Chapter Twenty-Three

"And how does that make you feel?"

Seren took her time before she answered; fiddling with the end of the long braid her hair was bound into.

"It makes me feel… pleased."

"Spock coming back must have been a big step for him, as for your brother," he said, sitting up even straighter. She doubted it was possible to sit any straighter in a chair than he already was, but he somehow managed it.

"We always knew Leo would come back once he had his mind cleared, but Spock… I mean I was worried he might have gone forever," she said, glancing up and meeting his impossibly dark eyes.

They looked at each other for a long moment before he looked away, eyes fixing on the floor instead.

"I believe that both your brother and father may have completed the first stage of the grieving process, denial and isolation. What about you? Have you experienced any feelings of denial? Or desire to isolate yourself from others?" he asked and she bit her lip, glancing out of the window briefly.

"I… well sometimes. I saw a car just like his drive by me the other day, I was half expecting it to make an illegal U-turn and pick me up, like he used to do, take me out for lunch or for a walk in the park," she sighed.

"Sometimes I cannot accept that he's gone, that I won't see him in the kitchen in the morning, trying to do ten things at once for Starfleet whilst also trying to do laundry and eat breakfast," she gave a sad smile. "And sometimes yes, I do want to be alone with my thoughts, with the way I feel. I go for walks alone or I use my meditation time to attempt to get my mind centred again, try to suppress the feelings."

He nodded and made a small note.

"Have you experienced any feelings of anger?"

She thought for a moment.

"Why would I have not? Someone I loved very dearly was taken from me, murdered… trying to protect other people and I-"

He looked at her carefully and she stopped speaking, only then becoming aware that her hands were clenched tightly into fists and her voice was shaking.

"Yes. I experience anger. I also sometimes wonder that if I had acted differently that day, if I had perhaps delayed him, if I had gone instead… this would never have happened. He'd still be here," she said bitterly, now positively glaring out of the window over his shoulder.


She looked back at him, eyes meeting his again.

"You are not at fault," he said slowly and clearly.

"I had… I had an opportunity to stop him going… I could have saved him," she ended in a whisper, throat constricting as tears began to rise against her control.

"You could not. His decision was made. Of everything I understand about James Kirk it is clear that once he had made up his mind about something, it could not be changed. How is Spock?" he asked and Seren closed her eyes, wiping away the two tears that had escaped onto her cheeks.

"He is… quiet and subdued, however he is home and I'm grateful that he is," she said and he nodded.

"Focus on this. Focus on yourself, your family, your father. Do not focus on your anger at those who took Jim's life, do not attempt to over evaluate the past as it cannot be changed."

She was silent for a long moment before she glanced up. He was looking out of the window now, looking at the tree outside where the leaf buds were just starting to open.

"Soren?" she said quietly and he looked back at her immediately.

"Yes?" he asked and she cleared her throat.

"Would you… would you be willing to look at my memories of that day? To help me to gain some sort of clarity?" she asked and he pursed his lips.

"Engaging in a mind meld with a patient would be highly unprofessional," he said matter-of-factly.

"Ok," she said quietly, going back to staring at the floor until he asked his next question.

Something about this man fascinated her, since the first moment she had met him when they bumped into each other in the hospital hallway. She could tell he wasn't a full Vulcan, but aside from that and his name and occupation, she knew almost nothing of him, but part of her wanted to. His eyes always seemed to be telling a different story to the rest of him, and the obvious humanity displayed in them betrayed the stoic façade that he maintained so carefully.

She made it to the end of her appointment and then left with a polite goodbye and the agreement to book her next appointment soon.

Crossing the street as she left she glanced up at the window of his office, certain she saw him duck out of view as he noticed her looking.

Going to be a little late, be there in 10?

Joanna sighed as she picked up the message, sending a quick reply.

Sure, I'll be waiting.

A first year and fourth year schedule didn't fit well together.

Tucker was only a few months off graduation and was working flat out to finish everything. Joanna found their conflicting schedules frustrating at best, but was persevering.

Their first night together had been a mistake. She knew that, she was also fairly certain that he knew that, but this new relationship seemed to be anything but a mistake.

Aside from their schedules causing trouble, everything was going perfectly between them, and was quickly becoming her longest relationship to date.

She grinned as she noticed him crossing the courtyard, walking awkwardly with one hand behind his back.

"You know what today is?" he asked and she scrunched up her face a little bit in thought.

"Thursday?" she asked and he chuckled.

"Our three month anniversary," he pointed out, removing the red rose from behind his back and presenting it to her.

"Well that's adorable, thank you," she grinned, accepting it and placing a small kiss on his cheek.

"No problem darlin'. So, can I walk you home?" he asked, taking her hand.

"Well that's why I waited for you, I was fully expecting to be walked home," she said mock-indignantly. He didn't know about the bottle of wine in her fridge and the candles ready in her apartment. They'd been taking things slowly in their relationship. She'd quickly learned that Quinn was something of an old-fashioned gentleman and as a result he'd apologised profusely for their drunken night together and then insisted they hold off on sleeping together until they were both sure that it meant something to them.

"So, your last month at the academy?" she asked and he nodded.

"I know right, pretty crazy. Six weeks time and I'll be a fully certified Starfleet pilot. Ensign Charles Tucker the fifth, at your service ma'am," he smirked, pretending to tip an imaginary hat. She chuckled and playfully hit his arm.

"You're such a dork."

"Pssh. I'm cooler than cool. Everybody knows the coolest person on any ship is the pilot," he said, rolling his eyes.

"How're your classes going?" he asked and she shrugged.

"Right now I'm finding them a little easy, but I know they'll only get more difficult as time goes on."

"Yeah… I guess that's about right. I guess with the linguistics experience you already have, first year would be a little light for you."

She twirled the rose in her fingers as they walked and her mind all of a sudden clicked into realisation.

"Wait… as soon as you graduate… you're eligible to be sent out on any mission they request," she realised aloud.

He looked at her strangely for a moment.

"Uh… yeah. That's kind of why I signed up to Starfleet, go on missions and all that, maybe in space?" he joked and she sighed.

"So you're going to leave me?" she asked, immediately hating herself for how vulnerable that sounded. Joanna had always been proud of herself for her strength, but there was just something about this man that made her completely open to him.

"Well, if I get called for a mission and out into space, yes, but not leave leave. Only for the mission, not like… break up or anything, that'd be dumb," he assured and she smiled slightly.

"I like you a lot, and not even Starfleet can get in the way of that, okay darlin'?" he asked and she nodded, her small smile breaking into a grin that only grew wider when he took her hand as they continued to walk.

Jim paced the small room repeatedly.

He paced and thought and theorised and planned. Any tiny scrap of an idea of how he could get back to his family had to be worth considering; and his mind ran repeatedly over and over increasingly more ludicrous schemes until he annoyed himself and slumped down onto the edge of his bunk.

He'd been released from sickbay and had been half expecting to be sent to the brig.

He hadn't been. Instead he'd been assigned some guest quarters that were comfortable enough if a little impersonal.

He'd been left mostly to himself though he did have reasonably freedom to roam the ship as he wished aside from a few restricted areas, probably as Archer and his crew attempted to contact Starfleet to decide what to do with him in the meantime. The crew members he had encountered were friendly and interested in his story, and didn't seem at all as though Archer had told them to keep away.

As much as Jim thought about it, he couldn't figure out exactly what had happened out in that shuttle. He'd released his docking with the Borg ship, but that was the last thing he remembered. From what he knew of black holes, one of a small selection of possibilities had happened. The first was that he was in the past of his own timeline. The only way he could be sure of this would be to wait for a large important event and see if the outcomes were all the same. The second was that he was in the past in an alternative timeline. If this were the case, nothing may be the same at all, and he'd have to be careful. He couldn't know until he got back to Earth or got access to some sort of computer.

The door chime sounded and pulled him from his thoughts.

"Uh... come in?" he offered and the door slid aside, revealing Archer's Vulcan commander, T'Pol.

"Commander, how can I help you?" he asked, trying to be friendly. He remained where he was, sitting on the edge of his single bunk. He didn't report to her so didn't feel the requirement for any formality by standing to attention. She looked at him sternly for a few seconds before speaking.

"In your initial conversation with Captain Archer, you mentioned a 'New' Vulcan, and you also mentioned a Vulcan male by the name of Spock. Please elaborate," she said and he frowned slightly before explaining. She obviously hadn't come to make friends.

"In my lifetime, or timeline, depending on if I'm in the past or an alternate reality, Vulcan was destroyed in an attack carried out by Romulans. We tried to stop it, but there wasn't anything we could do. New Vulcan is the name given to the planet where the initial Vulcan colony was set up following the destruction of the planet. Spock is… or was… my husband. I don't know if he exists in this timeline or where he is or if he'd know who I am," Jim finished, trying to keep the sadness out of his voice and failing.

"This Romulan attack could be stopped? If we knew when it was going to happen?" she asked with interest and Jim nodded.

"I guess so. But I don't even know the current Stardate so couldn't give you much information without that," he said and she narrowed her eyes.

"The brig is far less comfortable than these quarters, Mr Kirk," she threatened and he sighed.

"I can give you the stardate of the attack on the USS Kelvin? And the co-ordinates? Then you could stop the Romulan ship before it ever gets a chance to destroy Vulcan?" he offered and she gave a single nod.

He reeled off his birthday and she made a note on a PADD.

"Your… husband. Were you bonded in the Vulcan way?" she asked more softly and he nodded.

"Yes. We were. For twenty years," he said and she raised an eyebrow.

"May I?" she asked, extending a hand towards his face. He hesitated before agreeing to the meld, closing his eyes as her mind overtook his. It was nothing like melding with Spock or one of the kids who would be careful, would ask permission before viewing information, she ruthlessly tore through his memories, thoughts, feelings, leaving him with a splitting headache by the time she retracted her hand.

"You are not lying," she said, sounding slightly shocked.

"Why… why would I lie?" he asked through gritted teeth.

"Your story seemed… improbable."

"Yeah well so is a man having three kids," he muttered.

Jim's mind was reeling. It was as though she'd dragged every single thought or feeling he'd ever had to the surface and left them there.

"I apologise for the emotional anguish I have caused," she said quietly and he looked down at the floor, forcing all the emotions back into their respective boxes.

"It's fine. Really. I know you needed to know I was being honest, but now that you do, can you answer me one question?" he asked and she opened her mouth to respond right as her comm. sounded. She removed it from her belt and flipped it open.

"A ship has dropped out of warp in close proximity to us," she said and he looked out of the window quickly, but could see nothing.

"I must go," she said, turning and leaving the room, the door closing behind her.

"Wait!" Jim yelled, leaping up from the chair and following.

He followed her through unfamiliar hallways until she reached the turbo-lift where she noticed him.

"Mr Kirk you are not permitted to come to the bridge," she said and he nodded.

"I wasn't… I was… going to get some lunch," he lied badly.

"There is a food hatch in your quarters," she said flatly as the lift doors closed. He turned and headed in the opposite direction, looking for a ladder or an alternative way up to the bridge.

He turned a corner quickly and ran right into a man he recognised, but not from the ship.

"Hey slow down there," the man said as he picked up the pile of electrical components he had been carrying.

"Sorry," Jim said, quickly leaning down to held gather up a pile of small bolts which were rolling off in every direction. He realised aloud who the man was that he'd bumped into.

"Trip Tucker… right?" Jim asked and the man looked at him strangely. Jim knew this man; Archer, his Archer, had introduced them years ago before the Tucker in his timeline had died. He'd been Archer's chief engineer and seemed like an all around good guy.

"I know you?" he asked.

"We met when I was… uh a while ago. Jim Kirk," Jim offered his hand and the man looked at him for a few more moments before shaking it quickly.

"You're the guy we found floatin' out in that shuttle. Archer said you're from the future or somethin'?" he asked and Jim shrugged.

"Something like that. Hey so what's this ship that just dropped out of warp?" he asked and Tucker sighed.

"I don't know. Archer don't tell me anything anymore. Got a real stick up his ass lately," Tucker grumbled as he started towards Engineering again now that he had all his bits and pieces picked up, Jim following him along.

"And why is that?" Jim asked and Tucker frowned.

"I don't know. Shouldn't you still be in sickbay?" he asked and Jim shrugged.

"You have a good doctor. I'm all better… and at kind of a loose end," Jim said. He could see that he could make a friend in Tucker, get someone on his side. Allies would be helpful whatever plan he went with to try and get out of here and back to his family.

"You know how to weld?" Tucker asked and Jim nodded.

"Well you can come make yourself useful down in Engineerin'. Funny enough I got a guy I work with also named Kirk, one of my engineers," he said. Jim felt a strange lump in his throat as he asked his next question.

"Oh really? What's his n-" Jim was cut off as they entered Engineering and a very familiar man was stood facing him. He felt sick. His heart was pounding in his chest. He felt his palms begin to sweat.

"Here he is right now. Hey George, found you another Kirk to be friends with!" Tucker said cheerily as he set down the pile of items he'd been carrying and turned to face the two men.

"Well holy shit! You even look kinda alike, pretty crazy huh?" he said, standing with his hands on his hips and looking between the two men.

"George Kirk," said Jim's father, extending his hand.

"Jim Kirk," Jim said slowly, shaking the man's hand and doing his best not to react to the shiver that ran down his spine. His father looked around the age of thirty, and exactly as he appeared in the pictures he'd seen of him. Seeing him alive in physical form left Jim feeling incredibly uneasy. It did however clarify his own location to him. His father had never been aboard the Enterprise. He wasn't in the past, but in an alternate reality.

"Good to meet you," George said, letting go of Jim's hand and looking at him, clearly totally oblivious to who he was. Jim noticed right away his father wasn't wearing a wedding ring and wondered if perhaps maybe his parents had never met, if maybe perhaps he was in an alternate universe after all and not just in his own past.

"New recruit?" he asked and Jim laughed nervously.

"No… uh… kind of a long story," Jim said, trying to shrug off the story before an invitation to elaborate further.

"We found this guy drifting out in a shuttle, that weird shuttle we got down in the bay? That was his," Tucker said and George looked interested.

"Oh yeah? You're the black hole guy?" Kirk asked and Jim nodded nervously.

"That's pretty interesting. So where are you from?" he asked and Jim swallowed. This was too weird.

"Iowa," he mumbled.

"Ah. Never been. Well I've been to Riverside shipyard… but besides that, not at all. What's it like there?" he asked and Jim glanced around the room, looking for some way of changing the subject.

"Uh… kind of flat, y'know. Just a lot of corn. Big sky. Straight roads. More corn… bars, women… corn…" Jim trailed off. Both the engineers laughed and Jim allowed himself a small smile.

"Hey you're alright Kirk the second, you can stay with us and hang while we get this welding done," Tucker said enthusiastically, clapping Jim on the back and inviting him to join them in going up to an access panel that required some work doing.

Hesitantly, he followed, wondering why they were being quite so trusting of him as he was basically a total stranger on their ship.

Chris saw the man who'd been waiting by his motorcycle for him several more times that week. He began noticing him everywhere.

He'd be walking down the street and notice him sitting on a bench, reading a newspaper. Then he'd be at class, glance out the window and notice him sitting outside with a cup of coffee, looking completely casual and innocent.

After almost two weeks, Chris decided enough was enough.

"Why are you following me?" Chris asked as the man stepped out from where he had been standing behind a phone box.

"Me? Oh I'm not following. Just minding my own business," he said with a shrug.

Chris narrowed his eyes a little and took a step closer to the guy. He was taller and bigger than him so was hoping to intimidate him enough that he'd back off.

"Could you mind it somewhere that isn't everywhere I am?" he asked in a low voice. It was reasonably late and rush hour was long over, meaning it was quiet on the street. Chris was over an hour late for his painkiller shot and as a result was getting rather agitated as his level of discomfort grew by the minute.

"I'm just interested," the guy said with another shrug and Chris stepped forwards again, invading his personal space.

"In what?" Chris demanded, now starting to raise his voice. He was meant to be meeting David in a bar just around the corner for a drink; he didn't want this guy on his tail when he did so.

"In how you can just let it all go like this. You're a born soldier, Christopher, and you could go and find the people who killed your father and kill them, but you don't. You've gone back to class, and you sit there looking bored and uncomfortable and like you don't want to be there, and then you go home to your little plaything and-" the man was cut off as Chris wrapped one large hand around his throat, pushing him backwards and pinning him to the telephone box behind him.

"Stay away from me," Chris growled, squeezing his neck for a few long seconds just hard enough so the guy got the message before letting him go and stepping back.

Rather than coughing up a storm like Chris expected, the man just brushed his shirt straight and looked at him curiously.

"The inhibitors haven't worn off yet," he said calmly and Chris glared.

"What are you talking about?" he asked.

"When you were a baby and your parents became aware of the abilities of you and your siblings, an inhibitor was developed… something that would wear off when you got to adulthood. Something that blocked your abilities until you were old enough to comprehend what you are capable of. You see Khan had something special, and something that didn't carry across into Jim when the blood was transfused. It did however, pass down a generation. You were all too strong for your own good, all three of you are gifted with these abilities. That doctor you trust and your parents developed the inhibitor in secret and treated the three of you with it. It blocks the abilities given by his blood. Your twin has begun to unlock his potential, but you seem to be lagging behind," the man said smugly.

Chris didn't know how he had all of this information on his personal life and didn't like it one bit.

"I'm getting bored of you and this crackpot story. Fuck off!" Chris raged, turning and walking in the opposite direction of the bar where he was meeting David, leaving the man standing there.

"You'll get him killed you know," the man called after him and Chris stopped, turning on his heel and looking back.


"David. You're going to get him killed. Unless you listen to me," the man said. Suddenly he didn't look so normal, so innocent. He looked much more threatening, dark malice glinting in his eyes.

Christopher paid more attention. Now he wasn't viewing him as an annoyance, he was actively being threatened by this man, and he needed to protect himself, his family and David.

"And why should I listen to you?" Chris asked and the man gave a small smirk.

"Because you could be better."

"Better at what?" Chris demanded.

"Everything," the man answered shortly.

Chris stared at him until he spoke again.

"You could also avenge your father, make the species that killed him pay for what they've done. And I wouldn't be asking you to do much, just some really simple tasks for me, that's all until the time comes," he offered and Chris glanced up at the sky. It wasn't dark enough for there to be stars yet, and he'd been looking at them when he could to feel closer to Jim. He wanted those responsible to pay. He wanted them dead.

"What would I have to do?" he asked and the man smiled.

"Stay at Starfleet, study, graduate… all of that stuff."

"That's it? So… what I was going to do anyway?" he asked and the man narrowed his eyes, reaching into his pocket and removing a small device that looked like a communicator.

"Not exactly," he said, pressing a single button on the device and stepping away from the kerb. A van appeared out of nowhere and screeched to a halt, Chris stepping back and getting ready to run. Before he had a chance he'd been grabbed by two large men who'd obviously also been waiting and bundled into the vehicle.

David dialled Chris' comm. again but got no response. He was over half an hour late but hadn't told him he would be, and he was starting to get worried. He'd also tried to reach out through their bond but had received no response.

He's probably just forgotten. Just had a long day, got tired and gone home to bed. David tried to reassure himself.

He waited another thirty minutes before leaving and heading over to Chris' apartment. He wasn't there, so David tried the house, finding out that Spock hadn't seen him all day and didn't know where he was now. He called Leo, who also had no information.

By the time eleven o'clock rolled around, David was getting worried.

He paced his bedroom, trying to figure out what to do next. He tried Chris' communicator a few more times but got no response, and his mental messages through their bond seemed to also not be getting through.

David gave up at around two in the morning, crawling into his bed still fully clothed and with his communicator on his chest, waiting for Chris to call and say he was alright.


Hi there! Thanks for reading :)

I'd be very grateful to receive your reviews/messages/questions on this chapter. More to come soon :)