later in tense, somewhat awkward silence. Jim sees it as she progresses from avoiding his eyes to avoiding him entirely as days and weeks pass by. He recognizes it when, the day before his 7th birthday, she starts taking 'Fleet contracts off-world and disappears in a flurry of last-minute packing and activity leaving a startled Frank behind.
It's evident in how she isn't there to rescue him and Sam when Frank gets angry and drunk more and more often. How her answers to their increasingly desperate messages as Frank becomes more and more comfortable in putting them down (and smacking them around) take longer and longer. How she comes home less and less as Jim gets more wild and more desperate until one lazy afternoon in May when Frank is screaming at Sam for no reason in the kitchen and Jim is hot-wiring the vintage corvette in the garage.
"Don't give up she's gonna come home there's no such thing as no-win scenarios you can win her back don't give up she's gonna come home there's no such thing as no-win scenarios you can win her back don't give up -"
Her affection has been shifted. Damaged. Perhaps lost. Jim doesn't know, but he isn't about to just let it happen. He won't give in without a proper fight.
There's nothing sweeter to Jim in this moment than hurting Frank back for all the hurts he's inflicted for the past five years. This is his dad's car anyway, no matter what Frank always says, and he likes to think that his dad would understand that it's necessary to destroy it if it means that Frank can't have it and mom will finally come home again.
The engine finally roars to life. Jim revs the engine, wondering when Frank will notice the obvious noise, then releases the brakes and tries to keep the wheel straight as it bursts through the garage door, masking the crack of splintering wood knocking hard against the windshield. He sees Frank, shouting and waving a fist, tripping down the porch steps, and gives him a huge grin and a cheery middle-finger as he guns it forward down the dusty drive.
He wonders where her love has gone, and if he can ever find it again. Why it left in the first place. Why she's left in the first place. But either way, he can't give up. Won't give up.
The phone insert rings and he answers it quickly.
"Are you out of your mind? That car's an antique! You think you can get away with this just because your mother's off-planet? You get your ass back home, now! You live in my house, buddy. You live in my house and that's my car. You get one scratch on that car and I'm gonna whip your a-"
Even though he unlocked the roof panels he's startled when the whole thing rips itself away and whoops at Johnny Miller as he tears down the empty road. He hadn't figured out exactly what to do after he had stolen the car, but as a motorcycle cop pulls up beside him, attempting to pull him over with flashing lights and sirens and a robotic voice calling, "Halt! Citizen!" he takes a sharp right onto the dusty road to the Starfleet quarry.
"Five, four, three, two –" the words drown beneath Ad-Rock and Mike D and MCA. A huge spike of adrenaline and Jim is flying. Dirt and rocks scrape unforgiving against his hands as he scrambles to stop his forward momentum. There's a moment, just as his legs have gone over the edge that his heart is pounding so goddamn hard he can't hear anything else, the numbness in his mind makes him think he's really died. A deep, microscopic part of him wonders if that would really be a bad thing.
He crawls forward on hands and knees, thankful for Sam's leather jacket that protected him from the worst of the damage. He looks up, eyeing the cop as it crunches its way across the gravel and dust to stand before him, and scrambles to his feet.
"Is there a problem, officer?"
Jim still doesn't know why the colour of his eyes really matter at all.