Warning! Loads, and loads, and loads, of spoilers.
Disclaimer: I own nothing
"Captain, if you go in there, you'll die"
Scotty's voice was desperate, but there was nothing the man could do to stop him.
He knew what he had to do.
Jim knew what he needed to do the instant the words came from Scotty's mouth.
Khan had said, "No ship should go down without its captain", but nobody ever said a captain couldn't go down without his ship.
There would be repercussions he knew.
But most of all, there would be relief.
Relief because they didn't die.
Relief because it wasn't them.
What was the death of one compared to the death of hundreds?
It wasn't nothing, but it was pretty darn close.
His fist flew and Scotty was out like a light. He would have a headache later, but it hardly mattered at this point.
Jim frantically moved to open the door.
The chamber was so terrifyingly easy to access.
It should have had a thousand screws and locks and keys. Then maybe Jim would have understood what the next few minutes would feel like.
It felt like fire in his lungs. He was breathing poison.
Poison. It would cause the kind of death people read about in newspapers and wrote off as historic improbability. Spock might have a statistic, but Jim's breathing was going fast and his mind wasn't thinking in numbers at the moment.
He had to move, fast, or this would all mean nothing.
The first symptom he noticed was that his lungs were closing up. His body was trying to shut down to save himself.
The radioactivity in there really was as Scotty had claimed. It made the very stuff you breath into acid. It burned.
You couldn't breathe this stuff.
What his body didn't seem to understand was that he had a ship to save too, and if his damn lungs would just open up again, that would be really nice.
But physics never really cared about men, and all that mattered was that Jim kept moving.
So he did.
First there was a tunnel. Then he saw the core.
The two pieces were completely dislodged, and Jim couldn't help but wonder why the ship was designed in such a way where that was even possible. He would have to discuss that with...
It hit him then with all the grace of a bulldozer.
There wouldn't be a tomorrow.
His heart stopped and the blood drained from his body.
This is it. My god.
Then came the surge of adrenaline, the realization that these last few minutes would not only determine the safety of his crew, but his legacy.
He climbed up the contraption.
His legs felt like logs of lead, and he could see his arms trembling uncontrollably.
Its like a tree. Just a damn tree.
But it wasn't a tree. It was a freaking nuclear reactor, and he was in a radioactive chamber, saving the world.
He was past the point of feeling the pain, his muscles were simply just not working.
Its like trying to run faster than you can. Building a warp drive when you can't solve basic algebra.
And yet, he climbed.
One foot in front of the other, the only goal in mind kicking that dysfunctional core in place.
Then he saw the size of the core, the difference in the alignment. It would be so easy to just give up then and there.
But James Tiberius Kirk wasn't ready to die a failure.
Your father was captain of a Starship for 12 minutes. He saved 800 lives, including your mother's and yours. I dare you to do better.
He kicked the core. Failure.
There's greatness in you, but there's not an ounce of humility. You think that you can't make mistakes, but there's going to come a moment when you realize you're wrong about that, and you're going to get yourself and everyone under your command killed.
Jim kicked it harder. Nothing.
I believe in you Jim.
He couldn't let Pike down. Not now.
Time was running out.
How old was he?
Too young everybody would say.
He kicked it one last time. It had to work.
A flash of blue, and tremendous noise overwhelmed him.
Jim couldn't feel anything, not even the blast that came from the cores realigning.
He blacked out.
When Jim woke up moments later, he was by a door and Spock was on the other side, and he realized he didn't want to fucking die.
He wanted the crew to be able to open that door.
His head screamed, "Open it! Open it! I don't want to die, not now. I saved this ship, don't I get any relief?"
He wanted a five year mission.
He wanted to see what he could do with his life.
He felt like throwing a tantrum. Like a kid.
If he had the energy, he would have hit something hard.
Then the anger fled.
And he was scared.
So scared the words actually came out of his mouth.
And the noises he was making wasn't exactly pretty either.
But he just didn't really care, because he was dying, and right now he just needed comfort.
He needed it because he didn't know what would happen next. He wasn't religious. Would he go to hell, or simply disappear?
He doubted he would go to heaven, unless saving the world counted for brownie points.
Spock would have thought he was an idiot. Good thing the Vulcan couldn't read minds just by looking.
Was Spock scared?
He looked like it.
Jim must have had tearing pouring down his face, because Spock looked oh so concerned.
He never was, not when Jim wanted him to be.
He didn't imagine he could possible be thinking too straight.
Actually at this point he couldn't even feel his body, or his head. Death would be relatively painless at least.
And very, very soon.
But Jim Kirk had business to finish first.
"How do you choose not to feel?"
He wanted to know. So badly. He didn't want to feel his death, he wanted his death to be a statistic, the logical option.
No such relief found him.
"I do not know."
A tear gathered in the Vulcan's eye.
"Right now I am failing."
A sob let loose from Jim's failing body.
"I want to let you know why I couldn't let you die."
I've been trying to tell you for so long, don't you dare cut me off, this is my last chance you damn Vulcan.
"Why I went back for you"
The tear that had been gathering in Spock's eye fell. He looked so said, so confused, so lost. Jim felt guilty then, that he would cause the man such pain. He never wanted any of them to have to deal with this. Not Bones, not Uhura, and especially not Spock.
"Because you are my friend."
Oh God. Oh God. He knew all along. And now its too late to ever...
Spock's hand reached up for the glass.
Jim's thoughts went blank. The world turned fuzzy and all noise stopped. Jim raised his hand, and though some unnatural force, his met Spock's.
Through the blurriness, he could just make out the Vulcan sign of farewell.
His own body failed to follow suite.
His hand fell to the ground.
Somewhere in the distance he heard a faint voice full of pain yelling, and he thought of something he had once said.
"I don't believe in no win scenarios"
Maybe his friends would take his advice.
The world went black, and James Tiberius Kirk knew no more.
Authors note: Perfection. The movie. Was. Perfection.
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